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Dinner & Diatribes

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The autumn, Lisa reflects, trudging up the steps toward the vast castle doors, has come early this year - fast, and unexpected, and bringing with it an icy north wind that makes her wish she’d brought a heavier cloak. Heavy rain had flooded the ford where she usually crossed the river on her way back to the castle, and so - having been compelled to take the long route home over the rickety wood bridge in the next town along - she arrives well after dark, and far later than she had planned. She shakes the worst of the water off her cape as the door swings open before her, apparently entirely of its own accord. She has yet to uncover what exactly the mechanism is that allows it to recognise her, now, and open automatically at her approach – but she’s glad that it does.

 

It takes her a while, once she’s indoors, to locate Dracula; it’s not that he’s anywhere unexpected, really – in fact, he’s exactly where she left him - but usually he smells her coming a mile off, and is hovering around the doorway when she gets in, trying very hard not to look like he’s been waiting for her. But today no shadowy presence looms out of the darkness in the entrance hall to mutter something about how he ‘just happened to be passing by the door’, or to ask if she wants him to take her coat to the cloakroom, since he's ‘actually heading that way, in any case’. So she frowns, and wanders through a few of the more frequented rooms – the drawing room, where he’s sometimes reading late, the kitchen, in case he’s in one of his moods where he decides to cook for her, his bedroom – their bedroom, really, at this point – in case he’s taking one of his rare naps.

 

After that, she decides he must be in the laboratory, despite the lateness of the hour, and, sure enough, as she makes her way up the steps to the old oak door of the lab, she finds it ajar, casting a brilliant yellow ray of light out into the dark corridor. She pushes it open, and there she finds him, his enormous hands braced over one of the room’s many desks, squinting down at a baffling array of tiny cogs and gears, mixed in among the papers and the notepads scattered across the tabletop. A pair of very small – or perhaps, she thinks, they would be regular sized, for a normal man – eyeglasses are perched incongruously on the bridge of his nose. His head snaps up as she enters and he blinks once, twice, before removing the eyeglasses and placing them down in a little case on the desk with a sigh.

 

“Lisa,” he says, rolling the word over her tongue with the same soft undercurrent of delighted reverence he always uses when he speaks her name, “you have returned.”

“I have!” she beams. Then she narrows her eyes, and shifts her bag a little under her cape so that she can properly put her hands on her hips. “Have you moved at all, since I left?”

He runs a hand through his hair and hums, a low, soft rumbling noise that echoes against the stone floor of the laboratory. “I- well, I finished dissembling the telescope,” he says, gesturing at the shining, glittering gears on the table before him, “So in a literal sense, yes, I moved - but if you are enquiring as to whether or not I have left the room…”

“Obviously.”

“… no.”

She sighs, making her way across the vast expanse of floor to his side; she can’t help but smile a little at the way he instinctively bends toward her as she approaches, like a grand old willow tree reaching down to the water. “Do you realise how long I have been away?” she asks, fixing him with her best disapproving glare as she shoves aside a pile of papers and gears so she can hop up to sit on the table next to where he stands.

 

He makes an ambivalent gesture. “Your expression,” he says, dryly, “suggests to me that it is longer than I had realised, and that you are about to tell me exactly by how much.”

“Three days,” she says, shaking her head. “Have you not slept at all?”

“I do not require sleep, although I-”

“- although you may enjoy it. Yes, I know, I know - I’ve heard that one before. But you will fix the telescope faster if you give yourself a break, at least. And have you had anything to eat?”

He doesn’t quite meet her eye. “At some point.”

“Before or after I left?”

“Before.”

“How long before?”

He hesitates. “I… some time. I’m not entirely sure.” He rubs a hand over his face, and sighs. “Perhaps you are right about a break. I’m just…” he glares down at the fragments of telescope strewn across his desk. “I cannot fathom why this damn thing has given out on me now. Two hundred years with no problems, and now this… and the maker is dead, of course, so I cannot even bring it to her to consider how it might be fixed…” he shakes his head again.

 

Lisa sighs, and leans over to inspect the little pieces and the scattered notes across the table. She frowns. “Perhaps I can help?”

“Ah, here, I’m afraid, there is little you can do. The problem is magical, not mechanical. My calculations indicate that it must be some malfunction of the third seal,” – he taps a long clawed nail against one of the tiny metal pieces on the table - “this one, you see? The spell has become warped, somehow - although I cannot manage to decipher exactly what the cause of the corrosion is. Perhaps a flaw in the original spell itself that has only now become apparent, or perhaps some misalignment of the gears that has disrupted the flow of magic… it’s hard to say.”

Lisa squints down at his notes. “There is no such thing as magic,” she says, after a moment, “only science which we do not yet comprehend.”

His lip twitches at that. “Maybe so. Nevertheless…”

She taps one of the crumpled pages of notes. “And look, here, where you were calculating the angles of the gears – that nine should be a zero.”

He blinks. “Pardon?”

“The nine,” she says, “I think you meant to write a zero, but it ended up with a little tail, and you seem to have carried the error forward, so-”

 

He stares at the paper, then at the fragmentary pieces of telescope, then at her. “Ah. Hmm. Perhaps you are correct in suggesting that a rest would be beneficial. I…” his brow unfurrows slightly as he takes her in, her cloak still slightly damp, her trousers muddy around the ankles, her hair tumbling loose from its habitual plait. “I missed you,” he says, softly, after a moment. “I missed you, while you were away.”

She raises an eyebrow. “I thought you were too busy in your studies to notice how many days had passed?”

He inclines his head a fraction. “That is true. I have lived too long to count days, and I rarely make much note of the passing of time, but your absence… that I notice. I could not tell you how long you were gone for, but I knew that you were gone.”

“Oh,” she says, softly.

“I feel it as a mortal man would feel a blood wound; something deep and vital that would not heal.” He takes her hand ever so gently in his and bends slightly so he can raise it to rest against his cold, still chest. “Here,” he says. “Here, I feel it.”

