One of the good times:

"Are you busy?"
"Not really, sir."
"You know I hate it when you call me that."
"Yes, sir, I do."
"I see. You're trying to provoke me."
"Maybe, sir, but do you need that much help?"
"Good point. Do you trust me?"

I don't know if he meant that as this is your last chance to say no - and face the consequences, or what, but that phrase always passed his lips, like a teenaged boy professing his love - for much the same purposes, really. Who says elders are totally inhuman? It always ended the same way - our clothes all over the place and his blood in my mouth.

Then there was the time it went wrong.

I'd had a bad day. The local Indians were marching a lockstep with the lupine and neither were giving me the time of day any more - the scars from that little altercation still hurt like hell under my shirt. I was certain that the Nosferatu were trying to hack into the chantry's computers and upgrading our security had my eyes crossed for three nights in a row and, to top it all off, I'd had a reccurrence of that dream - icing on an unpleasant cake. I was cranky, irritated and generally feeling like the world was set against me.

Along came Alexander, sidling up behind me as I finished sealing a storage box with lead and wards. He put his arms around my waist and cut right to the chase: "Trust me?"

I got annoyed. Merett had made a point of not feeding from me after that first time we tumbled in the chantry's library, and he knew it. "I do, but a little reciprocation would be nice." I snapped. Like I said, I was worn out and cranky. And besides, was I so much of a foregone conclusion that I didn't merit foreplay anymore?

Elders don't like being caught without a leg to stand on. Stupidly, I didn't think of that at the time.

"If that's what you want," he said in a too-mild tone that finally clued me in that I was in deep shit. He muttered something in Latin - never a good sign from a fellow Tremere - and grabbed me by one wrist, which was when I realized he'd cut loose with the geomantic uber-strength he was so fond of. Whatever was about to happen, I would be staying for it.

It seemed simple enough at first. Merette sank his fangs into my left wrist and started to drink - taking his time with it, I thought. When feeding from a vampire, you can set your own pace, you see, there being no metabolic processes driving the flow of vitae and I'm digressing so that I don't have to write down what happened next.

He kept on feeding. Anxiety polluted my feeling of dreamy bliss. Merette wasn't stopping, and I wasn't exactly brimming with the stuff in the first place. Anxiety became flat-out panic when my knees buckled, but Merette just grabbed my throat and held me up like that - and by wedging me against the worktable in front of me. Now I understood his invocation of earlier, and I went from panicked to angry. Not that there was much I could do, on the verge of torpor and rooted to the spot. I couldn't even say anything. Total silence except for the occasional swallow and me grinding my teeth.

Finally, he finished, and dropped me to like a sack full of unwanted kittens. Thank god I missed the vault that I'd been working on for half the night.

"What was that?" I rasped as I sat up.

"I took your blood," he replied, as if to a slow-witted dolt.

"And left me like this," I held out an almost-translucent arm. "Jesus, it's barely an hour until dawn. I don't have time to hunt!" I was very worried that between the blood loss and my injuries, I'd be torpid come daybreak.

"And we don't have any blood in the fridge," he said like he was discussing the weather. Then I noticed he was unbuttoning a shirt cuff as he spoke.

What choice did I have?

Let me state for the record that vitae and angry sex are a moderately dangerous combination. Kind of exhilarating, too, 'though.

Oh, sure, Merette trusted me, as long as he was ahead in the game. He had to make that point, the bastard.

(I just gotta interrupt myself here: Gee, Rebecca, a Tremere elder acted like a high-handed bastard, what a fuckin' surprise. Get over it.)

Aw, hell, at least I had some fun. It's not like I stood a chance of undermining the Bond he had with... whoever it was. I didn't ask and, of course, he didn't mention it. Merette's a damn sight closer to Caine than I'll ever be. What surprises me is that my relationship with S. survived all that messing around. That is, I think I did. I believe I did everything within my power to save him, but it was just too late. I still feel bad about it.

And, as ever, all roads lead back to S.