One of the first things I ever wrote -- but it took me almost three years to post it, at which point I tidied it up a bit. At least now the POV's no longer jumping all over creation... This one's also pretty much a PWP.

written in 1996, posted May 1, 1999


Benefits of Stress

by Arduinna


Nick slumped against the elevator wall, too exhausted even to stand up without support. Weeks now on this damn case, and still nothing! And as if that weren't enough, Nat was mad, again, because he'd gone back to blood, again. They'd gotten into a fight about it at the morgue tonight. When he'd called her place after her shift to apologize, he'd gotten the machine--and he knew she'd gone straight home. Which meant she'd decided she wasn't talking to him at all right now. Naturally. 'Oh well--look on the bright side,' he thought morosely. 'This has to be as bad as it gets today. What else can go wrong, after all?'

Then he felt it. Lacroix. Upstairs, waiting for him. Nick's head thudded back against the elevator wall, his shoulders slumped in absolute defeat. Terrific.

The elevator came to a stop. Gathering himself for the effort, Nick took a deep breath, then pushed off against the wall, pulling open the door. He walked slowly into his apartment, not even acknowledging Lacroix's presence. 'Maybe if I ignore him he'll go away.' He shrugged his coat off, throwing it over a chair as he headed for the kitchen to get a bottle out of the fridge. Taking a drink from the bottle, he finally turned to face Lacroix, who stood waiting by the stairs.

"Good evening, Nicholas." The boy looks dreadful, Lacroix thought.

"Lacroix. What do you want?"

"Why, merely to chat, Nicholas. You haven't been by the club for some time now. I was beginning to worry. Nothing wrong, I hope? Or is it just that your...cases...are keeping you busy?"

Nick tried to hide his outward reaction by taking another drink, but flinched inside. He and Tracy had been royally chewed out that evening for their lack of progress on their current case. Although the Toronto PD had managed to convince the press that the deaths were unrelated, there had been a serial killer stalking the city for three weeks. Three weeks, three victims. And so far, no leads. Reese was blaming that on the fact that Nick and Tracy didn't talk to each other, didn't act like partners should--and Nick had to admit, this time he could be right. Things had been more tense than usual between the two partners lately. Tracy had even threatened to shoot him if he turned Lacroix's show on tonight. He was fairly sure that she had been kidding--but he had left the radio off. He lowered the bottle, silently returning his gaze to Lacroix.

Lacroix had noticed the slight hesitation as Nicholas had raised the bottle to his lips, could feel his son's turmoil, and decided to press a little further.

"No? Well then, perhaps it's your doctor friend. The good Dr. Lambert is well, I trust?"

Nick swung away from him. "She's fine," he said flatly, staring at the bottle of blood in his hand.

Lacroix's eyebrows rose at the reaction; his son's emotional turmoil had indeed increased. Interesting. Usually mentioning Natalie's name inspired a wave of affection and protectiveness. This time he sensed annoyance, frustration, sorrow--all sharpened by the boy's great weariness--but also determination.

With a sigh, Nick turned back to face him. "It's been a tough couple of weeks. For everyone. Nat and I took it out on each other tonight, and now she's not talking to me. Satisfied?"

"I am sorry, Nicholas. If there is anything I can do to help--oh, not with your...difficulties...with Dr. Lambert, of course, but I would be happy to lend a sympathetic ear to the rest, if you think it would help."

For a second, Nick was tempted. Lacroix's voice had held no mockery, no scorn--the offer sounded genuine. Once he wouldn't have doubted it for a second, and lately, cautiously, he had begun to trust again. It would be such a relief just to talk to someone, to bitch and moan about how lousy things were. Memories of years of closeness rose up, and he opened his mouth to speak, but then newer habit stopped him.

Looking at the elder vampire's careful expression, however, Nick knew that the last thing he wanted to do was to destroy the tenuous bonds forming between them again. Quietly, he said, "Thank you. But talking about it isn't going to help. I just need to stick it out. And get some sleep," he added with a tired smile. "If you don't mind, I'm just going to finish my dinner and go to bed."

