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Slash and Yaoi Fiction
Title: A Demon In My View
Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Highlander
Pairing: K/Horton
Rating: NC-17
Status: complete
Archive: yes
Feedback: juxiantang@hotmail.com
URL: http://juxian.slashcity.net
Spoilers and timing: set before the first Horton episode
Disclaimer: They are not mine. You know whose they are! No infringement of copyright is intended.
Warning: rape
Summary: James Horton is to learn that a hunter can become a prey
Comments: The title of the story is taken after Ruth Rendell's book and she took it from Edgar Poe's poem.

A DEMON IN MY VIEW

This story is for Ladonna

These two were dangerous. When everything was over, he stood, staring around, unable to calm down his breath. Excitement was singing through his blood. Perhaps he had never been so close to death - Christ, he would have been definitely dead if Arnaud hadn't shielded him with his own body... Arnaud whose rending moans were the only sound in the room that seemed very silent now, after the cacophony of shots.

The air was still dim with smoke that gave the yellow electric light some weird post-modernistic trait - and the smell was there, strong, insulting, that made his nostrils flare - of hot metal, burnt powder and briny harsh smell of blood. It had to seem obnoxious for him - but somehow it didn't. Somehow he enjoyed it and - he couldn't deny it, at least to himself - it added to the warm tugging pressure he felt in his bottom belly.

Everything added to it. The sight of the cheap motel room - two empty bottles of whiskey on the nightstand - the crumpled bed with unmistakable signs of recent lovemaking. And two naked bodies on the floor - longish, waxen-pale in the artificial light, the scarlet patterns on them incredibly bright. Blossoms of bullet-holes and thin lines of trickles that still seeped.

The girl looked almost androgynous - and so thin as if she was starving. Heroin-type beauty - the one he was sick with. Her eyelids seemed bluish and almost translucent - but her lips were glossy-red. Blood, he realized. An odd kind of lipstick.

Her features were soft in death but the man's face was not. He looked at the bared teeth, glistening white slightly, the narrow scar marking his right eye - the scar that never faded - and thought if there was something all in all that could soften this face.

The man's hand was curled around the black handle of the gun - he had had the time to shoot only once but even it was apparently enough. Arnaud was dying, wasn't he? Still sobbed and clawed his blood-covered chest feverishly - but he didn't have a chance. It's not that they could bring him to the hospital. Well, Arnaud knew the consequences, he agreed to them - for the sake of their common goal, the goal they all were ready to sacrifice their lives for.

The two were going to pay for Arnaud, he thought darkly. He kicked the gun out of the man's hand and, unable to resist, stepped on the slack fingers. The sound of bones cracking made his stomach twist - but at the same time he knew he liked it more than many other things in his life.

Turning on his heel, he stepped over the body and reached for the long glimmering form on the floor at the bedside. The sword. The girl had grabbed hers when they had broken into the room - not that it had been of any use to her. The man had chosen the gun. The sword was heavy, bigger than the others he had seen - the flat of the blade wide and coming to nothing on the edges. It lacked the refinement that made a weapon comely for a modern eye - but there was some ultimate savageness in it instead. Raising it in both hands, he felt fascinated with the mean projections of metal at the hilt.

He had to hate the swords. The inevitable attribute of the monsters, the ugly anachronism - the same as all they were. But the truth was that he loved to have it sheathed in the sling on his back, it's coldness and heaviness and how the handle lay comfortably in his palm - at once becoming a part, a continuation of him. His own sword was shorter and lighter than this one - and he couldn't explain why he suddenly opened his raincoat and hid the sword under the flap.

Then he turned to his companions - two of them having Arnaud hanging limp between them, others ready to pick up the bodies from the floor.

"Shall we go, gentlemen?"

* * *

Sitting down to the computer, Horton rubbed his face tiredly. He found mechanically two files he needed. The names, the facts. The faces. Expressive and vivacious - they didn't look like that any more - and the thought of these changes brought him some kind of angry pleasure. The girl was of no interest - of the age of his daughter, first death only last November - she balanced on the bridge rails in the blissed-out state. She even didn't have any Quickenings yet.

The man was another thing. Closing his eyes briefly, Horton recalled his face some time ago, when he revived. They were lucky they had had time to chain him before he came round. Even though they knew pretty well what to expect, the man's frenzied attempts to free himself that started at once, as soon as he took the first choking breath, and so violent as if he was ready to break all his bones - were a bit of shock for them.

He would possibly pull his wrists through the cuffs but they were smart enough to fasten his elbows as well. Looking how he jerked wildly - his eyes frozen and the veins standing out on his neck - Horton felt the chill going along his spine. The string of curses the man flung at them was exemplary dirty - and one of the Watchers, Marcus, his assistant, the young one, kicked him in the groin savagely to shut him up.

It didn't shut him up - but robbed him of breath, anyway; and when he raised his head, his glaring cold eyes were so full of hatred that Horton clung to the comforting thought of the solid chains again. The man's face whitened making the scar seem very red and visible across his eye.

He stopped cursing at last. In silence his eyes moved around the room, taking in the face of every Watcher, until stopped on Horton. How could the man find out - he couldn't! - but suddenly his lips curved in the most humorless smile in the world and he said:

"It's you. I'll remember."

Involuntarily Horton shivered - and Marcus fell in rage again, crashing the gun's handle on the man's temple, then, when he fell, raising the gun. Nobody stopped him, even though there was no particular necessity in what he was doing. He shot in the man's belly and make him convulse on the floor but didn't make him give out another sound. They watched as he lay in the pool of blood - this time he even didn't die, his chest heaving, and the destroyed flesh around the bleeding would fluttered slightly when he breathed. Then it healed.

He snapped open his eyes immediately and looked at Horton' face.

"Why to have somebody else doing it? You want to kill me - do it yourself. Are you scared?"

