Author's Notes: **Warning**: Dark elements herein. I won't say more, since I don't want to spoil it.
I've got two pages of the third in this series written, but that was a long time ago and I'm not so sure now that it'll get finished. I mean, I have an original novel and short story, and three fan fics to finish in other fandoms, not to mention two other original shorts to edit. It's a long list.
Liu Kang breathed slowly and evenly, his eyes closed, his mind light and as empty as he could make it. After a long, peaceful moment he allowed his awareness to return.
He slowly allowed himself to acknowledge the coolness of the stone under his bare feet, the softness of the robes he wore and the touch of the night air.
Eventually, he realized that he was not alone in the monastery courtyard, as he had believed.
He refused to allow his curiosity to rush him, instead letting his eyes drift open slowly.
"Johnny!" he exclaimed in surprise and stood fluidly, smiling. "This is a surprise."
"It's hard to give advance notice, considering the lack of phones and electricity around here," Johnny said, smiling a little.
Liu frowned internally. There was something different about his friend. He couldn't quite place it, though. Just a nagging feeling that all was not right with the arrogant movie star.
"You alright?" Liu asked, figuring he'd try the direct approach.
"Fine," came the short reply. Then, with an odd little grin, "You could say I'm a whole new man, actually."
Liu studied the other man carefully but could find no change in him. He still spoke with the same cocky tone, still moved with the same ease that should have proved to all his fans that he was no fake but a true martial artist. He even sounded better, for the lost tone his comments had taken on after Mortal Kombat seemed to have disappeared.
Which reminded Liu... "You're not still fixated on Rayden, are you?" he asked carefully.
"Actually," Johnny replied, "that's why I'm here." He tossed his head in the direction of a path that led away from the stone walls of the monastery. "Walk with me, I'll explain."
Liu took a few steps in the direction Johnny had indicated, his friend following. Then he paused. "You're not cold?" he indicated the thin blue dress shirt and black slacks the blond man was wearing.
"Nope," Johnny just shrugged, but when he took Liu's arm to lead him along the path, his grip was cold.
"So," Liu began, hoping to get an idea of what had changed about Johnny, "you said you came because of Rayden?"
Johnny nodded. "I had something of a life changing experience," again, that odd little grin, "and decided to get off my ass and seek out my m...Rayden instead of just pining for him."
"Pining?" Liu asked startled. He hadn't been aware of the exact nature of Johnny's obsession, just that he thought of little else but the God.
"Pining," Johnny confirmed, and there was amusement in his voice.
"So where do I come into this?" Liu asked, still trying to get his head around the idea of Johnny wanted Rayden, a god, a being that he'd learned at the monastery was to be revered.
Johnny glanced back at the monastery and Liu followed his gaze, noting that they had quickly moved some distance away.
"You? You're bait." Liu glanced back at his friend in alarm and involuntarily stepped back as he took in the reddish cast to Johnny's eyes, the fangs that now hung from his jaw, the pale cast to his skin that he'd attributed to the moonlight.
"Wha-" was all he managed to get out before Johnny lashed out and the darkness of unconsciousness descended.
Johnny looked down at the crumpled form of the man who had won Mortal Kombat and snorted in contempt. "Some fighter you are," he muttered as he lifted Liu's body and carried it off into the night.
The first thing Liu became aware of was the stabbing pain that seemed to fill his skull. It took him long moments of deep breathing to force his eyes open. For a moment he thought he was blind. The his eyes adjusted and he realized that he was merely in a dimly lit cavern.
He moved to touch his throbbing head, but his hand was jerked back, a metal cuff digging into his wrist. Alarmed, he took stock of his situation.
He had been stripped of his robes, leaving him in nothing more than a pair of thin pants. Metal cuffs with heavy locks securing them encircled his wrists, ankles and throat. A chain ran from each cuff to the wall of the cave behind him. There was enough play in the chains to allow movement, but not enough for him to sit down or reach any of the lock with his hands.
The sound of footsteps caught his attention and he looked up to see Johnny standing across from him.
"Johnny, what is this?" Liu asked, trying to stay calm. It was a joke. It had to be a joke...
"Isn't it obvious?" Johnny asked, his tone condescending. "It's classic."
"It's a cliche," Liu replied dryly, rather proud of his composure.
