They walked slowly through the woods, Rayne wearing nothing but Xav’s sweatshirt and Xavier wishing he’d known Rayne didn’t have even shoes on so he could have brought him his clothes. When they walked up through the back garden towards the house he could almost find the humour in how their roles were exactly opposite to how they had been when they first arrived, with Rayne none too steady on his feet and Xavier searingly overprotective and ready to rip anyone’s head off that looked crosswise at him.

Dominic was watching out for them and as they wandered through the walled garden hand in hand, almost like a same-sex take on the legend of Eden, he came hurrying out with a long housecoat and wrapped it around Rayne’s shoulders, practically drowning him in the sumptuous material.

“It’s pretty, your Ladyship, but it doesn’t go with my shoes,” Rayne deadpanned. “And I’m not cold, really. I’ve got Xav to keep me warm.”

Dominic looked from one to the other and beamed like a wicked cherub.

“You look way too pleased with yourself, Dom,” Xavier observed.

“Young love always warms my old heart,” their amiable host said without his smile fading one iota. He wriggled between them and slung one arm around both their shoulders as they wandered back towards the house. “There’s nothing like it, Xavier. Love is a champion restorative, I promise you.”

“…says the man who’s never been in a steady relationship for more than fifteen minutes!” Rayne teased him.

Dominic made a rude noise through his nostrils.

“Steady relationships are for people with mortgages and hernias, doddering through life doing things they hate,” he pointed out. “I’m talking about passion that could burn down a building; joy enough to light up the planet. You don’t get that out of ‘steady relationships’!”

Xavier was watching Dominic with wary curiosity.

“What? You don’t believe me?” Dominic asked.

“No, it’s not that. I’m just waiting for you to bust into song or something and go skipping through the daisies.”

Dominic gave him a warning stare and Xav grinned back at him. “You do look a bit like Julie Andrews, you know.”

“Cheeky pup! Am I supposed to take that as a compliment?” Dominic released them and performed an airy pirouette on the lawn. He came to a halt with his arms flung wide and laughed enthusiastically. “Wylde I can just about believe that of, but you are too young to be so jaded, Mr. Gavrilov. And I see just a little gleam of that magic in your eyes. What have you two been up to down by the lake to give you both such a delicious aura?”

“None of your business.” Xavier said, shaking his head at Dominic and chuckling. “Just what kind of herbage are you growin’ out here anyway? And why haven’t you been sharing?”

“You never asked, sweetie,” Dominic chuckled, blowing him a kiss. “I didn’t think you smoked.”

He turned back towards the house but winked at Rayne as he did so. “Someone’s hungry I think.”

Rayne, in turn, glanced at Xavier, then reached out to tow him closer.

“Do you trust me?” he asked quietly. “Do you trust me never to intentionally hurt you?”

Xavier’s expression instantly became serious, and wary. Questions like that, especially out of the blue, usually meant something unpleasant was about to happen. He swallowed and nodded though. “Of course I do.”

Rayne’s lips caressed his cheek and slid to his earlobe then his neck, kissing and then nipping lightly at him. He took no more than a taste of Xavier, even less than the previous night but his mouth lingered there, moving sweetly, soaking up the warmth of Xavier’s skin as his hands caressed his lover’s body.

“You mean more than I can say in words, Xavier,” he whispered softly. “And you taste so good, better than anything. I can’t wait for you to be well again.”

Xavier shivered under Rayne’s hands as a warm streak of arousal flowed into him. “Mmm, neither can I…” He whispered back. “I’m almost all better now…” He said, although it was meant to inform rather than truly tempt. He knew Rayne needed a good feed right now, and he knew he wouldn’t take it from him.

It struck him then, what he’d missed, and he could have slapped his own forehead for the moment of ‘duh!’ that hit him. That’s why Dominic was prancing around like a stoned out fairy. He was about to get some fang! For a half second the darker side of him whispered that wasn’t that just oh-so-convenient that Dom had invited them out here where there really wasn’t a whole lot of accessible feeders and Xav was too weak to lose much blood.

It lasted only a moment though, because he knew Dominic had been genuinely concerned for him when he’d asked them to come here.

Rayne drew back and Xavier looked into his nearly colourless hungry eyes. He kissed his lips softly and tipped his head ever so slightly toward the direction Dominic had taken. “You need to feed, and get warm.”

“Can’t keep dinner waiting, it’ll go cold,” Rayne remarked with a knowing smirk. “Nothing worse!”

He kissed Xavier again, more tenderly, then touched a hand to his cheek as he turned to follow Lord Warren, whispering; “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” Xavier murmured once Rayne had disappeared in the direction Dominic had gone.

When Rayne reached the kitchen Dominic hopped up shamelessly onto the big table and tilted his head rather coquettishly at the vampire. Rayne rolled his eyes.

“You are mental, Warren,” he said. “You want me to perform blood-sucking ravishment on the fuckin’ table?”

“Ravishment!” Dom grinned at him. “I like the sound of that. Are you going to ravish me, Mr Vampire?”

He unfastened his shirt with a playful smile and leaned back, artlessly revealing what was still quite a decent body. Rayne took three strides that brought him between the older man’s legs and he leaned over Lord Warren, shoving him back down on the table with one hand in the middle of his bared chest, then bent over him, still loosely clad in the long velvet housecoat like some degenerate 1920s version of Count Dracula. He bared his fangs and hissed theatrically.

Dominic sniggered, which totally spoiled the effect.

Xavier had come in quietly and he moved around to one side of the table as they were playing like they were in some camp teen romance. He bent to lean across, elbows resting just above Dominic’s head, and his chin propped on his hands as he looked down at him benevolently. “He likes it better if you at least play hard to get.” He told him with a wink and a grin.

“Hey-lp!” Dominic squeaked like Penelope Pitstop. “Hey-lp! It’s the Hooded Claw!”

Rayne cackled enthusiastically, throwing the collar of the long, lightweight coat up over his head and springing up onto the table as light as a cat, one knee between his luncheon voucher’s parted thighs, the other coming up and over his left leg to half straddle him, pinning him down on the table with both hands gripping his shoulders.

“It’s payback time, Pipsqueak!” the vampire chuckled. “I’ll take my quarter in the red-stuff, shall I?”

He and Dom vanished beneath the fluttering gown as Rayne dropped onto the older man like a hawk stooping on a rodent. From under the bucking lurching pall of velvet Lord Warren exclaimed, in a muffled tone; “Oh! Sweet Lady, that’s… Ohhhh!”

Moments later, Rayne made a sound deep in his chest that was almost sensual, and Dominic echoed it, gasping softly. His left hand was stretched out beyond the hem of the long coat and it grasped at the lip of the table now, the knuckles turning white. His right knee, the one that Rayne was not astride, came up slowly, its bare foot trailing along the warm, polished wood, then sliding alongside Rayne’s naked thigh, stroking up and down it encouragingly.

The vampire gulped quietly and moaned again, with definite pleasure this time.

This close to the pair of them Xavier could not help but be sucked into their growing sensuality. He had forgotten for a moment that he couldn’t block it and the ribbon of desire that had floated through him when Rayne nicked him a minute ago stirred restlessly inside. Something was odd though, something not right… and then Xavier realised what was different.

He was used to being on the receiving end of Rayne’s bite, but he was more plugged into Rayne’s head right now rather than Dominic’s. He was getting more of how it felt from his lover’s point of view, and he was having a hard time not completely sinking into the delicious warmth. His eyes half closed and he trailed his fingers in a light caress from Dominic’s white knuckled grip up his bare arm.

Dominic groaned huskily and the foot that was sliding up Rayne’s leg eased over the curve of his hip, pushing the coat back and exposing the silken lines of his thigh and his arse. Rayne knelt back for a moment, shaking off the discarded coat completely, his lips parted around a fanged and bloody smile. Under him, Dominic’s back arched as he pushed his hips up from the table, grinding against the vampire hungrily. His moss coloured eyes were closed but his mouth was still open and gasping as the blood ran down his neck from a much less restrained bite.

Rayne’s gaze was molten green, the pupils huge and dark, giving him a distracted and slightly deranged look. He leaned forward and touched his bloody lips to Xavier’s mouth in a brief, passionate kiss, then eased down over his friend’s proffered neck again, tendrils of sleek, ebony hair screening the carnage. Dominic made a small, huffing sound, almost trying to mount the lean, nude vampire that straddled him. He clenched his teeth then cried out unrestrainedly as Rayne bit down again, sucking hungrily on the open vein.

Xavier felt like a shock of heat throbbed through him and went straight to his groin as Rayne bit their friend again. He couldn’t have said what part of this little tableau turned him on the most. One thing he did know, Rayne wasn’t trying to keep anything from him, it was almost like he was sharing the experience with him, sharing Dominic with him, in a way that couldn’t be easily explained. The desire was still there, the heat of arousal gripping him, but something else too. A heady rush of power.

Rayne was holding himself above Dominic and Xavier eased a hand between them, his fingers splaying over Dom’s bared chest and teasing over the peaked buds of his nipples. His face was turned toward Xavier while Rayne fed from his neck and Xavier leaned in to kiss his parted lips very softly.

“Oh… Darling,” Dominic whispered huskily into the echoing space between them. “It’s just so… ohhh…”

He shuddered with pleasure as Rayne slid a hand down between them now, rubbing and caressing over the bulge in the snug-fitting crotch of his tight jeans. Rayne too was magnificently hard, the head of his dick nudging the backs of Xavier’s wandering fingers, so lush and wet. The vampire moaned ecstatically, his tongue swiping Dominic’s neck as he lapped up every drop that he could from the bite wound before it began to heal. His deft fingers moved lower as he knelt back, unfastening Dom’s fly, popping the little silver button and working the zipper down quickly so that his friend’s stiffening cock could escape the constraints of the denim. It was long and slender like its owner, poking up easily past his navel.

“Aaahhhh… yessss!” Dominic crooned eagerly as the vampire began to fist it gently in one hand. “Oh Ray, please!”

Xavier’s hand slid down the warm skin of Dominic’s chest and stomach to join Rayne’s. He curled his fingers around the smooth domed head of his cock as Rayne’s fist slid down his shaft to the root. They stroked in tandem up and down, Rayne still lapping at Dominic’s neck and Xavier recapturing his lips for a longer deeper kiss.

Rayne licked his lips, his eyes still heavy and dark with sensual pleasure as he watched Xavier kissing and stroking Dom just as eagerly as he had been doing. Dominic’s eyes were closed and he was almost purring with delight, weak from the vigorous exsanguination but still lusty enough to respond to their lips and hands.

Rayne touched his lips to Xavier’s ear whispering; “Suck him. I wanna watch. Suck his dick and let him suck you. He’s really good, I promise.”

Xavier didn’t even need to think about it. He was hot and horny and willing to do whatever Rayne wanted. It was a good thing the table was made of heavy dark oak because it’s sturdiness was the furthest thing from his mind as he slid down beside Dominic on its surface.

Rayne moved back and Xav licked a wet trail down Dom’s sternum. His soft plush lips closed delicately around the silken head of the other man’s cock, surrounding Dominic in warm wet heat as Rayne’s hand inched further down, ahead of Xavier’s sucking mouth, almost like he was feeding him Dominic’s dick.

“Uhhh… that’s the way!” Rayne breathed, his fingers trickling lower to cup Dominic’s balls as he felt the warmth of Xavier’s breath against his wrist.

