Author's Note: Well, this one's a little weird, even by my standards. Anyone who's looked at my profile or knows about my unpublished stories will know that I'm a little obsessed with the Coldfire Trilogy: I've never written anything that doesn't involve that fandom, and every single one has been Gerald/Damien slash. I just can't help it, and I like seeing how many different spins I can put on it. This one was inspired by the present vampire/werewolf craze: it seems like it's currently fashionable to take any story and simply have one of the characters be a werewolf. Shocking as it may be to anyone who's seen the various fics with this kind of plot, Gerald's not the werewolf in this one: Damien is. This will be a oneshot, or possibly a two-shot depending on where the plot takes me and the quality/amount of reviews (wink wink, nudge nudge), and will ignore the existence of WTNF and CoS. Soundtrack: Wolfen One by Heather Alexander, Wolf Song by Omnia, and Come Night I Reign by Lake of Tears.
A.N.2: Anyone who's reading my other fic-in-progress, Shadow of the Moon, can consider this Damien's revenge. I'm still waiting for reviews on that one, and they say you catch more fish with a bigger net, so I thought I'd toss this one out there. I intend to alternate dominance in my fics: I like both arrangements quite well, so Gerald and Damien can both have their turns at playing dominant. After all, it's only fair.
A.N.3: The characters may be OOC in this: apologies if that seems to be the case. It's heavily AU, and I kind of got carried away.
Warnings: Slash, violence, Gerald-Tarrant-ness
Disclaimer: I do not own the Coldfire Trilogy. If I did, Damien and Gerald would have been screwing like rabbits since the journey to the Easter Continent, and they would have gotten married at the end of the trilogy instead of that stupid "dying/not dying/regeneration/new identity" bit.
When they walked into that simple dae in Briand and sat down at the corner table, Damien Vryce had no idea how drastically his life would change that night. It was, after all, a night much like any other for him: on the road on some ridiculously dangerous quest, hunting down demons for the greater good. Occasionally, one of the few people who knew his 'terrible' secret would ask if it bothered him to kill his own kind - despite the other name for lycans being 'the noble wolves'. Damien invariably told them to go to hell, and that the day he considered anything demonic 'his own kind' would be the day he threw himself off a cliff.
He would be eating those words fairly soon.
When the dae's door opened, Damien was intrigued, but not nearly as alarmed as his companions. After all, they did not know what he was: they did not know that they were traveling with a lycan. The son of the lycan Chieftain, no less.
Damien had been born a lycan, raised in the mountains just north of Ganji-on-the-Cliffs. He had been something of a pariah amongst his kin, because his mother had been human. His father had loved him dearly, but when he came of age, he left the pack to seek his fortune among the humans, seeking a purpose in life. He had found that purpose in the message of the Church for Human Unification. His superiors in the Church knew about his nature, of course: the Matriarch of Ganji had been very supportive of him, and he was the best demon hunter they had. Due to the nature of the tidal fae on Erna, his people were not as cursed as they had been on Earth: they transformed only voluntarily, and at whatever time they chose, provided it was during the night. No lycan could transform during daylight: if they were in wolf form or human form when the sun rose, they would stay in that form until sundown.
He wasn't paying full attention to his surroundings, half-absorbed in his thoughts - but the moment the newcomer entered the dae, his every sense reeled. Head snapping around to focus on the man who had just entered the room, Damien felt his eyes widen in wonder. This was no ordinary man.
Tall, lean, and inhumanly graceful: he had shoulder-length golden hair, so shimmery and soft-looking that Damien instantly ached to run his hands through the wavy strands. His arresting eyes were a pale grey flecked with luminous silver, catching the firelight and burning, hot and molten: his skin was alabaster pale, his carriage elegant and confident. No commoner, this; more like the Revivalist nobility, righteous and arrogant. Damien was normally put off by that type, but this man... more than anything he wanted to pin him against the nearest wall and devour that shapely mouth.
He blinked himself out of his thoughts quickly, a flash of worry flickering through him. It wasn't even mating season: why the hell was he reacting so quickly to a man he didn't even know? It was rare for a lycan to be bisexual, but not unheard of and certainly not scorned, so Damien was hardly in denial about his sexuality. He just hadn't ever found anyone male or female who really, really appealed to him. Sure, he'd slept with dozens of women (including Ciani) and some men, but he'd never found a mate. Someone to spend his life with, to truly bond with, to love... what the hell was he thinking? He needed to get off this train of thought, fast!
