Author's Note: Well, here it is, my very first fanfic! Or at least, the first that I'm letting other people read; I've had fragments of plots going around in circle in my head for years. I promised myself that if I ever did start writing them down, I'd start with a few for the tragically under-represented fandom of the Coldfire Trilogy. I love the series, and I firmly believe that Gerald/Damien is the best slash pairing in existence - and now I'm finally contributing! Yippee! Anyway, this takes place when they are traveling to Mount Shaitan - I was inspired by that hint of 'something stronger, yet subtler' that Damien felt when they completed the bond. Also ignores the inconvenient and frankly irritating rule about 'no sex when you're undead'. Accompanying soundtrack: Shadow of the Moon by Blackmore's Night, for which this fic is named, and Night Ride Across the Caucasus by Loreena McKennitt.
Disclaimer: Tragic as it is, I have no claim to anything Coldfire-Trilogy-related, all of which belongs to C.S. Friedman.
Warnings: Slash, violence, contains Gerald Tarrant (really, he's an entire category of warnings unto himself, isn't he?)
A.N.2: Ms. Friedman claims she doesn't see the appeal of Gerald/Damien fics. Seriously? Is she kidding? I can't believe she can't see the subtext in the books - she wrote it in the first place!
A.N.3: Anyone reading this who likes to think that Damien's incorruptible, you'd better run for the hills. Seriously. I like the whole 'good triumphs over evil' theme as much as anyone else, but I like 'Gerald Tarrant triumphs over everything' theme even better, so Damien's in for a very dark surprise. Not for the faint of heart: here be monsters. Abandon hope, ye who enter here. Get the point? Good.
"Could you live with yourself, knowing that a part of me was in your soul, and would be until one of us died?"
For a moment, the cave was silent. Damien tried to speak, to toss out some casual answer that would satisfy the Hunter's question, but for once he couldn't.
Just say it. Say something - anything! It's only for a day or two, it's a necessary evil - something! Don't let him see the truth...
Damien drew a deep breath, fighting to keep his voice steady. What came out of his mouth, though, was not what he had intended to say. "Doesn't sound all that different, really."
The Hunter's eye narrowed, the hungry black lightening back into grey; he looked confused, a rare state for him. "What exactly is that supposed to mean?" Damien instinctively took a step back, cursing his loose tongue, and Tarrant was on his feet in an instant: moving with unnatural swiftness despite his wounds, his quicksilver eyes piercing right through the priest's defenses. "Now is not the time for secrets, Vryce."
That's rich, coming from you. The words were on the tip of Damien's tongue, but he swallowed them: it was too late to try and distract Tarrant from what he'd let slip, and provoking a fight wasn't going to help his case at all. Although it probably couldn't make his plight much worse, either; the Hunter wasn't going to like what came next. Instead, he decided to take his chances with honesty and said softly, "I really don't think you want me to explain, Gerald. I don't think you're going to like the answer."
Tarrant's eyes narrowed even further, and Damien felt the chill of dread coil through him. Why, oh why couldn't he just keep his mouth shut? He'd spent so long burying his feelings regarding the Hunter, pretending they didn't even exist, that he'd almost succeeded in forgetting: now it was all churning through him again, threatening to turn him inside out. If Tarrant realized what he'd been trying so fervently to conceal - then Damien might as well give up now. It was hard enough to resist corruption just being around Tarrant: if the adept realized just how great his influence over Damien was, the priest was lost.
Tarrant had been studying him in silence for several moments now, and Damien was just beginning to hope that the truth would escape him, when he saw the light of realization flash in silvery eyes. A slow smile spread across the Hunter's face, and Damien felt his blood run cold; that smile was entirely too knowing.
The Hunter took another step toward him, eyes sparkling through the darkness, his voice dropping to a low, silken purr. Damien had never heard him use that tone before; it was soft, almost intimate, yet simultaneously chilling. "Oh, I don't know about that, Vryce. Why don't you tell me the truth this time, and we'll find out?"
Damien swallowed hard. This was very, very bad.
He didn't realize quite how bad until he felt his back hit warm stone. Somehow, he'd wound up backing all the way into the wall; he was now effectively cornered, and he could feel cold dread trickling down his spine like ice water. He had always fought to deny that he was afraid of the Hunter, much as he had tried to deny... other feelings... but he was painfully aware that he wasn't always very successful. The Hunter did scare him, even if it was in a different way than he scared most people. Damien wasn't afraid of Tarrant because he thought the man might kill him: he was afraid of Tarrant because the elegant, fastidiously arrogant adept had somehow managed to capture his heart, and could have broken Damien without even trying.