Johnny shrugged. "Same thing."
"Listen," Liu went on, "you've had your fun. It was a good joke. Can you just let me go now?"
"But I haven't had my fun yet," Johnny countered, grinning a little. "In fact, I'm just getting started."
Liu's eyes widened in alarm as he took in the dagger Johnny held casually in one hand. He, Liu Kang, had won Mortal Kombat. He had defeated the emperor of another realm, despite the other man's magic. He ought to be able to handle this, it should even have been easy.
But this was no honorable tournament, with rules and set battles. There was no Rayden here to guide him, no friends to stand behind him.
So, instead of looking his enemy defiantly in the eye and announcing his intention to win, he found himself wondering if he ought to scream right away and hope Rayden would show up, or hold out and hope Johnny would make a mistake.
"What happened?" Liu asked suddenly, half hoping to delay the pain he knew was coming and half because he really needed to know what had happened to his friend. "What changed?"
"What changed? Me, Liu," Johnny answered, apparently willing to explain. Liu silently prayed Rayden would make an appearance as Johnny spoke. "I went out one night in search of forgetfulness and found freedom instead," he grinned. "In terms you can understand, I went out to get fucked and a vampire obliged. As it turns out, I'm one of those rare people uniquely suited to the night life."
Liu's eyes widened in disbelief.
"You don't believe me? Let me show you, then." Suddenly the familiar features of Liu's friend took on a surreal cast, fangs descended to prick his bottom lip and his eyes glowed almost scarlet. Liu's stomach curled up into a ball, and he broke out into a terrified sweat. Here was a creature of nightmares brought to life in the form of his friend...
And, most frightening of all, it suited him.
Johnny stalked up close to his former friend and raised the dagger, laying the cool metal against his cheek. "Let's find out how loud a scream will attract the attention of a god," he said, grinning, and turned the blade so that the edge bit into Liu's skin and drew a line of scarlet blood.
Liu bit his tongue, both cursing and thanking the pride that held him back from crying out. He couldn't be responsible for the fall of a god. It would be the ultimate betrayal of the faith he'd found.
Somehow, he knew Johnny understood that.
Johnny tilted his head, critically surveying his work. A little messy, he decided, taking in the blood that speckled the floor of the cavern, but not bad. It was, after all, his first try at torture. Unfortunately, Liu had proven surprisingly resistant. He'd hardly cried out at the touch of the blade, no matter how deeply Johnny cut. Absently, the vampire licked at the blood that coated the blade of the dagger he held.
Liu flinched at the action, and Johnny's eyes narrowed, taking in the movement.
Rising, he went to the things he had stacked in one corner of the cave and withdrew a glass. Returning to his victim, he raised Liu's arm and cut deeply into his wrist just below the metal cuff. Blood flowed from the wound and Johnny caught it carefully in the glass, unable to refrain from smiling in appreciated at the rich ruby color of it.
Letting Liu's arm drop, he set down the knife and picked up another blade from where it lay, half in and half out of a small fire.
"It disturbs you, doesn't it?" Johnny said, raising the glass. "The thought that I enjoy the sight, the smell, the...taste of blood. Your blood." He tilted his head, regarding the liquid. His eyes flickered from Liu to the glass and back to Liu.
Judging his timing carefully, he raised the glass to his lips and drank deeply. At the moment Liu shuddered in revulsion, his guard down, Johnny brought the searing hot blade up to caress Liu's inner thigh.
His judgment was rewarded with a short but agonized scream.
"Go on," he said, his tone that of a concerned friend. "Go ahead and scream. Scream for Rayden. He'll answer you. He'll come. You know he will." The scent of burnt flesh drifted to his nostrils and Johnny found his own stomach turning unexpectedly. He hid his reaction well, instead moving the blade to touch Liu's other leg, prompting another scream.
Liu panted for breath, hanging in his chains for he no longer had the strength or will to stand.
The burning knife next touched down at his navel and as Johnny dragged it slowly down towards his groin, Liu couldn't hold back the panicked cry for help.
"God, Rayden, help me!"
Almost immediately a thunder clap shook the sky. Johnny grinned and discarded the knife, turning to regard the figure that stood in the entrance of the cave.
