Chapter XIII

Dr. Trafalgar, one leg hitched over the other, was perched on Bepo's wide back, watching the Eustass estate from afar. His eyes swept over the rolling hills and focussed on the manor that had been built on the highest vantage point, an ugly gothic speck that drove a leaden frown into the soft skin of Trafalgar's mouth.

"There is a chance he has found others like that menacing boggart," the doctor said into the autumn breeze. "I don't want to have to bind them all to me simply to ensure they don't try to take my life."

Bepo's rounded ears twitched, catching every word. He had forsaken his cover as a horse in favour of his natural shape. Though he stood out like a snow bank in the midst of summer, he was comfortable in his true skin.

"I smell nothing," Bepo remarked. "Except for the one you're after."

Trafalgar leaned back on his hands, still managing a pose more graceful than the most careful of court ladies. "Then you'll create a commotion. I doubt he realizes I cannot enter his abode without his permission. We'll draw him out, and I will strike at his heart with my sword."

"He will kill you with a pistol!" Bepo cried, appalled at the plan.

"Not if I take the man by surprise."

"Even so…I don't think he'll be fooled easily, Master. Perhaps we ought to try a different approach. What if I eat all of his livestock and we starve him out of his home?"

"You're just hungry, aren't you?" the doctor asked dryly. In lieu of a response, there was a loud earthquake from deep within Bepo's expansive stomach. "Fine, eat his chickens and his hounds; see if that does any good. Meanwhile, I'd like to walk his meadows. Fresh air and a brisk walk always bring on superior murder plots."

Bepo growled happily as his master slid from his back. "Go around by the edge of the forest, Bepo. I don't want you getting shot at."

Bepo mumbled some sort of bearish agreement, but his excitement made the words unintelligible. Before the doctor had taken a step Bepo was already off and loping as quick as a bear could manage. With great amusement, Trafalgar watched the white fluff, so rolly-polly, streak along the fringes of the forest. When Bepo was out of his sight behind a hill, Trafalgar promptly started for his real destination.

It would be easier if Bepo weren't worried. Besides, he did not want Bepo in the midst of gunfire, if it would come to that.

He strode straight up to the courtyard and passed through the open iron gate, then on to the manor itself. Grotesques glared down at him from the corners of the roof, reminding him that it was likely Eustass had acquired more than one companion in the stretch of time since they'd last locked egos. It was not that he didn't trust Bepo's nose; he was just wary from the encounter with the cambion's boggart friend.

He would have to be stealthy and vigilant. Sooner or later something else might attack him from behind.

His shoulder had the tiniest of puncture wounds marring his otherwise unspoiled skin. The injury strung whenever his clothing rubbed up against the bandages in a way that made them shift and grate the membrane underneath. He didn't want to add any more bite marks to his flesh – the bruises that accompanied the pressure of a robust jaw were too unsightly for him to bear.

He reached a familiar iron knocker and gave it a few hard raps on its metal plate, moving off down the stone steps and standing somewhere inconspicuous. He twirled his sword as he waited beside a bodacious fir tree, his other hand stuffed deep into his medical bag and clutching a vial of something positively dreadful. Contained within the vial was a solution that burned eyes out of their sockets. He had employed it once before with stunning results.

He waited, and then resigned himself to waiting some more. At last, after waiting what he deemed to be considerable time, the doctor stomped back up the steps and repeated his process anew. Standing behind the fir tree, he commenced waiting once more.

Nothing came to pass.

He went up to the door and kicked it, battering a single spot with the heel of his boot until the wood began to change colour and flake away. Still the lord had yet to show his face.

He heard the sound of hooves faintly behind him, and turned with the expectation that Bepo was thundering back to his side, furious that Trafalgar had gone on without using him as a beastly shield.

He saw nothing immediately, but after searching for movement found a speck of brown moving swiftly across a hill, disappearing every few seconds behind trees or other land formations not so conveniently placed by God's hand.

He sighed and leaned on his nodachi. The lord was admittedly active and a recluse in name only. How problematic.