Struggling to calm his racing heart, Damien managed to force out, "Don't do this, Gerald. Just - if you don't trust me with that kind of bond, then just say so."
Tarrant studied him a moment longer, then a faint smirk curled his pale, perfect lips. "Very well, Vryce. I think I can trust you - after all, what reason could you have to betray me? You're hardly going to join up with Calesta: we both know your views on that kind of... corruption."
Damien's mouth went dry. Oh, shit. He knows.
The Hunter drew a knife from beneath his cloak; Damien tried his hardest to follow his actions without thinking about the man's incredible grace, the flawless elegance so present in his every movement... he was failing terribly. He felt a chill run across his skin as the adept pressed his fingertip against the point of the blade, drawing blood. Damien knew from previous injuries that the Hunter's blood was still red, but in the shimmering fae-light inside the cave the droplet glistened a strange purple-black.
Damien had an unpleasant suspicion of where this was going, and it was confirmed when Tarrant held his hand out, the message clear in his eyes. Praying his hand wasn't shaking as much as the rest of him, Damien reached out and grasped the Hunter's wrist, leaning forward slightly to lick the droplet of blood from the other man's fingertip...
...and a tidal wave of sheer power slammed into him, sending him reeling back against the stone. Terror pulsed through his veins, blocking out everything else, as the Hunter's hunger writhed to life in his mind. The icy chill of the adept's presence was flooding his body, twisting deep into his soul - and Damien could feel his defenses crumbling without resistance. The blockades that he had built over his years as a priest, the lines of faith and strength that no demon should be able to cross, seemed to melt away: it was a though... a though somehow, on some level, his very soul recognized Tarrant. Accepted him. Wanted him.
That's when a truly sickening thought occurred to Damien. Through the partial channel, he was sometimes able to sense hints of Tarrant's thoughts and emotions: with this new strength, wouldn't Tarrant be able to Work the bond the other way, and much more effectively? Had he just given Tarrant a back door into his soul?
Oh, who am I kidding? Whether he knows or not, these feelings are still there. Falling in love with the Darkest Prince of Hell isn't in the texts, but it's still bound to be a cardinal sin. I'm probably consigned to hell anyway, might as well go with it.
When he heard the soft laughter, he thought for a moment he was imagining it, but then the crushing tide of fear receded enough for him to breathe again. Gasping like a landed trout, Damien opened his eyes to find Tarrant only inches away, completely healed and looking at him with hunger of an entirely different sort.
"I had no idea my methods had been so successful." the Hunter murmured, his silvery eyes gleaming in the lamplight as he studied Damien curiously, his laughter actually reflected in those eyes for once.
Damien felt his throat clench shut and shifted, pressing himself a little further back against the stone. Surely, Tarrant hadn't been trying to get this reaction out of him?
The Hunter's smile transformed into a far-more-familiar smirk. "Really, Vryce, I've been trying to seduce you since we met. I just hadn't realized that it was working."
That declaration effectively rendered Damien speechless. The Hunter laughed again, even softer this time, and closed the final distance between them. Before the stunned priest could even process the movement, let alone react, Tarrant leaned close and pressed his lips against Damien's.
In his shock, Damien let his eyes fall shut. The Hunter's lips were soft and cool, yet firm and demanding; still in a state of shock at having his erstwhile archenemy kiss him, when the Hunter's tongue pressed against his lips Damien's mouth opened of its own accord.
Slender fingers found their way into the priest's dark hair and tightened slightly, holding him steady. The Hunter's teeth were sharp against Damien's lips and his mouth tasted of blood and winter and shadows, but it was undeniably the best kiss of Damien's entire life. Tarrant definitely knew what he was doing; at the moment, his tongue was doing things that really shouldn't be even be possible, let alone legal. Damien moaned involuntarily and his hands lifted instinctively, finding the adept's shoulder blades and pressing the lithe, icy form closer against his own. His head was spinning from a mixture of desire and oxygen deprivation, but with the Hunter's mouth devouring his own like that it was hard to remember exactly why breathing was so important.