Then Ciani said something about knowing in the old Earth sense, got up, and went over to the man's table. Damien's insides twisted into a hard, cold knot of jealousy as he watched the stranger responding so politely to her advances, and had to fight the sensation with all his might to avoid snarling aloud.
Five minutes later, the man was at their table, and as introductions were made his eyes met Damien's. It was just a moment, just the briefest of connections - but a spark flashed in those pale eyes, a hint of interest and something deeper. Instantly, Damien was lost, drowning in pools of molten quicksilver.
A few nights later in Morgot, as they traveled northward with their new companion, all hell broke loose.
When the Dark Ones attacked, Damien had to fight down an urge to shift and just tear their throats out. Never mind the reactions of Ciani and Senzei: he couldn't risk revealing his secret to Gerald Tarrant. So far the man had done nothing to raise Damien's suspicion too much - he was obviously a night creature, but Damien was understandably inclined to overlook such flaws, more or less being one himself - but it simply wasn't a good idea to trust him that far. Despite the fact that he had to restrain the urge to jump him pretty much constantly.
When the strange woman appeared, though, the choice was taken out of his hands. A Working hit them, stronger than anything Damien had ever felt before - and despite the seeming impossibility, he knew what the tidal fae felt like. Tarrant seemed hard hit as well, but he was fighting whatever impulse had struck him: Damien, though, was lost the moment that power rippled over his skin. It was trying to force him to reveal himself, and despite his resistance to that idea, he couldn't fight the siren song of the moon's power. In was encoded in his blood from before humans and lycans came to Erna, and there was no fighting its seductive call. He shifted.
The sword dropped from his hand as his fingers twisted into claws, and he dropped all fours. The shift was fast and clean this time; fast enough that it was little more than a blur to his companions. One moment Damien the priest stood there: the next, Damien the wolf was springing at the Dark Ones, who were shaking free of the tidal fae and moving to make their own attack once more.
The frozen moment snapped back into the all-too-rapid flow of battle as the Dark Ones howled and surged forward: they wavered for just a moment, though, when Damien ducked beneath their crude steel blades and tore the throat from the leader. Warm blood gushed over his muzzle, and to his surprise it wasn't as thick or as bitter as most demonic blood. He was given no time to dwell on it, though, as four Dark Ones sprang at his with murder in their eyes.
He was distantly aware of the others still fighting behind him, but he couldn't focus on them now; he lost himself in the ebb and flow of the battle, claws raking and jaws shredding through demonic flesh. The Dark Ones didn't take long to realized the deadly threat in their midst; within seconds they were scrambling to get around him, avoiding him while targeting the others. Damien wasn't about to let them succeed in that endeavor, though: he lunged back into the heart of the fray time after time, tearing into his foes. As he leaped into another knot of enemies, he felt a searing pain erupt through his shoulder, and he fell back with an agonized whine as hot blood spilled over his fur.
Desperation gnawing at him now, he risked a daring move: latching his jaws onto a Dark One's arm and whirled to face the other demons, using the momentum of that whirl to throw the demon straight into its compatriots.
It worked: seeing a dark form bearing down on them from the direction Damien had been, the Dark Ones attacked instinctively. The airborne demon shrieked and fought back, defending itself automatically: by the time the furor subsided three more of the demons lay dead.
There were less than a handful of demons left now, and as one they spun to face Damien. The lycan ignored the searing pain in his arm and drew himself up, fur standing on end, hackles high as he bared his bloodstained fangs and snarled furiously.
"Try it and I'll send you back to whatever hellpit you crawled out of!" Damien growled, knowing that they would understand the message in his posture and tone.
For a moment, the demons wavered - then Damien took a step forward, and that did it. They broke and fled, screeching in terror, the dirt churned by their frantically scrabbling claws. Damien felt the strength of his aggression fade, and he sank onto his haunches, fighting not to collapse entirely as the world swayed around him. Tarrant's voice brought him back to the present.
"Well, well. It's been a long time since I saw a full-blood lycan in battle: I'm honored."
Damien turned to stare at Tarrant, stunned. "You've seen a lycan before?" he asked incredulously, noting absently that Ciani had fainted and Senzei was practically gibbering in terror. Tarrant looked mildly impressed, but otherwise unmoved as he nodded. "Yes, but as I said, it was a long time ago. You're a little far east for your people, aren't you?"
