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Devil's Tongue

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The door to the classy, very up-front mob cover of a restaurant is barely open when Jason says, “Your boss is expecting me. I’m the ten o’clock.”

The man blinks at him, then does a sweeping check of his gaze from throat to boots, taking in the incongruity of the well-tailored, white dress shirt and black pants with the black leather jacket pulled over the top. By the little twist of the man’s mouth, he doesn’t much approve of the mix of styles. Or maybe it’s just the lack of a tie, or the shirt not being tucked in. Not that Jason or his master care at all whether these morons think that he’s low-class.

“Come in,” is the only thing Jason really bothers to hear from the man who greets him at the door, as he idly watches his mouth move. There’s more, but he really doesn’t give a shit.

“You’re too kind,” he says in mocking answer, through a smile too full of teeth to be mistaken as sincere.

The man’s expression tightens, but Jason shoulders past him without regard for it. There’s a second one waiting, that steps up to start patting him down as the door shuts behind him. He rolls his eyes but obligingly lifts his arms. It’s thorough, and if he did have anything on him Jason can admit they probably would have found it. Unlucky for them that he doesn’t need anything in the way of weapons.

When they finish, Jason can’t quite help giving a wink and a smirk, and a drawling, “You missed a spot.” He swivels his hips a little to make it particularly obvious. Gets a sneer for it.

There are a few people in the restaurant, paying no mind to the show of his arrival. Classy suits and cocktail dresses, with more than a bit of glitter from jewels, and the sort of cool cast to their expressions that Jason’s learned to associate with old money and a general lack of care for anyone not on their perceived level of living. Pathetic, all of them. Just waiting to be toppled from their little thrones by someone who actually understands the world they live in. And what lives in it with them.

He’s escorted towards the back of the room, out of it. Beyond there’s a corridor, which leads to a door guarded by two more suited, hulking pieces of muscle. Even a little taller than Jason is, both of them, and probably half again his weight. Both stare down at him with narrowed eyes and guns resting openly in their resting hands, held too close to their crotches for Jason not to make a joke out of it. He doesn’t say it, this time, only snorts to himself and raises an eyebrow. One of them moves just enough to open the door.

Inside is a private room, with a chair at the opposite end raised just high enough to draw parallels to a throne, and a suited man with a wine glass in his hand sitting in it. Guards line the edges of the room, with everything from shotguns to assault rifles held as openly as the guns outside; an obvious show of force that Jason thinks is probably for his benefit, even if he is just the supposed talking piece of his master. You don’t get into bed with someone like Roman Sionis, after all, unless you’re sure that he respects the threat you represent.

Jason approaches at the direction of his escorting guard, and is brought to a halt about a dozen feet away. He glances around the room, picking out the servant at the boss’ side, and the small scattering of men and women around the room that look like… other servants, probably. Not in name, but in practice. Accountants, lawyers, or maybe heads of operations around the city. A gathering of power to discuss the idea of a new partner. Not all of them fit in with the suit-and-tie dress code of the rest.

“I was expecting your master,” the mob boss says after a beat of silence, maybe expecting some sort of bow or submission from him. “Where is he?”

Jason takes another glance around at the open weaponry. “He wasn’t fond of the idea of walking into the middle of the arsenal you’ve got in here. You get that, right? Little too much chance of a pow!” He grins, lowering the fake-gun shape of his hands. “Accident.”

The way the boss’ expression closes down, unfriendly and offended, is everything Roman predicted. He even stands, like he thinks trying to tower over him is going to make Jason feel intimidated.

“Partnership,” the man starts, voice ringing high and clear like it’s some sort of sermon, “is based on a mutual trust, and respect. If your gutter-born master doesn’t understand that, he’s got no place in our business. I don’t appreciate my time being wasted.” A flick of the man’s hand towards the door. “Escort Sionis’ dog out and put a bullet in him, but let him limp back to his owner; he’s got a message to deliver.”

Maybe it’s common practice and just misstated, or maybe one of the guards misunderstands the order, but the crack of a gun follows just a couple moments after the last word.

The impact to his calf knocks it out from under him, dropping Jason to one knee with a grunt as he catches himself on his other hand. It stings, a little. High caliber, apparently.

He gets back to his feet, shaking his leg a bit to get the flattened bullet to drop to the floor. Everything in the room has gone stiff and tense, and Jason takes a moment to roll his shoulders back and shed his jacket, tossing it to the floor behind him. Roman’s going to get sick of dry-cleaning it, eventually, and he’s not fond of having bullet holes patched. Why not save it if he can?

“Here’s the thing,” he says, as he rolls the cuffs of his sleeves up, turn by turn. “My master really doesn’t give a shit about your traditions, or what you think of him. Because in a minute here? You’re going to be dead, and your whole operation is going right underneath his.” He lifts his head, letting a little bit of his real appearance leak through to sharpen his teeth and nails, and he grins. “Take your best shot, dead man.”

“Kill him!”

Jason’s moving before the last syllables leave the man’s throat. Faster than anyone in the room, he turns on the escort still standing far too close to be safe from him and lunges, getting in under his guard with ease. A twist to one hand breaks a wrist and earns him the gun held in it, and Jason grabs the man by the collar with his other hand and drags him down over his back as a shield as he drops to a crouch and the room erupts with gunfire.

Some that make it past sting as they hit his skin and rebound, and those that tear through his shield he only feels as dull impacts across his back, along with the distinct wetness of blood soaking through his shirt. Well, it was a lost cause anyway.

He turns and tosses the body across the room, so it slams into the bottom of the door. Inwards-opening, no one’s getting out that way without moving the dead weight of a two-hundred-pound man first. That takes care of the main exit, now he just has to stop the mob boss before he reaches that little side-exit door nearly hidden behind a decorative curtain, right at the very back of the room.

Bursting upwards is as easy as breathing, finding the figure he’s looking for sheltered by other, bigger humans and aiming himself at them. And his gun.

He’s not a perfect shot, but his vision’s better than most people and it doesn’t take much to take them down, even if he doesn’t kill them instantly. By the time he’s crossed the distance, spinning around the ‘throne’ and chasing them down, his clip’s empty and the boss doesn’t have any more bodies ready to block his way.

The rest of his little army is panicking, trying to take Jason down, trying to get enough in the way to let their leader escape, but their shouts are little more than white noise to him.

Only Roman’s words (an order, burning right at the back of his mind) matter, and Roman cares about these fleas about as much as he does. Exactly enough to enjoy watching their blood spray out across a nice hardwood floor.

No one’s there to stop him closing the distance, reaching out and grabbing the boss’ suit jacket at the back of his neck to jerk him back in. He’d love to have a moment, slit his throat and watch him bleed out, do a little mocking, but the guards at his back aren’t going to let him. It’ll have to wait.

“I’ll be back for you,” Jason promises, and brings his knee up hard.

The snap of a spine is as satisfying a sound as ever, and he lets the human crumple to the floor as he turns back to the rest of his attackers. There’s horror there, fear. He bares his teeth in a grin.

A combination of his nails, strength, and their own guns lets him wipe out the rest of the room within a minute or so. Blood coats his forearms and stands out bright against the former whiteness of his shirt; more than one spray of it’s caught his face, and he can feel a couple trails dripping off his chin.

When he lifts his head from the last guard, turning to scan for any others still alive, only one real piece of movement catches his eyes. There are a few humans still twitching on the floor, or holding desperately onto very fatal wounds to prolong their lives just a few more pointless minutes, but there’s one man getting to his feet over against one of the walls. Small for this room, in a sweater and with glasses that say he was one of those miscellaneous accompanying servants, not a guard.

