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His name wasn’t Feral. It couldn’t be. That wasn’t the sort of name that you gave to a child. That was a name someone earned. How he’d earned it, Levi could well imagine.

Levi was a long way from his high rise, from his flat screen, from his douche nozzle friends and the Occupiers who seemed to think anyone gave a shit about them. Silly fools who still believed they lived in any kind of democracy. Perhaps Levi had sold his soul for his place in boardrooms and silk bedrooms, but while money couldn’t buy happiness, it could buy a pretty good facsimile.

Or so he’d thought.

The streets grew darker, seemed slicker in this part of town, as if rain came down and stuck in the gutters. Oil slick. Sweaty. Grime so porous that it never let go.

Levi watched skeletons of buildings, burned out hovels and boarded up future sites of something fabulous and expensive. But for now, the streets belonged to another kind of one percent. A lower percent that only seemed to exist at night.

Levi didn’t have to tell the driver where to go or where to stop. He never even told him to show up. The driver, and by extension, Feral, just knew when it was time for a visit.

Or maybe Feral was only controlling Levi and everyone else simply executed his orders.

Any and all could be true. It didn’t much matter.

The black car stopped. Out of habit, Levi offered the man a tip and received a sneer for his trouble.

Levi let himself out of the car and looked up at the old familiar building. In daylight it should’ve been green and red with strange markings that were Hindi? Kanji? Cyrillic? They could’ve been in Aramaic for all Levi knew.

Every night when he was summoned, he tried to catch the address, tried to recall the building. But he could never find it on his own.

Fat, warm droplets of rain pounded his head and spilled like runny eggs down his face and the back of his neck. He ran forward to the imposing red door. It opened for him as it always did, like it was left unlocked. On a street where even demons feared to tread, leaving an unlocked door was unthinkable. Yet once Levi was inside, he felt no fear.

There were no other residents in the building other than a few rats that clicked and skittered between the walls. Feral lived on the fifth floor regardless.

Patchouli wafted down the stairs as Levi walked up to meet the source. The scent reminded him of the first time he’d met Feral.

Levi was at one of those tiresome clubs that his friends always dragged him to. They well knew that he was gay and yet carried on as if he were supposed find something charming in their misogyny and mistreatment of women. In their minds being gay meant that he should hate women. There was a big difference between a lack of sexual interest and hate, but that was too fine a line for coked-up bond traders to make.

He went along for the free drinks, free drugs, and free blowjobs they all eventually wound up giving him. All-in-all it had seemed satisfying enough. Until that night.

In spite of his long, platinum blond hair and almost unnatural thinness and height, Feral somehow managed to occupy the shadows. Such ethereal beauty seemed more likely to be a ghost or a hallucination, but before long Feral focused on him.

His eyes were black like they were all pupil. He wore long, dark purple robes that night and smiled curiously when Levi sat beside him at the dark corner of the bar.

Somehow Feral’s low, whispery voice penetrated the shouted conversations and booming bass of the club. Smoke wreathed him in a halo. Even now Levi couldn’t remember agreeing to leave and yet he’d found himself here in this mysterious building, being led by the hand to the top floor.

The boards creaked under Levi’s feet, bringing him back to the present. All the doors in the building were closed save one. Light flickered, unsteady and warm.

Before him on the ground were a cushion, a small basket filled with untreated hemp rope, and a single candle.

Feral never gave orders. He never gave ultimatums. He simply laid a task out for Levi to complete.

Levi removed his raincoat and a suit that probably could’ve paid for the entirety of the rundown building. He folded his clothes in a neat pile, leaving him completely naked but for the marks that Feral had left on his skin. Each came with a story, a permanent commemoration of the night that they had spent together. Levi traced the beautiful illustrations, the Sanskrit on his breast, the eagle below it.

The tiger on his right arm represented Feral. The stripes seemed to waver whenever Levi brooded on him. The eagle was meant to represent Levi. They were both in attack poses, but Feral said that they were not to fight one another, but themselves.

Taking a length of rope, Levi held it taut and brought it to the flame. Hemp rope naturally came with wisps and prickly pieces of twine that would not remain in place. The flame bit and burned them away. Levi rolled them slowly, running his fingers over the core to stop the burn and to ensure that the rope was smooth.