 

She says nothing, for a long moment, content to let her hand stay where it is, resting on his chest. He’s under-dressed, she thinks, suddenly – or under-dressed for him, anyway. No cape, today, no cravat, no waistcoat, no thousand layers buckled and buttoned and belted up to the neck. He looks almost naked - indecent, somehow, in his plain dark trousers and his billowing white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, exposing the musculature of his inhumanly vast forearms. The neckline of his shirt is soft, and ruffled, and open enough that the tips of her fingers are resting on bare skin. She shivers.

He gazes down at her, his lips parted ever so slightly. “This is normally the moment,” he observes, not a little wryly, “where you scold me for my melodramatics.”

She lifts a hand up to his shoulder, and smiles when he bends obligingly so she can reach up on tiptoes to kiss him, very gently. “I missed you too, darling,” she whispers, her voice soft against the cool hard lines of his mouth, “So I would be a terrible hypocrite if I scolded you for that.”

 

“Lisa…” he murmurs, the weight of his great clawed hand settling on her shoulder, heavy and comforting in its restraint. He sighs as he tilts his head to kiss her again – he doesn’t need to breathe, of course, but certain emotions seem to bring it out in him.

She lifts her free hand up to cup his face - or part of it, anyway - in her palm. He sighs again as she does, leaning his head into her palm with a soft, low noise at the back of his throat that sounds like distant, rumbling thunder.

 

They stay like that, for a while, entwined together, both breathing softly and contentedly - even if only one of them has any good reason to be doing it. He lets his eyes flutter closed and leans down obligingly as she takes his head in both hands and reaches up to kiss his nose, his cheeks, his forehead. She takes the opportunity to watch him in one of his rare, unguarded moments - although, she reflects, they’re not a fraction so rare, now, as they were when she first arrived here. It’s funny to think that it’s only been a few months – how quickly he’s gone from a monster of legend, more myth than man to… this. She scans his face slowly, cataloguing the familiar lines, the way his lashes flutter slightly as she runs a thumb over the sharp line of his cheekbone, the hint of darkness under his eyes that tells her that he’s tired, however much he protests that he doesn’t need sleep. Ancient creature of the night he may be, but Lisa is a firm believer that a good night’s rest will cure many ills. At the very least, it makes him less cranky, whatever he says.

 

Eventually, his eyes drift back open, and his turns his head to press a kiss to her palm before drawing back a little and settling down into his desk chair. Even seated, she thinks, he must be taller than she is. “So,” he says, resting his chin in his hand fixing her with one of his almost imperceptible smiles, “tell me what you did, while you were away. Any adventures of note?”

Lisa shrugs, and makes a so-so gesture, “This and that. Let me think– oh, yes the ford near the east gate is flooded, which is a pain, and Mrs Farrow is still convinced that she must be due any day now-”

“And is she?”

Lisa gives him an unimpressed glare. “You know as well as I do that she has another month to go, at least. She’s just nervous. And bad with dates.”

“But you reassured her, no doubt.”

“As best as I was able to, yes. I couldn’t stay long, though – I had to see to one of the miller’s babies, who is teething something fierce, poor dear, and then go and lance a boil for the blacksmith, and then check in on Big Peterson.”

“And how is he?”

She shrugs. “About the same.”

 

He hums, thoughtfully. “Curious. I have… some thoughts on that. And another powder that I can make up for your next visit. Perhaps the issue is more complex than we had assumed.”

She reaches out to touch his cheek. “You should come with me, next time. A second opinion would be very helpful – you’ve studied all this for far longer than me, after all.”

“You do very well on your own.”

“I would do better with a glamorous assistant, don’t you think?”

He snort-laughs, a ridiculous, undignified noise that makes her heart sing when she hears it. She loves catching him off guard. “I’m sure you could find a better candidate for that role than me,” he says, shaking his head and smothering another chuckle.

“I’m sure I couldn’t. Anyway, it might do you some good to get to know the locals.”

“I already know all that I need to, from your most excellent reports.”

“That is not what I mean, and you know it. I mean you should talk with them! Let them get to know you! You might enjoy it, you never know.”

He leans back a little, shrugging vaguely. “I am sure that the locals know as much of me as they would like to, which is very little, and as much of me as I would like them to, which is even less.”

                                                                                     

Lisa shakes her head; “Well, we’ll put a pin in that, then. I’ll get you down to the village some day, I promise you that.”

“Perhaps,” he murmurs, his gaze indulgent but a little guarded; “I suppose that stranger things have come to pass.” Then he smiles and leans back toward her. “Enough of that, though. You must have more interesting adventures to tell me about.”

“More interesting than lancing boils?” says Lisa, in mock confusion.

He chuckles. “More interesting than lancing boils. What else were you up to?”

 

Ah, there it is. She grins at him sidelong, eyes bright. He’s going to like this one, she’s sure of it, but that doesn’t mean she won’t make him work for it. “Oh, you know, this and that… Nothing much.”

He raises an eyebrow, hesitates for half a second… and then he takes the bait. “Nothing much?”

She hums. “Just some little errands in the village. Boring, really.”

“Three days is a long time to run errands. You must have gone further than the village, surely?”

“Oh, yes,” says Lisa, with a blithe smile, “yes, certainly.”

“And?”

 

She shrugs and turns over one of his notebooks on the table, carefully inspecting the blank back. “I ran across a deer in the woods on the way home,” she says, her tone conversational, revelling in his transparent frustration at her refusal to answer him, “I caught it, and I butchered it in the outhouse before I got to the castle. There’s a barrel of blood, there, for you, and I hung the rest of it for me. I might make pie, I think… little pies, so I can carry them with me when I go walking, maybe.”

“Lisa,” he says. There’s a warning in his tone that would terrify most people – should terrify her, even, maybe, but it only makes her grin harder. “Where else did you go?”

She waggles her eyebrows at him. “I think perhaps you should guess that part. It might be fun.”

He leans in, just a fraction, and rests one of his massive, clawed hands on her thigh. “Lisa.”

 

She rolls her eyes at his theatrics. “I’m not scared of you, you know. The big bad evil monster thing won’t work on me - you’re going to have to play the guessing game properly.” She taps his forehead, grinning. “You’ll have to exercise that big brain of yours.”

