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Summary: Angelus and Darla tempt young poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in a British pub, circa 1795.
Author Notes: blah blah gratitude cakes to Honoria, who keeps pushing--and reading.
Disclaimer: but of course, all things Angel and Angelus come from JW.
Samuel sat in the Pig and Whistle, well on his way to inebriation and humiliation. Around him, loud voices sang a drinking song Samuel had penned for them, and although under ordinary circumstances his voice would have been the loudest and the merriest, tonight he had other concerns on his mind.
Discharged from the Army in what he knew to be disgrace, bruised from his continual falling off his horse, embarrassed by financial encumberments and in debt to his brothers for his discharge, Samuel had no prospects, no plans, only fierce hopes and a driving determination to prove himself--a something. A poet, a lover, a philosopher--whatever, he would be something, someone, he would make himself known.
Some small accomplishment as a poet aside however, Samuel had nothing. He had left school without taking a degree, forced into flight by mounting debts to his tutors, his maidservant, his school and his vintner. Desperate to escape the troubles, the Army looked like the best and most romantic path: Samuel could start over, make a name for himself, impress the impressionable...and finally, he could put the specter of Mary Evans behind him. She had decided she would marry someone else--so be it. Her betrayal had hit him so deeply it had smacked of evil, of scaled intensity, of sulfur exhalation...no. No poetry.
The front door to the Pig and Whistle slammed open, letting the damp night air into the stifling room. Standing in the frame were two flowing shapes, hooded in black and emanating an aura of electricity. The pub went silent briefly, as pubs do, at the newcomers--but as they stood there looking around, letting the door shut behind them, the pub's inmates resumed their singing raggedly. A log thrown on the fire threw up a cloud of sparks, the smuts landing on the hearth and smoldering briefly.
The two hooded figures moved to the table nearest the fire pit, silently gliding through the room, past the crowded tables, and, as Sam watched them absently, as if their feet did not quite touch the floor. From his position two tables away from the hearth he could not see their faces, but when they pulled back their hoods, with their backs to him, he saw the long black hair, the longer blonde hair, the one pulled into a gather, the other curled elaborately down her back. As they shook off their cloaks, Samuel realized they were somewhat out of place here---the rich brocade of the lady's gown, and the frock coat on the gentleman, spoke of more guineas a year than anyone but a noble could claim.
The taller one pulled out the chair for his companion, and they sat with their backs to the room. One of the serving women, a pretty redhead whose pale skin had only a dusting of freckles, brought them glasses, and they laughed with her as she set them down and chatted with her for a few moments before she heard her name called from across the room. Leaning close to each other, their heads seemed almost to touch, and then both nodded. Samuel caught the fire-lit glint of white teeth as twin smiles flashed, and then the two rearranged their chairs, facing finally toward the innkeeper's bar and presenting pale profiles to Samuel's eyes. They inclined their heads toward each other as they talked intimately, their dark eyes seeming to follow the serving maids as they moved about the room.
Samuel watched the maids himself, appreciating their forms, their strong forearms, the dark hair and rosy cheeks of the one and the flowing red hair of the other. They moved deftly through the room, skirting the occasional hand and laughing as they slid glasses of ale onto tables. When they met in the middle of the room they giggled to each other. Samuel rested his head in his hand and watched them blearily, foggily, their common faces echoed in the halo of femininity he saw reflected behind them. Their every dancing step reminded him of Mary and of every common street whore who accosted him--the maids' smiles were both taunting and childlike, too young to be vulgar but too old to be untouched. Samuel knew why their giggles and whispers to each other as they threaded through the tables had attracted the attention of the couple by the fire. Their mannerisms had attracted him too.
Glancing back at the two sitting by the fire, he met the man's dark eyes and briefly fell into them. Darker than his own, they were, and silently derisive. Samuel's cheeks flamed in embarrassment--how dare this stranger pass judgment on him?--and he stood up abruptly, weaving a bit as he got his balance. The blonde woman's attention had been caught by the movement, and now both of them were watching him as he skirted the tables between them, catching hold of boisterous shoulders as they got in his way, ending up next to the two as if pulled there by a string. Samuel's eyes hadn't blinked once on the way, despite the smoke in the air.
"A good evening to you, sir, and welcome to our table," the man said, his soft Irish tones clear despite the singers, who were starting a new ditty. "Judging from your eyes you have a somewhat to say. Will you join us with your ale?"
