Claudia sighed and pulled the wax candle from the small cake, replacing it with a folded origami one instead.
“No fire,” she muttered to herself, sliding the beautifully decorated pastry onto a silver tray and wondering if she was more worried about her unstable patient or his equally problematic doctor.
-A little from column A…-
She ignored the pointed and curious looks from her staff and the other patients as she made her way through the fancier wing of the Oakleaf Retreat, her chin held high, a thoroughly haughty expression frozen on her features.
-I’m Doctor Claudia Lyra Monére…I can do what I like...-
She stopped when she reached his door, blinking back her hesitation as she straightened her dress, forcing herself forwards and going in with a bright smile.
"Happy birthday," she singsonged at him, stepping over the threshold and kicking the door closed behind her. Being a Monére was one thing…being spied on while she most likely made a sentimental fool of herself was quite another.
Blue eyes swung towards her briefly as she entered the room, his head tilting back over the desk chair that he was sprawled in. A small flicker of surprise danced through his gaze, brows knitting in a fleeting moment of suspicion as he eyed the cake before he gave her a wry half-smirk, his attention returning to the slowly darkening sky outside his window.
"It's not til Saturday," he told her blandly, shifting his feet on the dark wood of the desk and sinking further into his seat, then, almost as an afterthought he added, "Nice dress."
"I'm a busy girl, Niki. You get it now or not at all... shall I take my gifts elsewhere?" she offered, her bright emerald eyes combing over him, analysing his expression and posture.
-I knew this was a bad idea.-
She was making progress with Baelian…her main concern now was ascertaining how strong Nikolai was...but this? She doubted herself. And her methods.
And he knew it. A brow perked at her words and he turned slightly in the chair, an arm dangling over the side as his cheek pressed against the wood and his hair fell into his face. Blue eyes drank her in, from crown to toe and back again, lingering here and there before his smile widened, though it fell short of his eyes.
"You're right...and I'll be dead tomorrow so we might as well live it up now, eh? What's a few more calories gonna do?"
Smirking, he threw her a wink. He seemed tired...fatigue had set in and he was hardly his usual exuberant self.
-Don’t you start brooding too…-
"Yes, well. The requested birthday presents do have to be delivered before certain deadlines...and in a certain order, otherwise it all backfires. Jasper wants to be whole, Baelian wants Alina...which I am so close to managing...." Claudia put the cake down on the desk by his feet and pulled a blunt knife from the tray, offering it to him and rubbing her head as she gestured to the sweet, “Make a wish..." she muttered.
-Or do us both a favour and stab me. I won’t die, but it’ll hurt like hell and then I'll come to my senses and get out of here...-
She was tired, and hurting all over. She was being selfish really…the cake and the visit were almost entirely for her own gratification. She’d never had a companion like Niki before, someone who matched her in intellect and madness, and she was loath to let him go so soon.
-Getting cold feet are we?-
She would live up to her promise to Jasper. Of course she would. But for one more moment she just wanted her other half. And if this gesture of closure really did help sedate or add uncertainty to Nikolai, even subconsciously, all the better for Baelian.
-All the better for all of us-
Niki watched her wrestle with herself, those ever-calculating eyes narrowing as she spouted her diatribe at him, giving her a mock look of understanding and nodding vehemently.
"Mmmm, of course, of course..." he murmured finally, leaning forward and taking the knife, waving it over the cake as if deciding how best to murder it, "And where in your plans are we factoring MY birthday present? I believe I made a request..." he added, stabbing the confection beside the paper candle and turning his eyes up to her as his lips pursed. He blew on the origami creation pointedly, then chuckled, "We can't burn down this place with a paper candle, Claudia...so I'm gonna guess that I don't get what I asked for this year..."
"That isn't what you asked for," she smirked, then raised an eyebrow at him and sat down on the nearby velvet armchair, waiting for him to cut the cake he’d just impaled.
"Oh really? I remember it being part of what I requested..." came the reply. He pushed the knife downwards, slicing into the cake and leaving the utensil sticking out at the bottom. His usual mirth was absent and he seemed irritable, annoyed even. His lips curved into something almost akin to a sneer, his eyes moving to the twilight outside and his gaze darkening considerably at the outside world.