With a slight bounce in his step the doctor called for Bepo. He did not want to attract the lord to his position, however, so his voice did not carry over the green hills as it might have in any other circumstances. Still, he hoped Bepo would appear. For even if Lord Eustass had a precise aim and a gold-plated musket of the highest quality made by a Frenchman, he would still like to see how the lord handled his horse while being pursued by a snapping jaw full of teeth. He imagined it would be an amusing sight to behold.

The more he thought on this imagining, the more he laughed. Lord Eustass on his bay equine, hunted by a vampire and his equally hungry steed. Between himself and Bepo, they could clean up admirably and return to the boggarts with full stomachs.

He loitered, waiting some more for Bepo to appear. He had noticed the lord bring his horse down from a canter to a languid walk, likely to allow some rest. With that, Trafalgar made his decision to explore the barn and see what it offered, as Bepo was clearly on the trail of a hare or something else of much interest to a perpetually starving bear.

In a matter of minutes he pried open the barn doors and peered inside. There were box stalls that appeared freshly mucked out, and he could smell the sweetness of hay above him in a loft, but he could not see nor hear any horses ripe for the borrowing. So he did not try to enter and instead went around the back, down a hill along the side of the barn, and came to an enclosed pasture holding many four-legged creatures of interest.

He half expected to find all the goats slaughtered and the horses galloping away from Bepo, but the air was infused with calm and Trafalgar knew his shapeshifter had not been near. He did not see any chickens, however, so chalked Bepo's absence up to his fondness for plucking feathers from half-alive birds. Of course, Bepo was never one to waste food, so the doctor didn't bother chastising him for playing with the living. Especially since that would mark him out as a hypocrite.

The man climbed the wood beams that made up the fence and sat on top, picking out the sleekest and most muscular of the horses. A few animals had noticed his ominous presence and were shuffling off, but one horse in particular laid his ears back and snorted at him. It had a pelt of dappled grey and Trafalgar quite liked the pattern it wore so proudly. It also was the horse least likely to flee, as he could tell it was the dominant male of the herd.

He returned to the barn and located a halter and a coil of thick rope hitched to a hook that was stuck into the front of the barn. It was really all he needed.

Then he vaulted the fence and into the territory of the animals. The effect was rather immediate. The dapple stallion charged him with teeth clacking, hooves high and poised to trample. Years of swinging up onto Bepo's back in mid-stride proved to be his trump card, and he evaded and grabbed for the unyielding skin that covered the horse's withers.

He was up and seated before the dapple knew quite what had happened, or how he had missed his target.

As a precautionary measure, Trafalgar steeled himself and wrapped a handful of horsehair around his fist. However, he knew the horse had no intentions of bucking him off, or rearing and throwing him in the path of hind hooves. His presence was more than enough to overwhelm.

The horse below him quivered, and Trafalgar leaned forward, beginning to rub small circles into his new steed's neck. It was one of those things Bepo enjoyed, and he could see the motions were having an effect. Enough so that after a few minutes of massage, the horse no longer fidgeted and stamped the ground anxiously, and Trafalgar dismounted to halter him quickly. Now he had reins and a means of control.

He caught sight of a gate and a brown and red blur in the distance, and was off. He would cut down Lord Eustass W. Kidd from his horse, and that would be the fatal end of the matter.

Compared to Bepo's rollicking lope the horse ran smoothly, his vessel gliding over a tranquil sea. He could have let go of the flowing mane and stretched his arms out if he so wished. Instead he held tight, as there was a chance Bepo could catch up and decide on a larger midday snack. And Trafalgar refused to be thrown from an alarmed galloping beast and made to look like an unskilled rider.

He began to distinguish the lord's features, or at least the back of his furred cloak. It covered his horse's hindquarters and rippled in the wind. At the moment, moving along behind him, Trafalgar noticed his horse was dancing in a springy trot, and catching up would take him a matter of minutes.