"I left my pack - my mother was human, they didn't want me around." Damien said, flinching as a hot stab of pain went through his wounded shoulder. Tarrant's eyes softened with a hint of sympathy, and he nodded at the deep gash. "That's going to get infected. Can you heal it?"
Damien nodded briefly, wincing again as the motion pulled at the wound. "Once I get my strength back a bit I can shift and it should start healing itself." He nodded at Ciani. "Is she okay?"
"She fainted when you shifted." Tarrant said dryly. Senzei chose this moment to contribute to the conversation, his eyes comically huge. "You - you're a werewolf! A real, live werewolf!"
"Really acute observation there, Senzei, what tipped you off?" Damien said dryly. Tarrant laughed softly, and Senzei just gaped. The adept sheathed his glowing silver-blue sword and said calmly, "At least you're not a demon. I'd rather have a noble wolf fighting with me than against."
At that moment, in Damien's mind, the man ceased to be Tarrant and officially became Gerald.
As things fell out, Damien's wound didn't heal itself. After Ciani had woken up and she and Senzei had wrapped their heads around Damien's revelation, it was the lycan's turn to pass out; the Dark Ones had injected some kind of venom into the wound that kept it open and bleeding. When Damien regained consciousness, he found himself in utterly unfamiliar surroundings: a lavish keep of black stone, luxurious and clearly ancient.
It turned out that Gerald Tarrant wasn't just a servant of the Forest, he was the Hunter himself. When Damien passed out from blood loss and venom, Gerald had talked Ciani and Senzei into taking the unconscious lycan to the Forest: at the heart of that whirlpool of power, in the safety of his own keep, the adept had managed to cleanse the wound and heal him. How he managed that when Healing was forbidden by the laws of his compact escaped the two humans, but Damien understood; because of his lycan physiology, he could heal using the dark fae, so it was less a true Healing and more of what the Hunter did to heal his own wounds.
He was a bit unsettled to discover that the Hunter was also the former Prophet and Neocount of Merentha, but he shrugged it off. Granted he should have been raging, given his faith, but the adept had just saved his life; he wasn't going to condemn the man. When the Hunter came by the room where he was recuperating to inform him that he would continue to accompany them on their journey, Damien asked him why.
The Hunter was silent for a moment, then he said quietly, "It's partly a matter of principle: the Dark Ones were hunting on the very borders of the Forest, and that infraction cannot go unpunished. On a more personal level - frankly, I like you. You intrigue me, and it's been centuries since I could say that about anyone. I'd prefer you didn't get yourself killed on this insane quest."
Damien chuckled. "Thanks. I'm flattered."
Gerald smiled faintly, then a hint of curiosity flashed in his silver eyes. "I do have a question for you, though - why are you doing this?" He gestured toward the door. "At first I assumed the Lady Ciani was your mate, but considering she didn't know you were a lycan and given your relaxed attitude when she passed out I no longer think that's the case. So why?"
"Well, you're right, she's not my mate." Damien conceded, impressed that the once-human adept knew that much about his people. "I like her alright, but not that much - whatever we had wouldn't have survived this mess anyway. The reason I'm doing this is because I don't like the idea of these memory-eaters running free. This is what I do, what I've done all my life: I'm good at killing demons, it gives me a purpose. Lycans aren't usually all that religious, but I think you're living proof that you don't have to be entirely devout to serve the interests of the Church."
Gerald stared at him for a moment, looking quite taken aback, then he smiled - the warmest, most genuine smile Damien had seen from him yet. "You're the first person I've met since my transformation who's really understood that. I'm very impressed, Reverend. I am glad to have the opportunity to hunt at your side."
Damien also smiled. There was a bit of an innuendo there, considering the connotations attached to an inter-pack hunt - not that any human would have understood it. Maybe he would have a shot at this delicious creature after all.
The trip into the rakhlands was largely uneventful, though there was that debacle at the river. They gained another member of their company, though: Hesseth sa-Restrath, the female rakh who had crossed their path in Morgot. Damien wasn't entirely pleased about that: he was still a little put out by the fact that she had forced him to reveal his true nature, and having such a dominant female presence in the group was really rubbing his fur the wrong way. In lycan society, females were submissive and males did most of the hunting: in rakhene society, those roles were almost entirely reversed, with the males posturing just for show and the females holding the real power. This had the unfortunate effect of leading Damien and Hesseth to snap at each other almost constantly, but he wasn't expecting any of his companions to understand why.