His claws flex against her thigh, pressing through the thin linen of her trousers to her skin, but not quite drawing blood. Her breath catches as he leans in, almost imperceptibly. “You know that I can hear it when your heart speeds up, don’t you?”

She laughs. “Doesn’t mean I’m scared.”

That gets a reaction – an almost imperceptible shift in his stony gaze, the faintest twinkle in his eye. Somebody who didn’t know him well would miss it, probably, but Lisa sees it as clear as the stars in the sky at night. “Ah,” he says, “so it’s that kind of surprise. I see. That narrows it down.”

 

“Oh, so you are playing? You’re going to guess properly?”

His jaw twitches. “Mmm. Reluctantly.” His expression shifts, his tone suddenly low and firm as he licks his lips and says, “Stand up.”

She hops off the desk and stands before him, flushing slightly as he leans back in his chair to look her up and down with undisguised desire.

“Turn around. Slowly.”

She turns, her heart fluttering in her chest. God, this is absurd. He’s not even touching her and she’s already aching for him; she wants to sit back down and cross her legs. Or, no - she wants to climb into his lap and straddle his thigh and kiss that stupid smug expression off his face.

But she doesn’t – she just turns, slowly, like he’s asked her to. Once she’s turned all the way away from him, facing the other side of the laboratory, he says, “Stop. Stand like that. Let me look at you.” Another moment passes, and he hums, softly.

“Well?” she says.

“Hmm. Walk forward a little,” he says, and she walks until she’s almost nose-to-nose with one of the vast floor-to ceiling bookcases. She moves as though to turn her head toward him, but he growls out a soft, “No,” and she shivers.

“I-”

“Face forward,” he says, “Hands on the bookcase – no, up a bit. There. Now stay still.”

 

Lisa grins giddily at the bookcase in front of her, gripping onto the shelves just above shoulder height, straining her ears to try and hear his movements behind her.

The next sound she hears, though, is his voice – just behind her, and so close it makes her jump – his ability to move in utter silence is impressive, every time, even when she’s expecting it. “Spread your legs,” he says, his voice soft and low in her ear.

Lisa bites her lip as his hands come to rest on her shoulders, smoothing over the thick, damp wool of her travelling cape. She stares forward at the gilt-edged tomes before her, trying to focus on reading the titles - but the letters swim in her vision as she grips onto the wooden shelves.

 

“So,” he says, his voice thick with amusement, and an undercurrent of something else that makes her breath speed up, “You’re cloak’s wet - you’ve been out in the rain. That makes sense; you mentioned the ford had flooded, after all. And it stopped-” he hums, running his thumb back and forth over the shoulder of her cape, “Hmm. An hour or so back, perhaps.”

“What does this have to do with anything you’re trying to find out? You already know I went out, the question is where-”

He chuckles, and lets his palms slip over her shoulders and down along her arms. “Please. I have to be thorough in my investigation, don’t I? I am, after all, a man of science.”

 

“Right,” she murmurs, as his hands slide down to brush over hers, grazing her hips before returning to the top of her spine. He rests there for a moment, and then his palms slide forward over her shoulders to her collarbone. His long, clever fingers toy with the clasp of her cloak.

“We should get this off you,” he says. “It’s damp.”

“Perhaps I am cold.”

“You will be colder in a damp cloak,” he says, undoing the clasp and tugging the heavy woollen weight away; a soft thump indicates that he has tossed it aside onto the carpet, his hands returning swiftly to the top of her spine. “Besides, you could be hiding something under there that would reveal what you’ve been up to, couldn’t you? Now…” His hands smooth over her spine, and she can feel claws through the thin linen of her shirt as he reaches her waist, where his searching hands are impeded by her bag, still resting on her left hip. He growls, and tugs the strap. “Take this off.”

 

She obliges, laughing when he drops it down on top of the cape without a second glance. “Should you not search that, too, for clues?”

He presses into her, hands sliding back to her waist, and when he speaks, she feels his lips brush against her ear. “Later. I’m busy.”

“You’re getting distracted,” she says, her voice coming out a shade too breathy to sound convincingly scolding.

“I’m getting distracted, am I? Hmm. Perhaps I am. Or perhaps,” he purrs, dropping his head to kiss the side of her neck, “this was my purpose all along.”

She lets her head drop back against his chest with a contented sigh. “You are incorrigible, entirely.”

He hums, pressing another kiss to her neck, and another – and then he inhales, and she feels the slight graze of fangs in his next kiss, the hands on her waist shifting to an almost bruising pressure.

 

Lisa swallows, feeling the sudden shift in the atmosphere, the way his claws dig into her hips, the press of his fangs against her skin. “Vlad-” she begins.

“You were right,” he says, his voice suddenly rougher around the edges than it had been a moment ago, “it’s been… a while since I ate.”

“You could go and fetch that barrel of deer blood from the outhouse,” she whispers, her heart thundering in her chest.

 

He hums against her neck, lips grazing over her jugular. “Or I could just bite you here,” he murmurs, “and have done with it.”

She shivers, not even bothering to attempt disguising the way her breath speeds up, at that. “And how would that help you find anything useful out?”

“It wouldn’t,” he says, softly. He licks a stripe up her the side of her throat, from the base of her neck to the throbbing pulse at the crook of her jaw. The next kiss has more than a hint of fang in it, pressing against her so he almost, almost breaks skin. Almost, but not quite. The control he has is… impressive. “But you’d enjoy it, wouldn’t you?” One hand slides up from her waist to curl around the base of her messy braid, tugging her head just slightly to the side so he can press closer into her neck.

“Yes,” she whispers.

He takes another long, indulgent breath. “Hmm. I would, too. I would enjoy that… so very much.” His fangs scrape over her skin, his tongue darting to press along the vein, her hair gripped taut in his hand.

 

And then he pulls back, and laughs. “But you’re right, it wouldn’t be much help as far as your little guessing game in concerned, would it, now?”

Lisa almost tumbles backward at the sudden absence of support behind her, gripping the bookshelf with a groan of frustration. “Oh, come on-”

He laughs again, hands coming back to her waist and shifting downward, agonisingly slow. “You were the one who started this,” he teases, bending to kiss the top of her head as she grumbles. His hands keep moving slowly down, until he pauses, briefly, and taps the scabbard on her right hip. “Now here’s something interesting,” he says, shifting his grip a fraction so that he can get a better look. He sighs when he sees the familiar wooden handle. “Oh, no, nothing new. It’s just your knife. Of course.”

