By the time the Elf made his offer, Mesteno was knelt knees beside the body, careless of any blood that might have leaked from it. He’d unbuttoned the single-breasted suit jacket, ran his palms over the pockets inside and out. Found a wallet that he’d fumbled open with too much urgency to be even mildly graceful, and snarled when all he found was a thick wad of bills - not a single piece of identification.
Evidently, being hungry did foul things to his temper, too, because he threw the wallet away across the floor before resuming his pat-down. A metallic clink foretold of the discovery of a set of keys, but they were uninterestingly modern, and might have fit the lock of any front door in the city. They spilled out, gleaming beside the now rumpled jacket, ignored.
Mainly because he'd just heard Lexius' offer.
It stilled him as surely as a command to 'freeze' by law enforcement might have, and only slowly did he ease back, palms on his knees and his eyes still on the corpse. He was composing himself before he turned to look at the Elf.
He knew all too well that had he done so immediately, the reflex hunger would have made him look every inch as monstrous as the leeches. He knew too, that it was pointless to try and hide it, when the emotional response was vividly obvious. No less obvious than the churn of the Elf's.
"Feeling the part of the sacrificial lamb tonight?" he asked, wryly. And he did turn then, though surprisingly it was Lexius' eyes he sought, rather than his throat. He felt the impulse to rise tug through his muscles, puppet-strings pulling at his limbs urging him up, up.
Lexius folded his hands behind his back, taking an 'at ease' stance as he faced Mesteno directly. He met his look without flinching away from the feral aspect. For some reason, that all seemed to quiet the churn inside the Elf, even as he stirred it up in the Sadist.
"I will take from you and do with it as I will. And you trust me in that." Meaningfully, gravely. "I could have removed your ability to resist me, could have paralyzed you on that table, and would have done so if you had tried to refuse, in order to finish what I wished to do to your body." Blunt truths there, calmly delivered. "And you would have let me, Mesteno. You allow me to do all these things because you trust me not try and end you completely or take too much advantage without your say in the things I take."
It was more than just Mesteno, too. Even if the Elf didn't mention that part out loud, he understood it. The passenger extended its trust, as well. Some small measure of it, at least, and no doubt in the efforts of survival and manipulation. But still.
He paused a moment studying the brightness of those golden eyes and the savageness the man couldn't ever truly hide. Not from him, at least. "I cannot trust you any less in what you would have from me. And, in truth, I am curious to see if my blood flowing in you will allow you to tweak your abilities when it comes to your Necromancy. I know it will allow me to link to you more strongly in an area I would normally not be able to touch or influence."
The Elf's honesty held the necromancer’s attention. Perhaps this was the first time in a long time that he'd considered the amount of trust he placed in Lexius - because it seemed foolish to question, after everything they'd been through. Not just the Well, or the physical altercations, but every confession shared, every moment tangled up in carnal pursuits that'd required a suspension of their usual proclivities. Yes, he'd lain there utterly trusting on the table. Never once had it crossed his mind that Lexius might do anything he'd disapprove of.
"You could kill me in a heartbeat, if you wanted. I'd probably never even see it coming. What's the point in questioning anything you do?" he asked quietly.
His own strength was nothing to sniff at, but he knew should conflict ever arise, he wouldn't stand a chance. There was the gap where fear should have lifted its ugly head. Instead it remained drowsing, evidently only willing to lift a finger at select moments. Most would consider that amount of trust in the Elf foolish.
"Oh," was Lexius smiling? "I think it might take more than one heartbeat." Mesteno underestimated himself (and that passenger), as usual.
Back on his feet, turning his back on the body, Mesteno approached with a sluggishness he knew would fade, the dull, aching reminder of the wound in his gut. It seemed to pulse in time to the hunger knotting his stomach. The anticipation was making his mouth water.
"Trust you to be so practical," he managed, with a crooked smile as he came within reach. "Stop me if you have to," he added, as an arm anchored itself at Lexius' waist.
Lexius actually reached to draw Mesteno in closer. The arm around his waist was countered with the slide of fingers along his neck and back into his hair, where he took a fisting grip. To stop the man if he needed to! "Enjoying your touch has nothing to do with practicality." And he was already enjoying the nearness despite the fact he knew what was coming. "It will be well." He assured, not precisely baring his neck, not really resisting even if he pulled at his mane of hair as if to draw him away. Just enough tension.