When Feral had first tied him, Levi protested that he should have silk ropes. Feral did not flinch or apologize. He simply dug out a length of silk rope. Holding it tight between two hands, he ran it quickly across Levi’s bicep. The swift movement of the rope burned enough to make Levi hiss.

After dropping the silk rope, Feral picked up the rope he’d started with and did the same to Levi’s other bicep. That rope felt silky as it brushed over his skin in the way he’d imagined silk would. Feral kissed him, tasting of cloves and red wine. “That is why, my love. I want to wrap you up and make you feel safe, not pain. Do you understand?”

Levi nodded.

Love. That word from anyone else in his shallow world would’ve elicited laughter, perhaps even disgust. Feral seemed to radiate it like only something wild could.

Levi remembered going camping with friends when he was just a boy. The other boys picked on him so he’d wandered off alone and gotten lost. Though he was scared, there was something calm and soothing about the breeze through the trees. Even the flashing predatory eyes that hunted him in the darkness seemed to do it with a dangerous love, a respect for Levi as prey and opponent but also as a being to which all was connected.

Feral could seem alien at times. He had a gift for languages, for music, art, and painting. In a wild fit of fantasy, Levi had wondered if Feral was a vampire, but he had a pulse. He kept food and a steady supply of wine. Who he was and what he did in the days and nights between their meetings, Levi wasn’t sure he would ever know. Feral suggested that the mundane reality would break the fantasy.

“The grand romance is bigger than the banal reality. Belief is far more powerful and intriguing than truth.”

Levi had so many stories he’d painted around Feral until he had finally given up. So what if Feral was a trust fund baby who owned all of this? What if he were the son of a dignitary who was only in town on occasion? Did Levi want to live with him? To fight over who did the dishes and took out the trash?

No. Not particularly. Who Levi was outside of this place was unimaginably sad. Who he was when he was here was supernatural, superhuman. If Feral knew who Levi was outside of this building, he never let on. Levi wasn’t sure he could admit to the vainglorious creature he was in the real world. Out there he was what he had to be. In here, he could be who he was.

Another light flickered into being on the other side of the loft, illuminating Feral in a long, blood red kimono. He stood before a large, black metal suspension frame with hooks.

“Come,” Feral said. He held out his pale hand and folded his long, spindly, red-nailed fingers one at a time to beckon Levi.

As Feral lit more candles and set them around an unmarked perimeter, Levi walked over to him, still holding the piece of rope he’d been working and meditating on.

“Are you ready, Levi?”

Levi nodded and knelt on the floor.

“Very good.”

On a side table was red wine and a pitcher of water. Feral would not allow Levi to drink more than droplets of wine from his fingers before and during his bondage. He did not want Levi to dehydrate.

The first time that Levi had been tied, Feral demonstrated the breaks in the complicated set of knots that he had executed over Levi’s body. They were strategically aligned so that Feral could quickly untie any portion of the piece to alleviate stress to joints or problems with circulation. These precautions made Levi feel a tenderness he hadn’t felt before for another person. The sheer consideration, the worry, the beads of sweat that broke out along Feral’s hairline as he executed what he called “the art” upon Levi made him feel not like he was restrained, but that he was being worshipped.

Already the rope was looping around him, holding him if not tight, then in place. They wound over his chest, squeezing gently around his nipples. They peeked out, excluded from the delicious friction of the rope, perked and begging for touch.

Feral’s fingers were soft and cool against Levi’s skin as he tied each knot, moving in a diamond shaped pattern, looping on one side to leave a break, then winding at the base of his cock and around his ball sack. Again, the most sensitive parts of him, those wanting the most touch, were excluded and grew flush and firm.

The ropes held him in place, growing slowly tighter and more certain. Levi started to squirm. Feral stopped.

“Do you need water?”

“No.”

Feral cracked a soft smile then drew his finger along Levi’s shaft. “You need this?”

Though Levi tried to restrain himself, just that simple touch sent a thrill through his entire body. He moaned and rocked against the bindings like he could get more.

“Soon.”

