Remembrance: written by Kora Knight & Raven Foxx
"What the hell happened back there?"
Jazz hovers mid-air, eyes wide in a state of shock. He can’t comprehend the scene he’s just witnessed.
Holy fuck! This can’t be happening!
His heart lurches and his mind howls.
No!—on so many levels—No!!
Seth's renewed shouts for help finally jerk him into action. “SETH!!” he bellows, “Nooooo!!”
Flipping directions, he rockets downward, wings pinned close as he dives for the vampire—who looks way too much like some dark angel right now. Yanking him into his arms, Jazz pulls up hard, barely avoiding the rocky ground below.
Seth groans against his chest as Jazz's wings flap fast and furious. Eyes steeled with resolve, Jazz darts them toward a nearby cliff. Seth needs seclusion. Sturdy ground. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. There. Jazz spots a small opening in the cliff's side. In a heartbeat, he touches down inside the dark, inconspicuous cave. Swiftly, he takes his vampire deeper, lighting his body to see the way. A safe distance inside, he sets Seth down, then settles in beside him on the cool, rocky ground.
“Seth,” he groans in the low-lit silence. “What happened back there? I'm so confused.”
Chest rising and falling, Seth can feel the glaze of shock still coating his own gaze. He looks around slowly, then stills and laughs weakly.
“How did you know to come here?” he pants, his dark murmur barely a whisper. “How did you even see this?”
Instantly, all around them candles burst to light, revealing a bed in the distance with blood-red velvet covers and onyx sheets. To the right, a private hot spring bubbles quietly.
Jazz's eyes flare wide. “Holy shit. Where—?” He looks at Seth. “This place is yours?”
Seth smiles faintly.
Jazz frowns, continuing to take in their unexpected surroundings.
Inhaling deeply, Seth clears his throat and endeavors to explain. “I must have subconsciously guided you here. Projected to you the whereabouts of one of my havens.” He looks over his shoulder and frowns. Black, inky wings still cling sickly to his back. Absently, he reaches for them, a strange horror filling his soul, causing his whole arm to start to tremble.
Jazz’s gaze falls back on Seth. An unwell dread settles deep. The male looks so sick—and Jazz has made him this way.
He groans anew, eyeing Seth's new wings, so foreign to the vampire’s physique.
And then there’s Seth's dejected expression. It downright wrenches at Jazz’s heart.
With a sigh, he picks Seth back up, and carries him to more comfortable accommodations. As he lays him down gently atop the large bed, Seth moans in utter despair.
Scrubbing his face, Jazz exhales. “Wings won’t kill you, vampire. And for what it’s worth, yours are kinda tight looking.” He forces a smile. “Edgy and shit.”
Seth frowns and turns his head away, dropping a forearm over his eyes. Jazz curses. Things just keep getting more fucked up. And to think he assumed they’ve already hit rock bottom…
In morbid raptness, he reaches for Seth's new swash of feathers. Gently, he tunnels his fingers into them.
So strangely captivating...
The unexpected contact makes Seth jerk. Wide eyes peers down at Jazz's hand, then up into his gaze.
Jazz smiles a little, knowing the sensation all too well. “Right?” he chuckles softly. “Feels good, doesn’t it...”
Fighting back a full-body shudder, Seth tugs off the torn remains of his shirt and drops it to the floor. “Jazz,” he exhales, uneasy confusion sinking deep. “What have you done to me? What am I now?”
Jazz stiffens and shakes his head. His bleak expression says it all. He has zero answers. “I have no idea.”
Seth pulls him down on the bed and rolls them over, then settles atop him. “I can't believe you're here with me. I shielded this place for mine eyes only, and yet, you have found it.” He buries his face in Jazz's neck and murmurs, “Are we so connected?”
Jazz sighs. He has no clue as to how he found this place, nor what it means to their ‘connection.’
Staring at the rocky ceiling, he resists the urge to hold Seth tight. He’s got a niggling feeling that that’ll only set the dark lord off.
Again, he shakes his head. “I—I don’t know, Seth. I've never heard of such a thing happening.”
He frowns, unable to deny how much he’s enjoying Seth's warm weight. Truth be told, his new wings are doing a number on Jazz, too—as if the mere sight of them is like an aphrodisiac. He shifts beneath his vampire.
Fangs and wings? Fuck....
Groaning softly, Seth lifts his head and meets his angel’s gaze. Conflict wars wildly in their depths.
Disquieted, Seth rolls onto his back, pulling Jazz atop him, and stares up at the ceiling.
“Well, I can't be an angel, dark or otherwise.” He shakes his head irritably. “I don't understand. I'm no longer what I was. And I can’t—This isn’t—” Another destitute groan escapes. “I don't want anyone else, Jazz. Only your touch do I crave. Why can't you see that?” he whispers, turning to hold his angel’s gaze. “The feeding isn't for sex. It’s a need. A do or die.”
Jazz frowns deeper, Seth’s morose expression affecting him more than he wants to admit.
Slipping off the male’s body, Jazz stretches out beside him, propping himself on his shoulder as his dark lord’s watches him.
Canting his head, he looses another heavy exhale. “Look. I agree. I doubt you’re an angel. Wings alone don’t constitute one as such. But even if my essence did somehow give you part of what I am...” He holds Seth’s eyes. “If you actually do possess angelic biology now... I don’t see that being a bad thing. Hell, it might actually be beneficial.”
Seth grunts in revulsion, turning his black eyes back to the ceiling.
Jazz scowls—until a thought hits him.
Splaying his palm against Seth’s ribs, he shifts closer. “Hey, Seth. What if… What if this’ll make it possible for you to drink from me alone? I mean, if part of me is part of you now, part of your new fundamental DNA, then…”
Seth turns his head to glower at him. “Damn you, Jazz. Why? Why can't you let this go? You have my devotion, why must you have this part of me, too? I'm a monster,” he grits out, “who needs to feed from other monsters.”
Starting to feel ill, he groans with a grimace. He can feel himself growing pale, his stomach churning like an acid maelstrom. “Please,” he whispers, a word he’d only use with Jazz. “Just try. Try to accept me the way I am.”
Jazz opens his mouth to reply, but Seth hisses and shoves him away. Clamoring off the bed, he rushes to the mouth of the cave. Violently, he empties his stomach, dropping to his knees. Every cell inside his body feels like it’s dying.
Without warning, strong arms surround him, holding him from behind to keep him from falling. Again and again, Seth’s body struggles to force out Jazz’s essence.
“You have no idea,” he finally groans, wiping his mouth, “how badly I want to be more.” His gaze drops to the ground. “There is a bottle of wine in a basket to the left of the bed. Fetch it, so I can wash out my mouth.”
Witnessing Seth’s brutal reaction to only one infusion of his essence crushes Jazz's hopes.
Damn it. There has to be a way.
But this isn’t the time to explore other possibilities. His vampire looks like hell. And Jazz isn’t sure the guy can stomach much more in his condition.
Frowning, he looks down again at Seth’s large, raven wings. While he finds them enthralling, their mere presence seems to make Seth's skin crawl.
One thing at a time.
Helping his dark lord to stand, Jazz leads him back to the bed and hands him the wine. “Try to focus on the muscles below your shoulder blades,” he murmurs. “Concentrate on the act of retraction. Visualize it. Feel it.”
Seth gives him a curious look. The glaze over his bloodshot eyes and the set to his tense, pale lips speak volumes. He doesn’t want to even think about the abominations attached to his back, let along envision them. Fuck it, though. If Seth wants them gone, he’s going to have to grit his teeth and bear it.
Jazz nods to him encouragingly. “Seriously. It’ll help your wings to recede.”
Seth mutters something unintelligible. As his tired eyes slide shut, his body starts to tremble. From weakness or profound concentration, Jazz doesn’t know, but a moment later the inky black feathers begin to shudder, steadily shrinking deep into his muscles. In seconds they’re completely gone.
Seth looses a relieved breath.
Still trembling, Seth takes another swig of wine, then tosses it aside.
“Thank you,” he rasps. Yet another sentiment alien to his vocabulary. Settling back, he looks into Jazz’s eyes. “You are beautiful with your wings, you know.” He moves closer, seeking Jazz’s warmth. “Ask me anything,” he murmurs, “while I’m too weak to sustain my guard.”
Jazz’s heart thumps uneasily, his brain spinning from Seth's strange behavior. First please, and now thank you? A compliment even?
Seth really is unwell!
Jazz shifts restlessly beside him.
Seriously, there is no way Seth can like Jazz's wings while abhorring his own so adamantly.
It makes no sense.
His brows scrunch. Or does it?
He looks into Seth's eyes and wonders what the male would be doing right now if Jazz hadn’t willed him into the streets of Soho. Would he be content with a full belly, resting comfortably on his throne? Would he be angry, ripping some poor demon to shreds?
Jazz swipes up Seth's hand and, squeezing it tight, closes his eyes.
Seth needs Jazz to drag his ass out of that sludge of a realm, whether the vampire knows it or not. It’s toxic there. To his mind. To his soul.
Inhaling deeply, Jazz steels himself and opens his eyes, peering at his vampire on the bed. Seth has given him an opening and he’s going to take it.
Nodding, he clears his throat. “Yeah. There’s definitely a couple things I wanna know.” He shifts again and holds his vampire’s eyes. “What keeps your feet planted so securely in the bogs of such evil?”
Tormented by memories he’d rather forget, Seth scowls, his gaze seeing without seeing as he searches for an answer.
Finally, a faint rumble passes his lips. “I was born this way… and the rest… the rest was beaten into me. But it wasn’t until my father murdered my mother because she couldn’t bear more offspring that everything finally clicked. I am the creation,” he mutters, “sired for one purpose inside a barren womb.” He exhales with a shrug of acceptance, then turns back to look at Jazz. “I am as the Fate decree.”
Jazz stiffens and shakes his head, unwilling to believe that dour crap. “You're talking shit again, Seth, and I'm not buying it.” His gaze burns with raw conviction. “You're what you make of yourself, so your ‘I was created like this in the womb’ bullshit isn’t gonna fly with me.”
He squeezes Seth’s hand again. “It’s never too late to change the path you’re on. Fuck it, take a friggin’ U-turn and shit. Leave your old man's memories for him to waste away in. Don’t let him drag your ass down, too.” He tugs on Seth’s arm. “You’re stronger than that. Rise up and be the man your mother would be proud of. I'll help you. I promise I won’t abandon you.”
He leans in and grasps Seth's shoulder. The vampire’s gaze begins to churn. He’s getting agitated, his anger hiking, but Jazz doesn’t give a fuck. “No, Seth. Be the captain of your own vessel. ”
Seth just snarls and looks away. Jazz groans, seeing it in his eyes. He’s already shut down. Is no longer hearing what Jazz is saying.
Dark eyes glittering, Seth opens his mouth, but before he can rip Jazz a new one, Jazz attacks his lips.
“Don’t do it,” he growls against Seth’s mouth. “Don’t make me hate you.”
“Enough.” Seth buries his hand in his angel's hair. “No more talk of what I am, was, or could be.” He holds Jazz’s head tight, devouring his lips between sentiments. “Isn't this love you champion about acceptance? Differences shouldn't matter. We are what we are, and that is all.”
Jazz parts his lips to speak, but Seth shoves him away. Shifting with a grimace, he moves to sit up. “Clearly you’re incapable of loving one such as me. If you could, you’d quit trying to change me.”
Jazz scowls and sits up, too. “You speak of love like you know what it is. I'm starting to think both of us are clueless. But it’s kind of a moot point anyway since—” He stops short and rakes a hand through his hair. “I'm not trying to change you,” he murmurs. Abruptly, he looks away. “Okay, maybe I am—but only because I want you happy. That’s the main reason. And I guess a proud part of me thinks that I could make you happy.”
Seth stares at him, his expression unconvinced.