“That or I’m pleased to see you,” blurts Lisa, before she can stop herself.

There’s a moment of icy silence, and then he sighs, his breath ruffling the top of her hair and making her shiver. “Really?”

“You left that one wide open. Come on!”

She can almost hear him rolling his eyes, as he replies, dryly, “I see.”

“Don’t tell me you’re too old for a good dick joke.”

 

“Not at all,” he says, with a chuckle, “but that wasn’t a good one.” Before she has a chance to argue, his hands slide down to properly bracket her hips, and he hesitates, the amusement in his voice laced through with something a little more commanding. “I believe I told you to spread your legs?” he says, his fingers trailing lightly over the curve of her arse.

“Ah,” says Lisa, faintly, “Right. Yes.” She had been standing with her legs apart, in fairness – but somehow, over the course of the conversation, she’s ended up with her thighs pressed together, shifting slightly on her feet.

He taps her thigh. “Feet apart.”

She shifts her feet a little, abruptly aware of the growing heat and and the slickness at the apex of her thighs. Some of it is from the rain, to be sure, and some of it is her monthly, but some of it is... definitely not either of those things. She bites her lip. “Like that?”

He laughs. “A little wider, I think… yes, there. Good. Will you try not to move, this time?”

She swallows and nods, not quite trusting herself to speak.

 

He hums. “Perfect. Well done. Now…” she feels the shift of air as he moves to crouch behind her, running his hands steadily down the outside of her legs from her hips down to her ankles, where he tugs thoughtfully at the damp hems of her trousers. “Red mud,” he says, slowly.

She grins. “Oh, very good. And?”

“There’s iron in the soil north of here, toward Targoviste, but not quite that far… hmm. Interesting. That certainly narrows it down.”

“Any guesses?”

“Well, there’s the cobbler in the village by the forest, over that way.” He runs one long finger along the heel of her cracked leather boots. “And you do need new shoes. But if you had gone for shoes, you would have come home wearing them, I think.”

“So…”

He runs an idle finger up the inside of her calf. “The glassblower, then, I suppose. That’s the only other place worth visiting in the area. His enchantments are very fine; there are few mortal men like him, now.”

 

She grins. “You’re good. Yes, the glassblower; I had been meaning to pick up some more test tubes for some time, and a spare beaker or two, for good measure.”

“Interesting. Your demeanour suggested that you had been up to something more… exciting.” His hand slides up past her knee to trail lightly along the inside of her thigh.

She shivers, steadying herself against the bookshelves as his other hand comes up to grasp her hip, holding her firmly in place. “I- well, yes. I… may have bought you a little present, also.”

“Oh? And what sort of present would that be,” he says, flexing his claws against her inner thigh, “my dear?”

“Why don’t you guess?”

 

The hand between her legs presses up, and she gasps at the shift of fabric as he cups her through her trousers. “Why don’t you,” he whispers into her ear, straightening up and lifting her so that the tips of her toes are barely touching the floor, all her weight resting on the vast, clawed hand between her thighs, “tell me.”

 

And then he lets her drop, and she stumbles forward, her legs almost giving way beneath her, heart thundering in her ears. By the time she gathers herself to turn around and properly glare at him, he’s halfway across the room, sat back in his chair at his desk with not a hair out of place to show for his utter shamelessness. She puts her hands on her hips and shakes her head at him - but he just laughs, leaning back in the chair and spreading his legs with a hungry looking grin. After a moment, he pats his thigh. “Come. I guessed where you went, I fulfilled my half of the bargain, I played your game. Now, why don’t you come and show me my present?”

She presses her lips together and tries not to smile, but she can’t help it. He’s too glorious, slouched over his massive chair like some debauched king of old, his eyes fierce and full of heat as he watches her. So she grins, and picks up her bag from the floor, and tries to straighten her hair out – unsuccessfully, if his expression is anything to go by – and she goes to him.

 

He pats his thigh again as she approaches, motioning for her to sit.

She gives him an impish glance, slings her bag up onto the desk, and hops up next to it.

He sighs.

“Patience, sweetheart,” she says, leaning forward to stroke the icy line of his jaw with the back of her hand. He presses into her touch and sighs softly. She smiles.

 

After a moment, he glances up to catch her eye again. “My present,” he reminds her, tapping his nails on the dark wooden arm of the chair.

She laughs, hauling her bag onto her lap and carefully beginning to loosen the buckle. “So impatient! Now, before I open this – I-” she pauses with the bag half-open, choosing her words carefully, “this is a suggestion, not a demand.”

He raises an eyebrow. “I thought it was a present?”

“It is! Only- well, perhaps it is sort of… also a present for me.”

He gives her a blank look. “I… see?”

“It’s- uh, well, I- you see, I was thinking that maybe we could, uh…” she shakes her head, pulls a cloth-wrapped parcel from the bag, and tugs the string loose with her teeth, “Here, look, let me just show you.”

 

“What-” he begins, and then she finishes unravelling the cloth and flings it aside with a flourish, before pressing what is unmistakably a smooth glass dildo of not insignificant size into his palm, her face a little flushed, her gaze expectant.

She bites her lip. “So, um…”

He turns it over and blinks, his expression inscrutable. “Ah. Hmm. I see.” He turns it over again and weighs it in his hand. Next to the vast scale of his fingers it looks almost small; god, he’s so big, thinks Lisa, it’s absurd. She'll have to get a bigger one, next time. If there is a next time. God, she hopes there's is. He turns it over once more with a thoughtful hum. “And is this for you, or…” he tails off, raising an anticipatory eyebrow.

“Well, it’s your present, so I’m sure it’s up to you to decide, but…”

His lip quirks up slightly at that, “But…?”

“For you,” she says, leaning forward over him where he’s sprawled in the chair, pressing her palm against his chest. And then slowly, carefully, she digs in with her nails, just above his heart, and rakes her fingers down across the exposed flesh at the neckline of his shirt, “if you’ll allow it.”

