"It's the new moon." Mark stood at the doorway of the studio, looking in at his lover, staring at the pale skin, the long, dark hair. Alan was beautiful, but it was his passion that really drew Mark in, was what had attracted him in the first place.
"I'm busy." He knew that stubborn set of lips, that pout. It didn't matter. Alan could paint and paint, but when the sun set, it was over for three entire days. This wasn't optional, and there was no putting it off.
They'd made their deal with a devil, and he was coming to collect.
Mark sighed. It had been worth it. Look at where they were: a huge old house in the hills, more money and success than either of them could hope for. It was perfect. It was even better than they'd imagined when they'd originally made their bargain.
There'd been a card on their table in the breakfast nook this morning, the sun shining on it, turning it into a beacon. A simple white card with bold words written in dark red ink. He didn't like to think too hard on how the ink looked like blood because then he might have to entertain the idea that it actually was blood.
"Be ready at sundown. In the big bedroom. No disruptions allowed. R."
The staff had been released from their duties, the house was locked up. The phones were set to go straight to voice mail. They were unreachable as far as the outside world was concerned.
He was ready.
Nervous and ready.
"I don't want to," Alan told him.
Mark shrugged. "You don't have a choice." There wasn’t anything either of them could do – they’d made the deal.
Besides, Alan loved it, more than anyone. At the end of the three days, they'd both be exhausted, sated, worn down. They'd be bruised and well-used and absolutely wrung out. Mark knew that Alan hated how Riskin made them feel everything so deeply.
The large windows in the studio made it impossible to miss the sun as it slipped beyond the horizon, its last rays painting the sky and clouds blood red. Red sky at night sailors delight. The old proverb ran through his mind and Mark shook it off. It was time.
Riskin hadn't included the words 'don't be late' in his note, but it had been clear nonetheless that that was a part of the deal.
"Alan." They had to make their way to the bedroom. Now.
"Just go, Mark."
"He'll punish you."
Those dark-dark eyes stared through him. "You'll get to watch."
Mark swallowed, turned, and ran, heading for the huge, windowless bedroom in the center of the house. The room was dominated by the bed in the center of it, the sheets changed just this morning, but there were other pieces of furniture scattered around; Riskin liked to mix things up, and a bed was not always what was needed.
Mark had barely crossed the threshold when Riskin arrived in a plume of smoke. He reclined on the bed, quite naked. Mark couldn't remember a time they'd seen Riskin clothed, not since they'd made their bargain five years ago. Riskin's skin was a dark mahogany, his eyes stood out in his face, red with yellow pupils. There were, however, no horns, no tail, there was no maw of sharp, pointy teeth.
The demon was lovely -- Mark was man enough to admit it. Perfectly, deliciously lovely.
Mark spoke first. "Good evening."
"Mark. I thought it was going to be a good evening, but something's missing."
"He's working. You know how he is."
Alan was... Alan.
Riskin laughed, the sound low and husky, intoxicating. "I know he likes his punishments. It would be so much easier if he just asked, though, mmm?"
Mark nodded, drawn closer by the laughter. "Yes, sir." It would be, but that wasn’t the way Alan worked. A punishment needed to be… a punishment, not the granting of a request.