Claudia frowned. Pouting as he was, he almost looked like Baelian.
-Something’s wrong. This is wrong.-
She shook her head. She'd been a fool to try and get anything from any of them. This world was never for her…family wasn't for her…understanding wasn't for her.
-He is not for you.-
"Well,” she said suddenly, “Perhaps I can send some matches in with your breakfast order. Keep the candle. It'll make good kindling…just don't miss your party tomorrow." She gripped the arms of the chair, wondering how best to make her apologies and take her leave.
"What do you want from me Claudia?" he asked her flatly, those shadowed hues turning to stare at her as she muttered her social niceties, "You want me to play grateful and smile and tell you how brilliant you are some more? Should I fill your head with more fantasies that we both know are never going to come true? Is that what you'd like?"
Dragging his feet off the desk, Nikolai dropped them onto the floor and sat forward, glaring at her.
"You come in here with a pastry and a pretty dress, all smiles and celebration when I know damn well that you don't feel like smiling OR celebrating..." his lip curled and he shook his head, "You're sacrificing the only friend you have to accommodate a bunch of people that don't know or care about you...so they can be happy, which we both know they won't be anyway...."
He stopped, raising a hand to silence her as if it had been she and not he that had been ranting.
"I can't make it any clearer to you than I already have how idiotic this plan is...I've already offered myself up as a sacrifice to your little self-discovery adventure...so you do what you like now, just don't blame me when nothing changes...because it won't."
Claudia stared at him for a long moment before a hollow laugh fell from her lips.
"What do I want?,” she sneered, “What I want is people I don't have to babysit, or fix, or continually pull out of the fire just to watch them blindly stumble into another catastrophe. I want the only person I have ever found common ground with to not be just a shattered fragment of someone who actually couldn't give a shit about me unless I am a pawn on his board - and even then he still calls me monstrous and incapable…" She looked at him, her exhaustion showing clearly as hatred seeped into her features.
"You know who came to call on me, in all this time? No one. Not those I gave safe haven to, not those I worked to save...no one. Don't think I don't know where I stand, Nikolai...I know all too clearly. I stand in the dark, where all the monsters live…" she lowered her eyes to the floor, "I am not doing it for them anymore. I am doing it because I need you out of here. Back in the world. Whatever 'you' end up being, I need you to stop looking at me like you do and go back to telling me what a tragic disappointment I am, a snobbish ditz...I can't handle myself around you, as you are. You smell like blood, and anger. You speak clearly in beautiful riddles and it hurts my head…"
He watched her silently, curiosity and slight fascination washing through the darkness in his eyes as she spoke, as if he were surprised by her honesty, even though it was obvious that nothing she said was news to him. Tilting his head thoughtfully, he reached out and cut a tiny sliver of cake, slumping back in his chair and chewing on it as he studied her.
Finally, swallowing, he licked his lip and sighed.
"Jerald," he said slowly, "Used to warn us against trying to escape. Every time we tried, he'd be so disappointed that we'd even bothered, like it was some great betrayal of his trust...like he'd given us everything and was so hurt that we couldn't understand the gift..." a slight scowl twisted his features and he shrugged, "That's what made him weak...this need to be acknowledged for all the 'good' he thought he was doing for us, like keeping us fed and clothed somehow cancelled out the demon that he was...he didn't understand that it was the demon that made him strong. I would have respected the demon so much more if he didn't feel the need to justify its existence. We are what we are, Claudia…" he turned solemn blue eyes on her, "No matter what Baelian has led you to believe...you are Claudia Lyra Monére, and the only thing disappointing about it is that you don't seem to understand how perfect you already are..." he blinked at her, lips quirking in that ghost of a smile, "You don't need to 'handle yourself'...you need to let yourself go…"
-Stop. Just stop.-
She didn't like being compared to Jerald, but that was not what darkened her expression. She needed to leave, the way he was looking at her made her realise just how much she was going to miss the challenge that was this fragment of her brother’s mind.