 

He shudders against her touch, his eyes fluttering closed for a moment; when they open again the pupils are blown wide, and red-rimmed. “If I’ll allow it,” he says, his voice low and utterly desperate in its adoration, “If I’ll- God. You really have no idea the kind of power you hold over me, do you?”

She casts a meaningful glance down at the crotch of his trousers, and grins. “Oh, I don’t know,” she says, putting the heel of her muddy old boot on the edge of the chair, and tilting the toe forward so that it presses down ever so slightly on the growing bulge between his thighs, “I have some idea.”

He tilts his head back and groans softly, half desire and half frustration; “You’re going to ruin my trousers,” he grumbles.

Lisa lifts the toe of her boot off him for half a second, at that – and then grinds down again, harder, and leans forward so she can catch his chin in her hand. “You’re right,” she says, delighting in how pliant he becomes, under her touch, “I’m going to ruin your trousers. And you know what?”

His eyes are almost all black now, with just the faintest hint of red dancing around the edges, “What?”

“You’re going to enjoy it. Aren’t you, my darling?”

 

He swallows, loudly. “God. Yes.”

She rewards him by grinding her boot into his crotch again, running a tender hand through his hair when he winces. “Good boy.”

He hisses, jerking slightly under her touch, his free hand coming up to grip the desk and leaving claw marks in the wood. After a moment he releases his grip, and then opens his other hand and very carefully places the glass dildo back into her bag. “I am… going to put that down before I shatter it,” he says.

She laughs. “Hopefully, that won’t be possible. I did commission a glassworker who knows his enchantments for a reason, you know.”

“You-” he frowns. “What?”

“Well, it’s only common sense - you are absurdly strong, compared to a mortal man. I had to contemplate the potential pitfalls of such an endeavour.”

He blinks. “You… told the glassblower what you were going to be using it for?”

“Well, yes. I mean, it would be a fairly hard thing to lie about - it’s hardly shaped like a scientific instrument, is it? What was I going to say – oh, yes, I need a glass dick to fit into this very nice leather harness I’ve got, but it’s for science, don’t even worry about it?”

 

“I am… going to have to find another man to make my glassware,” says Dracula – he can’t really blush, but Lisa is fairly certain that, if he could, he would be scarlet by now – “I’m never going to be able to look Charles in the eye again, I-” he stops, abruptly, eyes suddenly sharp. “Wait, you have a harness?”

Lisa grins, leaning back and letting her legs dangle over the edge of the table; her boot, she notes, with not a little glee, has left a rust-red muddy print emblazoned over the front of his trousers. “Of course I have a harness. How else am I going to fuck you?”

“Ah,” he says, faintly; “Right. Yes. Of course.”

She reaches out to stroke his cheek again, her gaze soft. “Yes?”

He chuckles, tilting his head to kiss her hand, grazing his fangs ever so lightly against the fleshy part of her palm, his eyes glittering when she shivers. “Yes,” he says, softly. “Yes.”

She grins. “Good.”

 

He holds eye contact for a long moment, something warm and unknowable in his gaze - and then he says, “Where’s the harness? In here?” and his hand darts out toward the bag, still half-open on the desk next to Lisa.

She puts her boot in the centre of his chest and gives him a firm shove back into the chair; he lets her do it, slumping backward with a twinkle in his eye and a red muddy footprint on his chest. Lisa raises an eyebrow. “Did I say you could look in my bag?”

“No.”

“Then…?”

“Then suppose that I should ask nicely,” he says, with a wry smile.

“Hmm.” She presses the sole of her boot into his chest again, more firmly this time. “And what else?”

“And I should… apologise for my uncourteous behaviour,” he says, eyes gleaming, “If the lady will permit it, that is.”

Lisa leans in and takes his chin in her hand, tilting it this way and that and smoothing the pad of her thumb over the icy line of his lower lip until it warms slightly under her touch. He gazes up at her, letting her move him whichever way she will without complaint. She stills, and for a moment she just sits like that, her hand cupping his cheek, and watches him watching her; watches the way his nails begin to bury themselves into the arms of his chair as he impatiently awaits her next command. She tilts his chin up so she can lean to kiss him, and her heart thrills at the way he bends toward her. She knows how strong he is – she knows that she couldn’t make him move an inch, if he didn’t want to move. There’s something about the fact that he does - that he lets her command him – that sends bolts of white-hot fire down her spine. She lets him sweat for a moment longer, and then sits back, with an imperious wave. “Go on then. Apologise, and ask me nicely, and perhaps I shall be willing to forgive you.”

 

She’s expecting him to grovel – but instead he grins up at her with a flash of fang and leans in, his enormous hands reaching out to grasp her thighs as he tugs her abruptly forward to the edge of the desk. She shrieks, almost falling into his lap - and then flushes as he leans in until his head is fully between her legs, his cheek resting lightly against the inside of her thigh.

“Lisa,” he murmurs, glancing up at her from under his lashes with an expression that makes his intentions eminently clear, “please allow me to apologise properly for my… impertinence.” His eyes are bright as his long, clever fingers stroke slowly over the side of her legs and up toward her hips.

 

“You,” she gasps, once she’s managed to catch her breath, “are a dirty old man.”

He turns his head so he can press a languid kiss to her inner thigh. “Not at all. Simply a humble and unworthy pilgrim, come to pay penance for his sins.”

She runs a hand through his hair. “What kind of penance is it, my love, if you’re going to enjoy it?”

“To a creature of the darkness, all pain is exquisite, and all agonies are rapturous. What other kind of penance would I know?” He shifts his grip on her hips, claws curling over the waistband of her trousers and digging in. “Please,” he says, again, the faintest hint of desperation colouring his tone, now, as he speaks, “let me do this.”

 

She lets her fingers trail slowly over her belt, tapping thoughtfully against the cold metal buckle. “Well…”

He sighs into the meat of her thigh, his eyes fluttering closed before turning a plaintive gaze up toward her. “Please.”

She can’t quite manage to suppress a smile at the abject misery he’s projecting. “Stop being so melodramatic,” she says, smoothing a tender hand over his forehead even as she tries to keep her tone firm. “Listen, if there’s a mess – and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what time of the month it is, even if you couldn’t tell me which one, or what year it’s in, even, you absurd creature – then you have to clean up.”

