My experience with Len had taught me several lessons but above all, it taught me to keep my eyes and ears open and to pay close attention to the gossip going up and down the Nocturne. As the weeks flew by, that was where I learned the things that Angelo either didn't think was worth bothering to teach me or didn't want me to know and although the gossip was often just rumors, those rumors almost always held a grain of truth. And it told me that the Stalkers and Norm members of the Underground were much more observant than I'd given them credit for.
For starters, the Stalkers knew how little the Nightchildren thought of them and not only did the Norms know the truth about the juicers in the Underground they knew the real purpose of the Underground's "Sanctuary." Not that it wasn't obvious to me the moment I found out the requirements for the humans who wanted to become members. Only the healthy need apply and no drinking or drugging allowed. I mean, how much more fucking obvious could it be?
Sanctuary was protection, but at a price. The price depended upon what the potential member had to offer the Underground. Gifted humans were too valuable to be fed on. Same for humans with talents useful to the Underground and Ardoin. If all the Norm had to offer was beauty though, they wouldn't last long. The prettier they were, the hungrier they made us. The ugly ones were even less fortunate. The juice for the cocktails and even the Rotgut had to come from somewhere.
Even though we didn't always spend the whole night together, Angelo was still teaching me things every night but instead of spoonfeeding me like he did in the beginning, now I learned by having to defend myself against Angelo's psychic and physical attacks. He'd attack me mercilessly, again and again until I either passed out or managed to hold off his attacks. At first the best I could do was build up my defenses but Angelo quickly showed me that fighting him defensively wasn't gonna get me anywhere. I started to observe how Angelo attacked, saw that he always took the offensive, even when it came to defending himself. I also began to watch all of Angelo's physical moves, not only when he fought but how he seized his prey and the holding positions he used. All meant to immobilize yet provide easy access for him.
I did the same for Angelo's psychic attacks, saw how he overpowered someone's will with his own and learned by observation how he used this overpowering to Persuade them into doing whatever he wanted them to.
Including forgetting him. But putting someone under Persuasion right after drinking from them only lasted until their memory was triggered by something, usually seeing the bite or any more obvious clues.
After a while I went from keeping Angelo out of my head, to going into his head. I was more than aware it was only because he was letting me so I could get a feel for my telepathy. I was also quite aware that Angelo was letting me feel his presence and if he wanted to, he could deep scan my mind and I'd never even know it. But he would always feel me. He was that powerful and that sensitive a telepath. And those were the easy lessons. Most of the other ones I learned the hard way.
Like how much of a bastard Angelo really was.
See, Angel Boy had groupies that Dimitri called the Angelwhores. They were clubboys who hung out at the Nocturne who knew how to dress to impress his wandering eye. Gothy cyber-slut latex tops with pvc pants so tight I could see their packages. Netted shirts with low riding jeans. All meant to make Angelo's mouth water.
Fuck, they made MY mouth water.
I could always tell who they were, too. It was fucking easy. To start with, they were usually blonds. Oh yeah, Angelo definitely had a thing for blonds and these boys knew it. Angelo worked his charm, swept them off their feet and into his bed.
Only for me to find them stumbling around the next night with vacant eyes and sunken cheeks.
Because Angelwhores eventually became Angelo's thralls. He sweetened them and drank from them night after night until he used them up and another Angelwhore disposed of the body. They never understood the contempt Angelo had for them, didn't get that as cruel as it was, Angelo had them get rid of the corpses as a way of warning them of what their own fate would be. By the time they finally gained a clue and realized Angelo was only using them, it was too late.
They didn't have the free will to leave anymore.
Angelo rolled his eyes when I bitched to him about it, telling me that they were asking for it and he was only too happy to deliver.
And I stared at him. (Asking for it? For death because they committed the crime of lusting for you?)
(They asked for it,) was all he had to answer and I understood why he had such little respect for them. It was one thing for Angelo to offer. But once someone asked Angelo to Change him that was the end. That boy was as good as dead.
While I could understand Angelo's reasons,
I couldn't identify with them until I started getting propositions myself--
offers from pretty girls to give me a quickie any time I wanted. When they figured
out that I played on the other side of the street, the boys started in on me.
At first, I enjoyed their attentions. It was just the remedy I needed for the nights when Angelo had left me alone, but, I increasingly became aware of the feeling that they expected something back. I didn't like that feeling; especially when I practiced what Amorette called "safe sex": stopping as soon as I felt the first craving hit. Of course, it pissed them off but it would have been worse if I hadn't stopped them.
Word started spreading that "Weasel didn't put out for anyone but Angelo" but instead of discouraging them, it encouraged a different boy every night. Each thought that they'd be the one to finally get their hands in my pants but they left with the realization that I'd only go so far.
