by shukyou (主教)


Maybe it was supposed to make everything look like night in movies, milky blue but still bright enough to cast shadows. Rian couldn’t think of another reason for the cobalt neon lights under the bar. They shone off the tops of his black shoes and made everything look somehow distant, like his feet were miles from the rest of him, tethered like astronauts on spacewalks, all alone in the dark.

That was a strange thing to think.

He took another sip from the Manhattan that Douglas had bought him. It was his second, or maybe his third? He had lost track. He had stepped out to make a call from the pay phone in the lobby between the time it was ordered and the time it came. He’d called a number, let it ring four times, and set the phone back in the cradle just as soon as he heard the click of the answering machine on the other line. Then he had returned to his seat at the strange blue night-time bar, where Douglas was waiting.

It was night outside too, not the artificial blue, but real night. Coming up on midnight, in fact, when all the fellows with any decent business were tucked in their beds. The hotel bar was a desolate place on a weeknight, even in a big city like this. Rian had always hated cities. He’d lived in them all his life and he’d never stopped hating them. Of course, when given any opportunity to experience small-town life, he’d hated that too. So maybe the problem was bigger than the cities themselves.

Douglas was talking and Rian was doing his best to listen, and then he was doing his best to keep his head upright. Something in his neck had come undone and his vertebrae didn’t work like they should. It wasn’t even just his neck; his whole spine had slipped, a cord cut, and now he was falling forward into Douglas’ meaty chest.

“Watch it, there, pal!” Douglas said at a conspicuous volume. The only person left around was the bartender, and in a place like this he’d probably seen more than his fair share of queers, enough that no attempts at playing straight were fooling him. But bartenders notoriously didn’t give a shit, as evidenced by how he wasn’t coming to Rian’s aid. There was no telling even if he’d seen Douglas drop something into Rian’s glass, if he’d had his back turned or if he just hadn’t cared enough to let the kid know his drink had been drugged.

Because the drink had been, Rian was certain of it now. Now his hands felt distant as his feet, off on their stellar trajectories, bound only by air hoses and the faintest tug of gravity. Soon his spine would give way and he would bend fully in half.

Thank goodness for the kindness of helpful strangers. “Guess that’s one too many for you, buddy, huh?” said Douglas with that same genial grin. “Let me help you to your room! What number did you say it was again?”

“I’m not staying here,” Rian tried to say, though the best he could manage was a few consonants and maybe half a vowel. His jaw was coming unhinged. If he tried to speak again it might drop off altogether.

“What a coincidence! That’s the same floor I’m on.” Douglas had strong, meaty paws, like what might happen if you shaved a bear. He wore a wedding ring, which was probably a lie. He said he had voted for George Herbert Walker Bush a second time last month, which was probably true, because he said it with the full-name-using conviction of a man ashamed he’d picked a loser. Men like Douglas didn’t like losers. They didn’t like to be them, and they didn’t like to suffer them to live.

Rian wasn’t a loser. But he was a faggot, which was sort of the same thing, especially to other faggots who didn’t want to be. Especially to Douglas.

Douglas got one of Rian’s arms across his shoulders in a sort of sloppy hug. Rian was gelatinous enough that if Douglas hadn’t put one of those bear-arms around Rian’s waist, he might have become a puddle on the floor instead of Douglas’ new very awkward accessory. The world’s worst scarf, Rian thought: too skinny, too threadbare, all but useless against the frosty night outside. He might have laughed if doing so wouldn’t have lost him the bottom part of his face. He was barely keeping it together now as it was.

They didn’t go outside, though. Douglas walked and Rian stumbled across the hallway. The elevator opened its doors the way Rian imagined a coffin would, if it were meant for more than a one-way trip. His feet got him as far as inside its flat, mirrored walls. Then the lights went out.