He grins, fangs glittering in the strange artificial light of the lab. “Oh, that - that I’m sure I can manage.”

 

Her hands dart to her belt. She flicks the buckle open, sliding the leather loose from her trousers and tossing it aside. It's a good belt, well-made and sturdy, and she's learned the hard way that if she wants to keep a nice item of clothing, it’s best to remove it before he does; he tends to start tearing things when he’s over-excited.

He licks his lips, hands trembling almost imperceptibly with the tension of holding themselves still against her hips. “May I?”

She smiles, indulgently. “Oh, go on then. I suppose I can allow it.”

He’s still, for a moment, his hands braced against her thighs, his eyes drifting closed for just a second as he takes a slow, rapturous breath. “Thank you,” he says, quietly but full of feverish devotion, before leaning in in to kiss her through the thin, soft woven linen of her trousers.

“Oh,” she says, softly. His lips are icy even through the fabric, shifting agonisingly slowly against the aching heat between her thighs.

 

She shivers as he pulls away, his eyes roving over her body as he runs an errant claw down the seam-line of her trousers. “I adore you,” he says, simply, after a long moment of silent heat. “I adore you.”

“I know,” she says, reaching out to tuck a stray strand of hair behind his pointed ear. “I know, you do, my love.”

He rests his cheek against her hand for half a second, his gaze unreadable but full of some wild, inhuman sentiment which she could scarcely hope to comprehend. Then he smiles, and busies himself with unlacing her boots, tugging them off and reaching up to help her as she shimmies out of her trousers.

 

He tosses them aside after the belt and the cape and whatever else she’s left scattered over the laboratory floor, and leans back in his chair to take a long, slow look at her.

She flushes slightly, suddenly aware of the mess her braid must be, of the fact that he’s still fully clothed while she only has her ratty old white shirt to cover her. Then she grins, and spreads her legs, just to see the expression on his face.

 

He does not disappoint. He growls, low in the back of his throat and surges up toward her, standing up to his full height, one hand sliding up the front of her shirt, the other hand cradling the back of her head as he kisses her. A single long, sharp claw comes to rest at the centre of her throat, just above the collarbone. “How attached are you to this shirt?” he asks.

She laughs. “It’s old. Go ahead.”

With one swift, well-practised, movement, he tears a line clean down the centre of the garment. Dimly, some part of Lisa’s brain realises that he’s probably disembowelled people before, in much the same manner - but she can’t bring herself to fell anything but thrilled as he leans in to kiss her breasts through the open front of her shirt. 

 

He runs the pad of his thumb over a nipple, grinning into her chest as she gasps. She props herself up with one hand, running the other distractedly down the side of his neck. “And here I thought you only wanted to apologise because you were hungry,” she says, her laugh coming out more than a little shaky.

He glances up at her as he kisses her chest again; “There’s more than one type of hunger.”

 

She hums, curling her hand into his hair and pulling, as hard as she can. She can feel the way he stiffens against the touch, and then the way he goes pliant, and lets her shove him back down into the chair. He tilts his head back, exposing the long, marble column of his neck. She feels like she could eat him alive. But instead, she settles for hooking her leg over his shoulder, digging her heel into the top of his spine and tugging him toward her until he’s back with his head between her legs, trembling almost imperceptibly with anticipation, his eyes locked on hers.

 

She’s almost tempted to make him beg, again, half-drunk on the power she has over him – but desire wins out. She digs her heel in between his shoulder blades. “Your mouth,” she says, gasping as he obeys almost instantly, his tongue darting out to lick into her, his hands pressing her legs apart as he does. She digs her nails into his shoulder, steadying herself, and says, “And you don’t stop until I’m done. Understood?”

His eyes flicker up to meet hers, and he hums his agreement around her clit.

 

She arches her back and trembles as she grinds into him, one hand tangled in his hair low at the base of his skull for leverage. Lisa is not a woman who holds much stock in faith, but she sends a silent prayer of thanks to whatever force of nature managed to create a man who doesn’t need to breathe. God, he’s good. He’s warming up, fractionally, as he moves against her, but his mouth and his hands and his skin are still cold enough to send shivers racing through her where he touches her. He’s clever with his tongue, too - which is definitely longer and more prehensile than it has any logical right to be – and he’s single-minded and untiring in a way which is just this side of unnervingly inhuman.

 

He’s perfect, she thinks - and then he does a thing with his tongue, and she decides to give up on the whole thinking thing, for a bit. She rakes her hands through his hair, and pulls, and over his skin, and digs her nails in, and she squeezes her thighs around his head with gleeful abandon. He barely seems to notice, every shred of his implacable, immovable focus fixed on taking her slowly apart, stroke by stroke. She feels dizzy with it; overwhelmed by the intensity of being on the receiving end of his vast and all-encompassing attentions. She’d felt that, a bit, when she first came here, on the first few days in the lab - when she would say something that interested him, and suddenly feel the weight of all his impossibly vast focus resting on her, and her alone. She’s thinks that she might actually have got worse at keeping it together when he does that, over the intervening months – although, in fairness to her current self, back then he hadn’t also been literally fucking her with his tongue, which…

 

“Holy shit,” she gasps, aloud, and then makes a series of completely incoherent noises which she’ll probably be embarrassed about later, but she’s too far gone to care. She slams her heels into his back, gets a double-fistful of his hair, and grinds herself up into his mouth until she comes, her thighs shaking, her head thrown back, the ceiling and the lights of the laboratory spinning giddily above her.

 

She’s laughing as she comes down from it, and she can feel him grinning into her, too, but he doesn’t stop – instead, he just shifts a hand up her back to support her as she goes momentarily limp, and keeps going.

She touches a tender hand to his brow, feeling as though her heart might burst for wanting him. “Oh you’re good,” she murmurs, as his eyes flicker up to meet hers.

He closes his eyes, his expression rapturous. She can feel him trembling ever so subtly beneath her before he presses in and redoubles his efforts. It’s strange, she thinks, how a few simple words of honest praise can utterly undo him, sometimes.

