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The bees had never really bothered him before, he wasn’t immune to being stung like Jupiter but they never paid him much mind.

Slowly, this changed. It started with a few nudging at him in an annoying way and no amount of swatting them would help. Stinger contributed by chuckling at him from time to time which only served to make the whole thing worse and a small growl build in the hollow of his throat.

One day he exited his van parked between the tall leafy plants nodding in the light breeze and the tree covered grass expanse that made the Apini garden and he was full on attacked. When he made it to the safety of the house, and some assistance from Stinger, his arms and neck and face were buzzing and throbbing in hot pain.

‘So’ Stinger began surveying him from across the scrubbed table as he administered an anti-histamine advanced technology style ‘do you want to tell me what the hell is going on?’

‘Me tell you?!’ Caine retorted his jaw gaping as he tried to pile ice on every available thrumming part of his skin. ‘It was your bees that decided to go for me!’

‘That was not my doing’ he replied, his accent rendering the tone stern. Gold eye resolutely avoided his. ‘Now, I’ll ask again, will you tell me what is going on?’

OOO

‘Vladie! You are not at trough, so don’t eat like pig’ Aleksa scolded tapping the arm that reached across trying to grab everything in sight. His protests were lost as her eyes fell on her daughter.

 The dutiful coffee bringing had lasted a few months but now listless Jupiter was back. A Jupiter that trundled through life without enthusiasm or plan, that stayed in bed until her mother and aunt strained their lungs from screaming at her. All of this, Aleksa had noted coincided with the absence of the boyfriend that she had been sneaking off with. It seemed that he had taken the sparkle that had enthused her daughter, with him. Aleksa had asked outright, Aunt Nino had tried a more softly softly approach but they had both got the same response ‘we’re not compatible.’ The two women had though it an odd turn of phrase, why hadn’t she just said ‘it’s not working.’ The word compatibility troubled her slightly.

 Jupiter was polishing ornaments and Aleksa was dusting the shelves on which said ornaments lived when she tried to broach the subject again. The only problem was that subtlety was not really in her inventory. It wasn’t her nature to coax painful truths from people when she herself had buried them under a ton of concrete and built a shopping centre on top. She settled with.

‘You are so unhappy without this Caine, was it really worth breaking up?’ 

Jupiter sighed having sensed the charged silence as a precursor to this topic.

‘I’ve told you mom, it wasn’t meant to be.’

Is it really worth forcing the issue.yes.

‘What happened?’

An ornament hit the shelf with more vigour than required.

‘What always happens, I have a bad taste in men. I pushed too hard and it broke the tiny fragile thing we had, okay?’

She pulled the right sleeve of her t-shirt down conscious of the shining mark on her wrist. It only reminded her of him, not of everything that had been gifted to her because of the way her genes were ordered.

OOO

She giggled a lot, he liked it because it meant she was happy and that was important to him. But giggles were a sound and he was a man of scent. Some giggles smelt like the air, and the tang of adrenaline as they soared through the sky, though they often turned into delighted whoops. Others smelt of greasy burgers and chips when they stopped to eat because ‘I’m not advanced enough to take nutrient pills or whatever it is you futuristic folk do.’ One particular gleeful sounding giggle smelt (and tasted) of ketchup when she smeared in across his cheek because ‘I felt like it.’ He didn’t mind too much because she licked it off. This did lead them to be asked to leave the diner because ‘you are making the other customers uncomfortable.’ More specifically his consequent possession of her mouth and resulting tell tale growl which rumbled through the small space and not even the tinny strains of Elvis could hide.

Some giggles were not giggles at all, and they smelt like roses and cream on the surface of her skin masking a more potent scent because of what it signified.

Desire. Her desire for him.

He wasn’t stupid, he knew that the time they shared together and the kisses he stole gave the impression that this was going somewhere but he was only burying his head in the sand. She was worth fighting for, more than anything in fact, but she wasn’t his to fight for and never would be.