Needless to say safe sex was very unsatisfying. It wasn't long before I'd leave the Nocturne, hunt til I found a pretty pickup, each time hoping it'd be different, but ending up with having another body to get rid of. By now, I'd learned from my earlier mistakes and knew to pretty up kills first. I'd even gotten my own switchblade. It was one of the things I was getting used to disturbingly quick.
I also learned that Dimitri wasn't just the bartender for the Nocturne, he was also the DJ, playing mixes that ranged from pre-Englightenment disco and glam rock to what he called Ocip, which stood for Old Country Punk. Take Greek, Romanian, Hungarian and French songs from the Old Country, mix them over a dance beat and you get Ocip. And Dimitri did a lot of the vocals as well as the percussion and strings, as well as mixed them himself. As much as I hated to admit it, when it came to music, Dimtri knew his stuff.
But the thing was, even though I'd never been in the Nocturne before Angelo took me there the night he Sired me, I recognized the music because I'd heard it before. And when I heard Dimitri's alias, I realized I'd heard him before as well.
Dimitri was DJ D. The voice of the pirate radio station of the Underground. And when I was outside the Nocturne I started listening to his coded broadcast and realized just how much of it was gossip. Now that I knew juicer slang, it wasn't so coded to me anymore. But some of what Dimitri said was real cryptic, obviously meant for a few ears.
I heard one of those broadcasts one night, on the way back to the Nocturne from a night of hunting. Dimitri's mix was really good that night and the signal was strong enough that I could hear it all the way in Sargot City. No one else could, however, unless they were either one of us, a Sleeper, or at least had preternatural hearing.
I hadn't really been listening, it was more like background noise, but Dimitri suddenly started talking and it instantly captured my attention .
"You are listening to DJ D. The voice of the Underground. If you can hear this, we're looking for you."
Words he always said. But then he said this:
"Word up and down the juicer grapevine is that a tomcat has been declawed for an eat and run that went horribly wrong. Will an old flame be just the thing to help this tomcat lick his paws?"
That wasn't too hard to translate. The tomcat was Angelo, he probably fucked up bad on a job for Ardoin and Ardoin beat the shit out of him and now Angelo was off somewhere with an ex, licking his "paws" and fuck knew lots more. Something told me this "old flame" was the same boy who'd helped Angelo dispose of that real messy kill I made months ago. Something also told me that this boy who Angelo had been sleeping with before he met me was someone Angelo was sleeping with now. And the reason for a lot of the disappearances.
"This next song is dedicated to a pretty blond juicer. You know who you are, munga. Show yourself. Come to me, if you have the guts, malaka."
Then the music. Familiar accordion, almost like a waltz. Then the voice, that familiar, almost whine of a voice that was the style. And the words .
Ey, jolie blon cher, regardez donc
quoi t'as fait,
Tu m'as quitte pour t'en aller,
Pour T'en aller avec un autre, oui, que moi,
Quel espoir et quel avenir, mais, moi, je vais avoir?
I realized, Dimitri had made that my signature song. Jolie blon. Pretty blond.
Well if he was gonna call me out like that, I wasn't gonna back down. I'd learned that much. Even the smallest of challenges had to be smacked down before they became problems. I couldn't smack Dimitri down but on the other hand, he couldn't do anything to me since I was still under Angelo's protection.
I practically stalked back to the Nocturne and went to go confront Dimitri when this asshole of a Stalker poked my shoulder.
Hard. (You think you're so great because you're Angelo's latest fuck?) he taunted.
I whirled around to face him, almost reflexively giving him the once over, yeah, it was habit now and that disturbed the fuck out of me. Pretty, sure, with his dark brown hair and almost tawny eyes, but nothing to write home about. And not pretty enough for Angelo's taste. Or mine.
"You're nothing but a fucking slut," the boy who wanted to be an Angelbride but was probably created by another Stalker, hissed. "You just waltz here and suddenly you're sleeping with the top dog." Then he laughed nastily. "He might be banging you now, but I can't wait til you're crying your pretty little eyes out because the Black Widower tossed you aside for someone prettier and better in bed. Then I will laugh my ass off, buddy boy. Before I kill you." He grinned, baring fangs. "You won't be hiding behind Angelo's apron strings anymore and ready for the picking."
(Fuck you!) I yelled, wanting him to shut the fuck up. To stop telling me the truth I've been hiding from for all this time. When Angelo tires of me, I'll not only be all alone, I'll have nowhere to go. And he'll have a new toy. A new Bride.
(What are you, a moron?) I suddenly heard Dimitri sneer at the Stalker. (Don't you know who Jacques is?)
Cripes, that name again. Can't I ever escape it?
The Stalker looked bored. (I'm sure you'll tell me Dimitri.)
