Outside the city, away from the protection of its dome and slick screened technology, the air is thick and unnourishing. They are both already breathless, Reb can hear Bren's deep, effort filled breaths over the faint swell of music, and fights the urge to run towards the red-green light of the oxygen barriers shining invitingly through the trees.
"Easy," Bren's fingers wrap around Reb's wrist as he increases his pace. "Just, take it easy. Don't stress your lungs; we're almost inside the perimeter."
Bren's hand slides down his arm to tangle their fingers together as Reb nods. He slows back to Bren's side and a warm twist rushes through him as Bren's fingers tighten around his in reward. The sun has set since the message calling them out here had been sent. The sky is heavy and low, the city lights reflect back down on them from the cloud cover, but Reb can still see the contrast of Bren's darker skin against his own.
The air is cold and buzzing; their bare skin pulls tight as they approach the barrier, shifting colours washing over them as they make their way through. On the other side clean, oxygen rich air fills their lungs. They pull slow, deep, intoxicating breaths as they move deeper into the trees. Reb surges ahead towards the lights and music and warm bodies. This time Bren lets him rush forward, smiling as he follows more slowly and taking in the scene.
The music is loud, swelling and filling the impromptu habitable zone. Elaborate clothes and paints decorate the bodies moving against each other in time with the music. The Sentinels, those small flitting lights constantly monitoring oxygen, temperature, and humidity, move amongst the revellers. They slip in and out of focus, their illuminated tails tracking out flight paths.
Reb has stopped at the edge of the wide open space filled with bodies covered in leather, paint, feathers, and beads. Lights from the oxygen barrier catch against sequins and glitter, painting rainbows on the skin of the dancers but he is still, trying to hide in the shifting shadows. Bren stops behind him while Reb's eyes dart from one dancer to the next. Their bodies move against each with abandon, groups joining and separating and reforming between one beat and the next. Bren can see the stiffness in Reb's stance, see his fingers clenching and releasing, "I don't know if I can do this."
Bren steps closer until he can feel the heat of Reb's body against his bare chest, "Why?"
Reb eyes track to a tall, broad man crowding a slender blond against a tree. He has one leather clad thigh thrust between two skinny legs and the black polished nails of one hand are lost in the blond hair. Bren feels Reb’s breath stutter as the man’s other hand closes lovingly around the thin white throat.
"We aren't supposed to be here." Reb's voice is rough and low, "The City and the laws, none of this is allowed."
Bren curls a hand around Reb's wrist, "But we are here," he whispers, "We came all this way so we could be here together."
"What if there's a raid? What if-" Shifting light hits Reb's throat as he swallows sharply, Bren can see the quick time beat of his pulse. He reaches out with his other hand, resting his palm against soft skin, and leans forward, "What if it was ok?" Bren askes, lips moving against Reb's ear. He carefully wraps his fingers across Reb's throat, echoing the scene in front of them, "What if I said it?"
Reb's draws in a sharp breath, fast and shallow, "Bren?"
Bren tightens his grip, can feel Reb's pulse pushing up against his fingers now, "What if I said it was allowed?"
Reb exhales sharply and his body collapses warm and fluid against Bren's. Bren feels Reb’s chest expand as he draws in another breath, pushing himself into Bren's hand to feel the constraint. "Yes." His voice breaks, "Bren, yes."
"Look at the sky." Reb raises his eyes, following Bren's low command. The reflections of light on the underside of the cloud cover look almost like the heat-lightening Reb feels under his skin when Bren's fingers tighten around his, nails pushing into Reb's pale skin,
"We've come here to see this, to be together."
They watch the City light up the sky, their fingers knotting them together as the crowd of dancers moves around them. Bren watches the tall man break away from his boy and stalk toward them. His dark lined eyes are smiling and one hand is still buried in the blond’s hair. His companion keeps pace with his long strides and turns his face up, light catching against the shimmer of his skin as his red mouth presses against a pale jaw, murmuring words too low to hear. They are both smiling as they stop in front of Bren and Reb.
He tips back his silver top hat with two fingers before circling them, indicating the dancers, "You’re more than welcome to just stand here and watch, but its so much more fun if you join in."
He puts his partner in front of him with large hands on slim hips and a soft, "C’mere baby," before shoving his hand into the pocket of those tight pants. The blond grinds back against him, head tipping back against his shoulder, and licks his lips outrageously.
The man’s laugh is a low rumble as he slaps a skinny thigh before tossing a tube of body paint to Bren. He grins, sharp teeth and soft lips, tilting his head towards Reb, "For yours."
Bren finds himself grinning back before he can stop himself, turning to Reb as he pulls the cap. The other two men move away, melting into the light and shadow of the party as Bren turns to face Reb. He traces his fingertips up Reb’s bare arm, the thrill of wanting to dig his fingers into smooth skin coursing through him as Reb falls so still and silent under his touch. He sets that thought aside for the moment; instead he pulls his hand away, smearing his fingertips with the contents of the tube.
"Do you still want to leave?" he asks, hand raised to Reb’s cheek but not yet touching. "I know it’s a lot. More that we thought it would be, but-" he breathes out slowly, "Here you would be mine."
Reb leans forward, pressing his forehead against Bren’s. He is still and silent for a long moment as the world moves and pounds around them before shifting his feet. He exhales sharply as the change of stance brings Bren’s shimmer-dark fingers skidding across his cheek.
Bren cannot help the hum of satisfaction that slips past his lips and he cants his body forward as he raises his other hand to cradle the back of Reb’s head. Bren keeps him still with hand and hip, smudging the glittering liquid over Reb’s cheek before curving up around his eye.
Bren leans back, "It looks good."
Reb's eyes are glazed, his smile soft, "Yeah?"
Bren swallows roughly, but before he can speak dancers brush past them, the brief contact bringing him back to the forest and the wild party around them. Bren laughs, tugging at Reb, who follows exactly where Bren's hands lead until he is pressed against Bren's chest again. The music rises in volume as a band starts playing and Bren moves their hips together to the beat as he wraps one arm high across Reb's chest, tangling the fingers of his other hand with Reb's. Bren presses a kiss to Reb's bare shoulder as they dance.