Joseph was confused with the events of the evening. The last hour or so had left him at loss. He had been sure, when David attacked his new master's Chosen, that he would die. But he didn't, Michael wouldn't kill one of his own kind. And then, the fear of being broken. Of being doomed to spend countless years as nothing but his half mad slave. But again, Michael had promised to stay his hand as much as possible. And now, as he laid in Michael's arms, feeling the strength of his embrace, the desire in his kisses, he was being given one last night of freedom, to be loved and held.
But the greatest shock was Michael's gift, to be allowed to hold David once more. To feel the bond, to make love freely, just one last time, before he became Michael's slave in truth.
A soft cry slipped from him as his hips lifted to meet Michael's fingers, which had wrapped around him in a strong, firm grip. Right now, he needed this. So much had happened. He needed to lose himself in the blissful pleasure that was being offered.
"Lay back, Cain." Michael wanted to encase him in a warm web of emotions for the moment. "Don't be afraid. I only want to make love to you."
"Please." He was right. Michael was much stronger than David was.
"You will not achieve release until I allow it. Enjoy." His mouth closed on Joseph's throat, fangs piercing his skin, allowing the glory of the feeding to warm them both. Just a few sips, just enough to lock his new one in a haze of desire so strong that it was painful.
"Please." Joseph's voice was but a whisper. Never had he been drawn out like this. The pressure, the pleasure, kept building until his whole body was part of the need. "Please--Megel--I" The dam burst and he sobbed against him. The fear and the pain, the long nights of worrying, everything that had hurt him, that he had walled up inside himself. The nights before David, when the only time he didn't feel worthless was when he was so wasted he couldn't think.
And then he had been granted what he wanted, but with it came so many things that he still bled from. The fear of capture, the longing for the love that David was never able to give him. The change the, long nights of hunger, when, he was only allowed to feed enough to keep the pain away. The hope of a new life, and his final agony of slavery, all poured out of him.
Michael held him, letting him purge himself of all the wrongs he had been forced to suffer. Suffering along with him, as only another of his kind could. "Go on, pet, let it out. No more, I swear, I will, never, let anyone ever hurt you again. Not like this."
"Please." He needed him now. "Please, Megel, please." He cried out as Michael laid him back on the bed, lying over him, hands still teasing, still stroking with incredibly pleasurable pressure. "Now, please--now."
"Yes, baby, now." Michael moved down his body, to take him, drawing with deep powerful suction as he released the hold, letting the boy's release be the final cleansing he needed. Holding his hips down as Joseph thrashed beneath him, crying out in ecstasy.
* * *
Afterwards he lay in Michael's arms, too stunned to speak. His body literally vibrated with pleasure. He took hope in it. Surely Michael spoke the truth. Why would he lie? He wasn't going to hurt him. He wasn't going to destroy everything he was. True, his life was no longer what he had hoped for, but it wouldn't be hell, either. For this alone he swore he would not only go into this freely, but would stun his new master with his willingness to please him. He would only be happy if his master was. He swore to himself, he'd do anything to make his master happy, anything at all. Even if it meant allowing him to tease and torment him like he did Jason.
A soft knock on the door brought him mind back to his surroundings. "They are here." Michael smiled down at him before looking up. "Please, come in."
Azrael was pleased to see how well they looked, all things considering. "Greetings. Is there still room for Vincent and myself, or have you changed your mind and plan to keep that delightful boy all to yourself?"
"You are always welcome in my bed, Master." Michael pulled away from Joseph, shushing his whimper. "I'm not going anywhere, Cain. I know what condition you are in. You are safe, relax."
"Megel?" David still couldn't believe he had been invited.
"You too, Vincent, join us. He needs to be allowed to see that you still love him, and that I welcome that love."
Both Azrael and David removed their clothes, David almost ripping his from his body. "May I?" He reached for his Fledgling, his Childe.
"Wait, I have something I must say to him, first." Michael pulled Joseph up and held him in his lap. "Cain, I want you to listen to me. Hear what I have to say, with both our Sires present to guarantee that I live up to it." He motioned for them to come and join them on the bed. "Azrael, will you stand witness to my word? Vincent, will you hear it?"
"Always. I have never known you to break it." Azrael smiled down at Joseph as David's soft reply was almost drowned out by his.
