La Petite Mort
By Anais Mark
We always knew something kinky connected Aro and Jane. Now our suspicions are confirmed. Canon-ish characters. A nearly stand-alone outtake of Metaphysics.
Author's Note: By now everyone has figured out that I can't do this without significant admonition from my darling Clementine. However cheerful I am about suffering at her hand for my art, whipping me into shape is not a task for the faint of heart. She never is and for that, she has my undying adoration and gratitude. She will also be receiving handcuffs in the mail. Rawr.
This fandom never fails to amaze and inspire me. Thank you all for lifting me up again.
A tingle, in truth barely more than tickling the outer layer of skin, shimmered and danced, animated the nacre of a pearl. It didn't take much to make such an exquisitely sensitive covering sing.
Aro knew every thought of every creature he touched as if he were downloading an encyclopedic file, the story of their life as told by them. Surprises were few and far between for him, as were the accompanying spirals of emotion. No intentions, however half-formed, were safe from his handshake.
But this anomaly, these sensational exchanges with his paramour, had become the sole source of enchantment in his extended existence. After so many years, events had begun to recycle themselves. In this twenty-first century, he was even forced into temporal conservation. So bourgeois…or proletariat…or whatever catchphrase indicated the masses this week.
He wanted to shift his weight, to add some needed friction to the mix, but knew even the slightest motion would draw eyes his way. Stoic, he continued to preside over a trial he cared nothing about. The Volturi listened and their esteemed guests watched while Aro's tormentor toyed with him remotely.
Not a piece of clothing lay strewn about. Not even a button had come undone but Aro felt himself coming a little closer to the edge than he should. He loved it, the exhilaration she teased and sometimes tore out of him. A quick check of the room revealed no attention directed at their game and he continued to ply the scared immortal before him with his usual intimidating charm. It oozed from his stony façade, water that would never quench.
The proceedings dragged on interminably, much to Aro's excruciating pleasure.
Watching his master's uncharacteristic lethargy, Demetri wanted to scream. Enough already! Was a third hearing of this newborn's misdeeds absolutely necessary? Such a trite tale, weeds of bloodlust in a garden untended. Thanks to Aro's overdeveloped flair for the dramatic, pulling the wild growth by the roots could not be rushed. Maybe the audience assembled for their trip to Allesworth needed to have the Volturi's sense of justice impressed upon it.
Since his run-in with Aro's sense of justice, the result of an ill-conceived solo jaunt to Edinburgh, Demetri did not question it. He knew firsthand the tricks Jane would use if the defendant didn't comply. He shivered at the memory of her commitment to the exercise. She and Aro had drawn details out of him—where exactly he went, what he intended, whom he encountered—that he hadn't even noticed the first time through. Only after they were satisfied did Aro put a palm to his and confirm.
Or so he assumed. Aro and Jane learned early that more could be squeezed from a memory under stress. As much as she enjoyed the torture, it served a purpose. That fact had been dropped in their bucket of secrets centuries ago.
Aro's repeated requests for information about the youngling's maker were met with frightened silence. The purpose of guests dawned on the guard: witnesses in preparation for their journey. Knowing Jane's capabilities could ensure their cooperation.
Save one doe-eyed exception and her co-conspirator, how the Volturi would handle this unbroken vampire plagued the gallery at large. For centuries, rumors had circulated but no one outside Volterra had actually seen them handle disobedience and their imaginations flailed. They would not be disappointed in the show. Nothing pleased Jane more than the power she could wield at will, knowing that she could better even Aro's omniscience. While not able to conjure fire or wind out of the air, she could certainly inspire someone else to get them for her.
Jane let the newborn feel a sizzle and then made him drop to the floor, screaming.
The gasping of a lovely spectator from Italy was contagious. The collective intake of breath created a ripple in the air that Jane could actually feel. That feeling, knowing that at the snap of a finger she'd made a room full of monsters congratulate themselves on never having angered her before, made her high. The heady cocktail, the rush of power, heat of anticipation, the thrill of preying, all combined to make her enormous eyes a bottomless black.
An outlet for her desire would have to be found.
Eventually Alec immersed the poor vampire in nothingness and Felix removed his head. Almost immediately, the smell of incense filled the Tuscan hillside. Servants stoked the new fire in the throne room.