-Get out. Now-
"You'll be fine, Niki," she muttered, "I promise. You won't die. You will merge, and maybe Baelian will be a little more erratic, and maybe he will love Bella, and maybe he will hold Grigori's strings tighter than ever before...but you won't disappear....I thought Jasper was the core, but more and more I feel you'll blend...you'll just not be..." she frowned, about to say 'like me', but instead just shaking her head.
"So encouraging," she finished finally, in an effort to be tactful.
"I see..." he nodded to himself, then shrugged, rising from the chair and sauntering over to her casually, "Then I suppose this is goodnight and thank you...I do ever so appreciate your support and the humble application of your genius mind on my lowly person, Doctor Monére..."
His tone was completely sincere, though she could be forgiven from presuming that he was mocking her. He stopped before her chair and held out a hand, lashes lowering in yielding as he inclined his head slightly.
"I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours of nannyhood and playing nursemaid...and do hope you think of me in those long, dark days going round and round the carousel that this family will no doubt have you riding on until you finally cave and kill yourself..."
Claudia blinked up at him, her gaze flickering to his hand before she took it slowly. It felt warm and real against her own. She grit her teeth.
"I won't be staying with them," she said almost defensively, gripping his hand a little too tightly as she tried to restrain herself…from God only knew what, "And I won't be dying, but thank you for your well wishes."
"Of course," he replied, nodding cordially, "You think you're already dead..." his head tilted and he eyed her, as always, for all she didn't say behind her words. His thumb moved to rub small circles on her skin, lashes flickering at the contact, the inevitable dilation of his pupils and the increase in heart rate following suit like clockwork.
"Goodbye my Lady," he murmured at her, "The gypsy boy bids you fond farewell."
Claudia told herself to let go, nodding and giving all the niceties she had been brought up to give…but instead she just gripped his hand harder, feeling herself flush.
‘Leave,’ her mind ordered, `LEAVE.’
She leant in a little closer. She could smell him. Not Baelian or Jasper.
Nikolai’s fingers had tightened on her hand and he was gazing at her with those bottomless blue eyes. His breath had quickened somewhat to match the pounding of his pulse...lips parting as a fine tremor danced through his body. After a moment he blinked, one corner of his mouth quirking.
"Something you wanted, sister dear?" he asked in amusement, the look on his face sending a shiver through her, then a wave of annoyance and anger.
Claudia glared at him sharply, jerking her hand closer and pulling him towards her.
-Fine. You want to play, I’ll play.-
"I wanted one last game Nikolai…" she purred, her free hand lifting to stroke his cheek fondly, "But not from a pouting little boy. I want to play with that part, even if he is just a fragment, that understands me…can match me just for a while…before we both die a little."
Niki had allowed himself to be moved, teetering off balance and closer to her, so close he could feel her breath on his face. His eyes slid half closed at her touch and he growled, a deep sound that fell from his lips as he loomed over her.
"And what game is that, Claudia Monére..?" he asked, the amusement fading from his tone, replaced with something else entirely. His eyes opened and he stared into her, his free hand clenching and unclenching, fingers twitching with the effort it took not to touch her.
-You’re such a good boy when you want something, aren’t you?-
"Challenge me,” she said, shrugging as if it made no difference to her, “I don't care if it's cat's cradle or chess, a fuck or a fist fight. I want to feel something. Just once…" there was a strange sharpness in her tone, something that had been numbed and abandoned for far too long…almost daring him to oblige.
-I want to feel you-
Brows lofted, his right hand remaining wrapped around hers as his left rose to grasp her chin between thumb and forefinger, turning her face up to his. He twitched, considering her offer and his options before making the inevitable choice, bowing his head further until he was barely a breath away.
"Tell me a story..." he whispered against her lips.
Claudia smiled softly, her eyes fluttering closed in sudden girlish delight as she resisted the urge to bite his hand or tell him to say please.
"Once,” she began slowly, “…long ago; when people still hovered around fires in the cold winter evening, Godfather Death was waiting for his next friend under the moon…"
He kissed her, hard, cutting off words and breath, his arms moving down and around her and drawing her into him. Pale fingers snaked to tangle in her hair, his mouth trailing a path over her jaw before returning to claim her lips again with a moan.
