cherith: (Muses are Busy)
[personal profile] cherith
Title: Until You Belong to Me
Author: Cherith
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
Word Count: 11,224
Rating: M
Warnings: religious subversion, something very much like dubcon, femslash, graphic/violent scenes, fire
Summary: Sorrow is a demon trying to get away from her master, and she enlists the help of an old friend. Written as a companion piece to last year's: Blind Denial the Long Way Down (also written for OFBB).

When Sorrow was a girl, she had a different name. She dreamed of it sometimes. It was there on the tip of her tongue when she woke, but as is the way of the small things left from dreams, she could never quite bring herself to remember it. She is known as Sorrow, though it is not quite her name either, not in the way that is complete or indicative of who she is. Or what.

She does not mourn that first name. Whatever it might have been, she does not have it in her to mourn anymore. If she had tears to shed they would be black and thick as pitch and as dead as she.

Yet, even the dead must sleep.

---

She woke in tangled red sheets and a long, slender, pale leg over hers. With a slow undulation she rolled to her back, sparing only a quick glance for her mistress as she slid out from under the other woman’s weight and the web of sheets between them. There was a soft sigh from the bed as she stood, though Sorrow didn’t look back once she had freed herself. If she looked back, took even a second to pause over the sleeping form of the woman she called mistress, she called lover, she called her savior, then she would want more than leaving, to crawl back in bed beside her. If she looked back, she would want to bury herself again beside the woman with pale skin and hair black as night - and a heart as well.

So she did not look, that was how she had landed there in the first place. Not that first night, or the many that followed them. No, those first nights she was grateful, would have sung praises - might have, though she could not remember them - at the woman’s ringed and painted toes. Those nights she went happily to the woman’s side and her bed. Now, it felt as though it was only duty; some lingering sense of honor and nobility. Or perhaps it was only forgiveness that compelled her to the woman’s bed. Sorrow had long since forgiven her. Perhaps that was the penance she paid for the betrayal she had already planned. And for the nights of planning, the nights of hatred for the woman she once loved.

The room was not so dark as it might have been on other nights. The ever-burning torch near the door had not been removed before they had gone to bed. With that light, it was simple enough for Sorrow to carefully pick her way across the floor. She swept a hand down as she moved to grab her robe from where it had fallen when it had been pushed from her shoulders. The rest of her clothes were there somewhere as well, though she cared not to pick them up. It would take too long and make too much noise to get dressed completely.

Leaning just next to the torch bracketed into the wall, was a grim looking scythe. The length of it was black and silver, bone grips and decoration laid into the wood. The sharp metal head gleamed orange in the firelight. Sorrow wrapped a pale hand around it, fingertips sliding between gilded bone protrusions on the shaft as she pulled it close.

At the door she turned and looked towards the bed. She licked her lips, dry and tender from rough kisses and sharp teeth. Her mistress stirred but only a quiet, dreamy, little moan escaping the woman’s lips. Sorrow shook her head, wisps of her silvery hair crossing her bare shoulders.

“Soon, Thea,” she whispered to the sleeping form of her mistress. Her lover. Her savior.

The door opened easily with only a quiet hiss of air. Sorrow moved through the doorway and pulled the door closed behind her, hearing a soft click as the lock caught. She murmured a quick protection over the door and as she felt the magic slip into place, she slid her arms through those in her robe, shifting her scythe from one hand to the other and then pulling the robe tight across her waist and cinching it shut.

---

Though Sorrow could not remember her own name - the first one, the one that her parents must have given her - she remembered who she had been. A small, lonely girl with frighteningly pale skin (frightening at least to the adults in her life, though she didn’t remember them either) and hair much the same: like it belonged to someone far beyond her years, white and long and straight. She had been at a church - a fine one with great golden crosses and large statues and large beautiful windows full of so many colors that Sorrow had liked to stand in them, and see how all the colors danced along her skin. She remembered these things, because that’s where she had been when Areltheia had found her.