 

She strokes his forehead again, her legs shaking as he licks into her. She unravels much faster, this time; she’s already slick and wet and overstimulated and wanting. Between that, and his firm grip on her waist, and his impossibly clever mouth, it’s only a matter of moments before she begins to feel herself tipping over the edge once more.

She shudders, grasping onto him, and just as she’s right on the brink she says, “Bite me,” grinding the words out through gritted teeth, “bite my thigh, bite-”

He doesn’t need telling again. In truth, he barely needs telling once. Whatever she was saying trails off into incoherent sobs as he turns and sinks his fangs into the meat of her thigh.

 

It’s agonising, for a moment, as it always is, and then the pain… shifts. That’s the moment she’s chasing; it doesn’t stop hurting, exactly, but it clarifies down into a pain so intense that it’s almost ecstasy. There's something about it that makes her heart sing - that instant between pain and glory, the knife-edge of it, the way it fills her up and consumes her. His teeth shift in her thigh, one clawed hand pinning her in place as she gasps and writhes against him. He brings his free hand up between her legs, pressing his knuckles over her her clit and working her until she’s done, properly done, flushed and trembling and warm all over.

 

She takes a deep, slow breath, letting the aftershocks wash over her. She can feel the dull throb of her heartbeat between her legs as he licks over the bite wound, glancing up at her with wild eyes, soaked in blood down past his chin and dripping onto his throat, pooling along the sharp white line of his collarbone.

“So,” he murmurs, his voice still rough with desire, “was that a satisfactory apology?”

“God,” she whispers, hauling him up to kiss her and tasting salt and iron on his tongue, “God, you’re so beautiful. Satisfactory- what a ridiculous- of course it…” she shakes her head. “You’re so beautiful like this – you know that, don’t you? You know how beautiful you are?” She presses her palm to his cheek, and it comes away red and slick with her blood.

“Beautiful?” He curls his great, clawed hand around her palm and licks it, just the once, eyeing her with vague amusement. “That is… not normally the descriptor people use when they see me covered in blood.”

“Well maybe,” she says, narrowing her eyes at him as she feels the heady adrenaline rush of the bite beginning to flood her system, “if you spent less time alternately avoiding people and terrifying them, and more time talking to them and listening, you would hear that you are beautiful more often. Because you are – you are beautiful and clever and funny and wonderful and- and I love you. Do you know that? Do you understand?”

He half laughs, not quite meeting her gaze. “I-”

 

She grasps his chin in her hand and kisses him fiercely, biting his lip until he groans into her mouth, and then she kisses him again, him again, and again; she must be as bloody as he is by the time she pulls away, panting. “I love you,” she says, fervently; “I love you.”

“I love you,” he echoes, his palms beginning to slide slowly back up her thigh.

 

She grabs his hands, pinning him in place. “No. Enough. Tell me what you want.”

He freezes like a deer before a hunter. “I-” He looks – as he does, sometimes, having just fed – almost flushed. His eyes dart toward her bag, still half open on the desk beside her, the glass rod still half visible within.

She raises an eyebrow, swallowing back a delighted grin, “Oh?”

“I- well.” he looks at the bag again, and then back at her. “You know.”

She beams. “I do! I want to hear it, anyway.”

 

He hesitates, and then a slow, catlike smile spreads across his lips. “I want you to fuck me,” he says, drawing the words out long and slow. “I want you to fuck me until I can’t think of anything but you. Until I can’t think at all, even.” He smirks. “Is that explicit enough for you?”

She kisses him, soft and slow and infinitely tender. “That’s perfect.” And then she pats his cheek, and hauls her bag back over her shoulder, slipping off the table and out of his reach. “I want you over the desk with your trousers down by the time I have this on,” she says, holding up the soft leather harness for a moment so he can get a good look at it before she starts tugging open the buckles.

“The telescope…” he mumbles, casting a resigned glance down at the notes and the gears and the books spread over the table. Then he shrugs, and in one smooth movement he sweeps a hand across the table, sending tiny pieces of metal and glass and books and loose sheafs of paper tumbling across the laboratory floor.

Lisa laughs. “You’re going to regret that later.”

He shrugs, fingers darting over the laces of his trousers. “Worth it.”

 

He has his trousers off before she’s had time to get even halfway buckled into her harness – when she next looks up he’s fully naked and sat up on the desk, hand running over his dick in long, languid strokes, his eyes half-lidded, his lips parted slightly. He looks debauched, and ruined, and utterly delicious. But he also looks like he’s not doing as he’s told, which is no good at all, so she puts a hand on her hip and glares at him. “I believe I told you to bend over the desk?”

He hums, biting his lip as he runs his thumb lightly over the tip of his dick. “Something like that. I’m rather enjoying the view from here, though.”

“Over the desk,” she says, “now.”

He obeys, but not before he’s given himself another long, firm stroke, watching her with glittering eyes the whole time.

She sighs. “You are such a godforsaken brat, I swear-”

“Thank you,” he says, leaning over the table and reaching down to take himself in hand again.

She clicks her tongue. “Absolutely not. No touching. Hands on the desk.”

He groans, but does as she says, gripping the edges of the desk and pressing his claws into the wood until it begins to creak. He glances over his shoulder at her and whines when he sees she’s still tightening straps on her harness, carefully adjusting the glass dildo where it rests at the front of her crotch.

“Eyes forward,” she says, sharply, and makes a point of taking her time with the rest of the process, just to see him squirm.

 

She gives each of the straps an experimental tug once she’s properly in, and - satisfied that everything seems to be holding together and reasonably firm without being uncomfortably tight – she grabs the little vial of oil out of her bag and pads over toward him. He tenses as she approaches, and she grins.

“Ready?”

“Very,” he murmurs, and she can see the way his muscles strain against his instinctive desire to turn and look at her. She strokes his thigh, just to watch him lean into her touch and sigh. “Please,” he says, thickly.

She uncaps the oil with her teeth and spits the cork across the floor. “You’re going to hold still,” she says, “until I tell you you can move.”

He hums his agreement. “Anything for you.”