Turning onto his side to lie head to tail with the younger man, Lord Warren unzipped him with a surprisingly steady hand and swallowed the head of Xavier’s stiffening cock unhesitatingly. His tongue caressed the curving underside of the blond’s shaft as he nodded down on it slowly. Kneeling at the small of the older fellow’s back, Rayne’s lips curved in a delighted, fanged smile as his pale eyes observed them both keenly. He lay down along the line of Dominic’s naked back and licked delicately between his shoulder blades as he began to finger the writhing aristocrat slowly, easing two thrusting digits into his clenching arse as Xavier suckled on his eager cock.

Xavier had seen Dominic naked more than a few times, and Dominic had certainly not been shy about taking voyeuristic pleasure watching or listening to Xav and Rayne’s passionate tumbles, but they’d never taken it beyond that before. It didn’t feel strange to Xavier though. It felt as natural as breathing to slide his lips around Dom’s turgid cock.

His own insatiable prick swiftly swelled as he was engulfed in the wetness of Dom’s mouth. His hips swayed slightly, pushing deeper into that wonderful moist heat and he moaned softly as he took Dominic down further as well. He nodded deeper until the plump head slipped past the constriction of his throat and pulled back out again, almost to the tip, before plunging in once more. He kept to that pace for a little while, long, slow, deep strokes that soaked Dominic’s shaft in saliva and his own pre-cum and elicited a soft, sensual pleasure.

Dominic was weaving his own net of delights over Xav and he was more than happy to fall into it, moving his hips in small circles as Dom sucked him. As the pleasure started to grow Xav switched technique, making his strokes shorter and faster, lips and tongue exploring all his most sensitive places, edging him up.

“Mmmm… you wicked old queen!” Rayne chuckled in his ear as his fingers frigged deeper and harder, making Dominic wriggle and moan like a cheap whore. “You do like that, don’t you, sweetheart?”

Dom nodded enthusiastically on Xavier’s pulsing shaft, letting the movement tug his lips smoothly up and down the hard shank of the younger man’s eager cock. He eased a hand between Xav’s buttocks, tugging the back of his jeans down firmly to expose him, and stroked his fingertips seductively up and down the smooth crevice between those silky peaches.

He mumbled a muffled response that could well have been “delicious!”

Xavier mimicked Dominic’s movement, sliding a hand between his thighs and over the curve of his ass. Rayne already had two fingers buried deep but that didn’t stop Xavier from adding a digit, pushing inside smoothly with Rayne’s next thrust. All the while he kept up a steady nodding suction designed to melt his friend into a puddle.

Dominic was going into overdrive, his breath coming hard and fast over Xavier’s balls now as he bucked on their invasive fingers, still delirious from the draining Rayne had just given his jugular.

The vampire moved up over him, nipping him again now as they pushed his buttons, sending him up on a sexual skyrocket that coaxed little growls and whimpers from his throat simultaneously. Dom’s caressing fingers began to thrust into Xavier almost of their own volition.

Xavier’s swivelling hips bucked a little harder, pushing his stiff pole into Dominic’s receptive mouth as those long slender probes invaded him. His own little mewls of pleasure vibrated around the rampant cock jutting down his throat. Xav matched the thrust of Rayne’s fingers, working them deeper and harder until Rayne slowed and then he pulled gently one way while Xav pulled the other, stretching Dom open even further.

“Cut him loose, I’m going in!” Rayne purred against the sanguine wetness of Dominic’s neck. He had slowly extricated his fingers and was rubbing the head of his cock gently over the inviting little hole they had helped to create, tensing to push himself deep inside.

Dominic mewed weakly, a little sound caught trembling, between joy and anticipation. His lips pulled seductively on Xavier’s erection, and his tongue was still lashing steadily against the underside of that lovely mouthful of cock. Xav’s hand drew back as Rayne slid in. He cupped Dominic’s balls and rolled them gently in his palm as Rayne’s slow thrust pushed Dom deeper into his mouth. He relaxed his jaw and his throat, letting the plump cock head slip easily back and forth past the tight ring of his throat.

His body was buzzing now, suffused with sensations. A long heavy cock fucking his throat, the press of searching fingers pulsing inside him, the delicious wet suction on his throbbing prick. His breath huffed hotly through his nose and his abdominals tightened and quivered as he edged closer. God, he wanted it; was so hot for it. His fingers tightened and kneaded Dominic’s thigh muscles as he went down with a single-mindedness that shut out everything else but the need to come.

Dominic almost mirrored him, whining softly as Rayne stroked into him, bucking back and forth frantically between the vampire’s pulsing prick in his passage, vigorously stimulating his prostate, and the hot wet mouth and rhythmically constricting throat muscles that milked his sex. His fingers caressed the sweet spot deep inside Xavier with infinite tenderness.

At the same time, Rayne’s thrusting cock-head pounded on his fuck button until he could not take any more. It was as if the vampire’s fangs and his pumping phallus formed a circuit of sexual energy within Lord Dominic Warren. That energy reached its peak in him now. With a little, gasping scream that was almost feminine in timbre but no less powerful, he let the two beautiful boys tilt him into the sensual abyss, shooting hard and fast into Xavier’s mouth.

Xav purred as the slightly sweet salt spilled over his tongue. He swallowed greedily, his own bucking hips carrying him up and up into a dizzying vortex of sinful pleasure. His mouth pulled off Dominic with a wet slurp after the last jet and he gasped for breath, a sharp cry on his lips as he tipped over and came in a flood of bone-melting heat as well.


Dominic was crooning ecstatically, drowning in a sea of velvet cream. Mere moments after Xavier’s heart-stopping climax, Rayne bucked into him fiercely, biting down on his shoulder as he burst deep inside the older man. The three of them melted slowly into a puddle of wordless, post orgasmic goo on the surface of the dining table.

From the doorway, where he had been observing quietly for about a minute, Gabriel Arden murmured; “We gotta eat off that tomorrow!”

Xavier didn’t even lift his head to give his muffled reply, “You’re welcome to lick it clean if you want.”

Rayne lifted his head, only bristling slightly, he hadn’t the fire in him for more. But Gabriel smoothed it over. He bent over the head of the table and kissed Dominic sweetly on the mouth, sliding his tongue between his mate’s lips, lapping the nectar that Xavier had spilled there.

“You’re a bad girl,” he whispered huskily.

“You love it though, don’t you?” Dom purred at him with a lazy smile.

Kneeling up now, Rayne eased out of him and his hands went right away to Xavier’s hair and his body, still thrumming with the satisfaction of a good blow-job. Rayne kissed him long and slow, loving the soft, wet heat of his lover’s cum-sticky mouth on his own. Xavier melted into the kiss, lifting his arms to loop them around Rayne’s neck. He was still tangled up with his jeans halfway down his thighs but that didn’t stop Rayne from pulling him closer so they curled around each other.

Xav hadn’t even caught his breath yet but the way Rayne kissed him and the sensual stroke of his hands over his skin had him thinking he might not want to pull his pants up just yet after all. His cock twitched with interest as Rayne’s tongue undulated against his own in a deeply passionate kiss.

“You are insatiable!” Rayne whispered, and not in a way that left him thinking that this was any kind of criticism.

“I just have a healthy appetite.” Xavier said, grinning at him and kissing his lips more softly. “If I wear you out though, I may need to check into sexaholics anonymous!”

“I just never had anyone that could keep up with me before,” Rayne grinned back at him wickedly. “Not even before I was Turned!”

Xav slid his fingers into Rayne’s hair and pulled him in for another long slow kiss and for a moment it was like the rest of the world dropped away and it was only the two of them. The heat between them rolled up in waves and the sexual energy was almost a palpable thing.

Rayne wished he could believe that it would last, that they could always be like this. In that moment he was really, truly happy; happier than he had been in years. It came down to the delicate balance again, Xavier never pushed him too hard but at the same time he was not afraid to stand up for himself. At the moment their world was on fire with sensual passion but what if that could not last? He knew well enough that the initial spark rarely kept burning beyond the first few months of such an intense affair. But did he and Xavier have that compatibility out of bed that would keep the flame alive for longer?

Whilst they were in Italy, his old friend, Aldo, had suggested that Xavier was a potential soulmate. He had seen that spark between them before Rayne was really, properly aware of it himself. Now, lying curled around Xav on Dominic’s kitchen table, looking into his mischievous blue eyes, Rayne thought he saw what Aldo had noticed weeks before. Xavier was always full of life, but there was an intensity to him when they were together like this. It was power and it was passion, but most of all it was a deep seam of ‘Xavier-ness’ that made him feel like a teenager again. Like this beautiful blond boy was the most important thing in his world.

“What have you done to me?” he whispered, huskily, touching his lips to that succulent mouth once more.

At the other end of the table, Gabriel nudged Dom and nodded towards the entwined pair with a knowing smile. Lord Warren grinned appreciatively, but Rayne saw none of it, his eyes were filled with Xavier.

Xav brushed Rayne’s hair out of his eyes and kissed the tip of his nose. As far as Xavier was concerned he hadn’t done anything exceptional, except love him. He noticed that Rayne looked better now that he’d fed properly. His eyes weren’t as pale and his skin didn’t look so chalk white and drawn.

“Even though I think we make a fabulous centrepiece, you think maybe we should get off the table?”

“Heh… c’mon,” Rayne sat up and swung his legs down, turning to hold out his hand to Xavier as he hopped down.

Gabe drew himself up at the same time. He kissed Dominic’s knuckles briefly then said; “If you ladies will excuse me, the sooner I get out and shifted, the faster I can heal these stripes Mizz Wylde put in me.”

Xav pulled his jeans up when his feet were on the floor, although he’d lost track of his shirt somewhere. Then he spotted it under the table and snagged it.

“So, um, where do you go to shift?” he asked Gabe, as transparent as glass.

“You don’t give up, do you?” Gabriel chuckled, shaking his rumpled mane.

“Once he’s got his teeth in he doesn’t let go,” Rayne commented grimly.

The were reached out a hand and tousled Xavier’s curls as if he was a child. “I go where no one’s likely to get hurt, babes.”

“Come on, you can’t tell me that if…” Xav thought for a second and then gestured to Dom. “…that if Dominic told you he could sprout wings and fly, that you wouldn’t want to see it?”

“‘s diff’rent,” Gabriel said with a little smile. “Lady Warren’s seen me shift. We don’t have no secrets.”

“Not any more,” Dominic said pointedly, but he smiled as he said it to show that it wasn’t meant as a jibe.

“D’you normally watch lover boy feed?” Gabriel asked, nodding towards Rayne.

“I’ve watched him plenty times,” Xavier countered. “He doesn’t mind.”

“Bet you’ve never seen ‘im shape shift, ‘ave you?” Gabe laughed and Rayne glared at him darkly for it.

Xavier was scowling too, but for a different reason. He was remembering something and it wasn’t at all a pleasant memory; when Steffen dragged him off into the woods back in Frisco, and he had him pinned down on the ground… The vampire had been laughing cruelly in his ear as he raped him, his face was pushed down in the leaves and dirt and Xav thought he saw a bird; an enormous white owl. And then he thought the shock must have been making him hallucinate because a moment later Yannis was standing there and Steffen went lunging after him.

Maybe he hadn’t been seeing things after all if what Gabriel seemed to be suggesting was true. Could vampires shift their forms?

Some of the energy went out of Xavier and the shadows that gathered in his eyes were like watching an eclipse come over the sun. He turned away, no longer so interested in Gabriel. He wasn’t exactly upset though, not like he had been the night before when Gabriel had prodded him about Rayne hiding things from him.