Unable to resist the opportunity to impress upon these immortals his power, Aro spoke one last time before he retreated. "A death so miniscule is almost no price at all for our collective peace of mind."
Taking her brother Alec by the hand, Jane exited the killing tower with an absolute indifference belying her anticipation. The hint of pain she used to tease Aro during the unruly youngling's undoing was an aphrodisiac she was powerless to resist.
As an immortal there were few things Aro couldn't possess. He'd been a charismatic enough human, though he had no memory of that humble beginning. A touch of the hand and he knew exactly what phrasing to use, what angle to take to get at his prize most expeditiously. That having been said, he wasn't entirely certain that he wanted the twins when he found them in the town square of an entirely exsanguinated village. Aro was prepared to execute them if the impressions of their maker proved unreliable. These two might be too dangerous to control.
That was a complication Aro had never encountered and he found himself uncertain, intrigued. Already torn.
He raised his palms, as if showing he bore no weapon made a difference. "Young ones, we mean you no harm. We are simply here to assess the situation and provide for your safety."
The female spoke first, clear and sweet. Guileless, because the bright scarlet painting the town's ditches was the last thing in the world she had left to hide from fellow predators. "We can provide for our own safety."
"Yes. Yes, of course. What I mean is that there are many immortals, many like us, and they may not be as welcoming as my friends and I. There is talk of fear…and what we fear we seek to disarm."
"We cannot be disarmed. We simply are." The young man believed naïvely that he could make his own case. His sister seemed to realize that he was making Aro's.
"So is that it, then? You've come to clear away the unknown for the masses? Such a sad servant you make, operating at the whim of others."
Even with her words she knew how to cause the most anguish without leaving even a ripple across the surface of the water. Want crippled Aro, making the decision his impressive intellect failed to. He wouldn't return to Volterra without her. In fact, he did not.
Aro walked the damp tunnel quickly, following Jane to today's rendezvous. It was always somewhere different, conveyed by the routine submission of her hand to his. It was an invasion all the guard allowed. He arrived at the medieval prison and felt her before he could pinpoint her location.
The frisson of pain caressed him, just like in the throne room earlier. He twitched at the surprise.
"Minx. Show yourself." She never disappointed.
A sharper slice traversed his back.
"What good would seeing me do? Just close your eyes. I'll know if you peek."
"Will you?" He was already poised to strike, but a moment too late. Electricity coursed through him, snapped at the arches of his feet.
For the others, she pretended that she couldn't control it, that she might try to dole out pain incrementally but couldn't be held accountable for its potency. She could, in fact, measure it out precisely, scientifically, even taking into account a person's experience as it might increase their tolerance for discomfort. Too much pain would simply render a human unconscious, an unacceptable way out. Not enough excruciation and they thought they'd won.
Somewhere between the poles hid that perfect point, the punishment that left them with enough hope to remain in the game. And it was her game.
For a rare few, the space between the poles harbored another surprise. For Aro, a throb of pleasure rushed in to take away the sting of each stroke he received, heightened every sensation until the wave broke.
The twins were not averse to the idea of returning to Volterra with Caius and Aro. They liked the security of numbers, the luxury of adjusting to their new existence with experienced help.
Even without any memory of their humanity, they complemented one another like two halves of a broken plate. The edges were unpredictable, smooth and jagged, glazed and porous. Yet when they were placed just so, not a trace of their brokenness remained visible to the naked eye. Their scar disappeared, hidden until they parted ways. They were seldom parted.
With a hand to Jane's, Aro found the cleft and his perfect memory never lost its location.
Jane looked like innocence personified—wide-eyed with soft, sexless edges. Alec was truly innocent. He saw the world in black and white, in graphic relief. When they faced the world hand-in-hand, they were balanced. The result was a structure of extraordinary strength. And while a strong pair contributed to a stable Volterra, it was all but useless to Aro personally.
Alec helped Jane see her talent as a dangerous weapon, to be used only in the direst situations. For his sake, for his affection, she let him think that pain came in a single, awful incarnation. She used it only for protection and out of shame hid the full range of her ability.
Aro saw the shades she was capable of creating and immediately wanted to capitalize on her talent's potential. He also saw how little Alec understood, how Jane wanted that to remain so, how the dilemma created an opportunity for him.