"We should stop for the day." Damien said one night, seeing the telltale hint of lighter blue along the horizon. "It's going to be light soon."
Hesseth hissed softly. "We should keep going; it's more sheltered just over that ridge." she said, eyes flashing.
Instantly, Damien's hackles rose and he actually growled a little in the back of his throat. "You know this land so well when it's not even in your territory?"
"I know these lands a damn sight better than you!" Hesseth snapped back, automatically unsheathing her claws. Damien bristled, but before he could retort, Ciani finally lost patience.
"Oh, for the love of the gods! What is wrong with you two? You've been at each other's throats since we set out!"
Damien and Hesseth opened their mouths at the same time, but Gerald fortunately beat them both. "Hierarchal differences." he offered, grey eyes holding a flicker of amusement.
The tension deflated just slightly. Hesseth was hissing soft imprecations under her breath and Damien couldn't quite help growling a few choice phrases in lycan. Judging by the Hunter's expression, he understood the language. Senzei looked confused. "I don't get it. You're both pack creatures, right? Shouldn't you get along well?"
"Lycan pack-structure is patriarchal." Damien said rather stiffly, shooting a venomous look at Hesseth, whose fur instantly puffed up.
"That's why your people are almost extinct!" she shot back, baring her teeth slightly. "Males are all show and no real fight!"
A deep, rumbling growl worked its way up from Damien's chest. Ciani and Senzei both looked quite alarmed: clearly deciding to grab the bull by the horns - or the wolf by the fangs - Gerald spurred his horse forward, placing himself squarely between the lycan and rakh.
"Enough." His voice was soft, but commanding. Hesseth looked a little intimidated: Damien couldn't help but back down, the supreme confidence in the Hunter's manner triggering the lycan's inbred respect for an alpha male. "I understand this is difficult for both of you, but it's getting out of hand. If you can't keep a lid on your instincts I'll do it for you. We are stopping here for the night: not because I'm on Damien's side, but because I don't trust you two to stop fighting unless there's some distance between you for now. You are going to set up the camp, and you are going to do so without snarling at each other. Is that clear?" His grey eyes drilled into them both, sharp and cold.
"Yes." Damien and Hesseth muttered, both feeling rather sullen. Gerald smiled ever so faintly.
A few nights later, they made camp early during the night so as to have a full night to cross the river gorge ahead. Damien could no longer hope to stand the increasing tension in the group, and so he waited until they set up camp at midnight and announced firmly that he was going hunting. Senzei turned green, and Ciani looked at him askance. Hesseth merely nodded, understanding the message Damien was trying to convey. What really startled him, though, was the Hunter's reaction.
The adept stepped away from his horse, which he been unsaddling, and said simply, "Mind if I come with you?"
Their two human companions clearly didn't understand, but the swift intake of breath and rippling fur from Hesseth said with equally clarity that once again, she did. Damien was both surprised and delighted: sharing a hunt with someone not of your pack was a very intimate act, the predatory equivalent of a romantic candelight dinner. That Gerald would even ask said that he was serious about his advances, not just flirting for the fun of it. Damien let a broad smile spread across his face, the first real smile he'd shown in days.
"I'd be delighted."
An indefinable tension vanished from Gerald's body, and he returned Damien's smile, silently inclining his head. Beaming, Damien shifted to wolf form; he waited just long enough for Gerald to join him, and the two canines bounded away into the darkness.
Hesseth exhaled a bit shakily and sat down near the campfire that Senzei was working on lighting, her golden eyes wide. "Well - that, I was not expecting. They're getting serious."
Ciani blinked at her, confused. "What do you mean? They're just hunting."
"Hunting with a member of your own pack is 'just hunting'." Hesseth corrected her. "In predator code, that's completely different with hunting alongside a romantic interest. In this case - I believe the human tradition, when one is courting, is to ask the courted party to dinner in a lavish restaurant. Sharing a hunt is similar, yet even more intense and intimate: it creates an unshakeable bond of trust and attraction, a precursor to the mating bond. That question was nothing to be taken lightly, Lady Ciani."
Ciani and Senzei both stared at her, silent wonder in their eyes.
Damien bounded through the shoulder-high grass, feeling euphoria sweep through him at the joyous feelings of running free. After so long trapped in human form, just running was pure pleasure. He voiced a low howl of delight, hearing it echoed by the wolf at his side.