"My thanks, good sir," Samuel said, falling into a chair. "It is a fine night to sit by the hearth, and a better one to make new friends. What brings you to this house, when you could sit more easily at the King's Head?" He looked from one face to the other, seeing strong features and full mouths.
The two across the table from him glanced at each other and the woman spoke for the first time. "We wanted to warm up before finding a bite to eat," she said, smiling at Samuel. Her eyes were deeper pools than her friend's, and Samuel smiled back at her, unaccountably charmed. He wasn't sure why he was sitting here, but he had no where else to be and no one else to speak to. And her eyes...
"My excellent friend Mr. Bullwhistle is the innkeeper," Samuel said, "and I hasten to assure you that the meal will be fine and the ale strong. Should you also be weary from the walk, and wishing to rest, Bullwhistle keeps several rooms upstairs in which a lady might restore herself."
"That might be useful," she smiled at Samuel, "and I am sure we will need hospitality before the long evening is over." She turned to her companion, nodding her head meaningfully at Samuel. "Should we make the introductions now? This gentleman has extended the hand of friendship."
"Of course," the dark man said, flashing a shiny white smile. "We're glad to have congenial company and a guide to the inn. You can call me Angelus, and this lady" --he rolled his eyes mockingly to the blonde--"is called Darla. What shall we call you, friend?"
"Samuel Coleridge, my good sir, and I am happy to greet you in God's name on this rainy night." Samuel raised his tankard in a toast, and after a pause, Angelus and Darla did the same, Angelus's sarcastic smile widening over the lip of the glass. His eyes slid past Samuel's shoulder at the passing red-haired serving girl, and she drifted closer as if she'd been pulled by an unseen thread. As Angelus arched up to speak closely in her ear, she leaned over, and Samuel's eyes watched absently as her breasts swelled unseen inside her bodice. Darla, however, had most of his attention, since she had begun to speak right into his soul.
"You look like you've had a painful few days, Samuel," she started. "Let me guess. You feel...hopeless, humiliated, and angry, and you have no money and no prospects for earning any. But I think I can offer you something better than prospects. Look there," she said, tilting her head toward Angelus. The serving maid was crouching down and almost into his lap, tucking her head closer to his as he whispered to her. Her eyes were wide, and Samuel could see that her breath was coming quickly, the milky skin of her chest flushed. Her hand was at her throat as if to help her breathe, and Angelus's words fell on her like tiny nips, her fingers fluttering like little birds in time with the bite of his voice. He seemed to be only speaking quietly to her, not touching her at all, and Samuel was abruptly inflamed with curiosity. Angelus must have the real power of speech, the words he spoke each like a motive force. Samuel had heard one or two speakers with that power, and he envied it--such power over the listener was a mighty sword, used ill or well. Angelus, he thought, had taken the low road.
"See her?" Darla caught his attention again. "She will give herself to him tonight, of course, but not yet. Not before all three of us are satisfied. Angelus, me...and you, if you like." She leaned in to him, even closer, and he felt her cool breath on his ear as she murmured, "You will feel true power, Samuel..."
He sat, still, unsure what to say, fuddled with ale and frustration. Erratically he remembered the electrical aura that had seemed to surround these two when they entered The Pig and Whistle, the way they had seemed to glide over the floor, the way he himself had fallen into Angelus's eyes almost instantly--they were, he knew with a knife like certainty, not human. He was in the presence of the inhuman, and it was offering him a glimpse, a taste of power.
Movement across the table made him look up to see Angelus sitting up and smiling that wide, white smile at the blushing serving maid, who was also straightening up. "Here, girl," Angelus said lightly, "there's more where that came from, but you'll be waiting a bit for it." He looked over at Darla. The slight intensity of air pressure that had surrounded their table had lifted, as if a draft had blown away a thick fog, and for a moment Samuel took refuge in the comforting thought that a spell had been broken. He took a deep breath, realized that he could not remember breathing recently, and lifted his cup to his lips with a shaking hand, gulping what remained. He could still feel Darla next to him--had she changed seats?--and was relieved at the distraction when Angelus, chuckling to himself and stroking the red-head's pale white arm, said "More ale, pretty Molly, and offer the house the same."