Finally Tarrant pulled back from Damien, just enough to allow the priest to breathe, and he finally did remember that oxygen was necessary to survival. Although, the odds on survival probably weren't all that good right now anyway; he was painfully aware that most of the Hunter's conquests ended up dead or insane, and he was even more painfully aware that he simply didn't care anymore.
He forced his eyes open and found himself gazing into two brilliant silver pools. The cracked ice of Tarrant's normal mask was gone, giving way to a measureless depth that took Damien's breath away all over again. He had an insane urge to wrap his arms around the Hunter and never let go: Calesta and his plans be damned, he wanted Tarrant. He wanted to stay with him forever, stay by his side and protect him. It was a ridiculous impulse, Damien knew - but he also knew that it wasn't likely to go away any time soon.
Tarrant's sinfully talented mouth curved into a smile, the light in his eyes softening just slightly. "You might want to learn how to block your thoughts from the bond sometime, Damien." he purred, his free hand lifting to trace along the priest's jawline, his touch feather-light and deliciously cool rather than the icy chill it had once been.
Damien felt his heart miss a beat. He called me Damien - that's got to be a good sign, right?
He swallowed, hard, and choked out, "I didn't think you... that you'd be interested."
Tarrant chuckled softly and pressed forward against Damien. Damien's breath caught in his throat again; the adept's body was every bit as lithe and strong as it looked. His hands drifted unconsciously over Tarrant's back: the man might have been slender, but under that alabaster skin he was as sleekly muscled as a panther.
A back corner of Damien's brain was thinking irritably that while the breathless sensation was all well and good, it had better ease up soon, or he might actually pass out.
The Hunter's hands had drifted down to Damien's arms at some point, and they now tightened slightly, pulling them even closer together. Damien couldn't tear his eyes from Tarrant's face; the perfect curve of his mouth, his shining grey eyes flecked with dazzling silver, half-shielded by dark lashes, the look of undeniable invitation in those eyes...
Oh, to hell with it. Literally.
I'm already damned anyway. If not just for letting Gerald live, then definitely for wanting him like this. We've only got a day or two left; why not enjoy that time?
And then, a thought that verged on hysteria: Oh, wonderful. I'll probably end up stuck with him in Hell. An eternity of sarcastic comments on my misguided attempts to 'save' him. Well, why not?
Judging by the flash of amusement in Tarrant's eyes, he had heard that part as well. Making a pleased sound in the back of his throat, the adept leaned forward and captured Damien's mouth once more.
Things got a little blurry from that point. Damien was dimly aware of being pulled to the cave floor, but his mind was far more focused on Tarrant: Tarrant, whose slender hands were swiftly divesting Damien of his clothing, whose golden hair spilled through Damien's eager fingers like strands of finest silk, whose cool mouth was working wickedly over every inch of exposed skin. Damien surrendered completely, giving himself up to sensation; he knew he didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of resisting, not when the beautiful creature straddling him was offering what he had desperately wanted for the last two years.
Even though he still hated to admit it, it was the truth; Damien had wanted Gerald Tarrant almost from the moment that they met. His family, pagans though they were, had a strict anti-homosexual view of the world, and Damien had always tried to repress that side of himself ever since he became consciously aware of it. He suspected that might have something to do with why his relationships never worked out; deep down, he knew he wasn't going to be happy with any woman. Ciani, sharp as she was, had learned of his secret soon after they started dating; she had even suspected his attraction to Tarrant.
You're falling for him, aren't you? she had asked him that night in the rahklands, when he had told her of the channel the Hunter had forged between them. There's no other reason I can see that would persuade you to suffer like that, for the sake of feeding a monster that your entire religion condemns.
And that was when Damien first admitted the truth, to her and to himself; yes, he was falling for Gerald Tarrant, Lord of Jahanna, the Darkest Prince of Hell. Ciani had looked at him with pure sympathy in her eyes, and had taken his hand in hers. Damien, I really don't know what to say. All I wish is for you to be happy, but in all honesty I can't see how that can happen now. Even if you could overcome your moral objections, I can't see Gerald being interested in that kind of a relationship - with anyone, not just you. At the same time, if he finds out how you feel, there's a good chance he'll kill you just for daring to feel that way about him. Whatever happens, though, I wish you luck.
He'd apologized, then, and asked her what was going to happen to his relationship with her. Ciani had just smiled sadly. I would like to think that we will always be friends, Damien, but I can't stay with you. We both know our relationship was on the rocks before now: I can't be with you, knowing that you love someone else, watching you slide away from me into the darkness. I really am sorry, Damien, but it's over.