Shut out once again, but hiding his disappointment, Lacroix murmured, "Of course. I'll take my leave of you then. Good day, Nicholas. Sleep well."

"Thank you. And you," Nick replied. He turned away and moved to the couch, one hand kneading the back of his neck trying to relieve some of the tension that had built up. Giving up on that for a moment, he put the bottle on the coffee table and picked up the remote, closing the shutters and clicking on some light. He dropped the remote and slumped into the couch, his hand moving back to his neck.

Looking at the tense, exhausted figure, LaCroix debated briefly with himself, and decided to chance offering help that Nicholas just might be persuaded to accept.

Without a sound, he moved behind the couch, strong fingers reaching for Nick's neck, brushing the younger vampire's hand away. Startled, Nick tried to jump, but Lacroix's hands held him firmly.


"Hush, Nicholas. Let me help. I can't remember the last time I saw you so tense. If talking won't help to relieve some of that stress, perhaps this will." As he spoke, Lacroix was expertly kneading the stiff neck, thumbs stroking up along the sides of his spinal cord, over to just behind his ears, then circling down and around to start over again, while his fingers worked the corded muscles along the sides of Nicholas' neck.

Nick wanted to object, but the skilled hands felt so good... he had forgotten just how wonderful this could feel. The muscles in his neck started to relax, his head falling forward a little to give Lacroix better access. When Lacroix's hands moved to include his shoulders in their efforts, Nick forgot all about objecting; his eyes closed involuntarily, and he gave himself over to the sheer pleasure of the massage. Memories of earlier times began to return to him again, this time of Lacroix's ability to draw every sensual pleasure from his body with his touch...

As he worked the silk-clad shoulders, Lacroix looked down on the bent head with a faint smile on his face. After his initial outburst, Nicholas hadn't made a sound except for a faint sigh, almost a moan, of relief as his muscles began to unknot. For a moment he was tempted to open his mind to his son, to see what he was truly feeling--but no. Keep it a surface contact. Better to simply enjoy this, to allow himself to believe, however fleetingly, that Nicholas was responding to his ministrations as he wished, rather than simply relaxing for the first time in days. Disappointment would come soon enough.

"Yess, Nicholas--just relax. Here, why don't you lie down? It will be more comfortable," he murmured silkily.

Nick still didn't say a word, just shifted until he was lying on his stomach, head pillowed on his forearms, losing himself in the heady combination of remembered and current pleasures. Lacroix moved to the front of the couch, nudging Nick's hips over so he could place one knee on the cushion. He reveled in the feel of hard muscle below silk as his hands skimmed over Nick's back. They moved constantly, seeking out knots of tension, stroking along the spine, curving around Nick's ribs, then returning to the still-tight shoulders. The silk began to warm from the friction of cool hands against a cool back. Slowly the muscles began to relax, and Lacroix's hands shifted gradually from firm massage to soothing strokes.

Lacroix looked down at the prone body in front of him, drinking in the sight of golden hair glowing against the dark couch and shirt, the curve of one cheek visible, the eye closed. He ached to touch the hair, that cheek, the skin beneath the silk, but dared not. Surely it was only Nicholas' exhaustion that had allowed even this much contact, after so many years of avoiding his touch. So be it. He would treasure the memory of these moments, this yet-innocent contact, holding it close against the day when Nicholas turned on him once again. His mind made up, he swept his gaze over the side of the beloved face again, letting vision take the place of touch. His left hand continued to stroke Nick's upper back while he watched, aghast, as his right reached forward delicately to brush Nick's hair back off his forehead.

Nicholas stirred. Lacroix froze, silently cursing himself for a fool. He drew back, waiting for the cutting remark, the order to get out. The younger vampire sat up and turned, looking at him expressionlessly. Wordlessly, Nicholas reached for his top button, undoing it and moving on to the next one. His eyes never leaving Lacroix's, he slowly unbuttoned his entire shirt, then removed it. Lacroix held his breath the entire time, not believing this. Slowly, Nicholas smiled. Lacroix dared to reach toward him, and the smile turned teasing as Nicholas backed away slightly, turning to lay down again, grinning over his shoulder at his elder. Grinning back, Lacroix returned to his chosen task with a will, relishing the touch of bare skin against his hands. Nicholas sighed happily, then abruptly rolled over.