Jason pushes to his feet, gaze fixing on that last man as he leans against the wall, head turning to look at the room. His mouth curves into a crooked smile as he looks at the glasses, the more delicate features. Why not enjoy one small hunt before he finishes his mission?

”Well hello there,” Jason calls, stepping over a body as he approaches the man.

Blue eyes snap over to look at him. Watch him with sharp focus as he steps over another body in his way, coming to stand only about ten feet away with nothing between them but open floor. The man’s still, like a rabbit before a predator, watching and waiting and praying that stillness will make it unseen.

Jason tilts his head and grins. “Why don’t you run for me?” he says, quiet enough to be intimate, to be a suggestion.

The man doesn’t move.

“I said, run!” he shouts, and lunges with a snarl and a snap of his teeth.

Blue turns to ice.

Down.”

The word cracks like thunder into Jason’s ears, and his legs go out from under him, his back slamming to the floor with enough force to knock the wind from his lungs. It makes him choke, stuns him like almost nothing has since he was brought to this world.

The man steps away from the wall, and Jason drags in a breath that actually hurts and pushes at the floor, starting to rise before there’s a snapped, “Stay.”

His every muscle locks. The words stay ringing in his ears, stronger than the branded order in his mind, stronger than his own ability to move. Demonic language, his own tongue said back to him but in this world, by a human.

“You shouldn’t—”

Silence.” Jason chokes again, words shoved down his throat, as the man steps closer to him, over him. Then, in the human tongue, “You’ll speak and move when I allow it, demon, no matter how strong you think you are.”

Jason can only breathe in short, sharp inhalations and glare, snarling soundlessly up at the man standing over him. Who sighs, lips pursing in irritation as he lifts a hand and takes off the glasses, leaving them dangling from a hand as he takes in the room with one long, slow sweep. He doesn’t seem much affected by the blood or brutality of it all, except to narrow his eyes a bit.

“Well, this is inconvenient. Do you know how much effort I put into these people? How much time?” The man looks down at him, then sinks into a crouch beside him.

If he could just— just lift his hand. The man’s throat is right there, and then he couldn’t speak any more of his commands, he’d just die.

“Maybe I can still get something out of this mess.” A hand — warm, undeniably human by the thrum of life he can feel in the connection — touches his cheek, thumb smearing what must be one of the blood sprays further over his skin. “You’ll answer what I ask with honesty, understood?”

And, “Yes,” bursts from his throat before he can stop it.

The hand pats his cheek. “Good. Now you came here to deal for Roman Sionis; is he the one that controls your binding?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah that makes sense. Sharp rise to power, lots of violence in it. Easy thing to do when you’ve got a demon taking the hits for you.” The man rubs the fingers of his other hand together, looking momentarily distracted, preoccupied by whatever’s in his head. Then pulls the hand away from his cheek and pats one shoulder. Doesn’t seem to care that it gets more blood on his hand. “Kneel.

Jason jerks up, feeling distinctly like a puppet on strings as he all but sways onto his knees, and finds he still can’t lift his head, or his hands from his sides. What is this? Yeah, humans have power when they speak his tongue, but most know… a sentence, or the true name of what they’ve summoned, nothing more. And it’s weak, suggestion more than command as they speak words they don’t really understand. Not this control. Fluency.

The man’s hand tangles in his hair, pulling his head to one side and leaning close, till the words are almost breathed in his ear. “Tell me your name.

The syllables spill from his mouth without pause, despite the horror that takes him at that question. His being laid bare, his true name in its entirety dropped before a stranger. Even Roman doesn’t know that, and Jason would never tell. He only knows one part, enough to control him, enough to bind him. A human knowing all of it? They could… Anything.

The man repeats his name with perfect accuracy, every harsh or rolling syllable in a language he shouldn’t know, should barely even be able to pronounce except that he does. Jason shudders and feels it in his bones, his core… Deeper than the binding’s power has ever reached. He feels vulnerable.

“I’ll remember that. What do they call you here?”

“Jason.”

The man pulls back, far enough to look him in the eye. The hand in his hair stays tight, and the other raises to touch his jaw, tracing the line of it and then lifting to his cheekbone, his brow. It pauses there, framing his face.

“I think that suits you. You can call me Tim, Jason.” A smirk, as Jason narrows his eyes. “No, it’s not my true name. So, you’re Roman’s pet. Alright, then let’s see how good his work is.”

A flick and tap of Tim’s hand to the side of his throat, and Jason groans as power flares under his skin, chasing the lines of his bindings and dragging them to the surface. He can feel the burn as they rematerialize on his skin, glowing dark red power in every line; his power, turned against him. It hurts as badly as if he were fighting them, and a sharp part of his mind latches onto the idea that it might be exactly what Tim’s done to him. Faked a struggle against his bindings so they react, appear.

No one but his master should be able to summon them like this.

Tim’s hands leave him, and then take his shirt and rip it off with a couple hard pulls. It was in shreds anyway, from the bullets that did hit him. Jason’s too distracted to be annoyed the way he should, especially with Tim’s hands lifting to trace the jagged words etched into his skin.

They trace the circle at his throat first, easily finding the symbols at the back of his neck that spell out what Roman knew of his name; the crux of the entire binding. Then they trace the words outwards along his back, spiraling around each arm to end at his wrist. Back to his neck, to follow the line that extends straight down his spine and then splits at the small of it, to run smaller words around to the front of his waist and down. Tim’s fingers pause at the barrier of his slacks; significantly less damaged than his shirt was.

His hands withdraw.

Show me the rest.

Jason jerks, panting softly, but has no choice but to obey. His hands undo the belt and button on his slacks, and shove them down over his hips, then his legs. He comes back to kneeling at the end of it, pants shoved down over his boots, to bare every last inch of the binding still glowing, still burning at him.

Tim’s fingers return to his waist, continuing their interrupted path by following the marks down his pelvis and to his thighs, where they spiral just like his arms. Each of his legs is lifted, carefully, to look at the bits of the spiral obscured on his shins, and then finally Tim shifts back.

“Hm.”

A second tap to the side of his throat and Jason breathes out in relief as the bindings fade, leaving only a lingering ache under his skin. He looks up to meet Tim’s gaze, finding it thoughtful, as distracted as earlier. He feels the urge, oddly, to get his pants back on. He’s never cared before, but suddenly he does. Suddenly he wants just one small shield between him and this stranger that’s yanked all his power out from under him. Turned it on him. He’s… Nervous. Uncomfortable.

That’s new. Strange. Almost sort of thrilling. He hasn’t been disadvantaged since he was summoned to this reality, not really. There were other demons back in his ‘home,’ ones stronger than him, but here? Roman may be his master, but Jason’s never thought of him as better, or stronger. Only… lucky, to come across a demon trapped like he was. Jason respects him, but that’s all.

“It’s a decent binding,” Tim finally says, almost conversationally. “Someone did the base — your neck and your spine — and secured you to this world, but a different person finished it. Your master, Roman, I’d guess. Good work, individually, but the inconsistency makes it weaker. There’s no safety net either, in case someone else wants to usurp it, and of course only being linked to that one part of your name means it’s not nearly as powerful as it could be. And could be making you.” He scoffs. “I could do better in my sleep.”

Jason blinks, and that strange, uncomfortable twist in his stomach flattens out to something more familiar. Want. His gaze flicks over Tim, really looking at him as more than a piece of prey, or a threat.