Everything in him recognized this man as his mate and as his gaze met Rayden's Johnny knew the god knew it too.
Liu Kang watched in disbelief as Johnny completely forgot about him with Rayden's appearance. He meant nothing. His pain was nothing, merely a means to an end.
"Rayden!" Johnny greeted the god cheerfully. "It's been awhile. I missed you."
"And I you," the God said gravely, "though apparently things have changed rather dramatically since my last visit," with his next words, pain laced the impassiveness in Rayden's voice. "What have you done?"
Johnny glanced dismissively at Liu's bloodied form. "That? Just getting your attention." Rayden shook his head sadly and went to Liu. The shackles crackled with electricity and fell open at his touch. Lifting the broken champion in his arms, Rayden carried him back along the path to the monastery, an irritated Johnny trailing behind him.
The monks were waiting for them. They accepted Liu's form wordlessly and filed back inside their sanctuary, leaving Rayden alone with the vampire who had once fought to save the world. "You've been turned," Rayden said. Johnny just waited, knowing no confirmation was needed. "The darkness has overtaken you."
"You looked into my mind," Johnny said, "you knew the potential was there. It was why I could have been the one to win Mortal Kombat. I had the strength, if only I could harness it."
"Harness it, not be overwhelmed by it," Rayden said sharply. "You've lost yourself in the darkness. You've lost control." His voice softened. "It doesn't have to be like that..."
Johnny frowned, some part of him recognizing that what Rayden said was true. The thought that control had slipped from his grasp started anger bubbling, but now there was no one to strike out against but himself. "Come with me. I can teach you how to control the darkness. I can help you-"
"I didn't call you for help," Johnny hissed angrily. "I called you because you're my mate. You belong to me, I belong to you. We're bonded."
Rayden's features displayed only surprise. He knew he ought to be angry, infuriated even. For such a minor immortal to make such a claim on a god...it was unthinkable. He should strike Johnny down, destroy this parody of the man that had so enthralled him during the tournament.
But he couldn't.
Something in him recognized the truth of the claim, and as much as he knew it was wrong, it felt right. None of this showed in his features. Instead, he said only, "Then come with me because I ask you to."
Johnny considered Rayden's offer for a moment. Though he had recognized his mate, he knew he hadn't truly claimed the man yet. He had no intention of making the claim forcefully. Rather, he planned to seduce the god. He obviously couldn't do that if they weren't together. "Alright," he said, shrugging.
Rayden blinked, a little startled by Johnny's easy agreement, but didn't question it.
"Where are we going?" Johnny asked curiously. Rayden was struck suddenly by the surreality of the moment. Johnny stood, his face unnaturally pale, speckled with the blood of a friend he had just personally tortured, and for all the world seemed just the same as the arrogant young movie star Rayden had first met only weeks before. Rayden's heart ached at the thought, even as he found himself sliding an arm around Johnny's shoulders. "Home, of course," he answered. Without warning blue energy spread a spiderweb pattern over the two men, then contracted into a tight ball and blinked out, taking them with it.
Johnny waited for the slight disorientation to fade and looked around, taking stock of Rayden's home. They stood in an entryway. It was tiled in highly polished green jade of a shade so dark it seemed almost black. In sharp contrast pure white marble pillars stood rooted in the floor like trees, their fingers reaching towards the black expanse overhead. As he watched lightning crawled across the ceiling, the stone so dark he had mistaken it for the nighttime sky.
Johnny's eyes followed the light show back to its source, a fountain that stood in the center of the entry way and spewed forth electricity rather than water. Rayden had taken a few steps from him, and now waited, a little amused, for the vampire to follow. Johnny gave the fountain a last glanced and strode after his host, just a little irritated he had shown how impressed he was.
Just beyond the fountain two pillars came together to form an archway. He and Rayden stepped through together and found themselves in a smaller, more intimate room. The surroundings here were more casual, less imposing than the entry hall had been. Blues and greens dominated the room, a subtle but soothing reminder of what, exactly, Rayden's domain was.
The god settled himself on a low couch, gesturing for Johnny to take a seat across from him. "Tell me how it happened," Rayden asked, his voice soft.
Johnny frowned at the memory of his sire. "Why?"
"Because I'm interested," Rayden insisted, an edge coming into his voice.