He wasn’t tied, when he came to. He tried to move his arms, but the best he could manage was an inch or two before they fell back flat against the polyester duvet. It was more like someone had injected lead into his blood, pumped heavy metal poison through his veins until he weighed as much as a car, with none of the horsepower. But he wasn’t actually being held down by anything except his own body.

In a way that was worse. Locks could be picked, ropes slipped, but there wasn’t anything for a body that just wouldn’t go.

It was hard to remember now that this had been the point. It was easy to remember that this had been a possibility. The woman on the news had even been talking about it just the other day, some new date rape drug that was supposed to be the end of Western civilization as we knew it. Rian was fairly comfortable with the idea of its destruction. Right now he was fairly comfortable with the idea of anything.

No, that wasn’t true. He felt panic, but at a distance, the same way his feet had been distant in the bar. It was more like watching someone else get upset and feeling sympathetic to them, but not sharing their concern, or maybe like seeing someone in trouble on TV. The part of Rian’s brain concerned for his continued survival had become a Cassandra, doomed to disbelief by the rest.

That skepticism began to wane, however, as Douglas stepped into the light from the darkness that engulfed the rest of the room. There was one bright bulb right above the bed, just over Rian’s prone body, and everything outside its halo might as well not have existed at all. Douglas was stripped of his tie and jacket now, wearing only his white collared shirt and charcoal slacks, very fashionable. He had his sleeves rolled up like he was ready to get down to business. Rian supposed tonight, that business was his as well. He was that business.

He was Douglas Scott, thirty-eight, associate vice-president of some middling credit union, and he thought Rian’s name was John. He had even made a joke about it, how it was an ironic name for someone in Rian’s line of work.

And what line of work would that be? Rian had asked coquettishly from beneath the curtain of his dark eyelashes.

A kind I’m very interested in, Douglas had said with a grin.

So that was it; instead of just a pickup, Rian had become a hooker. He had never even to his knowledge met a hooker before. But he could be coy, kind, solicitous. He could make a man feel listened to.

And now Douglas was holding a knife in his hand and looking at Rian’s bare belly. Well, Rian supposed, that was what he got for being more of a behind-the-scenes man. Without the right context, no one recognized his pretty face.

Speaking of his bare belly, he was naked now. Somewhere between passing out and waking up, his clothes had disappeared from his body as if by magic. Rian supposed magic had little to do with it. They were probably elsewhere in the hotel room, just beyond the circle of the light. He hoped they hadn’t been too badly damaged. They weren’t expensive, the turtleneck and trousers he’d been wearing, but they were comfortable. They made him look very European, according to the fashion magazines, and that was all the rage now. Maybe he could see where they’d been left if he squinted hard enough into the darkness.

No, the knife. Focus on the knife.

He was having trouble focusing on anything, though, even the way its sharp surface gleamed under the single bulb. He was swaying violently, especially considering how he was only starting to get the barest range of motion back in his extremities. Douglas put one of those pink bear-hands on Rian’s ankle. “You’re such a pretty boy,” Douglas said. “I’m going to carve you up real nice and fuck your skull.”

It was all Rian could do not to burst out laughing. Fuck his skull? The sheer effort alone in making that possible seemed ridiculous. It wasn’t edgy or kinky. It wasn’t even creative. It was just weird.

Douglas ran that hand up Rian’s leg with what was probably supposed to be either seductive or menacing in its slowness, Rian couldn’t tell which. “Going to show you, you little bitch, what a real man is like.”

A real man fucked skulls? Rian supposed he’d missed that day in the motivational masculinity seminars his father had made him attend as a teen, trying to rally the sissy out of his boy with good, old-fashioned American values. There’d been more than enough heterosexuality pressed there, though, to make Rian certain that even if it had been a requirement for true manliness, surely they would only have endorsed the fucking of women’s skulls. Douglas had obviously missed more days than Rian had.

Not without reason, Rian thought about dying.