Mesteno walked him backward, chest to chest until the cavern wall offered Lexius a place to rest his back. The necromancer made no effort to cage him, but his free hand lifted and found its way behind to the nape of Lexius' neck, then up, to cradle the back of his head. There was a tenderness to it, even if his head and impulses were a riot of would-be violence.
"Now don't go getting handsy," he told him, with a laugh in the base of his throat. If anyone were liable to it was going to be himself, but the humour helped to take some of the knife-edge control issue swinging back his way. Rooted him a little more firmly.
Lexius actually laughed a little roughly at Mesteno's comment. "I had fully intended to grow extra arms the minute you weren't looking." He'd hooked the fingers of his free hand somewhere around Mesteno's belt, but it was the other in his hair that was active. He gave that hair another tug.
The necromancer tilted his face in against the side of the Elf's throat, mouth and nose pressed against the warmth there as he breathed him in, felt out the pulse point with the drift of his lips. His arm cinched in tighter around his waist, as if pre-emptively warning off a change of mind, and it was in that moment that the press of his teeth, wickedly sharp, sliced down through desert-dark skin to find the shallowly buried vena without any of the neatness the fangs of a kindred might have delivered.
The Elf was already familiar with the feel of it, even if he rarely sank his teeth so deeply.
By the time Mesteno had taken what he needed, the blood loss induced dizziness had been replaced by a natural high, an elation, the predatory bloodlust translating into violence and ardour in equal measure. Mesteno wanted, of course, in all the predictable ways, but he didn't take advantage of the moment even if all the right goads were there. Instead, the warpaint of Lexius' blood a livid stain on his mouth, he lifted his head from his still bleeding throat, twisted his fingers viciously into the Elf's dark hair, and kissed him.
It wasn't a kind kiss by any measure, and all the heat and flavour were right there, glossing his tongue, smudged sticky in the creases of his lips and clinging to his teeth, but he was proving himself nonetheless. He'd won out over instinct, and over the demands of his now livid company.
The Elf was no big fan of the taste of his own blood on Mesteno's bath, but it didn't put him off, either. He pressed into the harshness off the kiss, teeth clicking, heedless of the sharpness though he didn't purposefully try to cut himself. That Mesteno pulled away early (against his passenger’s prompting) had cued a certain rush of triumph in the Elf, had won a thick splash of approval.
Lexius bled a little longer. Long enough for the scent of it to clot the heated air between them, but by the time he bit the Sadist's lips hard enough to taste a tinge of blood himself, the wound the man's teeth had torn at his neck was knitted closed beneath the smear of red. The bruising was still evident, but not the actual wound itself.
The Elf pulled back, pulled Mesteno back by that hold to his hair, and licked his lips while he breathed too rough and too quick. "That will have to do for now."
"It's enough," Mesteno told him. Enough to do what was needed without having to hold off and dive back into the city. He offered no smile, sure that the teeth he was lashing clean with a roving swipe of his tongue were far from appealing. He wanted to tell him that it wouldn't happen again. That he'd be more careful in future not to become so depleted that he'd be brought low by something so small as a bullet, but it would have been a lie.
Instead, he lifted a hand to slide his thumb over the bruise he'd left on Lexius' throat, a quiet marvelling over the lack even of his teeth's indentations. "Gratias tibi," he told him, with a strange formality.
Lexius expression was slightly wry for the thanks. "It serves us both." No lie in that. He was, even then, monitoring how the tiny feed was affecting Mesteno's body and brain.
Uncurling his fingers from the man's hair, careful not to tug too much, he swept his palm down the side of the Sadist's jaw, half holding his head in place for the light bite he placed on the opposite side before the man got too far away. Then he let him go, pushed him back (playful) and shoved away from the wall that had left its own indentions along his spine.
"Of course it is enough. it is my blood." Haughtily! "Now you should try to repair that one’s vocal cords." With a nod toward the corpse the man needed to question.
"I was going to," Mesteno retorted, as if too proud to accept advice in the wake of his own prolonged weakness. He'd brought himself to a stop from the shove with a playful glower. "Should be easy."