"Watch your mouth, bastard," Marcus said shoving the toe of his boot into the place where the open wound had been only moments ago. Horton raised his hand slightly. It was enough, at least, for now. He gathered himself making his gaze level as usual.

He didn't look back when they left the cellar.

Kronos. As many aliases as he had - Horton still knew his real name, its sound itself reminding about the times when the myths were reality.

The ones like this were the reason why he hated them. What right did they have - to live for so long, to witness the history, all these wars, revolutions, cataclysms - even participate in them? They saw the world changing - as he would like to see it but never would. He had the chance to take only a tiny bit of the puzzle while they had it in full. And their invulnerability, their immunity to the laws of nature, to the most basic one - of self-preservation - made them unsusceptible to the normal fear of everyone thrown in the middle of the crumbling world. They didn't have to be afraid for their lives snuffed in the flame of conflicts, destroyed by calamities - and thus nothing hindered them to enjoy everything they could see.

Their life was so careless, so dream-like, that they had to create this dumb game to bring some spice into their existence! As if there was nothing else to do. He despised them for it even more, if there could be "more" in what he felt. But the game meant that even the Immortals were not untouchable. And he had the means to destroy them. He had the wish to destroy them and the commitment. He knew he would do it, no matter what.

Well, these two were done. They were still alive, locked in the damp cellar of the old country-house - but not for long. The silly girl - the outsider who didn't even deserve to be born - and the man that deceived death for longer than it could be tolerated - they both were to die now. Once the Watchers had them, it was over.

He put his hands on the keyboard and typed quickly. "Name... Status: exterminated. Name: Kronos. Status: exterminated."

* * *

Arnaud died several hours later. He was not in particular pain by the end, at least, he didn't demonstrate it. Only his eyes moved unseeingly as his punctured chest rose and fell out of order. Thankfully, he didn't try to say anything, to make any wild confessions or accusations. But it went on for long and when at last he stopped breathing, everybody sighed with relief. Horton was the one who passed his palm over his eyes, closing them forever.

They didn't bother with the parody of trial. The evidences they needed - they had enough of them, so, they just dragged the girl from the cellar and threw her on the floor on her knees at the block that was prepared in one of the rooms. She writhed like a snake, with the flexibility and strength that seemed impossible in such a frail body and one of them had to stun her to stop this comedy.

It was an eerie sight - her small gracious head on the dark wood of the block - but they were not in the mood for sentiments. The same as her appearance, naked and squirming, that could be erotic, didn't caused any stir. At least, it didn't cause any stir in him, Horton thought. She was not human; they all were not humans - that's why he killed them, wasn't it?

He put his knee on her head pressing it to the block and swung the sword. When the body slipped on the floor, for some seconds the silence in the room seemed overwhelming. Not only everybody who watched the execution was silent - well, they were, no matter how many times they had to witness it. But it was also the usual calm before the storm of the Quickening.

Horton realized what was going to happen a moment before it actually came. The curled, shortened body on the floor was hidden by the cloud of light - as if the tiny particles of dust were swirling in the rays of the sun, gentle and airy. Deceivingly gentle, of course, he knew as much as that.

The cloud became oblong and raised upright over the body - looking almost like a shadowy human figure, long and willowy. It swayed over the corpse for several seconds, still in full silence - and then, transforming into a blinding ball of light, it rushed through the door out of the room.

They heard the lamps exploding on its way as it sought the entrance for itself - the walls shuddering minutely, no silence any more but deafening roar. Then, seconds later, it was over.

"Enough for today, gentlemen," he said. "We'll finish with the other one tomorrow."

* * *

"My friend is dead," he didn't have to be there. He was so drained out - the night before was terrible - and then the day with Arnaud dying - but, the most of all, the incredible rush of excitement he always felt when breaking the sword on somebody's neck left him totally void of any strength. He had to go to lie down - but instead of it he stood on the threshold of the cellar, having his hands behind his back, and looked at his captive.

Kronos sat on his heels on the floor. All right, there were not many variants for him to position himself - with his wrists chained behind his back and his elbows drawn together cruelly. His ankles were locked, too, and there was a chain going between two sets of the shackles that didn't let him stretch out. Well, it was not supposed that he had to spend this night in comfort, anyway.

"Only one?"

Horton didn't expect him to speak - and, in fact, he didn't want him to. Especially heartlessly and unashamedly like this! How dared he?!

"One too many," he made his voice sound flat - he could do it, he mustered himself to appear calm no matter what - his gaze, his voice, his hands. It took something more to break his composure. "And your whore paid for it."

He enjoyed saying these words - but he had to admit they didn't make a big impression on Kronos. Yes, sure, he already had to know it - didn't he get her Quickening? Horton imagined the lightnings overtaking him in the locked room, pouncing on his immobile body, running over the chains like current through the wires. The man's face seemed sharper and slightly haggard; but his eyes were the same mad and unpleasant to look in.

The cellar was rather dim but Horton saw clearly the strange color of these eyes, pale green-yellow - not suitable for a human creature. And there was spite in them - and mockery - as if it was Horton who was chained and helpless of the floor, not Kronos. He knew this expression.

And the truth was that it was this expression he came to change.

"She didn't want to die," he said slowly, relishing every bit of his speech. "She pleaded with us to let her go. Her screams! You had to hear them, didn't you? She called for you, do you know it? She hoped you would come and save her."

He looked forward to see it. To see how something would give way in Kronos' eyes. It was one more thing he loved to see - almost the same as the immortal body split in two - the pain, the despair in the eyes of those who put themselves above humans. Humans mattered, didn't you know it?

He was a harmless man, Horton, wasn't he? That was what his wife used to say about him - that he wouldn't hurt a fly. And he would never even think about hurting a human. But everything what was applied to humans - it didn't suit for the Immortals. They were freaks - the mistake that had not been corrected for too long. For the Immortals there was another codex of morals - and there was another Horton. He would be rude, vulgar, indifferent, brutal - anything that could bring him the triumph of breaking them before killing them; that's why he always waited for them to revive before performing the justice.