That was the real reason that he and Ciani had split up, and it had happened much sooner than Tarrant believed. That conversation had taken place on one of those long, cold nights when they believed that Tarrant was dead; those awful nights when Damien had thought that, yet again, he had lost the person he cared about before things even had a chance to start. He would never be able to put into words the relief that had surged through him when he saw Tarrant's coldfire sword, knew that there was a chance that he was alive...
And now, they really did have a chance. He had believed that maybe Ciani was right, that that there wasn't any hope that Tarrant would reciprocate his feelings, but now - it was hard to keep doubting, when the Hunter's lean body was molded to his own, trailing fevered kisses across his skin. Shaking himself out of his shock, Damien was returning Tarrant's attentions now, and he was pleased to find that the Hunter was extremely responsive. It took Damien a minute to find his way past the layers of velvet and silk that the Hunter perpetually wore, but the keening sound of pleasure that slipped from the adept's lips when he succeeded was more than worth the effort. As Tarrant's slim body arched in pleasure, Damien caught a glimpse of his face: lips parted, silver eyes shining like stars, pupils dilated in pleasure and lust.
Then the Hunter pinned him down, his inhuman strength more than a match for Damien's muscular bulk, and reality blurred into a dream. The world seemed to fall away, and there was only himself and Gerald Tarrant. It didn't matter that they came from different worlds, that Tarrant was a demon and Damien was a mortal priest: all that mattered was that they were together.
When the ecstasy that had wrapped itself around Damien loosened enough for him to think coherently again, he found himself still lying in the darkened cave, with Gerald Tarrant twined contentedly around him. The Hunter was lying mostly draped across him, that same strange smile on his face as he stared intently at Damien. The priest tried to shake the dazed feeling off and manage some kind of comprehensible speech.
"Wow. That was..."
Words failed him at that point, but Tarrant just smiled more widely. "Indeed." he purred, resting his head against Damien's shoulder, looking more content than Damien had ever seen him. "Out of curiosity... how long?"
Damien knew exactly what he meant; it was hard to misinterpret when the bond was inundating him with Tarrant's thoughts and emotions. It probably wasn't as strong as what Tarrant could feel coming from him, but he could feel Tarrant's amusement and curiosity - mingled with something deeper that made his heart ache with hope. Was it possible that Tarrant actually cared about him?
"Since the rakhlands." Damien admitted softly, wrapping his arm gently around the adept and pulling him just a little closer. "That's why Cee broke up with me, actually: she said that she still liked me, but that she wasn't going to hang around to 'watch me slide into the darkness'. I think it actually scared her a bit. I was trying to keep it a secret, but that night after Senzei died, when you didn't come back..."
Damien couldn't keep talking, but he tentatively pushed the memory toward Tarrant: the uncertainty, the panic, the terrible grief and the soul-wrenching guilt for being the one to drive the Hunter away. Tarrant didn't reply verbally, but Damien felt a wave of understanding flow through the bond - and something else, something he had scarcely dared to hope for from the cold, inhuman adept.
Gathering what was left of his courage, Damien dared to ask, "You?"
A moment of silence, then, before Tarrant whispered, "Briand."
"What?" Genuinely shocked, Damien twisted his neck to stare at the adept, dumbfounded. "Since we met?"
Tarrant nodded, his eyes gleaming with wry humor. "Rather sickening, isn't it? The Hunter, scourge of two continents, falling at first sight for a priest." He shook his head slightly, lips curving upward again. "You were doing a very good job of hiding your feelings, you know. I had no idea - and I certainly wasn't going to be the first one to say anything."
Damien was silent a moment longer, then he said softly, "I just wish I'd said something sooner. We don't have long, now."
Tarrant hesitated, then shook his head, golden hair gleaming in the combination of fae- and lantern-light. "Don't worry about that for now." he whispered, reaching up to trace Damien's jaw again, his silver eyes uncharacteristically soft.
Damien smiled a bit himself, then, and settled back against the warm volcanic stone, tightening his hold on the adept - his adept, he thought with a flash of warmth and affection. Yes, they were probably both going to die tomorrow - but as long as they had each other, it couldn't be that bad, could it?
Review? Yes? Please? I'm planning future chapters: please, feedback MOST welcome!