Claudia pressed against him hungrily, her body screaming for sensation of any sort as she tilted her head and ran her tongue up his neck, grazing her teeth lightly over his racing pulse. The movement almost made him lose his footing and she tried very hard not to laugh.
-Silly little gypsy boy…-
Niki smirked and released her, gripping the arms of the chair on either side of her body as he lowered himself to the floor before her feet. His hands hooked behind her knees, pulling them apart and dragging her closer until he was between her legs, blue eyes staring up at her intently, his head tilting to a favourable angle for another quick kiss.
"Godfather Death was waiting..." he prompted, one hand trailing up her side to the bodice of her pretty dress, deft fingers plucking the buttons open one by one. His mouth followed the path of exposed flesh, heated breath trailing across her chest with each inch of new skin until she moaned.
"....under the moon, for his next friend when an old lady came past…” Claudia wound her legs around him, shifting to the edge of the chair, “’This must be her,’ thought death…but the old lady tottered past with sure step and light heart. It wasn't long bef...ohhhh...before a small child limped into sight, but he too looked very much alive as he struggled past the grim spectre…"
His fingers curled around the negligee beneath her fancy clothing, pushing emerald lace to one side as his lips found purchase on her bare breast. Teeth grazed her nipple…then he bit her, just hard enough to elicit a response before moving to do the same to the other.
"Poor spectre," he murmured against her skin, "All alone without a friend in the world..."
Kissing the underside of her breast, Nikolai paused as fabric prevented him from going any further. For a moment at least...seconds later he'd taken hold of her dress, yanking it and sending the remaining buttons scattering. The material tore easily, exposing her stomach, which he wasted no time running his tongue over, drawing a lazy circle around her belly button.
Claudia giggled lightly, ticklish, pulling him closer with her legs, her hands trailing over his shirt buttons.
-Red. Always red.-
She found herself wondering distantly if he was as self-conscious about his scars as the others. Flicking a few buttons out of their fastenings, she looked at him in curiosity, waiting for a reaction. Nikolai’s head tilted, a quizzical expression crossing his features as he stared back at her, a small laugh falling from his lips.
"What?" he asked, lashes fluttering as she ground against him again, his smile widening. Whatever reaction she was looking for, he seemed to have no idea. His hands moved to her legs, nails scratching down her calves as they studied each other in silence.
-I’ll take that as a yes-
She considered his lack of resistance consent enough, figuring that if things changed, she'd know about it very quickly. Pulling open his shirt, she slid her body closer to him, pressing her bare flesh against his. He was warm…she had forgotten how warm people were. Nestling against his neck, Claudia breathed him in with a soft growl of delight before picking up where she left off in the story.
“...Death had a friend. The Moon was always there, even if sometimes the clouds covered it...” she paused and bit his shoulder playfully.
Nikolai’s mouth fell open in a gasp, his arms moving to pull her in tighter as his cheek rubbed against hers. He buried his fingers in her hair, his bare chest rising and falling with laboured breaths as he listened to her words.
“…the Moon watched Death work without so much as flinching…"
His teeth bared and he bit her in return...drawing the dress off her shoulder and nibbling his way over her flesh. When she uttered the word 'flinching' he bit harder, smirking against her skin at the way her body jolted in response.
"Oh I'm sorry...do go on..." he murmured, hands shifting to her hips, fingers digging in roughly.
Claudia flushed, a whimper of delight escaping her. Drawing up, she pushed him backwards with her knee, prodding him in the chest and sliding off the chair to straddle his lap before tangling herself back in his arms and grinning at him darkly.
"It took Death a long, long time to realise that his quest was not mortal. As he stood, still as a grave in the dimming light of the stars, his fiery gaze lifted to the moon...a mere sliver in the sky."
His breath was ragged now, his forehead creased in pleasure as he ground his body up against hers, his mouth trailing her neck while she continued her dark little tale. Heated kisses fell on her collarbone...one...two...three...then captured her lips again, halting the story as his tongue slid into her mouth, teeth baring against her lower lip. He growled, then chuckled darkly, whispering her name against her mouth.