Douglas’ hand cupped at Rian’s cock, which was as flaccid as the rest of him. It didn’t even register a hint of interest at the sensation, context or no. He was experiencing his much-heralded First Time, the vaunted moment that every young man looked forward to after years of eager masturbatory anticipation, so he considered it something of a point of pride that he didn’t even manage so much as an interested throb. Of course, the drugs were helping him out a bit there too. Thanks, drugs.

Right before the story about the date rape drug, the lady on the news had been telling a story about murders. Rian hadn’t listened because that hadn’t been news to him. That story was, in fact, why he had been in the bar that evening — not the story, but the story behind the story. Seven bodies in eight cities, if one cared enough to split hairs between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Some lonely soul on track out there tonight to become number eight in number nine. And Rian had been fool enough to all but volunteer.

Douglas squeezed Rian’s balls, which was mostly just annoying. Somewhere in the back of his head he heard a voice talking about how he was supposed to save the pearl of his virginity for his husband. Or maybe that had been his twin sister Rhiannon’s seminar, recalled from her doing her best impression later as they lay in beds as twinned as they were. And here was some big lug who liked to rape and dismember bodies, fondling not his pearl but his family jewels. Nobody drew any connections between those bodies until the fifth in the sixth city. Dead faggots were a dime a dozen these plague-ridden days. Dropping like flies. Got AIDS Yet? Good riddance to bad rubbish. God, he was so tired.

At least no one would have to tell Rhiannon they’d found his body, not the way they’d had to tell him they’d found hers. It was the first time he could ever remember being glad she was dead.

In the harsh, limited light, Douglas’ body became bloated and pale, some kind of monstrous apparition, like waterlogged bodies drawn from rivers. Rian knew this was just his imagination, though, because Douglas wasn’t a monster, no more than any human could be a monster. He was just a man with ideas about how the world should be. He had learned to actualize his potential, though in a way that involved exposing small intestines to the air. Other people’s, though, not his own. Important distinction. Exactly the kind of thing vice-presidents of credit unions thought about, provided they were also serial killers.

Rian had fewer problems with serial killers than he supposed your average, everyday man-on-the-street did.

“Are you scared now, you little fairy?” asked Douglas, his face plastered with what he probably thought looked like a sinister grin.

It was good Rian didn’t have the muscle control to formulate a response, because he really didn’t know how to answer that question. He wasn’t scared about how his death at the hands of this serial killer (still new enough on the scene that the media hadn’t yet come up with a nickname, at least not one that could be repeated on air) would surely make the news, because of course he wouldn’t be around to see the salacious headlines about the young heir and shareholder found with his innards splashed across a hotel bedspread (‘love nest’, someone would surely call it, and despite the inaccuracy it would stick). He wanted to be scared of dying, but he couldn’t manage it, no more than he could manage lifting his hands to push Douglas off him. Mostly he didn’t want it to hurt.

“You stinking little cocksucking twink,” spat Douglas, that grin going sour. In the boardroom, following the proper introductions, a middle-management type like Douglas would have called him ‘sir’ and spoken only when spoken to. “You pathetic shitty whore.” Rian could have bought and sold Douglas’ entire life thirty times over. He suspected accuracy was not the man’s strong suit in any arena.

Then there was the knife again, pressed up against the soft meat of Rian’s belly, and oh, he was scared now. That did it, that cut right through the anesthetized abstraction, right to the heart of his situation. He must have gone pale at that, because Douglas laughed as he scored a thin red line across smooth olive skin. Then came a second, and then a third. Like seppuku. You better believe that was mentioned in those masculinity seminars. Those Orientals (and as this was said, every eye in the place surreptitiously glanced over at his mother’s features on his face) may have been sissies who couldn’t grow proper beards, but by God, they knew how to die.

There was the weight of Douglas’ body on him after that, his rough tongue lapping up the blood drawn from tender flesh. He looked for a second like he might be thinking of sucking Rian’s limp dick, but of course, Douglas was a real man, and real men weren’t cocksuckers. They were, apparently, skull-fuckers. But Douglas looked like he might have a few things in mind before getting above Rian’s neck.

