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Sunbathing

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The sun came out after they defeated the tentacle monster. It warmed their backs as they gathered the godstones and various other treasures the creature had hoarded in its cave. Xion tried not to think about how the heat would speed the decaying of the slaves’ corpses, instead turning his thoughts to other matters.

Despite how large the beast had been, they’d escaped with relatively few injuries. Oinkers had gotten the worst of things, with a ring of dark bruises around her neck and a couple of cuts, but Torrvic was able to heal those trivially.

Xion tried to feel happy as he left Torrvic to deal with things. They had power stones again. Dorro and his group were safe, or as safe as you could be in Port of Bliss, and Pera had his powers back. Really, he should be feeling great.

But he wasn't.

Despite what he told Pera, he was worried. He was worried about these slaves, he was worried about his father, he was worried about his boyfriend.

He hadn't forgotten Catelyn's dream, the horrible sun beating on his torn and exposed flesh, made worse by the heat radiating off Pera next to him. Pera, who was in so much pain, who couldn't heal himself and who Xion couldn't help.

He clenched his teeth. It didn't help to think about that. He just needed focus on here and now. They had to find the God King's artifacts and bring Sirena back to power, the rest would follow. No need to think about his family, or the god of chaos, or anything else.

He took a deep breath, focusing in the same way he did when he reached out with his divinity. He needed to be completely aware of himself to know what wasn't part of himself, and that awareness forced him to stop thinking for a couple precious seconds.

It was enough. He pulled himself back together without incident. He even managed to smile at Torrvic when he stood up and walked past, muttering about damn tentacle plants and their damn tentacle spores, with Oinkers once more a pig at his heels. Pera though, was nowhere to be found. Xion forced down his immediate concern, sternly telling himself that Pera is more than capable of taking care of himself, and looked around with mostly clear eyes. Swamp stretched in every direction but the one they had come from. That had to be the direction he went, right?

Uragon must have seen him looking lost, because he pointed toward a hill they had walked up the day before. “I believe your companion is up there,” he said, before immediately turning away.

Xion appreciated the privacy as he trekked toward the hill. It didn’t take him long to get close enough to make out Pera sitting on the top. He appeared to be lost in thought, probably staring at the valley below. He didn’t move as Xion approached.

Xion sighed and sat down next to Pera. The sun was hot enough that the ground wasn’t wet, though it was dotted with lush clumps of grass that made nice places to sit. Pera’s fingers threaded through one of those clumps of grass.

They sat in silence for a while. Xion did want to give Pera his space after all, he just also wanted to make sure that Pera knew he was here if he needed him.

Eventually, Pera broke the silence. “I’m weak,” he said, his voice flat and his eyes firmly fixed to the horizon. “I can’t protect you."

Xion sighed. “You’re not weak Pera. You held off an entire army, you controlled a forest fire! That was pretty awesome,” he turned and smiled to show Pera that he meant it.

Pera looked over at him, though his thoughts remained etched in every line of his face. "Yeah but without my powers-"

"Without your powers you're the same person, Sparks." Xion said, gently setting a hand on Pera’s leg. "We've been in a lot of situations where we've had to adapt. With and without our powers."

Pera sighed. "I'm the only one who lost mine though."

Xion pulled back a bit, running his hands over the wood of his staff in the absence of anything else to do with them. It was just a stick, really. It was about as tall as him and could deliver as great a blow as he could manage. More difficult to deal with then a sword, but not by a lot. His fingers skated over the smooth surface as he thought.

"I had an idea about that," he said finally. Pera looked up. "I'm not sure about this, but I suspect that you just... overloaded. Like the power stones. You put too much power in and weren't able to channel it all so you kind of burned out a little. I don't think it's a you problem so much as an us problem. A godling problem," he hastens to add, "not our relationship or anything. I think it could happen to any of us."

He relaxed a bit at that, more at ease than he had been for the past three days.

"You really think so?” he asked, leaning back on his hands.

Xion nodded. "It makes sense, as far as I can tell. It'll be something to watch as we go forward."

"Yeah, I guess so." Pera said as he shifted a bit, moving off his hands and instead leaning against Xion's shoulder. Xion put an arm around his shoulder.

Xion almost drifted off as they sat there. The sun seemed to have come out after they defeated the tentacle horror and it was pleasant to just sit and not think for a while. And being close to Pera was nice too. He traced lazy circles on his boyfriend’s arm.

"They'll have bane swords," his Pera whispered after a while. "I won't be able to roast them."

Xion bit the inside of his cheek. He was concerned about that too. But just because it was scary didn't mean it was insurmountable.

"We'll train," he answered, just as quietly. "And we'll do it together. And with Torrvic. I'll bet Dorro can teach us some stuff too. I know- I guess we're both used to people being around, but we don't need to do this alone."

Pera straightened up with a sigh. "I guess not. But I'm scared, Xion.” He pulled his knees to his chest. "I'm scared."

Xion moved closer and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. "Me too," he said as he hugged Pera, "but I was scared in the Union and we got through that. We'll get through this too."

Pera hugged him tightly.

"We will," he said as he tucked a lock of Pera's hair behind his ear. "You're amazing, and our friends are great, and we have Sirena on our side."

Pera smiled a little, though he still looked tired and worried. "Sirena can be very scary when she wants to be."

"Exactly. Now lay down with me. Since we're up here, let's enjoy the sun." To make it clear he was serious, Xion scooted back a little and shrugged out of his cloak. It was too hot for it anyway. Then he lay on the surprisingly soft ground.

Pera just stared at him.

Xion let him for a bit, then he patted the ground next to him. "Join me in the dirt, Sparks," he said. "You can absorb the sun or something. Like a plant."

Some of the worry fell away from Pera's expression as he smiled. "A plant?" he asked as he slowly lay down, "that's the best you can come up with?"

"You're like a flower," Xion said, propping himself on an elbow so he could better see his boyfriend. "One of those beautiful orange ones that you see in Kadar when it gets warm. Always radiant, but especially lovely in the sun.”

Pera smiled. “That’s the strangest flirting I’ve ever heard."

In answer, Xion reached out and clasped Pera's hand in his own. It was warm with both the sun and Pera's innate fire and it felt right in a way that few things in Xion's life did.

Pera smiled again and squeezed Xion’s hand. “I love you,” he said as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Xion’s. Xion deepened the kiss, threading his other hand through Pera’s hair and pulling his boyfriend closer.

“I love you too,” he whispered, feeling the truth of it in the softness of Pera’s lips, in their shared breath and entwined fingers, in the warmth spreading through his chest. No, everything wasn't okay, they had godlings to find and artifacts to gather and friends and parents to fight, but he didn't need to think about that right now. Pera was here and he was safe. That's what mattered.

He kept holding Pera after they broke the kiss and neither of them pulled away.

"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me,” he said, and Pera smiled and Xion felt he had never said anything more true.