Claudia moaned hungrily against his lips in response, drinking in the sensations of him and playfully poking him in the ribs in mock retaliation for his amusement at her delight.
-Bite me. Bite me harder…I want to feel…-
Niki laughed, giving her exactly what she wanted, as if he could read her so clearly she hardly had to say anything at all. One hand rose to press about her neck, fingers tightening as he pushed her back against the chair, sliding out from under her and dragging his tongue down her body.
"The story...Claudia..." he murmured against her stomach before biting it and dodging whatever limb she flailed in response. His hands moved up her fancy party dress, lifting it to expose her thigh. Which he bit. Hard.
“Where was I…fuck...” she gave a delighted cry and writhed at his bite, fighting to collect herself and nudging his face with her leg as he laughed. "The...story. Yes. Death did not want to take the moon, indeed he didn't even know if he could. So he faded back in to the shadows and waited for night to turn to day. Days past before things started to fall apart. Waves skipped over the beaches and tore down buildings, fires started without warning..."
An almost maniacal giggle sounded from Niki's lips as she spoke of fire and destruction, his teeth biting along her thigh until his head was under her skirt. He said something, which sounded like 'louder,' but was muffled by an unceremonial face plant into her crotch.
And then he bit her again, prompting a sharp cry before her hand lashed out, gripping his hair and dragging him up for a kiss.
"Stay close, gypsy boy," she insisted breathlessly, her left-hand stroking down the scars on his body...marks of things he had survived. She realised almost sadly that she recognised many of them. He watched her trace them almost in awe, confusion flickering briefly through his face, as if he wasn't entirely 100% sure how he'd gotten them...but it gone before it had even begun, washed away in desire and the heat of the moment. Claudia ran her tongue along one scar here…another there…fingers trailing down further over his navel finally to undo his fly.
-Don’t think about the past. Don’t think about anything. Just feel…feel while you can.-
"Normally 'good' and 'sane' people started doing the oddest things…the streets were a constant noise of alarms and concerns loudly voiced over rubble and..." she moaned softly and bit his ear, "…ashes."
He’d let her do as she liked, kissing and biting any part of bare skin that he could reach as she recited her tale, leaving the unfastening of his trousers completely up to her.
Until of course she bit him again.
Then something in Niki snapped and he snarled, seizing hold of Claudia and lifting her as if she were a rag doll, turning to deposit her on the desk. The cake she'd so kindly made him was sent sliding over the polished surface with a swipe of his hand, teetering on the edge before dumping itself face down on the carpet.
Claudia laughed gaily to see him so fired up. She pressed her forehead to his, letting their fingers entwine and guiding his hand down between her thighs, her breath becoming ragged.
"The things we could do," she sighed, closing her eyes and letting her head fall back against the smooth wooden surface, "I miss the taste of blood."
Blue eyes stared into her, his hand traversing the terrain of her writhing body as she led him, fingers curling upwards beneath her dress, dancing everywhere but where he knew she wanted.
"I could give you blood, Claudia," Nikolai whispered to her, his breath coming in short gasps, "If you let me..." Fingers hooked into her underwear, tugging at it, his head tilting at that odd angle it always seemed to find. Then he stopped and looked at her.
"Ask me..." he murmured.
-Beautiful, beautiful monster…-
Claudia stared back at him with clear, intense eyes.
This creature, with his fascinating mind and a bloodlust to match hers…they moved each other like they moved their chess pieces…but that, she supposed, was the game.
“Ask me, Claudia…” he crooned at her again, a devilish glint in his eyes.
“Fuck me…” she purred in response, then smirked and added, “Please."
If you’d asked her, there wasn't much Claudia could say was truly genuine about Nikolai Katorga...so adept was he at playing games. More often than not everything he did and said was for some alternate purpose or end...she knew that even before she’d read the Professor’s notes.
And yet, the smile he gave her and the look of sheer hunger that filled his face at her simple words seemed to her in that moment to be one of the sincerest expressions of emotion that he'd shown since she'd met him.