Dimitri seized him by the shoulders. (Jacques is a fucking Broodmaster. You know what he can do to you if you piss him off enough?)
The word "Broodmaster," must have meant a lot to the Stalker because he abruptly stopped his baiting and stormed off in a huff. But the word meant shit to me. I vaguely remembered Angelo saying that Ardoin was Broodmaster, so I guessed it was a fancy way of saying Master.
Then something else occurred to me. Jacques. Dimitri had called me Jacques, not Weasel. More weird, he actually took up for me in front of a Stalker. Usually, like with Len, Dimitri would be the first one to make me look like an idiot. Why didn't he this time? He was actually decent.
Dimitri decent? Pigs had to be flying. But since he was decent, I felt I owed him at least a thank you. (Thanks,) I mumbled, suddenly feeling very shy.
Then Dimitri smiled and I found myself blinking because there was nothing malicious or even ugly in that smile. Au contraire, it lit up his features, bringing out the beauty I'd forgotten was there and now I could definitely see the family resemblance between him and Angelo. Angelo was still much prettier but Dimitri was definitely a looker. Maybe it was the smile, maybe it was the low riding blue jeans and his black muscleshirt he was wearing tonight, but I definitely was beginning to feel a spark of desire.
I abruptly shook my head, physically shaking that insane thought out of my brain. I may have been lonely but fuck, I wasn't desperate.
If Dimitri knew what I was doing, he ignored it. Instead, he moved next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. (Come with me,) he said. Again, decently. Not even a hint of an order. Since I had already been on my way to Dimitri, I followed him to the bar, wondering what the catch was and what his motives were.
Only one way to find out. (What do you want, Dimitri?) I asked, trying hard not to be even the least bit snotty about it.
Dimitri removed his arm and stepped back behind the bar. (You know where my darling cousin is, tonight?) He wasn't asking me, he was baiting me.
Good, things were already back to normal. Charming Dimitri made me uneasy but I could handle Bitchy and Nasty Dimitri much better. (Fucking his ex?) I retorted. (You didn't make his whereabouts a secret, you fucker.)
Dimitri laughed. (Not quite.) His glacial blue eyes glittered with amusement. (He went on a bender.)
I stared at him. (He went on a what?)
(Let me tell you about our sweet Angelaki. Has to marry every boy he wants to fuck, then when he has them, that's it; he's on to the next boy. Now this boy, Lee, had gone rogue, making kills where he shouldn't have, drawing attention to ourselves that we don't need. Angelo had warned him several times but when Lee started slaughtering needlessly, that was the end. Ardoin showed Angelo how much he appreciated Lee's acting up, of course. After he made a mess of Angelo, Ardoin finally sent him to take Lee down. Angelo had a different idea. Lee became Angelo's payment.)
What the fuck? (You're not making any sense, Dimitri.)
Dimitri patted my shoulder almost affectionately. (Let's put it this way. Someone wanted Lee. Real, real bad. Angelo handed Lee over and now the debt is settled. But not before my cousin got his share.)
A vision of Len popped into my mind and I shuddered at the thought of Angelo pimping out his own kid. And for what? So he could jump the bones of whoever wanted Lee and get a taste of his blood and maybe even his flesh.
How could I have missed how callous and mercenary Angelo could be when he felt like it? And what would happen to ME when I fucked up or even just pissed him off that much?
As if he knew what I was thinking, Dimitri's hand moved to cup my cheek. (Don't worry, baby, it won't happen to you. Never you,) he murmured, leaning forward and leaving our mouths almost touching.
Then we both moved at the same time, our lips lightly touching at first, then pressing harder, his tongue wanted into my mouth and I was more than happy to let him, teasing his tongue with mine. Just the touch of his tongue sent delicious shivers down my spine and I realized that even though I hated Dimitri from the very beginning, that attraction was always there but our mutual loathing kind of killed it.
Until now. Now I devoured Dimitri's mouth, my cock hardening as his tongue slid over my teeth and for a moment I tried to return to my senses as Dimitri's mouth moved to my whatever part of my throat he can reach, but rational thought flew out the window. And when he told me in a husky, sultry voice to get my ass behind the bar, I Shadowdanced behind there, moaning when he took me into his arms and kissed me with a passion I didn't even know he had. Fuck, I wish I had known; I wouldn't have wasted my time with the pickups. I returned that passion, giving into it and pressed against him, his hard-on getting me even more aroused. "Why?" I managed to gasp between my hyperventilating.
Why had he lured me to him, tonight? Why did he stand up for me before? Why was he being so charming? Why were my hands slipping under his shirt and exploring the well developed chest I always admired even though I hated his guts? Why was this enemy becoming a lover? And most of all, why wasn't I even trying to deny to myself that I knew this would not be the last time this would happen?
