Endurance

Characters: Reue (Sorrow), Morgan
Origin: House of Cards (WIP)
Advent Day: 7 (December 3rd)
Rating: NC-17
Word count: 2,524
Warning: Rape

---

There had been a time when the silvery glow of moonlight had felt magical to Morgan, but as it filtered in through the high windows onto the blood-spattered stone floor, it only served to drive home how harsh and cold his existence had become. The lash fell over his back, the force of the blow making him shut his eyes and catch himself with a hand against that cold, sticky stone. The pain was such a regular affair that it only pulled the softest of sounds from him. It still hurt—Gods, his back was on fire after such abuse—but he had learned sound only encouraged his master.

Crius was in a mood tonight, agitated over some spat with another vampire in the region. Visits from those outside the household always upset the balance, and Morgan felt a thrill of fear move through him as Crius threw the whip aside and pulled him to his feet by the length of his red hair. "You bore me, Morgan," Crius hissed, his fangs still tinged with Morgan's blood, dark eyes ablaze with anger and lust.

He knew what those words meant, knew what was coming when Crius forced him onto the bed. He fought to keep his composure as his arms were shackled up to the ceiling, stretching the raw lashes on his back open. Utterly exposed on his knees, he tried not to look at the sadistic, gleeful expression on Crius' face. He knew what was coming, but he couldn't stop it, couldn't do anything but pull futilely at the chains. The more he struggled, the more Crius would enjoy their time together, but he couldn't not struggle, no matter how much more it made his wounds bleed down his back, ass, and thighs.

Crius laughed and licked along his rippling muscles. Morgan lifted a knee, but his sluggish attempt at a kick was met with a harsh scratch that beaded blood and pulled a gasp from his parched lips. Crius licked along the bloody scratches, and Morgan hated the way sharing his blood with his master sent a spark of pleasure to his groin.

"Yes," Crius mocked, dragging his fangs over Morgan's skin. "You give much more sport here, struggle, writhe. You just can't help yourself."

The moment Morgan glanced down, he instantly regretted it. The dark, silky curls of Crius' hair didn't hide the smile on those lips, and a deceptively gentle touch to his cock was followed by the heat of Crius' mouth, the harsh suction that made him renew his struggles. It wasn't that it hurt, but that it didn't hurt. His body responded rapidly, and the sheer force of shame nearly ripped a sob from him by the time Crius finally decided he was hard enough.

The agony of his back was something he could handle, but forcing pleasure alongside it just ensured Morgan couldn't lose himself in the numbness he'd worked so hard to craft over the two centuries he had spent with Scylla. His maker had been a harsh mistress as well, had set the foundation, but Crius pushed him in more subtle ways that had started chipping away at the control he'd managed to train into himself.

As Crius slid between his parted thighs and forced his way into Morgan's body, Morgan wished he could escape. But where would he go? He survived only because of the blood pact that bound him to Crius. He could feed on humans like the other vampires, but he didn't have the power to be free of his oath. Crius would always control him, and that fact cut deeper than those bloody lashes on his back, deeper than the harsh bite on his throat.

He had thought he was strong, that the blood in his veins was that of a warrior. He had believed he could survive any torture, even after the horrors he had endured that made this act look like an afternoon spent lounging on the seashore. The truth, however, was harsher than the moonlight, harsher than the burn of his ass as he was taken by Crius until he was raw.

The truth was, he was powerless, and the futility of his struggles hit him hard. It was only when he slumped in his chains and sobbed that Crius' hand teased over the rigid length of his cock. "Do you want to come, Morgan?"

The question made him shudder, both from inward disgust and from the way Crius' thumb rubbed against the slit of his cock. "Yes," he finally choked out, his skin flushed with arousal and shame.

"Say it, Morgan," Crius growled, landing another harsh scratch across Morgan's chest. "Tell me that you love my cock, that you love what I do to you."

Something fragile inside Morgan's spirit broke as he opened his mouth again. "I love the way you take me, love your—your cock. I want to come..."

"Please," Crius prompted cruelly.