He knelt across Rian’s lower body, sitting back on Rian’s knees with a force that made Rian’s joints ache. His white shirt was speckled with blood now, thin smears that were already on their way to drying brown. With what was probably supposed to be a triumphant reveal, Douglas reached down and unzipped his pants, letting his cock pop free.

It was unexpectedly perfectly average. So much for theories about compensation for inadequacies. People could be crazy no matter what size their penis was.

Not, of course, that Rian had seen many in person, or any, really, besides his own. But in an age of video rental and catalog shopping, he had seen plenty of reproductions, caught still and in motion on film. It was safer all around, he’d always told himself, which seemed laughable in light of the situation he’d gotten himself into. But then again, it hadn’t been all his idea.

Looking manically pleased with himself again, Douglas rubbed his perfectly average cock up and down the light wounds on Rian’s belly. That they’d all but closed up by now was something Rian wouldn’t have brought up even if he could. Douglas made some animals grunts as he did, warming himself up. If he looked down, Rian could see the way Douglas’ cock was growing, swelling, distending, becoming part of the same bloated, imaginary monster the light had made Douglas appear. What comfort was it that he likely wasn’t going to die a virgin? Not a whole lot.

As Douglas continued to rut, Rian felt the drug’s control begin to loosen, softening its grip on his mind as well as on his body. Unfortunately, that meant that he regained the ability to panic long before he regained the ability to do anything about it. Over him, Douglas was humping like a horny teenage boy with a good sturdy pillow, while Rian began to break out in a layer of cold, thin sweat. He still couldn’t get too worked up over even the idea of dying, but it was going to hurt, he was going to be fucked open and cut open and his pain was going to be funny to this blob monster, this sack of water and fat and bad ideas about human interaction. The sides of his face were wet, and he realized he was crying. That was probably funny too.

After what felt like several years, Douglas straightened his body again, sat back on his ankles over Rian’s prone body. There was the knife again, pretty and silver as it caught the overhead light. “Goddamn little faggots, making good, decent men feel all the things they shouldn’t,” Douglas spat. There were his teeth, more knives in little white rows behind his lips. “Well, you don’t have any control over me, you piece of shit, you worthless hunk of human garbage. I’m not yours. You’re mine, you sorry fucking cocksucker, you’re mine–”

That was when Douglas’ chest burst open.

Maybe that wasn’t an entirely accurate description, but from Rian’s perspective, nuance was lost to sheer spectacle. It was like fireworks going off right over his head, close enough the sparks and cinders scorched his face, except here the trails of wonderful light were made of blood and viscera, and the heat they provided was only that of a soon-to-be-no-longer-warm body. There was barely even a look of surprise on Douglas’ face. His eyes had simply lost all focus, right over a mouth that was a big dumb O. Now there was a skull begging to be fucked, if only in the more traditional sense of combining a penis and a head.

And then even that was gone, lost in a split that tore straight up, parting his lips into a grotesque set of parentheses. It wasn’t so much a crack as a tear, some force hooked in his gut and then ripped out like a snagged earring, parting a man’s body as easily as cartilage in its wake. This bifurcation was not complete, though, so that despite the trauma involved in making such a split, his body still held itself together from the waist down, an awful Y with the two up-stretching arms joining at the ridiculous point of his perfectly average penis.

That too began to fail, as gravity began to realize its job even as the tendons once charged with holding him together forgot theirs. He toppled backward, out of the spotlight circle over the bed and into darkness, and Rian saw in the moments before that disappearance the glint of wide teeth. He thought half-hysterically of the bit from Crocodile Dundeethat’s a knife – as that great mouth closed around the shattered corpse, making it no one’s problem anymore.