He looked at Rayne curiously, and judging by the way he was bristling he guessed that it was indeed true, he could shape shift, like some of the legends said. He looked back at Gabe defensively. “Maybe he’s got a reason he didn’t want to.”

“Yeah!” Gabriel laughed huskily. “Like, p’raps that turnin’ into a little scrawny bird’s not quite as impressive as shiftin’ into a wolf.”

Rayne went for him, without a second’s warning and the two mortals in the room were not fast enough to intercept. The vampire slammed into Gabe and they bowled across the kitchen in a whirlwind of teeth and claws, crashing up against the cabinets as Dominic threw things at them and yelled for them to stop it.

“Please!” Lord Warren shouted over the snarling chaos in his beautiful kitchen. “Don’t do this! Gabriel… make this stop! Rayne… please don’t kill him. Please!”

The sudden fear in his eyes told Xavier that this last was a very real possibility. There was already blood on the floor tiles as the pair of them fought it out. Gabriel was on his back and Rayne was at his throat but the wolf lashed out with fists and feet and his attacker was thrown against the opposite wall for his pains. Now Rayne rolled groggily to his knees and Gabriel managed to get halfway sitting before he sagged back down again, growling softly.

The little vampire looked dazed though, too hurt and confused to fight. He blinked owlishly at Xavier, shaking his head.

“I wanted to come for you,” he slurred, still not quite focussed. “Xav I really tried, but I wasn’t strong enough. I’m sorry. I wasn’t good enough. He’s right. I wish I could… I wish I was better…”

He folded and wrapped his arms around his head, groaning low in his throat at the knowledge that he’d somehow let his lover down.

Xavier was already moving toward Rayne as he spoke and dropped down beside him to wrap his arms around him and hold him protectively.

“Shhh…none of that,” Xav murmured in a soft whisper by his ear. “You came for me when it mattered, Rayne. You did everything you could to get me free, when you could have gotten on a plane and forgotten I existed.” He stopped talking but pushed how he felt, as if Rayne could absorb it through the touch of their skin pressed together. There was nothing but love and understanding in him. There was no way he could not understand.

Xavier had been at the mercy of Steffen, who had been forced to hold his sadistic pleasures in check slightly with Xavier or risk damaging him beyond repair, and yet he had still been cruelly brutal. Rayne, knowing full well the type of treatment he could expect, had willingly taken Xavier’s place in captivity to set him free, and with Rayne there had been no reason for Steffen to hold back. They had beaten and tortured him repeatedly and starved him so he could not heal and went nearly mad with it. Even at his weakest though Rayne had not turned on Xav, he had done everything in his power to keep him safe at very real risk to himself. In Xavier’s eyes Rayne had far from let him down. On the contrary, he had done everything that was necessary to keep him alive.

Xavier kissed the back of Rayne’s neck and smoothed his hand over his hair soothingly before he slowly unfolded from him and stood.

Gabriel was still in a defensive posture, fresh blood marking him. He could not have known what memories he would stir in Xav with his careless teasing, he could not have known how hot a button he was pushing, in either of them. He could not have known… and Xavier didn’t give a flying fuck about that. The look he shot Gabriel was pure fury before he jabbed a hard fist right at the bigger man’s jaw.

Gabe didn’t flinch from the blow, but he caught Xavier’s fist before he could land a second one.

“Okay,” he said quietly. “Yeah, I guess I deserved that. I dunno quite what’s goin’ on with you two but I won’t poke at him no more if you don’ want me to. But you leave the shiftin’ thing, okay? If I want you to see me shift, you will. End of.”

He put Xavier down almost gently and touched a tentative hand to the gashes in his neck and shoulder. Honours were definitely even on the battle scars.

“Fine,” Xavier said shortly as the were turned away, heading for the door that led out into the orangery.

Xavier waited until he was gone before he moved an inch and as soon as he slipped out the door he silently began to pick up the pieces in the room, righting a tipped over chair and grabbing a broom to sweep up the shards of a broken plate.

It was Dominic who stopped him. The older man looked shaken and upset by what had happened but he took the brush firmly from Xavier’s hand and nodded towards Rayne now.

“Look after him,” he said tenderly. “He needs you more than a few broken plates. I’ll sort out the mess.”

Rayne was still huddled on the ground with his head resting on his knees and his arms wrapped around them. Xavier went to him and gently coaxed him up after a few minutes. He took him upstairs and closed the door to their room, feeling what Rayne most needed right now was some privacy and a bit of sanctuary.

“Are you okay?” he asked now that they were alone. He got a wordless nod and Xavier didn’t see any fresh wounds on him. “Why did you go after him like that?”

“I wanted to kill the mutt,” Rayne said sullenly, curling up on the bed like a child. “He can’t leave it alone, can he? Always having a jibe; poking at open sores like a son of a mangy cunt! I dunno what Dom sees in the bastard.”

“Honestly, right now, I don’t either.” Xavier said, sliding onto the bed behind Rayne. He curled around his backside, spooning up to him and wrapping his warmth around him despite the sullen hostility his mate radiated.

“Maybe we should just go home.” Xav suggested in a soft tone. “It seems every time either of us has any interaction with Gabriel it ends bad. I don’t want to keep getting Dom upset.”

“You need Dominic’s help, Xavier.”

“I can figure out how to deal with it on my own. I’d have to anyway if Dominic wasn’t around.”

Rayne was quiet for a moment or so. At last he murmured; “You’ve seen those people wandering around on the streets, not knowing who they are or what’s going on around them? Or sitting somewhere rocking and talking to themselves? Most of those people just lost their mind on drugs or abuse or some other mental problem. Some of them though…some of them have something like what you got, and they can’t handle the constant barrage of shit coming at them. It overwhelms them and drives them right outta their head. I don’t want that to happen to you, Xav.”

Now it was Xavier’s turn to be quiet for a few moments as that sobering thought settled on him. Would he go nuts if he couldn’t get a handle on this empathy thing? It wasn’t so far fetched. He’d already felt like he was gonna go crazy with it a few times. Feeling what everyone else around him felt, picking up all their joy or anger or sorrow or disgust or whatever the fuck they were going through at that moment, made him feel totally out of control. Like he just wanted to hold his head and scream.

Being with Rayne helped, like having a buffer, but the farther away Rayne was the less it worked. He had to get a handle on this, and Dominic was his best bet.

Xavier sighed, his breath stirring the dark fronds of Rayne’s hair across the back of his neck. “Okay, I guess we should stay. I’m a lot better now though, I feel stronger. Maybe we should do this ritual or whatever tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow’s the full moon.” Rayne looked at him as if he was out of his mind.

Xav sighed again. “Ok, day after tomorrow.”

“If we’ve not both gone crazy in the next 24 hours,” Rayne mused, turning to plant a kiss on his nose as they snuggled closer. “Sometimes I wonder if that’s his game plan. Make us crazy enough to try and kill him. He’s a mental case, Xavier. And it’s not just the moon that makes him loopy, I’m sure.”

Xav brushed Rayne’s lips with his own, a small smile tugging the corners of his mouth. “We could just hide in here for two days. I’m sure we could find something to keep us occupied.”

He grinned and nuzzled at the nape of Rayne’s neck, recapturing some of their earlier tenderness. Rayne’s fanged smile said he wasn’t entirely opposed to that idea, although for the moment they both seemed contented to lay there and snuggle.

After a little while Xavier remembered what had sent them retreating up here to begin with. “Can you really shapeshift?”

“Umm…” Rayne said, somewhat evasively. “Kind of.”

He looked rather put out that Xavier had remembered to ask about it but was also stoically refusing to lie, in view of their earlier dispute about secrets and untruths. All his optimistic hopes that this week would be a relaxing break for the pair of them were beginning to dwindle to nothing.

“I’m not very good,” he admitted when Xavier’s curious expression refused to go away.

Half a dozen questions clamoured around in his head but Xavier reined back his curiosity because he could tell Rayne wasn’t comfortable.

“You don’t have to talk about it, if you don’t want to,” he said, laying his head back down on the pillow.

“Vampires don’t have to shift, it’s not like with Were-Mutt downstairs,” his mate said dismissively. “Some of them like doing it. Some of them make a pretty big thing about it, like an ego trip, y’know? Woo!! Look at me, I’m a fuckin’ leopard! Well whaddaya know?”

He lay back, shaking his head disdainfully.

Xavier made sure he didn’t so much as twitch a smile at that disgruntled comment, but it was pretty easy for him to read that his lover’s disdain came, at least partly, because he couldn’t in fact turn himself into a leopard. He figured it was okay to ask a few questions now, since Rayne didn’t seem to mind talking about it. Propping his head up on one hand he lay on his side next to his still naked lover.

“Can you change into more than one thing then? Does it hurt?”

Rayne studied him with his eyes narrowed.

“Yes, and yes,” he murmured at last, rather guardedly. “It’s… it’s horrible. Hard to describe. Like turning yourself inside out. But that’s not the worst bit. You see, you use up a lot of energy shifting. And it’s shifting back that’s the hard bit. It’s so easy to get… to get stuck.”

He winced painfully.

Xavier’s eyes widened, his expression changing from curious to vaguely horrified. As much as he would like to see this transformation for himself he didn’t want Rayne to do anything that was going to hurt, or worse, be permanent.

“Oh…” he said, not quite managing to hide his disappointment. “I was gonna ask if I could see you do it, but never mind that. Not if it hurts, and not if you could get stuck! I rather like you the way you are.”

He smiled reassuringly but Rayne curled in on himself, actually a little deflated by Xavier’s protective insistence that it didn’t matter when he knew for a fact that it did.

“Ask Jabez to show you some time,” he said in a monotone. “He loves showing off. And he’s good at it. I must be a disappointment to him as well.”

He wriggled onto his side and buried his face in the cool clean softness of the pillow, closing his eyes. Xavier put his hand on Rayne’s shoulder and pulled him back over at once. He caught his lover’s chin in his hand and made Rayne look at him.

“Don’t do that. Don’t put words in my mouth. I never said I was disappointed in you. I never even thought it. I was disappointed that it hurt to shift, because that would make me pretty much an asshole to ask you to do something that I knew was gonna hurt you just to satisfy my curiosity, wouldn’t it? And speaking of… don’t confuse my being curious about something with being impressed. I’m not that shallow, and it’s pretty fuckin’ insulting for you to think so. I’m not that easy to impress, and that you were still able to impress me never had anything to do with any vampire ability.”

Rayne was just looking at him in speechless bewilderment and Xavier took advantage of it to lean in and kiss him, smoothing one thumb over his cheek tenderly. When he pulled back again he looked at Rayne steadily. Part of the reason they got on so well was that Xavier had almost a gift for knowing when not to push Rayne, but the opposite of that gift was knowing when it was okay to push, and more importantly knowing when he needed to push.

His lover had bristled slightly at the sudden offensive, but his feathers settled now and he leaned back against the pillows looking suddenly rather coy again once Xavier had broken the kiss and mellowed with him. It still confused Rayne that Xav was able to make him feel like this, but an awful lot of things about Xavier confused him so that was nothing new.

Xavier gave him a hesitant smile now. “So, you just had a good feed. You didn’t say you couldn’t do it, only that it was hard. Do you want to show me?”

“Umm… I guess it’s kind of embarrassing too,” he said warily. “I… er… I don’t turn into anything fancy or scary like Jabez does. It’s not even particularly useful. Do you still want me to do it?”

