An incubus who’d rather die than feed…
and a witch determined to save him.
Ryan has never enjoyed being an incubus. He hates the hunger that constantly plagues him and hates the need to feed off the sexual desire of others. But most of all he hates the power of his aura and how it removes the inhibitions of other people. Ryan is not about to push himself on a person magically forced into being willing. Instead he spends his weekends at various clubs, gleaning what he can off the energy in the air. And the handsome, all-too-tempting new bouncer at one of his regular haunts? Ryan can deal. He’s gotten good at denying himself.
Chris is a tattoo artist by trade and a bouncer as a favor to a friend. He also happens to be a witch with a talent for reading auras that is second to none, and he’s been paying attention to frequent club-goer Ryan for a while. Sure Ryan’s gorgeous and totally his type, but beneath that glossy exterior Chris can tell he’s in pain – and his aura is so weak it’s scary. When he steps in to stop Ryan from getting unwanted attention from a handsy club patron, he realizes Ryan is an incubus… and that he’s starving himself to death.
Ryan needs to feed before it’s too late, but can Chris convince him it’s not just about sex? Will Ryan ever believe that someone might want him of their own free will?
Ryan wound his way around the writhing, dancing Firefly club patrons on unsteady feet, heading to the bar. He’d only arrived a few minutes ago and it was already overwhelming. The air was heady with enticement; people out to drink and dance and laugh—and fuck. Meeting under the multicolored lights to grind against each other. Hoping to get lucky and find someone to take home for a night of fun.
He fell onto a stool and took a few shaky breaths, trying to calm down. Trying to concentrate, so that he could focus and get what he came here for. What he came to any club for.
His hunger had been getting worse lately. Only a year ago he’d been able to siphon enough sexual energy from club patrons in one Saturday night to get him through almost a full week. Then he’d go back and do it all again. He’d still gone around with an edge of hunger, but it had been enough to get him by.
Now he had to spend entire weekends bouncing from club to club, gleaning what he could out of the air and the none-the-wiser patrons… and it still wasn’t enough. Even now, with the night in full swing and the air filled with sex and anticipation, it was barely doing anything to feed him.
He let his gaze roam over the crowd on the dance floor, honing in on couples getting handsy, and reached out with just a tendril of power to reel in some of the pleasure rolling off of them. The moment he noticed his targets starting to search the crowd, he forced himself to stop and move on.
It was almost more trouble than it was worth. Stopping a drain with hunger gnawing at him the way it was took power and self-control, and he had precious little of either left. Mostly he was using an iron grip on the latter to utilize the former, and he knew something was going to give soon. But he didn’t know how, and that thought alone was terrifying.
Not for the first time, Ryan wished he had been born anything else. Any other magical creature. Human. Anything. Anything but an incubus. It wasn’t a happy lot in life, needing to feed off sexual energy while knowing his powers took away the ability for a person to say no.
A heavy hand fell on his shoulder and Ryan jumped a little, turning to look up at the guy touching him. Tan skin and blond hair, taller than Ryan but then again, most people were. Average build. Cute enough. And while he started out with a pleasant, flirtatious smile on his face, Ryan could visibly see his eyes suddenly go hot and dark with want.
Ryan took a breath and schooled his face, shrugging the hand off his shoulder. Part of him seized up at losing the touch, desperately wanting the warmth back, but he was better than this. He was better than letting his stupid aura skirt around someone else’s ability to consent just so he could fucking feed.
He pulled his aura back in tight around his body, sickly gratified when the guy blinked, a puzzled expression flitting across his face. There. Ryan knew it. He knew he hadn’t actually been wanted. No one actually wanted his pale, skinny ass. Just his aura again, slipping out and winding around someone’s subconscious. He gritted his teeth, feeling sick from the fact that he’d done it again, coupled with the nausea he’d been dealing with as his hunger had gotten worse.
This time when the guy smiled at him, Ryan glared back. The guy shrugged and wove his way back into the crowd on the dance floor. Ryan watched him go, the part of himself he couldn’t control screaming at him for denying himself what could have been a meal.
God, he was starving.
He turned to face the bar and got Beverly’s attention. She gave him a sympathetic look as she passed over a glass of ice water. “You okay?” she asked over the music.