"Nicholas? What's wrong?" Lacroix asked hesitantly. Hadn't Nicholas wanted this? Could he have misread him so badly?

"Nothing's wrong. I just figured you'd already done my back, it was time to work on some different muscles," Nick replied with a lazy smile, patting his chest for an instant, then placing his hands behind his head and watching Lacroix's face with gleaming eyes.

"I see. And when I'm done with these particular muscles?"

Nick just grinned, and stretched his entire body out for a second. "I'm sure we can find some more that have some built-up tension that needs to be released."

"Indeed," purred Lacroix. Looking down at the laughing face, Lacroix leaned forward carefully, only to find that a hand had clamped behind his neck to pull him down as Nicholas leaned up into the kiss. As the kiss started to turn from teasing to passion, Lacroix drew back, tongue flicking across Nicholas' lips before he pulled completely away. He settled back to sit beside the narrow hips.

Nick just stared at him, totally confused. "Lacroix?" he asked softly, reaching toward the elder's face.

Expressionless in his turn, Lacroix stopped the hand before it reached him, then leaned forward and gently returned it to its place behind Nick's head. He settled back again, gazing down almost remotely.

Lacroix watched the confusion build in his son's blue eyes, judging his moment nicely. With a faint smile, he started massaging the front of Nicholas' shoulders as though absolutely nothing had happened. He could see the unspoken question in the other's face--why had this switched back to a simple, friendly massage? Lacroix's hands moved to a particularly tight muscle, and he watched in satisfaction as Nicholas obviously decided to just enjoy the sensation, eyes closing as he sighed in pleasure. As soon as his eyes were shut, Lacroix bent down and flicked his tongue over the nearest nipple, instantly sitting back up as Nicholas' eyes flew open again to stare at his bland expression. His hands never stopped moving, roaming slowly now across the entire torso spread before him, kneading tense muscles.

"Nicholas?" he asked politely. "Is there a problem?"

Nick looked up into the twinkling eyes and grinned broadly, settling his head more comfortably onto his hands. "Nope. No problem." And quite deliberately shut his eyes again.

Lacroix stared in wonder at the smiling face before him, still not believing that Nicholas, his Nicholas, was being so willing. Steeling himself against any trickery, he opened his mind to his son's, needing to know the truth before this went any further.

Nick, his defenses weakened, sensed the gentle contact and opened one eye. Seeing the expression on Lacroix's face, he opened the other eye, and dropped his defenses entirely. For a moment the two simply regarded one another, basking in a rare moment of total camaraderie, without a trace of antagonism. Then Nick shut his eyes again.

"You missed a spot," he said lazily, barely suppressing a grin.

Lacroix was startled into brief laughter. "Did I, indeed?" he murmured, his tone turning wicked. "Well, then, I shall have to rectify that, hmm?"

His hands, which had been resting on the broad chest, started to move again, barely touching the skin. He grinned to himself as Nicholas unconsciously expanded his chest, seeking out the contact, and deliberately lightened his touch even more, until he was brushing only hair, not touching skin at all. Then, with no warning, he returned to a firm, massaging stroke, bringing his hands from waist to shoulder, fingers splayed to cover as much territory as possible. His eyes gleamed with satisfaction as Nicholas made the smallest of sounds.

He leaned down to steal a brief kiss, his left elbow hitting the back of the couch as his lips brushed cool flesh. He lifted his head for an instant to glare at the couch, then looked down again at Nicholas. Weary of balancing on the edge of the couch, and unable to reach as much of his son as he wished, he simply scooped Nicholas into his arms and flew up to the bedroom, placing the younger vampire on the edge of the bed. "There. Much better."

Nick's eyes had opened again during the unexpected flight, and he watched with a grin as Lacroix's eyebrows rose at the sight of the black satin sheets.

"Well, Nicholas--I see you haven't let your life be completely taken over by sackcloth and ashes...."