Black hair to his jaw, paired with ice-blue eyes, in a face with long eyelashes but still a sharp jawline. Male, but edging towards the feminine, if Jason stopped to care about human genders. The glasses softened his expression out, but without them it’s like cut glass; smooth and cold and sharp at all the edges. Hard to tell what kind of a build he has, beneath the brown sweater, but his hands have long fingers and carefully trimmed nails. Just long enough to draw blood, if they wanted to. Jason kind of wants them too.

Small, shorter, but not prey. Definitely not prey.

Tim’s smile only makes the sharp edges to his face more apparent. A hand lifts, tracing the very edge of nails along his hairline, then back along his scalp. He swallows as they slide down his neck and to his chest, not minding or apparently caring about the blood on his skin. They lift then, sliding over his bottom lip and painting it red, pressing just far enough in for him to feel the barest bit of pressure against his teeth.

“Tempting,” Tim murmurs, leaned close enough that it would be the work of a moment to close the distance, if he could only move, “but I wouldn’t be interested unless I knew you were utterly mine. Even if I tore that binding apart and put mine in its place, you’d only ever be playing at being owned. I don’t do half measures.”

Jason wants to chase the fingers as they drop away from his mouth, and Tim gets to his feet. That he can’t frustrates him, and he bares his teeth, staring upwards in forcibly mute focus. He nearly trembles with the desire to get up and just— just have. Whether or not Tim can stop him, whether he’s held in check with that power or can just devour it.

Tim’s hand goes into his pocket, chin lifting as he looks out over the room. Jason eyes the pale column of his throat. “It’s not how I wanted to do things, but since you’ve wiped out pretty much everyone in power here, I might as well just move on to the next stages of my plan.” A moment, and then he looks back down at Jason, free hand coming to slide underneath his chin and tilt it up. “I’m going to take all of this for myself, and you’re going to go back to your master. When he’s ready to deal, or you’re ready for a hand that’s a little more skilled, you can come back to me.”

Jason shivers when nails scrape up the side of his jaw, and Tim smiles.

“I’ll see you soon, Jason.” Tim pauses, then adds his true name in a rolling purr that makes Jason shake and suck in a sharp breath. “You’ll be free soon enough. Don’t forget your jacket.”

He wants to protest, but Tim flicks his face to the side and walks off. Leaving him there, frozen and silent and staring after him with nothing but frustrated anticipation. He has to content himself with watching Tim’s back and ass as he strides across the room, dodging bodies and blood sprays with easy grace and a quick step. A couple are still shifting, turn or reach towards him as he passes, but Tim ignores all of them.

Until he comes close to the back exit, and the broken form of the previous mob boss lying there. Then he crouches, fingers coming to the man’s neck. Even from across the room, Jason can just hear the whispered rasp of the man pleading for help.

“Well,” Tim says, significantly louder than that whisper, “not quite dead after all, hm? Why don’t we put you out of your misery, sir?”

Jason watches as Tim leans off to one side, finding the fallen form of a bodyguard not far away and pulling the gun from his loose hand. He stands, aims, and fires without a shred of hesitation.

The compulsion at the back of Jason’s head fades, Roman’s order satisfied by the death of the man he was sent after. It’s almost odd; he’d practically forgotten that he had an actual job here. He was only interested in the kill before but now he finds himself not caring that the final shot’s been taken from him. The only part he’s really interested in is how desire curls in his chest at the proof that Tim has the bite to back up his commands, gun comfortable in his hands and not even a hint of guilt at the murder, as he drops the weapon back onto the guard’s body.

Tim heads for the door, and then turns at the threshold to look back across the room at him.

“Jason?” he calls, and smiles. “Make sure you don’t leave any of them breathing. For me. You don’t need that to be an order, do you?”

“No,” he answers, before he’s even thought about it. But it’s true.

He’s going to kill everyone still alive in this room, and his motivation doesn’t have all that much to do with Roman preferring a lack of witnesses in his brutalities. It’s not even mostly about his own survival; making sure that no one survives that can identify him and maybe point him out to some self-styled exorcist. No, the motivation is all in that knife-edged smile, and the pleased tint of Tim’s voice as he speaks through it.

“No, I didn’t think so.”

The door shuts behind him, and Jason stares at it as if he could burn right through and chase Tim down. He’s not going to, but he wants to.

He has to get back to Roman.

A sound draws his attention and he looks over. His head actually turns.

With a grin, Jason gets to his feet.

 


 

Roman’s waiting in the car, enough blocks away to be deniable. The driver opens the limo’s door for Jason, and he slides in onto the seats. Opposite Roman, lounging back in one corner with a drink in his hand.

“It’s done?” he asks, as the door clicks shut. Privacy, with the screen up between the driver and them.

Jason flicks his hands up to show off the stain of blood. He thinks about Tim, about getting pinned to the floor and being on his knees, about a hand in his hair and the roll of his real name through a sharp smile. About, finally, ice-blue eyes and the slide of fingers over his lip.

“Done,” is the only thing he says.

Roman smiles, and extends the hand that isn’t holding the drink. “Come here.”

Jason moves forward, taking Roman’s hand and letting himself be pulled in to the seat beside him. It’s a tickle along his spine, the compulsion to obey. For a moment, he compares it to the inescapable pressure of Tim’s words, and finds himself disappointed. It’s just… lacking. A question, not a demand.

Jason leans into the arm that comes around his back, dropping his head to rest on Roman’s shoulder and not particularly minding the way Roman’s fingers slide up the arch of his throat. They graze up his jaw, and from the corner of his eye he sees Roman take a drink from his glass. Something alcoholic, dark.

The car starts, and Jason flicks his gaze up to find one of the dark windows and look through it. Not that he can see much, but he finds himself staring off in the direction of the restaurant.

“Take the jacket off, pet.”

It’s a familiar little fission of irritation that strikes him as that name reaches his ears, but his hands move to obey. Why not? (Making it clear to Roman that he didn’t like the little names only resulted in more of them; no point in complaining about it now.)

He comes off the seat briefly to roll it off his shoulders, tossing it over to one of the other seats. Roman’s hand slides down over his bared shoulder.

“Shirt was a lost cause,” he explains preemptively, leaning back again. His gaze flickers back to the scenery outside the window as he remembers the rip of fabric being torn from his back.

Roman hums acknowledgement. “Did he scream?”

Jason shrugs, tilting his head a little more to the side as the wandering hand comes down to his chest and the blood there. “No; ran. I snapped his spine. He didn’t last long after that.”

It firms a little more in his head that he’s not going to tell Roman about Tim. Not unless some command forces him to, anyway. He can play that he actually was the one who killed his target, and that everything went according to plan. No anomalies, nothing strange. Certainly not a demon-tongue-speaking accountant that put him on the ground and then declared an intent to take over the entire operation.

It’s just self preservation, Jason rationalizes. Roman knows bindings, sure, but he’s never spoken a word of the demon-tongue as far as Jason’s known him. Probably doesn’t know that it exists, and he can’t imagine Roman not wanting to learn it if he did. Jason’s not real interested in being used to teach someone the power to have even greater control over him.

It’s not about anything else.

Roman lifts the drink to him, and he takes an idle swallow when it’s tipped into his mouth. He doesn’t feel the ‘burn’ humans talk about, but it tastes alright. Whiskey; now he knows.

“You’re usually in a better mood when you’ve had some fun,” Roman comments, taking a drink himself.

“Not that exciting.” There’s nothing in his binding that stops him lying to Roman, if he wants to. Jason usually doesn’t, but he can.

The thought slips into his mind that Tim wouldn’t let him get away with that. He’d be firmly in hand.