Morgan hung his head and echoed obediently. "Please, Master..."

The tightening of Crius' hand around him pulled another broken sound from his throat. He bucked and came, rewarded for his subservience, but there was no true pleasure, only shame and pain and despair. The world spun, and he barely acknowledged Crius' pleasure beyond the sting it added to his ass. Time ceased to matter as he sobbed, lost in the shame as he was unshackled and left on the bed. There were words. There were always words, but whether they were mocking or sweet, he didn't know. He wasn't listening. All he could do was stare past his tears into the other side of the room.

He could hear the ocean, the beautiful sound he adored so much. It was another torture to hear the sea, taste the salt in the air, but never be allowed to see it, to touch it, to go sailing as he had before Scylla had ensnared him. His vision blurred as another wave of despair overtook him, and in the hazy shadows, he could have sworn he saw a girl emerge, pale, dark-haired, with piercing blue eyes.

Morgan blinked again, and then he was certain. There was a girl. Why would Crius have sent a girl up to him? Was he to be allowed to feed finally? Had he pleased Cruis this time? The sick need in him to please his master only made the pain of his soul that much deeper. He closed his eyes as she approached, and it was then he noticed she wore the robes of a noble Roman woman. Crius had given him a noblewoman? Morgan curled in on himself when she reached the bed, silent as a ghost. He wondered if she'd witnessed every humiliation he'd just been dealt. Of course she had. She'd been in that corner, hadn't she?

He jumped when her hand—so warm and alive—touched his sweaty brow. Morgan expected a blow, some new torture, but the girl only looked at him with those large, sorrowful eyes of such a deep, endless blue, he thought he could become lost in them. He swallowed against his tears, and she smelled so good... and he was so hungry...

"I'm sorry I can't take you from here," she murmured, and her voice! Morgan hadn't heard something so sweet and musical in a very, very long time. Innocence seemed to thrum in that voice, draw him in, promise him things he could no longer experience. "I wish I could."

Morgan's breath hitched, and it was then he realized she wasn't speaking Latin. She was speaking his language, the mother tongue of his island beyond what the Romans were calling Britannia. Now that Crius had left, probably heading for the baths and the young servant boys there, he didn't have to censor himself or speak only Latin. He forced his throat to work, and his voice was broken, raspy as he whispered, "Who are you?"

She smiled at him, and he thought he might go blind. It was so beautiful, so... understanding, even if he didn't know what it was she understood. "You may call me Mairg."

"Mairg?" He thought that such an odd name. "You're named after sorrow?"

Her long, pale fingers moved through his hair, soothing him, making his heart ache with a visceral need for comfort. "My father believed it poetic at the time be bestowed the name. It will suit us for the time being, Morgan."

"Suit... us?" He couldn't help but ask. Maybe he was asking too much, trying too hard to understand. If he spoke too much, she might decide he was annoying and leave. The thought of losing her gentle touch froze his heart with fear, and he stared at her with wide eyes. "Are you one of Crius' cruel tricks, Mairg?"

"No," she breathed with heartbreaking gentleness. There was such pain in her expression, such empathy. If anyone had given him such an expression in the past... He would have hated being the subject of anyone's sympathy, of showing any such weakness to another, but Mairg seemed to look right through him. She saw him broken and bloody but didn't pull her hand away.

"If he didn't... then how did you...?" His eyes darted to the door, and when he looked back at Mairg, there was the smallest smile on her lips.

"Doors and magic hold no sway over me."

Morgan's head and body hurt. He just wanted to sate the hunger burning in him, ease his exhaustion. He closed his eyes, confused, but then her hands cupped his face. When he opened his eyes, her face was near his. She was so close, smelled like home, and his mouth watered.

"The winter comes," Mairg whispered. "It will be hard and cold and cruel. But you must endure. You'll be so important a long time from now to a lot of people." She wet her lips, and he thought to kiss her, but then she was inching closer to him, pulling his head up, his mouth to her throat. "You must endure."