Nick just laughed softly, scooting into the middle of the bed invitingly. "I never said I wanted to forget everything you ever taught me, you know," he teased, the laughter echoing in the bond between them.

"Perhaps not, but you have clearly forgotten a few lessons," Lacroix replied, his face serious, but with laughter of his own flooding Nick's mind as he leaned to remove his son's shoes and socks. "No shoes on the bed!"

He sat on the edge of the bed to remove his own boots and socks, then shifted so that he was once again kneeling by the younger man's hip. "Now, where was I? Ah, yes," he murmured, grasping Nicholas' hands and placing them behind his head again, then brushing a kiss across soft lips before returning his attention to the pale torso before him.

This time, however, his mouth began following the trail blazed by his hands, tasting the smooth skin. He kissed his way down the center of the cool chest, finally stopping to explore Nicholas' navel with his tongue while his left hand traced lazy patterns on the taut abdomen. At the same time, his right hand stroked back up Nicholas' chest, finding his left nipple. Lacroix brushed his thumb across the sensitive bud, which was rapidly hardening under his ministrations, then started rolling it between his thumb and forefinger, tugging gently at it. Nicholas gasped at the multiple sensations, then moaned as Lacroix suddenly abandoned his navel, moving his mouth to the nipple he had already lavished so much attention on. Catching it between his teeth, he let his tongue flick across it, then sucked hard on it before letting it go. He raised his head to brush another kiss across Nicholas' lips, only to find that Nicholas had already been driven beyond patience; his mouth was caught in an urgent kiss, Nicholas' hands leaving their trapped position behind his head to hold Lacroix closer.

Nick slid one hand into the short, fine hair at the back of Lacroix's head as he deepened the kiss, and with the other began trying to unbutton the elder's shirt, desperate to feel the satin skin beneath the silk. He got the collar open and slipped his hand inside, curving around Lacroix's neck, brushing his thumb against the vein just as he nipped at Lacroix's lower lip. Lacroix growled in response, raising his head to look down at his son with eyes gone gold.

Equally golden eyes stared back for a moment, as Nicholas licked a bead of blood from Lacroix's bitten lip off his own lip, and grinned. Lacroix shivered, transfixed and thoroughly aroused at the sight.

Taking advantage of the moment, Nick sat up and used both hands to unbutton the rest of the silk shirt, untucking it and then sliding the shirt off the muscled shoulders, his hands stroking down Lacroix's arms as he removed it. As soon as the shirt was off, he wrapped his arms around the elder vampire, his hands sweeping across the strong back, and buried his face in Lacroix's chest, eager to taste in his turn. His lips moved from one nipple to the other, sucking and licking, before settling on the right one. He teased it for a moment, blowing cool air across the wet skin, then started nibbling on it. The brief taste of his master's blood that he had licked off his lips sang in him, making his jaw ache; wanting, needing, to taste that again, he let his fangs drop, giving one quick sharp bite to the nipple and sucking the blood from the tiny wound.

Lacroix's threw his head back in pleasure, eyes slitted as he concentrated on the feelings radiating out from that nipple, seeming to shoot directly to his groin and jaws. Finally he could no longer restrain himself, and with a snarl his own fangs descended. Tangling one hand in Nick's thick hair, he pulled the boy's head back, then shifted them both so they were lying on the bed once again. As his free hand moved to undo Nick's pants, he claimed Nick's mouth again, plundering it with his tongue, his fangs slicing delicately at Nick's tongue and lips. He took a moment to savor the blood, exulting in the taste of Nicholas' arousal and delight.

Lacroix opened his eyes on a world starting to be tinged with red, looking down into the face below him. "Nicholas?" he hissed, still barely able to believe that this was so freely given, despite the evidence in his son's blood.

"Lacroix," Nick growled in reply, the gold of his eyes also showing crimson flecks. "I want this. You want this. Let's just enjoy it." To reinforce his point, he opened his mind even further, letting Lacroix see just how much he wanted this--the closeness, the love, the security he remembered from so long ago. He was tired of being alone, of always having to be on guard.