Soon. Levi’s skin itched to be touched. Air currents, barely perceptible before, felt like they were buffeting the exposed parts of his body. Even Feral’s sleeve brushing against Levi’s nipple was enough to make him writhe. Still the ropes held him steady in a loving embrace.

Feral smiled and traced his finger along one of the pieces of rope that extended from his chest to his cock. The minor vibrations sent shockwaves through his body. Levi whined.

Still Feral was not finished. He tied a small knot that brushed against Levi’s perineum and one that would rub against his hole. Two small knots on a thin rope, both so maddeningly perfect in their construction, so exquisite in their touch, yet so frustratingly inadequate on their own.

At last Feral started to string up the suspension frame. He set Levi gently onto his side. The tip of his cock almost touched the hardwood floor, but before he could try to roll forward, Feral had him looped in and started hoisting.

Each ankle was separately bound, leaving Feral the puppeteer to move Levi into elegant poses, each of which he photographed. In the extraordinarily low light, Levi was careful to remain still, even as he strained for more friction between shots.

Every pose that Feral put him in was artfully calculated so that Levi felt no particular pressure, just perfectly balanced and supported, like Feral could be in all places at once. All places but where Levi wanted him most.

Though he groaned and strained to get Feral to touch him while he was being moved, the man just gave a feline grin and fanned his fingers in the direction of Levi’s cock, sending soft currents of air, too much and not enough at once. He rubbed lubricant into the knot by Levi’s opening, letting it both wet and thrill the area.

Already Levi’s ass opened and grasped at nothing, knowing what would come and practically begging.

“Last pose,” Feral said. He took a sip of wine and then kissed Levi, sharing it. That sealed the promise. Not that Feral had ever lied or misled him on such matters, but there was an immense relief that Levi felt at the taste, always the first move before release.

A few more soft whirs of the shutter and then Levi was lowered to the floor. Feral released only the sections of knots that he had to, freeing Levi’s arms, but leaving the knots to tease his nipples. His legs were free, but the rope around the base of his cock remained.

Kneeling before Levi, Feral kissed the tip of his cock and let it trail precum over his cheek. He smiled up at Levi as he swirled his fingers through the lube and pressed them inside. “Do you want me?”

Levi felt like sobbing as he begged, “Please. I need it. Please.”

Feral removed his obi, slipped easily from his kimono and then lay back. His pale hair floated around his head like a halo against the dark floor. He was practically hairless, just a small patch of curls at the base of his bright pink cock. It surged almost to his belly button, shiny and hard.

As he smoothed a condom over it, Levi straddled him. Feral released the portion of the ropes that kept the knots against his hole and perineum, then centered his cock while Levi slowly lowered himself onto it.

Even as wanton as his grasping hole was for Feral, the size and length made Levi feel overfull, like he might come apart at the seams. Feral released the bindings around Levi’s chest, allowing him to get deeper, fuller breaths.

Those long, elegant fingers slipped over his nipples, finally soothing over the itching skin. He squeezed them tight between his fingers and pulled, forcing Levi to drop on top of him. Then Feral’s arms wrapped around him, as tight and secure as the ropes had been. He levered his hips, taking Levi deeply.

The overwhelming sensation of being deprived for so long, then having every needy part of him touched at once made Levi explode nearly instantly. The ropes and Feral’s stomach grew wet with his leavings.

Feral rolled them over and reached down between them to let loose the final bond, allowing Levi’s cock to wither normally. Then Feral’s thrusts became savage, deep and hard and fast until he twitched and groaned, finally releasing himself.

He remained there on top of Levi for a few minutes, just catching his breath. Then slowly he slipped out of him and cast aside the condom.

“Who are you, Feral? Who are you really?”

Feral smiled and kissed Levi’s nose. “Someone who loves you too much to answer your questions.”

The answer was typical and strangely comforting. Levi had the idea that if Feral ever gave him a straight answer, it would be the end of their affair.

So Feral asked the next question. “Are you hungry?”

“No.”

Feral smiled and traced the shape of the eagle across Levi’s chest. “Your eagle looks lonely.”

Levi stretched back and smiled. “He has his tiger. Or are you proposing a threesome?”

“Never.” The finality in Feral’s tone brooked no argument. Though as far as Levi could tell no one was following him, he never felt the urge to allow someone else to touch him. Not since Feral. As if he could read Levi’s thoughts, Feral said, “You are mine.”