For an instant, Morgan meant to ask what she thought she was doing, but then he caught the scent of her blood, so close to the surface. It smelled so nice, the sound of it a siren's song to his aching body. Hunger overpowered his wit, and he bit the first chance he was given, digging his fangs into her throat and crying out at the potent sweetness of the first swallow. He drank deeply, overwhelmed by her flavor, which was like the sun captured in a warm, fragrant wine, like all things bright and good and lost in time. After the denial Crius had put him through—another of his favorite tortures—he couldn't force himself back, couldn't restrain himself after a couple swallows.

Her blood seemed endless, and Morgan drank until his gut ached. Every gulp brought life back into his limbs, made his wounds begin to slowly knit back together, but it only added to the wounds inside. This young, beautiful girl would die. He couldn't stop drinking, and with how much he had already managed and her shallow breathing, he knew it wouldn't be long before she would slump against him. The first one to take pity on him, and he would kill her. A strange, new despair crept over him, and he sobbed softly as he held onto her, trying to pull her close so she wouldn't fall crudely to the floor when she fainted.

Another thick swallow, and another, but Mairg didn't collapse, didn't sink in his arms. When Morgan felt like another mouthful might make him ill, he pulled back, his eyes wide, his body surging with her blood. "Mairg!"

Mairg's breath was short, but her eyes... her eyes seemed to glow, bright and blue and limitless. The wound on her throat was deep, a brilliant bruise surrounding his teeth marks, but she was alive. Alive and flushed and reaching for him. He flinched, brow furrowed as he swallowed, her flavor lingering in his throat. By all the gods, the taste of her! The sizzle of that blood inside him. His limbs no longer were heavy, his head stopped pounding, and his flesh... he felt warm! "Who are you?" he choked out.

She withdrew her hand, let it fall to her lap. "Just Mairg. Just... me. I... only wanted to help... however I could."

"You aren't dead. I drank enough to kill you."

A gentle shrug of her shoulders. "I can't die. Part of what I am."

"You don't taste human."

"I never said I was."

The thrill of fear invaded his warmth again, and he swallowed thickly. Gods above, he could still taste her! Even though he'd taken all he could stomach, the need for another lick was overpowering. "Are you a servant of the goddesses? One of the Tuatha Dé Danann?"

Her laughter was like the chiming of bells. "No, I'm just me."

Morgan didn't need to be told yet again. If Mairg wanted to keep her secrets, there was nothing he could do about it. He slumped on the bed, a hint of a smile gracing his lips for the first time in longer than he could remember. "What can I do to repay you?"

Mairg bit her lower lip, eyes bright. "Promise me that when I ask for payment in the future, you will give it to me. I ask nothing of you now, but there will be a time I will."

A future time? That would mean he'd see her again. The thought made his heart flutter with hope. Hope. He wanted to laugh. He hadn't felt hope in far too long, and in just a few minutes, she had not only soothed and fed him, she had gifted him with hope. "I swear, m'lady."

She leaned over and brushed her lips against his cheek. "Remember, endure... and don't forget me."

The soft caress was the first kiss he'd been gifted without there being some horrible price to pay, and he reached up, daring to touch her beautiful face, even though his hands were dirty and left a smudge of blood on her. "I won't forget. I'll never forget."

Mairg smiled again, leaning into the touch for a moment, and then rose from the bed. She walked backward toward those deep shadows again, and just before she faded from sight, her voice filled the room again. "One day, I'll take you to swim in the ocean again. One day."

And then he was alone once more in his prison.

Her words rang in his ears, the promise nearly bringing tears to his eyes. Swim in the ocean? Oh, it was the most wonderful dream, a fantasy that he had kept closely guarded over the many years he'd spent with Crius. Could Mairg be trusted to fulfill that wish? Did he truly care? As he rolled over and rested against the padding of his bed, he knew the answer was no. Even if it took centuries, he'd live in hope of her visit, of the moment when she would take him to the sea.

It was the most precious gift anyone could have given him.




All works contained here are copyrighted to S.L. Armstrong. No reproduction or usage is permitted without written, express consent by the author.