A/N: Sequel to O'er The Strange Wood. Hope it lives up to the first.
Gift for: The ShadowEye
Special Thanks: To Silver Chrysanth for her suggestion. *hugs* You're the best!
Warnings! - This does have some grizzly images. Nothing past PG14, I think, but lemme know if I need to bump this up to an M rating.
It takes time for Julian to become comfortable in his new form. His kin – the fae, or fair ones, as the rest of galaxy calls them – are gifted with natural grace and light. This…this body is so plain with its flimsy flesh. The skin stretches tight over fragile bones. In all truth, it reminds Julian of death – which, ironically, endears it to him. The first night at Terok Nor, Julian slices deep into his palm with a scalpel, just to taste the rich, tangy blood and watch as the stinging cut begins to slowly heal itself.
It's completely healed by morning.
Nevertheless, Julian makes sure to never really endanger himself.
He is, after all, Master's to command.
He must be ready for all eventualities, even preempt them if he can.
Success is essential for him.
He's had many Masters before – some good, some kind, some gruesome. He's succeeded with all of them. He will not let Garak be his one failure. Not when the task is so easy. Terok Nor will be Master's before the year is done, this Julian swears.
Because, no especially because, Master is so generous to Julian – even if he did force the name 'Julian' on him. It's dangerous, having a corporal title, but Master is the master, so Julian must obey…for now. Still, it's not all bad. The Cardassian lets him feed whenever he wants. He doesn't judge Julian for his eating habits.
The hot blood slides down Julian's throat, and he hums in bliss as he rips yet another piece of flesh from the carcass. His eyes close, and he relishes in the scent of mortality. This, this is worth all the faults and restrictions of his human body. Fae cannot truly taste anything in their natural form.
But humans…humans have the capacity to derive pleasure even from eating.
Julian opens his eyes and sinks his teeth into the flesh. Searing plasma bursts from the punctures his many fangs makes on the cooling skin. It fills his mouth again with the satisfying taste. He shivers in delight.
"Intriguing," Master's voice murmurs from Julian's right.
Julian flinches, backs away with his prey clutched to him, eyes now riveted on the shadowed outline of Master.
Master smiles – cold, hard, and just a little amused. "I didn't know you ate raw flesh."
"It sustains us…me."
"I've seen you eat with the humans at Quark's," Master challenges, stepping forward into the dim light of Cargo Bay 5.
Julian stiffens, but does not retreat. He is Master's servant. He does not have the right to escape. Still, he scowls at the memory of the human food. "Dirt."
Master raises a ridged eyebrow.
"Tastes of dirt. Cooked." Julian spits. "Nasty."
"Ahh," Master grins, "I see."
"Master?" Julian ventures, inching forward. He offers his kill. It is Master's now. Only he can decide if Julian is worthy of keeping it.
Master studies the carcass. Julian stills, waits, despairs. At last, Master looks back at him. "Keep it. I see no reason you should be deprived."
Master doesn't squirm or become ill when Julian questions their suspects, and then erases the memory of the pain from their minds.
The Bajoran child huddles in the corner of the room, as if the space might protect it (him) from further harm. Foolish child, silly child, Julian muses as he sheds the last remnants of his human disguise. He stretches out of the frail skin, admiring the black ink of his normal form. The boy's eyes widen and a sob escapes him. He scrambles into a tighter ball of fear.
Julian grins, and feels his teeth elongate just a little. "Pretty toy."
"Yes," Master agrees from the couch." His parents are expected home by 1900."
Julian slithers closer to the boy. "The quick way?"
In a last burst of courage, the boy screams and launches himself towards the door. Julian snags the back of his throat, claws digging into the paper-thin flesh, and yanks the child back.
The boy flails, skinny fists pounding against the Julian's hardened skin. "No! No, let go! I don't know! I dooon't!"
"I think you lie," Julian breathes into his ear.
The boy screams, and faints.
Julian peers down at the limp form dangling from his hand. "Oh."
"Children do not tend to handle fear well," Master tells him.
"That's boring." Julian slumps.
This ends things too quick. Julian likes to draw out the game, to play with his silly toys. He can't do that now. He glances at Master, who makes an inpatient gesture. Julian stabs his claws into the boy's skull.
The child whimpers, still unconscious.
"Tell me all you've seen," he whispers.
Master teaches Julian how to be human. It helps immensely. Most of his other Master never bothered with such things; always leaving him to bumble his way through each new species, and then punishing him for mistakes. But this new Master doesn't do that, not even the first time.
The smudges won't make sense.