He was a fool to try, and even more so to think he could get away with meandering down a path he had no belief he had the right to keep on to the end.

OOO

He was always gentle, loving, passionate, but gentle. The well controlled restraint had some tells however. The flaring of the nostrils, the straining tick of his jaw, and more explicitly, the pulling back.

She confronted him about it, but he deflected every single time.

One day she just laid her cards on the table.

‘This is not going anywhere is it?’

‘Well not right now no, the engine is switched off’ he chuckled and turned the key of the legitimately obtained truck.

‘You know I was talking about us.’

There went the jaw grind.

‘Jupiter’ it was a warning, her name was never a warning.

‘Look Caine, if you’re never going to give yourself to this, to us, then what’s the point?’

‘Are you happy? Do you enjoy the time we spend together?’

‘Yes, but…’

‘Do I please you?’ A blink ‘yes like that.’

‘Yes, you… but…’

‘Then what is the problem?’

‘You don’t believe we should be together, because of what I am do you?’ It was whispered because it was a fear that had settled over her like a warm blanket and now taking it off was an unsettling feeling.

‘Not just you, your majesty, me too.’

‘It’s not a problem Caine, I don’t care, do you really think that I would? After everything we’ve been through? ‘

‘You’re not going to let this go are you? You’re really going to ruin this?’

‘Me ruin it?’ She gasped, ‘You’re doing pretty fine on your own.’

She knew she was pushing too hard, but she was so angry, the fury bubbled to the top like milk in a microwave so quickly that she couldn’t stop. So when he fumbled for the door handle and jumped from the vehicle to storm across the vast open space they'd chosen as a base to fly from, she followed suit.

‘Come back Caine, don’t run away from this.’

‘Is that an order?’

She flinched and he might as well have slapped her. She knew then that it was broken. Trampled under her feet like the dirt she stood on.

OOO

The sunset glowed brilliantly, the mix of burnished oranges and sanguine hints cast the room in beautiful colours. Her skin glowed too, her eyes with sparkle. She was giggling again but these tasted of sweat and bitter. His kisses were feather light ghosts across her skin that worshipped her for the Queen she was. She was royalty by genes but she was his by the hot breathy sounds she made in his exploration of her skin. Roses and cream. He was ardent, but slow. Too slow.

‘Caine please I’ the rest of the sentence was lost as his mouth finally found her centre. She lost count of the time he made her fall apart but eventually he crawled back up her body. His eyes were liquid gold and a little wild. His muscles strained but he was still there, ever in control. His eyes never left hers as he entered her, a tenderness mingled with pained pleasure crossing his face. Her hands found purchase on a shoulder blade, mindful of the wings artificially stowed away. He moved at an agonizingly slow pace, as if she was made of porcelain and not of flesh and bone that burned for him. That was her torture. She clawed at him in silent permission. It was an odd sort of reverse psychology. He hated losing control, it scared him, and reasonably so given past experiences. Yet, her silent encouragement meant she took up the mantle of control without him ever giving it up. The realization made him nip at her shoulder as a throaty snarl slipped out. The nails dug deeper, and his eyes rolled back into his head.

Well, maybe control was something they’d work on together.

OOO

Kiza had never really understood the problem, but then again despite him being a splice, he was a man. She’d learnt early on their logic was on another plane, trapped somewhere probably with the lost scroll of Archiusa.

Maybe there was a plane somewhere in which Jupiter wasn’t a queen and Caine wasn’t a half human half wolf mélange with a penchant for making royalty his mid afternoon snack.

But then again that would mean they probably wouldn’t be the same people, with the personalities and sparks that made then connect in the first place.

Maybe they just needed a second chance.

OOO

The Chicago sky was starting set, the tell tale hint of orange bleeding through to the blue. The skyscrapers stood resolutely as this daily act happened again and soon they would be dark shrouds in an even darker skyline. For now, two figures soared through the air, no chase or explosions or tang of adrenaline.  It was just a winged wolf man and his queen, living.