Roman’s fingers skate up his chest, brushing the side of his throat, and Jason jerks as a sharp shock of pain flashes along his bindings. His gaze snaps up to Roman, hand bracing against the seat as he twists away to face him.

“What the hell?” he demands, rolling his shoulders to shake off the last tingling skitters of pain sliding out under his skin. “Ow.”

Roman’s eyes are a little narrowed. “Paying attention now?”

“I was paying attention.”

Roman’s hand comes up to his face, thumb swiping along his jaw. “Some of it. You know I like your full attention, Jason. Whatever’s on your mind, get rid of it; I want you here.”

Jason flashes his teeth, letting them grow out for just a second into sharper points. “I don’t see me anywhere else. You don’t have to shock me just because I’m not fawning over you; that’s not part of our deal, Roman.”

Another flash of pain, and he hisses and pulls further away from Roman.

“Come back,” comes the sharp order, but it’s a fraction of the power that came with Tim’s and this Jason can fight.

He bares his teeth a little more obviously, staying at the opposite row of seats in direct defiance of the order. It makes his bindings itch first, then hurt a second later as he denies the compulsion. Obedience is written into his bindings, but not with enough control that he can’t fight it, if he wants to. For a time. A half dozen seconds is enough to bring the markings up against his skin, power flickering along them.

It’s enough to make his point, before he lets himself move back to Roman’s side.

Roman’s hand comes to his neck, wrapping around the back of it and tugging him in closer. “You know I don’t hurt you unless you deserve it, baby.”

“Well that’s bullshit,” Jason scoffs, but he also follows the tug of Roman’s hand to swing a leg over his lap and straddle it.

A smile, and Roman’s nails dig into his neck. Not a threat, just Roman enjoying the feel of it. That, Jason doesn’t care about. Roman really can’t hurt him in any meaningful way without using the bindings against him.

“So, anything you want to tell me, pet?”

Jason shifts to get more comfortable as he considers an answer, then meets and holds Roman’s gaze, lifting his arms to rest on Roman’s shoulders and leaning close. “Just wasn’t as fulfilling as I wanted,” he says, skirting the edges of a lie. “Only one person of interest and I didn’t get to do much with him. Left me a little frustrated.”

“Yeah, baby?” Roman sets the drink aside; hooks fingertips into the hem of his slacks. “Well, I can certainly fix that.”

Chapter Text

The next week passes at a crawl for Jason, what with the memory of Tim crackling beneath his skin like hot coals.

Nothing satisfies him over the course of it. Normal delights have become drudgeries; sex and violence among them. Roman’s orders are obeyed, grudgingly, but for every word his current master speaks, Jason imagines Tim’s voice saying them instead. The sheer force of orders spoken in his native tongue, by one with a will stronger than any metal on Earth.

How could any human be that strong, he wonders. Strong enough to cow him like he’s the lowest imp, rather than a full fledged demon of the higher orders. It shouldn’t be possible, but yet it had happened, and the experience was so unique, so intoxicating, that even with the passage of days his curiosity only grows, rather than waning.

How long until he’ll see Tim again? How long until the human boy enacts his promise to destroy Roman and free him?

How long until his service can be pledged to a more worthy master instead?

He doesn’t know, but the waiting becomes more and more unbearable as time drags onwards, and he only has the memory of the encounter to keep warming him through.

Roman notices, he thinks, in small ways. Notices that Jason is restless, like a cat kept cooped up too long inside the house. Distraction is promised and given in the form of more enforcement opportunities on behalf of his business, personal ‘games’ in the seclusion of his current master’s private playroom, but it doesn’t help.

He’s punished for it, now and again. The power of his bindings used to shock him enough that, on at least one occasion, he’s left paralysed on the floor.

Jason gets better at pretending everything is normal after that, but the itch in his veins still remains. He waits and waits, anticipation building for Tim to make his move.

Then finally, on the eighth day, he does.

The news comes in that the rival organisation Jason dismantled for Roman has now been resurrected by a new leader. A young man, dark haired and blue-eyed, who goes by the name Tim. As soon as their informant announces it, Jason’s sitting up, rapt with attention the same as Roman, though for very different reasons.

“The fuck,” Roman growls, as the list of infringements carried out against his business and territory in the last twenty-four hours continues to be recited. “Who does this little prick think he is moving in on my city?! Mine.

Watching and listening from the sidelines, Jason says nothing as he continues to rant, working himself up into a familiar rage.

“I didn’t do all that work for some no-name shit to waltz in and ruin it all!” Roman paces across the room, back and forth before rounding on his men and Jason both. “I want him dead, like yesterday. Find out where he’s going to be and bring me his head!”

As the mooks stammer and vie to make their assurances that it will be so, Jason senses that as his moment to move in. He has the distinct sense that such ordinary low-lives won’t stand a chance against someone like Tim, so it’s not worry that does it. It’s just that… well, he doesn’t want to have to wait for this affair to get more personal than it already it is.

Not when he can so easily speed things up a little.

“You really trust these bozos to take care of it?” he speaks out loud, cutting a swathe of immediate silence amongst the rest of the crew gathered in the room. They might not know the exact truth of his nature, but the fact that Jason’s dangerous, and more importantly, that Roman keeps him so close, is more than enough to give him the power to do so. “Honestly, I think you’re setting yourself up for disappointment there, Blackie.”

Roman’s eyes fixate on him. Calling him ‘Blackie’ may have been a step too far, because there’s a unfriendly drip to his voice when he asks, “Then what would you suggest?”

That’s okay, Jason wants him riled up. The angrier he is, the more likely he is to agree.

“Set a trap,” he purrs, “Call a meeting, from one gang leader to another, and take me with you. I know how much you love watching me work.”

Roman’s eyes narrow further. Appealing to his sadistic side is always a good tactic, too.

“He’ll know it’s a trap. He’d be an idiot to come.”

“He won’t have any choice,” Jason argues back, “He’s the small fish, you’re the big player, and he’s already overconfident in what he’s doing. No way he’ll resist the bait of you being willing to negotiate. If he brings guards, so what? I’ll be there.”

The rest of the men shift awkwardly, gazes flicking between them with clear apprehension. Most people that talk back to Roman get a bullet between the eyes; they’re not eager to get in the middle of a spat between master and attack dog, if it means bullets go flying. Or if they get killed just for being witness to Jason not getting shot for it.

Roman recognizes that, too.

“Everyone get out.”

Ten seconds after the order is given, they’re gone. Every man eager to escape the situation before anything can go wrong. Jason carefully doesn’t bat an eyelid, staying lounging comfortable against his perch as — once the door finally shuts — Roman stalks towards him.

A second later, fingers, covered in leather, have grasped his hair. Jason doesn’t hiss as his head is cruelly tugged back and Roman leans in close to him, his breath sour with the stink of whisky and cigarettes. Such pain is nothing to him these days.

“Eager, pet?” his master whispers suspiciously, words soft in a twisted version of a lover’s caress. “How unlike you to try and take an active part in my business. What’s brought this new change of heart on, hm?”

Jason doesn’t let any of it rattle him. “Maybe I’m bored,” he begins, echoing that same light tone, “Or maybe I’m as pissed as you are that something I put down didn’t stay dead.”

The grip tightens, “Oh I’d love to believe that, I really would,” Roman’s eyes are narrowed as they rake across his face, “This better not be some attempt at a game on your part, pet, you know how well those have gone for you in the past.”

This time he lets his eyes widen, his breath catch a little. “I know, and it’s not. I just want to kill something, Roman; is that so hard to believe?”

