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Rohan woke alone, a fact that played second fiddle to the fact that he had awoken at all.

“Dio?” he whispered, his lips chapped and dry. A cursory lick yielded a sweet, coppery taste. He pushed himself upright and held the blankets close, to ward off the cold and the darkness around him. The bed was big, made bigger by the lack of a body beside him. “Dio, are you there?”

Nothing replied, but that didn’t mean he was alone. Rohan sighed and scrubbed at his face with his hands, smearing what remained of his makeup. What a mess he’d made of this, he thought, wincing when his hands drew lower, prodding at the wounds littering his neck. He was lucky to be alive, and here he was, still lounging in the bed of a monster, wondering where he had gone.

He sighed again, smoothing back his hair. The sweet taste still coated his lips, addicting in the way the vampire had been. How he still was. The bitemarks throbbed in time to his heart beat, pounding out a rhythm in his ears that sounded like a whisper in the silence of the room.

Find him. Find him.

Was it his imagination, or an actual summons? Rohan gritted his teeth and considered going back to sleep. Who was Dio to think he could treat him like a dog? That he’d just whistle and Rohan would come running…Rohan glared at nothing and fell back into the pillows, wrapping the blanket around himself to stave off the chill already threatening to embrace him. If he wanted him, he could damn well come to him himself. Eternity hadn’t made him feeble, after all.

His eyes snapped open a moment later, almost in retaliation to his thoughts. FIND HIM, it shouted, his heart lurching and hammering his rib cage like a bird intent on dashing itself to death upon the bars. FIND HIM FIND HIM FINDHIMFINDHIMFINDHIM—

“Stop!” he yelled, throwing his hands over his ears, and, when that failed to be enough, the pillow, too. Every reverberation echoed like a gunshot inside his skull, blood dripping from the bitemarks until the scent of copper filled the air. Rohan writhed in the bed, holding his arms to his chest in the vain hope of calming his heart, but he knew what he had to do if he truly wished it to stop.

“I’m coming,” he panted, tossing off the sheets. “I’m coming, so stop, you insufferable beast.” His heart lurched, as if gripped in a fist. Rohan nearly fell to the floor, baring his teeth to the creature that held him in thrall. “Did I offend you?” he muttered, shoving off the bed to head for the door, forgoing his clothing entirely. Dio wouldn’t want him dressed, and he’d had enough of his displeasure, if that was truly what he was experiencing right now.

The weight around his heart never disappeared, even as he left the bedroom and began down the cold hallway. It held him snuggly, not tight enough to hurt but enough that he’d never forget he was being led. Rohan wrapped his arms around himself, hating how he felt like a dog on a chain. He may be a pet to the man, but he refused to wear the collar without a fight.

He didn’t know he was swaying until his bare shoulder brushed against a cold, rough wall. Where was he? The castle was dark, lit only by infrequent candles and the ghost of moonlight that managed to carry through the window slits. A draft carried past, inciting a shiver. He wanted to go back to bed. The grip on his heart sensed the thought, punishing him with another gentle, but pointed, squeeze.

“I know,” he whispered, wishing he’d thought to bring the blanket. “Give me some direction if you’re so desperate for my company.”

His cheeks flushed red when the grip turned soft, stroking along his heart with the grace of a lover’s touch. Rohan shivered from something other than cold, the new sensation guiding him forward like a promise of pleasure, of warmth and tenderness and more. He moved faster, his frustration melting away just like that.

“Dio,” he breathed, turning into a long-decrepit sunroom. The object of his obsession stood before him, framed by the window that bathed him in moonlight like one would take in the rays of the sun. Rohan approached like a moth seeking a flame.

He was just as careless too, the potential for immolation all too real as he wrapped his arms around the man’s waist, warming himself against the length of his body. “Dio,” he sighed, forgetting for the moment the pain and insistence that brought him here.

“You came,” the vampire purred, a large hand stroking along the muscles of Rohan’s arm. “What a pleasant surprise, my dear Rohan.”

“Isn’t it just? It was almost as if I could feel you sulking from the bedroom,” he said back with cloying sweetness, rubbing his cheek against Dio’s shoulder. As insufferable as he was, there was no denying his beauty, or the warmth he exuded like a tempting miasma.

Sharp nails sunk into his arm, blood welling to the surface. Rohan didn’t jump, though he did wince. “Dio does not sulk, boy,” he crooned, his voice so soft; it was fake though. Misleading. Like silk hiding a razor blade. “You came when you were called. Never forget who holds you in thrall.”

He rolled his eyes to pretend that he wasn’t shaking. The blood dripped to the floor, deafening in the quiet room. When he looked at it, the moon painted it black. “Someone is wasting a meal,” he murmured, grunting softly when the nails ripped themselves from his arm. “Now you’ll have to lick it from the floor.”

“Why? The fount still flows,” and Rohan had to bite his lip to hold back his reaction when Dio lifted his arm to his lips. It stung when he kissed the open wounds, and even more so when he licked into them, coaxing the blood to gush.

“D-Dio,” Rohan fumbled, losing the battle to keep cool. “You already drank from me. I can’t-”

His heart stuttered like his words, silencing him as easily as a look. Dio moaned quietly into his skin, the pleased purr like a vibration through his blood. The moonlight painted it black, like ink spilled onto a blank page.

What words would he write, Rohan wondered errantly, beginning to sway on his feet. A strong arm wrapped around his waist, holding him as if they were in a dance. He let his head rest on Dio’s shoulder, watching him take and take and take until the black was all he could see.

“You left me alone,” he mumbled, falling an inch before Dio caught him.

“I did,” Dio said, his voice a dull rumble, like brontide. “I will always leave you, but you are never too far to feel my call. That is all that matters, my dear Rohan. You are mine.”

His heart pounded, pumping his blood into the beast’s mouth in a rhythm that suited Dio best. Rohan succumbed to the darkness, the sound a lullaby cradled between his ribs. If he awoke again, he’d know it was true.

Until then, he would be content to wait and listen.