Julian tries and tries, but he can't figure them out. He knows they mean something, knows they do something important – otherwise why would every alien use them so much? – but Julian can't seem to find out why. He could, of course, take the information from someone on the base, but he's not been given permission to use that power yet. Thus, he's stuck struggling to figure this out by himself. Julian growls, because otherwise he might sob, and crushes the pad in his fist. Tiny pieces of glass and metal dig into his palms and fingers.
He watches the blood trickle down his arm, soaking into his uniform.
Why won't they…
Julian hunches inward.
He can't do it!
Master will be so angry.
Master will hurt Julian.
Master will be right to do so.
Master…is walking in!
Julian straightens fast, eyes glued to his Master as the Cardassian pauses and takes in the destroyed pad.
"And what prompted this?" he asks.
"I have failed, Master." A shiver runs down Julian's spine. He does not like to disappoint his Masters. Not only because pain follows, but because it is an affront to his nature. He is the best, he must be, but he cannot be so, if he fails.
"I see," Master says. He strolls to the couch and sits. "Come."
Julian scurries to obey, falling to his knees beside the Cardassian.
"Have you ever been a doctor before, Julian?" Master asks.
"And you did not think to tell me this?"
"Master did not ask," Julian says. "We are…I am the best."
"Ahh, I see," Master breathes. "Quite the prideful pixie, aren't you?"
Julian blinks, his eyebrows pull into a frown. "Prideful?"
Master laughs. "Yes, though that is not altogether a bad thing. Just in moderation."
"Yes, Master." Julian despairs of ever understanding mortals.
Master reaches out. Julian relaxes his muscles. It is always best to not resist punishment. His Masters never liked when he tried that. No, they did not. Julian will make sure he screams ever so loud to please Master. To show he is so very, very sorry.
"Bring me a new pad," Master commands.
Julian hesitates. "Master?"
Julian bolts for the replicator.
Soon, a new pad is placed in Master's scaled hands. Will he use it to beat Julian with? But, no, Master only turns it on and goes to the first page of the 'Medical List'.
"Let's see if we can't rectify this shortcoming," Master muses. He pats the cushion beside him. "Sit."
Julian gingerly does so. He's never been allowed to sit next a Master on equal leveling before – servants and slaves deserve only the floor.
"I want you to listen closely, for I won't repeat anything," Master says. "Now, when the A is combined with an E makes this sound…"
Over the centuries, Julian's been endured, tolerated, tortured, but never truly appreciated.
Master compliments Julian when he succeeds in a small interrogation, or subterfuge.
Too few have ever done that.
The unique approach of his Master is like an exotic drink.
And dangerously addicting.
Julian knows he is becoming attached. This is bad. Attaching yourself to a mortal is a thing most feared by his kin. If your Master find out, it gives them an untold power over you, even more so than the bell charms ever could. The charms are limited, attachment let Masters bind you to themselves for centuries, as you're forced to prolong their lives.
Not many mortals know that, thankfully, but there are those are few that do. And then comes pain, and demands, and true slavery.
Julian should've known better.
He underestimated Master's 'brother'.
Oh, how he misjudged him.
Julian had thought to only gain Dukat's indulgence, not his undivided attention.
It's what comes of being out of practice for several centuries.
Master will be displeased.
The silver chains eat into Julian's black skin, making it bubble and melt. But it is the thought of disappointing Master that hurts more.
Golden runes, carved into the floor, glow as they trap him inside the circle. But it's the risk of being forced to betray Master that truly terrifies Julian.
Blood dribbles over his lips from his gums – they ripped out his teeth hours ago, but the blood won't stop coming.
Julian curls until his forehead touches the ground.
He cannot let Master down.
He will not!
"My, such a resilient pixie," his tormentor chuckles. Dukat crouches down and peers at Julian. "You're quite loyal to someone who sold you without a second thought."
Julian spits at him. "An gceapann tú dom dúr, mortal? Ní bheadh riosca orm riamh a bheith ag an Máistir ar an stupidity sin."
Dukat's reptilian eyes narrow to slits. "We discussed this, Julian."
The Cardassian snaps his fingers.
Fire burns down Julian's back – liquid silver, as Dukat promised.
Julian howls and regrets not a word spoken. This is Master's enemy. Julian will not betray a single weakness of Master's to this fool.
"Speak Cardassian," Dukat orders, standing. "Or English, if you so prefer."
"You begin to bore me, fae," Dukat warns, fingers posed to snap again.
"Ansin scaoil mé. Geallaim ach a mharú – "
A boot crushes his lower jaw.
Julian growls. He will kill them all slowly. Feast on their bones. Rips out their bowels and hang them with them.
"Did you really think to succeed this way?" Dukat asks, still crouched near the runes. "I cannot think you that stupid. No, it must've been my idiot brother's idea. Was it not?"
Julian spits blood at him. Regretfully, it lands short.
Dukat sighs, standing. "Really, I tire of this. In the end, you will be mine. Why do this?"
Julian grins, making sure all his bleeding gums are on display. He need only wait a little more. And then he may feast. ...if Master is not too unhappy with him. Dukat reaches into a large pouch on his belt and sprinkles dried silver over Julian's head and shoulders. Julian's body trembles, despite his efforts. Blisters form as more silver dust is scattered across his back.
He hates the weakness his natural form. Hates it! Why, why must his kin be cursed with such obvious – and easily perchased – vulerablities? It's not fair!
"We can do this again later," Dukat says, smiling wide.
Julian chuckles softly.
Another kick to his dislocated jaw is his reward.
"You will respect me, fae!" Dukat snarls, his shoulder ridges flushed purple.
A snap of the fingers and Julian's chains are stretches further, so that he's almost prostrate on the floor. Julian visualizes a…wait…yes! There! A thrill runs through Julian. One of the guards has smudged the runes with his boot. It's more than enough.
Julian gathers his magick about him, caresses it into fruition. It coils in him, eager as he to enact their revenge. With a delighted shriek, Julian shreds the silver chains. His hands burn where they touch the hated metal, but he doesn't care. No, he's more important things to do.
Like relishing in Dukat's fear.
A flick of the wrist, and the guards burst into puddles of flesh and blood. A blink, and Julian is by Dukat.
"Do try and be resilient." He breathes against the Cardassian's ear. "I'm ever so bored."
A whimper escapes Dukat's lips. Julian savors the taste of fear in the air with a flick of his tongue. Already half his teeth are grown back. He bares them, anticipating the sweet tang of Dukat's blood in his mouth. The door to the room swings open, and Master strolls in.
"Not yet, Julian."
"Master," Julian whines, even at the risk of punishment.
"My, you have made him angry," Master says to Dukat.
"Call it off!" Dukat demands.
Julian lightly swipes his claws across Dukat's throat. How dare this fool demand anything from Master! Dukat chokes in surprise, and clamps a hand against his throat.
"Control your pet, Elim."
"I think you mistake my presence here, brother dear." Master pulls a chair away from the wall and sits. "I am merely a witness."
Julian straightens. Dare he hope? "Master?"
"Level five if you please."
Dukat's screams echo for hours before Julian lets him pass into the grey veil of death – and even that is not enough to sate his desire for revenge.
Master nudges Dukat's corpse with the tip of his boot. "Pity."
Julian's lips curl back as he silently agrees. He scuttles to crouch by Master's feet, ready for his ire. Julian knows he's disturbed Master's careful plans. Punishment will be swift, and right. Even so, Julian flinches when Master lays a hand on top of Julian's head.
"You've done well," Master says.
"Master?" Julian dares to peer up.
"True, it does…accelerate things a bit," Master concedes, but then a grin grows across the scaled face. "However, I find myself anticipating the challenges. We have been so bored lately, haven't we, Julian?"
"Yes, Master," Julian purrs.
"Come, we've a ship to board this evening." Master scans Julian up and down with narrowed eyes. "Your state will not do."
Julian hunches inward.
"Dispose of all the silver," Master commands.
There is much silver in this room, as well as the next. More than enough for Master to punish Julian with many times over, and still have some in reserve. Why ask him to get rid of it?
"All of it." Master starts to leave, but pauses. "Is there any way to protect you from the effects of silver? I'd not have you so vulnerable again."
Can he trust such knowledge to a mortal? Should he? Master has never given any indication against the fae. Still, he is mortal. Apt to change, unlike the fae. Julian relaxes his stance. He can always kill Master after his release.
"Gold with sage particles, Master."
"Very good. I'll incorporate them into your uniforms and outfits."
Julian cannot begin to describe the warm feeling that bursts inside of him at these words. He's never felt this before. It's enveloping him rapidly, spreading throughout his entire human body. What is it? Is he dying? He dearly hopes not. Julian hasn't finished his service to Master yet.
"Come now, no need to look so shocked," Master smirks. "We have a great many things to accomplish before you depart. I would be a poor master, indeed, if I did not take steps to protect my assets."
Julian watches the Cardassian leave. He runs his tongue over the sharp edges of his newly grown teeth. Protect him? A mortal going out of his way to protect a fae? A hysterical laughter bubbles up inside Julian. Oh yes, he likes this new master. Yes, he does.
Translation of Julian's fae language (Gaelic):
You think me stupid, mortal? Master would never risk to such stupidity.
Then release me. I promise to only kill...