An almost primal growl fell from his lips, the hand up her skirt dragging her underwear down and off with the skill and speed one would expect of an 'opportunistic gypsy.' Niki was on her in an instant, making quick work of his own remaining buttons and fastenings, his bare chest pressing against hers as he threw his full weight on her over the desk.
And then he was inside her, the accompanying moan that fell from his lips speaking volumes about how long he'd waited for just such a moment.
-Oh…you do like me-
Claudia cried out in delight, her hand rising to trace down his face and across his lips, her mind racing to file away each noise and breath, beating back the hideous numbness that seemed her almost constant companion. His mouth opened against her hand, teeth grazing her fingers as those shimmering blue eyes gazed into her, searching for something. For the longest time he didn't move, he just lay trembling on top of her, as if wanting to draw out each torturous moment.
He was beautiful to her, vicious and clever, the darkness that she saw reflected in his eyes calling to something primal within her. Her free hand grabbed him closer, pulling him deeper inside her until he almost mewled.
Finally surrendering to instinct, he shifted above her, drawing out and thrusting roughly back again, a delighted grin painting his face at her reaction. She stared at him, her eyes glittering with dark adoration before fluttering closed in ecstasy.
"Oh, there you are..." he breathed, as if she hadn't been there the whole time. When he kissed her once more it was like a man starved, his hands tangling in her hair in case she dared to think of pulling away.
"Niki..." she looked at him earnestly, then shook sentiment off as she arched in delight, "God, you really are different to them, aren't you?" she moaned, brushing her lips along his neck.
"I'm the best of the bunch baby," he chuckled darkly in her ear, groaning as he shifted his angle to drive deeper into her. One hand moved to grip the edge of the desk, the other hooking under her leg and drawing it up and over his shoulder as his body. Lashes fluttered, a growl sounding in his throat as he quickened his movements, brows furrowing as they became rougher.
Claudia laughed and watched his head fall back, curling her fingers around his wrist to brace herself against him, her other foot finding purchase as she tilted her hips.
"Must be the Gypsy in you..." she chuckled, seizing his hand and guiding it to rake down her side, eliciting a whimpered gasp of delight as she felt her climax begin to build.
"Which puts you…in a rather scandalous position, my Lady..." he smirked at her, "…if people should learn...of your fraternisations...with a lowly...oh Jesus...Claudia..." his breath caught and he moaned into her ear, his ragged breath coming in short gasps. She laughed, arrogance returning to weave through her words.
"I have no 'people', no peers....oh, fuck...God," tangling a hand in his hair, she whimpered as she listened to the noises he made, watching his face in wonder and fascination, "I could burn this world to cinders…and never touch a King equal to you…let alone me…" she gloated.
"You flatter me..." He hissed through clenched teeth, eyes sliding closed, "Remember this..." he whispered, features twisting in pleasure, his body jerking.
-Like chess pieces we are…one black and one white…remember this…-
Claudia's eyes glittered with the closest thing she'd felt to joy in years as Niki echoed her own words back to her…words that she’d whispered to him so long ago, when they were just children.
"I have…I will…" she promised, her voice barely a gasp, her toes curling in pleasure. Her entire body was trembling, her nerve endings zinging with the onslaught of so much stimulation at once.
A finger rose to press against her lower lip, Nikolai’s hair falling into his eyes.
"Promise me little pussycat..." he murmured, replacing his finger with his mouth, his tongue snaking out to lick her lips. His forehead pressed against hers, his body shuddering as it neared release.
"Claudia...Claudia...promise me…" he moaned.
"If you think…I've forgotten a..." she broke off in a gasp, "…moment of you, you're more a fool than the others in there..." she nuzzled her face against him, kissing his earlobe, "But you know I won't..." her breath caught in her throat suddenly, a wave of panic hitting her that she quickly pushed aside.
"I promise. This will linger…" she whispered, staring at him.
An almost childish smile graced his lips before he pressed his face against her cheek, moaning and shuddering, driving her down against the table.
"Good..." he growled into her ear, "Because if you forget me...Claudia...I'll fucking...murder you..." His thrusts had become irregular, cobalt hues rolling back, almost as if it was his threat that would finally send him over the edge.