Areltheia had stalked through the grand hall of the church, a black cloak billowing behind her like a giant shadow, as flames dancing along the church’s columns in her wake. The place crumbled under her command and she sent her fists through crosses and pews and paintings as she made her way to the Bible on the dais near the back wall. The fearsome demoness had rent the good book, letting remnants of pages flutter down from the dais like snow from the scene of heaven along the ceiling.

Sorrow had been standing in the shadow of one of the church’s great windows, staring at the colors when she was forced to the ground by great choking gasps as the smoke snuck into her lungs. It had felt though her chest would burst, as if the fire was inside her too- swallowing her from the inside out. Her tiny hands pressed against the stone floor as she stared at the woman - awed by the force she wielded against the book and at the flames that licked up the pillars and the wall behind her, directed by some unheard or unseen command.

And, Areltheia had stared back.

It had been then, that Sorrow, a tiny slip of a girl all flame-reflected skin and tattered clothes had picked up the long end of a broken cross and, though her chest burned at the effort to draw a breath, she had run at the woman. She wanted to defend the place she thought was home with every small inch of her. She pulled up to her full and inconsiderable height, defiant and proud and with a boldness that defied her age and experience, she stared at the dark-eyed woman. There were shining, pearlescent drops of blood, like tears, below the woman’s eyes that spoke to the girl of sorrow and grief and defeat.

Sorrow tossed aside her makeshift weapon and ran, arms outstretched to envelop the woman in a hug. There was something in the woman Sorrow recognized or wanted to be a part of, or with. Even now, what remained surprising was that Areltheia had compassion left in her. While the demoness tore at the church, burned it from the foundation to the cross on the roof’s apex, she saw a small thing like Sorrow and felt something for the girl. She had seen something young and innocent and had taken her home - to teach her, to train her, to tell her all the things the Church would do to a demon like her if she were ever found, and more still to little girls raised by one.

Areltheia had never asked her name but had assigned her a new one. That too was a name Sorrow no longer remembered. It was years before she had ended up in Thea’s bed (no longer Areltheia when they were so close- so intimate). But it was supposed to be a gift, a treasured memory and as she was consumed, body and soul by the woman she loved - had given herself to - she had renamed herself. Something not chosen for her, but chosen of herself, of a memory of that first meeting between them. It had rolled from her tongue a prayer, a grateful gesture for the night and for her life: Sorrow and Grief Defeated in Lover’s Tears.

And her demoness, her lover, had cherished it.

---

By morning Sorrow stood just inside the wrought iron gates of a graveyard, her hand grasping the bars, poised to leave darkness and death behind. The location of the graveyard, did not matter to her, only that she was there and on the other side of the gates was a decidedly human place, a place where Thea was not. Dead leaves crackled under her bone-tipped and violet boots as she stepped forward and swung open one of the gates. They shuddered, opened with a sickening metallic squeal and she slid through the space left as soon as she was able. Just on the other side of the fence, the air felt warmer than it had inside and the shadows of death retreated.

If she had turned to look back at the graves behind her, she would have found fresh, green grass illuminated by golden sunlight and clear skies. The night had faded completely leaving a strange new day before her. She still felt the strange caress of death and chill winds through her skirt and high collared shirt, and she pulled the cloak clasped over her shoulders tight around her. The clothes didn’t ward off death, hard to keep away something that emanated from deep within but she felt better to make a gesture so... human.

She walked from that place, her shoes clicking in an odd cadence against the one created by the gilded cane under her left hand.

The days of a demon in the sunlight were harsh ones. She was wrapped in dark colors, her hair down to help create shadows, the cane to help her balance (and only as a glamour for the scythe she really carried) and her cloak kept her own chill wrapped away from those that passed her by. Still she was both cold and hot and though she knew she was attractive enough to look upon, people purposefully stepped out of her way and avoided meeting her gaze. The shadows she created on the sidewalk writhed beneath her, hidden as she fell into step with a throng of people. Contemptuous and playful little things, they writhed in in the sunlight, lifted skirts and held onto toes, tripping passersby.