His eyebrows knitted together as he noticed a change in the pace he'd spurred his steed into. They were covering more ground, moving into a canter and then a gallop. He frowned and contemplated giving a tug to the line of rope attached to the horse's frayed halter, then decided against it. Lord Eustass had just become aware of the stampede of hooves in his wake and the rider in command atop. Dr. Trafalgar gave the eager stallion his head.

He could see the sharp kicks the lord used to jolt his ride into a gallop and winced for the horse's sake. The man was decidedly brutal, yet it was nothing he was just discovering now. However, his rankly abused horse was in a state of confusion, and by the time it was straightened out Trafalgar was already closing. His pursuit lasted a mere minute, and Trafalgar drew his unsheathed sword overhead.

He realized in the second Lord Eustass was in reach of an arcing swing that what he wanted and what the charging beast beneath him wanted were vastly different.

Lord Eustass' horse pulled up first, skittering to a stop with all its weight on its powerful back legs. The lord lurched awkwardly with the momentum but kept his seat. Of course, accidents are instinctively avoided, and Dr. Trafalgar's steed halted with all the gracefulness of a heavy steam engine rolling off its tracks. The decision to revoke a saddle and proper hold on the horse became an instantly regrettable mistake for the doctor.

The sensation of flying through the air, his sword piercing the earth and his body crashing into a certain ill-tempered man nearly took Trafalgar's consciousness from him. He could do nothing as he tipped the lord from his perch and sent them both over the edge and down one of the many grassy hills.

They rolled, Trafalgar clinging to what was close at hand, the lord's thick furred cloak. Thoughts of snuffing him out using the velocity of their travel and the dirt on hand crossed his mind only once before thoughts of his own safety took precedence. Eventually he felt fingers stab into his flesh in an effort to pin him, and at that point the doctor thought it wise to let go of the cloak.

A final rotation together and they separated, Trafalgar kicking at a yielding stomach and receiving a sharp elbow in the thigh.

Eventually a curve in the terrain slowed their descent enough for a measure of control to pass. Trafalgar was on his feet, digging his heels into the side of the hills, his ulster stained horribly but not torn. Lord Eustass went a few more paces before coming to his own stop on his stomach, a feral snarl racing back up the hill to meet Trafalgar's ears.

Trafalgar spared a look over his shoulder to the top of the hill and confirmed his suspicions of the stallion's true intentions. That poor mare – having lost one male she gained another, one that was keen on copulating.

The sight of the dapple-grey mounting the brown brought him out of his dismal mood and into a slightly cheerier one. The whole situation was unfortunate, in his opinion, albeit it was nothing to get angered over. Instead, he turned back to see the lord was still belly down in the grass, fuming.

"Mister Eustass, I believe we tumble into one another far too often!"

The lord half-shouted and half-snarled a response to his verbal prodding, and the result was indecipherable.

Trafalgar clenched his hands and then, all at once, the realization that he had dropped his nodachi at the top of the hill with the mating horses came to pass. He frowned and looked about wildly. Perhaps if he were swift he could cudgel the lord to death before the other took out a pistol and shot him. Or slew him with a hidden blade. Or strangled him with his bare hands. Anything was possible with this man, really.

With a stagger, Trafalgar backed up, as Lord Eustass was clamouring to his feet. Then, most unexpectedly, the lord's right foot gave out and he stumbled to passionately kiss the ground. He tried his legs again, and the same result was granted.

Trafalgar couldn't believe his luck. The man was injured and unable to rise.

He laughed, then angled his head to see the herd of two galloping away from his laughter, clearly startled.

"I daresay some lucky farmer will get your beautiful horses and a new foal!"

"You fucking bloodsucker, you!"

Trafalgar began to come apart at the seams, his chuckling competing with the curses the lord spat at him as he tried time and time again to scramble to his feet.

"You ought to be dead by now!" the lord cried.

Trafalgar was snapped back to the night previous and all humour fled from his face. "It seems your boggart couldn't destroy me, and now he will soon be bound by demon contract to both me and you. Of course, if I kill you, he'll be mine exclusively. I've always liked that word, exclusively. It excludes all else."