“Oh Niki Niki, you could try…” she crooned back at him, “…but I’d take you with me..." Claudia's eyes sparked and she laughed, pulling back to meet his heavy gaze, "Let's do that....let’s go out, covered in each other's blood…the sensation...God. It would be...fuck..."
Nikolai’s expression changed as she spoke, a light igniting something dark and dangerous in his eyes. He started to laugh again as he moved inside her.
"Why wait..." he snarled, biting down on her lip hard, drawing blood. Hands rose to grip her face, his tongue lapping at the crimson stains on her mouth, muffling her shriek of pain. After a moment Claudia wrenched away, moving to rub her lips against his cheek, then giggling as she licked her blood from his face with a moan.
"You are my kind of crazy," she purred, pulling his hair to expose his neck and chasing a stray droplet of crimson with her tongue.
Niki’s lips parted to respond, his blue eyes hardening and his expression all at once becoming very serious.
"Claudia..." he panted, a gasp cutting off his words as she pulled his hair. His palms slammed onto the table on either side of her, the sharp pain in his scalp knocking the air from him as his body trembled with sudden climax. Groaning, he bit into her shoulder, collapsing and convulsing on top of her.
"Fuck me..." he gasped, "Jesus fucking...God..."
The sensation of his teeth in her flesh hit her hard, pushing her own orgasm over the edge seconds later.
"Mon dieu..." Claudia clung to him, her nails digging into his back, her face pressed hard into his neck as she sucked in what little air her panting breaths would allow.
-Remember remember remember what this feels like…remember…when he’s gone…-
The world went black for a long moment, black and still as the grave. She lay back beneath him, shuddering, and let her breathing settle, nestling her face against his shoulder, the metallic smell of blood and sex making her hum in contented delight.
Niki’s ragged breaths stilled anything he might have said, his forehead pressed into the polished wood of the table, his quivering body quite heavy and limp over her in the aftermath of their 'game.' He squirmed slightly, moving inside her, a soft moan escaping him, followed by a rather large sigh. His pulse pounded, thrumming a rapid beat, head turning to the side finally so he could eye her in silence.
The quiet made Claudia hyper aware of the absence of usual chatter from her 'delusions'. She opened her eyes and looked around, seeing only golden orbs watching from the corner.
-It’s so still-
She frowned and looked to Niki, surprised to see him watching her.
"I presume that adequately counts as feeling something, Lady Monére," he breathed finally, watching her with a curious expression and making no move to get off of her.
Claudia nodded and made a happy 'hmmm' noise.
"Oh yes. Quite a something indeed," she licked her still bleeding lip, swallowing the blood slowly building in her mouth, “Even beats chess, don't you agree?"
Niki blinked again, not responding. A slight tremor still danced through his form, lashes flickering as he watched her. Then all at once he was pushing himself up and off the desk, pulling out of her with a slight gasp that he swallowed with a strategic cough.
His eyes trailed over her dishevelled and half naked form, sprawled as it was over the dark wood, fingers moving to adjust his trousers, then rake through his mussed hair.
"Drink?" he asked flatly, "I don't have anything, but, you know, I can order in..."
Claudia watched him, unmoving and barely hearing the question, but nodding anyway. Still fascinated by the silence, she tilted her head as if lazily considering a piece of art, her eyes following him across the room.
There were no sounds except the two of them…and a slight wind outside.
"The nurse brought you wine earlier today," she said, amusement playing on her lips as she sat up, "You knew I was coming."
"Did she just?" he responded, eyes widening innocently, "I would never presume..." the glimmer returned to his gaze, albeit somewhat less dazzling than usual. He seemed slightly out of sorts, wary...even a tad shaken. Moving to his bed, he drew back a pillow, pulling a bottle of red and a glass from behind it and waving it at her.
"Wine?" he asked nonchalantly.
"Please," she nodded, then looked at him with a frown. “Do you need a moment?" she asked, pulling herself together and sliding to the edge of the table, her features painted with concern.
Nikolai paused, confusion crossing his face, then he shook his head.
