|Summary:||Is mutual ambushment a real thing? ...Yes, ambushment is a real word.|
Marcus sends to Luke via text: You still in town, Constable?
Luke sends to Marcus via text: Surprisingly yes. Apparently I am not as much a monster as I feared. Still monstrous though.
Luke sends to Marcus via text: <location map> In the diner.
Marcus sends to Luke via text: You don't have to tell me where you are, Luke. I'm the minotaur. I always find my prey.
Luke sends to Marcus via text: I'm not prey. It's an ambush. :D
Marcus sends to Luke via text: Nevertheless, there in 5m.
It is indeed a diner. Luke is sitting in a booth with coffee and breakfast out in the sunshine by the window. There are clouds in the sky but he's in daylight, just for now. The place looks like a mobile home, but not as pretty as some of the deliberately chintzy places - this one's at least 20 years old and could probably use some major repairs, and the waitress smells like she chain smokes. They do a great ham and egg platter, though. And Luke's breakfast? Chicken fried steak and eggs.
"Must be great for a phosphokinetic," Marcus says as he comes up behind Luke, clapping the man on the shoulder. "Having batteries you can recharge just with a touch, huh?" Marcus moves to sit across from the Constable, and grins broadly, reaching out to offer him a hand. "You hungry? Take -life-, not will. I got infinite life, but my willpower? You don't want that running out." He gives him a charming broad grin.
Luke twitches at the thump on the shoulder, then shakes his head a bit ruefully. "I'm fine, thanks. I really wonder what's going to happen when some random stranger notices I'm doing it and turns out to be Accorded, though." There's a coffee cup at Marcus's place, and a fresh pot in a carafe. "Want anything? I'm buying." He digs into his steak again, cuts a bite off, and eats it, then breaks into a slow, slightly wicked grin. He's eating steak in front of a bull. Yeah, it's on purpose.
With that, Marcus leans forward, and takes hold of Luke by the chin. He holds onto Luke, for a few moments, making eye contact. He foricbly tilts Luke's head to one side, then to the other, looking him over. "You drained your lover." The bull reaches up and runs his thumb across Luke's lower lip. "You didn't mean to. You -lost control-. And you liked it. -He- liked it. All you can think about is how good it felt to be giving him your cum while he gave you his life. A true exchange, mind and body and soul. But you're wrong for liking it. For using your powers to -make- him like it. You didn't have to make it feel good for him, you chose to. So he'd like it. So one day he'd be your willing meal." Marcus squeezes a bit, pooching Luke's lips out. "And you just turned down a free meal on someone you -can't- hurt, so you'll be hungry later. With him." The bull leans in, close, and takes a deep drag of Luke's scent. "Mmmm, -guilt-. You don't need to buy me a steak, Luke. You smell good enough to eat." He leans back into his seat, now, arms over his chest.
Holy fuck, what the hell are you doing? Luke jerks back in shock, but is grabbed - Marcus has those gorilla arms. The words cause his eyes to widen and his face to flush - that there is pure, unadulterated shame, visible for just a heartbeat. He's flinching back harder as Marcus's fingers squeeze tighter, and jerks violently as the man gets close enough to /smell/ him. That'll be when a shudder pours through him and Luke jerks away, released, to spend a moment flailing in the booth - and then grab his helmet. "No. You don't get to do that." He slides free in jerky movements, clambering to his feet, unsteady, pulling the helmet with him. Out comes a wallet and he fumbles a few bills out of it, shoves it back into his pocket. "I guess I was right to avoid you." And then he goes stalking off to find the waitress and shove two twenties in her hand for the uneaten meal. He's leaving, apparently - and from the way his face is burning, Marcus was right on the money.
"You can't just run away, Constable! You don't know which way you want to go!" When Luke exits, Marcus stands up and begins to slowly follow him. He plucks up Luke's steak, eating it with his hands and tearing it with his teeth as he pursues at a slow stroll. But...the streets all look different. And the same. He has no idea which way to go to get to the parking lot, much less wherever he was planning on going.
At least Luke's made it out the door. This won't happen in full view of the waitress - or anyone else for that matter. Luke jerks to a halt and stares at the environment around himself, teeth gritting. "Marcus, knock it off or I will do /something/." What that something /is/, he's not sure yet, but he can figure something out, and if he does, it might be bad. He's no longer running, though - that would be playing the game.
Marcus was never more than a few steps behind. There are still -people-, people who know exactly where they're going. They walk out into traffic, only to have cars narrowly miss them or abruptly turn 90 degrees with no conservation of momentum or inertia. He drops up alongside Luke, and is still eating his steak. He reaches out, offering Luke a bite.