"Then hear me, pet. Yes, I will always love you. No matter how much I love my Chosen, my soon-to-be First-Born. I will never begrudge you the love that you so desperately need. You've been denied it for far to long. When I take you, I swear this, though you will be forced to desire to please me in all things, I will never force you to love me. That will always be yours to give or hold as you choose."
"I hear you, Megel, and stand witness." Azrael's voice was soft as Joseph broke again, huddled sobbing in Michael's lap. "Poor, heart-wounded Childe. Your master will help you to learn to live again. I will support you as much as he does as long as you live within the walls of my lair."
David watched Michael with Joseph, amazed at the lightness of his control. David knew what slavery meant for his kind. He knew what Michael could demand of his Fledgling. Yet, something didn't make sense. "Megel?"
"Answer a question for me. What will happen to Cain, tonight? Just so I know what to expect when I rise tomorrow. I have seen slaves before, killed a couple when I cleaned up my," he stopped. "Azrael's territory." He ran a hand through his hair. "I know what happens. Are you attempting to whitewash it all for Cain's peace of mind? Because, if, you are, you're doing him an injustice, he knows what will happen, he knows what is expected. Don't lie to him."
Michael nodded at him. "You are right, he does deserve to know the truth. I have told him the truth. As long as he gives himself freely, does not fight me in any way, I will leave his mind, his identity, and as much of his will intact as I can. His only command, other than acknowledging those who are master and mistress, will be to please me. He must, and will, strive to please me as best he can, for only when I am happy will he, be. Nothing more, he will be blood-branded with my mark so that all will know that not only is he property to a Vampyr, but to an Elder who will take a dim view of anyone harming him. He will wear a collar and be at my beck and call. Nothing more, I will not take his name, his mind, his feelings or joys. I will protect him as surely as I protect Jason or Amber. I will finish his training so that when I do free him he will not be crippled, and I will do this all because I am impressed with him and would not be the one to take such a promising Fledgling and clip his wings."
David was stunned. He had never dreamed that anyone could be so kind. Sharra might have, but he always saw her in a different light from others of his kind. Perhaps she wasn't, perhaps this was the way all Elders were, "but."
"You dealt with Renegades and Rogues, Vincent." Azrael motioned him to join them. "Sharra did you a disservice by never allowing you a chance to observe how others who are trained live. Forgive her, for she has cause to distrust. But not all of us go mad with age."
"Your oath, Megel, give me your oath. Cain will not end up like those mindless things I killed."
"You have it. On my oath, should his breaking cause that, I will kill him myself. I will not leave him a cripple. I have already sworn this to him."
Azrael shook his head as he pulled David into his lap. "Enough. We will discuss this no more. The boy knows what is coming. But for now, let us enjoy the pleasure he has been promised."
David reached for him. "Cain?" Pulling his Childe close as Michael released him. "Ssshh, don't cry."
Joseph pulled David's face to his bared throat. "Please, now."
David's fangs extended, but he didn't move. "Megel?" He had walked that road once tonight. He wasn't about to go down it again.
"Go, share your love with your blood. I plan to do the same with my Sire. He is free for now, to love who and how he wills."
David moved, pulling away from Azrael, pushing Joseph back on the bed. "Drink, baby." He thrust his wrist forwards against Joseph's fangs as his own sank into the flesh of his throat. Linking the two together as they both fed. Sharing the joy, the purest ecstasy, becoming one in a fashion that transcended feeding, and linked them soul to soul.
Michael knew what his Sire wanted, even as the Elder leaned back against him. It had been more than a thousand years since last he had held him like this. But his body reacted as if it had been only yesterday. And when his hands guided the one creature he loved more than anything, more than even his own life, down, filling him with his own maleness, he felt the joy that he had missed. "Now," he whispered, brushing the hair from Azrael's neck before letting his lover capture his wrist.
He never felt the pain as Azrael sank his teeth into his wrist. He was lost in the sweet power of the blood that filled his mouth. It was the truest form of lovemaking that two Kin could ever share, to join both physically and by blood. He could die now and go happily, but death was not to be his. No, life, was all the sweeter and he drank as the pleasure stole his mind and he lost himself in the bright white light of joy.
Two vampires could, if they were so inclined, do this for hours. But the intensity of the pleasure soon became vulnerability that only a few would willingly open themselves to. That was why only those who were either true lovers or Sire and Childe ever blood-bonded for more than a brief moment. It laid everything open, left nothing hidden, exposed strengths as well as weaknesses. Minds, hearts, and souls merged until soon the two no longer knew who was who anymore.
