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Riverside

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This is a bad idea, Onni tells himself.

Then again, his family are the reigning champions of bad ideas. That’s how they got into this mess to begin with.

He tries to make a list, like his mother used to, of all the pros and cons. Onni has done this a lot in the years since it happened. It doesn’t actually make his thought process any clearer, but he feels a bit less alone.

He tries. The first few times, he really does try to say no. But it’s harder, here, where his soul doesn’t have a physical body to hide behind. It’s not easy to lie to someone in your dreams.

“I’m wrong for you,” he says, skipping a rock across the water. “I mean, I’m old.”

“Well, I’m just the baby of my family. I have…” Reynir pauses and looks at his hand, fingers outstretched, “Four siblings, you know. Most people I know are older than me!”

Onni sighs. Even in his dreams, he is tired.

His resolve doesn’t last long, in the end. It has less to do with Reynir than he’d like to admit; the truth is it’s been far too long since he’s let himself do this. Let himself do anything other than spending most of his energy keeping his sister and cousin alive and safe and out of trouble.

xxx

Onni feels those thin fingers in his hair, brushing his face, resting against his chest. His heart is beating, far too fast, far too fleeting. “Wait, can-- can we just…” He takes Reynir’s wrist, guides his hand away. He is gentle but he means it.

“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you? I’m sorry I’m not very---” The words come out like a sudden downpour.

“No, I just… I need to know why you’re doing this,” Onni says, looking apprehensive. Reynir seems the last person in the world to have ulterior motives, and it’s not as if he himself is faultless here, but... Keuruu is a small place. He’s been approached before by people who just wanted someone to spend time with, something to do in the long winter, a warm bed to share. It turned his edges jagged.

Reynir doesn’t look at him either, fiddles with the end of his long braid. “That picture of you… the one that Tuuri keeps on her desk. When I first saw it, I thought… Well, I didn’t know it was you then, but I thought… that person looks very sad.”

Onni wasn’t really prepared for that answer. He doesn’t know what to do with it, where to put it in the neatly organized routine of his life. It takes him a second or two to realize that Reynir is still talking.

“Well, and… I just thought… um. I wanted to help, I guess. I’m sorry if that’s not a good reason, I---”

For the first time in a long time, Onni smiles.

xxx

His dreamworld is all stone and water, and Reynir is the softest thing in it. Onni undoes the laces carefully, sliding the roughhewn fabric down until it pools on the floor. He is happy to learn that the freckles dotting Reynir’s cheeks also exist on his shoulders, his arms, his back. He could spend hours tracing their patterns. They don’t have hours.

He commits to memory the way that red hair spills out of its already messy braid and onto the browns and greys of his fur cloak. He lets himself be pulled down after him, and the Icelander’s strength lights up a small bubble of surprise somewhere deep inside his gut. Reynir tastes like a cold mountain brook, water and ice melt in his mouth. Onni is careful, aware of his own size, even as the redhead grabs hold of his hips in a gesture that leaves little doubt about his intentions. It sends a jolt up his spine, scrambles his signals for a few seconds like the static of a radio before it finds the correct frequency. The friction of their bodies focuses him again, lets him fall into a rhythm. There is a hand making its way down his stomach, across his abdomen and into his pants, and he does nothing to stop it. He is tired of trying to stop things. Right now all he wants to do is lay back and let things happen.

His back hits the coats they’ve laid out on the floor of the small cave; it’s not very comfortable, but he doesn’t mind. Reynir is above him now, strands of red trailing down like willow branches. Onni reaches up, buries his fingers into that hair, tries his best not to knot and pull even as the rest of him edges closer and closer.

xxx

“I’d prefer if you didn’t tell my sister or cousin about… this. ” He has to ask afterwards, because of the kind of person he is. The kind of person he has grown up to be when he wasn't looking.

“Of course, yes! I guess it is… kind of weird. But I want to do it more?” Reynir chirps, curled up in his arms.

The brook nearby carries their words away; it takes with it soft gasps and muffled moans, tiny secrets made manifest for just that one second, and only for these two people.