Looking into dangerously red eyes, enormous with fright, he struck the blow with a gemcutter's precision. "Young one, you have seen so much pain. Let me help you adjust to carrying it in this new life."
In a single sentence, Alec was won over by the feigned paternal concern and Jane by his predatory cunning. The two were parted without need of Alec's numbing.
Jane hid her triumph behind lowered lashes. "I would be in your debt, Master."
While Alec wondered at the darkly altered gaze when she raised her face, Aro wondered how long harnessing it would take.
Jane looked contrite. She was anything but apologetic. "You know how it works, Master. I am merely a handmaiden in this."
Aro wanted to squeal with delight, to clap his hands and laugh like a child. He loved when Jane was in the mood to play. Her tricks during the trial and execution led him to believe that she might want to toy with him. He'd had no idea how spot-on that impression was.
"But I would like to find you."
It took her a scant second to form a scenario. "That can be arranged. I'll guide you."
The soles of his feet buzzed, as if the floor itself had come to life. He liked this game. A move in the right direction and the buzz undulated, friction just where he wanted it. A step she disapproved of and it stabbed.
She led him to her person circumspectly, not that he expected differently, and remained absolutely still. As a predator, he knew exactly how to find her; she was not truly hidden. But this was a different kind of hunt and he wanted desperately to be preyed upon.
He never expected the pounce, he expected to be allowed to find her. A knee rested on either side of his hips and she forced her bare palms to his, finally allowing him a quick preview of her plan.
Wordlessly, he rose and stretched himself across the table. The shackles she attached would never restrain him, but he allowed himself to be reined in. He knew that her pupils dilating in response to the sight of him would be all the satisfaction he'd get until she said so. A turn of the wheel, and he was upright.
Jane's connection to Alec baffled Marcus. In a world of constants—stony limbs, ageless beauty, unchanging connections—the twins' shifting relationship kept him guessing.
Aro had to be the one to enlighten him. "The children are two halves of the same whole. What one neglects, the other nurtures; if one needs, the other supplies. It would appear that they were even turned together by the same venom. I've never encountered anything like it. The symbiosis is miraculous. Beautiful. I think that their connection is a gift in and of itself. Doubly gifted, the pair."
Poor Marcus had no idea that Aro had spent more hours than he had pondering that unique relationship, but with the goal of picking it apart.
After she'd disabled a newborn with hurricane force, Aro had wondered at her effortless power. When she'd rendered a centuries'-old wrongdoer positively pliant with little more than the flick of a finger, he'd marveled even more. She was an artist.
He summoned her almost immediately. Certain she was about to receive a verbal beating, she prepared her surprisingly tender heart for harsh words from Master.
They were alone. Without guards. Without extra ears. Without so much as a snack. Jane was genuinely afraid of the implications—something far worse than words—and began to thinking frantically of her offense.
Even before her scent had wafted over to Aro he felt the thrumming from head to toe, the prowling fingers of a little death so fleet he wondered if he hadn't imagined the thrill that knifed him. Her offense.
That he didn't flinch at her warning shot made Jane even more afraid but she carried on with her bluff. "Aren't you afraid?"
"I might ask the same of you, young one."
She'd never before heard that timbre in his voice. She was affecting him and tingled with confused excitement. "I am. You haven't answered me."
He approached carefully, never having needed cunning so much as at that moment. "Very. I'm very afraid and I haven't been in such a long time. Fear is a powerful thing, eliciting responses as varied as they are powerful."
The electricity beneath his skin dulled as she reconsidered her position. If she incapacitated Aro, she could never outrun the guard. "I am afraid. You're correct. That's why I issued that warning. It's the only reason. Please don't be angry. I won't do it again."
He took her hands in his and saw her misunderstanding perfectly. It was, at least, a start. "My pet, that is precisely the reason you are here."
Jane was left to worry for but a moment.
"I'd like to…agonize. I'd like you to make me. I'm intrigued by your gift. It's interesting how many words describe both that which plagues us with both pain and desire, how many parallels exist in indicating degrees of both."
The thought of toying with a willing subject flipped a switch; she had no idea that she was smiling. Hungry. Tiny shards of ice rained down her extremities, a thrilling uncertainty begging her to look over the cliff's edge. The possibilities.
"There are shades, then?"
Clearly he'd been thinking about it. "You know this."