"Thank you, walking dick-tionary," Lord Eustass grumbled through some grass that obscured his mouth. "And what the hell do you mean by contract? What the hell have you done to Killer?"

"Oh, he is fine as of now. Marvellous, really. He has yet to do so, but he will pledge loyalty to me in addition to you. Don't think I haven't taken precautions with him, though. Before I left, I decided to leave instructions for him to be bound in seastone cuffs, and their use is primarily the imprisonment of unruly demons. Lesser demons, anyway. It wouldn't work quite so well on you or I. Not that I would need any help picking you off presently.

"As you are now, you are at my mercy," the doctor concluded with a sickly smile.

Trafalgar saw Lord Eustass attempt to get to his feet once more, and then find that he could only struggle to stay on his knees. The sight of his right foot twisted from the fall he took made Trafalgar smirk, and he could see the lord was in some degree of pain that he could only imagine.

"Then kill me, already!" Lord Eustass growled through clenched teeth. His eyes were a chalky white with anger, and Trafalgar knew approaching the felled beast would be a deadly mistake.

Besides, a part of him didn't like how easy it would be to put the point of his sword through the lord's heart. It didn't seem fair, didn't seem the best course of action to take. His nose, too, was protesting and making his fangs itch. He wanted blood again, as usual, only the inane desire to taste this cambion's blood was so overwhelming he felt that if he didn't get what he wanted soon he would be the one on Death's doorstep.

"All I ever do is kill, and kill, and kill," the doctor mused, sitting back down on the grass a few feet from the snarling man. "I kill to drink the blood of men and women alike, most of them my patients. It has truly been refreshing to see the face of someone I drank from and know his heart still beats as fiercely as it did then. Had you not sent a boggart to kill me, I might have actually developed some semblance of admiration for you."

Lord Eustass ignored his vague recollection of the time in the fountain outside of the duchess' estate, as well as the closing remark that hinted at something that could have been more, and focused on the information that had been confirmed by the doctor himself. So he was a dealer of death, a death doctor, after all. The red-haired man grimaced as thoughts of being fondled and touched in intimate places came to the forefront of his mind. He wondered how often the doctor inappropriately examined his other patients, especially the ones he deemed fit to be murdered by his hand.

"I imagine you sodomize them upon their deaths."

Trafalgar's brow knitted together, yet he refrained from laughing for the lord's sake. "As a general rule, Mister Eustass, corpses do not make good bedfellows."

"I imagine vampires do not either."

"Not if they're hungry. But, Mister Eustass, you seem to forget that you are unaffected by me. By my caprice serum."

Lord Eustass shook his head wildly, likely trying to sort through a multitude of emotions. "Now which fucking drug was that? The one that roused me?"

"I told you already. There is no drug on the market to produce such an effect to that degree. All I gave you was a shot to lull you into complacency. It relaxes the body. The caprice serum, now that is what made you aroused, and that I don't consider a drug. I daresay you won't like knowing what the sole ingredient to that is."

"Tell me already, you damn bloodsucker."

"It is fermented vampire saliva."


"Like how one ferments grapes to make wine–"

"I understand the concept!" the lord howled. "That is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard!"

"How surprising given the content of your dreams," the doctor said, feigning his best raised-eyebrow-look. "I, of course, think of it as a substance that est tout naturelle. Like the use of beeswax on chapped lips. It is perfectly organic, I just never knew until I came across you that it could be used as an aphrodisiac for cambions. Of course, it is still but a theory, as all discoveries are theories. It could only be you I'm affecting in this wa–"

"You talk to damn much," the lord groaned. "Just kill me already."

"I have already changed my mind. Killing you would be superfluous. 'Tis amazing what a single conversation can do for a man." Trafalgar got to his feet again and brushed off his dark slacks, scattering broken bits of green grass back to the earth they belonged against. "In fact, I am currently debating two options: to leave you here to crawl back to your estate on your hands and knees, or to call my trusty white steed to give you and I a lift. I feel I should warn you, though; he may be a bit bloody and sporting a moustache of feathers."