Not that Fleshkrafting always was. Melding a seam of flesh together over a grisly wound, that was simple. It was skin and muscle layers, nothing fiddly. Slashed vocal cords however required more attention, and he was having to recall the way they were supposed to look, whole and functioning from all those bodies he'd taken apart. It was a task that came surprisingly easily. Apparently, the Elf's blood helped the speed and accuracy of memory, and there it was, practically picture perfect as he made his way back to the corpse and knelt beside it, staring into the face of the stalker who'd haunted him for the better part of a decade.
Touching the tips of his fingers to the cooling flesh, he let his energy rise up, controlled and slow, like flood waters escaping the banks of a river. He pushed it downward into the tips of his extremities, felt it swell there under the pads of his fingers before it recognised the dead cells. After a moment, his fingers slipped into the cleft in the throat, dipping down to the vocal cords, through the puddled blood gone jelly-congealed, to begin work.
Lexius moved to dampen some muslin so he could clean his neck and mouth as the Necromancer moved to work his magic on the body in question. The Elf kept close track, but kept his distance. He didn't want an accidental touch throwing things off course. Already he could sense some small bit of changes in Mesteno's synaptic patterns. He couldn't track the dark magic as easy, but he found he could sense the energy of it far more acutely than usual. A response he found equally interesting.
Mesteno was the guide, wielding it with deliberate intent, while the sentience behind it obliged in the task by infiltrating the tissues, warping the natural order of things to command the dead structures into the form they'd known prior to destruction. This was not healing, as it might have appeared to an observer, but remodelling, as if with clay. The cells themselves were not spared in the crafting, stretched and ruptured where need be, but holding form at the energy's command until the cords were whole again, even if the tissues would never have been anything but necrotic, never again reached by natural blood flow were the body used in an attempt to truly bring someone back to life.
Of course, there was more than just the cords to tend to. The oesophagus was ruptured too, and without the capacity to funnel air in the right way, speech would have been impossible. He brought the cartilage back together, did likewise with the major blood vessels he'd severed, and after bringing out cupped finger-portions of pooled blood, finally sealed up the external evidence of the neck. It was not the usual seam of scar tissue he left behind, raised like angry keloid, but a neat meeting of the split sides with only the narrowest line left behind, thin as a pencil stroke.
He wasn't oblivious to the cause of it. Lexius' blood was potent, and perhaps it gave him more control of his passenger than he normally enjoyed - a thought he couldn't help but ponder. And which said passenger felt distinctly displeased by. It seemed to sense the Elf watching, recoiled from it as if the former trust were forgotten. It didn't enjoy being under the magnifying glass.
"That was quicker than I expected," Mesteno admitted, taking a moment to take stock of how he felt. No obvious draining after the little trick.
"Very neatly done, as well." The Elf murmured his praise in a quiet tone and he felt the passenger retreat. Probably wise of it, but Lexius evidenced no annoyance. He was patient, perfect willing to collect his evidence in snips and drips, fleeting moments that he catalogued with meticulous care. Just another piece of the puzzle. "Have a care not to let the past influence your work with this one."
"Really," Mesteno murmured, briefly knuckling at his mouth and chin as if he'd somehow caught a glimpse of himself through the Elf's eyes. "So little faith in my self-control after I've just been so well behaved? Such an injustice," he drawled, before stooping back over the corpse he was attending to.
Cleaned up, bruises evident beneath tanned skin, Lexius stepped in closer. He moved to the other corpse while Mesteno worked with the first, turning the pontifex over to examine him.
Plainly, the second corpse not going to be talking anytime soon. the bullet had torn through his chin at an upward angle, shattered his front teeth and soft palate before punching its way upward through brain matter and emerging through the skull in a spatter far larger than the original hole. His mouth was full of blood and tissue fragments. In life, he appeared to have been in his late forties, with the ruddy complexion of a man prone to excesses and impressive jowls, even if he hadn't been particularly heavy. His robes were a bastardisation of a clergyman's attire, though instead of a rosary at his belt he'd a set of misery cords, and in the pockets Lexius searched he found a simple, modern day planner with scheduled appointments, tucked alongside keys, a small hipflask half drained of its whiskey contents and a wallet, this time with the ID that might be expected.