"I know that you know. Introduce me. Start me off slow. Acquaint me…intimately."
She paused, smelling a trap. She'd never touched the body of another being for pleasure. Not being familiar with carnal desire did not keep her from skepticism…or from learning the ropes rapidly. The tally of ways she could torture him mounted and she was anxious to try every one. "Pain intrigues you?"
He circled. "I should say so. You should see yourself, practically humming—pooled venom, dilated pupils. Entirely feral. So controlled, distant most of the time but this idea, this…power…its effect on you is immediate."
Still she didn't speak. She didn't even inhale. The question wouldn't go away. How could he know? How could he know when she hadn't known herself?
So faint that he wondered if he was mistaken, a blush of heat as if he'd walked just too close to a bonfire singed a trail from his center out. A test. Beginning with an ember at his navel, heat washed to the apex of his thighs, eliciting a snarl and a curl of his lips into what might've been a smile.
He smelled it; he could practically taste it. Venom, not from her mouth. And he circled because it affected him like blood in the water. Instinctually, he knew how to deal with that desire and knew that she did not.
As obvious as her curiosity was, her agony to give in, he knew only her power made her hungry. She hadn't even adjusted her high collar or removed a glove.
Jane took her fire away and considered its effects. He was panting but only allowed a moment for her to see how badly he wanted more. It was enough. The cool authority he exuded had burned away, if only for a split second. It was just long enough to addict her. Aro didn't ask more than once for anything—information, obedience, trinkets.
She would make him beg.
"You are new to this life as I am to the nuances of your gift. Maybe we can introduce one another."
"I don't know."
He knew better.
In the days following their encounter, Aro requested a young blonde be brought to him, not some simpering fool. He toyed with her for weeks, dressing her in a cloak the same color as Jane's, calling her "pet" and lavishing her with attention before turning her. He and his wife treated the girl as a daughter. They decorated her apartment, bought her jewels, dressed her like a princess. Jane never addressed her until she'd been turned.
Then, another pet was brought to him. Lanky, brooding Renata never left Aro's side, wrapping her warm fingers in his cold ones and sleeping with her head in his lap to show her trust. She'd been stalked for weeks as the guard tried to determine if she had a talent or tremendously good fortune. Tristan was sent in to bring her back to Volterra—easy prey for such a practiced hand. Even when Jane made her fingers feel frostbitten and her cheeks sting with cold from the contact with Aro, Renata persevered doggedly for his affection.
Jealous Jane began taunting Aro around the other residents of Volterra, an exchange just outside the collective awareness, torturing him in public places. She had no idea how he enjoyed their secret mutual agony. She refused to drink in the presence of the girls, for fear she would sink her teeth into one of them and have an even larger problem.
Leaving the castle to hunt alone, Jane encountered Aro. He'd been waiting for her to leave. That they hadn't touched in days indicated to him a secret that her onyx eyes couldn't keep. She steeled herself instantly. "Is there something you require?"
"I'm here to keep up my end of our agreement."
"There are many skills I need to learn. How to feed myself is not one of them."
"How indeed. Come." She did, even as she wondered why she would allow him to make her.
As they ran, he explained. "A young girl nearby has been pining for an older boy in a town a few miles away. Her parents constantly fear that she may run off with him. No one would miss either child were they to disappear into the night."
Having watched Jane slake her thirst, he knew her to be single-minded when presented with a meal: base of the neck, just above the collarbone, always quick and clean. "Drinking with an audience is not the best way to enjoy a meal or to learn what part of a human you prefer. Groups make one so…self-conscious. We'll sneak off and do a tasting on our own. Life is too long for endless mediocrity."
Their path stopped at the edge of a tidy farm. "There are delicacies if you can restrain yourself enough to find them." Three fingers settled onto the fabric over her dress, exactly where a heartbeat would've been. "What is in the heart is purest but to drink from it like a chalice," his fingers moved down her sternum, following a left rib out until it was nearly parallel with the center of her breast, before continuing, "you have to get your hands dirty."
Pressing upward, he indicated the vulnerable slit that would accommodate first a finger to create a fountain, the perfect size for a mouth. His hand dropped straight down, coming to rest just below her hipbone. Venom laced her tongue at the thought of the pulse there. Dropping to a crouch, he brought his hands behind her knees. Thinking of the delicious throb she knew to be there, she didn't notice the playful mouth around her ankle until his teeth were in contact with her skin. "Blood in the extremities is full of extra things, the evidence of their stresses and exertions. You might prefer it."