"I would rather crawl through Hell than accept assistance from you."

Dr. Trafalgar clapped his hands together, looking delightfully smug. "I suppose if you were unconscious there would be little issue and no decision to make on my part."

"Just try to knock me unconscious. Without your sword, seeing as you seem dependent on it."

The hint of mocking struck a chord with the doctor, and he could not help but rebuttal. "Dependent? No, you mistake me. I hardly need a sword when I have abundant intelligence of the human body. Do I sense a challenge being issued?"

"Call it what you want," spat the lord. "You're still a sick bastard."

"Your compliment flatters me, especially coming from a most esteemed sick bastard like yourself." Trafalgar started forward, his nose leading him. In truth he was not planning on being a helping hand. He was entirely set on warming his insides with a certain juice only this particular man could provide in bountiful abundance. On the ground in front of him, Trafalgar saw wounded prey. He was only following his ingrained instincts, creeping through the long grass towards him, a predator with only one thing in mind.

He could tell, though, that this was not the type of prey he could pounce on and devour. Not if he wanted to avoid injury. What he had before him was a bristling wolf, one that would fight and gnash its teeth whenever Death came close within its reach.

Yet he had a hidden weapon against enamoured cambions. What was more, he didn't need to go to the top of the hill to retrieve it. It was firmly attached to his person.

Quick as he could, Trafalgar undid the buttons on his ulster and went to his slacks, loosening them to show off his physical assets.

Lord Eustass made something akin to a dying groan, and Trafalgar thought he tried to drop his eyes to the grass but was unable to do so. He couldn't blame the man. He knew he looked positively ravishing in the flesh.

He spent no time in letting Lord Eustass become used to his body and rushed forth, crossing the distance that had previously separated them with a few confident strides. Lord Eustass followed the movement of what was unrestrained, his teeth clenched and his eyeballs a stark white.

A heel to the neck was all it would take, perhaps even accompanied by a swipe of dirt in the eyes, and Trafalgar would be able to get what he wanted. He was within reach of the panting man when his mind chose to blind him, and had curved his foot to usher the loose dirt to do his biding when his eyes caught something that had eluded his notice.

The right foot was bent at an angle that should have been excruciating for the lord. Had his foot actually been twisted.

Trafalgar gasped when the lord leapt at him, hands flying to his slacks at the same time his mind cursed his demonic desires for ushering in momentary stupidity. It had never crossed his mind that the lord had the capacity to play as dirty as he. The suddenness of the earth hitting his back brought out the air in his lungs much as it had when he'd sailed off the horse, and he struggled for breath with little success.

Hollow milky eyes with the tiniest hint of pupils blinked rapidly at him. Out of his peripheral as he turned to run he caught the wide, evil grin. He had been completely and utterly fooled. What an actor this man was. His brain and dramatics the doctor had not anticipated. If he were to die, he would die from a tragic mistake on his part.

The lord had seized him using disguised deception and broken his fall using Trafalgar's slim body.

"Caught you, bloodsucker."

Lord Eustass panted down on him, strangely sweet breath filling his nostrils with much needed air. "And so, the lion lied down on top of the lamb," Trafalgar replied with a thick wheeze, trying his best to wriggle away. He knew there was little use for struggle, as the lord's weight was surely twice his if not more, but he refused to settle in to meet his undoubtedly gory fate.

"You've surprised me twice now," the lord huffed. "I thought I'd return the favour."

"I never knew trickery was in your blood."

Lord Eustass laughed in his face. "It's unnerving how calm you always stay. I'd like to see you…panic, for once."

Trafalgar didn't like the dangerous tone the lord was taking with him. It told him the madman was willing to play with his victim by drawing out his suffering. "Let me go, Mister Eustass. You don't know what I can do. How I can curse you."