The intensity of his master’s stare stays on him a minute longer, but then it slowly relaxes and Roman huffs out a rough laugh, “Guess not. You have been acting all squirrelly of late, I guess that last massacre got your blood up.”

“Like a hound,” Jason adds, grinning now, “Once I smell it I want more.”

“Heh,” Roman shoves his head back, “Just so long as you remember who’s in charge of this pack.”

Turning away from Jason, Roman returns to his desk to pour himself a new glass of whisky. He sniffs it before drinking.

“I guess your idea isn’t entirely without merit. I’ll offer out the olive branch, see if our new fish bites. But if he doesn’t, you and I will be having more words, pet. Ones you won’t enjoy.”

Jason reaches up and smooths back his hair, “Wouldn’t have it any other way, Roman.”

 


 

Tim takes the bait, of course. Sets up a meeting just two days away, and calls a ceasefire for the time in between. A decision that Roman sneers at, but agrees to with the taste of the catch already whetting his appetite.

Roman’s the only one of them that doesn’t know that he’s the one staring down a hook, not the one holding the line.

It shows in the way he casually swaggers into the chosen location for the meeting, accompanied only by three bodyguards and Jason. It’s supposed to be a show, a ‘look how little protection I need from you’ that’s covering up the fact that only one of them is truly dangerous.

A show that falls completely flat when Tim steps out of the shadows at the other end of the warehouse, small, slim, and completely alone.

Roman’s shock at the display is soon covered up by his disgust when he registers how completely non-threatening his opponent appears (at least at first glance).

“Here I was expecting someone impressive,” he says to that end. “Not some kid wearing his dad’s overcoat. What are you, fifteen?”

Tim is unrattled. “Twenty-one, actually.”

“Christ, they’re just making crime lords younger and younger these days, huh? Well,” Roman gestures towards the table and chairs set up for them, “sit down, I haven’t got all night.”

With unconcerned grace, Tim moves to do just that. Jason can’t help but lean forward a little as he watches him go, hoping for just a glance from those eyes, some acknowledge, but in the end gets nothing. Tim is too controlled for such a slip up — maybe even enjoys making him wait and burn with the apparent dismissal.

Jason likes the thought of that far more than he should.

A little slower, Roman takes his seat, too. That Tim came unaccompanied must be weighing on his mind, wondering what it is that makes the younger man so confident. Snipers in the wings? A bomb set somewhere? Jason can relate, he too is dying to see exactly how Tim plans on playing this.

He hopes that, by the end, there’ll be something of a reward in it for him. Look, he wants to say out loud, I served him up for you, nice and neat on a platter. It has to be enough to give Tim cause to take a chance on him, before all this is over.

And either Jason will tear him apart in the course of the new binding, or it will succeed and he’ll have a new master at least. One actually worthy of him.

Whichever way it works out, he wins.

They’re talking now. Dull, indirectly threatening words about business and territory Jason doesn’t pay attention to and lets it all wash over him. He’s agitated in the waiting, but forces himself to stay completely still, least he gives the game away too soon and ruins the surprise.

“I can see we’re not going to be able to come to an agreement,” Tim says eventually, a shift in his posture drawing Jason’s attention more closely. “It’s a real shame, Roman.”

“Shame my ass,” Roman growls, inelegant as ever. “I’m not accepting anything less from a little shit like you than total surrender.”

Tim smiles, thin lipped and without humour. Then his gaze shifts, away from Roman, and lands directly on Jason.

Heat bursts inside his stomach to be the sole subject of that icy gaze again. Jason finds himself wetting his lips and curling his fingers into claws, ready with anticipation.

“Pet—” Roman starts to say, only to be completely drowned out by Tim’s smooth, clinical recitation of the demonic tongue.

Kill them all for me, Jason. Everyone but him.

He doesn’t even stop to think about it before obeying. Tim’s will is iron, and absolute.

The first bodyguard dies when Jason grabs his head and twists it round, hard enough that it almost comes free of his shoulders. The second fails to draw his gun in time before Jason’s done it for him and fired three times into his chest. The third one manages to live a few seconds longer, as Roman — incredulously — yells at him to stop.

For a few seconds, the bindings on Jason’s skin war with Tim’s power. It hurts, in a way that’s unpleasant as he stays caught between two forces, but Tim — quick as a whip — spies the problem and solves it by drawing his own gun and shooting Roman through the knee, severing his concentration.

The third bodyguard doesn’t last very long after that.

With blood dripping from his hands, Jason turns back to the table. To Roman cursing as he hobbles back away from both of them and Tim calmly standing to watch him.

Come here,” he says, almost idly, and Jason can’t be by his side fast enough.

“What the fuck,” Roman spits, trying to hold his own gun steady at them while grasping his bloody and ruined knee, “What the hell are you saying to him?! What the fuck kind of language is that?!”

Tim gives him a cool, dissecting glance. “His own,” he answers. “Infernal, or the demonic tongue if you prefer. It can have a very powerful effect on hellspawn when spoken correctly by a mortal.”

“You got him to set this up!” Roman’s eyes widen, incensed. “You got him to—”

“Not exactly.” Now Tim looks at Jason, a glow of interest finally in his gaze. “He knew I was going to be coming for you, but I didn’t give him any instruction on making it easier for me. That part he did on his own; seems he finds the idea of my control over him more enticing than yours.”

“You traitorous little bitch!” The gun in Roman’s hand goes off, but before the bullet can reach Tim, Jason is standing in front of him, taking the shot himself. It bites into his chest and stays there, bloody but not even especially painful.

Demon, Roman,” Jason responds with an eye roll. “What else did you expect?”

Roman starts to curse again, but Jason’s focus is all on Tim behind him, who places a light hand against his back as he says, “Do you want to kill him?

What do you think?

Fingers tap rhythmically over his spine, “Then do it, Jason, whichever way you like. Just don’t take too long.

Jason bows his head, grins savagely, and sets off walking forward.

Roman yells at him to stop, firing the gun until the clip is empty. The bullets feel like bee stings, the words like irritating tugs on his consciousness that are easily shrugged off. By the time it’s over, Jason’s hands are even bloodier than before, all the way up to his elbows.

He turns back to Tim. Under his skin, the bindings that made him Roman’s are fraying and dissolving. In this moment he’s technically free, able to do whatever he wants to, and they both know it.

Jason starts to stalk forward, more predatory than before. His claws are out, his teeth. He can feel the horns threatening to break free on his head, and his eyes are probably glowing, too, hungry with bloodlust and more.

Stop,” Tim orders, before he can get any further. “Control yourself.”

Jason freezes immediately, watching, waiting, like a predator before a bird — only who’s who in this moment is somewhat up for interpretation.

Tim walks forward to circle him once, then stops in front of Jason. His fingers, so long and fine boned, come up to grasp his chin. “You brought him here for me without asking, saved me from being shot without asking. Did I really make that good an impression on you the first time we met?”

It’s not spoken in his tongue, so it’s not an order, just a request. Jason smirks and answers it honestly regardless, “Better than the one he made in four years.”

Tim snorts with unexpected laughter. “So that begs the question, do I kill you now, banish you back to your own realm, or keep you?”

“I think you know which one I’d choose,” Jason replies, leering.

An eye roll. “Yes,” Tim says dryly, “I do.”

He considers Jason a minute longer, enough to set up impatient nerves dancing beneath his skin before sighing. Then, in the demonic language, orders, “Come with me. I’m not doing anything here.”

Jason gladly follows.

 


 

 

Tim has a driver waiting inside a sleek black car. Nothing so opulent as Roman’s usual mode of transportation, but comfortable enough.