A purist, Jane turned up her nose at the suggestion, earning a rare smile from Aro as he returned her skirt to the ground.
Jane retrieved the lass and Aro returned with the lad.
The sleeping lovers never felt the blanketed arms that whisked their exhausted bodies into the night and barely twitched when her sharp incisors pierced their groins, cold fingers snapping their necks. Jane wondered at her own frantic bloodlust and the strange half-satisfied feeling from her meal. She wanted more.
"I warned you that you'd get your fingers dirty if you did it my way." Aro looked at her wine-red index and middle fingers. She cleaned one with her own mouth and offered the second to him, an offer he didn't decline.
Aro knew exactly the half-satisfaction she felt. "There was an exchange, I believe. I would acquaint you with the finer points of feeding and politics and you would help me understand pain."
Now she could make him beg. "Of course, Master. Where should we begin?"
"I have just the place in mind." The occasional glimmer across the bridge of Jane's nose reminded him that the sun would be rising. They needed to get underground.
"No. I have no desire for an audience."
A finger along his cheekbone told Aro that today he would lose his clothes. In years of these encounters, he could count on one hand the number of times he'd been nude. Ever the pragmatist, she removed only what she needed for access. Just the memories made him weak—her mouth, there. She always drank him in right down to the last drop, as if he were a delicacy.
Today was a celebration of sorts. Out with the old, in with the new. They might never return to these halls again.
The visual—a man she called "Master" in front of others, willingly chained and at taut attention—heated Jane from the darkest corners of her body. She could only deny him as long as she could deny herself and so tried to think of something less arousing: plant names. He stood in the center of the room, an "X" marking the actual center of her attention, with a stone platform behind his thighs.
Jane needed neither light nor time to get rid of Aro's clothes. The snap of a finger and they were gone. The shifting of the air as she moved aroused Aro even more, so strained was his interest.
She examined the sheen of condensation collecting on his skin, knowing exactly what it would taste like. Regardless, she slid a finger across the plane of his chest leaving a dry hash mark. Not out of curiosity, but because she wanted to, she licked it.
Volterra resembled nothing so much as an ants' nest, with the fortress its bustling center. To the untrained eye, it might appear that the drones and soldiers scurried along the surface streets. In fact, the real action took place below ground, in the miles of ancient and not-so-ancient tunnels and rooms carved into the mountain. Many led nowhere and malingered in disuse, harboring torture devices and detention cells, in Aro's mind a maze perfect for changing his new talent. This venture qualified and he raised no suspicions when he set out with Jane.
Somewhere amidst the tangle was just the place Aro had in mind.
"This is highly unusual, Master."
"I cannot disagree." Aro found himself in a bit of a conundrum. Confessing the depths of his real interest might unnerve her. Lying to her might anger her. "But a grave indiscretion on your part has come to my attention. As you know well, all the residents of Volterra keep me apprised of her goings-on with a brush of their fingers."
"They are lying." Try as she might, Jane could think of no one in Volterra who might wish her ill or what such a person could have misunderstood to be misbehavior on her part. This was not at all what she had in mind.
"They can misunderstand."
She tore at her glove, anxious to defend herself. "Why would you trick me into coming here? And where is your protection, your executioners if I am plotting against you? You have no one." He had no one. If no one accompanied him, it was because he didn't want them to.
Aro reached a hand to her bare fingers, only to come up empty. She lifted her head to make eye contact and his fingers ached so that he rubbed them together. He wasn't sure if the throbbing moved towards his center because she made it or because he was in such misery for it to do so.
"You're hurting me, pet." It was a question, an invitation, a dare from which she couldn't back down. Why would he lie to her? No one accused her with their thoughts.
"Why am I here?"
"Because you're power-hungry and a danger." His voiced cracked just enough to make her regret stabbing his legs all over. Suddenly he was stiff; he'd agonized over her so long that he couldn't help but smile at this taste of what he wanted.
"WHY am I here?" Enraged by his smug expression, Jane lashed out again, this time at his back, and wondered how he kept his feet. Still, she knew that he wouldn't be able to strike back at her and she put her body a hairsbreadth from his. "I can do this until you tell me. If you had help, they would have intervened by now."