 

She slicks her fingers, and then hesitates. He’s too tall, she thinks, even over the desk – all the furniture in the house is built to his absurd scale, which she normally finds rather amusing, but right now it presents something of a problem. She chews her lip, trailing her oil-slick fingers down from his tailbone and along the cleft of his ass as she scans the room for something… a footstool maybe, or… aha!

 

He whines miserably as she moves away, but true to his word he doesn’t move, and he doesn’t turn around, although she can tell he’s itching to. “What are you-”

“Patience,” she says, kicking one of the heftier books that he’s swept off the desk until it’s positioned right behind him. She hops up onto it, and grins. Perfect. This, she can work with.

 

His ears twitch at the sound the tome makes as it shifts across the floor, and when he speaks she can hear him smirking, even if she can’t see it. “Are you standing on a book?”

“It’s not my fault that you’re unnaturally tall.”

“… so you are?”

She sighs. “Yes, I’m standing on a book because I can’t reach to fuck you otherwise. Are you happy?”

He chuckles. “Very.”

 

She slaps him, right at the top of his thigh, just below the curve of his arse. “And now?”

He makes a very quiet, winded noise. “Ah. Even happier.”

She grins. “Good.” And she brings her hand down again. “You can count,” she says, and is rewarded with another soft groan.

“One,” he says, and then, as she brings her hand down again, “two…”

 

She takes him up to ten before she pauses, running her slick hand up the curve of his arse and down along the cleft again, and then, because he makes such sweet, desperate noises, she sinks a finger in, up to the knuckle.

“Fuck,” he says, thickly. “You don’t- you don’t need to go slowly, you know, you can just-”

She laughs, and pulls out. “We’re going to count again,” she says, sweetly - and is rewarded with the sound of his head dropping onto the desk with a solid thunk, and another quiet “fuck.”

 

She repeats that, alternating stinging slaps and the slow indulgent press of one finger, and then two, and then three – until he loses count, stumbling over his words with a vaguely slurred, “Four- no, five- no, hang on-”

 

She likes him like this. A little… well, out of control isn’t quite the word. It’s not that he ever quite loses his composure, exactly; if he ever really lost control of himself he’d be worse than dangerous, and they both know that. But when he’s truly distracted, when he lets her take charge of him like this, he loses that slight self-consciousness about his nature; he’s not pretending to be more human than he is, or leaning into his monstrosity to make a point. He’s just… himself. And she likes that; she likes the bit of him that’s him, even if she half suspects that he really, really doesn’t.

 

“Do you want me to start again?” he murmurs, and she can see the way the muscles of his thighs tense, bracing for the impact.

But she smiles, instead, and runs a soothing hand along his lower back. “No,” she says, softly, “I think that will do.”

 

She reaches for the oil again, slicking the glass rod and giving it a long, thoughtful stroke before she braces one hand on the edge of the desk next to him and uses the other to guide the tip forward. She shifts her hips, pressing into him slowly. He makes a noise that’s more than half growl, and rocks his hips back against her – she pauses, and rests a light hand against the small of his back.

“You don’t move until I tell you,” she says, gently.

He huffs.

“Darling?”

“I don’t move until you tell me, but-”

“Darling.”

Please.”

 

She bends forward over him so she can kiss his spine, dragging another soft, wrecked noise out of him as she shifts inside him. “Alright,” she says, softly, “you can move.”

 

She pulls almost all the way out before driving into him again, snapping her hips forward and setting a pace that has him writhing delightfully over the desk in a matter of minutes.

“Lisa…” he gasps, half-delirious with pleasure.

“You can touch yourself,” she says, thrusting into him and grinding slightly – there’s enough friction between the base of the glass and the harness to make that interesting, which is a thought she files away for another day. This is about him, now.

 

He does as she says, and she doesn’t let up the pace as she fucks into him, but she lets her grip on his hips soften, smoothing her hands over his sides, “That’s it,” she whispers, “you’re doing so well, my love.”

 

He comes with a soft shout, shortly followed by a loud splintering noise as the hand still gripping the table flexes just a bit too hard, and snaps the corner clean off the desk.

 

He collapses forward onto the desk as Lisa pulls out, and makes a vague sated noise which he repeats when she picks his shirt up off the floor and gently wipes him down with it. He rolls onto his back and grins up at her – then blinks, suddenly seeming to register the splintered shard of wood in his hand.

“Oh,” he says, with a vaguely baffled expression, “Hmm. Oops.”

She laughs, slipping out of her harness and giving his chest a perfunctory wipe with the shirt before leaning over to kiss him. “So. Are you going to take a break from fixing that telescope, now, my love?” she asks, the back of her hand trailing softly over his cheek.

He lifts his head a fraction, gazing at the gears and notes strewn across the floor. “Mmm. Oh, the telescope. Yes.” He lets his head flop back down onto the desk, and sighs. “You’re lucky I’m so tired,” he says, with a yawn, “or I’d be compelled to go pick all of those up and count them. As it stands, I’m more compelled by the prospect of a nap.”

She kisses his forehead. “I thought you were a big scary vampire who didn’t need to sleep?”

He yawns again. “I don’t need to. But I like it, sometimes. Besides, I want to…” he frowns.

“What?”

He wrinkles his nose. “I want to… cuddle.”

She laughs; “You’re so cute.”

“I’m not cute,” he grumbles, hauling himself upright and offering her his hand, “I’m a- what did you say? I’m a big scary vampire.”

 

He looms over her, eight-foot-something tall, and viciously fanged, and with her blood still smeared down his chin and over his chest from earlier - and it’s still the least convincing thing he’s ever said. “Alright,” she says, taking his hand in hers and letting him guide her out of the lab and off toward their room, “sure you are.” After a moment she leans into his side and grins up at him. “Do you want to come into the village with me tomorrow?”

“No.”

“I’ll make it worth your while,” she says, and winks.

He laughs, flicking off the laboratory lights with an idle wave of his hand as they slip into the corridor outside. “You can’t fuck me into deciding that humanity is worth caring about, Lisa.”

She shrugs, tucking herself under his arm with a contented little sigh. “I can try.”

 

“Ah, well,” he says, after a moment; “I suppose I wouldn’t mind that, all things considered.”