Moments later, a man stepped out of the darkness, or at least something that looked enough like a man that it seemed impolite – to say nothing of unsafe – to argue. He wore a neat black suit with a thin black tie, giving him a look that was either dated or classic, depending on how you felt about fashion. His hair, black as the fabric, was slicked back without a strand out of place. In fact, the only bit of muss looked to be a little smudge of red at the corner of his mouth, as though he’d been called away while eating spaghetti and just hadn’t managed to wipe clean all the sauce.

Woozy and burning with lingering adrenaline from his near-death experience, Rian still couldn’t remember having been so happy to see someone in all his life. In truth, he’d given himself up for lost from the moment he’d agreed to step into that bar, figuring that the price he’d been quoted five years before had accrued some silent interest in the interim, if it had even been the full price in the first place. After all, you didn’t deal with devils because they dealt honesty with you.

Rian managed to open his mouth and sigh out a single word of relief: “Shar.”

The suited man smiled. It wasn’t his name, they’d established that on their first meeting, but it was all Rian was going to get and it was good enough. He stepped forward into the light, though when he did he seemed to bring the darkness with him. He looked down at Rian, and Rian knew he must look quite a fright: limp, naked, and absolutely smeared with gore. But Shar’s smile only grew as he saw the scene he’d created, the detritus of a trap sprung atop truly luscious bait.

Something happened under that gaze which Rian didn’t expect: He grew hard. Not just a little, like stirrings on waking up from sleep, but absolutely rigid, almost to the point of pain. That sensation redoubled as Shar placed a hand on Rian’s knee, even though the gesture was more paternal than erotic. “The effects should be wearing off soon. You performed admirably.”

Despite his attempts to remain calm, the lingering drugs in his system meant that he had little control over anything his body did, either starting movement or stopping it. His chest heaved and he could hear his own gasping breath. “I–” he started, even though he had nowhere for that sentence to go.

Shar gave his knee a little pat. Aside from the charming overlooked smear on his face, he was immaculate “Yes,” he answered to a question Rian hadn’t even been trying to ask. “We’re even.”

He hadn’t aged a day since they’d met, because there was nothing to him that time could touch. But Rian was unrecognizable to the boy he’d been then, tear-streaked and sprawled on the tile floor of his bathroom, books sprawled open around him, tracing whatever symbols and sigils he could find in them onto whatever flat surface he could find with whatever appealing thing might leave a mark. Raw steaks squeezed out, dripping pale pink juices over chalk pentagrams. Illegible incantations scrawled on smooth walls in Rhiannon’s lipsticks. Wax dripping from candles with the names of deities from a dozen pantheons carved into their surfaces. The few mementos left to him of his late mother, ready to be given up for offerings as needs must. His own hands cut up and smeared across his naked body as he shouted into the void for something, anything to hear him.

Something had.

Now they were even, or as even as the terms of their original arrangement had stipulated, to think of it in the language of the world Rian inhabited during the day. Favors for favors. Reciprocity. A mutual understanding. All of which had started the night Rian’s father disappeared from a locked room leaving no body, but more than enough of his vital organs to let the police draw the correct conclusions about his continued existence.

Rian considered the blood, still warm, spattered across his body and wondered who had wanted this man dead.

Shar’s mouth quirked up at one corner, revealing a hint of canine no longer or shorter than one might find on a normal row of teeth. “Think of this more as an independent project,” answered Shar, coming back to the questions that hadn’t been answered when Rian had received the wax-sealed, handwritten note of instructions. “You and me, we just did lunch.”

Hunger, that was it, that was the sensation gnawing itself through Rian’s bones. Was he feeding off Shar’s in some sort of sympathetic way? No, Shar was full, having just eaten a very, very bad man; the hunger, then, was Rian’s own.

“You know I would have taken your father for the same reasons,” Shar said. He brushed his hand up Rian’s body, tracing patterns in the blood, pushing away gore to reveal the skin beneath. His fingertips lingered over the light marks Douglas had made, and he frowned, though Rian himself had all but forgotten about them. “After what he did to your sister? Mm. He made a fine meal. But you were so insistent on making payment. I wonder why that was.”