As angry as she was, she couldn't help but enjoy the familiar rush of toying with this man, testing his limits, calling the shots. Maybe he wouldn't give in easily.
For the first time in ages, the shapeless din in Aro's head went quiet, his focus narrowed, attuned to that pinpoint where she made him feel. Her attack allowed nothing but his sharpest attention and as the knives keened themselves on his iron flesh he saw a glimpse of how he could be. What he could be, if she'd only refine him with this fire. He willed his hands away from his body and, for the first time, Jane's confidence in pain stumbled.
"WHY AM I HERE?" The wind from her roar swept over his face.
Aro's voice failed him but his hands lifted to her hips and rested there. The pain sputtered out as Jane tried to understand.
He gasped. "You know why."
"I've held up my end. I should go." In her mind, the betrayal she felt outweighed his tiny deceit. She felt as if she'd been used for more than a lesson in torture and didn't understand why.
"I asked to be acquainted intimately with pain. That was the same tune you play for everyone else, strangers even." He pulled her in. The hard evidence of what he truly wanted met the plane of her stomach through the layers of their clothes.
Without a word or a change in expression, she let him know just how clearly she understood. Not quite metaphorically, but without the clunkiness of a metal tool, Jane made Aro feel the squeeze of a vice on his manhood. She didn't hurt him enough to do more than make the already painful throb more pronounced.
On his knees before her, watching as she took her sweet time putting her glove back on, he wondered how he would be able to keep his hands to himself until she allowed more.
"You enjoyed that."
He shivered. "Only some of it. When you torture me like that, what you do and how you go about it are not mine to command. I'm not 'Master.' I'm whatever you tell me. The…release of those moments is indescribable. In between, when you are warning me, that I enjoy. I will not lie to you again. The punishment was not something I want to endure regularly."
He smiled weakly, still recovering as she turned to leave. "And I have no secrets now. Just you."
She doubled back and placed an ungloved palm against Aro's, sealing their pact.
She circled, sharklike. "You were slow in getting to me today."
"You gave me no reason to rush to judgment."
Her displeasure radiated in lightning strikes from his navel towards his extremities and continued as he hardened. Convinced of his discomfort, she moved from his line of sight and removed everything but her cloak. He could hear the cloth, the slow untying and pushing of each button through its eye. Her arousal saturated the air around him, the sweet damp smell of sap rising to the first rush of heat.
She stood before him again until he was expectant, knowing he wouldn't speak until she allowed it. "Eyes like midnight, legs practically quivering…you're nearly consumed with hunger." When he didn't speak, she tempted him again. The bait, a finger with a single drop of moisture on it, hung in the air just beyond his mouth.
He knew the penalty for taking it without being told.
"Now." Her entire index finger disappeared in his mouth and chillbumps rose on her spine as he retreated. She rewarded him with a prickling on the soles of his feet that undulated and lapped its way behind his knees, over his thighs and down his swollen sex. Sharp and dull, it alternated and licked at the smooth skin where his legs met. In this ecstasy, he wondered how long he could hold a climax at bay. She liked to push and withhold, to tease him as she had in the throne room earlier, and was never so angry as when he came before she wanted.
She was finding her own limits as well.
Dionaea muscipula. "Nevermind."
A few running steps and she leapt at him, perfectly sheathing him inside her. With her knees on the stone behind him and her hands in the chains above him, she attacked. While she rode, she sent shockwaves through his torso that felt as if they left his body where it joined hers. The pain ebbed, her cue to him. He climaxed monstrously, inevitably, with her legs around him like a vice.
"How far did you get?"
"All the way to the Venus flytrap."
He traced a finger over her shoulder, wondering how long they had today. "Such restraint. She's at the end of your list, isn't she?"
"Yes. I'm getting ready for our jaunt to Allesworth. A twitchy trigger finger would be counter-productive there."
Entwined as they were, whispering in her ear was easy. "We find out the truth about Tristan's legacy once and for all, I guess."
She grinned. "We can do this without knowing. There's so much risk in going to England again. And there are no rendezvous there."
"We cannot rule the world swatting at the Cullens like mosquitoes forever. And we cannot rule the world from this bunker, Madame." Just the thought of what they could do together made him want her again.