It still felt strange when she reached the edges of ritual or blessed lands, the holy grounds of the cathedrals, synagogues, mosques or temples that humans worshipped so steadily, so guiltily, so compulsively, that she did not have to walk around them. Her feet were tentative each time, as her one memory, the one where she had tossed aside a broken cross in favor for a demon - her demoness, her lover, her beautiful and exotic and unpredicatable flames - kept her uncertain of whether the land, or the god that governed it might let her pass. Each time, she walked with hesitant steps across paths of stone or grass and each time, she made it to the other side without so much as a shudder.

It was different this time, she told herself. It would be different as she strode across the brick path, each brick engraved with a name of either a person, or a family. Her heels and cane beat a tattoo on the bricks as she made for the front door of a stone church, small and simple, with a tall wooden cross on the roof. She stood in the shadow of the building, her own fearsome shadow quiet beneath her- dormant almost, under the watchful eye of some god, or its home.

It took some effort to push open the narrow blue door at the front of the building, at the top of a long flight of stairs, built of those same strange engraved bricks. As the door swung open, she felt the force of a breath catch in her throat like smoke and her chest constricted, tingling and burning her skin. She exhaled as her eyes adjusted to the dim interior and the numbness that threatened, slid from her, snake-like, sending a shiver down her spine.

“Welcome,” said a pleasant voice from somewhere inside behind a pillar or a corner or some other hidden place.

Sorrow let the doors close behind her as she took a few small, careful steps inside.

---

She felt like a child, so long had it been since she had set foot (or any part of herself) inside such a building. The one from her memory had not been her last. Indeed, Thea had seen to instructing her in all the ways a tiny young thing might take down such a building with innocent smiles and a well-placed patch of darkness and death. Later, after she had become Sorrow, Thea had taken her to churches under glamours and webbed penumbras and laid her all pale flesh and moonlit hair against balcony and dais, cross and confessional and with tongue and fingers made Sorrow cry out with all the names of god she knew.

Sorrow’s eyes adjusted to the dim interior and she took another echoing step towards the voice she had heard. She swallowed, pushing down thick air with the bobbing of her throat and brought a forced, “Hello?” to her lips.

There was rustling noise, of paper or pages, or the dead leaves she had stepped on in the graveyard and after a moment- in which she considered leaving, an arm appeared around a corner. It held up a single well-manicured finger, a gesture to wait and she smiled, not at being told to wait, not even at the absurdity of the seemingly disembodied hand- arm, but at the almost playfulness of the gesture - in as much as one can assign such an emotion to a body part.

And then she nodded at it, a perfunctory gesture, a habit, the ritual of greeting and responding to a notice that passes so often between people, but less often between such small gestures. Sorrow let out a gasp at her own muscle-memory, her own habitual nature and then it was followed by her own sharp laugh; a laugh that echoed off brick and stone and got lost somewhere in the wooden rafters along the ceiling. The arm disappeared around the corner from which it had come and she felt the aching urge to follow it, to see what dark hall it disappeared into.

Before she could even take a step, torn as she was between some perverse sense of duty and obedience in such a holy building and the curious and predatory nature that had placed her as Areltheia’s left hand, the sound of heels clicked on the floor and a woman stepped around the corner.

“Mercy, but you do look cold.”

A svelte and immaculately fashioned woman, all perfect pleats and carefully coiffed red hair, rushed forward. She smiled, a kind and knowing mother’s smile and grabbed for Sorrow’s elbow with slender, manicured fingers.

Sorrow pulled her arm way, eyes flashing with unchecked disgust at a touch she had not welcomed, or invited.

“No.”

The woman took her hand back as if she had been harmed at the ferocity of Sorrow’s movement, her rejection. A few steps backwards and the smile Sorrow identified as pretense was in place, red lips pulled tight over white teeth.

“I’m sorry, dear,” the woman said with more affectation than apology. She folded her thin fingers together and held them delicately in front of her waist. “What brings you to Holy Name?”

Sorrow’s eyes flicked to the floor where her shadow wrapped lazy coils around the woman’s ankles. When she brought her gaze back to the woman’s practiced smile, she almost felt a rumble of Thea’s laughter inside her. Holy Name, was the best they could come up with when demons like Areltheia could have corrupted - maybe had - dozens just like it and no one would remember a place like, Holy Name. She tried to quiet the ridicule of her imagined demoness with explanations that she was sure it had a place- a city or a parish or a street name even that would distinguish it from all the others. But, she was not convinced and so neither was the hysterical wisp of Thea in her thoughts.