Xav nodded thoughtfully. Part of him wanted to say no, simply because he didn’t want Rayne to do anything that was going to hurt him, but in this case a little physical pain might be better than the wound to Rayne’s pride if Xavier backed off now. “I’d like to see it, yeah.”

Rayne gave him a practically unreadable look. It was not exactly hostile but there was a level of grace under pressure there that would have been funny under most circumstances.

“Open the window,” Rayne said atonally, rolling to the edge of the bed and sliding off onto the floor.

Xavier hopped down and went to the window at once, putting it on the latch but Rayne gestured to him to open it wider.

“Does this smell bad?” his lover asked.

“No but I get jittery in enclosed spaces once I’ve shifted,” Rayne explained. “It makes me feel better if there’s an escape route.”

He crouched down on the floor as Xavier pushed the window wide, and closed his eyes. For a moment or so nothing happened and the younger man was about to make a wisecrack when he felt it, like something pulling at his chest from the inside. His knees turned weak. At the same time Rayne went down on both knees and made a little huffing noise, a small, frightened noise. He shuddered and his hands moved out to either side as if he was balancing on a wire.

“God! No…” Rayne said softly, a word that began as a human voice and ended in a croak like a branch snapping.

He seemed to fall, his dark hair flying, then whipping around his face in a wild wind that only he could feel. His body thrashed on the floor then seemed to snap in on itself like a cellophane wrapper thrown onto a fire. It happened so fast that Xavier opened his mouth to yell then closed it again in amazement.

He felt slightly nauseous but that was probably nothing compared to what Rayne was feeling.

On the bedroom floor in front of him, a mid-sized bird-like creature flapped and shrieked, struggling to get its wings and legs sorted out and get to its feet. It was black and white, with a long, black beak and tail and bright, green-rimmed ebony eyes. As Xavier made a move toward it, its wings thrashed again and it found its orientation and took off, hurtling across the room, practically bouncing off the ceiling in its haste to get to the sky. It came to rest on top of the wardrobe where it chattered anxiously and settled its wings.

A fierce little magpie, with big green eyes.

Xavier stared up at it and slowly his initial shock turned to delighted wonder.

“Wow!” he breathed, keeping his tone soft and gentle so he didn’t startled the bird.

The bright-eyed magpie looked down at him quizzically and turned its head nearly on one side. Xavier grinned, still feeling a bit tingly along his skin, though he wasn’t sure if it was from the residual power that the change expended or from the novelty. He stayed still for a moment, and then lifted his hand slowly.

“Can you come closer, please?” he asked and the bird flipped his wings and turned his head again, as if debating. He ignored Xav’s request, instead lifting a wing and preening his feathers. Xav couldn’t help chuckling. “Contrary even in this form, huh? C’mon… I just want to see your pretty feathers closer,” he cajoled.

The magpie looked at him again, fluffed up for a moment as if impatient and then spread his wings, gliding down to Xav’s upraised hand. Sharp nails bit into his skin a little, but Xavier didn’t care. He was utterly enchanted, and it showed in his expression as he examined the beautiful glossy black feathers, sharp little beak, and intensely bright eyes.

“You look amazing!” he said, again keeping his voice pitched soft despite his enthusiasm.

The little bird stared back at him with some impertinence then stretched out its neck and quick as a flash pecked his nose. It’s wings flashed and it was off, darting across the bedroom towards the window ledge and chattering noisily as it went. The chatter amused Xav because it sounded remarkably like bitching. He followed over to the window, still moving slowly. Even though he knew it was Rayne in there somewhere the little creature still seemed… birdlike; kind of nervous and twitchy.

Only now did he think to wonder about his own reaction during the transformation. It had felt weird and his stomach was still a little queasy, and why was it that he’d felt anything at all? He hadn’t expected that, but it must be something to do with the blood bond they shared.

His magpie lover hopped across the window ledge, stopping to peck at a little jewelled horse icon that sat on the sill. It hopped onto the horse’s crest and tapped at a shiny stone in one of its eye sockets, prising at it with its beak, then, as Xavier drew closer, it flapped its wings and hopped across to the hanging latch of the window. Unsteadily it perched there, wings still spread, its crest feathers silvered by the moonlight outside.

Its head tilted again and it looked up at the moon and made a little “Yak!” noise, clicking its beak excitedly. Then its piebald wings spread wide and it jumped and was gone, fluttering into the darkness and chattering noisily as it went.

Xav’s heart just about stopped and he leaned out the window quickly.

“Rayne!” he called out, but the magpie was already out of sight. “Shit!” he swore heatedly, worried now. Not that Rayne couldn’t take care of himself, but still… it was hard for him not to be protective.

As he called out again into the gathering gloom there was a little tap at the door. Dominic put his head in without waiting for a response. He was wrapped in the dressing gown he had lent Rayne earlier and looked paler than normal, though perhaps that was unsurprising.

“Is everything okay?” he asked, quickly noting Xavier and the open window and the lack of recalcitrant vampire and putting the figures together with some alacrity.

“He flew out the window!” Xavier said, clearly alarmed. He bit his bottom lip, looking for all the world like an anxious child that had just let the family pet escape to parts unknown. “I goaded him into shifting and he did and then he took off and what if he gets stuck like that? It’d be all my fault!”

Dominic’s lips framed the words in silence as if he was testing their veracity for himself.

“He flew out the window?” he repeated at last, aloud and then the final part of what Xav had been trying to tell him seemed to sink in. “He took a bird form for you? What on earth did you promise him to make him do that?”

Lord Warren had come over to the open window now and peered out with a grimace into the darkness. He murmured; “Well… vampires can see in the dark so I suppose he should be okay.”

Xavier didn’t seem any less anxious and hovered by the open window. “He’s a bird, Dom… What if a cat gets him? What if he forgets who he is and doesn’t come back?”

“Darling, he’s not a bird, he’s a vampire,” Dominic said in a very calm tone that was at complete odds with the look in his eyes as he scanned the darkening emptiness beyond the window. “If something hurts him his body will try to change back. They have a kind of default setting, its what stops them ageing or changing. He’d have to be completely cut in two for something to kill him.”

He seemed to sense that this logic was not helping. The flaws in it were a little bit too glaring. Small birds being quite easy to damage, for a start. There were a lot of reasons why most birds didn’t fly at night, all of them good, practical ones. Xavier visibly paled, not at all reassured.

“Shit… I should have never asked him to shift,” he said miserably. There was nothing he could do about it now though. He sunk down on the low padded bench under the window, determined to wait there for Rayne until he decided to come back.

Dominic sat across from him and patted his hand.

“That’s the one low point of being with a Shifter,” he sighed. “There’s this whole other side of them that you just can’t share. A life they live that you can’t influence no matter how much you might want to try. When Gabriel shifts he is a wolf. And I can’t make him sit, or stay, or do anything really. Just worry that he’ll get himself into a fight, or get shot or a myriad other things. Think yourself lucky, at least Rayne would rather not do it, and he doesn’t have to.”

Xavier couldn’t think of himself as lucky at that moment no matter what Dominic said, but he wasn’t rude enough to say so when it was obvious that Dominic did have more to worry about. They sat together for several long minutes in silence and finally Dominic sighed. “He might be gone for a while Xavier, there is no point sitting up waiting.”

He said it reasonably and reached to close the window.

“No, leave it open, Dom. Please?”

“The temperature has already dropped with the sun, Darling. It won’t do you any good to sit here freezing.”

Xav got up and pulled the duvet off the bed, pulling it around his shoulders before he stubbornly sat back down by the window. Dominic just shook his head and sighed, recognising that stubborn streak because he had seen it all too often in Rayne. He stood up and kissed the top of Xavier’s head.

“Alright. If it makes you feel better go ahead and shiver,” he said mildly, and left Xav to his vigil.

Xavier pulled his feet up beside him and got as comfortable as he could. He knew he was being ridiculous. Rayne would probably shift back somewhere and stroll through the door in a few hours. Knowing it was ridiculous didn’t make any difference though, he sat there and waited faithfully, all the while torturing himself with guilt and worry.

An hour passed, and then another, and even cold and cramped Xavier’s head began to nod a bit. Sleep tugged at him and he put his head down on the sill, intending just to rest his eyes for a moment.

The shift always disoriented Rayne at first. It was as if his brain capacity was somehow condensed along with his body and it took him a little while to start thinking coherently again once his body had remembered how to be a bird. The first time he attempted it Jabez had laughed for days. And his Sire never laughed out loud.

Rayne had been so confused and enervated by that first shift that he could not even stand up and just lay on the ground fluttering in a rather pathetic fashion until his Sire took pity on him and entered him to force a shift back to his own form.

Now he was at least able to manage the transformations on his own, but it was horrible and he hated doing it. He felt too uncomfortable out of his own skin, and terribly vulnerable as well. In view of which he was currently perched on the branch of a tree, wondering what in hell had persuaded him that it was a sound idea to jump out of the window. Once he was airborne however, a new set of instincts took over.

The one good thing about the shift was flying. It amazed him every time that he was even able to do it without making a complete idiot of himself. And the feel of the air currents sliding through his flight feathers was such a rush. Of course his current viewpoint was much simpler than all that; his impulses restricted to the very basics of thought; Up, Down, Food, Predators. not even the words, just a sense of what these things were. It was all so very primitive that when he shifted back he found it hard to talk. But the images in his mind were astounding in their clarity and the weight of emotion they left him with. It was like being on drugs, but so very much better.

Which was another good reason not to do it really.

Rayne knew he was an addict, there was no getting away from it. Even though he could not ingest narcotics any more he still felt the craving from time to time. But it did not stop with drugs. He was addicted to cigarettes and rough sex, and the sensation of taking to the air. Even though he hated transformation he loved the feeling of flying, it just felt so good. One day, he sometimes thought, he would just take to the air and keep on flying and flying, higher and higher and further out until his heart burst and he could not physically go on.

He had no idea what would happen then. Jabez believed that, like the weres, if he was fatally injured, his body would shift back to human form instinctively. Rayne was not so sure. The shift back was hard and it took a lot of life force. Oddly enough, it was easier for a larger creature to shift back to human form because the animal’s life energies were bigger than the human energies. He had not yet mustered the strength to shift to any form larger than a medium sized crow though and could not imagine how much blood he would need to drink to become an eagle.

His wings carried him out over the woods, circling in the darkness, unafraid of the night. Bats dodged deftly around him and once he flinched as a larger darker shadow swooped over him, a mature barn owl, curious but not hungry enough to attack him.

The house was mostly in darkness beneath him when he came back in towards it at last, with no idea of how long he had been on the wing. His small body longed for rest though and he fluttered down onto the cross beam of a section of garden trellis, hung with climbing roses and wisteria. As he sat there, tilting his head, listening to the night sounds of bugs and rodents and the things that eat them, a sound echoed through the woods that made him shiver, even in bird form.

The long, low, ululating howl of a hunting wolf.

There was a sickening feeling in the pit of Xavier’s stomach as he dropped through the air in free fall…and then he was suddenly jerked to a stop, his arms tied above his head as he hung in a dark room that smelled slightly oily, and over the top of that the sweetish smell of heroin being cooked. He blinked rapidly, trying to see into the darkness. A soft sound drew his attention, and a low red glow caught his eye as someone drew on the end of a cigarette and made it flare brighter for a moment. He could not see the face behind that red glow but he was instantly afraid.