A tear- and chalk-streaked boy, grabbing entire handfuls of the jacket of the man who’d appeared before him out of nowhere, offering anything, his life, his soul, anything. And so the last quarter of Rian’s life had been spent under the shadow of that anything, waking every morning and going to sleep every night knowing that he was a debtor who could be called upon at any moment to settle accounts. He was settled now; he was free.

But instead he used what little strength he had returned to his limbs to lift his hand and grab Shar’s wrist just as Shar was beginning to let go, turn away, vanish from his life forever. His clammy fingers closed around Shar’s wrist and Shar turned back to him with an startled lift of his eyebrows. It was the first emotion Rian had seen written on that handsome face other than smug satisfaction (and, if he was going to be honest, patronizing amusement). Now, though, the smile was slipped, and those dark eyes looked on Rian with uncertainty for the first time.

The rush of this reversal of control gave Rian the burst of adrenaline he needed to tug hard, yanking Sher off-balance and forward. Surely a man like that didn’t fall any way he didn’t want to, so he must have let himself be pulled down until he was more on top of Rian’s body than not, leaning over him. His face eclipsed the light until he himself might have been nothing but a weighty shadow.

“Kiss me,” Rian begged with all the force in him — which was barely enough to get the words out as a whisper. From the look in Shar’s eyes, though, Rian knew he’d been more than heard. “I’ll do anything.”

Rian wasn’t a man given to begging. In the two years since he’d come of age and become a significant partner and shareholder in the his late father’s financial advisement company (so strong, wagged all the tongues, to endure such tragedy at such a young age), he’d become far more accustomed to receiving pleas than making them. Shoulders straight, head held high, he knew the way the world worked and how he occupied his place in it. And he would give it all up right then if Shar asked.

Shar’s face was almost lost wholly to shadow, with the corona of light around him from above. It created a strange halo effect, making him look almost like an angel. Perhaps that wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. “This wasn’t part of your deal,” he said, in a voice that sounded almost … hesitant? No, that wasn’t possible; monsters like that never hesitated. They took what they wanted and then left when they were satisfied. The world of the boardroom had taught Rian to live like that, and he couldn’t imagine the darker strains of the world ran their business any other way.

“I’ll make a new deal,” Rian gasped. He tightened his fingers as hard as he could around Shar’s wrist, with bruising intent if not effect.

Be honest: A young man like Rian would have had no trouble finding companionship of any kind, nor in keeping the nature of those companions hidden from the public eye. He’d even seen some giving him the eye before, from charming waiters to handsome assistants to some of his father’s old friends. The latter category had been the most appealing, and he’d thought on more than one occasion about how easy it would be to slip off with one of them, to strip down and let some corporate tycoon press his suited body down against Rian’s naked one. Begone, stupid pearl that had never done him any good! Get it done, cast it away. Be a man.

But every time he’d come so close, just to the edge of showing mutual interest, he’d found reasons to stop. One man’s expensive tailored suit was black, but not black enough, not like it had been cut from a starless night. Another’s handsome shoulders were broad, but not broad enough, not so wide they looked like they might burst forth at any moment into great wings. None of them looked enough like the memory that should have filled his nightmares, but instead whose presence made them not nightmares at all.

Shar gave in to Rian’s pull and leaned closer, letting more of his weight settle on the bed, like a predatory animal looming over its prey. “A new deal,” Shar echoed, his voice low and sweet. “And whom would you have me swallow whole this time?”

“Me,” said Rian.

That gave Shar clear pause, and even though Rian couldn’t see it, he could feel that cautious stillness spread out through where Shar’s body pressed against his. After a moment that seemed to stretch out to the end of forever, Shar leaned in closer, brushing his lips against Rian’s bare collarbone in a way that made Rian think of nature documentaries about panthers. “Intriguing,” Shar purred. “And what do I get in return?”

“Me,” Rian said again. His heart was thudding so hard in his chest he could feel it, and he was harder than he’d ever been in his life. He let go of Shar’s wrist and instead draped his arms around Shar’s neck. “You fuck, don’t you?”