She cleared her throat. “Do you have a priest- a... “ Sorrow searched for another word but the woman was quick to correct her.

“You mean the Pastor, dear? Pastor Brady?”

Nodding, Sorrow met the woman’s questioning and appraising gaze. “Yes. Would I be able to meet...”

Her words trailed off again, not searching, but investigating- not wishing to be corrected a second time. There was no memory of this building that she could conjure for comparison, so she used what she could see beginning with the prim woman before her. Crosses- minus a crucifixion, faded paintings of eagles or trees or sheep, photographs on a wall in neat ordered rows and columns of families, wooden pews in the distance complete with faded maroon books in pockets on the back. It only took her a moment to evaluate it all, to make a judgement about the type of place, the type of church that she had entered.

“... him?”

---

The woman, Cheryl (once they had been introduced), bade her wait for the pastor in a cramped hallway on a short, uncomfortable wooden chair that had been painted a color of green that looked like mold, or rot. She was not alone, if she cocked her head to the side and looked past the curtain of her own bright hair, she could see the back of Cheryl’s head. But Sorrow didn’t need to look. From her rotting wood throne, she could hear the clacking of the woman’s long, painted fingernails against a keyboard and the rustle of her woolen dress as she shifted uncomfortably in Sorrow’s presence.

The strangeness of it, her sitting patiently like one might in any old waiting room, waiting now for the pastor of a small, strange little church. She smiled crookedly at the thought. Her hands gripped tightly around her cane and she tried not to be anything other than amused as she wondered how long this lowly human would keep her waiting.

It wasn’t long. Only minutes, Sorrow thought, like might matter to her, as though she recognized such minute measures of time regularly. She didn’t.

“Well, hello there.”

A cheerful, rolling and lilting voice came out from the office across from where Sorrow sat. She looked up to find an attractive and portly man, dressed in a chocolate tweed suit, complete with tan leather patches at the elbows. He was already extending a thick hand in her direction as he crossed the few steps between them.

When she stood, the smile plastered on his face broke, faltered for the space of one of his heartbeats. His hand trembled but he did not retract it when she returned his previously jolly smile with a predatory, toothy smile of her own. She lifted one of her own cold, pale hands to place it in his, ladylike. She could feel not only the tremor in his hand, but his pulse, the flow of blood beneath his skin and the warmth it created, the life it gave him. Briefly, as she often did when need demanded she touch living, human flesh, she wondered if they could feel how thick her own blood was now, how cold and black and viscous it was.

“Hello,” she returned, her voice low and soft. She tried for innocent but knew the idea must already be lost on him, even as he pulled his hand back, his eyes were wide and the smile he returned to his face was less certain than it had been.

“You are... Pastor Brady?” she asked, even though Cheryl had already said he would meet with her, she asked as though she hadn’t seen the picture of him on the wall outside the office, or heard the name from the secretary’s painted lips.

“I am.” His voice nearly cracked, brittle words belying the smile and the nod he gave like everything was still alright in his little church.

Slowly, she tapped her fingers on her cane. It was a distraction for her, from the simpleness of this man and of the fear she so easily caused him. But, it was an entrancing one for him, a reason to drop his gaze from her dark eyes and so he no longer needed to wonder why there was no light in them at all. The fear was still in him, evident in the few stuttering breaths he pulled into his round chest.

“I was hoping we could speak,” with a sultry lilt in her voice and a seductive lift of her chin, quirk of her brow, “in your office?”

He nodded, too quickly and Sorrow’s flicked her eyes to the woman she knew was watching their exchange. Cheryl’s eyes were on her: the fullness in her lips, the curve of her breasts beneath the silk, the same tapping of her fingers against the head of the cane. She smiled and delicately licked her lips, her tongue even in the dull shadows of an ill-lit church office was a dark, violet-hued thing. The woman started and even with the space between them, Sorrow could see the shudder of excitement, of lust, run through her body. When her gaze returned to the pastor, she found his eyes on her again, his mouth gaping. She saw the want- that hunger for her, was also in him.

It was a thing she didn’t use often, that attraction, that need that compelled humans one to another. But here - as it had the many times Thea had shown her the same thing in other houses of worship - it amused her to do so. Though the rutting of humans together was less appealing, she imagined how if she left them alive, the pastor and that woman would fall together, despite any commitments or relationships, when she left. She could do that to them and when she left, she would laugh at their compulsion.

When she canted her head in question he closed his mouth and nodded again. “Oh- of- of course,” he stammered.

With her free hand, Sorrow reached for his elbow and applied a light pressure to set him in motion and he let himself be turned back towards his office door as she pulled him forward with her own steps.

---

The pastor’s office was a mishmash collection of tacky sculptures and a gratuitous amount of quotes: embroidered, cross-stitched, wood-burned, painted and calligraphied biblical quotes. It seemed to Sorrow that nearly everything was some sort of reference to their bible, their god, a constant and overbearing reminder of the work that he was supposed to do in that office. Sorrow looked at each kitchy knickknack with distaste and stepped softly across the spiral carpet to the man’s cluttered desk. She lifted her cane and slowly, but carelessly, swept the length of it over a corner in front of the pastor’s seat. As he sat, he watched his things tumble from the desk to the carpet in front of his feet and when his eyes flicked back to her face, there was anger there but also the quirk of a smile tugging at his lips.

“Now, miss... “ He gave her a confused look, cheeks reddening. “I’m sorry miss, where are my manners. I didn’t ask after you name.”

Sorrow chuckled at that. Manners, now, after the little show she had put on for him and his secretary just moments before. She smiled, leered really, as she used her free hand to hike up her skirt, lifted a leg and then slid herself up onto the newly empty corner of his desk.

“My name is about as important to you as those dreadful little statues,” she said. She hoisted her cane again and thrust the end of it into his chest, stopping just as the button of his dress shirt cracked beneath the rubber grip. “What is important, is what you can do for me.”

His eyes went wide, jaw dropping as he stared down at his chest, an exhaled breath, pushing the broken button pieces out from under the cane. She pulled her cane away and laid it on the desk, toppling several other trinkets. In another breath, Sorrow raised one of her legs, the split of her skirt revealing a bright expanse of skin as it fell away, and hooked her foot into one of the arms of his chair and pulled him, chair and all, close as he could be.

“Pastor Brady, I need two things from you.” She slipped her other bone-tipped booted foot between his legs, sliding the point of her heel along his thigh. Though I want neither.

It was seduction at it’s most base, more forceful and the man before her seemed barely conscious, confused and hesitant to move against her or call out for help. She slipped loose a bit of the careful glamour she held in place, her skin brightening like moonlight, and the shadows behind her on the desk, uncoiling and rising from their place to create roiling mass behind her. Her shadow became another version of herself, ill-defined and blurry, but with her size and shape, fluttering pieces that represented her clothes and hair and in its hand was not the head of a cane, but the long shaft her her own glimmering scythe.

The pastor whimpered as the shadow took shape unsure whether to look at the pale woman with her foot resting a pointed toe over the rising bulge in his slacks or at the shadows that seemed to flicker into existence, slithering towards him with and unnatural and evil, sort of grace. Sorrow could hear the change in his breathing, the hitch as the large man fought to suck air into his lungs. She leaned forward, applying slight pressure to her foot, and her shadow moved too, a swift motion that brought it to the man’s side. Sorrow smiled at herself or what passed for a poor, umbral facsimile of herself. She slid her foot to the side, around his belly and as her leg pressed into the side of the chair, she pulled herself onto him.

She did not bother to kiss him, touch him tenderly, or whisper consoling words into his ear. Instead, she slipped her slender hand between them to pull at his belt, his zipper to free him from clothed constraint. He moaned as her hand brushed against him, and he stared at her, eyes glassy with lust and confusion, lips puckering and searching for hers, his large hands against her back to pull her closer.