“Let me go…” he demanded, only his voice came out a hoarse broken whisper.

The hot end of the cigarette came a little closer and the man smoking it took it from between his lips and blew a streamer of smoke into his face. He lifted his hand toward Xav, black shadow on black shadow, and Xavier was so frightened of his touch that there was an immediate and insistent urge to release his bladder. He struggled against the rope holding him and small whimpers came from his throat like a scared animal. After a moment the man withdrew his hand and Xavier stilled. Somewhere in the dark he heard muffled sobs and somehow knew they belonged to Clint. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of a zipper, and rough hands were tugging at his own pants.

“No… no, don’t… please… stop…”

Pain seared into Xavier and he jerked in his sleep, a terrified and pain filled scream on his lips. His waking was so violent he fell off the window seat onto the floor, frantically clawing off the duvet he was tangled in.

“Xavier? Are you alright?”

Dominic was suddenly above him but Xavier was still half in and half out of the nightmare and he couldn’t speak, the only thing coming out of him were little whimpers of fear.

“Shhh…” Lord Warren whispered. “It’s just a dream, Xavier. Come on, let’s get you into bed, it’s late. I’ll leave the window open so he can fly back in if he wants to but you need to get some proper sleep.”

He hesitated slightly as he steered the still semi-coherent young man back towards the bed and got him lying down. “Do you want me to stay with you until he gets back? Sometimes it’s more… comfortable. I know, I hate sleeping alone.”

Xavier knew then that Gabriel was probably on the prowl somewhere out in the woods and was not sure if that was more or less comforting a thought. He just nodded his head though to let Dominic know it was okay for him to stay. He was not sure anything that came out of his mouth at the moment would make any sense. Dom arranged the covers on the bed and slid in next to him.

“Bright Lady, you’re ice cold!” Dominic said, pulling the duvet up more firmly around his young friend.

Xavier still hadn’t spoken. He felt exhausted, but he didn’t think sleep was going to come to him again anytime soon. He lay there in the darkened room staring up at the ceiling for a long time, thinking.

He’d had nightmares before, some really horrible ones, but none had ever been like these. His night terrors had always felt… dreamlike. Almost as if he knew he was dreaming while he was having them. These felt so real, like he was actually there. That was another thing. Usually if he had a dream, especially a bad one, it was something from his past, something he remembered. These were mixed up bits of things that had happened, and things that hadn’t happened. More than that, there was a common thread that linked them and that bothered him the most; the faceless man that scared the shit out of him, the drugs, and Clinton.

“Dom?” he whispered, barely audible just in case Dominic was sleeping.

“Mm?” came a sleepy reply.

“I keep having these nightmares… ever since we got to London. They’re all a little different, but the same guy is in them. I don’t know who he is, but…” Xav trailed off. Now that he’d said it out loud it sounded stupid, like he was just being a scared kid. “Never mind,” he muttered softly.

Dominic’s arms came around him, but gently now; a quiet, fraternal cuddling that was meant to reassure.

“It could just be insecurity manifesting itself through your dreams,” he murmured softly. “You don’t see his face, this man?”

Xavier shook his head miserably.

“Well, it’s fairly safe to assume that you’re not dreaming about someone from your past,” Lord Warren said thoughtfully. “Am I to take it that you feel that you’re in danger from him? Or does he actually harm you?”

Xavier licked his lips, feeling nervous for some reason. Then he seemed to come to some kind of internal decision and started to tell Dom about the vague dreams he’d been having and the clearer ones he remembered. The one where Clint had warned him someone was coming for him and he’d been afraid even though he couldn’t see the man’s face, and he’d given Xav a vial. And then running down the same alley he’d been attacked in, only he was running from this man, who grabbed him and slammed him down on the pavement. He’d woken up then but not before he’d seen the syringe in the man’s hand. And then there was the one where he’d seen Gabriel shift and how the setting had morphed into the movie theatre where Clinton and his friends hung out, and the man were there too and again there was a needle and syringe on the table waiting. And now finally this last one with the cigarette in the darkness… and the smell of heroin in the air.

All of the dreams had this man whom he was very afraid of in them, and all of them had involved heroin. Even in this last one, he’d smelled it even if he hadn’t seen it.

“I don’t know why I’m dreaming about this shit,” Xavier said unhappily.

Dominic was a long, warm presence against his back, peaceful and slightly comforting as he murmured; “Are you afraid of being tempted back into that lifestyle?”

Tellingly, he did not ask about any of Xavier’s previous habits, or ask the usual hysterical questions such as ‘are you clean?’ Dominic took the confession in his stride, like any priest worth his salt.

“Always, Dom.” Xavier said so softly it was almost a whisper.. “Always. I’ve been afraid of backsliding since I stopped. I don’t know why I’d be dreaming about it now though. I haven’t been thinking about it… I haven’t been tempted to go looking.” He sighed and rubbed a tired hand over his face. “It’s probably nothing, Dom. It’s just dreams, it don’t mean anything.”

He was quiet for a moment and then turned his head slightly to look at Dominic. “You think you could put some kind of spell on me so I wouldn’t dream any more?”

Dominic kissed his hair gently.

“I could do that, dearheart, but I don’t think it would be beneficial,” he said ruefully. “You know that people take sleeping pills to shut out the mental interference that stops them sleeping but it doesn’t make it go away. A spell would be just the same. It would mask the problem. And you don’t even know what the problem is yet, so that could be dangerous.”

Xav didn’t argue with him. Maybe because he saw the logic in it, or maybe just because he was too tired to argue.

They both fell quiet and after a while began to doze. Xavier’s rest was fitful though. Every time he began to settle into a deeper sleep he pulled himself back up. Even his subconscious didn’t seem to want to take the chance on another disturbing nightmare. He knew his restlessness was going to keep Dominic from getting any real sleep, and Dominic needed the rest after Rayne had feed so deeply from him.

Xavier tried not to be too envious about that. After a few more moments he slid very carefully from the bed so as not to disturb Dominic and padded barefoot out of the room and down the stairs into the kitchen intending on getting a drink.

Once his thirst was slacked he didn’t really want to go back to bed and try to lie still. Instead he slipped out the doors leading into the back garden. It was getting a lot colder at night, it seemed. It was chilly enough to put goosebumps on his bare arms and make his teeth chatter, but the cold air cleared his head as he looked up into the star strewn sky with an almost full moon hanging over head. He’d never really paid attention to the moon before.

A distant howl reminded him that for some people the phase of the moon was more important than the numbered days on a calendar.

“You’ll catch your death sitting out here.”

The quiet voice was unexpected yet so familiar that Xavier only jumped a little. Rayne was lying on a little hand carved bench in the shrubbery, completely hidden until he spoke and his lover’s eyes focused more sharply on the milk white skin lit in spots by the moonlight filtering through the fronds of angelica.

Xavier’s expression showed his relief at seeing his lover back and unharmed, but only for a quick moment before he covered it with a more casual smile.

“You could have tried a little harder to dissuade me from making you shift, you know.” Xav said as he moved to sit on the bench beside Rayne.

The vampire gave him such a narrow look Xav held up his hands, grinning. “Just kidding!” He chuckled, and bent to brush a kiss across his lips. “Did you know I would feel it? Made me so queasy I thought I was gonna toss my cookies for a minute. I’m glad you don’t have to shift if you don’t want to.”

“So after all that pushing you’d really rather I hadn’t, is that what you’re saying?” Rayne rolled his eyes and sank back down in the shrubs again with a little sigh. “You are something else, Mizz Gee!”

Xav just smiled at him and pulled him into his arms. “I was mostly teasing. Thank you for showing me, and for putting up with me,” he said, nuzzling a cold nose under his ear.

“Yeah!” Rayne chuckled, shaking his head. He felt exhausted again, but somehow very happy. Which was weird enough. “Now lets get you inside before you wind up as wolf-bait!”

Xav followed him inside, one chilled hand inside the other’s. It was only when they were about halfway up the stairs to the second floor that Xav remembered Dominic.

“Um, we might have to find another bed. Dom is sleeping in ours.”

Rayne looked at him with a hard to read expression and Xav shrugged self-consciously. “I had a nightmare and he was keeping me company, but I couldn’t get back to sleep and didn’t want to keep him up,” he explained.

“That’s not even an imaginative excuse!” Rayne forced a grin, and shook his head. “Oh well, I guess we’ll have to return the favour by sleeping in his bed. I figure it’s probably empty right now.” He slid his hands down over the curve of Xavier’s arse and propelled him further along the densely carpeted corridor. “What were you dreaming about that kept you awake so much? Me, I hope!”

Xav didn’t even consider telling him about the nightmares, not right now. He gave Rayne a coy little smile. “I don’t need to sleep to be dreaming about you,” he chuckled softly as they crossed the threshold into Dom and Gabe’s bedroom.

Xavier quickly shed the clothes he was wearing and slid under the covers with Rayne. He wrapped his arms around him and cuddled close. They were both still chilled from being outside, but Xav figured they could warm up pretty quick.

“I’m hungry again now,” his mate complained, snuggling into the curve of his neck and burying his cold nose there. “And it’s all your fault,” he teased, nibbling along the line of Xav’s collar bone.

Xav tilted his head slightly so the line of his neck stretched gracefully under the soft touch of Rayne’s lips. “Well…its only fair for me to replace your meal, I think.” he murmured seductively in Rayne’s ear.

“Fuck, you’re cold,” Rayne whispered breathily in his ear as he snuggled up to Xavier, rolling on top of him and play-biting, without breaking the skin of his neck. He was tired from the shift and had not been feeling especially horny until the moment their bodies rubbed together, when his cock responded automatically to the proximity of Xavier’s nakedness. “Not used to that!”

“I’m sure you can warm me up.” Xavier murmured, his hands caressing up and down Rayne’s back and thighs. He too had been tired and distraught only a few minutes ago but was feeling much better in his lover’s embrace. Neither were in any kind of hurry though, and it was relaxing to them both to snuggle into the blankets and enjoy slow kisses and sensual caresses while Xav’s body temp came up and he warmed up Rayne as well.

His lover began a slow and thorough exploration of his body as he sprawled in the huge, comfortable kingsize. The sheets smelled sweetly of Jasmine oil and there was a gentle after scent of incense and sex to the room that made it feel quietly seductive. Candles stood on every available surface and Xavier imagined that when they were all lit the atmosphere would be impossibly romantic.

Rayne’s rapid breath tickled softly over his skin, followed by the gentle lapping of his rough little tongue and the tug of his moist lips. Cool fingers played seductively up and down his bared thighs.

The covers slid off of them now that things were warming up and Xavier moved with Rayne’s touch, rippling under him in slow gentle waves. His fingers caressed along Rayne’s shoulders and up the back of his neck into his silky hair. He lifted one knee as Rayne’s lips moved lower down his torso, letting his legs fall loosely apart. His back arched slightly and he crooned with pleasure as Rayne’s lips slid lower yet.

His lover nuzzled tenderly into the sleek, warm hollows of his hips and his lips lingered on the silky skin that strained and flexed against his touch. Another sigh sent a warm breeze circulating around his balls.

“You do taste good,” Rayne purred hungrily.

Xavier grinned at him with half closed sexy eyes. “I bet Dom’s got some flavoured stuff in one of these drawers… or do you like plain skin better?”

Rayne grinned up at him, lasciviously.