He was ready to go as far as he needed with Kronos. And if his words didn't reach the aim - he had something else in store.

"Say good-bye to her," he said driving his hand in the glove from behind his back. He had the head in his grip - the pale round form, bloody and stiff, unbearably ugly. Its hair was almost too short to hold it - but he still managed.

Heads. Beheading was a nasty way to die! Couldn't these Immortals find some other, cleaner, more dignified way? Cleaning was what he always hated to do - since when he still had been a Watcher and had to gather the trash after his own Immortal. The bastard was the first one they disposed of - and you would have to hear him squealing in horror and disbelief. What? Pitiful mortals were going to finish his life?! Surprise, surprise!

But a good thing was that Horton accustomed himself to touching the heads - and the headless bodies, too. His hand didn't tremble now as he thrust the bloody object almost to Kronos' face. He looked greedily, craving to see how the man's aplomb would shatter and the disgust, the fear would penetrate his eyes. He was ready to hold not only a head in his hand for it.

Kronos' eyes did change - as if something clicked in them. But it was not to weakness, to relenting - there was no shock in them. It was as if they became solid jade, smooth surface without a ripple of emotion.

Then suddenly he made a wild jerk towards the head that hung in front of him - and before Horton could yank it away, Kronos' lips locked on the bleeding mouth. He kissed it. Horton could see how his tongue moved, penetrating between the slack lips, licking the gory insides and then thrusting in a perfect imitation of passion. If it was an imitation.

His lips and throat were working as he sucked the dead mouth - and even though Horton's head rang in repugnance, he suddenly realized he couldn't do anything. He couldn't drive the head away and he couldn't take his eyes off of it. The sight was nauseating - but at the same time there was something incredibly darkly exciting in it, something he couldn't explain and had hardly ever experienced in his life.

When Kronos let the dead girl's lips go, his mouth was smeared - and he smiled with this blood-smeared mouth, looking with his shameless cruel eyes.

"Adios," he whispered. Horton stared wildly at him. He didn't know what to do; the emotions overwhelmed him. His hand clenched on the hair of the head. He wanted to throw it away. He wanted to draw out the sword and to finish the man off right now. Or he wanted to take his gun and shoot at him, shoot through his kneecaps and elbows until he would become a writhing form on the floor, yelping in pain, then shoot into his belly and through his spine until he would die, every painful shot he could think off - then let him revive and shoot him again. His nostrils fluttered and he knew he was trembling with tension.

"I suppose you spared her body for yourself?" Kronos said lightly.

This obnoxious hint cracked his numbness. Without feeling the muscles of his face, he spread his lips in a smile; the smile almost equal to the one Kronos was showing to him.

"You will die tomorrow," he said stepping back to the door.

"Why not today?"

"I don't work overtime," he said. But the truth was they both knew why. At least, Horton knew - but somehow he supposed that the man guessed it, too; Kronos had the mind spoiled enough to guess.

The death of Arnaud enraged the people. They needed the outlet for their emotions. It was not often that Horton had the chance of transforming the impersonal hatred of his comrades-in-arm towards the Immortals into something that personal - and he wasn't going to forfeit this chance. To kill Kronos now was too easy. Let them boil their anger inside them - let them taste the pleasure of revenge. Then they would be his in everything, to the very end. To the victory.

* * *

He barely fell asleep when his mobile phone rang. His daughter could never get the difference in time between Europe and America. Not that he minded - at least, she called him. Too much for many fathers to expect. He sat wrapped in the blanket with the phone at his ear, shivering minutely - there was something seriously wrong with the heating system in the house - and listened to her chatting about the college and her date with that kid who worked for Joseph. It didn't matter what she told - it was her willingness to tell that mattered. She trusted him.

"I miss you, dad," she concluded, not sounding so, however.

"I miss you, too," he chuckled. "But I need to work for our living."

Sleep didn't come back to him when he put the phone away. Later he thought how, maybe, everything would go in another way - if he just stayed in bed then, even tossing and turning for hours. But there was no "if" in life, he should have known it. He got up, donned his clothes and walked along the dark corridors of the house, towards the stairs to the cellar.

The house was quiet but he was the only one who didn't sleep. He knew he wouldn't be. Guided by the light and the sounds, he reached the cellar and stopped at the threshold, not coming inside. They didn't notice him; it was not that he wanted to keep it secret - but since they didn't notice him, he stayed in the shadows. It was more useful for morals, he somehow believed.

What he saw was pretty much what he expected to see. He knew the hidden, sick side of Marcus' nature and he was still figuring out how to use it; till then he preferred to have it on leash, letting it spill out only in such unofficial, night-covered occasions. Alone in the dark corridor, settling his head against the cold wall, Horton watched and listened, as little as there was to listen, apart from the curses and rude remarks of his assistants.

"You killed him again," he heard someone saying at last - and his young assistant straightened, still panting hard.

"Yes. Enough for tonight."

When they came out, Horton stepped deeper into the shadows - they passed just in inches from him, without noticing him. A big advantage the mortals had over the Immortals! He could smell the thick scent of fresh blood from their clothes.

They locked the cellar behind themselves but he knew he had the spare keys in the drawer. He was very aware of what he was doing when he walked for them. There was no reason to do it - except that he wanted it - and even this wanting was not so keen and overwhelming that he wouldn't be able to cope with it. But he took the keys and returned and unlocked the door.

He made it noiselessly even though the man was dead and there was nobody else to hear him. It was his justification - no, not justification, he didn't need one - but the explanation. That nobody would know. Nobody. He didn't even step in, only opened the door for a couple of inches - just to be able to see. The only light in the cellar now was from the thin beams of the moon falling through the ventilation hole - but it was enough. He relished this darkness because it hid him properly.