Her shadow lengthened, a single tendril sliding behind her to push the pastor’s office door closed. She could hear a woman’s small-voiced protest from the other side, but paid it little mind. Softly and more tenderly than she would be, her shadow ran wisps through the man’s hair, caressed his skin, found openings in his clothing and crept inside until he was all but covered in traces of her- of it. Covered him until under her own hands she felt nothing but the chill, ephemeral softness that was her own fleeting shadow. Where she wanted him covered, it thickened to nearly tangible darkness at her touch.

There were two things she needed from him. Two things she needed, but did not want. It didn’t have to be him specifically, only what his position, what his faith granted him. She would take it from him, as she had been taught to take it by Thea in houses of worship all over creation. She would take it, and if she was wise and clever as only Thea could have taught her to be, she would use against the woman she called once called savior. Only for this- only for this, only now, would she bother with the sweaty, sticky, fleshy parts of the human race. Only for this would she sink onto this man, sink her teeth into his flesh, bury him inside her, until he had nothing more to give. Only for Areltheia, would Sorrow do these things, only because she knew she must.

---

Sorrow ran a finger along her lips and caught several drops of blood that threatened to trickle down onto the pastor’s clothes. She licked at it, savoring the taste and a thrill that settled just under her skin as all that had passed between them coursed through her body. Rotten and ichorous as she must be on the inside, living fluids, fresh from their source were still somehow, intoxicating. She shivered as she pulled away from the man, silk skirt settling back around her legs as she stood and a cool caress against her skin as her shadow fell back into place, feeling as though it snuggled against her, nuzzled like a cat settling to sleep once more.

“You’ve been most helpful, Pastor Brady.” She laid a blood-stained fingertip against his cheek before turning to lift her cane up from his desk.

He moaned and his body twitched limply. He would live, provided Cheryl did her part in retrieving him once Sorrow left the church, though she could think of many- perhaps too many- times where she had left men and women like this, sated, yet empty, then expired.

As she exited his office, she winked at Cheryl, who turned in her chair as the door clicked open. The woman’s lips were a thin, angry line of too-bright lipstick and Sorrow could do naught but laugh at the disdain, the disapproval evident on the woman’s face. Mentally, she swept through her memory of the pastor’s office, trying to remember a wedding ring or a family portrait. When she found none, she dropped her own shadowed gaze to Cheryl’s hand which was indeed also, without a ring.

“Ah.”

Sorrow laughed again and canted her head, sliding a hand around her neck to brush aside her hair. There, she could feel it, a scar- her own small brand- a reminder- a belonging. Her blood-tipped fingers ran over the mark, feeling at a sight she would always remember, the swirl of scarred tissue that Thea had created on her skin. Blood transferred from her finger to the mark and she watched as the older woman’s eyes too, moved to stare at the blood, at the one place her skin would always be marred.

It was chaos on her skin, darkness and swirling shadows beneath the blood as her skin struggled to pull the fresh blood into it, to heal, even if she knew it to be a futile attempt. The woman whimpered and rose from her seat, legs and arms trembling. She reached for the phone at the corner of her desk as Sorrow let her gaze drop away, and began to make her way for the doors out of the church. Cheryl’s hands clumsily knocked the receiver from the desk and she fumbled with it, forced her eyes away from Sorrow’s retreating form, even if the symbol danced still in her mind, in front of her eyes.

The mark, the blood seeping into her skin as though it might do something other than sink beneath it, served as her reminder. It was why she did this, it was why she moved now against Areltheia. It was why she came to a church, to a place of worship and took the seed of a strange and unappealing man into her body, why she drew his blood into her mouth and let it sit, a strange heavy pit in her stomach. Thea had marked her, had marred her, had branded her, as a reminder of the control she had over Sorrow. The mark showed, in Sorrow’s mind after all her years of service and obedience to the demoness - an undeserved reminder - how little Thea trusted her. And to what lengths an ancient and crazed woman would go to protect what she thought belonged to her.

By the time Sorrow made her way to the heavy front door, she could hear the beats of Cheryl’s footsteps making her way into the pastor’s office. There was a scream a moment later, the moment Sorrow lifted her cane to keep it from slowing her steps and made her way down the brick pathway, back to the sidewalk.
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