David held his Childe, amazed at the strength with which the younger vampire loved him. He didn't deserve it. "You're almost free of me, lover," he whispered. "I feel it, it is only a matter of days now and your transformation will be complete."
"No." Joseph cried. "I got four more months before I have to stop. A year, you said." What would happen when he no longer needed to feed from David?
"I said about a year, sometimes more, sometimes less. I think your body had to compensate for the fact that I never was able to give you all you needed."
"It's too soon."
"I can't help it. I'm not even sure that you couldn't stop now and live." He knew how much the first break hurt. He had lived through it with Anna just a few years ago. "I'm sorry, baby."
"No." Joseph couldn't accept this now. "Don't say that. If you--if I--please. Don't, not yet."
David held him. "I'm sorry, Joey, really I am."
Michael pulled himself out of the pleasure-dulled daze he was in at the pained sound of his new slave's voice. "Cain, what is wrong?" His voice thick, his eyes still lost in the haze of the bonding.
"Please." Joseph was frantic. "Don't say it, please, Davy, don't!"
"Vincent, why is your Childe hysterical?" Azrael pulled away from Michael.
"He is coming off his need for me," was all Vincent would say. "It's only been a little over eight months, but."
Azrael was confused by both their fears. "But that is good. It means the bond was well taken. It does not always take a year. Megel only fed from me a little over six months before his connection was set. This is not something to fear, it is a joy."
"Cain." Michael knew where his fear was. "Come here, precious."
"Please tell him he's wrong. Please." He moved slowly, hating to be separated from the one person he loved more than life. "Please, Megel."
"Look at me." Michael brushed the tears away. "You're right, Vincent. The change is complete. Your Childe is one of the Vampyr now." Of all times for this to happen now was not it. "Cain, don't carry on so. It is not the end of the world."
"But he--" Joseph babbled as Michael held him, stroking his hair. "I can't change now. I've lost everything."
"No, you have not." Michael's tone was sharp. "Why would you say that? Now you have not only your love for your Sire, but you and I can be lovers fully and completely, as well as slave and master. Do you think me so cold as to forbid you any dealings with your love? I gave my word."
"But I can't--"
"After tonight you were not going to be allowed to do more than feed from him anyway. In a way, this is a kindness. If you can't bond with him, the feedings would only make you want him all the more." Too much, too fast. The boy was too young for this. Michael was seriously worried for him now. "It's all right baby. Really it is. You will see."
"Perhaps I should leave." David tried to leave the bed, but Michael's hand restrained him.
"No, Vincent. Leaving is not needed, Cain just doesn't understand, that's all. He is afraid that now he will be forbidden all but the briefest of contacts with you. The three of us need to come to an understanding, or I will have to take him from here to keep from destroying the peace of my Sire's home."
"This is ridiculous." Azrael's voice was a study in disgust. "There is not a pet or a slave in this house that is not available to any of my Kin here. Why would that change? The boy will, after tonight, have only one desire, and that is to please his master. Why should that interfere with anything he has with you?" He gave David a look of utter contempt. "Think about it. Every time one of your pets spends time with another, do you not feel it? Megel is much older than you are. His senses are more refined. So if Cain is dallying with another will he not feel the joy, be pleased with the pleasure that his slave feels and shares with him? Enough of this foolishness, it is the boy's last night of freedom. Let him enjoy it."
"Cain, stop." Michael's voice held a desperate note. "I promise you, as long as I live here, and long as Vincent remains, I will not forbid your love. I promise, believe me." If they weren't careful, this could crush the Fledgling.
David watched, silent, Joseph's pain his pain. "Megel."
"Take him. If you are telling the truth and our love will not be forbidden. Take him, remake him as yours, and remove my mark. Do not make him stand-alone now. He is orphan, I claim Sire no more."
Michael nodded. "I will, soon, but Jason is to be my First-Born. As soon as he is mine, then I will take Cain. I promise." He had wanted to wait before making Jason his
Fledgling, but now he couldn't, and hope to keep Joseph from fading.
"Why should you wait?" Azrael reached out and stroked Joseph's hair. "The boy would be adopted, not a true Childe of yours. He is Vampyr already. Vincent is right, take him. Your boy is not ready, nor should you rush his rebirth. If you are hesitant to do this, then let me. If the prospect of sharing him does not bother you." He smiled. "I'm greedy. If I take the boy, then you will be forced to remain with me for quite some time."
