Summary/Perpetrator's Note: Susan, post-Hogfather, drifts to sleep one night and has rather disturbing dreams...not for the faint of heart, or stomach. She and Teatime just had such great chemistry in Hogfather that I couldn't help but write this, though by all laws of right and sanity it shouldn't exist—Terry Pratchett would probably have an aneurysm of horror if he ever heard of it, and even I feel slightly as though I need a good scrub. With lye. And possibly bleach. I therefore bid you read on, if you dare, and I warn you, this is weird. Very, very, VERY weird, so feel free to flame me into oblivion for the horrendous (but still somehow unrepentant) abuser of canon that I am.
The eerie half-darkness peculiar to a snowy night had descended, and Susan was thoroughly worn out. Gawain, Twyla, and the neighborhood children had spent the day merrily hurling snowballs at one another (occasionally with rocks inside of them), and she had in turn spent it patching up the various war-wounds and succoring the losers with cocoa and biscuits. It never failed to mildly horrify her, just how good she was with children—it wasn't as though she'd had any practical experience up to now, and she certainly didn't see herself as the maternal type, but she'd never yet met a child she couldn't manage. Occasionally she wondered just where it had come from; her family, being what they were, did not exactly suggest hot chocolate and fuzzy bunnies, but that seemed to be what most children thought of on sight of her.
She sighed, fastening the buttons of her night-dress while her hair uncoiled itself and settled sleepily around her shoulders. It was as tired as she, and did not put up its usual fuss at her assumption of night-time rituals; ordinarily it fought to stay in its bun until she'd wrestled it out with brush and comb. Normally she would lay awake a while and read, after the children were in bed, but just now all she wanted was to collapse between the sheets and let oblivion have hold of her for a good ten hours.
Gratefully she sat down, blowing out all the candles but one, and ran her hand over the soft coverlet. Though she'd grown up the child of a duke, she much preferred this sort of apartment--small, homey, and above all, lived-in. Her parents house had been a mausoleum, a place so old and full of personality that it was difficult to feel you actually lived there, and as for her grandfather's place… No. Death's house lent itself to many descriptions, but 'homey' was not one of them.
"Bugger it," she said aloud, crawling beneath the blankets and extinguishing the last candle. She was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.
Some time later she woke, or thought she did, convinced through her muzzy haze of sleep that she was not alone.
If it's that blasted rat again, I swear, I'll throw him to Twyla's cat, she thought, rolling over and rubbing blearily at her face. She fumbled for the matches and lit a candle, squinting into the darkened shadows that lurked in the corners. Rather irritably she rose, pushing a tendril of wild white hair out of her eyes, and padded toward the fireplace—if one of those bogeymen had decided to stop by, she'd give him what-for in quite short order.
She had almost reached the hearth when what was unmistakably an arm slipped around her waist, in the same instant that a hand clamped over her mouth, stifling her startled shriek. Automatically she tried to bite it, with an astonishing lack of success, and her struggles abruptly ceased when a voice whispered next to her ear.
"Don't scream," it said. "I do hate it when people scream. It gets so very...tedious." It was a soft voice, low and somewhat boyish, filled even in a whisper with a peculiarly dreadful sort of glee. It was enough to turn Susan's blood to ice—she recognized it at once, for only one person she'd ever met had managed to convey such an air of merrily deranged malevolence. She froze, tensing like a spring, and the voice laughed quietly into her ear.
"I'm going to take my hand away now, and I want you to promise me you won't do anything foolish, or I might get very upset. Nod if you understand."
Susan nodded. She was afraid not to.
But the bugger's dead, she thought wildly, the only thought her mind was capable of producing, under the circumstances. Gods know I should know it, I bloody well killed him...
The hand was accordingly removed from her mouth, and Susan was spun around to find herself facing the warm, open, friendly, and incomparably terrifying visage of Jonathan Teatime. His mismatched eyes were scant inches from her own, boring into hers with their customary expression of cheerful dementedness. She stared at him, a steady refrain of ohbuggerohbuggerohBUGGER running through her head and drowning out any other, more useful thoughts. His arms latched securely around her waist, pulling her close to him, and he smiled happily down at her.
"Oh, Susan, how I've missed you," he said, the words a little too sincere for comfort. Susan's heart lurched into her throat as he seized one of her hands and waltzed her around the room, giggling like a child with a new toy. "It's very lonely being dead, do you know that? Nothing to do, no one to see, no one to...kill. So I thought, don't you know, I'd pay you a little visit, see how you were getting along..." He backed her into the wall, the dim light from the window throwing sharp shadows over his face and glinting weirdly off his glass eye. "...See, perhaps, if there were any new men in your life. Are there any men in your life, Susan?"
Susan, for once in her existence caught so off-guard she was hardly certain of her own name, mutely shook her head, wondering what in hell she'd eaten, to cause this sort of nightmare. She had to be asleep—the dead couldn't return; she of all people should know that well enough. This was simply a vivid dream, it had to be, but it didn't make it any less...weird.
"Oh, good," Teatime said gleefully. "I was hoping that was the case, because it makes all this so much easier." He leaned toward her, one hand pushing an errant strand of hair from her face, and Susan, in the grand tradition of all trapped in the Twilight Zone, went right ahead and put her foot in it.
"It...it makes what easier?" she asked, unable to think under the unsettlingly piercing gaze of those mismatched eyes. It was like looking into a black hole, and finding something in it looking back. The poker's in the other room…if it would even do any good. How do you kill a dead man?
Teatime smiled at her, bending his curly head even closer. "This, of course," he said, and kissed her.