The glare Luke shoots over at Marcus is poisonous. "Knock. It. Off. Or are you that desperate to be fed from? It doesn't feel good to everyone, I promise you that." He's standing quite still, feet firmly planted to the only unmoving thing - the sidewalk.
"Here's the thing, Luke. I want to explain what kind of gift you've been given." Marcus pops the last of the beef into his mouth, chews, swallows. Licks the blood from his fingers. "The people you've burned alive. The ones you know about. How many do you think you -don't- know about? From losing control. From burning." He looms large, now. Huge. He leans down, and it's like a tyrannosaur taking notice of a rabbit. "You have been given the power to make sure that -never- happens again. You have a chance to gain control over your hunger safely. So you can go back to your lover knowing what you're doing. You have a safe place. Friends. -Family-. Who can help you research what you're going through. That's my idea. I wannt -write the book-. We can -start- with psychic vampires." He comes in close, eye to eye but -how can he be- when he's so much bigger. "This is your penance. I'm not giving you a choice. You're joining my family. You're going to help keep me human enough to care about family. You're going to let me protect you and your loved ones, and you're going to protect me and mine. You will become my -brother-. And I give you no choice, because you have the sin of -guilt-, and I'm going to scourge it the fuck out of you even if I go through a dozen cat o' nines and ten of your asses." He reaches up, runs his thumb over Luke's lower lip, again. "Say yes. -Now-."
The problem with Marcus is that the bastard is /right/. Ashen-faced, Luke draws back - he shouldn't have agreed to this meeting, should've warded himself and kept right on going - but the damned Minotaur is hovering about three inches from his nose and threatening, promising, everything. It has to be a trick. No monster has /ever/ taken Luke in without trying to use him.
He's silent, which is damning enough. He ought to be protesting. Shouting. Screaming. He's aware that there's some level of coercion here - but the touching, it's getting to him. Marcus can't be serious about hurting him - he wouldn't do that. So Luke shivers, a faint little motion of the spine, the last gasp of his nervous system trying to yank him the fuck /away/... and nods, just a tiny, reluctant little dip of the head. He can't say it - but he can give assent.
That, of course, will be when the panic starts boiling back up within him and he swallows sharply and /has/ to take a step back - which means he's probably going to fall out of this world, given how badly Marcus has fucked up his sense of direction.
When Luke steps back, tries to escape? The whole world twists. It's wrong. The road is full of rushing cars, their grills toothy mouths. Pedestrians lay torn into pieces as small as hamburger in places, but cling to life - being run over again and again. The sidewalks are full, new flesh walking into the grinder of rushing cars forever.
Luke is only there alone for a moment before the Minotaur is picking him up. Holding him out, twenty feet above the traffic. "This is for your -guilt-, Luke! I am going to drop you into that traffic unless you admit it! You're guilty, over your own choices! Choices you made knowing and accepting the consequences! It's not your -nature- that is the sin, it's your -guilt-, your refusal to see truth and embrace it. -Join my family-. Become a monster. Learn to -use- your power! Learn your -purpose-! And help others do the same. Say. -Yes-. Or I'll save your lover from you."
On some level Luke is aware that this is what Marcus /does/. This is what he /is/, fundamentally - and he's been dreading this monster turning its eye on him since the day they met. On another level, he's aware of the dichotomy of this - he can accept the guilt, admit he deserves to die, or lose it, as Marcus is encouraging.
He's almost ready to just surrender. It washes over him in waves: I did this. I deserve to die. I failed. I fed. The only thing that stops it is the realization, the memory, the truth: This is not how I die. Luke is hanging there, collapsed, utterly out of it... and then his eyes crack open, and there's fire in them. It might even be literal Fire, in this realm. "Yes." There is literally no other choice at this moment - Fire won't allow him to surrender to whatever this is. "I said it." Heat begins to thicken around him. "What do you /want/ from me?!"
When Luke asks that question, the minotaur grins fire at him, even as he bursts into flames. "Hugs," the minotaur announces, and pulls the Constable in for a warm, blazing, corona-enveloped hug. He cradles Luke's legs and but in one hand and holds his entire back with the other, hugging him against Marcus's chest, shoulder, and bull-shaped cheek. "You're going to be all right. You've got family. Let's go home, okay?"
The disturbed look on Luke's face is almost comical. "Wait--!" And then he, on fire, is getting hugged. The flames go out after a little while, guttering down into sparks and grumpy bursts of flaring violence before extinguishing without a single lick of smoke - they utterly failed to burn anything. Fire is irate about that. "I don't..." Squirm, thrash. This has to let up soon, right? "I don't /want/ family..." Luke's lying and even he can hear it in his voice; he slumps a moment later and just shuts up and leans on the Minotaur, finally accepting what he felt the first time he was dragged here: peace.