An hour later, ale-mazed and laughing louder, Samuel, Angelus and Darla were the center of attention in the pub. The townsfolk had gathered round while Samuel had declaimed the godliness of ale, merry songs had risen in rough voices, and Angelus had quietly worked his peculiar magic on Sarah, the second of the serving maids. Samuel was surrounded with the glow of fellowship, the goodly company intoxicating him further, and Angelus's free hand with the ale had helped him ignore the nagging doubt in the back of his mind.
"--and that is why, my excellent friends, we say that liberty, equality, and brotherhood are a life's goals and the required pillars of any civilized society," Angelus said expansively, gesturing widely to the crowd. "Liberty, indeed, is the freedom to make decisions and to take the chances that risk bloodshed. Do you not agree, Sam?"
Samuel jumped up from the bench and raised his cup to the creased and grinning faces around him with sufficient vigor to slop ale over the edge. "Agree! My good Angelus, I could not disagree more--I am indeed a friend of liberty, but the inherent moral nature of making choices argues, most strongly, against risking bloodshed by so doing." Several voices from the audience muttered in agreement. "What choice could be made that would be uplifting if it spilled a man's life blood, the ale of his veins, the soul's intoxication?"
"Uplifting!" Angelus rocked back in mock surprise, and then appealed to the crowd. "Ken a choice be truly moral without dragging in the dirt from the gutter? Say you, good people, that you can have liberty without testing its limits? Can the decision to be chaste be a serious decision if your loins have never felt the urges? What liberty is that, can ye tell me?"
"It is the best of liberty," Sam responded loudly, over the roar of agreement and laughter, "to make moral choices in a free society. We have also the obligation to exercise our liberty in the exercise of moral free will."
"Exercise, is it?" Angelus peered closely at Samuel for a moment, then called out, "More ale, Sarah, is there? Pour us all, then," and the crowd applauded and laughed, drifting into small vocal groups as Angelus hopped off the table, seemingly none the worse for ale.
"Exercise, my young friend Samuel, is the offer on the table," Angelus grinned as they sat down. Samuel glanced around the room, slightly breathless from the arguing and the drinking, and laughed back at his companion.
"Exercise me now, would you? I think myself currently at a disadvantage, but it's one I'm glad to come by. Your health, sir," he said to Angelus, and lifted the new cup Sarah had put down before him.
"The exercise of power, young Sam, is no disadvantage." Angelus raised his own cup and toasted Samuel with it. "I give you a toast: the courage to make willful choices regardless of consequences." His dark eyes met Samuel's and together they drained their cups, slamming them empty down to the wooden table. Angelus stood up, held out a hand to Samuel, and pulled him up. "Come upstairs, my friend, to see the choices before you."
Samuel, rescuing another cup of ale from Sarah, followed Angelus to the back of the room, where Angelus's black coat made him disappear into the shadows. Turning his head back, Angelus smiled, his gleaming white teeth a beacon for Samuel in the dark. The stairs were badly lit, and damp, and chilly, and Samuel shivered, bolstering himself with another gulp of the ale before going up the stairs after Angelus.
The room Mr. Bullwhistle had given them was large, stiflingly hot from a roaring fire and ranks of white candles, draped with shabby red velvet and dominated by the enormous bed in the center. In front of the hearth was a long love seat, similarly shabby in red velvet and arranged with crumpled sheets. Reclining smugly against a cushioned window seat was Darla, who Samuel realized must have left their table some time before--he had not even missed her--and kneeling on the floor, clinging to Darla's skirts, was Molly, the red haired serving maid, her head bowed. Her feet were bare, pink with a blood flush from the heat in the room, and Samuel saw that Darla's feet, too, were bare--that her clothes were in disarray, her skirts hiked up to her knees, her face bright and her eyes gleaming in the reflected light of the moon outside. Her feet were not the heated pink of the maid's, but were pale icy white, lined with blue veins. They looked dead, and Samuel thought dreamily of the contrast between the liveliness of her face and the clammy whiteness of her delicate toes.
Having taken in the scene in an instant, Angelus drew Samuel further into the room and shut the door firmly.
"Come, friend Sam, drink your drink and admire our lady Darla's conquest. Sit, be comfortable, examine the scene closely. Here is the liberty of choice, don't you think?" Angelus sat down in the love seat, stretching his long legs before him, and grinned at Samuel, who felt another fleeting shudder. He ignored it and sat down, watching Darla stroke Molly's sad hair with possessive affection. Molly did not move under Darla's hand, but Samuel could see her fists clutching Darla's skirts spasmodically. She seemed not to be in pain, but in the throes of a convulsive physical response to some intensity. Samuel took another pull at his cup.