Gerald's wolf form was as appealing as his human one; lean and muscular, long-legged and sleek, with a glossy black pelt and the same brilliant, diamondine eyes. His paws drummed a swift tempo on the hard-baked ground as they raced over the low, rolling hills, stretching muscles kept too stiff from long stretches in a saddle.
After a while, Damien caught the scent of a xandu on the wind, and he slowed instantly, making a near-silent growl to alert Gerald. The Hunter nodded slightly, his eyes gleaming as he motioned silently, sketching the plan of attack. Damien nodded, and the split off in different directions, encircling their prey.
They came in from different sides, forcing their prey to flee to one side. The xandu, caught off guard, was slow to react; for a moment, it dithered, uncertain of which direction to take. Then its panic shattered like glass and it bolted, streaking into the night.
Damien and Gerald both sprang after it, racing in ernest now; whichever caught the xandu first would have the honor of the kill, and the first choice of meat on the carcass. It was a near thing, in the end: Damien reached the fleeing creature a split second before Gerald, but his jaws missed the beast's throat and locked instead into it's shoulder. The xandu staggered, screaming, and Gerald dodged its gleaming horns and leaped forward to tear out its throat.
The wounded animal collapsed in a spray of blood, its death scream silenced by the brutal shredding of its throat. Damien released its shoulder and let the creature fall, smiling at the Hunter. "Well, that complicates matters a little. I got the first bite, but you brought it down: who claims that one?"
Gerald considered it a moment, unconsciously licking at his bloody muzzle, then he flashed a quick smile at Damien. "Share?"
"Sounds good to me." Damien conceded with a smile, and they both bent their heads to the carcass.
Back in the camp, Ciani and Senzei had been asked further desultory questions about predatory habits, more relaxed now that the chilling howls had faded, when a truly blood-curdling screaming sound split the air. Senzei went white and Ciani froze, shocked. "What in all hells was that?" Senzei gasped through numb lips.
"Xandu death-cry." Hesseth said dispassionately, a slight flicker of interest in her golden eyes. "I'm impressed, actually: xandu are fleet and very hard to bring down. They must work well as a team to have accomplished that."
With the carcass more or less polished off, the two wolves cleaned themselves off reasonably well and shifted back to human form, taking a precious moment to just laze in the lush grass and relax. Damien glanced over at Gerald, smiling to himself: the adept was breathtakingly beautiful, sprawled on the ground with his lovely features highlighted by cool moonlight, silver eyes lidded in satiated pleasure. A bolt of arousal shot through Damien, though, when he noticed the crimson smear of blood next to the Hunter's mouth. Clinging to his fast-fading control, Damien brushed his fingers lightly along the adept's arm to gain his attention.
"You missed some blood there, Gerald."
Silver eyes opened, surprised, as he reached up to touch his cheek, just missing the smear. "Where?"
The wide-eyed look of innocence was just a shade overdone: suddenly, Damien knew without a shadow of a doubt that Gerald had done it on purpose. The thought of intent just made it that much more erotic. Smirking in acknowledgement of the Hunter's cunning, he leaned forward and, very deliberately, licked the blood from Gerald's jaw.
The xandu blood mixed with the utterly unique flavour of Gerald's skin was enough to make him dizzy with longing. The Hunter's lips curved in a wicked smile, and he turned his head just enough that his lips brushed against Damien's.
Damien caught his breath and drew back just a little, resolving crumbling further when he saw the wanton look of invitation in Gerald's eyes. Still, he had to know. "Are you sure about this?"
"More sure than I've ever been of anything in my life." the Hunter murmured, blinking lazily, seductively.
Damien stared at Gerald, feeling the hot stirrings of arousal coiling through him increase tenfold. "You mean that?" he asked, as a distinctly predatory smile spread across his face.
Gerald smirked and tilted his head back, deliberately exposing the pale curve of his throat as he whispered, "I wouldn't have said it if I didn't."
Without another word, Damien pounced.
Hardly aware of moving, he found himself on top of Gerald, pinning the slimmer man underneath him. The Hunter's eyes had widened at the swiftness of Damien's movement, but there was no mistaking the lust that dilated his pupils and made his breathing quicken. A wry thought flickered through Damien's mind: with how much of a control freak the Hunter usually was, it was just typical that his kink would be being dominated. Well, Damien was more than happy to oblige.