"You're bluffing," the lord said plainly. "Killer has told me all about your sort. You're nothing but a bunch of noble-headed, sly, and weak fools."

Trafalgar didn't know whether to laugh or try his best to butt the lord soundly on his proud forehead with his own skull. "In all actuality, I am noble-blooded, and I admit my cunning has gotten me out of more than one pinch, but I don't expect the likes of you to be able to distinguish that I am neither weak nor a fool."

"Your foolish move got you under me, and you can't get away because you're too weak," Lord Eustass explained mockingly.

Trafalgar smiled sweetly despite getting hot in the cheeks and allowed his body to go slack. "Perhaps this is just where I want to be. Under you."

It was the lord's turn to turn from a sickly pallor to a more rouged countenance. He stared down at the dark eyes that had captured his thoughts so wholly in the past few weeks, feeling himself grow feverish. The doctor had a smell he found himself particularly attracted to. The pungent smell of death and blood and man.

He was stirred already from the doctor's playful banter and the unashamed showing of his body but now, with the man under him and completely at his mercy, he felt impossibly roused from his state of stagnation. There was something about holding another in a state of submission that added to his already heightened libido and made him feel lightheaded. He wanted more of this euphoria, and what the lord wanted he was used to getting.

A flash of fear coursed through Trafalgar when he became aware of Lord Eustass' intentions.

The first thing that he could think of that might serve to aid him in getting out of the lord's grip flew out of his mouth. "What would your mother think about this? Bedding another man in a field of daisies?"

The effect of his words was rather spectacular. Lord Eustass' forehead furrowed and his eyes darkened. "Say nothing about my mother."

"The succubus? Well, I'm sure she'd find your preferences a bit queer, but–"

"I said quiet, bloodsucker!"

"Of course, it's not as if she could have lived long enough to see you mature into an adult. Right? According to the lore, incubus children kill their human carriers, and I suspect it's also true of succubus children–"

"You know nothing of my mother! She died when I was young, but she didn't die giving birth to me!"

"You father died first then? Interesting. Your father and mother must have been a bonded pair…" he watched Eustass grow impossibly rigid but thought nothing of it except that he was merely angry. "I guess you began breathing and taking on the appearance of a normal, human child before your mother died and gave you up to your grandfather."

Lord Eustass began to shake. It was strange, for he shook with both anger and anxiety. Killer had told him all he knew about cambions after he'd nearly begged him to do so. One of the things he'd been loath to believe was the form they were born in.

He had no memories of his childhood, and thus no memories of his mother, the mysterious red-haired demon that spawned him and whose painting hung in his manor's halls. Killer had told him the reason for his inability to recall his infancy. He had said that cambions were born with no pulse and no breath; that they were in almost all senses like a stillbirth. Cold to the touch and paler than fresh snow, his species didn't gain any sense of life until seven years had passed. He couldn't even imagine such a long time of inactivity…yet he could believe, for he could recall pieces of his childhood, if it could even be called one. Waking up inside a carriage, held by a man with deep furrows on his brow and cold eyes, and then another vivid memory of being in a bed with the old Lord Eustass hovering over him, a deep frown of disgust on his face.

He scowled at the memories of his dead father and equally dead grandfather. He had very few good ones, if any at all.

He noted with the dimness of a man deep in thought that Trafalgar's breathing was becoming increasingly laboured. He supposed he must have arched his thin, nearly invisible eyebrows enough to be noticed by the doctor, because the man then wheezed out, "You're heavy."

"They say that's characteristic of a cambion too," the lord said smugly, pressing his chest to the ground. The momentary anger has dissipated, as well as the anxiety, and he was back to feeling all the rapture that the occasion entailed. Trafalgar made a garbled noise deep in his throat, trying his best to hide it with a louder grunt. He only succeeded in making it seem as if he were in more pain.

Lord Eustass let up. He had no intentions of breaking the vampire's ribs with his weight. Not when he still had the desire to have him…

In a flash he was up on his elbows, gathering limp and slender wrists in his other hand. He pressed the doctor's hands above his head, bending the elbows so they stuck up in the air. He looked almost as if he were asking for it now, like a brothel whore…the sight made him more lustful, if it were even possible.