Ryan gave her a weak smile. He came to Firefly often enough that he knew all the staff, and some of them recognized him in turn. But he wasn’t overly friendly with anyone on purpose, even if he was a “regular.” He mostly got nods of recognition over anything else.
That Beverly was asking after him wasn’t good. He must really look awful.
He grabbed for the water, draining half the glass before setting it back down, swirling a finger through the condensation on the rim. The cold water helped his alertness, and it was refreshing enough to quell a little bit of the clenching of his stomach, but it didn’t help make him feel any less hollow. When he glanced down, it was to find that his hands were shaking.
Maybe he should get out onto the dance floor. Just letting some guys dance on him wouldn’t be too bad, right? It was something Ryan had done before, though sparingly. Only when the hunger started to hit him hard. He didn’t like potentially crossing lines but in the end… there wasn’t too much harm. Right? Just dancing. Dancing was okay. It wasn’t like he’d be making them do anything else. And he needed more than what he was getting, from not touching at all. He needed more.
As long as he kept control of himself and didn’t press, it’d be fine.
Decision made, Ryan knocked back the last of the water and set the glass back on the counter before he pushed himself up and stalked forward. He wasn’t much of a dancer. He was built to be a creature of desire, but undulating to music had never been his strong suit. At least he didn’t have to be good. All he had to do was stand there and start to sway, let his eyes close just a little–
It was fucking crazy how quickly two hands landed on his hips as some guy came up behind him. Ryan glanced up to take in dark hair and a smirk, a lip ring highlighted by the multi-colored lights, and that was enough for him. He leaned back into the touch.
It was barely dancing. More of a grind than anything else, but that was exactly what Ryan needed. He was just a warm body for this stranger to rub up against as arousal licked through him. Ryan could siphon some of it, then disappear into the crowd so his partner could find someone he really wanted as Ryan moved on to someone else. Maybe he’d actually get enough from an evening of moving from person to person to feel as though he wasn’t about to fall over.
The hands on his hips starting to roam wasn’t expected, but it wasn’t too surprising. Heat of the moment and all that. Ryan let it happen because it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t let it escalate any further, so it was okay. Letting himself be touched was okay as long as he wasn’t pressing for more.
His lips parted as fingers trailed up his sternum. It felt so good, so good just having some touch him… and that meant he was going too far. This sensitive and weak, he had no idea what his aura might do if he let his resolve go for even a moment. What he’d gotten wasn’t much, barely a meal and not at all filling—more like eating a handful of chocolate over real food—but it was enough to stave off the sense of starvation for a few moments more. He clenched his jaw and moved away, meaning to head back to the bar. He’d give himself some distance before trying to find someone new.
He’d gotten barely a step forward before his wrist was caught and he was reeled back in against the chest of the man who he’d been dancing with. One arm splayed across his body as the other hand moved lower, brushing over the inseam of his jeans as the nameless guy continued to grind against him.
Ryan bit down a growl. Stupid fucking aura. This was why he didn’t usually let himself get close enough to touch. His magic had people getting carried away too quickly, and none of it was something they could control. He was at fault for whatever they did and it wasn’t fair in any sense. He pulled away—or tried to. The arm around his chest was a solid bar, and Ryan didn’t have any other leverage. He inhaled sharply as a hand settled fully over his crotch and squeezed. Not okay, not okay, not okay, he was making this guy–
He bent his knees and dropped his weight, which changed the guy’s grip enough for Ryan to break away. He knew that once they weren’t touching anymore the guy would calm down. He might even forget the last few minutes.
As he rushed back to the bar, Ryan wished he could forget too. Stupid. That’s what he got for letting his guard down even a little. He couldn’t fucking trust himself not to enchant some poor sap.
Arms wrapped around him again, and Ryan let out a quiet oof as he was slammed into the same fucking guy from before, both wrists held tight as the guy dipped his head to nose at the shell of Ryan’s ear. “Relax,” he murmured, lip ring brushing Ryan’s cheek, close enough that Ryan could hear him even amid the pumping bass. “Let’s have some fun.” Fuck, fuck, fuck.
He yanked his aura in as tight as he could, gagging a little at the sick, shocky feeling of using what little energy he had left to try to control his magic. Go away, he thought desperately at the man still holding onto him. Come on, go away.
A hand slid underneath his shirt and Ryan gasped at the feeling of skin on skin before he regained control of himself and started to struggle in the hold. His first instinct was to stomp, kick out, but he didn’t want to hurt this guy. Not when it was Ryan making him act like this in the first place, and certainly not in a crowded club. Lips moved to his neck and Ryan bit back a whimper, the guy’s arousal curling around him enticingly. Ryan refused to reach out for it, refused to encourage the behavior this man couldn’t help. This was the kind of energy he couldn’t take, and he needed to get away before his hunger took control. Miserable, frustrated tears threatened to spill over as he tried to pull away again.
“Why don’t you let go of him, okay?”
The words were said at a normal volume and should have been impossible to hear among the noise of the club, but somehow they came across loud and clear. Ryan jerked his head up to take in the speaker, his eyes level with a broad, muscular chest wearing a black Firefly shirt. Oh. The new bouncer. He wracked his brain and was able to remember that his name was Chris, but other than that, he came up with nothing.
Chris wasn’t looking at him; he was staring at the guy still holding Ryan too tight. “Hey,” Chris said, voice low and even but still with perfect clarity. “Let him go.”
The hands and warmth withdrew. Ryan managed not to chase after them, clenching his teeth and rolling his wrists, reacclimating to feeling colder. He didn’t bother to look over his shoulder to see where his accidental target went. Instead he dropped his gaze to the floor, humiliated and sick, giving into the need to scrub a hand over his eyes. He’d needed someone else to intervene and the small amount of energy he’d managed to gather before denying himself the rest was barely keeping him standing.
A hand fell on his shoulder and Ryan jumped, jerking away from the touch. No, not again. Touch was clearly a trigger right now. He glanced back up at Chris, poised to run. If he made Chris try something—
“Sorry,” Chris said, hand withdrawing immediately. “Here, let’s go sit down?”
Ryan blinked at him, not really sure what was happening. Chris had touched him and then had… stopped touching him. And done nothing else.
Chris knew his name? Ryan nodded haltingly trying not to sway on his feet.
“Come on,” Chris said. Gently, and somehow still not yelling, even amid the noise. “Let’s sit down, okay?” He didn’t make a move to touch him again.
Ryan swallowed but went, dizzy and without the energy to refuse.
Chris led him back to the bar, to the side that wasn’t as busy, making sure Ryan was seated before he got Beverly’s attention. Another glass of ice water was set in front of him. Ryan grabbed for it, distantly noting Chris smiling at Beverly in thanks.
He observed Chris over the rim of the glass as he wondered what was going on. It was easy to be distracted by how attractive Chris was. He had an expressive, handsome face and his grin was… gorgeous, as was his stubble. Tall and broad, with a trim, tapered waist. His forearms were covered in spirals of colorful tattoos and his biceps bulged unfairly underneath the tight black T he was wearing. Ryan caught himself staring at the flex of them as Chris eased himself into the seat next to his.
He tore his eyes away and drank some water, shoving down his want. He could feel the heat radiating off of Chris. It was an effort not to list toward it.
Ryan nodded, clutching the glass with both hands. He was fine. He just… he just needed to sit here and try to siphon from the crowd again. It was a few hours yet, until the club closed. He’d be able to gather enough energy in that time.
“Hey, can you look at me?”
Ryan dragged his gaze back up. Chris was leaning forward, not quite in his space, and looking at him with naked concern. Ryan frowned, confused and a little wary. Nothing had happened to warrant Chris looking at him like that.
“Do you need me to call a ride for you?”
Ryan shook his head, trying not to wince at how the movement made his head pound harder. Tried harder to keep from saying yes and asking Chris to come home with him. “I’m fine, thanks.”
He got a long, searching look in return. “Okay,” Chris said eventually. He sounded thoroughly unconvinced. “Let me know if you need anything, okay?”
A nod, and then Chris stood up. Ryan watched him cross the floor and get back to patrolling the club. He exhaled and took another sip of water. It’d be fine. He’d stay for a few more hours and glean what he could and it would be enough to satisfy him for now. It had to be.