Shar made a small noise of surprise. “Yes,” he said, his lips brushing against Rian’s throat as he spoke, “I fuck.”

“Then fuck me.” Rian’s legs were still so loose that if he’d tried to stand, they would have collapsed under his weight. But he could lift his knees and he could part his thighs, and with that he could shift himself so Shar’s lower body was poised right at the entrance to his ass. “Please, kiss me, fuck me. Please.” He felt as desperate as he had at their first meeting. “Please.”

It isn’t such a long trip from fifteen to twenty, not long but formative all the same, such that Rian had gone from a boy to a man under the shadow of his obligation. Through all his adolescent self-doubts and questions of identity, he had known one thing about himself as steady as the North Star: his obligation to Shar. It had begun as a terrifying shadow, robbing him of sleep in the days after his father’s untimely disappearance (for which Rian himself had an airtight alibi, of course). But soon it had been more of a certainty, in a world of negotiations and decisions: I’m coming for you. Like secrets will do, it had grown alone with him, until it crawled inside his other private thoughts, turning them the same dark shade.

Rian’s fingers searched up and down Shar’s back, from his slicked-back hair to the darts in his jacket. “Please,” he murmured again. He felt feverish, on the edge of delirium. He pressed his lips to the side of Shar’s temple. “Devour me.”

The air around them shook with a sudden jolt, and in the half-second following, Rian thought of what it would sound like if some great fetter, made of chains as large as the world, were to snap. And then Shar was on him, and Rian had no thoughts for anything else.

He climaxed the second Shar pressed down against his cock, shooting ropes of come between them to join the blood. He cried out for the first time that night, a choked sound as his orgasm startled all the tension and adrenaline and fear knotted just beneath his surface. Sharp teeth brushed against his throat, the teeth of a wide, vicious grin. They’d just eaten, but they wanted more. Their hunger could be satisfied, but never ended.

There was a shift and a press then, and Rian gasped as he felt Shar enter him without preparation, to the hilt. Whether it was fingers or cock or some other beastly appendage, Rian was in no position to say, but it was plain on Shar’s shadowed face that the penetration brought him pleasure. It was slick as it began to fuck slowly in and out of Rian’s ass, though with what, Rian also didn’t know. It didn’t matter. It felt amazing, addictive. It was more than worth the wait.

Rian grabbed at Shar’s hair and pulled him close for a kiss. The points of Shar’s teeth cut Rian’s mouth as their lips met, but this only made Rian whimper harder. He couldn’t tell what blood he was tasting was his own and what might have come from someone (or something) else. It didn’t matter. He had seen the thing fucking him rip apart a full-grown man, and he wanted that same power to take control of him. He didn’t want to be asked, because he didn’t want to risk losing his nerve, not when he finally had what he really wanted.

As his body relaxed and became used to the pressure of fucking, it seemed that whatever part of Shar’s was inside Rian grew to fill him even deeper. Oh, Shar fucked, all right, and though Rian had no basis for comparison, he couldn’t imagine anything better. He thought of how Douglas’ torso had split open, a bright blooming flower, and wondered if he could get plowed so deep he began to see cracks in the center of his own chest.

He wasn’t merely being patronized, either, the way he always imagined bored prostitutes might mimic pleasure. He could feel honest need driving Shar’s body to thrust into him deeper, harder, faster. Despite his languid limbs, Rian wrapped managed to get his feet up enough that he could lock his ankles behind the small of Shar’s back, or whatever body part he had that served the same purpose. When Shar growled deeper and began fucking himself into Rian’s body with truly bruising force, Rian just grabbed hold and encouraged him.

“Break me,” he found himself panting in Shar’s ear, the way he’d once begged destruction of a different kind. Kill him. “Fuck me.” Destroy him. “Use me.” He needs to die. “I need you inside me.” I’ll give you anything. “I’ll give you anything.”