There were blood trickles on the floor, glimmering black. The elusive moonlight played with the strange shadows over the slack body, making the twisted angles of broken bones look even more startling. He couldn't see the process of repairing - but he knew it was here all the same, the unnatural way the things went, the reverse mode that couldn't exist in the world. Horton always felt dizzy with it.

Suddenly the body shook violently, its chained limbs twitching and trembling as life was returning to it. He saw Kronos turning on his face, pressing his forehead to the floor, and he heard the man cough out the residuals of blood from his lungs.

Kronos had managed to keep silent when the guys had worked on him - so utterly silent that it seemed inhuman - but now he let out the hissing sound through his nose as he shifted uncomfortably, trying to ease the pressure on his arms, pulling his knees up under his chest. The chains made soft clanking sound as he moved.

He lay down on his side at last, pressed to the corner - the position that reminded Horton of a trapped beast - and this thought made him grin viciously. Don't like it, do you?

Although Kronos' face was blank he realized that he was fascinated to look at it - at the lowered lids that covered the cruel eyes, the colorless expressive mouth - and this flawed trait that the scar brought into his features. Kronos' skin seemed shadowed now on his face, with the bristles coming up, and his short spiky hair was sticky in blood.

The apparent signs of violence seemed a very disturbing sight suddenly. All this blood - and the memories of what he had witnessed - and at the same time the knowledge that the man was the same whole and uninjured again - it was wildly exciting. Horton's eyes wandered over Kronos' body, the blood-smeared chest, the ribcage expanding as the man tried to normalize his breath, the washboard abdomen - and down to the dark patch of soft curls around his limp cock.

He felt the pressure building in his groin and reached for his erection covered with the material of his pants. Darkness could create the illusion that it was not happening. Nobody would know.

"Using proxies again?"

He gagged. Kronos' eyes were open and staring at him. Horton could barely see the man, he was pretty sure Kronos couldn't see him at all - but yes, Kronos' gaze was locked on his - and he realized again that he couldn't drive his eyes away. He swallowed nervously as the man continued in a low urgent voice, the sound of it full of almost paradoxical intimacy:

"It's between you and me, right? Come and do it yourself."

He felt the urge to answer, even though he was not sure what he wanted - and could - say. To enter the discussion was the most stupid thing, he knew it - so, he just stood and kept silent - as if he was going to pretend he was not here, to wait out.

"Come here!" Kronos smiled - his bare teeth flickered bluish-white. "Try it. Touch me. Beat me. Fuck me," he tossed himself back, turning as much as he could and with disgust Horton saw him spreading his thighs as far as the chains let him. "What are you waiting for?"

Horton slammed the door shut, trying to cut off the sound of the voice but not quite succeeding. He turned the key in the lock hastily, his hands poorly obeying him - and for this, for the betrayal of his docile trained hands, he hated Kronos, too. And he still continued to hear:

"Come, kiss me! What kind of invitation are you waiting for? I am all at your disposal. What do you prefer? Fuck my ass? Fist me? Ream me? Want to suck my dick? Want me to suck your balls?"

These obscenities, this harsh cold voice continued to sound in his ears as he got to his room, then to the bathroom and ran the shower. Nothing helped much to stop hearing what sounded in his head - but the noise of water was good for another thing.

Listening to it, looking at his pale face in the misted mirror, he jerked off with the intensity he had not experienced for many years. Since the time when his mother caught him with his cock out - a second before the orgasm hit him and even though shame and horror flooded him then, there was such strength and sweetness in coming that he could never forget it.

His mother was not even angry with him then - just sad.

"You know, James, the boys who do these things become an easy prey for the Devil."

He was a very conventional man in sex. His sexual life with his wife was pretty quiet, even boring - and he had never wanted more. He had never been disloyal to her - and when she was gone, he considered himself old enough not to want anything.

But not this night. When the bliss came, he felt as if he was shot in the guts, he fell on the floor on his knees, clasping the edge of the tub - and long after that he looked at the ropy streaks of his sperm on his fingers as Kronos' voice continued to chant in his head:

"Fuck me. Come and do it!"

* * *

They had another case closed the next morning - an Immortal captured and brought to their headquarters. The trial was pretty quick, the sentence impossible to appeal. This one was not a young man, with grey hair and wide uncomprehending eyes. His voice was thick with German accent when, thrown on his knees at the block, he started turning his head wildly, apparently sensing another Immortal somewhere within reach.

"Why do you break the rules?" he screamed. "You have to fight fairly!"

When the Quickening stopped - and this time it was bizarre - Horton came to Kronos and repeated him what the Immortal had said.

"Do you think it is going to break my heart?" the man sat lopsidedly at the wall, his head lolled back lazily. His tone was lazy, too, as if he didn't especially care to pronounce the words.

It's because of thirst, Horton understood suddenly. Kronos' lips were badly parched and he had to be so dehydrated for almost two days that his tongue badly obeyed him.

"You are going to wait for your turn again," Horton informed him. "Till tomorrow."

There was no reason to put it off any more but somehow he relished the idea to let Kronos live through one more night, with all it had to bring.

Kronos shrugged - a strange gesture, taking into account his outturned shoulders.

"Take a good rest," Horton wished.

At night he found himself pacing around the room, the computer screen glimmering slightly in half-darkness - and there was strange exult in him, so strong that it made him feel dizzy. Did he think about Kronos? Perhaps he did, even when he told himself he didn't. He told himself it was because of the power he had over the man's life, that he had the means to terminate it any moment - even right now. But he also could let him live - for hours - or even for days. To make him completely dependent - in everything he got - in pain, in privation, in relief.