Angelus sighed mockingly at the women. "Women are things of beauty, aren't they? Molly, my little white dove Molly, has decided to accept Darla's affections for what they are--fleeting, beautiful, magical--and has benefited from the decision. She has chosen. She has risked blood for liberty." He grinned. "And she is twitching with the success of her choice. Of course, she wanted me to choose her, but not all choices can be made at all times. At other times, I have chosen Molly. Tonight the choice was Darla's. Beauty is in the liberty of choice, my friend. Wouldn't you agree?"
"She is indeed beautiful in her affections, friend Angelus, but..." Samuel felt strongly that he should be more articulate. The sight before him--Darla's triumphant smile, Molly's prone position, the vulnerability of her bare feet in the moonlight--touched him speechless, and Angelus's philosophical suggestion that the choice of utter abandon might be morally uplifting was shocking. And yet, intriguing. He watched them, his eyes drawn to Darla's hand stroking red hair, feeling impelled to move over to them, to stroke her hair himself.
"It's a choice, Samuel, isn't it?" Angelus said softly in his ear. He had moved without Samuel seeing the motion and now leaned over the back of his chair. "It's seductive. Any choice can be good or evil, and if you feel each intensely, how shall we know which is which?" In another blink he was across the room, curling himself close to Darla and nuzzling her face with his. "Which choice is evil, do you think?" he murmured to her, glancing back at Samuel.
Darla smiled languidly, the white teeth glinting in the firelight. "Not making a choice, that's the evil," she said to Samuel. She looked down and casually shook her skirts free from Molly's clutching fists, pulling away from the girl as if discarding her. Molly fell back against Angel's thigh, but didn't move otherwise, her hands still clenching themselves tightly. The moonlight poured in on her hair from the window. She looked up at him pleadingly, but Angelus looked down at her, smiling over his crossed arms, not helping. Darla moved quickly across the room, opened the door, and ushered in Sarah, the other serving maid, who was waiting eagerly to come inside.
"Now," Darla said to Samuel, "now comes the taste of power. Remember, I offered you the real thing, sheer power and with it the chance to change your life. Remember," she said, pacing slowly toward him with Sarah in tow behind her, "your debts, your dishonors, your shame. Measure them against this. Come, Samuel, come here."
She had stopped in front of the love seat with its crumpled sheets, drawing Sarah from behind her and helping her arrange herself on the cushion, draping her skirts just so. Sarah's white bodice, smelling faintly of ale and smoke, was loosened just enough so that she could breathe--and Samuel felt the compulsion again, to move over to her, to lie with them on the cushion, to drink in whatever intoxicating fog surrounded Darla and Angelus.
While Darla murmured to Sarah and played with her hair, the compulsion grew, and Samuel glanced over to where Angelus still stood over the twitching Molly, now rocking back and forth on her heels with her hair covering her face. He met Angelus's mocking eyes and fell instantly into them as he had before, fell into their blackness as if sinking into the depths of the ocean. The sardonic grin spread across Angelus's face again, and the glint of sheer merry hell in that smile exerted its own pull on Samuel. And finally, Samuel felt himself rise from the chair, move to the love seat, and pull Sarah's compliant form back against him, his chest supporting her back and his heart sinking into his stomach with giddy dread. Her breasts were a warm weight against his arm around her waist.
Darla leaned in, and Angelus leaned in next to her, and Samuel saw the blonde head and the black head begin to move delicately down Sarah's arms. Sarah's slight giggles changed almost immediately into more intense sounds and she began to jerk slightly in Samuel's arms. Holding her close, feeling her body's movements, Samuel began to feel warmer. A subtle electric current began to rise in the back of his neck, and his fingers spasmed a bit as Angelus moved his head down to Sarah's writhing waist. Over Sarah's shoulder, Samuel saw red welts on her white breast, the dishevelment of her bodice and the tiny buttons gaping open. Sarah's head, thrown sideways against Samuel's shoulder, was heavy, and he began to feel her weight as if he himself were growing heavier.