The flood of emotion he received in return almost overwhelmed him--love, fierce protectiveness, possessiveness, and a deep, abiding joy in his mere presence. Nick moaned, and reached up for another kiss, drawing his master's tongue deep into his mouth.

Lacroix's hand finally managed to unfasten Nicholas' pants, brushing across the other evidence of his arousal. He broke the kiss, and, with a final lick of the younger man's lips, released him to turn all his attention to Nicholas' lower half. He slid pants and silk boxers off slim hips and down well-muscled legs, ignoring the sigh of disappointment when he avoided touching the erect cock, instead dropping kisses along the inner thighs, on both kneecaps, on one anklebone. Teasing, he bit Nicholas' instep, chuckling as the foot jerked in reaction.

"Hmm... still sensitive there, are we?"

"Lacroix," begged Nick.

"Mmmm?" came the distracted reply, as Lacroix began tickling the sensitive spot with his tongue, lapping up the few tiny drops of blood his fangs had drawn.

"Lacroix, please!"

Relenting, Lacroix released the foot and started kissing and nibbling his way back up Nick's legs, pausing to lick behind both knees. Just as he reached his goal, though, Nicholas sat up, pushing him gently away. Before he could ask what was wrong he felt his son's hands at the waistband of his pants, and smiled. Nicholas quickly removed the rest of Lacroix's clothes, tossing them onto the floor. He lay back down, tugging the elder vampire to lay on top of him as he pulled him into another kiss. Cool skin ignited along the length of their bodies where they touched, hips moving to rub their cocks together. They moaned in unison into the kiss, desire-tinged laughter following through their mental link.

Nick reached down to stroke his master's cock, circling it firmly with his fingers, as his tongue explored every inch of Lacroix's mouth. Lacroix sucked gently on his tongue, then reached down and removed Nick's hand.

Puzzled, Nick broke the kiss, looking at him quizzically, eyes turning back to wholly gold.

Lacroix smiled at him, stroking one hand down the beloved cheek, free now to give in to the impulse that had begun all of this. "If you'll remember, Nicholas, this was all in aid of releasing your tension, easing your stress, not mine."

Nick just gaped at him for a second, then laughed. "Yeah, I suppose it was, wasn't it?" He shook his head. "You don't have to..."

"Ah, but I want to," came the quiet reply, as Lacroix began kissing his way back down the willing body beneath him. He felt Nicholas' hand drift to his head, stroking his hair, and sighed in pure pleasure at the simple touch.

He finally reached Nicholas' cock, and paused a moment to consider it. He gently drew one finger along the underside, watching it jerk in reaction, a drop of pink liquid appearing at the tip. Instantly his tongue flicked out to taste it, his own cock hardening even more as he swallowed his son's essence. Nicholas moaned at the contact, and he glanced up for a moment to meet a gaze gone wholly crimson. They exchanged feral grins, both starting to snarl softly, uncontrollably.

Breaking the gaze, Lacroix turned back to the matter at hand, licking the tip once again, this time rolling the drop of salty liquid around in his mouth for a moment before swallowing it. He felt Nicholas shiver, then shudder as he took the head into his mouth, sucking on it. He slowly went down on the shaft, letting his fangs graze it ever so lightly, then pulled back, his tongue licking up the traces of blood. Gradually he increased his speed, varying the pressure and the touch of his fangs, reaching one hand to fondle Nicholas' balls.

Nick bucked under the skilled mouth, knowing he was close. "Lacroix," he panted, his fingers clutching at the elder's head. His only answer was a growl as Lacroix increased the intensity of his movements, sucking hard now each time he drew up the shaft, and an arm suddenly appearing near his head as Lacroix offered his wrist.

It was too much. With a cry Nick grabbed the wrist and sank his fangs in, drinking his master's blood as he came in his master's mouth. Each swallowed as fast as he could, growls filling the air, their bond filled with bloodlust.