With some unexplainable urge Horton opened the drawer and pulled out Kronos' sword. The heavy horrible thing, so old - but the metal was shiny and sharp - and deadly. He raised it slowly, letting the flat of the blade slide up between his legs, jamming weightily at his stiff cock.

Careful - or you'll lose your dainties, James! But oh it felt so good. He moved the blade up and down, the metal getting hot at the heat of his crotch - the pressure seemed blissful against his aching flesh.

It was silly. He could say it after he had put the sword away at last. He was sweaty and panted hard but the release was so sweet. It was even... humiliating! But nobody was going to know about it anyway, right?

James, you are a nasty boy, he said to himself and laughed with sudden relief, throwing his hands behind his head.

It was when even through the thick walls of the old house he heard the wild scream coming from the cellar.

* * *

"No Quickening for you this time!"

"It's going to be a boring day."

Kronos' eyes were bloodshot and his skin got a sick bluish color, probably with cold. The smell in the cellar was heavy and far from pleasant - but Horton didn't care. In fact, he enjoyed how it mixed with his own fresh scent of after-shave and expensive eau de toilette - the same as he enjoyed the sight his immaculate suit in this damp dirty premise.

"But I have brought you some water. You can't complain your needs are totally ignored."

He stepped closer and pressed the bottle of mineral water to Kronos' lips. The man gagged and he changed the angle, patiently waiting as Kronos drank greedily. He downed two thirds of it before stopping and spitting out the last swallow.

"Be more thrifty, there won't be more - ever," Horton said. Kronos' eyes wandered, the expression in them almost delirious - but they sobered again immediately when he looked up.

"I know."

He tilted his head up to see Horton, he stood so close and he was pretty aware of it - but didn't make a motion to change his position.

"What did they do?" he asked suddenly. "Last night. To make you scream like this?"

He saw the man's jaw tightening - but his gaze didn't falter.

"Guess," Kronos said curtly.

Horton let his eyes drop. Slowly, in an almost fluid motion he squatted, so close that he almost touched Kronos' chest with his sleeve.

"I'll try. Did they smash your balls?" he had to move his hand just for inches to reach the man's groin - and his fingers slipped under Kronos' warm resilient balls covered with wispy soft hair. The strangeness of the sensation made Horton cock up his head, as if listening to it. He had never touched a man like that in his life - and the warmth, the hardly perceptible moistness of the man's ball-sac was something he was still processing in his mind. "No?" there was neither affirmation, nor denial in Kronos' face. Suddenly Horton felt easy with it. His voice softened to half-whisper as he continued: "Or did they stick the heated nail into your urethra?"

His thumb passed along the man's soft cock, all its length, up and down, as if patting a tiny creature. He let the tips of his fingers circle around Kronos' genitals, barely touching, stroking the soft wiry hair.

"No? Or did they do something simpler? Just something like that?" he fisted his palm on Kronos' balls suddenly, with all the force he could muster, feeling his muscles tremble with the effort. He looked at the face - so close - distorted in wild pain, the eyes almost white with agony - but there was no sound coming from Kronos - and it never came, even when the man passed out and sank on the floor. Only then Horton unclenched his numb palm.

* * *

He had to wait for two days until they got another one - and the truth was he was getting impatient with the delay. But at last they had this Immortal, tied and on his knees - and he drew out the sword but didn't raise it.

"You do it, Marcus."

He handed the sword to the young man and saw his face blanch. Come on, Marcus, you always wanted it, I know.

He grinned coldly, receding to the door, stepping so soundlessly that nobody turned their heads to him. Marcus raised the sword. The agonized sounds that overtook Horton in the corridor told him what he had been vaguely wondering about - if Marcus would be able to sever the head in one swing. He almost ran; his fingers stumbled when he struggled with the keys in the lock. The flow of the energy caught him in his back when he was on the threshold, hit him like a huge paw. He fell on his knees and hands, gasping, staring as the light leaked past him towards Kronos. The swirls seemed soft - until they reached the chained figure - and then turned into blazing lashes, striking with brutal force, wrapping around the convulsing body.

As the lightnings hit, he heard Kronos screaming hoarsely, the sound of snapping bones almost drowned by the sparkles of electricity. These cramps were easily the ugliest sight Horton had seen in his life - but the streams of white light that pierced and enveloped Kronos made him watch it with breathless fascination. For a moment it seemed that the man's body itself was transformed into the carcass of blinding light, ready to blaze up and disintegrate in a handful of ashes.

Then it was over and the silence fell; the dimness of the cellar seemed to thicken - and Horton realized he could feel the smell of burnt hair. Kronos lay on his side, rolling his head on the floor in torment. The chains sustained for another time but his wrists were broken and his shoulders apparently dislocated.

Wobbly, Horton got on his feet and made a few steps towards him. His hand floated in the air for several seconds while he hesitated - and then he squatted and touched the man's outturned joints. Kronos thrashed and growled, unable to be silent. It had to take just minutes for him to heal but before that the pain was all here.

With a sigh Horton put his hand on the man's face, feeling clammy skin under his palm. He closed his eyes soaking the sensation - and at last resigning to what he wanted to do; what he wanted to do for so long. He cupped the face and as his thumbs ran over Kronos' eyelids, he felt the eyelashes flutter. He knew Kronos looked at him - he could guess the expression even without having to see it. But he didn't want to think about it now. He passed the tip of his thumb over the thin ridge of the scar, shivering with so-longed-for sensation - and feeling at once how the man's body tensed.

He smiled deliriously at the thought how Kronos had to hate this utter violation of his privacy - maybe, more than he had hated when his cock had been touched. Horton caressed Kronos' face and the heaviness built in his groin, so lingering that it was almost painful. He yearned to press this face to his cock, to feel the hot breath on his straining flesh, to rub the man's mean sensuous mouth against it.

If only he didn't risk to part with his cock forever then!..

The thought was so weirdly amusing that his eyes opened abruptly - and he couldn't help but looking at the man. He gasped in a shock seeing the smile on Kronos' face - the insane smile, both cold and malicious.

"This one has been good, boy," the man whispered faintly but Horton wouldn't miss a word of his. "I have enjoyed it."

"My pleasure," he answered in the same hoarse quick whisper. Yes, pleasure. Under Kronos' intent gaze Horton passed his hand over the man's chest, first the palm and then the back of the hand, conceiving the smoothness of the skin and the little prickling hairs that still were raised. He didn't reach Kronos' groin, going upwards again, finding the man's erect nipple, rubbing it with his thumb roughly.

He almost guessed rather than noticed how the man settled back on his chained wrists and ankles, as if opening for him. Kronos' yellowish eyes gathered all the light in the cellar into them, staring at him levelly. There was no smirk in them - although it was on his lips.

Horton pulled the thin long pin out of his tie suddenly - and it was almost unexpected even for him as he forced the piece of metal through the man's nipple. Kronos didn't make a sound as the tip went through the hard nub and came out on the other side, slicky with blood.

"Is it all you are up to?" Kronos' voice was a hiss, so intoxicatingly arousing that Horton suddenly felt his mind float, he was not sure what he wanted - to hit him, to kiss him, to run his fingernails through his skin. He pulled the pin out and sent it back again, the motion so obscenely reminiscent that he felt color on his cheeks.

"I know what you want," Kronos whispered.

"I bet you do."

This time he spoke full force. He backhanded Kronos on the lips before standing up, his eyes cold and calculating as he studied the chained body, trying to figure out how he could do it. Kronos raised his head, watching him steadily - and his gaze seemed to be thoughtful and inquiring, as if he dared Horton to be inventive, to find the way.

Horton grabbed his upper arm abruptly, shaking him into kneeling position, and stepped behind him. The chain that went between Kronos' wrists and ankles hindered - but he yanked the keys out of his pocket. Surprise, surprise, he had them brought with him - as if he knew he would need them! He left the chain attached to the ankle shackles. There was no way to drive the man's legs apart - but suddenly Horton understood it wouldn't be a problem. He knelt, having Kronos' legs between his - and pushed him forward until Kronos fell on his face, his forehead pressed to the floor.

Everything was perfect then. An intoxicating sight! Kronos' arms were like tied wrenched wings behind his back and Horton ran his hands over the taut muscles greedily. His head was swimming, his breath uneven as the sensations flooded him - and while he wished to linger, he knew he had to hurry up or it would be over even before he started.

He unzipped his pants releasing his throbbing, painfully hot cock, the small amount of pre-cum on its head not lessening the burning. He stroked the shaft just once before prying Kronos' ass-cheeks open, seeking for the entrance.

He was amazed how small it was, totally impenetrable. He hardly could feel it with his finger and when he pushed it in, he felt the body in front of him striving away shortly; then Kronos threw himself back with an effort of will, almost sticking himself on the finger.

"What?" the man's forehead was still pressed to the floor but he turned his head to look back, his eyes still cold but the pupils were dilated witnessing that it was not painless. "How are you going to do it? You won't get it in dry!"

"Won't I?" he rotated his finger, widening the opening a little but still far not enough. He pushed the second finger and for a moment he was sure they wouldn't go in - but then the tissue yielded and the blood let them slide inside. It was the answer. He made deliberately rough, wild thrusts with his fingers, tearing the entrance as much as possible, his lips curved in a smile when blood trickled into his palm.

"Smart boy," Kronos said.

"Did you doubt?" he dropped absent-mindedly. Blood was bright and dark on his hand as he smeared it over his erection - the ugly coating that suddenly looked so exciting that his cock leapt up.

Quickly, before it could dry and the torn entrance healed, Horton pressed his shaft against Kronos' opening. He closed his eyes preparing to pain as he pushed in.

There was pain. The passage was so narrow that it seemed wringing his cock dry - but he thrust his pelvis forward desperately, resolute to get in at any price, even if it made him scream in agony. He suddenly became aware of the sound - and only a moment later he realized it was his own teeth gritting. He thrust and thrust, forgetful both to pain and pleasure - until there was no more length to thrust and his pubis was pressed against Kronos' ass firmly.

"Congratulations," the sound of Kronos voice was grating but his breath didn't break when he spoke.

"Fuck you! Fuck you, scum!" he could hardly believe it was his voice saying these dirty words - but yes, it was - and for some reason the sound of them raised him even higher.

"Yeah. That's what you do."

He pulled out with an excruciating groan, feeling as if his cock was ripping off, and slammed back. His mind was so dazzled, his vision failing as he continued to send his cock inside the straining body, the speed rising to enormous - and his sharp breath sounded in cadence with the wet slapping sound of his thighs hitting Kronos' ass.

He felt as if a root was torn out of his bottom belly - his balls jerked up agonizingly - and his sperm burned when coming out. He muffled his shriek into his forearm as he shot spurt after spurt inside Kronos - the post-orgasmic exhaustion rolling on him in a huge wave so swiftly that he could do nothing. He felt boneless as he fell on the taut body under him.

* * *

The sound of rain was the frequent drumming on the windowsills. The streams of water were like a wall, almost solid, impenetrable - but he knew there was nothing to see for him, anyway. When the rear lights of the van disappeared at the turn of the alley, nothing else dispelled the darkness outside.

They were leaving. Their work here was done and another place waited for them. Paris! Sodom and Gomorrah of Immortals; yes, Sodom and Gomorrah, he enjoyed this comparison. And their end would be the same horrible, Horton and his people were going to try hard for it.

He heard the hasty movements behind himself and the sound of boxes shifted. His assistants took care of the last arrangements. They had to hurry if they wanted to catch up with those who had left earlier. Yet he continued to look through the dark glass, even though it was only the distorted reflection of his pale face that it gave him.