The doctor regained his breath enough to continue their conversation. It was obvious by now, pressed so firmly under the lord, the lascivious intent his physical body had. Dr. Trafalgar had long neglected to remark upon the stiffness pushing against his thigh, making it sore with its throbbing. He decided to redeem himself.

"They say cambions are sometimes called sexual vampires," said Trafalgar. "So I suppose you and I are both guilty of preying on one another. Only we desire different things."

"Really? The last time I had you trapped under me you were all too eager to spread your legs wide and point your toes north."

"For an ugly man like you? I must have been blood-drunk. I did feast on you, after all." All of a sudden, a wind blew from behind and pushed the scent of hot blood raging beneath flesh into Trafalgar's nostrils. His eyelids flickered and he felt a peculiar faintness attack his mind before retreating. It was like getting to one's feet too quickly in the morning. It caused his mind to stagger, and he recovered with the sinking feeling of knowing he had a weakness that the lord comprehended all too easily.

Lord Eustass snorted indignantly at the insult. "I'm hauntingly alluring. How else would I have been able to so easily bed a dozen women in a brothel nearly all at once," he hissed, eyes narrowing as his grin widened.

"Well, it was a brothel. You did pay them to open their syphilis-infested snatches, did you not?"

Lord Eustass laughed loudly instead of crushing his skull for that comment, so Trafalgar was relieved in that respect. However, he could not tell if Lord Eustass understood his biting comment in its entirety. He made no effort to clarify it, of course. No need to play the torero and tempt the bull with a red muleta. He was too close in range. Inches from the man's neck, yet held in such a way that it was impossible to lunge and give him a playful nip on the collarbone.

If he could bite, he would. It would surely spell his freedom.

Or his doom.

"My breeding is superior to yours," the lord declared abruptly. He felt as if he still had to validate himself, as the vampire clearly thought he was the godlier creature. "I am stronger, faster, more intelligent–"

"Disillusioned. That is the adjective I would have chosen for you in particular," Trafalgar said with a saccharine grin. He shifted his elbows and upper arms, testing the bonds that held him. Secure as iron. The lord was unquestionably stronger, certainly pinned him to the ground with rapid speed, and indeed he had tricked him, a vampire whose survival depended on his cleverness. Yet he was still disillusioned in Trafalgar's opinion, even if his opinion was a humble one in these circumstances.

His interruption cut the lord's tongue fully out of his thick gullet. Still, he didn't receive a deathblow. No, quite the opposite. Instead, it became quite clear to Dr. Trafalgar that Lord Eustass was keen on humiliating him before destroying his body and mind.

He bit into his lower lip with his elongated fangs, the sharp pain flashing beneath his eyelids as the man took his beastly claws to his overcoat. He heard the fabric ripping, the buttons popping off, the thread and seams separating. His favourite coat, ruined by a bloody-eyed cambion. The fur trim, a rare snow leopard pelt in stark black and white, would be ruined by his blood sooner rather than later.

With his eyes shut against the marauder of his pride, Trafalgar felt the stabbing fingers reach his rumpled undershirt, and then nails scrapped against his skin, leaving a fiery trail of aching behind.

He dared open his eyes and saw, off to one side, half of his coat torn clean away from his body. Then he looked up, expecting the frenzied glare of contracting pupils, and instead found the lord looking down on his stomach as it heaved with indignation.

"For every needle you stuck in me, and every teasing remark," the lord whispered, running his hand down the sleek, unmarred chest before him. Then, without warning and with incredible strength and speed, he flipped Trafalgar over and pushed him against the ground, his skin glowing with vengeance.

A.N.: My apologies for the delay in posting this. Things have been stressful lately and probably won't be improving for a while…but I'll still try my best to do a bit of writing here and there. Thanks for the support guys! I read all of your review carefully and love each and every one of them. :)