“Are you mine?”

Feral smiled and rolled off of Levi, neatly managing to regain his feet. He reached down for Levi. “I do not share my art with anyone else. This is just for us.”

That wasn’t precisely an answer, but it was as close to one as Levi was likely to get. He didn’t press.

Feral picked up a candle and then led Levi to his bedroom. It was little more than a large pile of exquisite pillows next to a hookah and another bottle of red wine. There was also a silver bowl of figs. “There’s lamb if you decide you are hungry.”

Levi nodded. On the other side of the bed were two tattoo machines, a shader and a liner that Feral used to mark him. “I’ll run out of skin eventually.”

“You have a lot of skin before that happens.” Feral sank onto the cushions and poured them each a glass of wine. “I think you need a shark.”

“A shark?” Levi asked as he lay on his side on the cushions. Marks from the ropes still banded on his skin. Feral wouldn’t begin marking until they had faded.

“To watch over you.”

“Predators only watch you to eat you.”

Feral laughed and took another sip of wine. “You only know a predator has been watching you when you’re about to be eaten. You have no idea what they do unless they have made themselves obvious.”

The statement was odd enough to be mildly disturbing. “What do they do the rest of the time?”

“They wait until they’re hungry enough.” That odd smile again. “Until then, you still belong to them. You’re protected by their greed. They will not allow any other predators to scoop you up. That makes you safe, see?”

Levi raised a brow. “Until they eat you.”

“Is it so bad to be consumed by one who loves you so much as to protect you from all others?”

“But then they move on to the next.”

Feral finished his glass of wine and set it next to the bottle. “That hardly matters. You’re gone. What do you care?”

He had a point. A terrible point, but it was a terrible world. “Is that what you’re doing with me? Watching me until you can consume me?”

Feral walked on his knees to the tattoo machines and started to toy with the inks. “You are too good a meal to have all at once. You’re being savored.”

Levi looked out the door to the camera mounted on the tripod. “A predator’s whole life is about tracking their prey.”

“Prey should be very honored.” Feral met Levi’s eyes and smiled. “They’re the most loved of all of us.”

Before Levi could protest, Feral turned on the machine. The buzzing filled the silence. Levi lay down. Feral turned him onto his side and moved his arm out of the way. At first the pins abrading his skin hurt, but the pain subsided into something dull and throbbing.

Levi extended his hand toward the hookah, and Feral stopped long enough to bring the pipe closer to him. He leaned in and kissed around the violated area.

“So when this is over, Feral, are you going to just stop sending for me?”

Feral leaned over so he could meet Levi’s eyes and stroked the side of his face. “I will never stop sending for you. We will be old men playing this game, my love. Don’t be so literal.”

He kissed him tenderly, and then returned to filling in the shark.

A few hours and a couple of glasses of wine later, Levi stood against the wall so that Feral could take a few pictures of his work. “What do you do with all of these photographs?”

“Look at them when I miss you.”

“Oh. I thought you were going to do an art show or something.”

The idea seemed to amuse Feral. “Do you want to be exhibited?”

Levi blushed. “You could cover the face.”

“I do not share.” Feral wrapped his arms around Levi. “These are for me.”

Prey or not, Levi definitely felt watched and protected.

He also started to feel incredibly sleepy. Between the activity, the wine, and the low dose of opium, he couldn’t keep his head up.

In spite of his willowy thinness, Feral was able to lift Levi and carry him back to bed. Tenderly, he lay him down and curled up behind him. After a few beats of the overhead fan, Levi drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, he awoke to the alarm beside his own bed. Were it not for the soreness of his side, he might have thought it was all an incredible, wonderful dream.

He slipped from bed. Morning light poured in through his floor to ceiling windows. It was almost too bright with as heady as he still felt from his excesses the night before. He was tempted to go back to bed and call in, but his momentum propelled him to the bathroom.

Carefully stripping the bandages from his side, Levi saw the shark etched into his skin. Its eyes were glaring and dark. And he felt loved.

THE END

This story was originally written for “Love is Always Write” sponsored by M/M Romance group on Goodreads. View it with its prompt.

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