"No, I'm not hesitant to take Cain, nor do I need a reason other than love to remain with you. If my adoption would not deny Jason the position of first, then of course I will remake him. Allow him to carry my mark as well as my brand. But what of him?" He pulled Joseph away, forcing him to look up. "Cain? I would never force a Childe to do this, not one that is already Vampyr. But you need me now. The loss you have suffered is too great. I won't keep, you, from Vincent, you know that. Is there any other reason why you would resist?"
Joseph looked at David, hateful pain in his eyes. "You'd break even the last thread." His words were a hiss. "I love you, David, have always loved you." Then to Michael, "yes. If he doesn't even want to claim my birth anymore, yes."
"Cain," David reached for him.
"NO!" The younger vampire pulled away, seeking what comfort he could from Michael. "I'll be a slave soon enough, but not yet. You're free of me. You don't have to fake it anymore. You got what you wanted, you have Aaron, you, have Lilith. Don't lie to me anymore." His voice rose. "You owe me that much, David. If I'm to be thrown, away, at least be honest about it. I'm going to be a slave, a, nobody. So you don't have to play nice anymore." He struck out, hitting David in the face.
"Cain!" Michael reached to restrain him.
"No, Megel." Azrael laid a hand on his arm. "The boy is not your slave, yet. You gave him his freedom for now. This is between him and Vincent. Let them work it out. If you do not, there will never be peace here, and I will be forced to drive one of you out."
David looked at Joseph, his face full of sorrow. "Do you feel better now, Cain? If hitting me will lessen the pain I have caused you, feel free. But you are wrong. I do love you. I don't want to throw you away. If I thought you would heal, could go on like this, I'd fight Megel tooth and nail to keep him from breaking our final bond. Go against law, be sworn Renegade. But you can't. The very fact that you believe I would forsake you to this end proves it. My blood flows in your veins. You might be Michael's slave, but you're 'my Childe' , you won't be a slave forever, we both know this. One day I would be able to claim you again." The tears flowed unchecked. "Hate me if you want. I deserve it, for the mess I have made of your life. But you must accept that what I do now, I do out of love. Anything less would be a lie, and I have never lied to you. I might not have been able to give you what you craved, the love that you needed when I made you. But you knew that then, I never misled you. Why would I start now?" He held out his arms. "Hit me, beat me, I will never stop loving you and deep down, I will never stop hurting for what I have done to you."
Joseph threw himself at David, sobbing with pain and fear as his Sire, held him. "I'm sorry," such a tiny voice. "Don't cry, Davy, please. I'm sorry, I take it back, I love you."
David rocked him, lips pressed to his forehead. "I know baby, I know." He looked at Michael. "Don't hold this against him, Megel."
"I won't." Michael smiled at him. "Better he get this out now, before he is no longer able to."
"He'll be okay, now." David lifted his chin. "Won't you, baby?"
Joseph pulled away, brushing the tears from his face. "Yeah, I'm sorry I lost it."
Azrael chuckled. "Don't be, Childe. All in all, you have held up under the pressure quite well. Vincent may have been reluctant at your birth, but believe me when I say this, consider well the honor it implies. Had it been I that you had sought the Gift from, I would have given it, freely and with joy. You do us proud. Vincent has no idea how fortunate he really is." His fingers tightened around the curve of Joseph's jaw as the younger Kin kissed his palm. "Such a lovely Childe."
"Cain." Michael's voice was a whisper. The caress of it made Cain whimper softly as he moved into the outstretched arms of his master. "Be my Childe. Allow me to burn away Vincent's mark. If you do this--," he touched Joseph's cheek, "then my Childe is all you will be. Give yourself up to me, all of you to my bloodline." Michael could feel the vibrations of Joseph's body as the boy trembled in his arms. His arms lifted to wrap around Michael's neck even as his fingers tangled in his hair. Pulling Michael's head against a bared throat. "Call me Sire."
"Yes." He sobbed as the pain of Michael's teeth lashed through him as they broke the skin. "Yes."
David watched as Michael slowly laid Joseph down as he drained him, his heart breaking with each swallow of his lost Childe's blood. Joseph wouldn't be a slave now. For this, David was overjoyed. But never again would Joseph look to him with those great adoring eyes of his that seemed to light the room every time he called him 'Master' . That devotion belonged to Michael now. "He will be good to him right?" He turned to Azrael, seeking comfort from the Elder.