All of those "whys" were answered by Dimitri's two word answer. (Why not?)
Why not, indeed.
Dimitri's kiss was sensual, all lips and tongue with just the right amount of teeth, hungry, yet playful at the same time. Unlike the battle I'd have expected from him, it was more of a waltz, his tongue lazily probing my mouth and dancing with mine. The way he moved against my body was just as unhurried, slowly sliding his crotch against mine. The friction alone was making me melt and I was suddenly overcome with the desire to feel his bare skin on my own and I found my fingers working at the button on his jeans before my good sense abruptly snapped me out of my lustfevered frenzy. I wish it'd kicked in before Dimitri and I got to this point but hey, better late then never, yeah?
I jumped back as if I'd been burned and Dimitri stared at me, his own lust glazing his eyes. (What gives, Weasel?)
Good. Let him call me Weasel, Jacques was only me in name. (Uh, we're in plain view of everyone, Dimitri.)
He shrugged. (Most of the clubbers are either on the dancefloor or fucking around somewhere else in the club. Besides,) he grinned, (no one would blink an eye if they did see us, darling boy. They'd just be jealous they're not the one who's Sharing pleasure with you and I am.) Then he frowned. (Scratch that, one boy would be really pissed off if he caught us and that boy has just walked into the Nocturne so you really wanna be on the other side of the bar, Weasel.)
I went back in front of the bar but gave him a look of pure confusion. (No he isn't, I don't feel him anywhere here.)
Dimitri smiled thinly. (Angelo can hide himself from the bond but one thing he can't hide is his scent and I'd know it anywhere.)
(He was in the stockroom and he's headed right this way,) Dimitri answered, then laughed at the puzzlement on my face. (My sense of smell is a lot stronger than yours. But we'll finish this another time?) he asked hopefully and I had to admit, there was something cute about it.
And I couldn't help but smile. (Damned straight.)
(What's damned straight, lover?) I suddenly heard Angelo's voice purr.
Fucking wonderful. As much as I wanted to see him, the timing sucked. It really fucking sucked. But Angelo taught me to mask my emotions and that was one trick I'd become very good at. The thing about masking emotions though, is that I had to project something else or he'd instantly know I was hiding something. So, I decided on the anger I already felt towards him. (Don't worry about it,) I replied, my tone as sharp as a whip.
Angelo shrugged but his eyes were smoldering coals, ready to ignite any minute. (Whatever,) he mumbled.
His mouth was kiss-swollen and his throat was covered with bruises, fuck he wasn't even trying to hide that he was fucking around on me tonight? And now that I looked closer, I could see that his eyes were glittering feverishly and he was swaying slightly. Oh my fucking gods, Angel Boy was fucked up on something!
Dimitri must have noticed it to because he smirked. (Spiking cousin?)
As in spiking his kill with drugs or booze. After he fed me a big song and dance and told ME not to. Fucking A!
(Lee did,) Angelo answered in a flat voice.
Dimitri laughed. (The poor boy never
saw it coming did he?)
Angelo shook his head, then planted his hands on the bar, as if he was trying to balance himself. Apparently, Angelo wasn't just high, he was trashed. (They never do, Mimis.)
Mimis? Since when? And while I was on that subject, since when was Angelo "Angelaki?" It seemed like tonight was filled with a lot of questions. But I didn't ask either of them about that.
As if he was just becoming aware that
I was right next to him, Angelo smiled at me. If I didn't know better, it almost
looked sheepish. Well good, he should be sheepish about slutting around tonight.
But then I remembered I not only slutted around, I did it with Angelo's cousin.
Yeah, the cousin who Angelo fucks himself. Angelo was still more slutty than I was. At least for now, though I was definitely on my way to matching him.
Angelo leaned over and kissed me on the mouth. I idly wondered if he'd taste Dimitri but he was probably too wasted to notice. (See you tomorrow, matya mou?)
(Yeah,) I muttered, (tomorrow.)
Angelo rolled his eyes at me. (Or not, dearheart. Your choice,) he said offhandedly. Then he walked behind the bar. (Ya sou, Dimitri,) he said before cupping Dimitri's face in his hands and kissing him passionately. Yeah, he was retaliating against my nasty attitude but fuck, what did he expect? Dimitri didn't mind it in the least and they made out for a few moments before Angelo pulled free and said something in Greek I didn't recognize before releasing Dimitri.
My nostrils suddenly flared. (Since when do you smoke clove cigarettes, Angel Boy?) I asked, wondering why the scent was so fucking strong.
Angelo gave me a smile that made me want to slap him every time I got it. The amused smile that meant he was laughing at his own private joke. (Oh, I don't,) he said cheerfully before walking away.