Love is a strange emotion. I’m not sure it’s an emotion at all, sometimes. Emotions happen in the head. Anger, fear, happiness all happen in the head. Love has the power to fill your entire body with that tingling warmth that nothing else can compare to, and can freeze the blood in your veins. It’s not something I ever hope to master.
Unfortunately, I think love has mastered me. I feel like its puppet when I see Fate kneeling beside me, his scars on show for me. Every time I catch sight of them, I want to rip apart the ones that hurt him. I want to constantly be his protector and partner, and in return all I want is his trust that I’ll never hurt him. I just prayed that with Lazarus gone I would remain in control of myself. I’d terrified him once by losing control, and hurt him. I didn’t want to let that happen again.
A few weeks after I’d first asked him to wear it, I gave Fate that black collar to wear as an everyday thing. It was as close to a ring as I’d probably ever get to giving him, unless they made same sex marriage legal. As I fastened it around his neck, I told him it was to be a permanent symbol and reminder of the fact that I love him. He seemed a little embarrassed to wear it all the time at first, but I think he got used to it. I could never really tell if he liked it or not, though. It became a question that nagged in the back of my mind: ‘did he really want this?’
It was up to him to tell me if it was what he wanted, though, so I took care to remind him of that, especially if we went to the club. Our play there always seemed to attract a fair amount of attention. It attracted the attention of one man in particular. This man gave off the familiar smell of death and I knew on an instinctive level that I would never let him near Fate. He never watched what I was doing; it was Fate that he was interested in. He never watched anything other than Fate. I didn’t see him watch any other play going on.
As Fate recovered and the small crowd we’d attracted dispersed, I handed him the water bottle I’d taken to keeping with us when we played outside of the apartment. As ever, the man had been watching intently, but this time he lingered after we were done. This was the first time he’d hung back.
"He's a fine specimen," he said to me.
I put a smile on my lips for him. "He certainly is," I agreed.
"Where on earth did you find him?" he chuckled. I responded with a shrug, rummaging through my bag to find where I’d put the candy bars. I always packed something for him to eat, too; I don’t want the poor guy to pass out on me after playing. "You have him trained well."
“He still makes mistakes,” I admitted, “but then we’re only human,” I smiled, careful not to lift up my lip far enough to show my fangs while there were still so many people around. Fucking things. They’d be the end of me one day. I found the candy bars right at the bottom of my bag – they’d slipped out of the sandwich bag I’d put them in and hidden away from me. I tossed one over to Fate, not willing to walk over and have this stranger follow me. Fate tucked into his candy happily.
"How long has he been with you?"
“A few months,” I muttered.
"Impressive. Especially for one so young. How old is he?"
"Twenty one," I told him. Fate still looked like a seventeen year old, but he was in his mid twenties. I couldn’t exactly tell him that, so I went with something that was somewhere in between.
"He doesn't look it,” he said, clearly not believing me.
"And I don't look much like a man in his thirties, but there you go." I started to pack away the things I’d bought with me – a favourite set of ropes, a flogger and a recently purchased riding crop which I’d discovered leaves vicious looking welts. I was hoping that might be the end of the conversation. The man’s eyes were fixed firmly on Fate, who was still eating, and I felt like I should be shielding him from the stranger’s gaze. So I did just that; I wandered over with Fate’s clothes and started dressing him. But the man followed me, stroking Fate’s thigh. I felt this inexplicable anger rising up inside of me. I gave him a dangerous look, hoping I wouldn’t have to resort to violence to get my point through to him. "I didn't give you permission to touch him."
He lifted his hand away from Fate, “Sorry, my curiosity got the better of me." My jaw clenched of its own accord. I didn’t care if he was curious – he had just violated my partner’s personal space without his or my permission. Vampire or not, it was not something I would forgive easily.
"How much for an hour with him?" he asked, his gaze fixed on Fate again. Fate looked up at me all wide eyed. I bared my fangs at the other vampire, careful not to let anyone else see.
"You aren't to lay a finger on him ever again.”
"Half an hour," he bargained.
"I will stake you out in the sun," I threatened, deadly serious.
"Territorial, I see," he remarked.
"I wouldn't farm him out to a human, let alone a vampire."
"You should, you could make a lot of money."
"I don't care about money,” I said firmly. I had a good enough job – I didn’t need more money, nor did I want it.
"Then what would you prefer as payment?"
"I don't want anything. You're not having him for any length of time."
"Why not? He could learn something." I didn’t believe that Fate would learn anything more than why I wouldn’t trust another vampire with him, and I told him so. He didn’t say anything, he just stared at Fate.