“Sounds about right. He can’t leave anything plain!” he buried his face in the warm hollow of Xavier’s left hip and breathed in, deep and slow, taking his time. “You don’t half make my mouth water,” he exhaled at last, and when he lifted his head to shake back the fall of soft black hair, his smile had definite fangs.

“You don’t even know how glad that makes me!” Xav smiled back, his hips wriggling under Rayne’s touch. He slid one hand slowly down his own chest while Rayne kissed and lipped lightly at his skin. His hard cock was aching to be touched and he ran his fingers lightly up the underside of his shaft, watching the way Rayne’s eyes flicked over there and feeling the air over his skin as he drew in the scent of his arousal. A single clear drop formed at his slit and Xav touched it with the pad of his finger and drew a small circle around the silky soft head of his cock, quivering slightly at the sensation.

Rayne’s tongue gently curled around the curve of his ball sac, licking slowly upward. He moved the little stud in steady circles against the yielding skin that cupped his lover’s plump, delicious nuts. Smoothly his lips parted around them, drawing tenderly on them, then opening wider to engulf them.

“Mmmmmmm…” he moaned happily, sucking on Xavier’s balls like a baby with a massive pacifier. “Mhhh-mmmm!”

Xav’s eyes slid closed, a soft sound of pleasure sighing from his lips as Rayne drew on him in a gentle suck. It was both an odd and delightful sensation having his balls sucked, those sensitive orbs being engulfed in warm wet heat.

“Mmmmmm…” Xav echoed Rayne’s little purr.

His mate teased him gently, biting down but not hard enough to hurt, just catching one firm orb behind his teeth and pulling ever so lightly. His hands were caressing up and down the backs of Xavier’s bare thighs, fingernails tugging down the silky skin, then the pads of his fingers stroking back up to his arse again.

“Ohhh you sexy boy,” he whispered as he released the ball between his jaws, letting it pop wetly through his lips.

Xav shivered slightly as the cooler air of the room touched his wet skin.

“It feels so good when you do that,” he murmured. He had brought one foot up to the back of Rayne’s thigh and caressed there steadily with the arch of his sole.

Rayne’s lips stroked slowly now up the length of his straining shaft, his tongue working hard on the underside of his lover’s cock. He kissed and nuzzled his way higher, inhaling the hot briny scent of Xavier’s precum, mouth watering as he feasted, whispering; “So good… so fuckin’ good!”

“Ohhh, baby…” Xav exhaled as Rayne’s lips and tongue worked magic on his cock. He sucked in a shuddering breath as those soft lips caressed the underside of his plump head.

Rayne’s tongue was circling him steadily now, in no hurry. His lover nodded down over him, sheathing Xavier’s cock head with his lips and sucking gently on him. His breath and the softness of his hair were a whispering caress in Xav’s slowly heaving groin. The feel of Rayne’s mouth closing around him made him moan and spasm, the gentle suction sending shivers up his spine. The plump dome butted up against the roof of his mouth and the little metal stud in his tongue pressed on the sensitive underside.

“Mmm-uhh…oooh, I like that!” Xav crooned.

“I can taste how much you like it,” Rayne mused with his mouth full, letting his words vibrate softly down Xavier’s shaft. He swallowed hard and nodded lower, practically engulfing Xav to the root and pressing his swollen glans against the back of his throat for a moment.

Xavier’s body tensed briefly, his hips lifting ever so slightly to push deeper as Rayne slid down on him, and then relaxing as he pulled back and then repeated again, and again, almost in slow motion. For some reason he felt super sensitive right now, the slow sensual feel of Rayne’s mouth on him driving him crazy. His fingers tightened in the sheets as Rayne went down on him again, not quite letting him push into the ring of his throat.

“Uhhhhhhh….” he moaned, the muscles of his belly quivering at the erotic torment.

Rayne showed no signs of needing or wanting to come up off him, which was fine by him. He knew that his lover enjoyed giving head almost as much as he liked to receive it. Certainly the slow caresses of his constantly moving fingers over Xavier’s ass and thighs and the quiet little moans and sighs of pleasure seemed to indicate that he was not yet ready to move on. His pale eyes were closed now, the long lashes fanning his milky cheeks giving him an almost sleepy, cherubic countenance as his head rested on Xavier’s bare leg.

The slow and tender way he caressed Xavier’s cock with his mouth felt wonderful and kept him intensely aroused, but the pace didn’t allow him to edge any higher or gallop to the finish. That was okay with Xavier though, he was enjoying every moment. He felt so languid and relaxed, putty in Rayne’s hands…

Of course, his patience was helped a great deal by the knowledge that eventually Rayne wouldn’t be able to resist sucking the cum from him.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Rayne murmured at last, lifting his head to rest his chin on Xavier’s belly as he ran his fingers up and down the wet shaft that slipped out of his mouth. “I could do this all night, but I seriously think I might fall asleep. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed in bed before.”

He smiled up at Xavier impishly.

Xav chuckled. So much for getting what he wanted! He curled a finger at Rayne. “Come here and let me wake you up a little.”

Rayne crawled slowly up his body and Xav kissed him when he got to his lips, but encouraged him to keep going until he knelt astride his chest and was at the perfect angle for Xav to return some of the oral favour.

“Ooohhh…. you’re good to me!” Rayne exhaled, closing his eyes again and tilting his head back as he rocked his hips, loving the skilful pull of Xavier’s mouth on his sensitive shaft. Shifting always took a lot out of him though and he was just about ready to let Xavier do whatever he wanted tonight.

Xavier’s head was propped up on the pillows, his hands caressing Rayne’s silky thighs and ass. Rayne’s hands gripped the iron bed frame above his head for balance and all Xavier had to do was pull his hips gently, tugging him into his open wet mouth.

“Mmmmm…” he hummed around the thick shaft sliding back and forth on his tongue. His hands flexed and kneaded Rayne’s sexy little ass, pulling him deeper yet, his mouth gliding up and down in delicious rhythm.

Xav kept to the slow relaxed pace Rayne had initially set, giving back every bit of the sweetly sensual torment. After a while though he could not resist picking up the pace, letting the juicy head of Rayne’s cock push into the confines of his throat, his hot breath fanning across his lover’s cool skin as his soft lips touched down around his base.

“Uuuhhhyeahhh!” Rayne sighed, circling his hips again, slowly as he felt the head of his tantalisingly hard prick nudge repeatedly against the back of his lover’s throat. His fingers gripped tighter on the rail and his lean body undulated like a wave with every nod of Xavier’s head. “You are fantastic. So good to me. I wanna make you feel this good, sweetheart.”

Xavier eased back and let Rayne’s turgid pole slip from between his lips.

“Get some oil out of the drawer,” he whispered breathlessly, knowing Dominic would have something slippery handy.

Rayne leaned over and opened the drawer in the bedside table and pulled out a bottle of massage oil that was very lightly scented with a delicate hint of almonds and vanilla, it was almost like uncapping a bottle of Xavier’s scent.

Xav took the bottle from him and poured a little into his palm, reaching down to slick his aching cock and then tease his fingers between Rayne’s cheeks. The tip of his tongue flicked lightly back and forth over the head of Rayne’s dick while he worked the oil into him, and then he eased Rayne’s hips back, curling his own upwards until his shaft was sliding between his cheeks, probing at his hole.

The smooth head of his cock pushed delicately at his opening, still in keeping with the slow sensual mood they’d been enjoying. He pushed a little more firmly, letting just the head slip past his lover’s tight ring and then pulled back out and popped it in again several times, teasing both of them. He let himself slip a little deeper, and a little more, entering and withdrawing inch by slow inch until he couldn’t stand it any more and finally drove his hips up to fully sheath himself in that wonderfully snug channel. Xav’s lips closed over Rayne’s, kissing him and moaning softly into his mouth as he just held there for a long moment, buried deep, his arms wrapped tightly around Rayne’s body.

“Uhhh…that feels amazing,” he whispered against Rayne’s lips.

Rayne rocked down slowly onto him with a little groan of pleasure. It was so good to feel Xavier sliding into him, filling him up with heat and fabulous friction. His lips found his lover’s mouth, kissing him long and hard as he began to ride Xavier eagerly, driving up so that he felt the burn in his thigh muscles echoing the searing heat in in his channel, then sinking down with a little wriggle of his lean hips that impaled him deeply on Xav’s beautiful cock.

Xavier’s hand caressed the taut muscles of Rayne’s thighs and cupped the curve of his ass before sliding up his back and shoulders and following the same path back down. His tongue delved into his mouth in hard succulent kisses and he planted his heels into the mattress to drive up into his lover with each down stroke.

Rayne rolled down onto him, curling around him on the deep, yielding mattress. He returned each kiss with interest, tongue twining with Xavier’s as he pushed backwards, thrusting his hips down hard to meet every thrust. His heartbeat warred in his ear with that of his lover and he hungered for the hot pulse of Xav’s blood with every stroke that drove up into his body.

They had been playing around for almost an hour and Xav had every intention of drawing out their lovemaking even longer, but his body was singing along now, wanting to push harder and faster and deeper and he couldn’t resist. He let himself get swept up in the heated passion of his lover’s body, pulsing with his rhythm. His lips sucked at the sensitive skin of Rayne’s throat and he moved a hand between them to press his cock against his belly and stroke him.

Rayne was rubbing his face in Xavier’s hair and bucking enthusiastically against his stomach as he rolled astride his mate. Little gasping yelps of pleasure escaped his throat as he felt Xav stirring it up inside him.

“Ohhh too good! Too good! Yes!” he whimpered in time with the vigorous thrusts that were pushing him closer and closer to another delicious peak.

He was so wrapped up in Xavier and Xav in him that neither knew they had an audience until the husky Cornish burr mere inches from Rayne’s ear rumbled; “Hold him, Xavier. Pinch down on ‘im at the base, don’ let him shoot. He’s that close he’ll still come.”

Rayne almost jumped off Xavier’s dick with shock. He came down on all fours like a startled cat, huffing furiously and glaring at Gabriel.

“You fucker! What the hell are you doing in here?” he hissed.

Gabe shrugged slightly. “‘s my bedroom. What you two doin’ in ‘ere? Apart from the obvious!”

Xavier’s whole body shuddered once and he squeezed his eyes closed with a heartfelt groan as his brain tried to re-engage. He had been that close to cumming and his body was still trying to catch up with his brain and figure out why in the hell they had just stopped…

“Jesus…fuck, Gabriel!” he practically snarled, if a breathless gasp could be classified as a snarl.

“Don’t stop on my account,” Gabriel grinned wolfishly. He was still wet from the shower and clad in little more than a very small towel that more than demonstrated his appreciation for the free show.

“Out! Now!” Rayne barked at him, still shuddering, on the edge, as he eased back down slowly on Xav, feeling his lover sink into him once more. Amazingly Xavier was still hard for him and he could not resist his body’s impulse to rock against the younger man, rubbing his throbbing dick and balls steadily on Xavier’s bared belly.

“Mmmm… you are gorgeous when you’re hot and pissed off!” Gabriel chuckled, flopping down on the bed beside them, blatantly ignoring the order.

Xavier bit down on his bottom lip and arched his neck back as Rayne sank on him once more.

“Uhhh…god…Ray…” he whimpered. He couldn’t stop, he was too close, and he didn’t give a fuck if Gabriel was there. One arm was still wrapped around Rayne’s back and his other hand stroked Rayne’s prick as his own hips rolled up to thrust into him. They could kill Gabriel later.