Jazz frowns. “But as you know, I can’t be with you—even to try to make you happy—with things the way they are now.” He looks down at his hands, his shoulders slumping. “I'm sorry but I can’t. And I mean that literally.”
He chuckles darkly and again shakes his head. “I'm an angel. This shit, it’s toxic to me.” He scrubs his face and groans. “I guess I'm just grasping at straws here, trying to find a way to get this shit to work.” Another humorless laugh. “Listen to me. I'm such a fucking idiot.”
Flopping back to the mattress, he shoves a pillow over his face—then busts out laughing. Even to him, his tone sounds morbid. “And you can’t even drain me dry to put me out of my misery! How fucked up is this shit?”
Jazz's words are like knives.
“That's right,” Seth growls coldly, “because I'm a monster. Something you don't think’s worth sacrificing for. So get the fuck out.” Nostrils flaring, he can feel his glower twisting his features. “Just… quit torturing me,” he hissed, rubbing a hand over his face. “That's all you do, torture me.” He drops his head into his hands. “I wish you'd just rip out my heart already and get it over with. It's bad enough that you've made that blackened lump twitch!”
Fresh fury whips in his chest. He shoots Jazz a poisonous glare, one that quickly makes the angel cringe.
But Seth is too pissed to care. “Why? Why can’t you stop fighting me long enough to enjoy what we have? You're always so busy making it out to be horrible.” Utterly exhausted, he too drops back onto the bed. “Kill me or leave me,” he groans. “Just please, stop playing these games.”
Jazz curses, launching a pillow across the cave. Frustrated to the point of rage, he lurches off the bed.
“No, Seth. I'm too busy trying to get you to see fucking reality. This is real life. It’s not some fantasy world where there aren’t any consequences to the shit we do.” He scowls down at Seth, the grim acceptance of defeat on the male’s face only making him angier. It’s like he’s given up and is already counting his losses.
Jazz growls... then groans, understanding what he has to do. What Seth is forcing him to do with the offer he just made.
A free pass to split.
Jazz digs into his pocket for something he's been wanting to give Seth for way too long. “You know how I feel,” he whispers. “I've never made it a secret. You know all I've ever tried to do is find a happy medium with you. And despite what you seem to believe, I too wish my heart would just fucking stop. Stop feeling—stop beating—for you. But it won’t.”
He can feel Seth's eyes watching him. Trying to clear the lump from his throat and say what he's got to say, Jazz continues. “So, I'm gonna take you up on your offer, Seth. I'm gonna go and not come back. I'm gonna quit torturing both of us. I'm gonna purge you from my system, and I recommend you do the same.”
Seth stills at his words.
Walking to the side of the bed Seth’s laying on, Jazz takes his hand and slides one final token of his affection onto the male's finger. “For you,” Jazz murmurs, shrugging weakly. “Who knows, maybe one day we'll bump into each other again and somehow be able to see things differently.” He lowers his gaze. “Just.... Just don’t hate me.”
Shocked—not just by the angelic ring placed on his finger, but also Jazz’s words—Seth lifts his head and tries to speak. But nothing comes out. Emotions black as night crash into his soul. Eyes rolling back, he draws in a shuddering breath, then melts completely from view. He can’t bear to let Jazz see his dejected expression. He would know just how badly he’s shredding him. And Seth gives no man that kind of power over him.
“Too late,” he manages to whisper, now that his body has become one with the darkness. “You've betrayed me for the last time.” With that, he vanishes completely, transporting back to his dark, bleak realm.
Where he can rage and lament—and mourn—without being seen.
Watching Seth vanish before his eyes, it crushes Jazz all over again. Legs like jelly, he pivots around and drops back on the bed. Sightlessly, his eyes stare up at the ceiling, his face a cold, hard, blank mask.
And then his shoulders begin to tremble and his body begins to quake. He can feel his features twisting in despair. Shoving his fists into his eyes, he lets out a roar—the anguished cry echoing through the cold cave. But it doesn’t help the pain, only makes that lump in his throat throb harder.
Turning onto his side, he pulls his knees close, just like he’d done that very first night he’d been abducted by Seth.
This time, however, for very different reasons.
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