The vampire stiffened, disliking the commanding tone but accepting it from his mate. "I went out. Dancing. I got picked up. I got turned. I killed my sire," he answered shortly.
"I'd like the unabridged version," Rayden replied dryly.
Johnny stood restlessly and paced over to the desk that dominated one corner of the room. Turning back to Rayden, he leaned up against the piece of furniture and cast a sultry glance in the other man's direction. "There's really no point in talking about it," he insisted. "You can't change what happened."
"Did I say I wanted to?" Rayden asked, raising an eyebrow. "I want to know because I need to know if I'm going to help you learn control."
"Who said I was interested in control?" Johnny retorted.
Rayden chuckled and stood, making his way over to stand virtually nose to nose with the vampire. "I know you, and I know vampires. Believe me you are interested in control."
Johnny pushed off the desk to stand for a moment on the balls of his feet. "You know," he began, and abruptly seized the front of Rayden's tunics and spun to slam him up against a wall, "I think you may be right." He grinned, pressing close to keep the god from moving.
Rayden opened his mouth to protest but found his words swallowed by the insistently passionate touch of Johnny's lips. He tried not to react, tried to tell himself that this was not Johnny, that he had to recover the young man he knew still lived inside this creature before he could even think of letting himself be touched like this... But the truth was that there was something darkly erotic about the vampire version of Johnny Cage, something that called to a part of Rayden carefully shielded from most mortals.
The cool touch of Johnny's lips on his, the slick tangle of their tongues was a fantasy come to life. The odd, supernatural details that came with Johnny's altered nature only made Rayden ache more intensely to touch and be touched. He couldn't stop himself from reaching out to lay a hand on the vampire's chest. No heartbeat thudded under his fingertips and though for a moment the lack of sensation disturbed him, it was quickly driven from his mind by the touch of Johnny's hands.
Rayden wasn't quite sure when his tunics had been stripped away from him. He only knew that they now lay discarded on the floor, forgotten. Johnny's mouth had moved from the captivating kiss to nibble at Rayden's neck and for all the god knew of vampires he found himself allowing his head to fall back, baring the column of his throat to the man every fiber of him recognized as his mate.
Johnny chuckled and laved the pulse point with his tongue, scraping his fangs over the thin barrier of skin but refusing to drink from the blood beneath...yet. Instead he shrugged off his own shirt and reached to strip Rayden of his pants, grinning at the evidence of the god's arousal. Rayden could feel himself trembling in Johnny's embrace, pressing closer to the cool skin even as the rational part of him screamed at him to pull away.
Rayden wasn't operating on reason anymore. He was operating on instinct. His hands moved as if of their own volition to undo Johnny's belt, fingers brushing against the straining hardness below. Johnny moaned a little at the contact and hurriedly stepped out of the garment almost before Rayden had slipped it down past his hips. The vampire slid his hands down Rayden's flanks and past the small of his back to cup his ass, pulling him closer. The god pressed his hips forward against Johnny's groin, breath coming faster, his only thoughts of his mate and the claiming he knew would soon come.
Johnny bent his head to take one of his lover's nipples in the cool, wet cavern of his mouth. Rayden gasped and leaned back, the fingers of one hand tangled in the younger man's hair, encouraging the caress. Johnny hummed a little around the nipple he suckled at, teasing it to the point of pain. The vibrations seemed to radiate through Rayden's body, carrying little shocks of pleasure with them.
His moans came uninhibited down, and when the tender bit of flesh was abandoned he cried out in both disappointment and relief. Johnny quickly kissed his way up the planes of Rayden's chest towards his throat, sensing that the moment was close. Rayden seemed to feel it as well, for he tipped his head to the side to the side, offering himself to his mate. Johnny pulled the god tightly against him and bit deeply into the bared artery. Blood, salty and metallic, hot with life and with magic flood his mouth. The vampire ground his loins against Rayden's thigh, coming hard as he felt the rich blood spread through him, every bit of it confirming his claim. Dimly he was aware that Rayden had also found release, clinging to him as shudders of pleasure wracked his body, pleasure instead of pain radiating from the wound in his neck.
Johnny smiled broadly as he eased himself down onto one of the couches, his mate cradled in his lap. His claim had been made, recognized and accepted. Nothing could change that.