Rayne must have shared his need, for he sank onto Xavier as his lover bucked into him, his lips and then his extending fangs fastening onto the softness of Xav’s neck. He bit down hard, fucking the soft warm hand that gripped his cock until his milky spill covered Xavier’s naked belly and he was shuddering in the younger man’s passionate embrace. Rayne kissed and licked Xavier’s neck with a long, low moan of ecstasy.

Xav cried out as Rayne bit into him, a hot rush of need exploding through him. His hand unconsciously tightened around the base of Rayne’s cock as he slammed up into him hard and fast. His own lips fastened onto the side of Rayne’s throat in a sucking kiss, muffling the little moans he made.

The little vampire was gasping hoarsely against his neck now, still thrusting into Xavier’s hand as his tongue swiped the boy’s bloody throat. He slumped into his lover’s arms, shuddering with post orgasmic delight. As they curled around one another, still locked together at the hips and moving sensually, keeping rhythm with one another on the bed, Gabriel stretched out a hand and ran his finger through the trickle of cooling cum that ran down Xavier’s side. He put his finger in his mouth and made an appreciative noise.

“Tastes good, for dead spunk,” he commented cheerfully. “You’re supposed to try and block him before he jacks off though.”

Rayne turned his head, so that he was lying flat to Xavier’s body with his cheek resting on the blond’s bared shoulder; pale, venomous eyes fixed on the shameless were.

“Gabriel… fuck off!” he exhaled languidly. “Go and screw your boyfriend or something!”

“He’s asleep,” Gabe said stubbornly, showing no sign of shifting from the bed. “You wore ‘im out before.”

Xav lay catching his breath under Rayne. After that incredible session he wasn’t sure he could move if he wanted to. Rayne shifted his hips and Xav groaned softly, his lips pressed into the cool silk of Rayne’s hair. He didn’t want to get up, but it didn’t look like Gabe was going to leave, and it was his bed after all. He sighed, sending a warm breath down the back of Rayne’s neck.

“Alright, we’ll go.”

“We fuckin’ won’t!” Rayne was standing his ground now. “Your wife is in our bed, Wolfboy. Go lick his balls or something!”

“I’d rather lick yours right now,” Gabe grinned at him, completely unfazed. “An’ I’m looking in your eyes an’ thinkin’ you like that idea a lot.”

Xav waited half a second for Rayne to protest again, but he didn’t respond, which told him well enough that Rayne probably wouldn’t mind.

His hands had been stroking soothingly up and down Rayne’s back and now he let them glide lower, fanning his fingers over his sexy buns and squeezing slightly as his hips bucked up a little harder, pushing his still sheathed prick deeper inside his lover.

Rayne’s eyes slid back to Xavier’s luscious, sweat and spunk gilded body and his pupils dilated, gaze simmering lustfully on his beautiful lover. Xavier’s silence and his continued thrusting told him without words that his mate had no real problems with Gabriel sharing their bed. Given the teasing exchange over the kitchen table earlier in the day he supposed it should not come as a surprise that Xav was into the idea of fucking Gabe Arden.

He was annoyed by how much the idea of that bugged him though. Xavier had managed to worm under his skin and the boy had got so close to him these past few weeks that the thought of him in another man’s arms was actually a little bit worrying. He had not worried about losing someone to another man since he was little more than a teenager himself. The emotion was almost a novelty in itself.

He was so engrossed with this thought that Gabe was able to slide right up to him and began kissing the back of his neck softly.

“Mmmm… you’ve gotten ‘im nice an’ warm, Xav,” the were murmured appreciatively. “That always ‘elps.”

Xavier’s hands slipped back up Rayne’s body and his fingers cupped either side of his face very gently. His summer sky blue eyes looked like dark sapphires as he caught Rayne’s gaze. His look asked Rayne without words to trust him, but if Rayne gave him even the slightest indication he was not okay with this situation they could stop.

But Rayne had that look in his eye, the look that said he was a runaway train and things had just got way out of his control. He glanced quickly now from Xavier to Gabriel and back to his lover with pleading eyes. A little hiss of breath revealed fangs but he was not in fight mode.

“Open me,” he whispered, looking back at Gabriel again, anxious but also very hungry now. “Make me bleed. I need to feel it.”

“I know, babe,” Gabe breathed against his skin. “Does Xavier, though? I don’t want him coming for me with a knife cos he’s got the wrong idea.”

“I know what he wants.” Xavier said a trifle defensively. He did too, he understood the craving well. He was only sorry he could not give Rayne all that he needed. That didn’t mean he would run from it though.

When Rayne’s eyes came back to his, the look of frightened need was mellowing slowly. He shook his head as if there were words that he did not know how to say but he could not take his eyes off Xavier. Even when Gabriel pressed up against him, threatening to join the younger man inside him, he did not look away.

“ohhh…” he exhaled softly, “oh, Xav…”

One of Xavier’s hands was curled lightly around the back of Rayne’s neck, his fingers moving in slow soothing circles there as he held his lover’s gaze. The other hand slid back down between them to caress and stroke his erection. Xav felt the nudge and probe of Gabriel’s prick at Rayne’s backdoor and he pulled back further with his next out stroke, sliding in his own slippery warm spill in Rayne’s tight chute. He touched his lips to Rayne’s, feather light.

“You want us both, sweetheart?” he whispered into Rayne’s open mouth.

“Mm-hmmm…” Rayne moaned a low affirmative, a little shudder running through his slim body at the feel of Xavier’s slick heat between his legs and Gabe’s powerful, furry warmth at his back. He lifted his chin and closed his eyes but whispered; “Go in slowly, Arden. Your dick’s like a horse’s shin bone, if you hurt Xav with it I’ll pull it off!”

Gabe licked his shoulder and neck playfully. “You’re bloody hot when you get all feisty like that, d’you know?”

“And you’re randy as a dog in heat. You really will fuck anything won’t you?” Rayne hissed through his teeth as Gabe shoved into him whilst he was answering back.

“You said it!” Gabe panted, grinning wolfishly at them both. He gripped Rayne’s lean hips in both hands and drew back so that just his head was in the vampire, then stroked it back inside, smooth as velvet.

Xavier’s eyes nearly rolled back in his head at the pressure and friction created around his cock.

“Oooohhh! Fuck!” he exhaled as if all the breath were being squeezed out of him. The fingers that had been massaging the back of Rayne’s neck slid into his hair and pulled him down, their lips clashing in a hungry kiss. Rayne huffed into his mouth at Gabriel’s next hard thrust and Xav wriggled his tongue between his teeth, a small needy moan coming from him as he matched Gabriel’s ebb and flow.

Rayne made small, muffled sounds, writhing and squirming astride them both, his hands sliding up Xavier’s arms and gripping his shoulders tightly. He whined low in his throat.

“Mmmm… nice!” Gabriel growled in response. “Keep doin’ that, Wylde. The vibrations feel so sweet ’round my dick!”

The were crouched over him and thrust again, deeper and harder this time, riding the yielding wetness of Rayne’s tight arse. Xavier was bucking up into him from beneath and the vampire’s back arched inward as he rode them both, his head coming up from Xavier’s mouth so that he could cry out, a wild, helpless, inarticulate noise that seemed torn from his chest.

Xavier might have worried about whether that howl was more pain than pleasure except for the undeniable proof of Rayne’s steel hard erection pumping in the closed circle of his fist. His own hot breath bathed Rayne’s skin as he panted, his lips moving over the side of his throat to kiss and nip him there. The feeling of being inside him was incredible enough but having another big solid cock working up in there with him was melting his brain with its searing sensation. He knew what Rayne was feeling too, the stretch and burn of being so overwhelmingly filled, although being on this end of things was rather new.

It was harder to move with the weight of both of them on him, although he managed energetically enough. Gabriel had been moving steadily and now he picked up the pace, driving into Rayne harder and faster. The way their dicks rubbed together inside him was making Xav crazy, it was almost as if that hard muscular body would fuck them both into the mattress. Xav moved and rolled with them both, letting the pleasure build. His hand slipped from the back of Rayne’s neck to caress along Gabe’s shoulder and down his arm, his fingers clinging warmly there as if he were hanging on.

Rayne was huffing rapidly between them, eyes closed, his lean body wriggling as they worked on him. Occasionally a little whining noise escaped him when the feelings inside him got too good. He was not fighting it though, just riding the wave, letting his bedmates steer him where they wanted him.

“Oh yeah!” Gabe growled low as he quickened the pace. “That feels good!”

He leaned over Rayne’s undulating body and kissed, then bit his pale, bare shoulder, lips curling back from a set of magnificent ivories that were half human, half lupine. As those long, powerful dog teeth sank into the junction of his neck and his shoulder, Rayne shuddered and moaned ecstatically. His muscles tightened in automatic reflex and Gabe grunted appreciatively, fucking him harder.

The pressure on Xav’s cock was almost uncomfortable. Gabe’s dick felt like a hard pole sliding against his in the tight confines of his lover’s beautiful little ass. It still felt good though, really, really good. And the way Rayne squirmed and moaned for it was so fucking hot.

He watched Gabriel bite into him and shivers crawled up his back as two dark crimson beads welled up and spilled down the ivory skin of Rayne’s chest.

The little vampire shuddered hard and his fingers tightened too around Xavier’s upper arms, clinging to his his lover, anchoring himself on the beautiful body that bucked beneath him. The groan issuing from his throat rose to a breathless, wordless cry, demanding release. At the same time, nails as hard as ebony spikes erupted steadily from Gabe’s fingertips and impaled his skinny hips, sinking into the hollows of his vigorously rocking pelvis until the blood ran from them.

“Huh-huh-huh…” Rayne gasped, making a sound like he was choking as Gabriel shifted behind him, a slow, rhythmic process punctuated by low growls and the popping of stretched muscles and skin. He was still thrusting hard as his half-way form overtook him, drawn by the scent of blood and sex and by Rayne’s fierce yelps of arousal.

Blood dripped down from Rayne and splashed like tears onto Xav’s chest but he hardly noticed. He was so intently focused on his lover’s pleasure he almost missed what was happening to Gabriel, except the vice like clench around his cock became almost too much to bear and drew his attention to the other man.

Having your vampire lover bitten and ripped into by a rutting werewolf shifting his form right on top of you was something of a stretch for the mind to handle. To his credit, Xavier did not scream or completely freak out, and under other circumstances he might have simply watched in fascination. He could not, however, control every primal reaction, and a bright ribbon of fear snaked from the top of his head into his belly.

Had his two lovers been humans neither would have noticed at all, but the faint peppery tang of fear scent seasoned the air already filled with blood and lust. Rayne’s restraining grip on Xav’s arms only added to his reaction, but Xav wasn’t exactly usual in this respect. The hit of fear, the steady flex and thrust of their bodies that felt almost like struggles, tripped something in his head that drove both his terror and his lust spiralling upward.

Rayne’s fingers relaxed enough to stroke slowly down Xavier’s arms to his hands. Still huffing and moaning softly at each, quickening thrust, he drew his lover’s arms up above his head, knowing that Xavier liked to be held down like this during sex. Now he dipped lower, rubbing his upper body sensually against Xav as their lips met in a long, slow kiss.

“You’re okay, yeah?” he panted between his mate’s soft, wet lips as Gabriel slowed the pace again, grinding deep inside him and making him groan huskily.

“It’s all right, babes,” Gabe said now, his voice a deeper growl than usual but still inimitably him. “Wylde likes it, and I’m not gonna do nothin’ that neither of you don’t want. You can tell me to stop any time.”