This was the point that Susan became convinced that not only was this a dream, it was a dream in which she'd apparently gone temporarily insane. For instead of doing something sensible, like punching him, kneeing him in the groin, or clawing his eyes out, she found that she was letting him kiss her—more than that, she found, to her not inconsiderable astonishment, that she was kissing him back. She had kissed Imp, in her awkward adolescence, and the few others who had followed him, but it had been nothing like this—this was a kiss that burned, a kiss that could drive you over the edge of sanity, if you let it. Where the hell did he learn that? she wondered, insofar as she was capable of wondering anything.
Her hands found the front of his shirt as her knees turned quite suddenly to jelly, and his arms slid around her and pulled her to him, somehow managing to keep her on her feet as he continued to kiss her half senseless. He tasted of heat and cinnamon and spices, and when at last his lips left hers Susan found herself gasping for breath like a drowning woman.
"...Wow," she said, sagging against him as her legs gave up all attempt at supporting her. "That, huh?"
"That," Teatime affirmed, and kissed her again, lifting her quite gently as he did so. He was scarcely taller than she herself, but incredibly strong, and he deposited her on the bed as though she weighed nothing at all. He broke the kiss long enough to run his fingers through her hair, which appeared to be as acquiescent as she herself, parting before his hands like water. "And this," he murmured, brushing his lips along her hairline, pausing to nibble at her ear before descending lower and leisurely exploring her neck. "And perhaps this..."
Susan choked on a gasp as his hands traveled over her, finding their way to the buttons of her (naturally) sensible night-dress. She didn't know why in hell she was letting him do this, even in a dream, but...dear gods, the man knew how to kiss. Even in the Toothfairy's kingdom she had felt the pull of his strange, cracked magnetism, but here, with all the force of his attention upon her, trying to resist it was like beating at rain with a flyswatter. The weight of his body pressed against her as he crept over her, his fingers deftly undoing each tiny button—despite his boyish figure he seemed to be solid muscle, and she shivered at the tickle of his hair against her jaw as his mouth traveled still lower, pausing to pay homage to the line of her collarbone.
"...Yes...definitely that, I think," she said faintly, her hands gripping his shoulders. She took hold of his chin, guiding his mouth back to hers. "And maybe this, too."
She was never quite certain just what came next—it was all a blur of sensation, filled with strange, aching sensations that, while not completely alien, she had never felt with such intensity. It was as though her body had taken over, relieving her brain of any responsibility as Teatime slipped the nightgown from her shoulders, his strong, blunt, killer's hands following paths of their own devising. Really he was little less awkward than Imp had been, but what he lacked in finesse he made up for in raw talent, seeming to somehow know exactly where to touch and when.
And she let him. She knew, even through her haze of desire, that there was absolutely no emotion involved for either of them—it was purely physical, the fission that had inevitably sprang up from such crackling alchemy as had arisen between them. He might be a very mad (and very dead) Assassin, and she might be, well...Susan, but in that moment neither fact mattered in the slightest—all that mattered was the soft warmth of flesh on flesh, the trails of fire his fingers left along her back.
She wrapped her arms around his neck as his mouth found its way back to hers, and then they were a tangle of limbs and swiftly-discarded clothing, and Susan found herself being drawn up a wholly alien but achingly wonderful spiral of desire, whimpering as his mouth roved over her neck with bruising force, her every nerve alive with a sensitivity she never would have believed possible.
It seemed to go on forever, and at the same time to take no time at all. Delicious shivers ran along her spine, slowly building on one another into an unbearable crescendo that left her gasping helplessly for release. Her fingers dug into his shoulders hard enough to draw blood, and the muffled nighttime quiet was broken as she cried out in unabashed ecstasy, her fingers raking down his back—
—and with that cry she woke, really woke, her forehead bathed in sweat and her hands holding the blankets in a white-knuckled grip. Her eyes flew open, and she gasped for breath until her hammering heartbeat returned to normal, leaving her entire body tingling with delicious, lazy awareness.
Susan lay still for several long minutes, trying and failing to wrap her brain around the fact that she was actually awake, that all of that had been nothing more than a dream. She was profoundly grateful that her room was far from the family's, so that none should have heard her cry—if anyone ever found out about this little...nocturnal lapse of sanity...she felt certain she'd die of embarrassment.
She lit the candle with trembling hands, doing her best to tame the over-excited tangle of her hair. As steadily as she could she went to the end-table and poured herself a glass of water, sipping slowly and trying to restore some measure of rationality.
It was just a dream, she thought with a shiver. A damnably odd dream, brought on by the gods alone know what...I won't even remember it in the morning.
And she might have convinced herself of this, had she not at that moment caught sight of herself in the small mirror above the table. The candlelight was dim, but more than clear enough to show her something that froze her where she stood, and made her drop the water-glass with a crash.
Her entire neck was covered in great, bruise-dark splotches, of a sort that have only one source. Her eyes widened, and she leaned closer to the mirror, unable to believe what she was seeing. Hesitantly she reached up and touched one, feeling the pressure on the tender flesh.
Oh...BUGGER, she thought, shutting her eyes hard, as though by doing so she could will away the splotches. This is not happening, this is NOT HAPPENING—
And then an arm slid around her waist, and hot breath brushed across her ear as a low, throaty voice whispered.
"How I've missed you, Susan."
Well, now that that's done I think I have to go and do a self-performed exorcism...hopefully this little bit of horror has ripped the idea out of my head once and for all, and it can be happily buried in oblivion. :shudder: