It caught at his guts like a hunger, like the desperate hunger of a junkie for his fix. Each time he'd give in, telling himself this was the last time, knowing it was not even as he said so, as he promised anything to a God he only believed in when he wanted something--he'd reform, he'd join Amnesty International (the things he could tell them). But God never answered in any case, or if He did it was just to make the hunger worse than before.
He was watched sometimes too, by eyes that saw too much and knew too much and he feared that knowledge more than any God. For he was a strong man, mentally and physically, capable of great endurance and resistance. So his surrender, when it came, was a terrible thing.
Sometimes he would read a newspaper account of some dreary little suburban Ripper, who "had seemed such a nice man" but had turned out to have sixteen dismembered corpses in plastic bags under the stairs. The murderer had confessed easily, claiming he couldn't help himself, the craving was too strong. He knew how that felt, he couldn't help himself either. It sickened him, tore his soul to shreds with what he was, what he wanted. But the hunger remained.
He could tell when it was beginning. A faint stirring of interest, often no more than a "what if?". The rich and welcoming sound of a man's laughter somewhere in the far corners of a pub, the sight of a hard fine body swinging down the escalators at Tottenham Court Road, or sometimes, all it took was a turn of the head, to look at the man who stood beside him, to see himself reflected in the wide, all-seeing blue.
And he would try, oh how he tried, to assuage the demon. He would train harder, drive for hours, try to loose himself in his work. But the lion growled round in the dark that ringed the campfire and it did not go away no matter what he did, only grew hungrier as the night grew darker, and demanded blood with an appetite that would not, ever, be denied.
It was tonight, the fever had pitched here and now, eight o'clock, a damp evening in late May and if he didn't do it, right now, he would burst into flames.
He dressed with discreet care. He drove into the City, its empty serenity unexpected and beautiful. The majesties of St Mary Axe, Leadenhall and Lombardy, temples built to that great God Mammon in the days of Empire and Conquest, withdrawn and magnificent in the grey town dusk. He drove on towards the lights on the Embankment, busy with crowds of people out to dinner or just gawking at the floodlit bulk of the riverside Ministries.
He swung the car up into the Strand, down and round Nelson then through a maze of rat run one-ways to a multi-storey car park that he knew and had used before. He walked briskly and doubled back twice out of sheer habit to make sure he wasn't being followed.
He felt jumpy. He'd not done this for a while and saw shapes in every doorway, betrayal in every shadow. Suicide, to do this here, on his own doorstep. Take some leave, you cock led cunt, slip off to Copenhagen, even Amsterdam, somewhere you could get away with it: not here, open to every glance, every encounter. A career in ruins, life in shreds, honour gone. Bodie would kill him--he bit the inside of his mouth so hard it bled. He would not think about that. He would do anything else, but he would not think about that.
He reached a doorway, unmarked by neon or any sign. The only clue was a small notice above the intercom--"Sonnez". So he did and at once the intercom cleared it's electronic throat.
"Yes," inquired a distant voice. He said the open sesame formula and the door emitted a low buzz and he shouldered his way inside.
His money and overcoat were taken from him with tender concern. The man at the desk knew him from previous visits but gave no sign of recognition. The steps that led down to the club were thickly carpeted and very steep. He descended carefully then paused in the doorway at the bottom to let his eyes get accustomed to the darkness. He smelled amyl nitrate and Paco Rabane in about equal measure.
The floor show was in progress, athletic and uncomfortable looking positions that showed of the attributes of the "dancers". He crossed to the bar and ordered a beer. He looked around. Busy as always: men looking or being looked at, familiar hunger reflected on all their faces. He felt his own stomach twitch with it, an acute bodily need, as if for air or light, nothing so facile as just 'sex'. He turned to the bar again and studied his overpriced beer as if it were the most interesting thing he'd ever seen.
Peripherally he was aware of a body approaching and standing beside him. The body stood close enough not to be misunderstood. Ray froze, feeling it begin, feeling it uncoil within his guts. He kept his eyes downwards on the beer, he must wait to be spoken to as was only proper.
"Hello," the man said and Ray turned to look at him and saw the face he did not dare imagine even in his dreams.
Ray just stared, feeling a passion fill him like lightening. His throat grew tight with hatred, fierce disgust and longing. As swiftly, the lightening faded and he was calm again and ready for the ending of his world. He had a brief flash of images: the resignation thrown on the desk, Cowley baffled and hurt, Ray proud and defiant; Le Beau Geste.
He tried to be glad the pretending was over. But he would have given anything if it had been anyone but Bodie to expose him. That--hurt.
Seconds passed like centuries and Ray waited, knowing the storm was coming closer, he could almost hear the thunder in the air around him. But Bodie just looked at him, at him and then through him. He smiled, a smile kind and cruel all at once, a smile of knowledge, or power.
Bodie motioned and led the way over to a table and pulled Ray's chair back for him with unstudied and out of place politeness.
"What are you going to do?" Ray asked at last, after taking a much needed drink.
Bodie smiled and with slow strength reached out to take him by the back of the neck and to hold him, so. "Don't you know?" he replied.
Ray's skin seethed then settled into a deep cold. Bodie wanted to play did he, get his moneys worth before he shopped him? Ray half wished he had taken that step, long ago now, when he had guessed Bodie would not be--averse--to a turn around the dance floor with another man. When he had stood half a chance.
"You're going to tell, then probably leave me alone with a loaded revolver and the 'you know what to do old man for the sake of the regiment' routine. Aren't you, sergeant?" The last word was loaded with many things. Bodie's arm moved down around his shoulders and his hand touched Ray's cheek gently then withdrew.
"I have what you need. I think you have what I need," his voice soft and warm, tinged with his faintest most attractive accent. It's music had been sweet to Ray before.
Ray sat stiffly upright on his chair, frozen through and did not try to keep the scorn from his face.
"Yesterday, when that thug went for you Ray, who was there to stop him? Who saved you then, who always saves you? Who catches you when you fall?"
Ray knew more than just one moment rested on this now, he could almost feel his whole life turn around him: a crossroads, and later you look back and say, then, if only I had done it, then it would all have been so different, then I would have....
Bodie's arm came around his waist and Ray could not help but notice it's strength, it's warm power. Hell, but heaven too. He should resist, shrug away, but his skin was not fooled and his skin ached for this touch, yearned for it. He must have it, just once maybe, but he would have it--and cart ropes wouldn't hold him.
The hand crept to the back of his neck again and tugged him forward just a little, just enough. Lips touched his lips, lips that were warm and promising, and he gave eager, ready kisses.
"I have a place for you. Your car?"
"Parked nearby sir, shall I follow you?" He'd said it. The word that locked him into his role, the mask assumed or maybe, just maybe, the mask finally laid aside. He'd said it. To Bodie. Of all people.
His mouth felt ravished at shaping the sound. He shivered and his stomach shifted as if he'd just eaten something sour. He'd said it. And meant it.
Bodie stood and Ray allowed himself to notice how tall and fine he looked. Bodie tended Ray out of the club, standing aside for Ray to proceed him up the steps, retrieved and held his coat for him, opened the door and then walked by his side along the gutter, all as if Ray were some lady he was escorting. Silly, yet oddly reassuring and deeply exciting. It made Ray feel small, treasured somehow, dependent upon Bodie and his power.
Bodie's car waited for him at the exit of the multi-storey. He saw Bodie lift a hand in a commanding gesture, then the powerful car swung away through the traffic.
He followed it easily. They took the Tower Bridge route, romantic in this twilight with the bulk of HMS Belfast on their right, out across the River then all the left turns down into Kent, onwards, into the night.
His hand drifted to the cloth of his trousers, then upwards to touch his own nipples. His body hummed sweetly.
In sheer self defence he switched on the radio, listened to the news, then drifted to some cassette recordings he kept. Bodie took the turning he had half expected. They had been here before, briefly.
Bodie had a girlfriend with him that day and Ray had dropped them off at the cottage. He'd not liked that girlfriend, a fake-auburn headed bint with one eye bigger than the other and a remarkable bosom. Bodie was a simple soul really; animal, vegetable or mineral, he liked something to grab on to.
So no change there then.
Expensive country this--Bodie has some very shady funds tucked away somewhere, he knew. The house was solitary, small and obviously old. Ray parked and got out of the car and waited.
The smells of the night garden were all around him, old English scents, dew and herbs and dark growing things. He breathed deeply, chilled by the coolness and expelled the London smoke. He felt cleansed, calmed by the scents. Bodie--now the Master--approached and stood looking at him appraisingly.
"Did you touch yourself?" he asked with faint humour.
"I stroked myself sir, and touched my nipples but that was all." Ray replied promptly and truthfully.
The Master took the honesty and led the way. At the front door he got out his key. Ray watched the hand slide inside the cloth of his jacket, the pull of the fabric across his chest. Ray licked his lips.
"This is our barrier," the Master said simply, slipping the key into the lock, and Ray understood at once and spoke his limits.
"That is acceptable. Very well, come in," and he waved the way. Ray paused as the door was locked and bolted behind them and lamps were lit. A beautiful room, tasteful and expensively furnished, over-warm from the central heating. He noticed a solitary vase filled with waxy green leaves and white flowering things like lilies, heavy and potent in their purity.
"What are they?" he asked, wanting to fill the silence, nervous and skittish all at once.
"Quick and raving death," the Master explained very seriously. "Belladonna." He was standing behind Ray now and Ray could feel the cool rush of breath upon his neck. He shivered, from fear and from other things.
"Someone walked over your grave?" a soft voice asked then the Master walked over to the promising door. Ray did not reply, dumb, his eyes speaking for him, and the Master understood.
The cellar then, warm and dark and welcoming as the womb. The hunger was a banshee wail in him now, howling through his mind and body like an arctic wind; a kiss scorched through the ice and before the laser touch, Ray melted at once, into blood and tears, into an exquisite possession and fullness; he gorged himself on this feast, wept and cried out and at last was freed from his hunger.
It grew around him, he felt himself hollow with lightness, his blood no more than air, no more than water, so thin the inner fire burned through. What they had been dissolved, disappeared only to reform as something new, only Ray and his Master remained, the Master he had always wanted, always dreaded.
Skilled too this Master, with a wonderful, evil skill that tore screams from Ray's soul even as he succumbed. Bonds, tight enough to mark but not break his skin. The lash, thin leather with a wicked flex, was applied superbly in a rain of criss-cross blows delivered with care, with judgment. Another kiss then, reward when his cum flowed from nothing more than the touch of the lash.
His mouth was commanded open, his very sobs taken from him as he was touched at last, touched intimately by his Master, petted and praised, finally loved; the love he had longed for from the first stroke, the love he had earned, the love he now deserved.
Ray was released and allowed to rest a little, tumbled and breathless upon the floor at his Master's feet. His hands stroked his own arse and he thrilled again at the memory of that lovely hot stroke of leather.
Gentle and implacable, he was raised up. He moved at once to his Master and begged to be allowed to stay upon his knees, to worship his Master's cock with his mouth. An impersonal touch brushed away the tears that clogged his eyelashes and with patient sufferance he was allowed to touch, to lick and suck. Only once did his Master have to instruct him, even that one comment caused shame--this was his gift and his reward, surely his gratitude should give him skill. His Master should never have to ask for anything. He would give all, everything he had, the best he had. His Master was tolerant and accepting, but Ray knew it was not enough, never could be.
He felt a glory in his life. Torn by shame for too long, the black absolution of this womb like cellar poured sweet balm into his wounds. His Master spoke again, demanding a graceful and delicate response and Ray served joyfully, with humble pride. His efforts were accepted with patient consideration. Another command was given, darker, lit with sombre power yet Ray offered it as gladly, as eagerly. He was allowed to drink from his Master's body and he exulted.
The Master burned with pleasure at this possession. He had guessed almost at once just what this one would need. He had seen that hunger before, on other faces, but never as beautiful as now. The weight of such a possession was no burden, not to one as strong as he.
The Master grew tender towards the end and carried Ray at last and let Ray kiss him before he allowed him to sleep. A long and lovely night; when the future intruded, they would find a path through it and the path would lead back here, back to the welcoming dark.
Neither spoke. Words were unnecessary, indeed for Ray, they were forbidden. Their lives outside the dark were governed by other rules and their inner bonding was only hinted at by their deeper rapport, their subtle understanding. Discretion was more than a second nature to such as they.
The rules gave Ray a structure, a welcome security he had not known before. Sometimes, afterwards, he would beg for permission to speak and sometimes, afterwards, it would be granted. He felt soft then, newly emerged from the fire and the dark and he tried to put this into words, haltingly. The Master was always so patient with him at these times, like an indulgent parent with a wayward but beloved child. But the Master knew that words were useless after all, what lay between them was, by its very nature, silent.
Once, something dreadful happened. A shadow that claimed to be reality returned to cloud him and Ray left the dark fire behind, to seek a different life.
Had he loved her, the Master asked later, Ann, so fair and clean?
Ray cried his misery and repentance into the dark cellar. His punishment was very severe and he was not allowed to serve in any but the most basic ways and his Master's cum was withheld from him for many days. But it was no less than he deserved, he screamed, no less than he deserved.
The Master forgave him at last, and Ray rejoiced. He had learned his lesson, he promised fervently, he had learned it very well--his Master indulged him sometimes but the hand that held him, so, was one of iron, and he would not forget.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Red Roses 1: Because Roses Have Thorns, Red Rose Press, 1994