Lacroix milked Nicholas dry, then wrapped his free hand around the base and lifted his head to watch the beloved face, still glazed with passion, a tiny trickle of blood escaping reddened lips.
Nick swept his tongue out to capture the errant blood, smiling straight into Lacroix's eyes. He took the hand he was still holding and pressed it against his cheek for an instant, then turned his head and kissed the palm. Nestling it back against his cheek, he looked at Lacroix, neither crimson nor gold hazing his vision any longer.

Before Nicholas could say anything Lacroix moved up his body, never releasing his cock, and kissed him deeply, tasting his own blood. At the same time, he started working Nicholas' cock, grinning into the kiss as he felt it begin to harden again. He withdrew from the kiss, murmuring, "So, Nicholas. Not quite entirely relaxed yet, hmm? There seems to be one muscle here that just won't lose its tension."

Nicholas grinned back, gold flecks appearing in his eyes again.

With one final caress of Nicholas' cheek, Lacroix leaned on one elbow, his other hand continuing to stroke the rapidly firming cock, watching the younger vampire closely. He wanted to see every reaction, note every tiny shift of expression. He brought his hand slowly up Nichloas' shaft, squeezing gently, then when he reached the top ran his thumb over the head, first across, then circling it. Nicholas moaned, his eyes shutting for a second. When he opened them they were once again glowing, golden and hungry, focused instantly on his master's face.

Lacroix smiled at him, and began moving his hand more rapidly. Up and down, up and down, varying the pressure to gauge Nicholas' reactions. Nicholas began moaning steadily, eyes never leaving Lacroix's, his hips starting to rock slightly. As soon as Lacroix felt him begin to move, he slid his hand back down, and, reaching the base, he extended two fingers down to tease Nick's balls, leaving his thumb and other fingers wrapped around the thick shaft. Nick bucked at the touch, trying to ram himself harder into Lacroix's grip.

At the involuntary motion Lacroix felt his own erection harden to the point almost of pain, and kept himself still only with an intense effort. Determined that this should be entirely for Nicholas, he didn't even press himself against the boy, but held himself away, the only point of contact his hand on Nicholas' cock.

Avidly he watched the beautiful face, twisting slightly with want, with need, of him. Looked into the eyes staring back at him hungrily, felt the mind behind the eyes filled with thoughts of him, and rejoiced. Relenting slightly, he returned to his steady stroking, increasing the rhythm and pressure.

Nicholas' cock was jerking in his grip now, his hips thrusting fiercely. His mouth opened as his fangs dropped; the sight triggered Lacroix's own change, and he snarled. Nicholas growled at the sight and reached for him, turning his head to one side as he did so.

Seeing the bared throat, feeling his son's passion and need, Lacroix could restrain himself no longer. He lunged forward into Nicholas' arms, aligning his head so that the boy could reach his neck equally as easily. For an instant they held themselves poised over the veins, then, growling fiercely, both plunged their fangs into waiting, eager flesh.

At the same time Lacroix's hand tightened on Nicholas, whose hips arched off the bed instantly in an explosive orgasm. They barely noticed, save that the orgasm sweetened the taste for each of them--Lacroix tasting the explosion in Nicholas' blood, Nick tasting the joy in the knowledge of that explosion in Lacroix's blood, around and around, the sensations building over and over again. They were lost, lost in the taste of the blood, the emotions, the memories... Finally they could drink no more, and slowly returned to sanity, fangs still embedded in each other's throats.

Reluctantly, then, they released each other, each with one last lick at the other's quickly healing wounds to catch any lingering drops. Lacroix laid his head on Nicholas' shoulder for a moment, too spent to move any further, when he suddenly realized that he had come as well. As soon as the realization struck him he could feel Nicholas' smug satisfaction in the bond between them, which now contained nothing but affection and joy. Chuckling, he found the energy to move off of his beloved's body, gathering him into his arms.

Nick sighed happily, and snuggled in, resting his head on his master's chest. Wrapped in the strong arms, Nick murmured sleepily, "I guess those new studies are right. Sometimes stress can be a good thing."

He fell asleep to the sound of Lacroix's soft chuckle under his ear.

~ fin ~

Feedback of any sort, from one line to detailed crit, is always welcome, at arduinna at trickster dot org.


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