The hug goes on for awhile, and Marcus even makes a little pleased mooing sound. Then, boosts Luke up onto his shoulder. "We're in a spontaneously-formed Chamber. Probably someone saw a loved one get hit real bad. It's connected to the Hive." He drops down onto all fours, now, and moves out into the Hive itself - like an underground cavern, a honeycombed network of tunnels that he seems to sense his way through perfectly. Luke will probably be more comfortable cross-legged on his shoulders and Marcus gorillas through the tunnels - or straddling the back of his neck.
The bull /moos/. Luke files /that/ bit of information away for when he's no longer hysterical and terrified and furious and otherwise emotionally drained. Motion occurs and he ends up on his stomach, clinging for dear life to Marcus's back, at least at first, his hands grabbing whatever there is to grab. Marcus is big enough that even his short minotaur-hair is probably long enough to knot one's fingers into.
"Why are you doing this for me?" Luke asks after a little while of quiet - he sounds shell-shocked. He's draped on Marcus's neck, somewhat more relaxed by now - and no, he won't be sitting up. He'd like to not break his neck if he falls, thank you.
There's no minotaur hair - he's a hairless beast made of bronze! But horns are handy. "Because I like you. Because you need me. My kind are -teachers-, Constable. There are many ways to teach. One for prey, one for family. You were in need of a lesson. You needed to decide whether you were prey or family. You rejected being prey so firmly that you actually -stoked- my hunger further." He reaches back and gives the Constable a hair-ruffle as they lumber through the tunnels. They turn one, and there's a massive spider - almost Marcus's size. Marcus lets out a low rumble, and the Horror skitters into a side tunnel, making way.
That's something to think about too - Luke hadn't even realized that about himself, that he actually felt that deeply about the predator/prey thing. Maybe he isn't some nameless victim after all. The smile that cautiously curves his face vanishes at the sight of that spider, though, and he sits up just a bit, bracing himself on Marcus in case the Minotaur has to move. Fortunately, it doesn't come to that. He subsides. "I guess that's good then. Not for you, but... I really would rather not be lunch." The words are a little dry and infused with humor, because Marcus just /felt/ how much he means that. "Thank you." The words are a little bit awkward. Luke doesn't say them often - they usually mean relying on someone else.
"I -am- very hungry, yes." There's a tension to his movements, to his posture - his skin is arm, and he's -bigger- than normal. Or seems it. "My mind will be on feeding and prey until I can eat. Of course...watching -you- feed? Feeds me, also. I can draw in the energy of the hunt, while you feed on the energy of the life. So I don't -need- to punish you. I may, still. The drive to hurt those I love - and the increase in power that comes with it - is strong. It's one reason I need people like you. Like Joey. Who make me feel like Marcus." He turns a corner, and there it is - the familiar streets. Streets so twisting and strange that physics can't support them. The buildings in shapes no human mind would create. And they all make sense to Luke. They're -home-. "From here, you can step into an empty lot in the 9th Ward. My physical, human home is across the street. From the upside-down building? You can come out into Joey's apartment. From the subways, you can exit into a maintenance area in the Belle Chasse tunnel. From the cities further down, you can get to a YMCA. -Never- go further than the underground city." Marcus reaches up, plucks Luke, and places him gingerly on the sidewalk. "You can enter and exit from all those places. It will always be safe here. My Horror stalks the streets even when I walk the world."
"I am going to need a refresher on this when I've had sleep, when I'm not... recovering from whatever this is. If you want to watch me feed, though, it's the least I can do." Luke offers that almost shyly. "I don't want to leave yet, unless you come with me." Facing that world out there gets... exhausting. Overwhelming. Maybe Marcus is right and he really is a monster inside.
"This is your home. I'm sure Joey wouldn't mind you napping in her bed. Or stay here. You are a member of my Brood. My Lair is yours. If you ever are Devoured, we could link them together as one." He reaches out and gives the Constable a nudge in the chest. "But you shouldn't hide. You should go out. Face your fears. Destroy them with fire and light and your hunger. And help me come up with a name for our group."
Here, have a skeptical but somewhat amused look. "Marcus. You can't just take people apart and put them back together and expect them not to walk a little funny for a while." Luke flicks a glance around, then drags his attention back. "I /like/ your lair, okay? I've liked it since I first came here. The darkness feels /safe/. And that's ridiculous, and I didn't want to tell you because you might feel insulted, but it's true. So that's why I said that." They've come a long way from the first time Marcus gave Luke a ride after that disastrous swamp debacle."Then enjoy, Constable. It's your -home- now." And with that? The minotaur...changes. Marcus is gone, he's just the Horror. The beast turns around, settles its eyes on Luke...and then moves to walk past him, brushing one warm shoulder against him hard, like a cat.