He’s careful as he guides Jason to climb inside, giving orders liberally and with thorough contemplation. Sit here, don’t move. It’s obvious how experienced he is with Jason’s kind, knowing how well and how cruelly demons will exploit loopholes whenever they see them. Jason has no way to do him harm; not during the car journey, and not when they enter Tim’s sparsely decorated place of residence either.

Go to the center of the room.” is the next order, and Jason smirks as he obeys, idly rubbing dried flakes of blood between his fingers.

But then, upon reaching the exact spot Tim points to, he finds his feet suddenly rooted to the floor, and the smirk drops in favor of surprise as a hitherto invisible magic circle suddenly springs to being around him.

“You prepared for me,” Jason says, once he’s got over it, lifting his head and fixing Tim with a hungry gaze. “I’m touched.”

“I wanted to make sure we’d be able to have a conversation where I wouldn’t have to be constantly holding you in check,” Tim replies dryly, taking off his coat and hanging it up. Jason watches as he retrieves a chair from the small dining table at one side of the room, then drags it forward to the edge of the circle to sit in front of him. “It gets exhausting after a while.”

Jason bares his teeth. “Mortal frailty often is.”

Tim gives him a harder look for that. “Funny.”

“I just take the shots where I can see them.” He grins.

“You’re acting pretty insolent for someone who wants me to keep him around,” Tim draws back.

Jason shrugs. “Well, a master who can’t take a little heat is no fun.”

“I’m supposed to take that to mean you’re testing me? That’s even more funny.” Crossing his legs elegantly, Tim rests his chin in his hand. “I think I’m ready to move this along, let’s start by having you reveal yourself for what you really are.”

Before Jason can so much as blink, Tim’s twisted the fingers of his free hand in a complicated little gesture. Barely two seconds pass before a sensation like a lightning bolt hitting him fills Jason’s veins, and in the moments after, strip him entirely of the glamour that kept him looking even moderately human.

He spits painfully on the floor as it happens. As his eyes glow green and turn feline. As parts of his flesh crack, exchanging soft skin for harder black scales. As his hair grows a little longer and wilder, the space at his temples making way for the hard curve of horns. His jaw readjusts itself as his teeth sharpen, and Jason lets out all his displeasure through them in a rasping hiss.

“Happy?” he growls, traces of smoke escaping his throat from the molten core inside his chest. “You know, you could’ve just asked.”

Tim smiles, holding his gaze without a flinch or even a whisper of disquiet. “But I don’t need to ask you for what I want, now do I?

Jason’s spine goes rigid. Immediately after, a wave of heat jumps downwards, direct to his cock.

“No,” he says more darkly, “I guess you don’t.”

Tim tilts his head, clearly pleased by the acknowledgement. “If it makes you feel any better, I did have to put a lot of work into making sure the spell would be able to hold you, much less make you obey.”

It does, but Jason would be loath to admit it. How much he’s already in sway to Tim regardless of bindings is too obvious as it is. “So, now you’ve seen all of me. Well, almost all of me.” He smirks again. “Am I everything you wanted?”

There’s a pass of Tim’s gaze down the length of his torso, dragging slow and assessing across the blood-spattered shirt and jeans, then finally back up to his eyes. “You’re powerful, true. Dangerous, in your own brute-force way. Higher order.” A knife-thin smile. “But not the highest.”

Jason’s smirk sours, as Tim rises from the chair.

“What I’m not seeing, Jason, is any reason you’re special.” He steps closer, and Jason glances at the very edges of his feet, where they threaten to smudge the drawn circles and release him. Not quite. “Should I be enthralled at the idea that a demon finds themselves drawn to my power? You’re not the first to be attracted to me, and if all I wanted was power, I could get something stronger than you within the day.”

The denigration stings like the bullets did; non-fatal, but irritating.

“Then what do you want?”

Tim steps forward, deliberately inside the circle, and Jason’s eyes narrow as the beat of his heart speeds. There’s not even a glance downward to find his footing, only smooth confidence as he enters the circle and stops, without fear or wariness, only inches from Jason and every way he could rip mortal skin into ribbons. The circle stands strong, and Jason bares his teeth in a small hiss, tilting his head and imagining driving his horns into the little one’s guts. Been awhile since he’s killed anything in his real form; he’s found himself missing the variety it gives him more than once.

A hand lifts, and Jason intercepts it with one of his own before it can touch him, wrapping his fingers around that fragile, human wrist. Maybe he’s weakened in this circle, but he’s not so powerless he has to just stand here and let a human run over him. Rooted to the spot he might be, but he doesn’t need his legs to kill. All he’d need is one fraction of a second to dig his claws into the wrist beneath them, and Tim will bleed to death like any human.

“You shouldn’t be in here,” he warns, feeling the beat of Tim’s heart in his wrist, feeling it echo in his own chest. He lifts the captive wrist as he bares his teeth, sliding his claws back just enough that he can lave his tongue over the strong, steady pulse beneath the thin barrier of skin. Salt and the sharpness of something chemical, applied for a scent that’s mostly worn off. He’s more interested in the rush of blood beneath it; what it might look like if he just slits the wrists and lets them bleed. “Your words won’t save you in here, Tim. I can open your arteries faster than you can tell me to stop.”

“You could,” Tim agrees, still without any hint of fear. His eyes are chips of ice, his mouth twisting in a small, cruel smirk. “But not in this circle. In here,” a calm tug of his wrist, and Jason feels it slip right out of his hand, his fingers spasming as they let go instead of bearing down like he wanted, “you can’t hurt me.”

Jason looks down at the circle, studying it for the first time, and yeah, he can see the words now. A flat, inescapable command to not let any harm come to any human in the circle. If Tim wants to hurt him, on the other hand, it’ll be as simple as sliding a blade into his gut. He won’t even be able to fight back.

What a thorough little bastard Tim is.

“So now what?” he asks, more smoke pouring from his lips as his irritation builds and Tim smiles.

His hand lifts again, skimming the curve of Jason’s hairline and then wrapping around the base of one of his horns, pulling his head to a sharper angle with one easy tug. “Why don’t you show off to me?” is what he says, through a flash of white teeth. “You want to be mine? Convince me. Make me want it, too.”

Pissed off enough to be petty, at least for now, Jason blows a smoke ring between them, directly into Tim’s face.

“Whatever you say, Master. May I kneel?”

Despite Tim’s earlier words, Jason doesn’t miss the small way his pale cheeks deepen in colour at the word. He’s definitely not so unaffected by all this as he’s pretending to be.

“If you think it’ll help you.” he agrees, granting his permission with a small sharp nod.

Jason smirks as he sinks down, slowly, so that Tim doesn’t lose the grip he has on his horn. He then lifts his hands, letting them settle, palms flat, on front of the human’s thighs.

“Convince you,” he murmurs, as if musing on the technique, “I can think of a few ways to do that.” Jason looks up through his eyelashes at Tim, “I could tell you all the things I’ve done, the feats I’ve accomplished to climb my way as high as I have. Or…” He licks his lips, lingering enough that Tim can’t possibly miss the slight extra length to his tongue. “I wonder if you’d prefer a more physical demonstration of my worth?”

“That’s for you to decide,” Tim says, a little tighter than before, “I’m not giving you any clues.”

Except, of course, that he just did.