Xav’s eyes closed and his expression almost looked like pain, except his lean body writhed under them and his chest heaved with a tumultuous moan of pleasure.

“Uuuhhhh….n-no…don’t stop!” he forced out with a breathless groan.

“Rrrrr… good boy!” Gabriel rumbled hungrily. He pushed deep again, making Rayne shudder some more. The vampire was almost flat-out against Xavier’s rapidly rising and falling torso. He began to make a desperate little “Ahh-ahh-ahh-ahhh” sound with every thrust, rubbing his leaking dick on Xav’s hot, wet belly.

His breath huffed like a desert wind on his lover’s neck and he clung to Xavier’s hands for dear life.

Xav writhed under them and bucked up inside his lover nearly frantic with need. He loved the way Rayne’s cock felt pressing and rubbing on his flexing stomach, although he wished he could feel it pulsing deep inside him.

“Ooohhh, yeah…that’s it baby,” he crooned in Rayne’s ear. “That’s it… feels so good! I wanna make you cum.”

“Uhh… gonna do that anyway!” Rayne’s voice was little more than a husky breath in his ear as they pushed into him hungrily. He quivered again. “So close… so fuckin’ close… it feels so good I can’t stand it!”

“Yeah,” Gabriel growled along the back of his neck, licking Rayne’s wounds slowly. “Come for us, Wylde. Let me and the boy feel it.”

Rayne made a breathless, yipping sound in the back of his throat as the were’s claws gripped his slender hips again, digging deep. His body undulated violently between his two eager mates and he rubbed up harder on Xavier’s belly as his cock began to lurch and twitch responsively.

“Uuuhhhhh… Jesus… yeah!” he gasped as his climax erupted wetly over both Xav and himself and his slight frame quivered with ferocious passion. His raw channel gripped and released around the two thrusting organs inside him.

Rayne’s hands were still wrapped tight around Xavier’s wrists and the weight of his body pressed down on him. The way he moved and yelped as he came all over him was such a turn on, the tight clench around his aching prick had him panting with need.

“Uh-uh-uh yeah!” Xav exhaled as his hips bucked hard and he felt the shuddering release let go behind his balls. He spurted deep inside his lover again.

Gabriel was moments behind him, pulling out before firing a hot wash of pleasure over them both. His jaws sank into the crook of Rayne’s neck again as he burst, shaking the little vampire like a dog toy. Rayne screamed, his finger nails clawing weakly down Xavier’s forearms as he tried to wriggle free, then suddenly Gabe was up and off him, letting him go as abruptly as he had pounced.

Rayne collapsed, panting and shaking on the bed beside Xavier, making low whimpering sounds that were not words. Gabe bent over him, licking his neck and the vampire tried feebly to push him away.

Xav turned and gathered Rayne close in his arms, despite the fact that a few of the shallow scratches bled. He held his shuddering body close to the warmth of his own as they lay pressed together, not exactly protectively, but soothingly. He kissed his temple and hushed him with quiet little murmurs of understanding.

Rayne curled into the warmth of his embrace with a moan of need, nuzzling his neck and nipping at him hungrily whilst Xavier held him. Gabe flopped down on the edge of the bed, panting rapidly for a little while and watching them as his eyes bled back from silver to their usual dark hematite and his body slowly shifted back to it’s mortal form.

“Is he okay?” he asked huskily at last.

“You alright, babe?” Xav whispered into his ear and Rayne nodded his head without lifting it.

Xavier kissed his hair again, running his hands in warm soothing strokes up and down Rayne’s back.

“He’s okay,” he told Gabriel. He felt Rayne lick the tiny drops of blood he’d drawn from his neck and his eyelids fluttered, a dreamy little smile curling his lips and he pushed to make sure Rayne got the feeling of love, understanding, and most importantly acceptance from him. He knew that his lover had been afraid to let him see this side of him, even though they’d talked about it. Talking and experiencing were often two very different things.

Rayne shifted to touch his nose to Xavier’s at long last, looking sleepily into his big blue eyes. His mate looked so beautiful, all sweat damp and sexually dishevelled. Good enough to eat.

“You are something else, you know that?” he whispered in quietly awed tones. “Not much fazes you, does it? Or are you just a better actor than I’m giving you credit for?”

Xav gave him a lazy lopsided grin that was boyishly adorable. “I grew up in L.A. babe. No, not much fazes me.” He was sleepy now too, but he resisted the idea of settling down to sleep. He would maybe close his eyes and drift for a while, but he didn’t want to fall deep enough to dream again.

Rayne moved against him lazily for a little while but it was not sexual this time, just comfort seeking really. He loved the deliciously hot buzz of being close against Xavier’s skin.

After a little while Gabe roused and shook himself contentedly then kissed the tops of their heads.

“Cheers ladies,” he rumbled in a mellow tone, then slipped off the bed and shambled out to find his sleeping mate.

“Cheeky fuck!” Rayne slurred, utterly exhausted.

Xav kept Rayne close, in the mood for some cuddling and comfort himself. His hands stilled though, and eventually so did Rayne, and for a change the vampire fell asleep first.

Xavier held him for a long time, fighting the pull of his own heavy eyelids. He had noticed something about when Rayne slept that he thought was kind of interesting. If they rolled apart in the night Rayne had the disturbing quality of appearing utterly lifeless, his skin cooled, his heart stopped beating, he didn’t even breathe. But if they were touching, no matter how deeply his lover slept, he still breathed and his heart still beat. He wondered if Rayne knew this.

He looked so content in his sleep, and so beautiful. Xav blinked sleepily, his eyes starting to close despite his determination not to let them. He slept, and for a few hours, he did not dream.

He was cold. That was the first thing he noticed. He was cold and naked, laying on a tile floor that at one time had been a pristine crisp white and now was dingy with years of use. An overhead light buzzed faintly with fluorescent glow, making the cold that much more harsh. Small wheels came into focus in front of his eyes, and steel table legs above them. A hospital gurney.

He blinked and squinted up, seeing a white sheet streaked in red covering the shape of a body. Xavier pushed himself up on shaky arms, he felt weak and sick to his stomach. The room he was in was empty beside the table with the body, and even though he didn’t want to he felt irresistibly compelled to see what was under the sheet.

It took some effort to get to his feet, and when he was finally standing he reached out with trembling hands to the pale, bloodsoaked covering over the body. He paused, his breath sounding loud in his ears along with the buzz of the harsh overhead light. He swallowed hard, started to lower his hands, and then grabbed the edge and pulled it back.

Rayne lay there, his lifeless eyes staring up, his bloodless lips parted in a soundless scream. Rents ripped down his sides in parallel lines as if from claws, down to the bone, into the soft tissue of his sides, ragged and open and red with blood. Another ragged hole punctured his breast and looked dark and empty and black inside.

“Oh god…” Xavier exhaled a shaky breath. “Oh god, no… no, please no.” His hands reached for Rayne’s cold body, lifting him up from the steel table. There was a horrible sound echoing in the room now and he realised it was coming from his own throat, a pleading whine that was terrified horror. “No, no, no…please no…” he repeated over and over as he cradled Rayne to him. “No, I won’t let you go!” He screamed into the echoing room and plunged into icy darkness, a horrible, terrifying, sucking darkness that wanted to pull him under, drown him in cold… He went numb, but refused to let his hands unclench from the grip he had on Rayne for even a moment.

Xavier screamed into that darkness until his throat was raw, and a moment later he found himself on another hard floor, this one in a dank dimly lit room with the smell of gas and oil and the scent of arid, laced tobacco floating in the air. He thought he heard a voice above him but it was like hearing while under water, he was slow and couldn’t focus, but he thought it was Clint’s voice, a pleading whine, and then silence. The next thing he knew the man he’d been dreaming about was crouching beside him, and fear gripped Xavier even through the hazy fog he was in. His heart was racing, and he was panting like a sprinter. The red glowing tip of his cigarette got closer… and then he heard a soft unpleasant chuckle and felt a searing burn as it was touched to his skin…

He screamed again, and this time it ripped him up from sleep and he jerked awake, gasping as the pain of the burn followed him into wakefulness for a brief moment.

Rayne must have followed him up from sleep, which was weird because normally once he went down he slept, quite literally, like the dead. But he was half-sitting now, blinking at Xavier in a dazed kind of way. He put a hand to his chest as if it hurt and looked down then up again, visibly surprised to find that he wasn’t injured in some way.

Xavier nearly knocked the bedside lamp over in his haste before he found the switch and turned it on. He was still gulping air like he’d been running and shuddering as he examined the inside of his forearm. Just below the crook of his elbow was a perfect small circle of red. What the fuck…?

“What the fuck…?” Rayne exhaled in a shaky voice, reaching for Xavier and trying to calm him automatically.

Rayne’s verbal echo of inquiry pulled Xav’s attention around and he quickly made sure for himself that Rayne was actually whole and sound before he crumpled into his arms and held him tight enough to squeeze the breath out of him.

“Oh god…” he moaned, although not at all with his usual husky sound of pleasure.

“Wh… what just happened?” Rayne asked him, his voice shaking slightly, and not just from the shock of waking up too quickly. He had not missed the way that Xavier looked at that small burn mark. A mark that had not been on his arm when they fell asleep.

Xav shook his head against Rayne’s shoulder, unable to speak for a moment. Then he swallowed hard and took another deep shuddering breath and tried to pull himself together.

“I don’t know. I had a nightmare,” he said, sounding shaken. “I saw you… somewhere, in a hospital or something, laying on a gurney and covered with a sheet, and y-you were…” He almost couldn’t say the rest, the image of Rayne laying on that table was burned into his mind. “…you were nearly r-ripped apart. And then I was in the room with that guy again and he burned me with a cigarette.” He knew he wasn’t making a whole lot of sense but he couldn’t seem to make himself any more coherent.

“Sweetheart, sweetheart… I’m all right. You are too, I’ll take care of you, I promise. No one is gonna hurt you without coming through me, I swear to you,” Rayne whispered in his ear, wrapping himself around Xavier tenderly. “And we’re safe here. There’s magic and a big, mean wolf to protect us. It’s gonna be fine.”

But at the same time he held onto Xavier because he knew now what it was that had woken him so abruptly. He could still feel the burn of cold steel through his chest, piercing the edge of his heart and it leached the warmth slowly from his body, one degree at a time. Xavier had given him back some the memories they shared in Naples but this was something that had stayed buried between them. Rayne knew that whatever had happened to him in Paris was bad juju, but he had convinced himself since it happened that Xav simply wasn’t clear on the details. Now he knew differently.

And he was not sure how to handle that knowledge.

Xavier had taken the memory of his True Death and hidden it deep inside himself, somewhere that even Rayne could not reach it, not even when they shared blood. He had not believed before tonight that a human being could even do something like that. This was a matter that he needed to ask Dom about, but Lord Warren would not forgive the disturbance of his beauty sleep.

So Rayne curled more tightly around Xavier and murmured gentle nonsense to him until his lover’s heartbeat slowed and he stopped shivering. He tugged the covers around them both until they were snuggled up like two little birds in a feather nest.

“No one can hurt you here,” he promised, kissing Xavier’s hair and stroking his back tenderly. And hoping it was true.

Xavier let himself be soothed back down, and even dropped into a light doze out of sheer exhaustion. He did not dream again in the gray pre-dawn hours that were left of the night, although he did not rest easily.

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