Releasing a throaty growl, Damien lowered his head and pressed his mouth to Gerald's. A demanding sweep of his tongue, and the Hunter's lips parted willingly; he deepened the kiss almost brutally, mapping out every inch of the adept's intoxicatingly sweet mouth. Gerald responded eagerly, an almost inaudible whimper escaping him as his tongue brushed over Damien's fangs: suppressing a grin, Damien bit lightly at the Hunter's lower lip, delighting in the startled gasp and pleased shudder that resulted. He felt Gerald shift under him, trying to gain enough leverage to fight him for dominance - never breaking the kiss, Damien shifted his own body weight and easily pinned the Hunter in place, finally feeling that lean body helpless and trapped beneath his own.
When they were both dizzy from lack of oxygen Damien pulled away, only to immediately dive down and begin trailing openmouthed, biting kisses down the pale column of the Hunter's throat. Gerald arched up into the press of his fangs, mewling softly with pleasure as the elongated canines pierced his skin. Bloody masochist, Damien thought with considerable satisfaction, feeling Gerald's hands now trailing along his chest and back, caressing and pleading. Bracing himself on one hand, he used the other to peel off the clinging silk tunic the Hunter wore, revealing a tantalizing expanse of that flawless alabaster skin. Gerald's eyes were glazing over in lust, panting for breath as he arched into Damien's every touch; hunger overwhelming his remaining tenderness, Damien leaned down and sank his teeth hard into Gerald's flesh at the juncture of his neck and shoulder.
Gerald's body shuddered violently as the most beautiful sound Damien had ever heard slipped from the adept's lips, a high keening cry of pure ecstasy. Lapping his tongue over the wound his fangs had left, Damien basked in the icy cold and mind-numbing sweetness of the Hunter's blood. Reluctantly withdrawing a little, Damien shed his own clothing as fast he could and also rid the Hunter of his remaining garments.
Gerald's swiftness surprised him as the Hunter suddenly pounced, eyes gleaming with mischief as he turned the tables on Damien and pinned him down. "My turn." he purred, voice practically dripping with lust and sin. Damien felt a pleasurable shiver run through him at the wicked promise in Gerald's tone: this had definitely been worth the tortuous wait.
Gerald started trailing feathered kisses down Damien's muscular chest, nipping lightly at his skin, occasionally biting hard enough to draw blood. Damien couldn't help but moan in delight at the sensations coursing through him; clearly, talking wasn't the only thing Gerald's mouth was good for.
When he couldn't take the pressure any longer Damien flipped them over again, trapping the Hunter under him and devouring his mouth as his hands trailed down to the adept's lean hips. For a moment longer they explored each other's bodies, hands gliding over sweat-slicked skin, tracing sculpted muscles and fine-carved bones: then Damien's hands found the Hunter's aching arousal and Gerald arched up into him with a throaty gasp, his body trembling with desperation.
"Need you... in me..." the Hunter panted in broken gasps, his eyes lidded with pleasure.
Damien was only too happy to oblige, but he forced himself to take his time and prepare his lover; he knew how painful this could be, and even if Gerald wasn't as frail as a mortal, he didn't want to hurt him. When he finally entered him it was more than worth it: the Hunter's very vocal pleasure alone was fair compensation. Damien lost himself in the bliss of moving inside the perfect, lithe form writhing beneath him; clutching Gerald's sculpted hips hard enough to bruise he thrust into him fast and hard, reveling in Gerald's breathless cries.
"Oh, God, Damien, yes, yes..."
There was something indescribably primal about what they were doing; making frantic love next to the body of the creature they had just killed and devoured, the taste of blood still fresh in their mouths as they joined in desperate passion. Though it did not hold the power it once did on Earth, the moonlight cascading over them only served to heighten their pleasure and their frenzy, until all the lines between them shattered and they joined together as one.
The Hunter was practically sobbing as he arched his body, meeting Damien's thrusts with unbridled enthusiasm. His slender fingers raked along Damien's shoulders, scoring red lines in the skin; the most intoxicating sounds Damien had ever heard were issuing from that tantalizing mouth, soft moans and pleading mewls that dripped from the Hunter's perfect lips like honey. It occurred to Damien that with Gerald's antisocial tendencies, this might well be the first time he'd had sex in centuries: the thought brought a wicked smile to his lips before he crashed his mouth against Gerald's again, swallowing his delicious cries, then shifted and found a different angle for his thrusts.