"Sir," the hesitant steps stopped behind him.

"Yes, David," his voice sounded business-like but he still didn't move; sparing some seconds - as if seconds could matter. He inhaled deeply, forcibly relaxing his numb shoulders and then looked back. "Tell Guido to bring him here."

He pulled the sword out of the sheath, the swishing sound of the emerging blade so familiar; it used to be pleasantly chilling to him - and it was now, too, on the level of reflexes. The smooth handle warmed up immediately as he weighed it in his hand. Then suddenly another idea came to him. He opened the drawer and his fingers twitched slightly as he touched the cool metal of the ancient sword.

They took the ankle shackles off of Kronos to be able to walk him. Horton was ready to hear the sounds of fight, hopeless struggle for life - the man had to know where he was taken to! But there was nothing - he realized it with a small pang of disappointment. He faced the door when his people came in, tugging Kronos between them.

The man's eyes flashed when he saw his sword - and Horton thought that yes, at last they managed, even though briefly, to penetrate Kronos' composure, to crack his armor. He made a step forward, looking in Kronos' eyes, pausing minutely. He seldom bothered with the last words - but this time he started speaking even before he registered it:

"You know what you are here for."

"Do I?" Kronos' eyes narrowed into cold yellow slits and his voice dropped suddenly so Horton found himself leaning closer involuntarily - the position that was almost ridiculously intimate. "You are for a gang-bang thing now, aren't you?"

He flushed red despite himself.

"Shut up you, you shit," Guido stomped his heel on Kronos' bare instep, cracking the thin bones. "Down!"

They pulled at Kronos' arms until he dropped on his knees but he still looked up - and there was some strange concentration in his eyes. Horton was not going to wonder about it. He drew a deep breath and raised the sword over his head.

He could hardly say what happened next. It was so swift - and it seemed so unreal that he found out the only thought beating momentarily in his temples: it is only a dream, I will wake up. It had to be a dream. He couldn't have made a mistake like this! He should have known... Kronos letting himself be brought under the sword like a lamb?

In one wild movement the man shook off the hands that held him - and suddenly his arms were free all in all, the chain falling from one of his wrists as he caught the other end of it in his fist. Back on his feet - the chain wrapped around Guido's neck - and Kronos pulled the guy in front of himself just in time for the blade of the sword to sink into Guido's chest.

Horton knew it would happen and terror exploded in his mind - but he couldn't stop his hand. The unusual weight of the sword played a dirty joke to him. The sound of lacerated flesh was monstrous; Guido cried out but the sound was muffled with blood filling his mouth. Kronos turned with lightning speed, using the same body to shield himself from the shot of another Watcher. Guido was dead by the moment when Kronos pushed him away, towards the shooter, both dead and alive falling on the floor together.

Another shot caught Kronos in his side and he snarled in pain, bowing slightly - but it was too little to make him stop. Horton realized in despair that it was his own doing - he had made Kronos so strong with these Quickenings! Kronos grabbed the Watcher's hand, twisting it back brutally. The scream was drowned with one more shot - and Horton saw David slumping of the floor. He made a wild jump towards the struggling men - when something struck him numbly right above his temple. This shot he didn't hear. He still felt how blood poured over his left eye, painting everything red - when his feet weakened and he fell down on his face.

I am dying, he thought, and I am not going to come back.

* * *

His head felt very huge and every beat of his pulse throbbed in it, sending the waves of hot pain right through his brain. He had never hurt like this in his life - hurt so much that he groaned, suddenly regretting the moments when he felt nothing, when he didn't exist.

Then the rapture of being alive caught up with him. Alive! It shook him to his senses immediately - and he realized suddenly how hard the floor was under him - and that for some reason it was difficult to breathe - as if a weight pressed on his chest. He opened his eyes - one went easily but the eyelashes on the other one were sticky with blood and he felt them ripping off as he pulled the eyelids apart.

It was Kronos he saw - the pale scarred face above him, the thin lips twisted in an ironic deranged grin - and as he bucked involuntarily, horror sweeping his mind, he understood it was the man's knees on his chest that nailed him to the floor.

"Thank you for giving me a chance," the man hissed - and with startled eyes Horton saw the thin bent bit of metal that closed to his face. He recognized his own tie-pin with a gasp. It floated over his bloodied eye, threatening to sting, and his teeth started chattering. He would plead but somehow he knew that no amount of his pleas would help him. "Try how pleasant it is!"

The pin moved and then stuck at the corner of his mouth, going in slowly and mercilessly. The pain was such that it would make him jerk but he was afraid to injure himself even more. He felt the tip of the pin going through his cheek inside his mouth and tasted the salty drops of emerging blood.

"It will heal soon," Kronos chuckled pulling the pin out. "Even though not so soon as mine, you know."

There was something new about the appearance of the man - and it took Horton some moments to comprehend it. Kronos was dressed. He thought he recognized David's blue knitted sweater, blood streaks giving it the pattern it had never had. David... Guido... He turned his head excruciatingly carefully and looked around the room, gathering the signs of massacre. He lowered his eyelids tiredly. What a waste!

"Don't miss them - you didn't part for long!" Kronos said humorlessly, without taking his eyes from him - and Horton swallowed, almost nodding. He knew it was true. "But shall we even our scores at first?"

This words were unexpected, yanking him out of his reflection and making his eyes stare again. The man was smiling above him - the smile that didn't promise anything good.

"Get ready, boy!" this time the exhilaration appeared both in Kronos' smile and voice as he slapped Horton on his thigh. The slap was loud and stinging - and only then he realized that he could feel the cold floor under his naked bottom.