Shar’s answer was to press his mouth against Rian’s throat, just above his pulse point, and drive into him with such punishing speed that Rian felt the breath knocked from his chest. It was as though his lungs had no more room to fill, as though they and all his other internal organs had been shoved up to let as much of Shar inside as sheer physics would allow, and then some.

Then Shar reached back and grabbed Rian’s hands from his hair, pinning them instead to the bed above Rian, and oh, Rian was coming again, shouting as he lay helpless beneath the monster of his dreams. His cock had barely made it halfway to hardness for a second time, and already it was spilling out between them, shooting more come than he thought he had in his whole body. He looked up to see the front of Shar’s suit all rumpled now, stained with semen and blood, the grisly fluid evidence of their rutting. Rian gasped with pride at the thought that he was responsible for this, at least in part. He had been the one to tempt the beast.

When Shar’s orgasm came, it was less a physical act and more some great tearing, perhaps another link on that invisible fetter breaking loose. He snarled and hissed against Rian’s throat as Rian embraced him, thinking of a story his grandmother had told them when they were young, the tale of a woman who held her lover through a night of frightful transformations until the fairies relented and changed him back into a man. Rian had always suspected such an human-shaped outcome was overrated. Now he knew why.

At last, Shar withdrew in part, though Rian could feel some portion of Shar’s essence lingering inside him. Still sleek and predatory, Shar’s poise was yet somewhat diminished as he landed on the bed beside Rian with a less-than-graceful thud. Rian smiled and stroked Shar’s hair, taking the strands that had fallen into his face and pushing them back with the rest.

After a moment, Shar opened his eyes again, and Rian stared into the piercing darkness and was not afraid. “I must admit,” Shar said after a moment, his voice huskier than it had been before, “there’s no small advantage to having bait.”

Exhausted as he was, Rian couldn’t help smiling. “I can imagine,” he tried to say casually, though as he opened his mouth to speak, he found he couldn’t stop his teeth from chattering. With the heat inside him cooling and the twinned terror and pleasure of the evening ebbing, he felt as though he’d been plunged into a bucket of ice. His whole body had begun to tremble against his will, his skin icy, the blood and come smeared across him finally giving up their last bits of heat. He felt hollowed, drained and gutted and split as completely as if he had been the evening’s prey.

So he was shocked when Shar took him into his arms, resting Rian’s head in the crook of his shoulder. He grabbed what seemed to be the side of his suit jacket, only as he threw it over Rian, it covered him like a full blanket. There was warmth to be found in there, inside. Some day he would find out just how warm, how dark, how deep. They had made a deal, after all, and they were both men of their word.

But not today. Today, he lifted his face and planted a kiss on the underside of Shar’s jaw. “I want to see you feed again,” he whispered.

Shar’s deep plum lips curled into a satisfied smile. “With pleasure,” he said.

Police who arrived on the scene the next day found a shocking amount of bodily fluids, but no corresponding signs of struggle, nor an actual body or bodies to indicate whose fluids they might be. Witness testimony from the bartender and subsequent cessation of male prostitute murders (at least, ones that fit the established pattern) led detectives to conclude at last that this was one trick-turning kid who’d gotten the drop on a crazy john, saving his own life and likely that of several others like him. The knife at the scene was matched up to the bodies found earlier, and the never-nicknamed serial killer case was closed. And when other bodies disappeared later, leaving only the evidence of some hideous foul play, the circumstances were unalike enough that not even someone looking for a pattern would have been able to connect any of the dots.

Besides, those were the kind of things that made the front covers of tabloids and gossip rags, miles away from the pages of respectable newspapers, which sometimes ran human interest pieces about upstarts in the business world, going from family tragedy to financial triumph. Sometimes those pieces were accompanied by photographs, too, beautiful posed full-color images featuring handsome young men in midnight-black suits, smiles fixed just so that no one could see whether or not blood had begun to stain their teeth.

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