Gerald's head fell back and he actually screamed, calling Damien's name for the whole world to hear as his body snapped taught with his release: the sheer ecstasy spilling through their mating bond was enough to send Damien over the edge as well. They collapsed together, exhausted and panting, reveling in the feeling of their bodies intertwined and their frantic hearts beating as one.
Eventually Damien rallied the strength to roll off of Gerald, pulling the adept against him, relishing the feel of his lean body relaxed in Damien's arms. Gerald made a soft purring noise in the back of his throat and nuzzled into him, his contentment like a palpable aura. Damien smiled, bending his head just enough to press a feather-light kiss on the wound he'd left on Gerald's neck. He whispered a single word against the torn skin, a declaration, threat, and promise all combined.
When they returned to the camp shortly before dawn, though he'd used the fae to repair any tears in his clothing, Gerald had made no effort whatsoever to hide the magnificent hickey on his neck. If anything, it looked like he was flaunting it; he hadn't fastened his tunic all the way up, and the drooping cloth of his collar only served to accentuate the wound.
Senzei looked horrified, Hesseth was feigning indifference but Damien could see admiration and just a tinge of jealousy in her eyes, and Ciani looked like she couldn't decide whether to rage or laugh. Damien didn't so much as blink, showing absolutely no trace of sheepishness; he wasn't about to be ashamed of claiming the delectable creature at his side for his own. They could be horrified or jealous, their choice, but Damien was not going to apologize. He was pleased that Gerald seemed to hold the same attitude.
The various states of shock, horror, and jealousy were only intensified when Damien declared in a quite matter-of-fact tone that he was going to bed, and didn't even have to look to know that Gerald had followed him.
In the end, their quest was successful. There were some rough patches, no mistaking - Senzei let his hunger for the fae blind him and got himself killed, and at one point Gerald was captured by the enemy. Hesseth and Ciani had been sure he was dead, but Damien had felt him calling through their bond and had hunted halfway across the rakhlands to find him. He had nearly torn Hesseth's throat out when she said that they ought to forget the Hunter and just continue their quest: even the stubborn rakh had seen the conviction in his eyes and backed down. After a death-defying rescue effort, they finally succeeded in reaching the House of Storms.
Gerald nearly had a nervous breakdown when it was decided that Damien would go in alone. There was really no other option, though, so the Hunter was forced to acquiesce. It was a near thing: it took longer than anticipated for the quake wards to fail, and with the dawn at hand if Damien had not had the foresight to shift a few seconds ahead of schedule he wouldn't have made it out alive. Trapped in human form, he would certainly have died when the citadel collapsed. As it was, his transformation was what kept the Master of Lema Working at the critical moment: despite her suspicions, she couldn't pass up the chance to analyze a real lycan.
They had a hell of a battle to contend with as well: down in the tunnels under the citadel, they ended up fighting almost the entire host of Dark Ones. Damien shredded the one that had taken Ciani's memory, which restored her mind but also took her out of the fight when the resurgence of her entire life history overwhelmed her mind. It was a hard-fought battle, but between Gerald's Worked sword and Damien's claws and fangs, they slaughtered every demon that challenged them.
After that, the journey back to Hesseth's home seemed surreal. Damien and Gerald were inseparable: after nearly losing each other several times, they were reluctant to let each other out of sight. Ciani seemed a little mournful about that, now that her memories had come back, but she had the sense not to try to come between them. No good could come of challenging a lycan and his mate, and Gerald would be even more inclined to tear her apart if she tried.
In the end, Ciani decided to stay with the rakh, to continue her research. Damien didn't bother arguing: he would have liked to remain friends, but if she wanted to forget about him that was all right too. He didn't need her anymore, after all; all he needed in the world was Gerald. He would be accompanying the Hunter back to the Forest, of course: it was the perfect environment for him anyway, even if it hadn't been Gerald's home. As they left the rakhlands that night, once more running together in wolf form, Damien couldn't hold back his joyful howls. He couldn't imagine a life different than this: this was perfection, running free under the moonlight with his true love.
Well? Like? No like? (Please, like!) Should I do a sequel? I have some ideas, and I left it open so that When True Night Falls could still happen: should we find out what happens when a lycan goes to the Eastern Continent? Reviews make the world go 'round: praise, criticism, all welcome!