Jason only huffs a laugh, grinning to bare all his teeth as he leans close and nuzzles into the crook of Tim’s thigh and groin. Fingers flex on his horn, and he doesn’t have to be any closer than he is to hear the little catch of breath. He wonders, as he breathes out heat over the front of the slacks and slides his hand down Tim’s right leg to grip his shin, if this little human has ever actually had a demon of his magnitude at heel before, or if all of his confidence just comes from theory and skill. Or, have all of the ones he’s run across just been idiots? Because Jason doesn’t need to cause harm to get himself out of this circle, all he needs is something inside it that can break those drawn lines. Something that doesn’t belong to him, or hold any of his essence. Like a foolish little human, over-confident enough to cross that line that keeps him safe.

He looks up the length of Tim’s chest, to the blue eyes that no longer so much resemble ice as they did. There’s heat there now, and he smirks and shifts a little closer, sliding the hand on Tim’s thigh around to clasp the back of it, holding him close.

Jason lets his claws hook in the fabric, just grazing the skin beneath, even though the circle holds them back from sinking any further.

It still gets him another small catch of breath, and the fingers around his horn tighten, tugging at it as Tim demands, “Don’t ruin my clothes.”

His teeth show in a smile, and his, “Sure thing,” is utterly insincere. Not like that was a real order, and this circle only holds him to obedience as long as he’s inside it.

He flattens out the hand he has at Tim’s shin, and shoves.

The sole scrapes over the floor as Tim gasps in surprise, bending forward as his leg goes out from under him and grabbing for the other horn to keep his balance. The fingers have barely closed when Jason feels the marks of the circle break, and the weight of its power vanishes off his limbs.

One yank of his hand pulls the other leg out from under the human, and Tim topples backwards.

Jason lunges forward, and by the time Tim’s hit the floor — air being knocked out of him in a harsh exhale — he’s straddling his waist and shoving his hand over that dangerous mouth, snapping it closed and digging his claws into Tim’s jaw to hold it there.

Then, before Tim can get his bearings or do something to him with one of those soundless little spells, he hisses, “Your fingers start to move, I’ll crush your jaw. That clear, Master?

Air rushes out over his knuckles as Tim breathes hard through his nose, focusing on him but, agreeably, not moving. Jason smirks, and reaches up to take one of Tim’s hands. Slowly, carefully, he tucks the flattened palm under one of his knees, then does the same to the other side. Tim’s eyes are narrowed, ice once again, but he doesn’t struggle. He would know better, wouldn’t he? Without some way to disable him — words, circle, or both — Tim’s just a human, and Jason knows about a hundred ways to break mortals without giving them the time to react.

“That’s better,” he murmurs, and reaches up to trace along the edge of one of Tim’s eyebrows with the very tip of a nail.

The skin splits easily, just enough that blood wells along the scratched line, but Tim doesn’t react beyond another hard exhale. Jason lifts his hand to lick at the tip of his claw, tasting — beyond the older, dried flavor of Roman and his thugs — the blood and letting the flavor burst across his tongue, settle into memory. Old blood, power born instead of learned, and as he breathes the taste in something mostly forgotten pings at the back of his mind. An old memory of a similar flavor, half-instinctual for as vague as it is.

Jason can’t help but to laugh. “I know what you are,” he says, pleased and just a little vicious. “You’re one of the Drakes. Wow, it’s been a long time since I heard of one of you; I thought the line died out.”

Tim glares at him.

No wonder he speaks the demon tongue with such fluency; the Drakes all did, back when they were a real force to be reckoned with. Back before their control of demons spooked the humans around them into hunting them all down. Or close to all, apparently. He hasn’t heard anything about the Drakes in at least close to a couple centuries. What happenstance, to run across one here in Gotham, posing as some rich little mob boss.

He’d like to hear what the little mortal has to say.

“I hear a syllable of my tongue,” he warns, leaning a little closer, “and you won’t live to say the rest of the word. Fair warning, little human.”

Jason slides his palm down, fitting it over the curve of Tim’s throat, his claws settling right over arteries. Not that puncturing them would be what he’d do, if necessary. Just clenching his hand down and collapsing the windpipe would be more efficient, but the threat is useful. Plus, he can feel how Tim swallows, Adam’s apple bobbing beneath his palm and betraying nerves where his expression doesn’t.

“You shouldn’t have gotten in that circle with me,” Jason murmurs, with a small curve of his lips.

Tim’s jaw shifts, slightly, but his tone is carefully blank as he says, “No. Guess I shouldn’t have.”

He scrapes the tip of his thumb up the sweep of Tim’s throat, admiring the reddening line he leaves behind before looking back up. “Did you not know I could break it like that, or did you think I was too brute force to actually do it?”

The light flush that steals into Tim’s cheeks answers the question for him.

Jason grins, leaning down to bring them face to face, just inches apart. “You should know better than to judge a tool by who’s holding it, little Drake. That’s sloppy.”

The flush becomes a sneer. “Does this mean you’re going to kill me?” Tim asks, evidently not pleased at being called out.

“I haven’t made my mind up, yet. I guess it depends on you,” Jason’s grin widens into a smirk, “And what you have to offer me.”

Tim’s nostrils flare, then (through gritted teeth) he asks, “What do you want?”

There’s a savage temptation to turn his own game back on him, but Jason decides that he’d rather not draw this out too much further. He’s already proved his point by getting Tim under his mercy. He’s spilled his blood, tasted it, and knows he wants more. “I think I already made that clear to you, little magician. I want everything you can give me; a tie to this world, someone whose power matches my own.” He lets more smoke pour from his lungs, “And with whom my relationship will be more… mutually beneficial.”

Though he tries not to, Tim coughs. Delicate, wheezing things, that amusingly Jason can’t help but think of as ladylike.

“You keep breathing on me like that,” he says, “We won’t be doing anything together, because I’ll be too busy having lung cancer.

Tamping down his urge to just laugh, Jason brushes his mouth over Tim’s as he purrs, “Not if you bind yourself to me you won’t.”

The blush returns. “You’re relentless.” Tim grumbles.

“I know,” Jason gives him a little more room to breathe, though not too much, “I’m told it’s one of my best qualities.”

He can see him mulling it over. The position he’s in now, combined with the varying benefits and risks of agreeing.

“I don’t think I have much choice in the matter.” Tim says.

“You always have a choice,” Jason replies, shrugging lightly, “But it’s whether you’re prepared to face the consequences either way that matters.”

Tim purses his lips, then finally he nods. “Fine. Let me up, I’ll do the binding.”

But Jason doesn’t, not right away. “Try anything else,” he says lowly, baring his teeth, “And no matter how long it takes me, I will find a way to kill you later.”

“How nice that we’re starting from a place of trust,” Tim drawls. As Jason pulls away from him, he frees his arms from where they’ve been pinned beneath his knees and, wincing, rubs his wrists. “You’ll need to take off your shirt.”

“Just my shirt?” Jason asks, enjoying the resultant discomfort and glare he earns for it.

“For now.” Tim shoots back, though he doesn’t manage it with quite the same cool confidence of earlier that he’s aiming for. Hard to, with blood still beading above his eyebrow. “I’ll need you to kneel down, too, if you want me to do this accurately.”

“And a knife,” Jason adds, smiling wickedly, “Unless you want me to use my claws again.”

Tim says nothing, but there’s a definite stomp to his step as he walks towards the small kitchen off to the side of this room. It’s cute, and Jason chuckles before doing as he’s been told, unbuttoning his shirt and dropping it carelessly to the floor in the time it takes him to come back.

“Kneel.” Tim orders, though still in the human tongue.

Jason pauses long enough to take a good look at the knife he’s brought in with him. Just a kitchen knife, but the blade is long and obviously sharp. Good enough.

“Blood first,” he responds, even as he steps forward to bring them closer together. “Then you can make your mark.”

“That’s not the way it’s supposed to go.” Tim replies, frowning.