Darla's voice wafted up to Samuel as from a distance: "Are you enjoying yourself, young Sam? Are you ready for a taste of real power? Remember..." and as he nodded to himself--he remembered, dimly, the shame of his powerless life--Darla's hands moved from Sarah's arms, clasped Samuel's hands and held firmly, and abruptly everyone connected by touch on the love seat stiffened.
A surge of burning cold energy ran from Darla's hands and jerked through Samuel's tingling hands, through Sarah's twisting body, through Angelus's cold lips on Sarah's warm pink feet--the jolt seared, shimmered the air, and crackled through Samuel's mind like lightning. His head lifted and fell back, and he absorbed all the abandonment, all the yearning and destructive glory of sensation, all the flickering heat of Sarah's choices. All four bodies were bound by the same chain, and Samuel tasted power.
As the full rush of heat passed through him, overmastering him and rendering him almost insensible, Samuel's body started to twitch, convulsing around Sarah's arms. Their power combined, and Samuel could feel Angelus pulling the power out of them. He and Darla were drawing on that electric charge, riding it. Dimly he heard Darla's intoxicated giggle and Angelus's mocking response, but he couldn't hear the words. Drowning in the depth of the power of Sarah's body, Samuel tried desperately to open his eyes but could not. The twitching in his body grew more intense as each body fed off the others, and finally the spasms drove him, still holding Sarah's body, off the love seat and onto the rugs in front of the hearth. He fell insensate, drunk on power, and did not feel Darla pulling Sarah's body away. But the sudden loss of body heat, and the withdrawal of Angelus and Darla from connection with him, put him nearly into shock, and he drew up his knees and arms to try to stop their trembling. The roar in his ears sounded like a hundred angry voices shouting from a distance. If he had this, he would never need anything again.
Two lighter voices, Darla and Angelus, began to murmur softly, and Samuel opened his eyes to see them curling up with Sarah closer to the fire. Openly erotic now, Angelus loosened his shirt and frock coat and then cradled Sarah's almost unconscious body from behind while Darla, huddled in front, stroked her hands up beneath Sarah's skirts. A sense of miasma in the air, almost a haze, surrounded the three. The two women's eyes were locked close, and Sarah was helpless in her gaze. Darla was cooing to Sarah. "There now, come now, come to me Sarah...Angelus will hold you close, and I'll hold you too. You made the right choice, Sarah, yes you did...you'll never feel like this again, will she, Angelus?"
Angelus, now in shirtsleeves, his face buried in Sarah's throat, murmured something, but Samuel couldn't hear it over the rip of dress fabric. And then, with a rush, Samuel realized where he was, came to reality with a sickening jolt, and knew that at the very least he was about to witness an orgy. He could not be here while Sarah was debauched, no matter this business about choices. He could not accept this power Darla had offered, no matter how desperate he was. It felt so limitless it must by definition be evil. And the power Darla and Angelus had let him taste would corrupt him utterly.
Darla was still cooing to Sarah, swaying back and forth in front of her as she slowly began to unbutton her dress. As Sarah lay back against Angelus, he reached a bare arm around to caress her breast slowly, sinking his sharp fingernails deeply into the nipple, and Sarah jerked. Then Samuel, unable to see any more, twisted violently away. He had to get out of there. He was suddenly very sober, very clear headed, and absolutely convinced that he was in the presence of unnatural evil. He crawled shakily to his feet and stumbled to the door, his hand on the doorknob--
--and from behind him a terrible sound arose, and he swung completely around to see a tableau of depravity and debauchery. Poor forgotten Molly was huddled by the moon drenched window in a torn and bloody dress, her head back and wailing for the demon lover who lay beside another woman. Before the roaring flames of the fire, Angelus was lying over Sarah's naked legs now, bare chested, and Darla had unbuttoned her dress to reveal her breast and whole side. The moonlight outlined everything with a silver clarity, limning the whiteness of skin, of shredded fabric, but Samuel could not bring himself to see what the moonlight revealed of Darla's skin. His horrified eyes turned away, would not look, and as he gulped and stumbled backwards to the door, Angelus raised his head from Sarah's soft belly with a swift, warning growl. Samuel fled, running down the hall, down the stairs, out the door and across the cobblestones, nearly sobbing in his fright and his hurry, seeing over and over in his memory the moonlight, how it etched Angelus's misshapen face with shadow and glinted off pointed, dripping teeth.
Copyright 2002-2004 - Tania
Violators will be whipped until it isn't fun any more!