"A moment for what?" he asked, "The bottle's already opened, they wouldn't give me a corkscrew..."
Popping said cork, he tossed it aside and poured her a rather generous glass, sauntering over to place it on the table beside her, eyes trawling over her half naked body again. He drew in a sharp breath as a fresh wave of desire alighted his eyes then, blinking it away, he placed the bottle beside the glass, moving a respectable distance from her and perking a brow.
'Your move,' his eyes seemed to say.
“Well…” Claudia murmured, taking up the glass and lifting it in a toast. Nikolai watched her, saying nothing, his expression giving little away as he waited for her to go on. Unconsciously, his hands moved to his shirt, pale fingers toying with his buttons.
Claudia opened her mouth to say something…a snarky toast…something heartfelt…but then she closed it again, drinking hurriedly and avoiding his eyes.
For the hundredth time, she thought about the merge. Things were starting to get complex…more and more Nikolai was differing from the Professor's notes and theories, in small but concerning ways.
-Or perhaps 'delightful' ways?-
Her heart skipped a beat and she licked her bleeding lip again. What if the 'healthier’ and ‘whole' Jasper she delivered back to the Family had more than a small sliver of her Niki? She wondered distantly if this new creature could have the emotional distance AND the vengeful bloodlust needed to help her with…
She lowered the glass from her lips, self-doubt etched on her like a canvas. Looking up, she realised that he was watching her again.
"Something wrong?" he asked, his intense eyes studying her movements and expression carefully as he smoothed at his clothing. His face was flushed, pale skin looking healthier and more alive than it had in a good long while, his hair tousled and determined to misbehave.
“No, nothing’s wrong…” Claudia shook her head slowly, "That's the problem, Niki…" she smiled a wistful and sad smile, taking another sip from her glass, “Things never add up around you. You're determined to be an anomaly...which is why you are so fun, I suppose…" pushing off the desk, she floated over to fix his hair.
"All of you," she added, "Even your damn hair…" her hand drew back sharply at the look on his face, slight alarm filling her features.
His breath had quickened instantly at her touch, his head quirking as he watched her toy with his appearance. His tongue slid out to dampen his lips, teeth grazing his pout as he stared at the blood on her mouth.
"Let me guess," he drawled after a moment, fingers twitching, "Death decided in the end that the Moon was making people crazy and had to die for the good of the world...even though the Moon was Death's only friend..."
Claudia smiled thinly and nodded.
"Yes. But the Moon comes back…it is the nature of the moon…" reaching out again, she habitually fixed his shirt, straightening it carefully, "Lunacy. Lunatic....Luna…" she laughed, then her face fell and she touched his cheek, "I don't think this will work, Niki...I don't think I can...."
Words trailed off as his face tilted into her touch, those blazing blue eyes fixed on her intently.
"You...like myself...can do anything you desire, Claudia..." he told her, the back of his hand brushing against her leg. Slowly his fingers curled up, underneath her skirts, his thumb tracing between her thighs to the sticky warmth he'd left there. He smirked lightly, fingers drawing it out across her skin, his breath catching as his gaze dropped to her bloody mouth again.
"Think about that tomorrow, when you have to make your choice..." Nikolai’s lashes fluttered and he sighed, his free arm knocking the glass of wine out of her hand. Claudia watched it go with barely the bat of an eyelash, emerald hues lifting to meet his gaze once more. Whatever she saw in his eyes, she had no doubt it was reflected in her own.
Niki drew her closer, his tongue lapping at her crimson stained pout as strong arms moved to lift her off her feet.
“Tonight..." he murmured, dragging her towards his bed, "Tonight belongs to me..."
Claudia moaned, then giggled, shoving all thoughts of probability and logic from her mind as she stumbled ungraciously backwards.
"Mmm tonight is yours, gypsy boy...” she whispered, tripping over herself and falling back onto the mattress, her hand instantly sliding between them, fingers finding him already hard. Her skin lit up again at his touch and she pulled him down on top of her, lips pressing against his ear.
“Tonight is yours...and you are mine…”
Written by Luna Madness and N Ristovski.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.