“No,” Jason says, “It’s the way I want it to go. Are you going to argue with me, Timmy?”

“Don’t call me that,” Tim spits, “I can still send you back where you belong if I want to.”

Jason grins. “You could try.”

An argument sits on the tip of Tim’s tongue. Jason can see it in his face before he forces himself to take a deep breath and regain his composure. “Just give me your hand, Jason. Let’s get this done with.”

Smugly, Jason does as he’s told, offering out his hand with the palm facing up. There’s no fear of the pain incoming for him, only anticipation, though the same probably can’t be said for Tim, who has his jaw clenched as he splits open Jason’s palm with the knife. Then, breathing a little more heavily, his own.

This may be his first time doing this, but Tim no doubt knows as well as Jason does that demon blood burns. Especially when it comes into contact with a mortal’s.

The moment their hands make contact, he hisses. His teeth grind, and his already pale face loses every remaining drop of colour in it as the seconds tick on. Jason can even feel Tim start to shake a little as he locks their fingers together, though he fights desperately to keep his expression as unaffected as ever.

There’s no way Jason can resist the urge to tease him again, to poke and prod that perfect little veneer even further.

“Been a while since I last did this,” he begins, tilting his head to get a better look at the signs of strain starting to invade the corners of Tim’s eyes, “Almost forgot how good it feels. How about you, little Drake? Enjoying the bite?”

“Shut up, demon.” Tim pants, sweat beading on his temples, too.

Jason laughs, tightening his grip and tugging hard enough to pull Tim off balance and make him stagger forwards. Then, before he can retreat, sliding his other arm around Tim’s waist and drawing them chest to chest, as if in a dance. It might as well be; one that predates all human culture this little Drake knows.

“Don’t get shy,” Jason murmurs, pressing his palm to Tim’s low back, lowering his head to speak into his ear. “You can feel it; my blood eating its way into you, tying us together. I can feel yours too, Timmy.” And he can, the cool, liquid slide of it in his veins, winding its way through his chest. Tying him as much to this plane as to the human it’s from. All it needs is a mark to guide that tying. One for each of them.

Tim’s head presses down against his shoulder, weight leaning heavily into him. The trembling has taken over his shoulders, but the only sounds escaping are small, harsh exhales. Jason isn’t going to say it, but he’s a little impressed. Most humans don’t get through this without crying or screaming, nevermind not even pulling away. Then again, Jason’s never been summoned — or bound in any way — by a Drake before.

Jason wonders, with a sharp curiosity, whether Tim is the last of his line. Are there parents? Siblings? Or only fragments of a broken bloodline still scattered across the world, ignorant of their own heritage? (If there are any left, will they come after him for this?)

Tim, in his arms, gasps as he jerks into a sudden arch. His head tosses back, and Jason eases just far enough away to look at him. The line of his throat, open and vulnerable, and the sharp arch of his back, supported almost entirely by Jason’s hand. Still no cries though; only a tight jaw and hard breaths through the nose, as if he can keep the sound at bay through sheer willpower.

Maybe he can.

Jason watches, and sees the moment — feels it, mirrored in the final settling under his own skin — when Tim’s mortal frame accepts the power bled into it. His jaw goes loose, expression melting from strain into relief even as his legs begin to buckle.

Jason and Tim

It’s easy to let go of the little Drake’s weak hand, snapping the connection between them. Just as easy to bring his hand up and cradle Tim’s skull, lowering them both as he sits, then pull Tim in against his chest.

He hums satisfaction at the pulse of power he can feel underneath Tim’s skin, reacting to his proximity as he slides a thumb down his jaw. “How do you feel, little Drake?”

The breath Tim takes is deep, and when he shifts it’s loose, head rolling in against Jason’s hand as his eyes flicker open. For a moment, they flare bright with power — red invading the blue irises, sparking out over the whites of his eyes — before it fades away. One slow blink and an exhale later, and Tim is breathing, "Powerful," in a long, drawn out sigh.

Jason grins. "You don't know the half of it, Timmy." He leans in, tilting Tim's head to meet his for a brush of lips.

The response is eager. Jason finds Tim sliding mostly out of his lap, the hand with the knife — fingers still curled around the hilt — pressing to his chest as Tim leans into him. The press of teeth against his bottom lip isn't enough to break the skin, but he enjoys the pressure; almost bites back, before deciding that he doesn't want to ruin the little Drake's face quite so soon. Be a shame to destroy something so pretty without at least getting a bit of use out of it first. What he can do is press his tongue into Tim's mouth, holding him tight with the grip in his hair.

Tim moans into the kiss, then scrapes teeth along his tongue. Not biting, but warning, maybe. Jason doesn't fear the pain, but he's amused by the thought of it. He draws back, bringing his mouth to Tim's jaw and then neck, as he clasps his free hand over one side of Tim's waist. He can taste the sweat on his skin, the pure humanity of him. It draws a deep groan from his chest, as he resists just sinking his teeth right into that fragile skin.

His power might make the Drake more resilient, but not that much.

The flat of the knife drags up his chest, and Jason feels Tim inhale.

“I told you not to call me that.”

The shock of power into his side freezes up his nerves, and every muscle locks tight. It doesn’t hurt, but he’s helpless to react as Tim draws away from him, sliding away from his grasp with ease. His hands are left frozen in the air as Tim settles back on his heels, hand relaxing out of the sharp twist of whatever sign he’d cast before combing fingers back through his hair to shake out the tangles he left. His eyes are cool again, controlled.

Tim reaches forward, his still sluggishly bleeding palm leaving a smear of blood along Jason’s jaw as he cups it. “Call me ‘Timmy’ again, Jason, and I’ll saw those horns right off your head.”

Jason feels the chill slide down his back, and if he could curl his lip into a snarl, if he could pull away, he would. It wouldn’t be easy for him, but his horns aren’t invulnerable. They can be broken, or removed, and the centuries it would take for them to grow back… Every summoner, every demon, everyone who sees his true form, will know he’s damaged. Humiliated.

(Tim wouldn’t even have to do it himself. He could just order it, and Jason would have no choice but to reach up and snap a horn off. Would that be worse or better than being bound while the human saws one off, inch by inch?)

Tim smiles, thin and as cool as his gaze. “No, you don’t want that, do you?”

The hand leaves his jaw, lifting to wrap around one of his horns and drag his head down. His body yields as easily to the pull as if he chose to move, and he can't stop Tim from pulling his head lower and biting at his jaw, his ear. Hard enough to sting, and Jason appreciates that as much as he dislikes being trapped like this by whatever spell Tim's cast. Though beneath that dislike, beneath the wariness of the threat, he respects the willingness to capitalize on his mistake. Admires it. Enjoys it.

You’ll obey my wishes,” Tim murmurs in his ear, and Jason shudders. Then, in English, “You’re going to let me do a binding. You won’t hurt me, and you won’t struggle. Isn’t that right?”

The frozen sharpness under his skin eases, and Jason takes a deep breath, his hands finally able to move, to reach for Tim’s skin and— Rest lightly against it, unable to dig his claws in any further. He laughs, dipping his head into Tim’s grip as he curls his fingers into the fabric of the shirt.

“I guess it is.”

Tim draws back, pulling his head up to look him in the eye, to drag a slow rake of his gaze down the lines of Jason’s face, to his lips and then back up. “And are you going to underestimate me again, Jason?”

Heat slides in under his skin, the hold of Tim’s command like an inescapable grip at the back of his neck. He shifts against it, thinks about ripping Tim’s gut open and feels it grow all the tighter. He grins.

“Yeah, I probably am.”