He did not have to wait long. Azrael pulled him close, holding his head pressed against his shoulder, hand stoking his hair gently. "Yes, Childe. My First-Born will guard his life as closely as he guards his own. I know his nature well. I created it."
Michael looked down at the boy beneath him. "Are you ready?" His voice throbbed with power. The blood burned within him. "Be mine."
Joseph moaned weakly as again Michael's fangs sank into his flesh. But this time blood flowed back into his veins, granting him life.
This time was different. When David had given him the gift, Joseph had believed that nothing could ever touch the joy he felt. But now, as Michael's blood replaced David's and the mark of his power burned away the old, Joseph felt as if he were on fire. The strength of the blood was so much more that he had ever dreamed possible. It captured him, held his being in its glorious fiery grasp, bringing gasps and cries from him as he gained strength.
Joseph cried out, arms reaching to hold Michael to him as his new Sire pulled away. "No." He, burned now, hunger was everything. He had been given enough to make the transformation, but not enough so that he was up to strength.
"Relax, Cain." Michael gathered him slowly, twisting to pull the boy, his Childe, into his lap. "You were already Vampyr. Too much of my blood, unprocessed, straight into you veins is not good." He smiled down into beautiful brown eyes that looked up at him with worship and need. "You must feed, now, precious. Finish the bond, take from me."
Joseph caught a hand full of Michael's hair, rubbing it between his fingers before burying his face in it. Relishing the long silkiness of it, the smell, the texture; his body pressed against his new master's, his Sire's, his every gesture one to offer homage to the power that held him now.
"Now, Childe, feed, I feel your hunger."
His body shook with the first sweet, hot, electrified drops that touched his tongue. It was life. It was heaven. His mouth drew greedily, filling with huge, inferno-hot infusions. It was the most exquisite pain. It burned him, bringing every nerve alive, tingling through his entire body, drawing him closer to becoming the very force that radiated from his Sire.
*My Childe, * the soft whispered thought touched him as Michael opened his mind to him, linking them together more fully. *The cycle is complete. You are my Childe. *
*Sire. * Joseph's arms tightened as he pressed himself even further into the body of his master. *Father. *
*Yes. Sire. Father. Friend. * His heart burst open with joy as the final barrier between them fell and the two became one, *Lover. *
Azrael watched tears of pride and love on his cheeks. His First-Born, his, most, precious of all children, was a Sire now. The circle had been completed. And even though he know he would feel pride beyond measure when Michael finally gave the gift to Jason, thus creating his first true Childe, it would not move him in quite the same way as his Childe's love and wisdom moved him now. "Try not to weep, Vincent. It is complete now, and it is beautiful."
And it was. David felt the pain lessen a little as he watched the two, his sight picking up more than any mortals as he watched the brilliant light of their essence throb in unison, as Joseph's blood and line finally became Michael's. Joseph had been changed fully. No Vampyr would ever be able to tell that Michael was not or had not been Joseph's first and only Sire. "He'll call you Gramps if you're not careful." He smiled, just a little melancholy. "Cain's like that. Evil sense of humor."
Michael felt Joseph withdraw. He moaned low enjoying the warm kisses and silkiness of his tongue, as they kissed. "All better now?"
Joseph looked up at him, eyes unfocused, face smeared with blood. "Sire."
Michael bent, licking the blood away. "Yes, precious, I'm your Sire, now." Eyes lifting to meet Azrael's "Are you satisfied with my decision?"
"Completely. He will make a fine Grand-Childe. I am very proud of you, my son." He tightened the grip he had on David as the younger vampire hid his face in his hair, hiding from the pain he knew he would feel when he looked at Joseph again. "So, what are you going to name your son?" He hushed David as he moaned.
"Cain is a good name. I have grown accustomed to it. He will keep his name, a permanent reminder of his first Sire and first love." He cupped Joseph's chin. "Unless you want a new name?"
"No." The absolute goodness of his Sire amazed him still. "I would rather you didn't, if you really don't mind."
"Believe me, Cain, if I minded, you would know." He looked up at Azrael smiling, content and truly at peace again. "So Azrael, first a covenstead, then a youngling, now a Grand-Childe, what could possibly happen next?"
Azrael nodded, acknowledging the strides that had taken place over the last few days, as well as hinting with a look of plans to come. "The mind boggles, my love. The mind boggles."