The understanding hit him like a truck. No, he couldn't do it! He didn't have to! Not to him! The sane part of his mind remarked that yes, it was what was going to happen - wasn't it what he had done to Kronos? What other meaning the words about settling the scores could have? But he didn't want to be sane, he didn't want to believe it. He thrashed violently - and then the cold blade was pressed to his throat, the little cut no more than a hint. But there was something undeniably sobering in the trickle of blood crawling over his skin under the collar of his shirt.

"You kept my sword for me," Kronos remarked.

The blade never went too far away as the man rose from him and knelt at his pelvis. Kronos' eyes were mocking, sliding over Horton - the expression in them so cold that for some reason it seemed more humiliating than anything else. There was no even arousal in his eyes!

"Grab your ankles, whore," the man ordered.

Horton felt like sobbing when obeying - the position suddenly turning out to be painfully uncomfortable. But fear and humiliation beat it all! His mind was torn apart between the wish to look and not to look as he knew Kronos was preparing himself. Then he felt the blunt, barely wet push between his buttocks and he screamed.

"What? Already hurt?" the man's sarcastic voice asked. No, it didn't. But when it started hurting, he didn't miss it.

He couldn't believe Kronos was going to fuck him like that, dry and without any preparation. He remembered how agonizing it had been for him. But the pain he felt when the man's cock-head entered his ripping opening had no real equivalent in anything he had ever experienced or even been able to imagine. The entrance was so difficult that the pushes moved him on the floor - and Kronos hooked his fingers around his thighs, holding him in place.

It was splitting him apart, he knew it. It was as if he had an open wound there and it was sawed wider, cruelly and unceasingly, as if it was not a cock but the blade of the sword stabbing into him. He gagged on the sounds he made - and he could barely realize he made them, not to mention to stop. In a brief moment when the mist over his vision dispelled, he saw Kronos' face. With half-lowered eyelids, it was hard and inwardly focused, the short strand of dirty hair hanging over his forehead.

Then Kronos stopped. He had to be in, Horton thought, and despair seized him with new force. That pain was not the worst, now the real thing would start. The cock up to his ass felt huge, even though as the man didn't move, the pain was not so rending as during the penetration.

"What is your name?"

Kronos' question was absurd. What? Was he supposed to answer it? But of course, there was no variant when he might not answer.

"James," he whispered. "James Horton."

Then, with sudden outburst of flippancy - the same as he had spotted in the man and had been so annoyed with - he asked:

"What, do you prefer to be acquainted with those who you fuck?"

"If they are alive - then yes."

He didn't know if the man was joking; there were usual derisive notes in his voice. And then, all of a sudden, he felt Kronos' hand lying down on his crotch.

"You like it, don't you, James Horton?" the derision was still here but there was also mild curiosity. "You are hard, do you know it?"

He didn't know. But when he felt the man's hand circling around his cock, he realized it. It was impossible! He was half-mad with pain - what pleasure could one speak about? But the truth was that he shivered in a pang of delight as Kronos' palm stroked along the length of his stiff cock.

"You are a nasty boy, James," Kronos said curving his lips in a smile. "You are going to burn in hell."

It was not the tone - it was not even the words - he didn't know what way his mind went - but suddenly he couldn't cope with himself, whimpering, pushing urgently into the hand enveloping his cock. He yelped again when Kronos pulled out of him and then thrust back - but even this pain didn't matter so much as the bliss spreading through him from his cock rubbed against the man's callused palm.

He erupted all of a sudden, on half-peak, all his body trembling in tension - and the afterglow of his orgasm seemed to be multiplied with the continued strokes of the cock inside him. Kronos was fairly longer - but it didn't matter; in fact, he wanted to make go on and on.

Then Kronos pulled out - and Horton went limp, his legs hitting the floor with wooden sound. He felt blood and cum leaking out of his ass that seemed gaping, the deep channel inside him curiously empty now. He saw Kronos grinning as the man looked at his hand smeared with white - and with a flinch Horton realized it was his own sperm.

"It doesn't look like we'll ever be able to even our scores," the man said. "James."

And then it was the sword again - under his jaw, the blade cold and heavy, pressing to his skin. He thought suddenly that Kronos even didn't have to chop off his head: a nick on his carotid artery - and it would be over. But he really didn't have any strength to struggle. He closed his eyes and thought with a sparkle of irony - ooh, what a way to die! James Horton dying without his pants, smeared in his own cum and in the cum of his rapist. His mother would turn in her coffin.

It even brought a smile to his lips - and that's how he wanted to die - with a smile.

"What if I don't kill you?"

These words had to be the fruit of his mind, he didn't hear them, right? He even didn't open his eyes at the pause as if Kronos really waited for his answer.

"What if I let you go?"

He looked up, devouring Kronos' expression, seeking the signs of mockery there. But there was much more sincere interest in them than irony.

"Will you go on with your affair?" he asked. 'Will you go on killing them... us?"

What was the right answer? Desperately seeking for it, Horton realized suddenly that Kronos didn't need it - he knew the truth the same well as Horton knew it. And more than that - it was exactly what he wanted!

"Why?" he gasped.

"Because there can be only one," the man said sarcastically - but the lightness was gone from his voice as he added with a sudden emotion. "Bring them all down for me!"

"As long as I live," he vowed.

"Good."

And at that moment the sword was gone - and two warm rough palms lay on his cheeks suddenly, cupping his face. He saw Kronos' face nearing to his - and suddenly he felt the hard soft lips touching his, parting them, the tongue like a soft flame filling his mouth.

Kronos kissed him the same way as he had kissed the severed head of the girl - and suddenly Horton saw the starbursts of white light in front of his eyes - the sparkles of the Quickening that could come from nowhere - but still was there.

When his vision cleared, Kronos was gone. Horton moved painfully, turning over on his knees and hands. There was something sticky under his palm and he saw it was blood - his own or somebody else's, he didn't know. He shook his head looking at the dead bodies on the floor.

Martyrs, he thought. It is going to be a good spur for our affair.

To Paris!

THE END

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