Bank cards, membership cards - modern day paraphernalia. Mesteno had known his name all along though, one Alberich Barraclough. Really, he wasn't much of a mystery.
Finished with the physical inspection, Lexius flexed his will to examine the dead priest's body metaphysically. Lexius had all sorts of mundane ideas as the why the man might have been killed, but he was just double checking for anything else. The man's personal effects and a few samples of blood and tissue were taken and secured on a table nearby.
Mesteno called his passenger back to attention, from where it'd been busily trying to sweep sand from it as if it were a pollutant, and failing miserably - too enmeshed! - its attention piqued at the sight of the corpse though, and it gave itself over to a search. Mesteno was unbuttoning the stalker's shirt, baring a chest dark with springy curls. It looked particularly wrong, when he passed his fingers through it, right down to the navel and back up, frowning as he did so, feeling his way around for the anchor point.
There was a flutter of anger along the tie, confusion as he failed to find it, then he pulled the shadows to his bidding and made a single slice, right through fat and muscle to his breastbone, to slide his hand into the body cavity and search with less delicacy.
Lexius paused, well aware of the anger along the tie, and turned to look at him more closely. Rather than interrupt him with questions, though, he waited and watched.
The necromancer was beyond unhappy by this point. He was wrist deep in the offal, clawing his way through the slippery mess in search of a trail and finding nothing. For some time, he blamed his own impatience, and started from scratch in case he'd missed something in his haste. That too proved a waste of time, and his anger only became more heated. Had he, in taking blood from Lexius, dampened his sensitivity to death? Was the influence of such powerful blood dulling his talents?
He sat back, his hand pulling from the body cavity with a grotesque sound of sloppy suction. He stared down at the corpse, denying him answers even in death, and felt an unreasonable urge to tear the damn thing to pieces and flay the skin from his face akin to one of the death masks they'd taken from the Senate. His fingers curled to fists, and his breath slithered out on a shaky sounding exhale.
"Something's not right," he practically spat the words in his impatience. "It's like what I need isn't there. But that's ridiculous, it's always fucking there. It's born into the flesh. It's just... just gone. Like something already went in and took it."
"What you seek is a point of connection, yes?” Lexius asked. “Where the soul would attach to the body? Explain it to me, but do not be too quick to anger of this particular failure. There is no telling what these types, if they are as we think, have been through before they came here, never mind after." He nudged the other corpse with the toe of his boot. "Check this one, as well."
Mesteno’s fists uncurled, but only for fingers to splay claw-like over his kneecaps instead. He scowled down at the corpse as if it were a puzzle, pieces of it stolen, as if he should be able to pinpoint the problem from simply observing it in its mutilated disarray.
"That's exactly what I'm looking for," he confirmed quietly (though the lowered volume did not necessarily indicate a calming!) "It's a little different in everyone, though you can usually find it located either up in the chest or down near the navel. Very occasionally it'll be up here." he tapped an index finger at the point between his eyes, and left a vivid stain behind like a bindi. "To call a soul back to its flesh, I reach in through that anchor point. It's like sending a hook out along a pre-set path and knowing you'll always catch a fish so long as it hasn't already been destroyed or taken into the care of some guardian deity it worshipped in life. But this guy doesn't have one. Even if the soul has been destroyed or claimed by a Power, the anchor should be there. It's like it got excised..."
He couldn't think of any better way to explain it. Usually it took him mere moments. His lips compressed again, and his eyes snapped aside to the Pontifex's corpse as it lolled heavily with the nudge of Lexius' boot. Plainly he felt no remorse for the man's death. He'd never liked him. Never respected him. He just hadn't cared enough to kill him, since he'd seemed nothing more than a part-time preacher looking for kicks outside of his otherwise mundane life. His role at the temple has seemed more an opportunity to seem important, to shed blood and engage in something beyond his power.
Grimly, Mesteno approached him, but he hadn't even had to incise a partition in the flesh of his belly to feel it. It was there, behind the navel, close to the curve of the spine. "It's there... at least I know it's not me malfunctioning," he muttered.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest