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Wings of Desire

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Marco pressed his nose up against the window of the train carriage as he watched the countryside speed by outside, something he hadn’t done since he was a small boy being taken on outings by his parents. Despite the circumstances, he shivered with excitement, a strange feeling buzzing in his stomach. Something was calling to him, even if he wasn’t sure exactly what.

He loved the city where he’d been born, where he’d grown up and spent most of his adult life. But he had to get away. He had to go somewhere far, far away, somewhere where every street, every café and every bar didn’t remind him of him, of the man he loved, the man he’d believed he’d spend the rest of his life with, the man who’d left him, the man whom he was desperately trying to forget. So he’d had to leave the city he loved to try and leave behind the man he loved, at least for a month or two over the summer.

Somehow getting on a plane and arriving in a new city in a couple of hours hadn’t seemed like a big enough adventure. That was how he’d found himself first on a train to Berlin and then the Berlin-Warsawa-Express. There was something strangely thrilling about crossing the border by train, at seeing the landscape change in front of his very eyes, at all of a sudden being unable to read any of the signs in the stations they stopped in. Everything was new and strange and exciting, and that was exactly what he needed right now.

It was late by the time he arrived in Warsaw, taking a taxi to the small apartment he’d rented on the third floor of a block of flats, letting himself in with the electronic keycode he’d been sent by email. The handsome building was sixty or seventy years old and stood in a quiet sidestreet, but was close enough to the city centre for him to be able to walk as much as possible.

Tired from his long journey, he unpacked and had a quick wash before deciding to go to straight to bed. Part of him longed to go outside and explore his temporary new home, but he wanted to be well rested for tomorrow. Tomorrow his life would begin all over again and he was determined to seize every opportunity that came his way. He’d settled into a comfortable life with him – that was the only way he could think of him right now without ripping open painful wounds that had barely scabbed over - and then he’d wasted the best part of three years in the fruitless attempt to save their relationship. At least now he was free to do exactly what he wanted for the first time in years. The whole world was open to him and he was ready to grasp it with both hands.

He slept surprisingly well, better than he had in weeks. He’d dreamt something, something important, although he couldn’t remember what, the fragile threads of his dreams evaporating in the morning sunshine. It was the early morning sun glinting through a crack in the curtains that woke him. He was sure that he’d shut the curtains properly last night, but no matter. It was a beautiful day, he was awake and ready to go after a quick shower, even though he did take ten minutes to carefully style his hair. He was a long way from home, but you never knew who you might meet!

He loved this feeling. The feeling of not knowing what he was going to do today, of having no plans, no appointments, no timetable to keep to. This was freedom and there was a spring in his step as he walked. Everything was new and different. The air even smelled different. And then he smelled what he was craving. Coffee! And his need for coffee, not to mention the hungry rumbling sounds his stomach was making, gave him the courage to make his first attempt to overcome the language barrier.

He poked his head shyly inside the café and saw that there were several spare tables. It looked welcoming and friendly, although clearly more used to serving locals than tourists. And the seductive smell of coffee was enticing, making him go in and sit down almost without thinking. The waitress was friendly as well and he managed to order, using a combination of pantomime and pointing at the words ‘bread’, coffee’ and ‘breakfast’ in his Polish-German phrasebook.

Marco was German so he knew all about good bread. But the dark rye bread he was brought for his breakfast tasted like heaven on his tongue, sweet and savoury at one and the same time, rich and flavoursome, the perfect accompaniment to the cheese the waitress had chosen for him. And the coffee tasted every bit as good as it had smelled. He was about to take the risk of trying to order a second cup when the door opened and his head automatically turned to look at the new arrival.

All of a sudden his heart was racing, his palms clammy as he struggled to breathe. It felt as if the world stood still and there was only this moment frozen forever in time, just the two of them. Marco had been in love, really properly in love, but he’d never believed in love at first sight, not the way it was portrayed in cheesy romantic comedies. He’d coming here looking for adventure, for a new start, but things like this didn’t happen, not in real life, not to real people. He was a reasonable, sensible man, but the man who had just walked in was capable of making him lose his reason.

The man was very slightly taller than Marco. He was wearing plain dark jeans and a black t-shirt, simple but perfectly cut and clearly expensive clothing that flattered his physique to perfection. And what a physique this man had! He was without doubt the best-looking man Marco had ever seen. The tight jeans clung to his heavily-muscled thighs and the tight but rounded curves of his ass. The simple t-shirt emphasised his well-developed pectoral muscles rather than concealing them. And the strong biceps that peaked out from under the short sleeves of his t-shirt were to die for.

His hair was black as the blue of midnight and curiously enough styled in a fashion not dissimilar to Marco’s own hair. His eyes, eyes Marco could gaze into for the rest of eternity, were the most beautiful shade of blue he had ever seen. He looked nothing like him. Physically he was close to being the exact opposite of him. But he embodied pretty much every single fantasy Marco had ever had.

Half of him hoped that the handsome stranger would come over to him, half of him feared that more than anything. This man could be dangerous to him. He had no defences against this man. He wanted him so badly that he would do almost anything to be with him. But then the blue-eyed stranger smiled at him, a slow, radiant, almost shy smile that lit up his whole face, his dimples peeking out just so deliciously. That was when Marco knew that he was lost. And the truth was that Marco didn’t want to be found ever again if this was what it meant to be lost.

The man walked over to him, his movements elegant and graceful, like a big cat stalking its prey. Marco tried not to shiver, tried to keep his wits about him.

‘May I join you?’ the man asked politely, first of all in what must have been Polish and then in lightly accented English.

Marco just nodded, his throat to dry to speak.

The man sat down opposite him. Those brilliant blue eyes were almost hypnotic now that he could see them close up. And if he breathed deeply, he could swear that he could smell the mysterious stranger even over the strong smell of coffee in the air. The man smelled of shampoo and shower gel and of something else, something intoxicating that Marco couldn’t quite put his finger on.

'Coffee' the tiny rationally functioning part of his brain screamed, coffee might help to cut through the fog of lust and infatuation that seemed to have enveloped him.

‘I was about to order a second cup of coffee,’ Marco couldn’t help but notice the tremor in his voice as he spoke.

The man looked down at the phrasebook on the table, switching to German the next time he spoke. ‘That sound like a very good idea. The coffee here is excellent. Would you mind if I joined you?’ Without waiting for an answer, he summoned the waitress over, ordering for them.

Marco was relieved not to have to go through the whole ‘gesticulating to the phrase book’ act again. And he was ever happier when their steaming coffees arrived accompanied by a pile of tiny but delicious pastries.

The stranger shrugged. ‘I don’t eat them every day. I need to be careful with my diet. But I believe that you are new in town and you need to try every good thing that my city has to offer, of which there are many. I’m Robert by the way, Robert Lewandowski.’ He held out his hand for Marco to shake.

‘I’m Marco, Marco Reus.’ It was lucky that Marco introduced himself before he shook Robert’s hand. For something happened when he touched Robert. He couldn’t describe it. It was as if a spark of electricity, a jolt of lightning passed between them. It was as if … well it was as if he had found his destiny.

Chapter Text

To Marco’s great relief, Robert seemed not to notice that he had come close to completely losing the plot when their hands touched, or more likely the dark-haired man was just far too polite to mention it, merely pushing the plate of pastries towards Marco in invitation. Marco took one gratefully, glad to be able to distract himself with something. Maybe the sugar would help him too, help him to deal with whatever craziness had taken hold of him? He had to get a grip on himself. But then he looked into Robert’s brilliant blue eyes once more and he was lost all over again.

He bit into the pastry, unable to hold back his blissful sigh as the delicate pastry flaked perfectly in his mouth, as the sweet rush of plum jam flooded over his taste buds. The sensory pleasure was overwhelming. He seemed to be experiencing the world so much more intensely and vibrantly since he’d got up this morning: sights and sounds, now tastes and smells. Surely this couldn’t be anything to do with the handsome, fascinating stranger sitting opposite him?

Robert grinned at him conspiratorially. ‘Good?’ he asked questioningly, raising one well-groomed eyebrow as he reached for one of the pastries himself.

‘Really good,’ was all that Marco could manage through a mouthful of crumbs.

‘Now you know why I don’t allow myself to order them very often. They’re completely addictive.’

Just like you, thought Marco, although he managed not to say it out loud.

The pastries seemed to have broken the tension and they laughed and talked as if they were old friends as they demolished the whole plateful between then, Robert ordering a second coffee and Marco a third. There was a definite frisson between them when Robert had asked ‘May I?’ before reaching out to wipe a stray blob of plum jam from the corner of Marco’s lips. There was a strange, unreadable look in his eyes as he licked his thumb clean, the gesture deeply intimate for two men who had just met, not that Marco was making any objections.

Marco was glad that Robert didn’t ask too many questions about why he was in Warsaw, seeming instinctively to understand that there were things that he wasn’t ready to talk about. Nor did Robert talk much about himself. Instead they talked about Marco’s job as a sports physio, a job he loved. He could never have coped with being stuck in an office all day sitting at a desk.

And they talked about Warsaw. Marco was fascinated. Robert so obviously loved this city. He knew it inside out. He seemed to know every street, every building, everything about its history. Marco wished that he could have Robert as his personal city guide and not just so that he could spend more time with him.

It was nearly noon by the time Robert stood up, saying he had to be somewhere. Marco’s heart sank. What if he never saw Robert again? He didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed that Robert didn’t shake his hand again in farewell. He let the dark-haired Pole get half way to the door before swallowing his pride and calling out, ‘Will I see you again?’

Robert stopped, turning to look at him, looking at him as if he was the most precious thing on earth. Marco felt as if he was melting, melting under the penetrating gaze of those beautiful eyes.

‘Of course you will see me again, Marco. If you want to. You just need to think of me.’ And with that he was gone.

Marco felt dazed, his head swimming. He might have thought that it had all been a dream were it not for the two empty coffee cups on the table before him. Feeling a bit stupid but unable to resist the temptation, he stretched out a hand to the cup Robert had drunk from, stroking the rim where Robert’s lips had been, imagining how those lips would feel on his, soft and strong.

Then he pulled himself together. He hoped that he would see Robert again. But if not, well he wasn’t going to let childish daydreams about dark hair and blue eyes ruin his time here. And at least he now knew that he could feel something, quite a lot of things in fact, for someone who wasn’t him. He would always be grateful to Robert for that.

He spent the afternoon exploring the old town. He remembered what Robert had told him about how the people of Warsaw had rebuilt their shattered city with their bare hands, breathing the dust of its destruction deep into their lungs as they did so, using the paintings of an eighteenth-century Italian painter to restore the old town to its pre-war glory. The way Robert had told the story, you would almost have sworn that he had been there. If history had been taught like that in school, Marco would have paid much more attention.

He found a small restaurant for dinner, ordering with only the faintest idea of what was actually going to turn up apart from some kind of meat. Whatever it was, it was delicious. And he allowed himself a glass or two of vodka as reward afterwards. He’d survived his first day and it had been good, much better than he could have imagined.

Tomorrow he and his trusty phrasebook would brave the supermarket and he would try cooking in the kitchen of his small flat. He definitely needed to buy a bottle of vodka and perhaps some Polish beer. But now it was time to go home, walking through the dark, silent streets to the flat that was already starting to feel like a home from home.

This time he shut the curtains carefully, wanting to avoid being woken up too early. Although he made sure to set his alarm. He had it in mind to visit the same café again for breakfast. The coffee had indeed been excellent. And if he was completely honest with himself, he was hoping that Robert might turn up again. The handsome Pole had said that he would see him again if he wanted to. Well what would be a stronger signal of wanting to see him again than revisiting the café where they had first met?

The bed was as comfortable as he remembered as he snuggled down underneath the covers. The night was warm so he slept under a sheet and a light blanket. His last thoughts before drifting off were of bright blue eyes, hair dark as midnight and a smile that made dimples dance in its owner’s face.

He woke refreshed. He’d clearly slept soundly, although once again he was wakened by a chink of bright sunlight glinting through a crack in the curtains. Last night’s vodka must have been more potent than he’d thought.

He’d dreamed again as well. This time he had faint threads of memory of what he had dreamed about, memories that made him blush. And it seemed as if he had come in his sleep like a teenager judging by the dried stickiness in his shorts. But he didn’t waste time feeling too ashamed of that. He was recovering from a broken heart, it was months since he’d had sex and yesterday he’d met the most sexually alluring and fascinating man he’d ever seen. So it was no surprise that his subconscious mind was coming up with … well with interesting things.

He showered and dressed carefully, noting with amusement how long he spent choosing clothes that were simple and looked like he hadn’t made an effort, but would still present his physique in its best light. He wasn’t a drop-dead gorgeous walking sex god like Robert, but he had a well-trained body that he worked hard at and was quietly proud of. And he’d always known that he was vain about his hair, but today he spent even longer than usual styling it to absolute perfection.

When he was satisfied that he looked as good as possible, he gave a twirl in front of the bathroom mirror. He was only going out for breakfast but he felt a bit as if he was going on a first date. In a way he hoped that he was. If Robert came to the café too, well that would mean that he wanted to see Marco again as well.

Marco almost floated along the streets on his way to the café. The world seemed even brighter and sunnier this morning than it had yesterday. He burst through the door with a smile on his face, greeting the waitress who clearly remembered him, although he had no idea whether that was because of his comedy act of ordering through mime or the handsome stranger who had joined him.

And then he saw Robert already sitting at the same table as the day before, drinking coffee but obviously waiting for him. He looked even more handsome than Marco remembered, wearing pale chinos and an open-necked shirt. Marco didn’t even try to hide the broad smile on his face as he sat down opposite Robert. And the huge smile on Robert’s face told him that he was as happy to see Marco.

‘I thought that you might be able to use a translator this morning as well to order something special for breakfast. The bread looked good, but there are so many other delicious things on the menu.’ Maybe it was Marco’s overactive imagination, but he could have sworn that Robert wasn’t just talking about breakfast.

Marco watched in interest as Robert spoke with the waitress, almost feeling a tiny bit jealous as he charmed her into bringing him everything he asked for. But then Robert turned his full attention back to him, as if he was the only person in the whole world that mattered.

Their coffee came first and it was as good as yesterday. But the breakfast that arrived was sumptuous, eggs and sausage, as well as more of that delicious bread with an assortment of cold cuts and pickles. Marco was a bit reluctant to try the pickles at first, but Robert managed to tempt him. And the conversation was every bit as interesting and as easy and relaxed as yesterday. It felt as if they’d known each other for ever, but everything was still new and exciting. And Marco felt the same spark of electricity thrilling in his veins when Robert’s hand brushed against his as they both reached for a piece of cheese at the same time.

Once again Robert had to leave shortly before noon. Marco wanted to ask him more about his life here. About what he did in the afternoons? Why he apparently didn’t have to work in the mornings? But something told him that there were things that Robert didn’t want to talk about and Marco respected that. There were things he didn’t want to talk about either. And he didn’t mind as this time there was no doubt that they would meet again tomorrow. Same time, same place as Robert had put it.

Marco made the most of the rest of the day. He’d decided to spend the first part of his holiday seeing all the usual tourist sights so a tour of the Royal Castle was on the agenda for today. And then he conquered the supermarket, managing to buy most of what he needed from a combination of using his phrasebook and trying to guess what things were from the pictures on the packaging. But of course he didn’t need to buy anything for tomorrow's breakfast.

He cooked his first meal in his flat that night, wistfully imagining what it might feel like to be able to cook for Robert. And then he sat by the open window sipping his beer, the warm evening air caressing his skin, wondering where Robert was and what he was doing.

Marco felt as if he was in love with Robert, although he knew that was impossible less than 48 hours after they’d met. He had no doubts that he was completely infatuated with Robert though, head over heels in lust and goodness knows what else. Maybe he was on the rebound? But if so, who cared? He had spent, some might say wasted, years of his life loving him and him alone and now a handsome, intelligent man seemed to find him interesting and attractive. Maybe one day Robert and he would even do more than just have breakfast?

He’d never slept with anyone apart from him up until now, but he longed to feel Robert’s kisses on his lips, to feel strong hands on his naked flesh. And he longed for so much more. He knew that because of the dreams he had each night, dreams that became increasingly erotically vivid the more time he spent in Robert’s company, dreams that he remembered more and more of every time he woke up.

As the days wore on, sometimes he blushed as he met with Robert for breakfast, remembering what they had done in his dreams. Every morning he woke up having found his release in Robert’s imaginary arms during the night. And every morning the curtains were not quite drawn. There must be something weird about this flat he thought, but he didn’t care because he liked it.

It was their first anniversary, a week of having breakfast together every morning. Marco thought that he was being the silly one thinking that, but Robert remembered it too, sweet-talking their waitress into persuading the cook to make them a special pancake dish in celebration. And Marco didn’t feel at all jealous at Robert flirting with the waitress as he knew he was only doing it to make him happy

It was nearly time for Robert to leave, to do whatever he had to do in the afternoon. But his handsome breakfast partner looked suddenly nervous, chewing at his lip slightly and fiddling with his napkin.

‘I’m afraid that I can’t meet you for breakfast tomorrow, Marco.’

Marco could barely breathe. He felt crushed. He’d known that this must happen. Robert must have a life somewhere that he was neglecting in order to spend time with him. But still he was bitterly disappointed.

‘There’s something I have to do tomorrow night and it means that I won’t be around at breakfast time.’

Now Marco was worried. Robert looked a little sallow under his lightly-tanned skin. And his blue-black hair seemed to have a faint sheen of silvery grey in the morning sunlight. ‘Are you sick?’ he had to ask, unable to keep the worry from his voice.

Robert took his hand and Marco felt it again, felt whatever connection there was between them whenever they touched. He was pretty sure that Robert could feel it too.

‘No, I’m not sick. I’ll be fine. In fact I was going to suggest that we go out for dinner instead. I’ll pick you up at your flat at about 7pm if that’s alright. We can go somewhere nice.’

Marco agreed eagerly. He would miss his breakfast rendezvous with Robert, but dinner was even better.

Robert turned to him as he left, looking at him with an intense expression in those blue eyes.

‘This is important, Marco. If you ever want me to leave you alone, if you ever want me to go away, then all you have to do is ask. I promise that I’ll respect your wishes. You can be 100% sure of that.’

Marco was confused, He couldn’t imagine ever wanting Robert to leave him. But this was clearly important to Robert, so he nodded his agreement.

It was only after he had left the café that he realised he couldn’t remember whether or not he’d given Robert his address. He’d definitely told him what street he lived on, but he had no recollection of giving him the house number.

Chapter Text

Marco tried to occupy himself for the rest of the day, spending hours exploring the galleries in the National Museum. Every time he saw something he found interesting, he couldn’t help wanting to talk about it with Robert. He missed him. He would miss their breakfast together tomorrow. This was the first time he would have to buy supplies for his breakfast since he’d arrived in Warsaw.

But dinner with Robert would be even more special, he knew that. And dinner was much more like going on a proper date as a couple. Marco was trying to stay rational, trying not to get carried away on the tide of his daydreams, not to mention the dreams that haunted his nights. But he couldn’t help the excited, hopeful butterflies from fluttering in his stomach.

He stayed up later than usual that night as he could sleep in a little tomorrow, sipping beer in front of the open window, enjoying the warm night air. He slept well, just like he had done every night in this flat, but this time he didn’t dream of dark hair and blue eyes. Marco couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed when he woke up, cheated of his night with Robert. It must have been because they weren’t going to have breakfast together, he decided. He must be trying not to think of Robert until it was time for them to meet again.

Marco had to do something else he hadn’t done in the past week that morning, see to his own needs in the shower before making breakfast. He didn’t want to be feeling like a horny teenager during his date with Robert tonight. Despite breakfasting alone, he still made the most of the day, exploring the city a bit more before going home to get ready.

He showered and shaved again, just in case Robert might want to come closer to him later this evening. He used some of the expensive cologne he saved for special occasions and carefully fixed his hair before getting dressed. Luckily he’d brought some more formal clothes with him, dark trousers and a dress shirt. He had a feeling that Robert probably would take him somewhere a bit fancy but not too stuffy. Somehow, he knew not how, he had absolutely no doubt that Robert would find his way to him tonight, address or no address. And sure enough he heard his entryphone buzzer ring punctually, almost exactly as the clock struck seven.

The butterflies in his stomach flapped their wings wildly as he waited for Robert to climb the three flights of stairs to his flat. He almost forgot to breathe as he saw Robert standing on his doorstep, looking unbelievably handsome in a simple but perfectly-cut black suit with a red tie, his hair shining dark like midnight and those brilliant blue eyes sparkling with delight at seeing him.

‘Please may I enter your home?’ Robert asked with exaggerated courtesy.

Marco nodded, gesturing for Robert to come in. Robert followed him inside and Marco showed him round the small but homely flat he had rented. It felt good having Robert here, being alone in private. He would have been happy for them to have stayed here together all evening, but then his stomach gave an embarrassingly loud growl, obviously impatient for its promised dinner.

‘It’s good to hear that you’re hungry. The car is waiting downstairs for us. And Marco, you are my guest tonight.’ Robert offered Marco his arm with a smile. And Marco smiled back. This evening was turning out to be even better than his romantic daydreams had imagined it.

A sleek, black BMW with a driver was waiting for them downstairs. Marco had always known that Robert had money. His clothes weren’t ostentatious but clearly expensive. But now he was beginning to realise that Robert might have quite a lot of money, not that that mattered to Marco. What was more important to him was that Robert was friendly and respectful to everyone he came into contact with. He didn’t even ask the driver to wait for them, but told him he could take the night off and he’d call half an hour or so before they wanted to be picked up.

The restaurant stood a little out of the city centre on the edge of a park. It was perfect, exactly what Marco would have expected from Robert. The interior was open and airy but dark and cosy enough for an intimate dinner. Wooden panels on the walls and the beamed ceiling made the large space feel warm and inviting and they were shown to a secluded table in the corner. Marco realised with a thrill that Robert had obviously intended this to be a private, intimate date.

‘We could order expensive imported wine, but I’d prefer some good local beer if that is OK with you.’ Robert winked at Marco.

Marco grinned, feeling suddenly relaxed. This was going to be a good evening. The meal was excellent, perhaps the best he’d ever eaten, and he stuffed himself with potato dumplings for his starter, followed by wild boar. Robert suggested that they share a dessert. Marco was glad and not just because he couldn’t have managed the whole dessert on his own. This really was like a scene from a romantic film, the table bathed in soft candlelight, their heads close together as they shared the apple pie, frissons of electricity flowing between them every time their fingers brushed together. Robert even fed him a forkful of pie with a shy smile.

Maybe Marco had drunk too much beer? Maybe he was just drunk on Robert’s company? But as the night wore on Robert seemed to sparkle and glow even more brightly. His hair shone darker. His eyes gleamed like sapphires in the candlelight. And the brightness of his smile could have melted ice

The evening came to an end all too soon. They ordered coffee while they waited for Robert’s driver to pick them up. Marco couldn’t help hoping that they wouldn’t have to say goodbye, that Robert might want to come up. Even though everything was happening a bit too fast for him. So he was half relieved, half disappointed when Robert simply leaned over to kiss his cheek in farewell.

‘Until breakfast tomorrow.’ Robert’s whispered promise rang in Marco’s ears as he got ready for bed, closing the curtains before he curled up under the blanket. He stroked his cheek where Robert had kissed him, the kiss feeling almost like it was branded into his skin. His last thoughts as he drifted off to sleep were of Robert. I wish Robert was here with me. I wish that his arms were wrapped around me as I sleep …

Marco woke up in the middle of the night, still warm, sleepy and comfortable. He had dreamed of Robert, dreamed that Robert held him close and tight through the night, his breath caressing the back of his neck. Marco didn’t want to wake up, he wanted to hold onto this feeling of lying snuggled in loving arms, even if it was only a dream.

But he was awake. He was sure that he was awake. But he could still feel Robert’s arms round him, feel a warm body pressed against his back. He wasn’t alone. Logically he should be scared witless, but he wasn’t. It was Robert. Robert was here with him, just like he had longed for him to be.

He turned round to see a pair of beautiful blue eyes looking at him ever so tenderly.

‘This is real, isn’t it? You’re really here? This isn’t a dream?’

‘No, Marco. This isn’t a dream. I’m really here. Because you summoned me.’

‘Those dreams I had of you? They weren’t really dreams, were they?’

‘No, not really.’

‘I should be totally freaked out by all of this. But I’m not. I don’t know why. It just feels right. More right than anything in my life ever felt before.’

‘I’m glad to hear that, Marco. It’s still early. Why don’t you go back to sleep? I’ll watch over you.’

And that was exactly what Marco did, sleeping snuggled up against Robert’s chest, strong arms wrapped round him lovingly.

Marco had never slept better than he did that night in Robert’s arms. And the best thing was that it hadn’t been a dream, Robert was really here and he was still there when he woke up, even if Marco did have to pinch himself several times to make sure that he really was awake.

Robert looked just as handsome in the morning light peeking through the gap in the curtains, wearing dark jeans and a t-shirt, just like he had on the first day they’d met. Marco was suddenly conscious that he wasn’t wearing very much, just a thin t-shirt and shorts.

‘I need to shower. And then … maybe we could have breakfast here this morning? I like the café but … well it might be good to have some time on our own?' There were so many things that he needed to know, wanted to ask.

Marco showered and dressed quickly, not bothering to style his hair this time, tempted out of his bedroom by the thought of Robert being in his flat and the smell of coffee wafting out of his kitchen.

Robert smiled as he saw him. ‘I like your hair all fluffy like that!’

And Marco couldn’t help smiling at the sight of Robert in his kitchen making breakfast. ‘And I like seeing you in my kitchen first thing in the morning!’

Robert had managed to conjure up an impressive breakfast from the supplies he’d found in the fridge and cupboards. Marco could have sworn that he wasn’t that hungry since he’d eaten so much just a few hours ago, but somehow his appetite was back. Not to mention his need for coffee!

They didn’t talk much as they ate, mainly just smiled stupidly at one another. There was so much to talk about, so many questions, that it was hard to know where to begin. They cleared the table and washed up together. Marco had missed this. He’d missed having someone to share his life with. His relationship with him had only officially been over for a few months, but they had lived apart for so long that it felt like longer.

After everything was tidied up, Marco felt slightly awkward, not knowing what would happen next.

‘I’ve got an hour or so before I have to leave. Shall we sit down for a bit?’ Robert suggested.

Marco nodded. He supposed this was the talking bit. He’d imagined them sitting politely side by side on the sofa, but Robert surprised him by pulling him into his arms and cradling him up against his chest. Neither of them said anything for a bit, just enjoying their closeness. Marco could feel the warmth of Robert’s body and hear the reassuring beat of his heart. This was sheer bliss, lying here in the arms of the man he loved as Robert slowly stroked his back and gently kissed his hair.

The electricity that had sparked between them the first few times they had touched was gone, although Marco was 100% sure that it would be back when they finally kissed. But there was something between them, something that wasn’t just sexual chemistry. Maybe that was the way to begin the conversation?

‘There is a connection between us, isn’t there? I mean it’s not just that you are the handsomest, sexiest man that I’ve ever met. There’s something else. I believe in true love, but I’ve never believed in love at first sight, but that’s how it felt the moment I saw you.’

Robert sighed softly, kissing the top of his head again. He knew that Robert was burying his nose in his hair, inhaling the scent of his shampoo and conditioner. And he suspected that his dark-haired handsome Pole was deliberating over how to answer his question.

Marco sat up, looking Robert in the eyes, even daring to stroke his almost black hair for the first time. Robert’s hair felt so good under his fingers. He had to try and find the right words to let Robert know that he was OK with whatever he had to tell him, that everything was strange and unfamiliar and he would need time to come to terms with it, but that he trusted Robert, that he trusted him more than anyone he’d ever known.

‘I know that you have secrets. That there are things about you that … well that aren’t exactly normal.’ He saw how Robert flinched at those words, so he hurried on. ‘But I trust you. I have feelings for you, strong feelings. I want to be with you, if that’s what you want.’ And now he saw the look of relief on Robert’s face.

‘I want to - I need to - know everything about you. But I can wait until you’re ready. I won’t burden you with questions. But you can tell me anything you want to and I’ll listen to you. I promise.’

‘Thank you, Marco. That means everything to me. I’ll tell you everything, I promise you that. Maybe not all at once. It is hard for me to speak of these things. I-I-I-I-I’ve never done that before, not to anyone. And I’m terrified of scaring you away.’

Marco stroked his cheek, trying to pour all of his love into this simple gesture. Now that they were sitting so close together, he could see that Robert responded to his touch just as strongly as he reacted to that of the mysterious dark-haired man who had captured his heart.

‘But I will answer the question you asked me. There is a connection between us, something so strong and beautiful and precious that I have never felt before. I knew you were here the minute you got off the train and your feet touched the ground of my city for the first time. I could feel it in my soul. I knew that you were the one I have been waiting for. I knew that you were my destiny.’

Chapter Text

Marco could hardly think straight all afternoon, walking round the city almost aimlessly, not really seeing or registering anything. His thoughts were racing. He’d tried so hard to remain rational and logical, not to fall hopelessly in love with a handsome stranger. But he had. And he couldn’t deny his feelings any longer. He didn’t want to deny how he felt any more. Although they hadn’t spoken of such things yet, he knew that Robert felt exactly the same way about him.

So little had passed between them, but at the same time so much. He’d slept in Robert’s arms the whole night long, but they hadn’t kissed yet. And that was OK. They’d agreed to take things slowly. This thing between them was …well it was just so immense and overpowering. Loving Robert was all too easy, but this was about so much more than just falling in love with the most amazing man he’d ever met. To say that Robert had secrets was the understatement of the century, although that didn’t seem to bother Marco as much as it should have.

Robert had left his flat shortly after eleven. But they would see each other again that evening. As they’d said goodbye, Robert had taken his face in both hands and looked deep into his eyes, repeating what he had said to him the last time they’d had breakfast in the café:

I have never felt this way about anyone in my life before. I would spend every minute of every day and every night with you if I could. But you need to know that I will never force my presence upon you. If you ask me to leave you, I will go without question, even though it will feel like my heart is breaking in two never to be healed again. That is a promise that can’t be broken, that will never be broken. One day you will understand why.

Marco was dimly beginning to appreciate why this mattered so much to Robert even if he didn’t fully understand why. And it was one of the many reasons why he trusted him, even though so much about him was still a mystery.

Robert had clarified one thing for him. Since the moment he’d arrived in Warsaw, Robert had been able to feel him, sense him, even locate him if he focussed hard enough. As he’d laughingly put, it was a bit like Google being able to track your movements via your mobile phone. That explained how Robert had known that he would be in the café that first morning and how he’d known exactly where Marco lived.

Strangely enough, Marco didn’t mind. He trusted Robert when he said that he would never spy on him. And he actually rather liked the idea that he had some kind of weird ‘soulmate of destiny GPS sender’ inside him that only Robert could pick up. It made him feel safe. For, although Robert hadn’t explicitly said so, he was pretty sure that it would work both ways in an emergency, that Robert would be by his side as soon as possible if he needed him, if he called for him. In a way he had called for Robert last night, even if he’d had no idea that Robert could hear him, never mind respond.

It was a beautiful, sunny evening as Marco stood at the window waiting for Robert later that day. He’d showered and changed into something casual but a little sexy, as Robert had suggested with a wink when Marco had enquired about their plans for the evening. He hoped that tight black jeans and a fitted black shirt that hugged his well-defined chest muscles fitted the bill. A shopping expedition would be required before long since Marco hadn’t packed for this trip with a succession of hot dates in mind.

The look on Robert’s face when he arrived reassured him that he had chosen the right outfit. Marco tried not to get too excited when he saw that Robert had a bag with him this time. ‘Supplies for breakfast, in case we don’t feel like going out,’ he explained.

This time they walked to their destination, Marco’s heart swelling with pride at having such a handsome man by his side. They ate at a small restaurant in the Old Town that specialised in Pierogi, eating what seemed like half their body weight in the small, crescent-shaped dumplings, even sampling dessert Pierogi filled with blueberries and sweetened curd cheese.

Marco pushed his chair back groaning, rubbing his belly, wishing his jeans weren’t quite so figure hugging after all. He was doing a lot of walking when he wasn’t with Robert, but he’d have to start running or doing something similarly energetic or he’d risk putting on weight with all the wonderful food he was eating. Never mind his health, he wanted to look his best if … when … they ever … well did what they’d done in his dreams in real life.

His dinner companion seemed to have the same thought though. ‘Shall we go somewhere and try and work off all those excess calories?’ Marco agreed, even though he had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

Robert led them through a complex network of side streets to an inconspicuous, unmarked doorway in an old building. He exchanged greetings with the doorman, who seemed to know him and ushered them in without questions or money apparently changing hands. Marco followed Robert down the stairs, finding himself in the most opulent nightclub he’d ever seen.

The large basement room was dim, lit by the flickering glow of antique glass chandeliers. Ornate gilt mirrors on the walls reflected the light onto the dancefloor. The chairs were upholstered in a rich dark red velvet and the tables were made from what was clearly an expensive dark wood. A friendly hostess showed them to their table for the night. This time Robert ordered champagne for them, shrugging his shoulders and grinning at Marco. It was clear that this was a special night for both of them.

They sat there companionably for a while, sipping champagne, the backs of their hands brushing lightly together as they rested on the table. Each touch of their hands felt a bit like an explosion of tiny, fizzing champagne bubbles against Marco’s skin. Not to forget the fact that the most handsome man in the room only had eyes for him, couldn’t take his eyes off him, which made Marco’s heart sing with joy.

After a couple of glasses of champagne, just as he was beginning to feel pleasantly tipsy - especially on top of the beer he’d drunk earlier - Robert turned to him with a smile of invitation on his beautiful lips. ‘Would you do me the honour of dancing with me?’

Of course Robert danced like a dream and Marco seemed to have been made to fit perfectly in his arms. Robert pulled him close, letting him feel his hard, sculpted torso through the light fabric of his shirt. At first he waltzed Marco round the dancefloor, the two of them strong, powerful and confident. But after a while he nestled Marco’s head down against his shoulder as they swayed together, moving as one.

Marco never wanted this night to end and they stayed in the nightclub until the early hours of the morning, drinking more champagne and dancing. Robert seemed to be completely oblivious to the effects of the alcohol although Marco was definitely no longer totally sober. But he had no worries about getting home safely. Robert was with him and Robert would protect him. He was safe with Robert. He didn’t know how he knew that, he just did.

Their hostess offered to call them a cab, but they decided to walk home instead. The night air was still pleasantly warm and Marco thought that the walk would might do him good. It felt magical to be walking side by side through the deserted city streets. It felt like Warsaw belonged to them and them alone that night. Robert seemed to sparkle and shine even more brightly than usual as the silvery rays of the moon fell upon him.

When they reached his apartment block, he turned to Robert with a grin on his face. ‘So are you going to come up the stairs and in the front door like a normal person this time, or do you have other plans?’

‘I think that after such a wonderful evening, the very least a gentleman can do is escort his date all the way to his front door.’

Marco couldn’t help blushing with delight at Robert’s words. And now he could relax, knowing that they would be spending the night together again.

Neither of them were quite ready to go to sleep, not wanting this wonderful evening to be over, so they made hot chocolate and drank it by the window, looking at the moon and the stars twinkling over the rooftops of the sleeping city. When it was finally time for bed, Marco closed the curtains with a sidelong glance at Robert, suspecting that the curtains would be staying firmly shut tonight.

Marco got ready first, washing and brushing his teeth, changing out of his clothes. He wasn’t sure what to wear and looked at Robert enquiringly as he came out of the bathroom wearing just a pair of undershorts. ‘Is this OK for you?' he had to ask.

‘It’s more than OK. You look … you look absolutely edible like that. But Marco,’ Robert brushed over his cheek with the back of his fingers, making Marco arch into his touch with a gasp of sheer, raw need, ‘I’m not ready to be naked in front of you. Not yet. I hope that’s OK for you. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that I don’t want you. I do, more than I can tell you. But I need time.’

‘Of course, Robert. That’s why I asked. This has to be right for both of us.’

He saw the look of relief on Robert’s face as he gently kissed his cheek before vanishing into the bathroom. There had obviously been much more than just food in the bag Robert had brought with him. The handsomest man in the world (as Marco had started referring to him in his head) came back wearing a t-shirt and a pair of knee-length shorts. His night attire covered more of his gorgeous body than Marco would have liked, but he was quite happy with what he saw. And he was even happier as Robert slipped into bed beside him, pulling him into a loving embrace.

‘Let’s sleep in a bit tomorrow. We can have a lazy breakfast here and then go to our café for a late lunch. And I might have an idea of what we can do after that.’

Today had been perfect. And now Robert was making it clear that they would spend the whole day together tomorrow. Just when Marco thought that things couldn’t get any better, Robert surprised him further.

‘You know those dreams you had? Did you enjoy them?’

Marco could feel himself flushing in the darkness. ‘Oh yes. Sometimes when I met you for breakfast, I couldn’t stop myself from blushing at the memory of what we had done in my imagination during the night.’

Robert chuckled softly. ‘I know. Your blushes looked so perfect against your creamy pale skin. And I felt like blushing as well. For I had exactly the same dreams. We were dreaming together. More precisely, we were together in our dreams, as in really together. I was here with you, although last night was the first time I was able to be with you physically in my true form. It’s partly because the link between us is even stronger during the hours of darkness than in daylight.’

‘Oh,’ was all that Marco could say in reply. And that made sense as well. It had been after eleven in the evening when his train had arrived in Warsaw and that faint tingling feeling he’d had, which he’d just put down to excitement, must have been Robert becoming aware of him for the first time. And the one night he hadn’t dreamt of Robert had been when he couldn’t meet him for breakfast. Whatever Robert had had to do must have prevented him from coming to Marco during the night as well. His curtains had been undisturbed yesterday morning now he thought of it.

Almost exactly twenty-four hours had passed since he’d woken up in Robert’s arms in the middle of the night to find that he was really there, that his dream of sleeping in Robert’s arms wasn’t just a dream this time. The last twenty-four hours had turned his life upside down and things would never be the same again, he was sure of that at least. He was so lost in his thoughts that he almost hadn’t noticed that Robert had started speaking again.

‘And we can still be together in our dreams, even though I am here with you. But only if you want to. But I have to warn you that it might feel a bit more intense when we’re sleeping in the same bed.'

Chapter Text

Marco woke up, feeling blissfully happy lying warm and satisfied in Robert’s arms. He could get used to waking up like this every morning. And Robert had been right. Their dream sex had been even better, even more intense lying in one another’s arms. Marco could almost feel where Robert had touched him, as if his mysterious lover had left visible fingerprints on his skin.

His own fingers still tingled where they had traced over Robert’s soft, smooth skin. There was something odd he remembered, something that he couldn’t quite recollect properly now he was awake. But last night had reassured him that Robert was all male, especially where it counted, where he had been able to stroke soft silken skin over hard steel below until Robert …

Until Robert had come. And so had he, which meant that he was probably lying here with the dried traces of their dream lovemaking on his body. He looked up to see Robert looking down at him with eyes soft with love.

‘Good morning, darling.’ The word Robert used was Polish, obviously a Polish endearment, but somehow Marco knew what it meant.

‘Good morning, my love.’ Marco was shocked at how forward he was being, but he knew that Robert was his love, his one true love and the smile on Robert’s face made everything feel alright.

‘I’m … I’m … um … sticky after last night. I guess that I need a shower,’ Marco said apologetically.

‘No you don’t. You’re perfect how you are. I’m … well I’m exactly the same. And you’ll need to get used to waking up in my arms still sticky from making love.’

Marco knew that he shouldn’t ask too many questions, but he couldn’t help himself. ‘Will we one day … for real I mean? It’s not that this isn’t wonderful, but … '

‘ … but it would feel even better if we could make love not just through our mental bond but with our physical bodies as well?’

Marco nodded. Although it was only now beginning to dawn on him that the mental connection between them would still be there even when they made love in the way he was more used to.

‘Of course we will, Marco. I want that so badly. But it will be … ’

‘ … totally mind-blowingly awesomely intensely wonderful?’ This time it was Marco who finished Robert’s sentence with a question. Although he had a sneaking suspicion that there was more to it than that. That it was also something to do with Robert’s reluctance to be naked in front of him, something he already knew but couldn’t quite remember in the light of day.

‘Exactly. And. I want you to be able to walk away if this gets too much for you, if being with me isn’t what you want for your life. And that would be even harder for you to do after we have been fully intimate together.’

Robert was trying to be fair to him, Marco could see that. He loved him all the more for it, even though his body was aching and longing for Robert’s touch. So instead he gave voice to a suspicion that had been forming in his mind for a couple of days now, something he’d been pretty much certain of ever since he’d woken up in the middle of the night to find Robert in his bedroom.

‘You could make me love you if you wanted to, couldn’t you? That’s why it was so important for you to make that promise to leave if I asked you to, a promise that I believe you can’t break for some reason.’

Robert sighed. ‘No, I can’t make you love me. But yes, I could make you crave me, be addicted to me, do anything I wanted you to.’

‘You pretty much have already!’ Marco pointed out.

‘I’m glad to hear it!’ Robert squeezed him hard. ‘But as happy as that makes me, I only want your love if it is freely given. Anything else wouldn’t be real, would be me abusing you and wouldn’t … well it wouldn’t mean anything. I want you, I need you, more than I could ever have imagined wanting or needing anyone in my entire life, but only of your own free will.’

Marco sighed happily. He knew that there must be so much more that Robert needed to say to him, but he suspected that he would learn the whole truth only gradually, as and when Robert felt ready to talk about the things that he struggled to speak about. And he was OK with that. He knew enough to be believe that he’d found the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, for real this time.

And the mysterious man of his dreams was going to make him breakfast in bed this morning. Robert had only waited until he was awake as he hadn’t wanted Marco to wake up and find him gone, even if only to the kitchen. So he snuggled back against the pillows, savouring the smell of coffee wafting out of his kitchen, loving the idea that Robert was in there making him breakfast.

Robert came back carrying a tray and Marco couldn’t help being astounded by what he had brought for them. Eggs and sausages, sweet, nutty rye bread with cheese and ham, and some of the tiny pastries he loved so much. ‘They’re not as good when they’re a day old, but I wanted to have them for our first breakfast in bed together, as a reminder of our first date,’ Robert apologised. But they tasted even better to Marco eaten here in bed leaning up against Robert’s warm, t-shirt clad body. And they tasted best of all when Robert popped one in his mouth, letting him lick the flaky crumbs from his fingers.

They stayed in bed most of the morning, curled up in one another’s arms. Marco didn’t care that he needed a shower anymore and Robert seemed to like the way he smelled, warm, sleepy and sexy after their night together. Finally he made his way into the shower, giving Robert privacy to shower and dress afterwards. They’d shared a closeness and intimacy that Marco had never believed possible between two human beings, but that didn’t mean that they shouldn’t respect each other’s private space as well.

He’d missed the café that had played such a big part in his life since he’d arrived in Warsaw, even if breakfasting in his flat with Robert was so much cosier. So he was happy to be walking there with Robert by his side, knowing that they made a handsome couple, golden and dark. Their waitress giving them a knowing look as they came in together. They ordered a simple late lunch of soup with noodles, eating and talking quietly together as if they had known one other for years, even though Marco was waiting for Robert to reveal his plans with barely concealed curiosity.

Robert played with his napkin nervously. It was obviously time for another confession. ‘You might have noticed that I’m fairly wealthy. Actually rather quite rich to be precise. That’s not important to me. And I know that it’s not important to you either. But … well … you have taken time off work and rented a flat here so I want you to be my guest during your holiday. I want to show you my city and my country. That would mean a lot to me. Money is nothing without someone special to share it with. I know that at some point we need to talk about our future, that you have a home, a family, a job in Dortmund, but for now can we just enjoy being together, getting to know each other?’

Marco had to agree that Robert’s suggestion sounded sensible. He knew that Robert needed this time to be able to bring himself to fully confide in him. And he had the distinct impression that whatever his dark-haired love needed to tell him would have a huge impact on the decisions they had to make about their future.

Robert’s money didn’t matter to him, but he also had to admit that he was slightly relieved. He loved his job, but he wasn’t that well paid and the budget for his extended holiday wouldn’t run to expensive meals out every night and so on. He was as happy with them having breakfast in bed together as he had been in the exclusive nightclub. He knew that Robert would accept it if he wasn’t comfortable with spending his money, but why waste this amazing opportunity?

Although what Robert said next made his ears really prick up. ‘My driver is going to pick us up. I’d love to be able to take you shopping, buy you whatever you need for your time here, some more clothes perhaps, since you wouldn’t have been able to carry much in your suitcase. And … well … I could buy some things to keep at your flat, to make it easier when I stay the night. If that’s alright with you, that is.’

Alright! It was more than alright in Marco’s eyes! But he knew that Robert needed to hear him say it out loud. ‘I know that you have your own life to lead and we both need time alone. But I want to spend as much time as possible with you. I want to be with you. I want us to come home to each other at the end of the day. I want to go to sleep next to you and wake up next to you.’

He was chewing his lip nervously as he finished speaking, hoping he hadn’t gone too far, but Robert reached out to squeeze his hand reassuringly. ‘Nothing would make me happier. Let me spoil you this afternoon. I’ve waited for far too long to be able to do this.’

Robert’s driver took them to a shopping mall first of all to stock up on toiletries, food, drink and other essentials.

'Is it OK if we give Łukasz the key to your flat?’ Robert asked, ‘Then he can take all of this stuff home while we’re shopping for clothes and collect us later. He always gets bored when I want to go clothes shopping, even though he dresses much more stylishly than I do.’

Of course he agreed, using this opportunity to give Robert the spare key to his flat. Come to think of it, Łukasz and his ‘employer’ seemed to be on extremely friendly terms. And Łukasz was also casually but clearly very expensively dressed. Hmmm it seemed as if Łukasz might be part of the mystery as well.

Łukasz dropped them off at a large men’s clothing shop, winking at Marco as he left and telling him to have fun.

He’d never been shopping with a personal shopper before, who turned out to be an expert at finding things that suited him, things he would never even have thought of trying on. Part of him wanted to say that this was too much, but he couldn’t bear to spoil Robert’s obvious delight in being able to buy Marco everything he liked. So he amassed a pile of jeans and t-shirts, a couple of new suits, some new trousers and some very interesting shirts. And shoes! It turned out that he liked shoes!

He would need half a dozen suitcases to take all of this back to Dortmund he thought, if he ever went back that is. He’d never imagined that he could leave his home on a permanent basis, but maybe Robert could change his mind?

Robert had built up quite a collection of purchases too, clearly enjoying being able to ask Marco what he thought and model his new clothes for the blond. He even suggested buying some sports clothing for the two of them to go running together. Towards the end of their mammoth shopping expedition, Robert said something to their personal shopper in Polish. The man flushed slightly before motioning Marco over to another part of the store.

‘What did you say to him?’ asked Marco suspiciously.

Robert tried to look innocent and failed. ‘Oh, I just asked him to help you pick out the sexiest and most comfortable underwear in the shop, something that will make you look and feel even more like the absolute sex god that you are.’

Marco couldn’t help himself from punching Robert on the arm, even if he was secretly pleased at the thought. And … well … to his surprise what the assistant showed him was indeed extremely sexy but also incredibly comfortable. He’d never known that men’s underwear could be so luxurious. And so seriously hot. He just hoped that Robert felt the same way when he saw him in it!

The look on Łukasz’s face as they loaded up the car was priceless. ‘Are there any clothes left in the shop?’ he snorted.

‘Well a man has to look his best!’ retorted Robert. Then he turned to Marco. ‘I have to go to work tomorrow morning, to sort out a few things. Then I can take the rest of the week off to spend time with you.’

Marco opened his mouth to say that was fine, that he’d find something to do, before Robert surprised him with his next suggestion.

‘Would you like to come with me? See where I work? You might find it interesting.’

Of course he said yes. Robert wanting to share parts of his life with him was something he’d never say no to.

‘Since that means we need to get up a bit earlier, perhaps we could have a quick dinner somewhere?’ Robert went on. ‘I’m not in the mood for cooking. We can go somewhere special and show off our new clothes tomorrow. And maybe Łukasz could join us, if that’s alright with you? His partner is out of town for a few days, which is why he agreed to be my chauffeur.’

That confirmed it. Łukasz and Robert were obviously much closer than had initially appeared to be the case. He wasn’t at all jealous and not just because Robert had mentioned Łukasz’s partner. Marco knew that Robert only had eyes for him, he was 100% sure of that even after just a week or so together. But there was something mysterious about Łukasz now that he looked at him more closely. The way his hair shone like spun gold when the light caught it. The calm and knowing look in those intriguing greyish blue eyes of his. He was just like Robert, Marco decided, whatever that meant.

But for now he just focused on having a good time at dinner. He appreciated the fact that Robert was willing to let him into his life, even though he still had secrets. And Łukasz was good company. He came from further south in Poland but spoke fluent German. He even knew Marco’s home city well.

Łukasz drove them home after a couple of hours, helping them up the stairs with the mountain of carrier bags they’d acquired. The blond Pole had hesitated slightly at the front door, reluctant to enter Marco’s flat until he was invited in. There was nowhere to park the black BMW close to Marco’s flat, so before he left Łukasz agreed to pick them up and drive them to Robert’s office tomorrow.

They spent the next hour sorting out and hanging up their new clothes. The closets and drawers in the small flat were filled to bursting point and Marco felt a quiet thrill at seeing Robert’s shirts hanging next to his, at seeing his things in the bathroom. This felt like they were in a proper relationship. Of course he was curious to see Robert’s home as well, but that would come in due course.

‘How about a nightcap before bed? And maybe you might like to slip into something more comfortable?’ Robert suggested.

Marco got ready in the bathroom, deciding to test out Robert’s reaction to his luxurious new underwear. As he’d expected, Robert had changed into shorts and a t-shirt while he was in there, the white t-shirt setting off his lightly tanned skin to perfection. And he seemed to like what Marco was wearing every bit as much.

‘You look good enough to eat, absolutely delicious,’ whispered Robert, pulling him into a tight embrace. Marco was getting used to how it felt being in Robert’s arms. He still felt the electricity sparking and bubbling between them from time to time, but mainly he just sensed the depth of their bond. He let himself relax into the connection between them as if he was sinking into a warm bubble bath, lying curled up together on the sofa, slowly sipping their drinks.

Marco was never sure if the words were said aloud or just thought, but he heard them clearly all the same.

‘I love you, Marco.’

And his answer was equally clear. ‘I love you, Robert.’

Chapter Text

Waking up next to Robert felt every bit as good the third morning in in a row. Marco hugged the memory of last night’s love confessions to himself as he turned to face Robert, looking up into those astonishing blue eyes.

‘Good morning, darling.’

‘Good morning, my love.’ Marco could really get used to this! He was starting to hope that they would be saying these words to each other every morning for the rest of their lives.

They showered and dressed, eating a quick breakfast in the kitchen while they waited for Łukasz to come and pick them up. Marco was both excited and nervous to see where Robert worked. He’d asked what to wear, not wanting to embarrass Robert in front of his colleagues, although he couldn’t help being surprised at being told that jeans and a t-shirt would be OK. He compromised on smart jeans and one of his new shirts.

He’d no idea what he expected, but he presumed that Robert had some kind of high-powered job, in an investment bank or something similar. He’d sneaked a look at Robert’s credit card when they were shopping yesterday but hadn’t been able to recognise it. It was probably issued by some very exclusive private bank.

The handsomest man in the world was also dressed fairly casually today, in chinos and an open-necked shirt, very similar to the outfit he’d been wearing the second morning they’d had breakfast together. OK, so his workplace must have a smart-casual dress code.

Łukasz arrived punctually at 8.45 to drive Robert to work. Marco looked around in interest as they got out of the car. Robert’s workplace was the complete opposite of what Marco had expected, a large, low, modern building next to playing fields and a running track. He looked at the sign, half recognising one of the words. Could it really be?

He turned round to see Robert and Łukasz grinning at him. And it was Łukasz who answered his unspoken questions.

‘It would translate as something like “Sports Science and Performance Centre”. And Robert was being a bit modest before. He doesn’t just work here. He owns it.’

Marco had learned so many almost unbelievable things over the past week or so, but this was the one that finally almost made his knees buckle. He felt Robert’s arm round his shoulder, holding him upright. ‘I’m sorry for surprising you like this. I hoped you would like it. I didn’t want to say anything earlier in case you thought I was trying to impress you.’

Now Marco finally lost it, bursting out into hysterical laughter, laughing until tears ran down his cheeks. Robert was good looking and rich, intelligent, witty and cultured, pretty much walking sex on legs, full of mysterious secrets and he was worried about impressing Marco with his job!

Robert and Łukasz looked at him kind of helplessly at first until they saw the funny side as well, laughing with him.

It turned out that Łukasz was actually Robert’s right hand man and he’d be looking after things for the boss in his absence. Now Robert told him all about his pride and joy as they walked to his office, colleagues greeting him warmly as they passed them in the corridors. This had been Robert’s dream, a comprehensive centre primarily for young and amateur sportspeople, providing as many facilities as possible under one roof, offering everything from sports medicine, nutritional advice and sports psychology to career management and physical therapy.

Marco could hear the enthusiasm and the pride in what he and his team had built in Robert’s voice as he spoke. And he learned that Robert had a university degree in Sports Science with a particular focus on sports management and helping young people to develop and manage their careers.

Robert and Łukasz had to work until lunchtime, so Robert asked a colleague to show Marco around and answer all his questions. Woj was a real livewire, passionate and excitable, and Marco took an instant liking to him. Woj was from Warsaw but he’d worked in London for several years and spoke good English. In any case their professional interests and enthusiasm would have overcome any language barriers.

Woj was a physio as well, specialising in injury rehabilitation. Marco wanted to see absolutely everything, but of course the physio department was the one he was most interested in. And he couldn’t help his imagination from running wild when Woj told him about their plans to expand the physio work, in particular developing their specialism in injury prevention. That was something Marco would love to be a part of.

He really hoped that he would see Woj again and they parted on friendly terms at the door to the canteen. Woj was going off to have lunch with some of the other physios. Normally Marco would have loved to join them, but he was a bit relieved that he would be having lunch with just Robert and Łukasz today. There was so much to think about and talk about.

Robert smiled when he saw him. ‘I can see by the look on your face that you had a good morning!’ he remarked.

‘Oh yes,’ breathed Marco.

‘Was there anything you found particularly interesting?’ Łukasz asked as they began to eat. The food was delicious but obviously extremely healthy. Marco now understood how Robert was able to so obviously enjoy his food when they were out together but still keep in shape. And the most handsome man in the world clearly used his own facilities to work out as well. No wonder he was so … well so fit and toned, strong and well-muscled, which of course Marco had managed to notice and appreciate, despite Robert’s annoying habit of wearing far too many clothes for his liking.

Marco tried to contain himself, but he couldn’t stop himself from babbling excitedly about how important developing the injury prevention side of the physio department was. This was a subject very dear to his heart as so often he only saw people after they were seriously injured, when maybe something could have been done to prevent the injury or stop it getting worse.

Finally he stopped speaking, only to see Łukasz and Robert looking at him with delighted expressions on their faces. It was Łukasz who explained.

‘There is no need to make any hasty decisions, but if you did want to stay in Warsaw, well we could offer you the chance to lead that project. You would be able to build up your own section of the physio department if you wanted. Working in English is actually very valuable for the youth athletes in particular and the language isn’t as critical as it is in rehab. The majority of our colleagues speak English and several of them speak German. Anyway, I’m sure that you will soon start to learn Polish if you stay here. And I have absolutely no doubt that Robert would be only too glad to help you practice.’

Marco could have sworn that Łukasz winked at him. But Łukasz just carried on speaking as if nothing had happened.

‘Obviously we’d have to see your certificates and take up references before formally offering you the post. Robert can look into your heart and see that you are perfect for the job, but we have to be professional about it. We have a duty of care to our clients. Although I am not expecting there to be any problems.’ This time Łukasz really did wink at him.

He sneaked a look at Robert before answering, wanting to make sure that this was OK with him as well. Robert was trying to look impassive, trying not to influence his decision. However he already knew his love well enough to know that his eyes were begging Marco to say he was interested.

The only thing to do was tell the absolute truth, which was that of course he was interested and if he decided to stay in Warsaw he would be happy for them to formally interview him for the post. He could see the relief on Robert’s face. This was important for both of them. He was reassured that Robert understood how important his job was to him and that it would be hard for him to stay if he couldn’t find something useful to do with his life. And the idea of working alongside Robert was far from unappealing.

They said their goodbyes, although Robert said that they would come back to use the training facilities and the running track. Now Marco knew why Robert had been so keen to add sports clothes to their shopping list yesterday.

But for now he just wanted to enjoy rest of their day together, luxuriating in the knowledge that Robert was all his for the next week. And maybe, just maybe, things would develop far enough between them over the week that he could realistically consider staying here. The job offer was enticing enough, never mind the added bonus of a mysterious, dark-haired, blue-eyed, incredibly handsome lover attached to it.

This time they travelled by public transport, taking the metro into the Old Town. Robert led them down to the riverside walkway for a post lunch stroll along the Vistula. This was the first time Marco had really been out with Robert during the day and it felt good to be just walking along together, his guide pointing out the landmarks of his home city. There was something preying on Marco’s mind though.

‘I know I promised not to ask too many questions, but Łukasz knows about us, doesn’t he? As in he doesn’t just know that we are a couple, but he knows about all the weird stuff because … well … he is also connected with the weird stuff?’

‘The answer is yes. To both questions.’

Marco simply nodded, not needing asking anything else. That was all he’d wanted to know.

‘It’s not that I want to pry. And I’m not going to ask Łukasz anything you don’t want me to, not that I believe he would answer my questions anyway. But it’s just nice that there is someone I don’t have to be careful in front of, someone we can be a bit more relaxed with.’

‘I know how you feel, Marco. I feel exactly the same way. Maybe once Łukasz’s partner is back in town we can go out together? The four of us? Kind of like a double date?’ Robert looked utterly adorable as he made this suggestion, blushing slightly, smiling that slow, shy smile that made his eyes sparkle and his dimples dance.

‘I’d like that too. It’s nice to be able to meet your friends.’

Robert laughed. ‘I wouldn’t exactly say that Kuba and I are friends. But we go back a long, long way. It was through me that he met Łukasz and the three of us have stayed close because of that.’

They walked a bit further along the riverbank, enjoying the feel of the sun on their skin. This really did feel like being on holiday. And now Robert was officially on holiday with him too.

Marco sighed happily. ‘Despite everything. Despite all the things I don’t know about you, the secrets I have yet to learn. Despite the fact that I know that you are not exactly normal, I feel safe with you. I trust you, more than anyone else I have ever met.’

Robert stopped walking and turned to face him, his eyes flashing with something that looked like anger. Or could it be pain? Or both? His voice was raw with anguish as he spoke.

‘I’ve lived in this city for a long time. I’ve seen the wanton cruelty that ordinary people are capable of. I saw my city destroyed. The loss of so many lives. And it was somehow worse because so much of it was done by so-called normal people. I looked into the hearts of some of them and they were black and rotten and twisted with hatred. That I could at least understand, as terrifying as it was. But it was the cruelty of ordinary men and women, people you wouldn’t have looked twice at in the street that shook my faith in … well in everything.’

Marco didn’t understand, he couldn’t begin to imagine what Robert had been through, even comprehend what he was talking about. He felt out of his depth all of a sudden, drowning in the sea of Robert’s mysteries. But he knew that this was something that had scarred Robert’s soul. He knew that the man he loved was reaching out to him, asking for his help, even though that wasn’t easy for someone like him.

So he did the only thing that he could, holding out his hand for Robert to take. Not invading his personal space, but offering him comfort if he wanted it. Robert grasped his hand tight, gripping onto it like a man holding onto a life raft for dear life. Marco could feel some of Robert’s emotions coursing through their bond, a jumbled cocktail of pain, misery and guilt. There was something else there. Indecision. Robert was wrestling with himself, obviously deciding whether or not he should tell Marco something. He focused on being calm and loving, trying to let Robert know that it was alright, that he could tell him anything, that he would be there for him no matter what.

Finally Robert reached a decision, turning to Marco with eyes that were now calm and clear, if still shot through with pain.

‘Will you come for a walk with me, Marco? Will you help me face some of the painful ghosts from my past?’

Chapter Text

Robert led him through the Old Town, still clutching his hand. Marco still wasn’t very relaxed about holding hands with another man in public, although something told him that nobody would dare to even look at him the wrong way when he was with Robert.

The dark-haired man at his side didn’t speak, only squeezed his hand reassuringly as they walked along in silence. Their route appeared random, but it began to make sense to Marco after a while. He had walked part of it before. His suspicions were confirmed when they stopped in a small square to the north-west of the Old Town. Marco had been here before. He’d come to pay his respects already - something he’d felt he had to do - and visited the museum afterwards, but he had no idea why it was so important to Robert.

They stood side by side in silence for a long while in front of the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto. Finally Robert started speaking, not looking at Marco, his voice cracking with emotion.

‘I was here. I saw it. I felt it. I can still feel it standing here. The pain. The suffering. The inhumanity. The … ’ his voice broke and he needed a moment to compose himself before continuing. ‘I did what I could. But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. I failed. In the end I couldn’t bear it anymore. The weight of all that … of all that … evil was destroying me. So I left. I abandoned my city, my people. I still bear the guilt of that every single day of my life. Even miles away, I felt the destruction of my city, the deaths of its people over the days, months and years that followed.

Despite my guilt, I came back. They told us that this city would never be rebuilt, that it would remain forever a shattered monument to evil. But we couldn’t accept that. This city and those of us who survived had to live again, our country needed its heart back. So we rebuilt it, beginning with our bare hands.’

There was nothing to say and Marco didn’t even try, knowing that any words he could find would be inadequate right now. He just stood there in silent solidarity beside Robert, a witness to the memory of the suffering.

After a long moment of silence, Robert reached out for his hand, squeezing it tightly as they walked off across the square. He could still feel the pain and guilt, even the anger, in Robert’s soul, but there was also a faint echo of peace and acceptance.

‘Thank you, Marco. Thank you for standing by my side, helping me to face the pain. It was so hard … all these years alone … until I found you.’

It was Marco who squeezed Robert’s hand tightly now, still not trusting himself to find the right words. And he knew that he didn’t need to, that Robert knew exactly how he felt, that he would always be by his side and support him as best he could.

The contrast between how they had spent their morning and what he’d learned this afternoon couldn’t have been greater and Marco supposed that he should feel much more unsettled than he actually was. And he knew that Robert had just told him something pretty earthshattering in a roundabout way. But this was just part of what it meant to be in love with someone like Robert. It was a privilege to be able to love and to be loved by such an amazing man, to be allowed to be part of his life, and Marco would do everything he could to be worthy of such a precious gift.

‘I know that I said we could go out tonight,’ Robert continued, ‘but would it be OK if we just went home now? I’d like to spend some time alone with you. And maybe you feel ready to talk about what hurt you, about the pain you’ve been keeping locked up inside?’

‘Of course we can go home. But what happened to me isn’t anything important, nothing in comparison to … ’

Robert turned to him with glowing eyes. ‘Never say that! Hurt and pain aren’t a competition. Something happened to you, something that made you have to leave your home to escape the memories as well. If there is one good, positive thing that comes out of the bad things that happen to us in our lives, it is that we aren’t scared of the pain of others, that we can listen to them and stand alongside them. Just like you did for me today.’

Marco suggested that they made dinner when they got home. They were both a little shaken and it seemed like a good idea for them to eat first, not to mention do something mundane and everyday together before they talked. And he had the feeling that they wouldn’t want to move far from the sofa later on.

His plan seemed to be working, Robert visibly relaxing as he chopped the vegetables for Marco and made the salad. After clearing up the kitchen, they settled down on the sofa with a glass of wine. Robert didn’t put any pressure on him to speak, stroking over his back like he was soothing a nervous tomcat, pressing soft kisses against his hair. He felt safe and warm in Robert’s arms, as if nothing and nobody could ever harm him here, the love flowing between them almost a physical presence in the room.

‘His name was Mario.’ That was the first time he’d spoken his name out loud in weeks. ‘He … he … had the most deep beautiful chocolate brown eyes I’d ever seen. Soft dark hair and an infectious smile. I guess I fell for him right from the very start even though … even though I hadn’t yet fully come to terms with the fact that I liked men rather than women. He was … he was my first. And I thought he would be my last. I thought we would be together forever.

But then he was offered a dream job in Munich and I couldn’t go with him. I never tried to stop him going. I supported him. We promised that we’d stay together, that we’d find a way to make it work. Everything changed however. He changed. Maybe I changed too? We grew apart. He came back after three years and we tried to make it work. But there was nothing left between us. Nothing. And that was the worst thing of all. A broken heart at least reminds you that you have a heart that can be broken. But I felt nothing. Just cold and empty, as if I could never feel anything again, as if I could never love again. That was why I had to get away.’

Marco nestled his head down against Robert’s chest, relieved to have finally told him about his first love.

‘I’m sorry, Marco. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this. I can’t pretend to be sorry that things didn’t work out with Mario, that you found your way to me, although I wish it hadn’t been so painful for you. But the idea of you being unable to love, that I could never believe. Your heart is made to love and to be loved in return. You’re the one I’ve been for waiting all my life and I’m so glad that we’re together now.’

Robert took the wine glass out of Marco’s hand, placing it on the floor together with his own. He eased Marco down onto the sofa, tilting his head backwards so that they were looking one another deep in the eyes. Marco felt as if he was drowning in those limpid pools of blue, his love so close to him now that he could feel warm breath caressing his skin. Robert smelled so good, felt so strong and solid above him that his head started to swim. Tender fingers stroked over his cheek and he sighed contentedly, turning his head to kiss the palm of Robert’s hand.

Their lips were almost touching by now. They’d waited so long for their first kiss that he wanted to savour these last few moments of anticipation. Then Robert’s lips were on his, those soft, sweet, supple, masculine lips. Their kiss was gentle at first, Robert keeping the pressure light, giving Marco time to adjust to all the strange new sensations coursing through him.

It felt as if tiny little stars were twinkling into life in every cell of his body, sparkling and shining in response to the touch of Robert’s lips. He was ready for more as Robert deepened the kiss, their lips starting to move together soft and wet, mapping out the shape and feel of the other’s mouth for the first time, learning how they fitted together.

Little licks and nibbles against his lower lip begged for entry and Marco opened his mouth gladly for his love, letting him take possession of what was already his. Both of them gasped out loud as their tongues caressed for the first time before their kisses became deep and passionate. He could feel Robert’s tongue everywhere inside, conquering and exploring his territory, that oh so agile tongue licking over the insides of his cheeks and the roof of his mouth before settling down to kiss him deep and hard.

They were ‘only’ kissing, but Marco felt like he was being completely taken and possessed, surrendering himself to his beloved dark-haired Polish lover. The world had contracted to him and Robert, their lips, mouths and tongues, their bodies pressed greedily together. The sensations flooding his through him were overwhelming, but the feeling of Robert warm and heavy above him kept him grounded. Otherwise he felt as if he could have floated away on the sea of Robert’s kisses.

He knew that they were just going to kiss, that they weren’t making out as a prelude to getting naked and making love. And somehow that made this even better, just concentrating on kissing each other senseless like a couple of horny teenagers.

Their kisses were everything Marco’s dreams had been made of. Sometimes they kissed hot, wet and messy, their tongues thrusting deep into one another’s mouths, foreshadowing what they would do with their bodies in the fullness of time. They swallowed down each other’s sighs and moans, the sensation of Robert groaning into his mouth seeming to go straight to Marco’s groin. Othertimes their kisses were sweet and gentle, fluttering soft like butterfly wings over well-kissed lips.

Robert gradually slowed their kissing, letting Marco come down from the incredible high he was experiencing. He looked up at his love, almost drunk on his kisses, stroking his thumb tenderly over Robert’s red, wet, swollen lips. His love gazed back at him, eyes full of love and clouded with desire as he caressed Marco’s cheeks with both hands.

He felt strong arms round him, turning him round so that he was lying on top of Robert, pressed hard against his powerful torso. Robert was letting him take control of their kiss, lying there and allowing him to do whatever he wanted. He brushed his lips over his love’s, gently nipping at his lower lip, sucking it into his mouth. Robert’s loud moan of bliss reverberated through him, arousing him ever further. But he took his time, worshipping Robert’s lips with his own, planting soft kiss after soft kiss against them before finally licking his way inside. He loved how Robert just melted into their deep tongue kiss, half pliant, half needy lying beneath him.

Both of them were aroused, hard and aching. He felt Robert’s hands resting lightly on the back of his hips, waiting to see if Marco pulled back from their kiss. But of course he didn’t, his love’s mouth was too warm, wet and welcoming to resist. Robert pressed a little harder, rubbing their groins together ever so deliciously. The friction felt so good, relieving some of the aching need inside. Marco couldn’t help himself from rubbing harder against Robert, pressing into him as he thrust deeper and more urgently into his mouth.

Both of them were breathing hard by now, wanting this, needing this, craving to find their release in each other’s arms for the first time. He felt his climax start to build softly, feathery fingers of pleasure caressing him from the inside until it exploded over him, shattering his world into a myriad of shining stars for a long moment. He knew that it had been as intense for Robert. They’d finally broken their kiss, gazing into one another’s eyes for as long as they possibly could until Marco’s back had arched in ecstasy as Robert writhed underneath him.

‘Wow!’ Marco rolled off Robert, snuggling up to his side, unable to find anything more articulate to say or to move any further. His love wrapped an arm round him, burying his face into his neck, clearly also totally blissed out. ‘Wow indeed,’ was Robert’s reply.

‘That was …’ Marco tried to think of something to say, but failed.

‘Yes it was,’ was the answer. He could feel Robert’s satisfied smile tickling the sensitive skin of his throat. And he knew that they would lie here cuddled up together in the warmth of their afterglow for as long as they could until it was time to clean up and go to bed.

Chapter Text

Marco felt as if the magic of waking up next to Robert would never fade, no matter how many nights they spent together. He could still sense the faint echoes of Robert’s kisses on his skin from their dreamlike lovemaking. Hot, passionate, loving lips had explored every inch of his body, kisses that seared into his soul until he came in Robert’s arms, whispering his love’s name over and over again.

Even after a good night’s sleep, he could most definitely still feel where they had kissed for what had felt like hours on the sofa last night. He had come across the phrase ‘well-kissed lips’ before, but never truly understood what it meant until Robert captured his mouth again in a passionate good morning kiss, his lips tender and responsive to his lover’s kiss. He didn’t care about waking up still bearing the traces of his nightly climax anymore, knowing that Robert was in exactly the same state under his shorts and loved him like this in any case.

The expensive, incredibly sexy but comfy underwear Robert had insisted on buying him was proving to have been worth every penny of its hefty price tag. Despite the extreme arousal and powerful releases he’d experienced, Marco felt surprisingly comfortable in the underwear department, only a faint, pleasant satisfied ache telling of his need and subsequent satisfaction over the past few hours. He wanted more, of course he wanted more. He wanted everything. But making love with Robert was already better than anything he’d known in his twenty-eight years on this earth.

He was twenty-eight. Robert had told him that he was just a bit older at twenty-nine. Robert certainly looked twenty-nine, but Marco now knew that things were a little bit more complicated than that.

Their morning greetings stopped him from thinking too hard. Nothing else mattered when Robert looked at him, his brilliant blue eyes sparkling with love and joy, stroking his hair gently as he whispered ‘Good morning, darling’, before tenderly kissing his forehead, kissing him gently as if he was the most precious thing in the world.

‘Good morning, my love,’ Marco whispered back, making Robert smile by kissing him on the tip of his nose.

They lay there for a few minutes, enjoying the sleepy warmth of their morning cuddle, luxuriating in the fact that their day was theirs and theirs alone to spend as they wanted. Part of Marco could have stayed in bed with Robert all day, but he also needed to be active. He wasn’t used to just sitting around.

It was as if Robert had read his thoughts once again. ‘Why don’t I make us breakfast in bed again? And then, if you’d like, we could go to the Sports Centre for a run and to work out? Maybe have lunch there? And then tonight I’ll take you somewhere special for a romantic night out just like I promised?’

That was pretty much Marco’s idea of a dream day spent with Robert and the look on his face must have given it away.

‘It’s OK, Marco,’ Robert’s voice was warm with amusement, ‘I don’t think that you love me just because I own a Sports Centre with a physio department, but I know that you wanted to go back there now that you know about the job offer. I want you to be happy, not just with me but with your life here. And a work out will do both of us good. Once we have the car, we can drive out into the country to run and walk, but for now we’ll have to make do with the facilities at work.’

After a dreamily long romantic breakfast that probably involved almost as much kissing as it did eating, they finally made it into the shower and into the taxi Robert had called for them.

It felt good to be changing into his sports clothing again and lacing up his running shoes before following Robert onto the running track. The morning was warm and sunny but not yet hot enough to make running unpleasant. They ran an easy five kilometres side by side, chatting about work and Robert’s plans for the future, what Marco might do if he took the job offer here.

Of course they were both competitive enough to challenge each other to a sprint race at the end, although Marco was actually quite happy that they were pretty much as fast as each other. He couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear as they recovered afterwards, bent over with their hands on their knees, sweating and breathing hard, before heading off to the gym.

There were several training rooms in the facility Robert had founded, each one with its own range of specialist equipment. Marco was focused on what he was doing, but he couldn’t help his eyes from drifting towards his companion from time to time. Robert was strong and fit, he’d always known that, but seeing him in action was something else. Despite his professionalism, he couldn’t help having thoughts that were … well … interesting as he caught glimpses of that supple, heavily-muscled body working out, beads of sweat shining on his skin.

He was glowing and aching in a good way when it was time to hit the showers. Marco showered and got ready in the communal facilities. He was used to this and had no hang ups about his body. But he wasn’t at all surprised when Robert took his stuff and went to a private cubicle.

He was just beginning to fix his hair in the mirror afterwards when Robert came to join him, the two of them standing side by side, shoulders nudging together companionably, smiling at each other in the mirror like a pair of idiots in love.

Woj came in as they were just about finished teasing their hair into perfection. He shook his head in disbelief as he saw them. ‘Equally vain when it comes to your hair, I see.’

Marco shrugged. ‘It’s always been a weakness of mine. It was much worse when I was younger. I even had a bleached blond semi-Mohican at one point.’

Woj snorted out loud. ‘That must have been some sight to behold. Łukasz told me you were here, Marco. Would you like to have lunch with me and a couple of the other physios? We can talk about your plans for the new department as well.’

Marco looked sideways at Robert. Of course he wanted to, but …

‘Off you go, Marco. I can catch up with Lukasz. That was probably all part of his plan. Lukasz might look all innocent and harmless, but don’t let that calm exterior fool you.’

Marco and Woj set off together, laughing and joking happily, punching each other on the arm like old friends. Lunch was good, soup and salad with more of that wonderful dark nutty bread. He was ravenous after his workout, even though breakfast had not been that long ago. He ate hungrily, but still managed to join in the conversation. It would be difficult, he would have to work hard to prove himself, however he could imagine fitting in here and becoming part of the team.

He left with an invitation to join them for their next five-a-side football game. It was curious he thought, he’d come to Warsaw hoping to restart his life and somehow he’d managed to start building a whole new life after just a couple of weeks, even though much of that was down to Robert. He made his way to Lukasz’s office, knowing that he’d find Robert there.

Robert’s happy smile when he saw him made Marco’s stomach flip with happiness, not least because he made no attempt to hide his feelings from his friend and second-in-command.

The three of them sat and chatted for a bit over coffee, Marco telling them about lunch and the invitation to play football. He realised that he had more or less made his mind up and maybe this was the right time to talk about it.

‘Can I speak openly in front of Łukasz, Robert? It’s about the job and I have some questions. I think it would be better to speak to both of you since it’s not just about our relationship. But our relationship is part of the decision and Łukasz understands that things between us are … how can I put it? … complicated.’

‘Of course, Marco. That makes sense.’

Łukasz nodded his agreement as well.

‘I think I want to accept the job offer. I know that I want the job, assuming that you still want me, and I know that you have to carry out the proper checks before things can be made official. But I need a couple of weeks before making an irreversible decision if that’s alright with both of you.’

Marco turned to look at Robert. ‘I have no doubts about my feelings you, far from it. That’s part of the problem. I fell head over heels in love with you the minute I saw you, even though I’d never believed in love at first sight until then. That alone would have turned my world upside down, but then I learned things about you that made me question my own sanity at first. None of that changes how I feel about you, but I need some time to get used to all of this before I give up my job, my flat, tell my family I’m leaving home.’

Robert exchanged glances with Łukasz before standing up and coming over to Marco, kneeling before him and taking his hands in his. ‘I love you, Marco. And you’re coping incredibly well with all of this. But I understand just how much I am asking of you. So take all the time that you need. I’ll wait for you to be ready, for as long as it takes.’ They hugged briefly, happy not to have to hide their emotions in front of Łukasz.

‘You had questions, Marco?’ Lukasz prompted him.

‘Part question, part concerns. First of all, will all other people who work here know that Robert and I are together?’

‘Of course. There’s no way we can hide it. And I wouldn’t want to,’ Robert replied straight away. ‘We will be totally professional about it at work and that means being open about our relationship. It’s secrets that cause problems.’ Robert shrugged apologetically as he finished speaking, able to appreciate the irony of what he’d just said.

‘Do you think that there will be any problems? People objecting to me having got the job just because I’m your … your boyfriend?’ Marco’s cheeks flamed red as he called Robert his ‘boyfriend’ for the first time. It sounded both very official and far too inconsequential for what they had, but it was way too soon to refer to his mysterious dark-haired love as his ‘partner’.

It was Łukasz who answered him. ‘There isn’t an internal candidate, if that’s your worry. We would always have had to bring someone in. Woj is happy where he is and isn’t interested in heading up the new department. And everybody knows that neither Robert nor I would risk our reputation or the health of our clients by appointing someone unqualified. You’ll have to prove yourself, but you’ve started doing that already. Woj approves of you. He was worried we’d find someone boring to work alongside him. It seems that you’re not.’

Marco couldn’t help grinning. He liked the ebullient Pole too, even if he was a touch crazy.

‘The people who work here believe in what we do, Marco,’ Robert added. ‘We don’t run this place to make a profit. As long as we break even, we’re happy. And everybody is well paid, with good conditions, holidays, working hours and so on. So you don’t need to worry about people being resentful of you because they think that you’re somehow getting a better deal because we’re together.’

It was time for him and Robert to leave. Łukasz shook his hand warmly as they said goodbye. ‘I’m so happy that Robert finally found you, Marco. He was alone for far too long. And I really hope that you do come and work with us. But I understand exactly how you’re feeling, how overwhelming all of this is. One day we’ll talk about it properly, I promise.’

Marco felt relieved as they left the Sports Centre, as if his future was a little clearer. He was a little surprised when Robert led him to the car park though, to where the black BMW was parked.

‘I thought we could go for a drive to the forest and then back to the flat to rest and get ready to go out tonight,’ explained Robert. ‘I’ve found a way to get a parking space for the car, even if it was a little unorthodox.’

‘What did you do?’ Marco had to ask, furrowing his brow suspiciously.

Robert turned to look at him a little sheepishly. ‘Um … well … I bought the flat. It’s in a good location and it will be a solid investment. There’s still some things to sort out, but it’s ours, including the parking space. Well to be precise it’s yours. The deeds are in your name. The paperwork was in the office, which is partly why Łukasz wanted to see me.’

‘What! I can’t accept that.’

‘Yes you can, Marco. You have to. Just like you can accept this.’

Robert handed him an envelope. Marco looked at it for a long moment before opening it. Inside were some documents in a language that he couldn’t read and something he recognised – a black credit card that looked just like the one Robert had used when they went clothes shopping.

‘You can have your salary paid into the same account if you accept the job. But there is enough money deposited in it so that you never have to worry about working again for the rest of your life. I’m not trying to buy your love, Marco. I know that it wouldn’t work anyway, you’re not like that and it’s not what I want. As far as I am concerned, everything I have is ours from now on in any case.

But you have to accept this to make our relationship work. I am asking you to take a huge risk in choosing to be with me and you need to have the security to walk away. And even though I hope with all my heart that you stay with me, I also know that you have to be independent, to have your own life.

That’s why it’s important for you to have your own friends. And your own money, to do what you want with. It was lovely being able to treat you and spoil you over the last few days and I’ll do it again, over and over again and love every single minute of it. There are so many special and wonderful things I want to show you. But we need to be equals. And that’s why you need to accept this. It’s not a gift, it’s an investment in our life together, in our future.

And anyway, I think you need to buy some very good football boots before your five-a-side game. I can assure you that Woj is extremely competitive.’ Robert winked at him as he finished speaking, obviously trying to lighten the mood.

Chapter Text

Even though it was hard for him to contemplate accepting Robert’s money, Marco could see the sense in his suggestion. He knew that Robert wasn’t trying to buy his affection, indeed quite the opposite. Robert was doing everything he could to take his wealth out of the equation by giving Marco security and independence. So he had asked for time to think about it. That was another thing he appreciated about his mysterious love. Robert always understood that he needed time to come to terms with the bombshells that seemed to be dropped on him on an almost daily basis now, never pressing him to make a quick decision.

So they enjoyed the rest of their afternoon together, driving northwards of the city to the Kapinos National Park, passing through small villages with their traditional wooden houses on the way. Marco loved walking in the forest and Robert promised him that they would come back and spend longer exploring, maybe even try and catch a glimpse of the moose that roamed free in the woods.

Robert parked the BMW close to the flat, to their flat - his flat if he chose to accept it as a gift. And it did feel different walking through the door this time. This flat was their home, at least for now. He could sense that Robert felt exactly the same way as well. The dark-haired Pole must have a house of his own somewhere in the city, but Marco was willing to wait until Robert was ready to show him where he lived. For now, this was their home together, where they lived and loved one another.

Marco had to do something to deal with the sudden rush of overwhelming emotion that hit him. Without saying a word, he took hold of Robert, pushing him against the wall, kissing him hard and demanding, pouring every ounce of his fierce, burning love into that kiss. Robert yielded under the onslaught of his mouth, opening his mouth to let him in, their bodies melting together as they kissed and kissed and kissed, kissing until they had told each other everything there was to say. Only then did Marco draw back, resting his forehead against Robert’s as he breathed deeply, Robert’s arms still wrapped tight round him.

‘Sorry,’ he finally whispered in apology.

Robert chuckled. ‘You never need to apologise for kissing me, Marco. And I love you being all dominant and assertive like that. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.’ He paused for a moment. ‘If I tell you something, will you promise not to make fun of me?’

‘Of course. I’d never do that. At least not about something important.’

‘Last night … when we kissed … that was my first proper kiss … the first time I’d ever kissed anyone on the lips. I waited all my long lifetime for ... for the right one ... for you …’ 

‘Why would I ever make fun of you for something so special, so precious, that you waited for me? Although you really are awesomely good at kissing if that was your first kiss!’ Then something suddenly struck him. ‘If that was your first real kiss, does that mean that … that our first time will be your first time?’

‘Yes, at least kind of. It’s complicated. But I have never known another man or women as fully and intimately as it will be when you and I are together. Does that bother you?’

‘No, although I have to admit that it’s kind of immense and overpowering. But I guess that us making love for the first time will be pretty earthshattering in any case.’

‘I hope so. I really hope so, Marco.’ Robert’s voice was husky with emotion as he kissed Marco again, kissing him until his head was spinning, kissing him until there was nothing left but the feel of their lips pressed together and the gorgeousness of their tongues dancing and dueling deep in each other’s mouths.

Finally Robert broke their kiss, stroking over Marco’s cheeks with his fingers, looking at him in awe and wonder, his brilliant blue eyes rich and radiant with enough love and desire to last an eternity. ‘I could kiss you forever. I want nothing more right now than to spend the rest of the evening kissing you. So if we don’t get ready to go out now, I fear that we will never make it out of your flat. And I promised you a romantic night out.’

‘Will there be more kissing later? I mean, I rather like kissing you too, just in case you hadn’t noticed.’ Marco tilted his head to the side, a slight smile on his face, teasing his love.

‘Oh yes. I am utterly addicted to your kisses. And there’s something else. I felt a slight twinge in my left thigh when we were running earlier. Now since I have my own private physio, maybe you could massage it a little for me later?’

Marco’s mouth was suddenly dry, his throat tight. ‘ … um … when you say ‘massage’ do you mean … do you mean professionally as in therapeutic or … um … more personally as in … well as in sensual?’

‘Perhaps a little bit of both?’ My thigh really is a bit tight and I trust you to take care of it for me as a physio. But maybe you could give me a treat afterwards as my reward for being such a good patient? I am sure that you are very, very good with your hands.’ Robert seemed almost to purr as he uttered those words.

How could Marco say no? And if Robert really did have a problem, he had to confess that he didn’t like the idea of someone else touching him like this, even though he knew that it was just part of the job.

‘Of course. Just as long as you know that … well … I … um … I don’t think that I can remain as … how can I put it … professionally distant … massaging you as I would normally do with a client. Although of course I’d never take any risks with your health or well-being,’ he added hastily. Marco knew that he was blushing and stammering like a lovesick teenager, but he couldn’t help it. The thought of getting his hands on Robert like this did things to him that it really shouldn’t.

‘I wouldn’t expect anything else. Just as I know that it is not normally acceptable to be aroused by your therapist’s touch, but I hope that you will forgive me if that happens in this case.’

‘I think I’ll be able to cope with that,’ Marco smiled at his love.

They kissed again, soft and sweet this time, before heading off to get ready.

Marco came out of the bathroom to see Robert standing in their bedroom, looking utterly gorgeous in a perfectly-cut suit, so dark grey as to be almost black.

‘You look … Well I have no words for how handsome you look tonight.’

‘You look incredibly handsome as well,’ Robert came over to him, fixing his tie in place before kissing him tenderly on the forehead.

‘Shall we go, Mr Reus?’

‘I’m yours for the evening, Mr Lewandowski.’

‘And for a lot longer I hope.’

‘I think I might be OK with that too.’ Marco turned to look at Robert to see amusement sparkling in those brilliant blue eyes.

They walked together to the Old Town, enjoying the warm night air as they strolled along hand in hand. Marco had overcome his reservations about holding hands in public and he felt safe with Robert. There was something about the dark-haired Pole that would make any trouble maker keep their distance.

Their destination was the oldest hotel in the city, one of the few buildings in central Warsaw to have survived the wartime destruction unscathed. Underneath the happiness and contentment, he could see the slight wistfulness in Robert’s expression as they sat in the hotel’s atmospheric, perfectly restored Art Deco bar enjoying their pre-dinner drinks.

Marco lowered his voice, making sure that nobody could hear him. ‘You’re thinking about before, aren’t you? How the city used to be?’

‘Yes,’ sighed Robert, ‘it was so beautiful. I wish you could have seen it. But the heart of the city is more than bricks and mortar, it’s the people, the spirit of my home that lives on and can never be extinguished. And I’m here with you now and that makes it easier to remember, makes the memories hurt less. Thank you.’ Robert squeezed his hand tightly under the table.

Dinner was wonderful. Robert suggested that they order the tasting menu and each course was better than the last. Of course they also had the wine recommended to accompany each dish. Marco was the teeniest bit tipsy as they sat drinking their coffee, mulling something over.

‘You’re chewing your lip in that way that I already know means you’re thinking about something, Marco. What is it?’

Robert knew him so well, even after just a few days together. And he was right of course.

‘That black credit card. Will it work tonight?’

‘Yes. You just need to sign it.’

‘Do you have a pen?’

Robert took a silver pen out of his inside pocket and handed it to him, a flicker of hope sparking in his eyes.

Marco took a deep breath before signing the card with a flourish. When the time came to pay the bill, he stopped Robert from reaching for his wallet, offering the waiter his brand new credit card instead.

Robert reached out to stroke his hand where it rested on the table. ‘Thank you, Marco. Maybe we can go dancing again another night, but tonight … well tonight I would just like to go home with you if that’s OK?’

‘Of course. I want that too.’ Marco couldn’t help thinking about the massage request, wondering if Robert had meant what he’d said.

They walked home together. As they came closer to their flat, Robert wrapped an arm round him, pulling him close, snuggling Marco up against his side.

Robert turned to him once they were inside the front door, kissing him softly on the lips. ‘I’ll make myself comfortable, shall I? Someone promised me a massage.’

Marco swallowed before he nodded his agreement, his throat suddenly dry for some reason.

He was in two minds over what to wear once he changed out of his suit, before deciding on a compromise between private and professional, naked from the waist up but wearing track pants like he would at work. And Robert …

Well the sight of Robert quite simply took his breath away. His love was lying on his front on the sofa, lying on a towel with his head comfortably pillowed on his arms. He was wearing a black t-shirt and tight black boxer briefs. Now Marco could properly appreciate the shapely, muscular legs he’d caught glimpses of when they were working out. And his hands ached to caress the strong, ripe, rounded curves of Robert’s ass displayed so temptingly for him like this.

‘I was serious about the twinge in my thigh as well as the other thing,’ Robert murmured.

OK, so they would do this properly. Marco put down the bottle of body lotion he’d brought from the bathroom – massage oil hadn’t been on his packing list for this trip – and flexed his fingers, ready to get to work.

‘Tell me if this hurts,’ he warned.

‘I will,’ Robert promised.

Marco concentrated on what he was doing, even managing to push the fact that he was working on the most handsome, fascinating, desirable man he’d ever met to the back of his mind. This was his job and he took it seriously, feeling Robert’s tendons and muscles begin to loosen under the pressure of his hands, using his elbows to push deep into the tense muscles at the top of his thighs.

Robert sighed softly from time to time, but there was no sign of discomfort until Marco pressed just below his left hipbone, eliciting a slight yelp from his patient.

‘Does that hurt?’ he asked, running his hand down Robert’s outer thigh.

‘It’s tender to the touch, yes.’

‘I think we’ve found the culprit. Your adductor muscles are weaker on the left side for some reason. That’s why you felt pain in your leg while running. We’ll need to get Woj to do some work with you. I’m sure he’ll be able to set you to rights. But I have to warn you that it might hurt a bit.’

Robert groaned. ‘He’s going to enjoy that far too much, getting to torture the boss. Thank you, Marco. Do I get my reward now?’

‘I suppose you’ve earned it,’ grinned Marco, pouring some lotion into the palm of his hands and warming it. He was going to enjoy this as well.

He let his hands slide sensuously over the backs of Robert’s thighs, fingers dipping into the firm flesh. This time he was definitely trying to turn Robert on and the soft little sighs and murmurs he heard, the way Robert squirmed and wriggled against the towel he was lying on, all suggested that he was being successful in his mission. And this time he made no attempt to suppress his own arousal, his desire for his love already tenting his track pants.

His fingers drifted upwards, slipping under the fabric of Robert’s briefs, teasing him with gentle strokes of his thumbs.

‘Do you want to turn over?’ he whispered.

Robert turned onto his back and Marco could see that he was every bit as aroused as he himself was. He could see how long and thick and gorgeous his love was, the hardness of his arousal straining at the tight, black fabric of his underwear. Robert’s legs were open slightly in invitation and he moaned louder as Marco caressed his inner thighs with lotion-slick fingers, his hips canting upwards, pressing into Marco’s touch.

‘Tell me if this is too much.’ Marco had touched Robert intimately in their dreams, but this was the first time they’d been this close in their waking hours. He watched his love’s face intently as he slid his hand into the warmth between Robert’s thighs, tenderly cupping the heaviness of his balls for a moment before moving his fingers back to massage him in that incredibly sensitive spot just behind.

He kept the pressure light at first, the circling movements of his fingers only becoming firmer as he felt Robert arching into his fingers, panting and moaning in time with his caresses. He kept this up until he could sense that Robert was close. Only then did he curl his hand round his love’s hot, hard, twitching length, his fingers close to the sensitive tip as he gently stroked Robert to his climax, loving seeing him come undone under his touch for the very first time. Robert hid nothing from him, his back arching up off the sofa, pushing his groin hard into the palm of Marco’s hand as his face contorted in ecstasy, a whispered ‘Marco’ on his lips.

‘Thank you,’ murmured Robert against his throat, pulling Marco down on top of him. Marco held his breath as Robert’s questing fingers made their way underneath the waistband of his track pants, cradling his hardness through the fabric of his briefs. They lay there like this for a long, precious moment, cherishing the intimacy and sharing a deep, passionate tongue kiss, until Marco’s need for release finally became too powerful to resist. He pressed his hips into Robert’s hand over and over again, rubbing himself up against him until he came, every one of his loud cries swallowed down by his lover’s kiss.

‘That’s … that’s every bit as good as kissing,’ he said once he’d finally recovered the power of speech, still held close in Robert’s embrace. ‘But I fear that we are going to have to clean ourselves up before bed again.’

Robert chuckled, snuggling him ever closer. ‘I think that I can live with that. And something tells me that we’ll be in exactly the same state all over again when we wake up tomorrow.’

Chapter Text

Robert’s guess had been exactly right. Marco woke up the next morning satisfied and still faintly sticky, burrowing closer into his love’s embrace, luxuriating in that blissful half-waking, half-sleeping feeling on a morning in which he didn’t have to get up, didn’t have to be anywhere in particular anytime soon. He sighed happily as Robert kissed the top of his head, the warmth and strength emanating from his lover’s body seeming to permeate every cell of his being.

Their dream lovemaking was becoming ever more passionate and more intense the closer they came to one another in their waking hours. Marco flushed slightly as he remembered how their hands, lips and tongues had roamed over every inch of the other’s naked flesh, exploring and caressing hard curves and sculpted planes of bone and muscle until they had come in each another’s arms, the explosions of pleasure shining and glowing like shooting stars.

He knew that they would make love in their waking flesh one day and he had no idea how he would cope with it, how he could possibly contain all this immense, burning, aching pleasure in his physical body without actually exploding from the sheer, overwhelming bliss. But for now he pushed that to the back of his mind, trusting Robert to take care of him when the time came, relaxing into his dark-haired Pole’s loving embrace. There was something nagging at the back of his mind though, something important that he couldn’t quite remember, something that seemed completely natural in their dreams but vanished in the light of day.

Robert gently nosed at his cheek. ‘Good morning, darling,’ he whispered softly. And, just like every other morning before and every morning that was yet to come, Marco answered him, ‘Good morning, my love.’

This was perfection, utter perfection. But they couldn’t stay here all day, especially since Marco’s stomach decided to spoil the romantic mood by making a loud rumbling sound.

Robert laughed. ‘Someone is hungry for their breakfast. What do you want? Breakfast in bed or in our café?’

Both were tempting in their own way. But Marco was suddenly ravenous, unwilling to wait until after he’d showered and dressed before eating, not to mention wanting to stay in their warm, cosy nest for a while longer.

So he suggested a compromise, hoping not to appear too lazy or spoilt. ‘Maybe I could make our breakfast today?’ But Robert simply kissed him on the tip of his nose. ‘Let me spoil you while I can. I love doing it so much.’

Robert came back with fresh coffee, ham and eggs, plus a pile of big, fluffy pancakes with jam and honey that he’d somehow managed to conjure up in their kitchen. ‘We’ll have to go out tomorrow to get fresh bread, but this will do for now.’

They ate hungrily. Marco’s appetite seemed to have grown since he’d met Robert - indeed all his senses seemed to have become heightened - but he still patiently allowed his love to feed him one of the pancakes bite by bite, licking jam from his hand, loving the way Robert shuddered as he slowly and seductively sucked on his fingers. He knew exactly what Robert was thinking of as he did that, the two of them gazing deep into one another’s eyes, eyes full of love and trust.

They spent the rest of the day together, exploring the city on foot, Robert showing him things he would never have found on his own. Somehow he was hungry again by lunchtime and they found a small restaurant serving traditional Polish cuisine.

His guide couldn’t help smiling as Marco wolfed down an entire bowlful of meat stew with cabbage and sauerkraut, even finding space for a few potatoes as well. ‘I’m glad to see that you enjoy my country’s food so much. Now shall we go and walk some of that hearty lunch off?’

They spent that evening at home, cooking dinner together before snuggling up on the sofa, kissing and stroking each other for what seemed like hours on end. Marco was totally and utterly addicted to Robert, drunk on his kisses and caresses by the time they finally made it to bed.

The next two days were every bit as magical, just two perfect days spent in each other’s company. They ate breakfast in their café, went for run in the forest, danced in one another’s arms until the early hours of the morning, kissed on the sofa until they were giddy and dizzy. He’d even begun to learn a few words of Polish, just simple things like hello and thank you, but it was a start. Robert was his teacher for now, but he’d promised to find him a good tutor.

And of course they ate more food. Lots of food. Robert wanted Marco to try absolutely everything, seemingly all at once. He ate pastries filled with plum jam that reminded him of the doughnuts he’d grown up with. And ribbons of delicious, deep-fried pastry, festooned with a snowfall of icing sugar that got absolutely everywhere. Robert had laughed as he dusted Marco down, kissing the powdered sugar from his lips. And the name of this sticky confection was even more entrancing once Robert had told him what it was called in English: angel wings.

Marco had made a tentative suggestion on the Friday morning, not sure how Robert would react. ‘Perhaps we could go shopping together and buy some things to personalise the flat, make it more our home? New bedlinen, cushions for the sofa and so on?’ He’d waited anxiously for Robert’s reply, but he needn’t have worried as Robert’s face lit up at the thought.

They took the car to a large shopping centre. He loved how happy something so simple made Robert, who seemed to be having almost as much fun as he’d had clothes shopping. The trolley was soon loaded high with piles of new bedclothes, cosy cushions, candles, new crockery for the kitchen. Marco could even have sworn that he saw some fairy lights in there. They took everything home, leaving the bags to be unpacked later.

They stumbled across an intriguing looking antiques shop on their walk that afternoon, in a small street near to the Old Town. Robert peered through the window wistfully, his nose pressed close to the glass almost like a child outside a particularly interesting toyshop.

‘Is there something in particular that you like?’ Marco asked cautiously. ‘Do you want to go in?’

‘Yes, but only if you come with me. Otherwise … otherwise the echoes from the memories might be too much.’

Marco took Robert’s hand in his, squeezing it tightly in reassurance. The shop was like an Aladdin’s Cave full of wonderful things. A pair of beautiful matching glasses caught Marco’s eye.

‘Could we buy those? For our evening drinks? Something special just for us?’

Robert stroked one of the glasses with a fingertip, concentrating hard, a faint smile on his lips. ‘Yes. These glasses are full of happy memories. They once belonged to a couple who were deeply in love, just like us. We should take them home and make more happy memories with them. I’ll buy them for you as a token of our love.’

They wandered round the shop together, not really looking at anything in particular until Marco finally realised what had first captured Robert’s attention. He gently led his love over to stand in front of a display of several antique framed prints, views of old Warsaw, probably from before the First World War if his guess was right.

Robert stood still for a long moment, not saying anything, an odd look in his eyes, before speaking. ‘I remember … I remember when my city looked like that. I remember walking down that street. I-I-I-I lived on that street long, long ago. I could still find it with my eyes shut, even though I haven’t been there for decades, even though it will all look totally different now.’

Marco could hardly breathe, not completely sure what to say or do. But he decided to trust his instincts. ‘Can I buy it for you as a gift? For our home, where it can become part of the new memories we make together? Or would that be too painful for you?’

Robert turned to face him, eyes soft with sorrow and joy combined. ‘I’d like that, Marco. You buying it for me would be perfect. You make everything easier. You make it possible to remember, to remember the good times, the happy times. For there were so very many good, happy times. That’s why it hurt so much. I was alone for far too long. For years I never looked back because you can’t move forward weighed down by the aching burden of memory. But now … with you … well the burden is light enough to bear.’

Robert had hugged the package with the antique print close to his chest as they walked home, Marco carrying the precious glasses. He’d had just enough cash in his wallet to pay for the print, the very last of his own money that he’d brought with him. It wasn’t that he objected to using the credit card for his new bank account, but somehow it seemed right that he paid for this special gift himself. This print symbolised both their past lives and their new life together. He knew that Robert understood exactly how he felt from the gentle kiss he gave him, his lips tender and loving against Marco’s, almost like a soft sigh of gratitude and thanks.

Once home, they began unpacking and arranging their new purchases, enjoying ‘playing house’ together. Their bed looked so much more inviting with the new covers and their sofa just begged to be snuggled up on with its piles of cosy cushions. Marco washed the new crockery and put it away, carefully washing their new glasses with their fine gold rims and clear blue glass that reminded him of the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. Robert had told him that they were vintage vodka glasses and they were even lovelier now that they were shiny and sparkling.

Marco couldn’t help smiling as he went back into their living room. The room glowed with the romance of flickering candlelight and he hadn’t imagined it, there were strings of tiny star-shaped twinkling fairy lights strewn across the room.

‘Too much? Did I get a bit carried away?’ Robert asked, looking a little embarrassed.

‘No, it’s perfect,’ was Marco’s honest answer, walking over to hug his love and kiss him. It was beginning to dawn on him that this was all new to Robert. His mysterious lover was sexy, handsome and incredibly charming, but Marco suspected that he had never been in love before, not really. And he’d probably never had a serious relationship either, not like this. All this was new to him: the romance, the dating, all the little everyday things about being together with someone. No wonder he loved spoiling Marco so much!

It was all rather endearing. Robert had all these secrets. He'd already lived at least several lifetimes on this earth and had known and experienced so much. Robert was the most amazing, wonderful, fascinating, interesting man Marco had ever met, but he still took such pleasure from simple things like making their bed cosy and comfortable, from making Marco breakfast, from sparkling fairy lights. He felt a sudden wave of hot, fierce, protective love for his beloved dark-haired Pole surge up inside him, almost too powerful to control.

Marco had no way to fully articulate how he felt, but he hoped that Robert could sense the deep emotions boiling inside him as he took his love’s face between his hands. ‘I love you, Robert Lewandowski. I love you more than I ever believed it was possible to love somebody. I love you more every day we spend together. I will always be by your side. Nothing you tell me can change that, because … ’ Marco paused, placing one hand on Robert’s heart, feeling how it beat strongly against his palm, ' … because in here I know that you are a good man, the best I’ve ever met, and that’s all that matters.’

To his surprise, Robert’s eyes were wet with tears. ‘I love you, Marco Reus. I waited so long for you. There were times - lonely, agonising times - when I feared that I would never find my destiny, times when I almost gave up, when it seemed too painful to go on alone. But I waited, believing and hoping, a tiny part of me unwilling to give up on love. And every painful day of lonely waiting was worth it in the end, for you came into my life and you loved me. Finally I’m starting to heal, you’re healing me with that beautiful, loving, trusting, generous heart of yours.’

There were no words left to say so they kissed, each and every kiss a whirlwind of feeling. There was love in their kisses, so much love. But they needed to feel each other, to feel each other in a hard, passionate tangle of lips and tongues and teeth, their kisses almost aggressive as they fought to come as close to one other as possible, trying to transcend the physical barrier their bodies placed between them.

Marco was breathless and panting by the time they finally broke their frenzied kiss, although they stayed locked in a close embrace, unwilling to let go of each other. His lips were grazed from the ferocity with which he had kissed Robert and he shivered as his love gently licked over the tiny wounds, soothing and calming them.

‘Shall we hang your picture up now?’ he asked softly.

‘Yes. I think I’ve found the perfect place for it.’

Robert had indeed found the perfect spot, on their living room wall, above a handsome sideboard that he had admired ever since he’d moved into the flat.

Robert hung the print up somehow ceremonially, almost reverently. Afterwards they stood in front of it with their arms round each other. Marco nestled his head against Robert’s shoulder. He was home. They were home. This was home. Home was wherever they were together. And it would always be like that. Even though he had no idea what the future held for them, that was the one thing he was sure of.

Chapter Text

Marco felt blissfully warm and happy when he woke in Robert’s arms the next morning. But he felt something else. Anticipation. Nervousness. Today was Saturday. And this Saturday would be different from every other day he had spent with Robert so far. They were going on a double date!

His brand new phone had rung for the first time yesterday morning. Robert had suggested that he buy one so that people with whom he didn’t share some kind of weird, psychic connection could get in touch with him. That seemed a sensible idea if he wanted to begin to build a life here and he’d planned on giving Woj his new number. But nobody apart from Robert and his mobile phone provider had the number as far he knew. In fact he wasn’t sure that he even knew his own phone number yet without looking it up. So he’d been more than a little surprised when someone had called him. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so shocked when it turned out that his mysterious caller was Łukasz?

After chatting for a bit and asking what he and Robert had been doing during their week off, Łukasz came round to the reason why he was calling.

‘My partner is back in town and we were wondering if you and Robert would like to come to the lake with us tomorrow? If you don’t already have plans that is. The weather forecast is for a hot, sunny day and it might be pleasant to get out of the city for a bit.’

‘ … erm … I don’t know. I’ll need to ask him.’ Marco kicked himself mentally for sounding so indecisive and inadequate, but he could hear that Łukasz only found it amusing.

Of course Robert thought it was a good idea. And so did Marco really. He was just a bit nervous as he’d no idea what to expect and he didn’t want to embarrass Robert in front of his friends.

Robert was awake as well by now and nuzzled gently at him, hugging him close as they exchanged their customary good morning greetings.

‘Looking forward to today, darling?’ Robert asked as they snuggled together sleepily.

‘Yes, just a bit apprehensive.’

‘There’s no need to be. You know Łukasz already. He likes you. And Kuba will too, I promise you. And you’ll like him as well, I’m sure of that. In any case, he’ll just be so relieved that I’ve finally found someone who can put up with me.’

Marco twisted round in Robert’s arms for their good morning kiss, kissing his love long and deep until Robert reluctantly pulled away with a loud groan. ‘We really need to get ready. It would be rather embarrassing if our visitors arrived to find us making out, still half-naked in bed.’

Marco had to agree, hopping out of bed to shower and dress before he weakened and gave in to the urge to kiss Robert again. He had to admit that he was looking forward to the day when they could shower and get ready together, maybe even shower at the same time if they’d no other plans for the morning, but he could wait until Robert was OK with that, for as long as it took.

He went into the kitchen and started to prepare breakfast, laying the table for four. Robert had gone out to fetch fresh bread after his shower. Now he was back and came up behind him, wrapping one arm round his waist and burying his face in Marco’s neck.

‘This feels so good. You smell so good. You make me so happy, Marco.’

Marco turned round. Robert looked utterly gorgeous today, wearing knee length, stylishly ripped and frayed denim shorts and a simple white t-shirt that set off his dark, masculine beauty to perfection. But what really made Marco catch his breath was the warmth of Robert’s smile, the love sparkling in his deep blue eyes as he held out the bunch of flowers he was holding in his other hand.

‘I bought these to brighten up the breakfast table. But I really bought them for you, because you bring light and joy into my life.’

Marco couldn’t help the huge grin plastered all over his face as he hugged Robert. He loved these spontaneous romantic gestures, even if some people might find them a little bit cheesy. He found a vase in the cupboard that had come with the flat and arranged the flowers, placing them on the table. They’d moved the table to stand in front of the open window and it looked … well it looked lovely.

‘Our first ever guests,’ Marco hugged Robert once more, holding on tight this time. ‘I’m glad you had the idea of inviting them for breakfast before driving out to the lake. And it will be easier for us to get to know each other this way.’

As if on cue, the entry phone rang. Łukasz embraced him and Robert warmly, as did Kuba after a moment of hesitation. Marco had had no idea what to expect from Łukasz’s partner. Kuba was smaller than Łukasz, powerfully built and obviously extremely strong, with an honest, kind-looking face and eyes that twinkled as he smiled. Marco took an instant liking to him, not least because he and Łukasz so obviously belonged together. He couldn’t explain why but Łukasz and Kuba were just right together, as if they had always been destined to be a couple.

Kuba had caught sight of the print they’d bought yesterday, going over to stand in front of it, Robert following him. ‘Marco bought it for me. A gift to make our flat a home.’

 ‘I remember … I thought you’d never be able to face the memories again …  I’m happy for you, really I am.’ Kuba traced over the glass with a finger, seeming to be lost in memories as well.

Marco turned to look at Łukasz, an unspoken question on his lips.

‘Yes, Marco. Robert and Kuba have known each other for a very, very long time indeed. And that’s the closest they’ll ever get to hugging and swearing undying friendship. You’ll get used to it in time.’

The four of them sat down to breakfast, the table groaning with food: bread, pastries and preserves, eggs, cold meats and pickles, and a huge pot of steaming coffee. Marco couldn’t keep the smile from his lips as he looked at the flowers Robert had bought for him, his heart brimming over with happiness.

He learned that Kuba was a child psychologist who specialised in working with traumatised children.

‘Kuba works with us sometimes,’ Łukasz explained, ‘if we have young people we suspect might be or have been the victims of abuse or clearly have problems they don’t want to talk about. He’s medically trained and uses conventional methods but sometimes, when those don’t work, Kuba can see things or encourage kids to speak about things they might not tell another adult about. That’s how we …’

‘It’s alright, you can tell Marco the story,’ Robert reassured him.

‘I came to work for Robert about ten years ago and there was something strange between us right from the start, a kind of a connection. I wondered … we both wondered … if maybe it would develop into more. But it never did. About six months later, Kuba was in town and came to see Robert. And that was it. It sounds silly, but I knew that we were meant to be together from the moment I saw him. It was as if a spark of recognition flowed between us the first time we touched, when we shook hands.’

‘No, it doesn’t sound silly at all,’ Marco clasped Robert’s hand under the table, the memory of their first meeting still fresh in his mind.

After an unhurried, relaxed breakfast they drove to the Zegrzyński Lake, a reservoir set in woodlands about 20 km from the city. It was the weekend, the weather was warm and the lake was crowded, but they somehow managed to find a peaceful spot to lie down and soak up the sun.

Marco wasn’t entirely surprised when all three of his companions kept their t-shirts on to sunbathe. ‘You can take your top off if you want,’ Robert encouraged him.

‘ … erm … it’s probably better if I don’t. I burn very quickly. I was once on a trip with my football team and fell asleep by the hotel pool. My stomach ended up so badly sunburnt that I couldn’t sleep on it for a week. I was as red as a lobster.’

‘Well we definitely don’t want that to happen again,’ Robert purred in his ear, wrapping his arms round him and pulling him close.

Marco relaxed in Robert’s arms, feeling warm, sleepy and sexy lying snuggled in his lover’s arms by the side of a beautiful lake. Robert smelt of sun and sun cream, gorgeously musky and masculine as Marco buried himself deeper into his embrace. At first he’d thought he might feel self-conscious in front of the others, but Robert clearly didn’t care about that. And nor did Łukasz and Kuba, who were curled up in each other’s arms kissing. So he lifted up his lips for Robert to kiss, for Robert to kiss him sweetly senseless, kiss him until his head was swimming with the sheer joy of having finally found the man he would love for the rest of his days.

Finally sated with kisses, he buried his head in Robert’s neck, inhaling his love’s scent, savouring the warmth of the sun on his skin, soothed by the reassuring beating of their hearts.

Late that afternoon they found enough energy to walk to one of the many restaurants on the shores of the lake, eating and drinking until the sun went down, dyeing the water crimson and orange. It was all unbelievably romantic, like something out of a film, thought Marco. It was getting late by the time Łukasz and Kuba dropped them off, promising that the four of them would go out together again sometime soon.

Marco just wanted to flop onto the sofa, cuddled up with Robert and a big pile of their new cushions. And thankfully his love seemed to have exactly the same plan in mind.

‘That was fun. And you were right, I like Kuba. He and Łukasz are just so perfect together,’ Marco sighed.

‘He said exactly the same about you and me. It’s a lot easier now there are four of us. Kuba and I go back a long way and we have, well let’s just say that we have a complicated history. We get on OK, but Łukasz has always kind of been the mediator between us for the last decade. But then you found your way to me.’

Robert kissed him as he finished speaking, their kisses as warm, sweet and passionate as ever. Marco really was addicted to his love’s kisses, he knew that. But there was something different this time. Robert slid his hand under his t-shirt, gently stroking over his still sun-warmed skin before easing it over his head. Robert had seen him topless before but this was the first time he’d undressed Marco and he gazed at him almost in awe, as if he was seeing him for the first time, stroking his stomach softly, making Marco shiver with want and anticipation.

Hands shifted to the waistband of his shorts. ‘May I?’ Robert asked, his voice raw with need. Marco didn’t trust himself to speak so he just nodded. He bit his lip as Robert slowly nudged his shorts down past his hips and thighs. Of course he was hard by now, his arousal barely contained by the fabric of his briefs, but he wasn’t one bit ashamed of that as he lay there displaying himself proudly to his love.

Robert’s kisses against the sensitive skin of his inner thighs felt like trails of fire over his flesh. He knew that Robert would be able to feel the heat of his desire, smell the telltale scent of his arousal when they were this close. He couldn’t restrain his cries as a wave of hot, sharp lust shot through him, his back arching up off the sofa when Robert mouthed him through the fabric of his underwear. His cries were silenced by Robert’s mouth, by a tongue swirling and dancing about inside his mouth, a hand on his groin demanding and urgent, stroking him to his climax. This time the weight of Robert’s body kept him pinned to the sofa and his love swallowed down every one of his moans of ecstasy.

‘Thank you,’ he breathed once he was finally capable of speech.

‘No, thank you, Marco. For being so perfect. For understanding that I need to take things slowly.’

‘We both need that. Otherwise it would all be too overwhelming. And I’m kind of enjoying being wooed, being courted. I’m enjoying us getting to know each other properly before skipping straight to sex. But speaking of getting to know you, I think you might be in need of a bit of attention as well … ’

Robert made no objections as he undid the fastenings on his shorts, slipping a hand inside to cup him where he so badly needed to feel Marco’s touch. This time it was Marco who pulled Robert’s mouth hard against him, stroking his love until he came trembling and shaking in his arms, before collapsing happy and satiated on top of his body, so blissed out that he could scarcely move a finger.

Chapter Text

It was the evening before Robert was due to go back to work. Marco had enjoyed their week together, but he knew life had to return to normal at some point. If life with Robert could ever be described as entirely ‘normal’. They’d gone to bed early and were snuggled up close, sleepy but not ready to go to sleep. Over the time they’d been living together, they’d reached an unspoken agreement on what they wore in bed – Marco slept in his briefs and Robert in a t-shirt and his underwear. So Robert had more or less unrestricted access to Marco’s naked body and he was making full use of that privilege right now, stroking his skin soothingly.

Marco should have been happy and relaxed, but there was something on his mind that he couldn’t ignore. Robert looked as handsome as ever, but he looked somehow tired. His sparkle was gone and there was a greyish tinge to his dark hair, just like there had been a week or so before, just before the night Robert hadn’t been able to visit him in his dreams for some unexplained reason. So he wriggled upright, looking his love straight in the eyes, stroking his cheek comfortingly.

‘I know that I promised not to ask any questions, but this is different. This is about your health. This has happened before. There’s something wrong. It’s something to do with the weird stuff isn’t it? Something you don’t want to tell me? Are you … are you … I don’t know … some kind of vampire that can go out in the sunlight or something like that?’ Marco stopped speaking, feeling a bit stupid now he’d said it out loud.

Robert just looked at him without speaking for a long time, obviously considering what to say. Marco held his breath, waiting for his love to speak. Maybe he shouldn’t have said anything, but he couldn’t see Robert suffering like this, not because of him. And if they loved each other and wanted to be together, they would need to face the secrets that lay between them at some point anyway.

‘Would it bother you if I was?’ Robert finally asked.

Marco tried to answer honestly. ‘Yes and no. We’d need to talk about it. And I’d need to think about how I feel about it. But if you’re asking if I would ask you to leave right now, well the answer is no. I love you and I know that you love me. So I’ll listen to whatever you have to say and hope that we can find a way to make this work. For that’s what I want, more than anything.’

His words seemed to reassure Robert a little. ‘I always knew that this day would come, but I guess that I was putting it off for as long as possible, scared that you would see me differently once you knew the truth, that you wouldn’t love me anymore. I’ve been so happy since we met and I can’t imagine how I could ever go on without you now. But I promise that I’ll respect your decision, even if you want me to leave you forever once you know more about me.’

There was only one answer Marco could give. He leaned forward to kiss Robert, tenderly cupping his cheek in the palm of one hand, trying to pour all of his love and trust into that one, single kiss. And then he nestled himself down in his love’s arms, curling up against Robert’s strong, powerful body, letting himself be held close and safe. ‘Talk to me,’ he whispered softly.

‘It’s a bit complicated. I’m … I don’t have a word for it in any of your languages. We’ve been on this earth as long as humankind itself. We’re human, just like you are. But perhaps … how can I put it … perhaps not just human. You find echoes of us throughout human history, in myths and legends, tales and stories. Every culture has its tradition of beings that are human or take human form, but are more than human, superhuman even. The Viking gods. The gods of the Greeks and Romans. The Nephilim, the offspring of angels and men. Guardian angels. And yes, the vampire legends too. Elements of our unique nature can be found in each and every one of these stories and many others besides.’

Marco stroked Robert’s arm soothingly, reaching up to kiss him on the cheek, letting him know that he was OK with this. It was a lot to take in. He’d always known that there was something very special about the man he’d fallen in love with, but it was still a shock hearing Robert speak about it so calmly and in such a matter of fact fashion.

‘There are so many things I need to tell you, Marco. And I will. We’ll talk about everything, I promise you. I’ll answer each and every of your questions in time. But the most pressing thing is … well you asked if I was a vampire.’

‘Sorry about that,’ Marco apologised, ‘but it seemed the only logical explanation, even though it didn’t quite make sense.’

‘Well you were right in some respects. The stories about vampires, especially the really old, traditional ones, are partly derived from glimpses of my kind. That we are so long lived. That we cannot go anywhere where we are not wanted or needed. The … well I’ll save that for another time. And the other thing … the feeding on humans thing.’

Marco sat bolt upright, twisting round to look at Robert.

‘It’s not like it is in the vampire films. It’s more that our lives are so long, that we see and experience so much, that we need to find a way to preserve our humanity, especially if we haven’t found our true mates. Mates can replenish one another’s humanity. But for those us who are unmated, well we have human partners instead. Willing partners I have to say, for it can be … a … rather … um … intense and pleasurable experience.’

‘So you had a … a partner,’ Marco encouraged his love to go on.

‘Yes, for some time. There are strict rules governing this kind of relationship. It has to be officially recorded to stop us from abusing our power because our charisma can be so overpowering. Just like … well you may as well know this now … I had to tell someone as soon as I met you and knew that you were the one, Łukasz in fact. He knew about us hours after we met for the first time.’

‘Was that why you had to keep mysteriously disappearing those first few days?’

‘Yes. I did have to work. But I also had to speak to Łukasz as soon as possible. I’m sorry that things between us couldn’t stay private, but that’s just how it is. There are rules that I cannot break without there being consequences.’

‘No, I actually feel kind of reassured, especially since it was Łukasz. I’ve always known that I could trust you, that you would never do anything to me against my will, even though I knew deep inside that you could probably make me do just about anything you wanted. That made it easier to come to terms with all the weird stuff that was going on, made it possible for me to focus on you and me and us falling in love. But you said that you had a partner?’ Marco wanted to bring the conversation back to their immediate problem.

‘Yes,’ sighed Robert. ‘The last time, the time shortly after we met, well that was the last time. It had to be the last time. Someone else will look after him if he wants and needs it, so that it isn’t too much of a shock. But I couldn’t … well I just couldn’t be intimate like that with anyone else, not once I had found you … never again.’

Marco felt his heart swell with overwhelming love. ‘So you’re telling me that you are some kind of ancient, mysterious, incredibly powerful being and you broke up with the human partner you needed to survive because you didn’t want to be unfaithful to me?’

Robert looked at him a little sheepishly. ‘ … um … well … yes. It does sound kind of soppy once you put it like that.’

‘No. It’s the most wonderful, romantic, loving thing anyone has ever done for me. It’s awesome in fact. And there’s an obvious solution. You need a human partner to stay healthy. You don’t want to cheat on me. So I have to be that human partner.’ Marco swallowed hard. It all sounded totally logical when he put it like that, but it was still a big step to take.

He could see that Robert felt the same. Marco could read the look in his eyes, see how he was longing for this but scared as well.

‘Are you sure, Marco? As in really sure? Of course I want you like this, every cell in my body is screaming out for you. But I never wanted to put pressure on you. And I have to warn you. If we do this, the bond between us … well … it will be close to unbreakable, for both of us.’

That decided it for Marco. ‘I’m not going anywhere, Robert. I’m not leaving. As far as I’m concerned, our bond is already unbreakable. So it’s time to take our relationship further.’ He stroked over his love’s cheek as tenderly as he could, trying to hide his own nervousness for Robert’s sake. And then he lay back on the bed, displaying himself, offering himself to his dark-haired love, inviting Robert to take what he needed from him.

His eyes were shut tightly and he couldn’t help himself from flinching as he felt Robert’s warm, fragrant breath ghosting over the exposed skin of his throat. He wanted this, he wanted to do this for the man he loved, but he couldn’t help himself from involuntarily tensing against the pain he expected to feel.

He was slightly surprised to hear Robert chuckle, his love’s voice rich and dark with love and desire. ‘No, Marco. Not like that. You’ll enjoy this. I promise.’

And then the kisses started. At first a myriad of butterfly kisses fluttered all over the skin of his neck and shoulders, making his whole body tingle with anticipation. It was only once he could feel Marco relaxing under him that Robert increased the pressure of his lips, hot lips and an agile tongue caressing soft, wet, sensitive skin, licking and sucking until Marco felt like he was floating away on a tide of kisses. He was hard by now, hard and aroused just from Robert kissing his neck, his body arching and straining into Robert’s touch, begging for more, desperately needing something he couldn’t put into words.

He never felt Robert’s teeth slide into his flesh, anesthetised as he was by his love’s kisses. But he felt the connection between them, felt the life and love flowing between them in a stream of sheer, pure, undiluted bliss. The pleasure was almost too much to bear, more powerful and more intense than anything Marco had ever experienced before. They were one in the most intimate sense possible and he could feel Robert’s love for him, feel the strength and depth of a love for which words would always be inadequate. This was what he felt when they kissed, but multiplied a hundred times over.

It was over all too soon, Robert breaking the connection. Marco heard himself whining, craving more, his fingers clawing at the fabric of Robert’s t-shirt in frustration. But Robert shushed him lovingly, going back to kissing his neck and throat unceasingly while one questing hand reached for Marco’s briefs. Marco was impatient this time, helping Robert to tear off his underwear, kicking the offending garment out of the way. He was finally naked in his love’s arms and it felt even better than he could ever have imagined.

He revelled in the delicious combination of feather-light kisses on his skin and soft, gentle caresses over his aching arousal for as long as he could physically bear it, but his burning need finally overcame him. He thrust his groin more forcefully into the palm of Robert’s hand and his mate thankfully took the hint, closing his hand round him and stroking him gently but firmly to his climax. This time he really did feel his orgasm in every inch of his body, not just physically, but somehow in his mind, his heart, his soul. He gave one loud, wild, sharp cry of ‘Robert’, his body arching in ecstasy, and then his world exploded in a galaxy of shining golden stars.

It took him a long time to be able to speak again, to be able to do anything but just luxuriate in his incredibly blissed-out state of being, cradled lovingly in Robert’s arms. Finally he was able to move, stretching up to kiss Robert, his kiss urgent and demanding, passionate and possessive.

‘Promise me you’ll never do that with anyone else, ever again,’ he insisted.

‘So you want us to be exclusive from now on?’ Robert was smiling but Marco could hear the happiness – and the relief – in his voice.

‘Of course. Will it … will it always be that … well good doesn’t do it justice, but you know what I mean?’ Marco had to ask, he couldn’t help himself.

There was a strange burning, glowing look in Robert’s beautiful blue eyes as he looked down at Marco lying in his arms, stroking his sweat-damp hair back from his forehead. ‘That was just a tiny foretaste of what is to come for us, my darling Marco. I was being careful with you because I didn’t want to blow your mind the first time. You see, it is even better with you than ever before, because you are my true love, my true mate, my destiny.’

‘Oh!’ was pretty much all that Marco’s bliss-addled brain could come up with. So he abandoned all attempt at rational speech and pulled Robert down into another long, passionate kiss. Talking was good, but sometimes kissing was much better!

Chapter Text

Marco woke up cradled in Robert’s arms. He’d woken up next to his love after so many beautiful nights together by now, but last night had been the most special of them all so far. This time he was waking up naked in Robert’s arms. And their dream lovemaking had been more intense and passionate than ever before, their bond strengthened by the incredible intimacy they’d shared. Marco instinctively raised his hand to his neck, but he couldn’t feel anything.

‘That was real, wasn’t it? It wasn’t all just a beautiful dream?’ he had to ask.

‘No, Marco. That was all real, very, very real.’

‘But it didn’t hurt. And there doesn’t seem to be a mark.’

‘That’s because there is an anaesthetic in my saliva that stops you feeling any pain. And also an antiseptic to heal the wound. Not very romantic, I’m afraid.’

‘But eminently practical,’ Marco observed, lifting his head towards Robert for their customary good morning kiss.

‘It’s after 8 o’clock already,’ he sighed afterwards, ‘you’re going to be late for work.’

Robert stroked his hair tenderly. ‘Do you really think I would leave you alone today? After what we shared last night? I was just waiting for you to wake up before phoning Łukasz.’

‘You have to speak to him anyway, don’t you? You need to tell him that I … that I know stuff. That we did … the thing.’

‘Yes, I do. You know why now. I’m sorry that this can’t stay private between us.’

‘No, it’s alright. I understand why. I know that it’s for my own protection.’

The relief on Robert’s face was clear to see as he leaned into kiss Marco on the tip of his nose. ‘It won’t take long. And then will you let me spoil you again today? Is breakfast in bed too much?’

Marco laughed. ‘I think I can cope for one day. But tomorrow I’m making you breakfast before you go to work. And your dinner will be waiting for you when you come home.’

‘It’s a deal! Now you just need to snuggle back down and wait for your breakfast to be served!’

Of course Marco obeyed his love, curling up under the covers, feeling warm and cosy, hugging the memory of his blissful night with his love close to his heart. It was only the seductive aroma of hot, black coffee that roused him again. Well that and his hunger. His hunger for breakfast. His hunger for Robert’s kisses. The two were far from incompatible as they cuddled close together, eating and talking, smiling and laughing, sharing sweet, sticky kisses.

Finally Marco made it into the shower while Robert cleaned up the mess they had made.

They spent a wonderful day together. Robert drove them out to the forest they’d visited the previous week. This time they took a picnic and had hours to explore, walking hand in hand through the trees, exploring long, winding forest trails. Suddenly Robert stopped dead, putting his fingers to his lips. There in front of them stood a moose, tall, proud and magnificent. They stood there in rapt silence, watching the impressive animal until he slowly ambled away, seemingly oblivious to his enthralled audience.

Robert had arranged something special for that evening. Marco had told him that he didn’t need to, that he would be quite happy with a quiet night at home. But it was a lovely evening, warm and sunny and it did seem a shame to waste it by staying inside.

They changed into smart jeans and casual shirts for their special date, which Robert assured him would be ideal for what he had planned, even though he was keeping it a secret for now. A taxi took them to a landing stage on the other side of the Vistula where a small, partially-open wooden boat awaited them. It was beautiful, almost like something out of a fairytale, with deep, comfortable leather seats for them to relax into. Billowing white curtains were draped like a canopy over the top and sides of the guest area, creating an intimate, private space perfect for a romantic evening on the river.

As well as their own ‘captain’ for the evening, they had a waiter to serve them sparkling wine and the delicious three course dinner Robert had ordered for them. But what Marco loved most of all was just drifting along on the river curled up in his love’s arms, trading slow, gentle lazy kisses, slightly drunk on the wine and Robert’s kisses. It was the perfect conclusion to their magical holiday together, although Marco was more than ready for them to begin their ‘normal’ life together.

Marco kept his promise and breakfast was waiting for Robert in the kitchen after he’d showered and dressed for work the next morning. Robert kissed him goodbye before he left, kissing him until his head was spinning and his knees buckled.

‘I hate having to leave you even for a few hours,’ Robert breathed, leaning his forehead against Marco’s.

‘I know. I feel exactly the same way. But you need to go to work. Otherwise Łukasz will blame me for you neglecting your duties. And just think how much fun it will be being reunited again after a whole day apart.’ Marco leaned over to softly lick Robert’s ear, gently nibbling at his earlobe.

Robert groaned. ‘And that’s meant to make me think about work instead of stripping your clothes off, carrying you back to bed and spending the morning kissing you senseless?’

‘You can do all that tonight,’ Marco whispered seductively, ‘but only if you work hard today. I could always ask Łukasz for a report if I have any doubts.’

‘You’re a hard taskmaster, Marco Reus. It’s lucky that I love you.’

‘And I love you too. I promise I’ll make it worth your while later. After work.’

Robert finally let go of Marco and went to work. He’d only be a few minutes late, so Marco didn’t feel too guilty as he got on with his day. He had some things to do in the flat, some errands to run. And he needed to go shopping for their dinner tonight. This was the first time he’d cooked properly for Robert and he wanted everything to be perfect.

It was summer and it would still be light outside by the time Robert was due to come home, but Marco still switched on the fairy lights that were strung round their living room and lit the candles on the table. He laid the table carefully with the new crockery they’d bought, giving pride of place to their beautiful antique vodka glasses.

He’d wanted to cook something meaningful, something that tasted of home and of love. So, even though it wasn’t strictly the weather for it, he’d decided to make goulash for Robert - his favourite food from childhood - exactly the same way his mother had taught him to make it before he left home.

Marco was in the kitchen, concentrating on what he was doing when Robert came home. His love came straight into the kitchen, wrapping his arms round Marco’s waist and burying his face in his shoulder.

‘Hello, darling. I missed you today. But coming home to this is perfect, everything I ever dreamed of. Dinner smells so good. You smell so good. I could get used to this. But can you tear yourself away from your pots and pans for long enough to give me a welcome home kiss?’

‘Don’t think I’m cooking dinner for you every night!’ Marco pretended to scowl as he twisted round in Robert’s arms. But every ounce of even pretend annoyance evaporated as soon as he saw how happy Robert was, saw the love and the joy written across his face, the peace and contentment shining out of his eyes.

They kissed softly at first, lips brushing together in a warm, tender caress. Robert was greedy for more however, nibbling sweetly at Marco’s mouth, gently licking his lower lip, begging for entry. Marco melted into his love’s body gratefully, willingly opening his mouth, surrendering to the man he loved, letting Robert lick his way inside, exploring and taking possession of every inch of the territory that was already his. Marco felt what he always experienced when they kissed, that instantaneous powerful connection between them that felt like a jolt of electricity running through him and sinking into the softest of feather beds at one and the same time.

Robert’s body was hard and muscular against his, the muscles of his back powerful under his shirt where Marco’s fingers were digging into his love’s body, pulling him as close as possible. Their desire for each other was building, Marco could feel that too, flames of lust flickering in his stomach, at the base of his spine, starting to burn in his groin. He reluctantly broke their kiss, resting his hands on Robert’s chest.

‘You need to save some appetite for the goulash. And perhaps for your after dinner surprise.’ Marco winked slowly, making Robert shiver with delight.

Dinner was good. Robert ate with obvious delight, complimenting Marco on his cooking skills, clearing his plate and asking for seconds.

‘There’s dessert too,’ Marco warned.

‘I thought you were my dessert!’

‘No, I’m your after-dessert dessert!’

Marco had made apple cake with a crumble topping for afters. It would be good for breakfast tomorrow morning as well, but for now they shared a slice, drinking it with small cups of steaming hot expresso and a shot of chilled vodka. They gazed into one another’s eyes intimately and intensely as they shared their dessert, Robert visibly reacting to the sight of Marco licking crumbs of cake from his lips.

‘Leave the dishes. I’ll clear everything up tomorrow morning,’ Marco ordered softly, leading Robert over to the sofa and gently but firmly pushing him down. ‘Don’t move!’

He’d been thinking about this all day, ever since he’d woken up naked in Robert’s arms. He knew that his love wasn’t ready to undress in front of him yet, but he clearly had no problems with a naked Marco in his life. Marco didn’t want to rush things, he was happy taking everything step by step, enjoying it even. But he was ready to come out from the shadows, from being caressed under his clothing, in darkness and in dreams. He was ready to show himself, to give himself to his Robert.

Robert was breathing hard, obviously aroused as Marco stood before him. He swallowed hard as the blond slowly unbuttoned the shirt he was wearing, easing it backwards over his shoulders, letting it slip to the floor. He could feel Robert’s eyes eating up his body, the heated gaze of those brilliant blue eyes almost palpable against his skin, as if Robert’s fingers were caressing him.

Marco turned and twisted slightly, letting his pale skin shimmer in the glow of the twinkling lights and the candles that still burned on the table. He couldn’t fail to notice how much Robert appreciated what he was seeing. His love groaned faintly, biting his lower lip, unable to tear his eyes from Marco.

He was hard and aching, but he wanted to prolong this for as long as possible, teasing his love, stoking the fire of their burning desire for each other for as long as possible. He ran his hands over his hips and thighs in promise of what was to come, knowing how much Robert would be longing to be able to touch him. But not yet. Slowly, ever so slowly, Marco took off his belt, keeping his movements slow and sensuous. He undid his jeans even more slowly, watching how Robert shifted and squirmed on the sofa, his arousal almost painful by now. As was Marco’s.

He’d take the precaution of removing his socks earlier in preparation for his after-dinner striptease. So once he slid down his jeans and stepped out of them, nonchalantly kicking them to the side, he was standing there all pale skin in the candlelight, clad in nothing but a pair of tight black briefs. Tight briefs that had no hope of containing the visible proof of his overwhelming desire for Robert.

His love stared at him transfixed, unable to decide where to look. At his face. His shimmering torso. His strongly muscled legs. Or the tempting bulge tenting his underwear. Marco decided to make it easier for Robert. He took a step closer, not close enough for Robert to touch him, but close enough for Robert to be able to smell his arousal. He knew that his love had an extremely keen sense of smell and he saw how Robert’s nostrils flared slightly as he drank in the scent that betrayed Marco’s desire.

‘Look at me, Robert!’ His voice was quiet but hypnotic. Robert swallowed hard, obeying his order. Not that Robert could have looked away if he wanted to. Marco knew his power over his love and right now he was abusing it shamelessly.

He hooked his thumbs in the waistband of the pair of the expensive, luxurious briefs Robert had bought for him. The dark-haired Pole actually whimpered and Marco couldn’t keep the smile from his lips. He eased his underwear down tantalisingly slowly until his arousal sprang free from its fabric prison, standing proud, hard and tall. Marco wasn’t ashamed of his desire for Robert, quite the opposite. And there was no doubt about where Robert was looking now, licking his lips as he stared at Marco’s leaking hardness.

‘You’re beautiful, Marco. More beautiful than I could ever have imagined. More beautiful than my wildest dreams could have conjured up.’

But this wasn’t a dream, not this time. This was the first time that Robert had truly seen him, seen him standing naked before him, naked and unashamed in his desire for his handsome dark love. Marco stood there for a long moment, letting Robert imprint this moment on his memory forever. Only then did he walk forward, kneeling over Robert and straddling his body.

‘You can touch me now,’ were his final words before it was his turn to take possession of his love’s lips, kissing him fiercely and passionately, almost aggressively, plundering his mouth with a supple, agile tongue, teeth grazing lips with the sheer force of their kiss. He felt Robert’s moans reverberate deep in his throat. And then it was his turn to moan as Robert’s hands caressed his body, feather light at first, exploring, teasing and tantalising, before becoming firmer, more demanding.

Robert was fully dressed and he was naked, naked in his love’s arms, loving, possessive hands roaming all over his exposed skin. Somehow that made it feel even more intense, concentrating and amplifying Robert’s touches. Skilled fingers traced circles over his shoulders and down his spine. He sucked in his breath, almost breaking their kiss, as Robert’s fingers trailed over the incredibly sensitive skin of his inner thighs and up over his buttocks where he was vulnerable and open, open to whatever his love wanted from him.

He let out a strangled cry as Robert’s fingers slid between his spread buttocks. It had been a long time since anyone had touched him there and they had no lube, but he’d always been incredibly responsive to such caresses and he trusted Robert to be gentle with him. It felt just so good being lovingly massaged where he was so sensitive, where every nerve sang with pleasure in answer to the slow, circling movements of Robert’s hand.

It felt ever more gorgeous when one curious finger slipped inside him, just up to the knuckle, not far enough to be uncomfortable dry, just enough to give him a foretaste of the delicious fullness of having something inside him. He’d missed this so badly. Their kisses were becoming messy and wet by now. Marco was panting and moaning so hard that he was struggling to control himself. He’d even bitten Robert slightly, drawing a slight trickle of blood. Almost without thinking he licked over the wound, soothing and calming it as he whispered almost incomprehensible words of apology.

It was time. He raised himself up over Robert, hands braced on his love’s shoulders, letting his thigh muscles bear his weight. Robert’s hands were free to indulge him, allowing him to witness how Marco’s body writhed and pitched in ecstasy in response to his touch. Marco couldn’t help circling his hips slightly, stretching himself round Robert’s finger, pushing back until he was able to force it all the way deep inside himself. Robert had him in a strong grip by now, one hand kneading his buttock, fingers biting into the soft flesh, while the finger of his other hand curled forcefully into the sensitive wall of Marco’s inner passage

He was so lost in a red hot haze of burning lust and desire that he almost thought that he could come just from this, from his muscles clenching and clamping round Robert’s long, elegant finger buried deep inside him. But Robert had other ideas, taking his free hand and snaking it between their bodies, into the hot, damp realm of lust that lay between them. He teased Marco mercilessly, almost to the end of his endurance, making him scream as he dragged the palm of his hand over the defenceless, wet, swollen head of Marco’s arousal over and over again, curling a finger sharply inside him in time with every painfully pleasurable swipe.

He was close to losing his mind now. Part of Marco wanted this never to stop, wanted Robert to go on playing with him like this, teasing and tormenting him until he was consumed by lust and desire, everything else burnt away by the fire of their love and passion. But his legs were shaking and he was sobbing, screaming and crying with the sheer weight of the aching need he somehow needed to find a way to let go of. Each and every caress was both a torment and a release and he didn’t know how many more he could take.

Of course Robert knew exactly when he had had enough, when he couldn’t bear the agonising bliss of any more stimulation. His love gently closed his fist round him where he was aching and needy, his grip just tight enough to provide the perfect friction.

‘Take what you need, my darling,’ Robert whispered, his eyes wet and soft with love and adoration. He knew. He knew Marco so well in just a few short weeks. He knew that Marco was in such an incredibly heightened state of arousal by now that every touch felt like both agony and ecstasy. And so he let Marco rock himself to his climax, rocking himself between the palm of his love’s hand and the finger buried deep inside him. Now Marco could control his pleasure, able to enjoy being stimulated on the most sensitive and responsive parts of his body but pull back when the blissful sensations threatened to become overwhelming.

He’d thought that he was desperate to come, but now he wanted to prolong this as for long as possible, gently moving against Robert, sometimes coming almost to a standstill, throbbing and pulsing against the loving hands that cradled him in a tender, intimate embrace. Robert’s fingers must be cramping by now, but he showed no signs of discomfort, keeping his gaze locked on Marco’s face and betraying nothing but the deepest awe and wonder, love and desire.

Finally Marco let go, thrusting more forcefully against Robert, inviting Robert to move with him in driving him over the edge to his climax. His back was arched, his head thrown back, mouth open to give voice to every pant, every moan, every cry of passion. His orgasm was sudden, his release almost violent as a wave of bliss convulsed his body. He screamed Robert’s name out loud throughout, one long, loud cry of ‘Roooooooooobert’. And then the world exploded in a flash of blinding white light and he slumped down onto Robert’s shoulder in complete and utter satisfied exhaustion.

Chapter Text

He’d always thought that it wasn’t possible, that it was just a myth, but Marco genuinely seemed to have completely blanked out for a moment or two from the sheer, overwhelming force of the orgasm Robert had pulled from him. Perhaps he was just so blissed out that he was incapable of thinking in the aftermath of his climax, until he came to his senses again in Robert’s arms, cuddled snuggly against his chest while the dark-haired Pole tenderly nuzzled his hair.

Marco sighed contentedly, burrowing deeper into Robert’s embrace, twisting his hand firmly into the fabric of his love’s shirt. ‘That was amazing, just amazing. I have no idea how I am going to be able to cope with how good it is going to be when we finally make love fully and completely.’

‘And we will, darling, we will. When the time is right. You were so beautiful, I could scarcely take my eyes off you. When you stripped for me … When you let me see you proud, unashamed and abandoned writhing in ecstasy as I touched you. You were just so … ’ Words failed Robert at this point and he tipped Marco’s head backwards to capture his lips in a passionate kiss, licking deep inside his mouth, the sharp, sudden jolt of lust that shot through his body making him groan.

Marco was addicted to Robert, totally and utterly addicted, and he never, ever wanted to give him up. Unusually for them, they hadn’t kissed earlier while Robert had been so expertly pleasuring him and he craved his love’s kisses now. So he kissed him back, kissing until they were dizzy and their heads were spinning.

Robert’s lips left Marco’s only to travel along the line of his jaw, gently nipping and sucking at his skin as he kissed his way to his earlobe, nibbling on it lovingly. Marco let out an embarrassingly loud mewling sound as Robert’s tongue slipped into his ear, the feeling unbelievably wet and gorgeous. His back was arched in his love’s arms by now, surrendering himself, presenting himself to his love, begging for his touch. Robert dragged his lips down the vulnerable flesh of Marco’s throat, making him mewl even louder this time, licking over the salt-sweet skin of his collarbone before kissing his neck and throat over and over again, kissing, licking and sucking until the imprint of his lips was burnt into Marco’s skin.

Marco whined and moaned, his body pitching under the onslaught of Robert’s lips. Even though he had come not too long ago, he was hard again by now, his moans becoming louder as Robert stroked him where he so desperately longed for his touch, his caresses slow, languid and lazy, stoking the fire of Marco’s desire ever higher.

Through the stupor of his lust-driven surrender to Robert’s kisses, Marco became dimly aware that the kissing had stopped, that Robert was looking down at him, his lips full, red and wet, his hand still resting on Marco’s aching arousal.

‘You’re all sweaty and sticky, my darling. And much as I love you like this and would keep you like this for as long as I could, maybe you’d be more comfortable after a bath.’

Marco tried to say yes, however the best he could come up with was a strangled squeak. Fortunately Robert knew that he liked the idea, although he stopped him from trying to stand up, ‘No, darling. Just put your arms round my neck. I’ll carry you.’

This was something Marco had never thought he’d allow anyone to do for him. He’d always thought that he’d hate the very idea. But it was different with Robert. He felt safe and warm, above all he felt loved and taken care of being cradled in strong arms like this.

Robert carried him into the bathroom and sat down on the edge of the tub, the bathtub that had never been used in the three or so weeks Marco had lived in this flat, balancing him on his knee as he sat on the edge of the bathtub.

‘Hmmm we don’t have any bath foam. That’s something we’ll need to remedy one day,’ Robert remarked as he squeezed a generous amount of shower gel into the running water. When the bath was full and foamy, he checked that the temperature was OK before gently lowering Marco into the warm water.

Marco sighed blissfully as he sank into the wet, foamy warmth, pulling Robert’s head down for a long, deep passionate tongue kiss. And then Robert washed him, carefully and thoroughly, never breaking eye contact as he did so. This was possibly the most loving and the most erotic experience of Marco’s life, those beautiful blue eyes fixed on him as clever fingers caressed every intimate crevice of his body.

Slowly, ever so slowly, those fingers crept closer to where Marco really needed to be taken care of, stroking over his thighs with feather-light strokes, cupping his balls that were once again achingly hot and heavy with his need to come, tracing patterns across the sensitive skin of his lower abdomen. His breath hitched as Robert’s fingers raked through the red-golden hairs that surrounded his manhood, gently tugging, stimulating Marco’s nerve endings almost but not quite beyond what was comfortable. The surface of the bathwater was rippling as Marco’s hips thrust up towards Robert’s hand, seeking out the blissful relief of something, of anything, pressing against his groin.

He groaned out loud as Robert’s fingers closed round his hard length, the friction utterly gorgeous as Robert stroked him firmly, the warm water flowing over his arousal with every deft movement adding to the deliciousness of the sensation. His hands fisted into the front of Robert’s shirt, holding him captive, their kisses wet and messy, even a touch aggressive, as he bucked and fought his way to another powerful climax. He bit Robert again as he came, their mouths still clamped together in a tangle of lips, tongues and teeth, licking over the spot that was red and rich with the iron tang of blood.

His lust finally sated, he lay back against the head of the bath, relaxed and satisfied, his eyes soft and dreamy as he gazed at his beautiful love. The front of Robert’s shirt was soaking wet by now and it clung enticingly to every hard ridge of muscle. Even the hard, erect buds of his nipples were perfectly visible under the transparent, sodden fabric.

‘I’ve made a terrible mess of your shirt tonight, my love,’ he apologised, ‘first I came all over you, and them this … ’he gestured at Robert’s chest.

‘It was worth it. It was so worth it. You are worth a dozen ruined shirts.’ Robert proved he meant what he said with another long, passionate kiss.

Marco knelt up in the bathtub afterwards, not caring about the mess he made. He had to clean tomorrow anyway. He stroked over Robert’s chest, his shirt so soaked through that it almost felt as if he was tracing over bare flesh, observing how his love shuddered and shivered so responsively to his touch. The temptation was too much to resist and he bent forward and bit into one of those perfectly outlined nipples, rolling it between his teeth under the wet cotton fabric. Robert’s loud groan was like music to his ears. As was the way his love arched backwards in ecstasy.

‘I promise I won’t go too far,’ Marco whispered, ‘but you need me to take care of you as well. It must be hurting by now.’

Robert’s answering whimper told him everything he needed to know. He carefully undid the belt and the fastenings on his trousers, easing them down far enough for him to be able to get his hands inside Robert’s briefs. Then he took the washcloth that was laying on the side of the bath, wringing it out in the still warm water, before wrapping it round Robert’s rock hard erection. The whimpers were getting louder and needier now.

‘Shush my love, you’ll get what you need,’ he soothed, taking hold of Robert gently but firmly, stroking him up and down. His other hand gripped the short, dark hairs at the base of Robert’s skull, holding his love firmly in position. Robert was so aroused that this wouldn’t take long at all. Soon he was panting loudly, moaning and whining as he twitched and pulsed under Marco’s fingers, all the long pent-up need he had to release spurting out into the washcloth.

Marco let the cloth drop into the bathtub, leaning their foreheads together as Robert recovered, his harsh, panting gasps for breath gradually subsiding. Once his breathing was back to normal, Robert helped him out of the tub, drying him as if he was a precious, fragile piece of porcelain, rubbing lotion into his skin until Marco wanted to purr with how blissful it felt. Completely dry and skin thoroughly moisturised, he washed his face and cleaned his teeth in preparation for sleep.

‘Do you want to wear anything in bed?’ Robert asked.

Marco shook his head. All he wanted was Robert next to him. That and nothing more.

To his surprise, Robert picked him up again, using a towel to protect him from his wet shirt, and carried him into the bedroom, nestling him snuggly into their bed.

‘I’ll be back as quickly as I can,’ he promised, kissing Marco on the forehead.

Marco was warm, sleepy and so blissed out that he could have dropped off straight away, but he waited until his love came back dressed in a t-shirt and fresh underwear and smelling of minty toothpaste to enfold him in his arms.

‘Goodnight, my darling. I love you so much.’

‘Goodnight, my love, I love you too.’

Robert had wanted Marco to stay in bed the next morning, but he’d insisted on getting up so that they could have breakfast together. It took him a couple of hours to clear up from the night before and clean the kitchen and bathroom to his satisfaction. He spent the rest of the day in the city, exploring the Old Town a little more, finding a cosy café for lunch. Marco had walked these streets before on one of his first days in Warsaw. But he saw the city through new eyes now. The life of the man he loved was intertwined with this city and it was starting to become his home.

They had arranged for him to go to the Sports Centre later on. He’d make use of the training facilities and then he and Robert could go home together. Marco needed to stay in good shape if he was to go back to work, not to mention the forthcoming five-a-side football match this weekend. It was a while since Marco had played. He didn’t want to disgrace himself and he wasn’t sure that spending hours kissing Robert really counted as aerobic exercise.

He met Robert in shorts and a t-shirt outside the entrance to one of the training rooms, obviously heading for the showers, grimacing in pain and muttering threats under his breath. So Marco wasn’t surprised when the next person he encountered was Woj, standing there with his arms folded and a satisfied smile on his face.

‘I had some time to look at Robert’s adductor muscle. He’s been neglecting his training, so I refreshed his program, including some very special exercises to target his problem areas. I did warn him it might hurt a bit. I’m not sure he really believed me.’

Marco grinned at him, two physios together united in taking pleasure in the slightly sadistic side of their chosen profession. ‘I warned him as well.’

‘Good catch by the way. I won’t ask how you noticed that there was a problem with the boss’s thigh though.’

Marco couldn’t help blushing faintly, so Woj clapped him on the shoulder. ‘There’s no need to be embarrassed. Look, I have a client in ten minutes, my last for the day. Why don’t you start your training and then, if it’s OK with you that is, I can come and work with you for a bit, cast an eye over what you’re doing. And after, we’ll have time for a coffee together before you have to go and meet Robert.’

Of course Marco agreed. And it was good having someone to look over his training program. Woj made some very helpful suggestions and assisted him in completing some more advanced exercises.

‘Now you and Robert can swap stories about how evil I am and compare how sore your muscles are tonight,’ Woj joked as they got dressed after they’d showered.

‘You are evil. But you promised me coffee. That will help,’ laughed Marco.

‘Oh I can give you better than coffee.’

And Woj was right. Much to Marco’s surprise there was cake, really good cake.

‘It’s our nutritionist,’ Woj explained, his mouth full of cake, ‘she’s brilliant, if a bit obsessive. You should hear her interrogating Robert about what he eats! But she makes excellent, albeit extremely healthy cake. And sometimes she makes cake for the staff canteen. I knew that there was cake today, but that wasn’t the only reason I wanted to have coffee with you.’

The cake really was good, some kind of gluten free dark chocolate brownie, soft and sticky with date puree and fragrant with ground almonds. Marco wondered out loud if he would be able to get the recipe and Woj assured him that Anna would be only too happy to find another convert to the cause of healthy eating.

‘I seem to have done nothing but eat since I arrived in Warsaw. Especially since I have been together with Robert … ’ he broke off, suddenly unsure of himself.

‘That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. I have the sense that it’s your relationship with Robert that is holding you back from coming to work here.’

Marco nodded.

‘Well it shouldn’t. To be blunt. I’ve known Robert for a while now and it doesn’t matter how hot you are, or how cute that ass of yours is, or how much he melts when you flash that crooked smile at him, he wouldn’t let you work here if you weren’t good. Nor would Łukasz.’

Marco flushed slightly again, but deep within he knew that Woj was right. He had to trust himself. And Robert.

‘And Robert isn’t that kind of boss in any case,’ Woj continued, ‘there’s no real hierarchy here. We make important decisions jointly as a team. Robert and Łukasz deal with the boring stuff that most of us don’t want to be bothered with, the paperwork, the finances and stuff. Leaving people like you and me free to get on with the fun stuff.’

Woj grinned at him conspiratorially and Marco couldn’t help grinning back.

‘I like you. You’re good and fun. They could have found a lot worse, someone who didn’t get my … um … my unique sense of humour for example.’

Now it was Marco’s turn to grin. ‘That’s kind of what Łukasz said, although he put it more in terms of “Woj doesn’t seem to think you’re boring.”’

‘That man has his moments! So I’ve got a suggestion. And I won’t pretend that Łukasz and I haven’t discussed this when Robert was on holiday. It will take some time to get the new department set up no matter who we employ. So why don’t you shadow me, maybe three days a week or so for a while? That gives you time to get used to working here and get to know people and how we do things without having to … well without having to feel that you have to impress anyone. It will also give Łukasz time to get all your qualifications verified. And if you’re not here full time, you and Robert can spend some quality time together. Robert really needs to take a step back, to have a life for a bit. He’s been spending pretty much every waking hour here for far too long.’

Marco had to admit that Woj’s plan sounded eminently sensible. And he also had to admit that he liked the thought of having some purpose and structure back in his life but still having free time to spend with Robert. So they shook hands on the deal.

‘Don’t forget football at the weekend,’ Woj yelled after him as he left to go and tell Robert the good news.

Chapter Text

Saturday morning. Normally Marco would be looking forward to snuggling up to Robert for a while longer, followed by a long, lazy breakfast together. But today was football day. And later … well later they would do ‘the thing’ again, Robert had promised him that. They would have a romantic evening together and then tomorrow would be just for them. This was the most perfect weekend Marco could have imagined.

And then on Monday they would go to work together for the very first time. Marco had shared Woj’s suggestion with Robert, who had been delighted that he’d agreed. Robert had confessed that he and Łukasz had had pretty much the same discussion as well since there was another advantage to Marco shadowing Woj.

As department head Woj had a lot of responsibility, even if he preferred working with clients to paperwork. Part of the thinking behind setting up a new physio department had been to free Woj from some of his burdens. Once Marco was fully trained and heading up the preventative medicine physio department, then he and Woj could deputise for each other.

‘That was why it was so important that Woj got along with whoever we appointed,’ Robert had explained. ‘The idea is that when we aren’t too busy, you can both work a four day week. And Łukasz and I are planning to do the same. There are more important things in life than work. Łukasz would like Fridays off as that works better for Kuba and luckily Woj agreed. So that means that you and I can have Mondays off most weeks and enjoy a long weekend together, maybe even go somewhere outside the city.’

Of course Marco had loved the idea. And he couldn’t help being delighted at Robert wanting to spend more time with him. But first there was football to be played. So he kissed Robert good morning. No matter how busy the day ahead was, they always took the time to exchange their morning greetings. Then he jumped out of bed and into the shower before making breakfast for both of them, a hearty, energy-filled but healthy breakfast this morning. Anna would approve he smiled to himself, as he looked at the steaming bowls of buckwheat porridge topped with berries.

He had been a little surprised when Robert had told him he’d be coming with him today. It turned out that the Sports Centre administrators had their own five-a-side team as well as the physios, the medical team and a couple of the other departments. They’d all be playing against each other today in a mini-tournament.

Marco packed the new kit he’d bought and his brand new football boots into his sports bag and followed Robert down to the cab they’d ordered for the short journey to the Sports Centre. The Centre had its own football pitch and there were dozens of people milling about, pumped-up players and their friends, family and significant others who had come to support them. Woj’s wife was there. As was Kuba, who had turned out to support his Łukasz.

Woj was both the goalkeeper and the captain of Marco’s team. It was no surprise that he turned out to be an extremely vocal and enthusiastic captain to put it mildly. And Robert had been right. Woj was also very, very competitive.

Marco had his own competitive streak and that in combination with Woj’s particular brand of ‘encouragement’ helped their team to win their first two games. He’d scored four times and Woj had made some good saves as well to keep them in contention.

Lunch was served in the canteen, the room noisy and full of chatter, not to mention around thirty hot, sweaty, excited footballers and their associates. Marco felt good, warm and happy, pleased to be part of something. Even the slight ache in his legs was welcome and reminded him of how much he’d missed this.

His team’s final game was of course against the team captained by Robert. This would be the decider for the mini-tournament, winner takes all. The match was tight, both teams wanting the win. Łukasz was a really good defensive player, as in really, really good, and Marco struggled to get past him. At the end of the regulation two twenty-minute halves the score was tied at one all, the goals scored by Marco and Robert respectively.

The referee approached them, asking them what they wanted to do. Marco could see the dilemma both captains were facing, considering opting for penalties to ensure a clear winner. But then they both thought better of it, shaking hands on the draw and the shared tournament win. As deeply competitive as he was, Marco couldn’t help feeling that they had made the right decision and he hugged Woj first of all, then the rest of his team, before hugging Robert and Łukasz as well just for good measure.

They all piled into the showers, accompanied by the crates of beer Woj had smuggled in. ‘Don’t tell Anna,’ he begged dramatically, ‘she’ll kill me!’ Marco noticed Robert and Łukasz slipping away into the private shower cubicles along with a couple of the other senior staff members, their head doctor included. But Robert was soon back by his side, an arm laid possessively across his shoulders, making Marco’s head spin with the delicious scent of freshly-showered Robert, all shampoo and shower gel and his own, gorgeous natural scent.

Robert had a bottle of beer in his other hand and now Marco understood why they had left the car at home today. His dark-haired love was in the mood to celebrate and he adored seeing him like this, relaxed and carefree, his hand never leaving Marco’s shoulder as they laughed and talked and joked with their friends.

Woj attempted to have a serious conversation in the midst of all the mayhem. ‘We’ve been thinking about putting together a proper team for the local amateur over-25s league for some time. And now we have you, Marco, I think we should go for it. You and Robert would be an awesome combination up front. Since Kuba officially works with us as a consultant, we can include him too. And of course you have a brilliant goalkeeper ready and waiting for action.’

Marco bit his lip thoughtfully. He wanted to say yes, but he wasn’t sure how Robert would feel about it. To his surprise he seemed to hear Robert’s voice in his head. ‘You can say yes, darling. I want this too. We’ll be amazing together.’ For a split second Marco wondered if he was drunk, drunk on beer, excitement and the intoxicating warmth of Robert next to him. But then he twisted round slightly to look into his love’s brilliant blue eyes and knew that he had understood Robert correctly. So he raised his beer in a toast. ‘To the amateur football team with the best physios in the whole of Warsaw!’

Finally it was time for the gathering to break up, for everyone to head off to enjoy the rest of their well-earned weekend.

‘I worked hard today for an old man like myself. Maybe a massage would help my tired legs?’ Robert asked coquettishly once they were home alone.

‘If we start that now, you know that we’ll never leave the house again today. And I know another way to have you bouncing with energy once more. And, if you’re very, very good, maybe I’ll give you a very, very thorough massage tomorrow when we both have time to enjoy it.’ Marco wrapped his arms round Robert’s neck, kissing him as a down payment on his promise. ‘But now we have to get ready for our date.’

Marco took his time getting ready, carefully shaving again and moisturising every inch of his skin. He teased his hair into golden perfection before dressing in tight black jeans with a fitted shirt, the same casual but sexy clothes he’d worn on one of their first dates, the night when Robert came home with him for the first time. And he supposed that Robert had never left again. His formerly rented flat was now their home. Tonight would be a recreation of that magical evening. It was just that now Marco knew a lot more, knew the truth about some of Robert’s secrets, even though there were still a lot more mysteries to be uncovered.

It was a beautiful evening and they walked hand in hand to the Old Town, to the Pierogi restaurant where they’d eaten on their date that evening. The food was every bit as good as Marco remembered, maybe even better now he was happily secure in the knowledge that Robert loved him and wanted them to be together forever, however long that might be.

Afterwards they went back to the opulent, exclusive club Robert had taken him to that night. This time it was Marco who smiled and raised a questioning eyebrow as he asked ‘Shall we order champagne?’ He’d asked Robert if him having alcohol in his blood was a problem and been assured that it was fine, as long as he was still sober.

‘Of course,’ Robert replied, ‘we have something to celebrate and what better way to do it than with champagne!’

‘ … um … what exactly are we celebrating?’ Marco had to ask.

‘Everything. Today. This evening. This weekend. Us. Everyday that we spend together. The fact that you love me and want to be with me even knowing the truth about me.’

Marco could have laughed at Robert’s words, but he could see how important this was to Robert, that his dark-haired Polish love really had feared that he would leave him once he knew about … about the thing they were going to do again later that night. So he took Robert’s hand and held it tightly.

‘I love you. I’ll never stop loving you. You can tell me anything and everything when the time is right for you. And just in case you’re worrying, I’m looking forward to the rest of our evening, to what we’re going to do once we’re alone together later, as much as I’m enjoying sitting here with you drinking champagne.’

His heart soared at the twin look of love and relief in Robert’s eyes as his love squeezed his hand. ‘Thank you. For everything. For being you.’

They sipped their champagne contentedly together, hands intertwined on top of the table. After a while Robert stood up, holding out a hand to Marco in invitation. Dancing had never been Marco’s forte, but he felt graceful and elegant in Robert’s arms. They fitted perfectly together, like two parts of a puzzle, and he knew that they made a handsome couple as they moved across the dancefloor. He leaned his head on Robert’s shoulder, relaxing into the feeling of strong arms holding him close in a tender embrace.

It was after midnight by the time they made their way home. But their date night wasn’t over yet. And they could sleep in the next day. Robert got ready for bed first, coming back in his usual t-shirt and briefs combo.

Marco washed his face and cleaned his teeth, but didn’t undress. He had an idea. Robert looked at him in confusion when he came into their bedroom still fully dressed apart from his socks.

‘I want you to undress me,’ Marco explained, ‘I want to give myself to you, for you to take everything you need from me.’

Robert’s eyes were soft and shining as he looked at him, standing up to take Marco’s face between his hands and kissing him gently and lovingly. ‘You’re perfect. Just so very perfect,’ he whispered, one hand dropping down to slowly start unbuttoning his shirt. Marco shivered in anticipation at the sensation of Robert’s fingers tracing the sharp line of his collarbone and easing his shirt from his shoulders.

They kissed long and slow and deep as Robert’s fingers trailed over his back and torso, exploring every inch of his body, playfully teasing his nipples. Marco felt as if he was melting, melting into Robert’s body, melting under Robert’s kisses and the caresses that were setting his senses alight.

His breath hitched as he felt hands undoing his belt, unfastening his jeans. He was half hard already, mewling softly as Robert’s fingertips brushed across his thighs. Between them they managed to rid Marco of his jeans and he stepped out of them. Then Robert’s lips were on his again, a tongue licking into his mouth as fingers slipped inside the waistband of his briefs and slid them down over his hips. He was naked in his love’s arms now, groaning into their kiss as he pressed himself hard against Robert’s body, fully aroused and achingly needy.

Robert finally broke their kiss, looking deep into his eyes and tenderly stroking his cheek. Then he picked Marco up in his arms and laid him out on the bed, gazing at him in awe and wonder.

‘You’re perfect, Marco. So beautiful. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I’m so happy that we found each other.'

He held out his arms to his love in a gesture of invitation. Robert settled himself on top of his body, starting to kiss over his neck and throat, adoring and worshipping every single patch of his skin. Marco sighed blissfully, winding his fingers into Robert’s short, dark hair, stroking his love’s neck as kisses rained down on his skin.

The last time he’d had no idea what to expect. This time he was able to just relax into the deliciousness of Robert’s kisses wet against his skin. He felt as if he was floating on a cloud of bliss. Just like the first time, he never felt Robert’s teeth slice into his neck. He only knew that they must have because he could feel the strong connection flowing between them, all the love and the desire they felt for each other on a daily basis, pure and undiluted, just gorgeously magnified a hundredfold. So much had happened between them in the last week, their bond was stronger than ever, and he gloried in the fact that Robert felt able to feed from him for longer this time, prolonging this beautiful moment.

Marco wanted it never to end as he sighed softly under Robert, his body gently pitching and undulating under his love’s with sheer bliss. This time it was different when Robert finally stopped, reluctantly pulling away to kiss and lick over the spot on Marco’s neck where he had fed, soothing and healing the tiny wound. He knew that Robert would take care of his other needs later and so they were calm and peaceful together in the aftermath, luxuriating in the warmth of their bond, gazing into one another’s eyes before kissing, kissing deep and passionate, their kisses full of complete and utter unconditional love.

Robert didn’t flinch when Marco’s tongue slipped inside his mouth, letting him lick around inside. Marco ran his tongue over the places where Robert’s teeth were still sharply pointed, not yet fully retracted to their natural state. Robert had explained that the transformation didn’t happen all of a sudden, but took place gradually as he was preparing Marco and as a response to having a willing partner.

They kissed for what felt like an eternity. Marco was achingly hard, but he ignored that for now, losing himself instead in the beauty of their kisses. At last they had to pause to draw breath. Robert’s lips were red, swollen and wet as he looked down at him with eyes dark with love and desire, his voice hoarse and close to breaking.

‘Can I taste you, Marco? I mean where you are so perfectly hard for me already?’

Chapter Text

Marco couldn’t help smiling up at his love, stroking his cheek tenderly. ‘You’re always saying that I’m perfect. I’m not really.’

‘I know,’ Robert smiled back, ‘but you’re perfect to me. You always will be. And may I … ?’

‘Of course. I’m yours for whatever you want, whenever you’re ready.’

Marco closed his eyes and relaxed, sighing softly as Robert kissed down his neck, lingering long in the hollow between his collarbones before continuing. He sighed louder as Robert’s tongue traced along the defined lines of his bone structure, mapping his skeleton by mouth. A hot mouth and tongue explored his body just like Robert’s fingers had earlier, wet trails of fire licking over his flesh, teeth nipping at his erect nipples.

He was moaning by the time Robert started to kiss his flat, toned stomach, kissing every inch of his skin over and over again, sucking red marks into his flesh, leaving his claim on the body of his lover. Marco felt like he was melting under Robert’s kisses all over again. But this time part of him remained burningly insistent, his pulsing, throbbing, achingly needy groin glowing red hot, demanding attention.

His moans turned into raw outpourings of lust and need when he felt Robert’s breath caressing the most intimate parts of his body. Instinctively he opened his thighs in invitation, wriggling slightly, anticipating the touch of his love’s tongue where he most longed to feel it.

‘Can I share how wonderful this is for me with you?’ he heard Robert’s question in his mind.

‘Please,’ he thought back, unsure how to do this.

He’d done the other thing they were doing before of course, but it had never, ever felt like this with anyone else. Robert kissed over the smooth, sensitive skin of his inner thighs, before sucking lovingly at his full, aching balls. Marco could not only feel his own pleasure, but sense what Robert was thinking and feeling through their bond. He could hear Robert’s thoughts as well. He could hear how much Robert loved the smell and the taste of Marco’s arousal. How he appreciated every one of his loud, blissful moans and groans and the way his body pitched and rolled in response to the ministrations of Robert’s mouth and tongue. Above all he could sense that Robert thought he was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen, gorgeously hard, standing proud and erect for his love.

Robert’s tongue tentatively licked over the skin of his shaft, massaging him more confidently once he was reassured that Marco liked this. And how Marco liked this, liked the feel of Robert’s tongue licking wet and agile up and down his length. He reached down to wind his fingers into his love’s hair, encouraging him to go on. Marco couldn’t bite down his cry as Robert finally took him into his mouth. The blissful wet warmth of Robert’s mouth sucking at him was unbelievably good; the feel of a tongue licking and probing at the engorged tip of his arousal was even better.

He couldn’t hold out for long, not when he was being stimulated and indulged like this. So Marco surrendered himself to this amazing experience, letting Robert know just how much he was enjoying this with his moans and sighs, with the way his hips undulated upwards seemingly of their own will, seeking more contact with Robert’s mouth. His climax was even more incredibly mind blowing since he could feel Robert’s own wonder and pleasure at the brand new sensation of Marco coming in his mouth, feeding him with the physical evidence of his overwhelming desire for his love and the tremendous orgasm that had made his entire body jerk and shake in ecstasy.

Robert cradled him in his arms afterwards, soothing him by stroking his back. Marco was totally blissed out, happy and sated, purring like a smugly satisfied tomcat in his love’s embrace. But he could feel Robert’s pressing against him, still hard and needy himself.

‘Let me take care of you, my love,’ he whispered.

Robert didn’t stop stroking up and down his spine. ‘It’s alright, Marco. Tonight is all about you. You’re so … ’

‘Don’t say perfect,’ Marco groaned in pretend annoyance. ‘And I want to make you feel as good as you’ve made me feel. Please let me do that for you.’ He reached out a hand, gently squeezing the bulge in Robert’s briefs and his handsome dark-haired love couldn’t help himself from reacting to his touch, unable to bite back a loud moan.

‘I love it when you moan for me. Touch my mind, Robert. See for yourself how much I like touching you like this. That I crave every single one of your moans.’

He wasn’t sure how this worked, but he tried to keep his mind somehow open, to think his feelings out loud in his head, focusing on how good it was to be touching Robert like this. Gradually he became aware of something that felt like a mental caress, that he instinctively knew to be Robert sharing his thoughts. He massaged him increasingly firmly but only through the fabric of his briefs at first, giving him time to get used to his touches before going further. Soft moans and groans let him know that his love was enjoying this so Marco took courage, slipping his hand under the waistband of Robert’s underwear for the first time. He was rewarded with a sharp intake of breath as his hand delved deeper into the damp warmth of Robert’s groin.

His love felt so good, hot and heavy against his palm, silken hard under his fingers as he stroked him with firm, regular movements. They sought one another’s lips, their kisses wet and messy, more little pants, bites and licks than proper kisses. His love twitched in his hand, pulsing with need as Robert groaned and panted in time with the twitching of his arousal. He cried out Marco’s name as he came, his release spurting out over Marco’s hand as he stroked him all the way through his climax.

Robert was limp and pliant in his arms afterwards, unable to stop smiling. Marco had cleaned him up with the tissues he’d brought from the bathroom before holding him tight, fluttering gentle kisses against the back of his neck and hair. And that was how they drifted off to sleep.

Marco felt faintly disorientated for a moment the next morning, waking up with his arms still wrapped round Robert. They had both moved during the night, but somehow Robert had managed to snuggle back into his embrace every time.

‘Good morning, my love,’ he whispered.

‘Good morning, darling,’ Robert answered, wriggling round to gather Marco to his chest. ‘Thank you for last night. It was wonderful. I don’t think I’ve slept so well in years.’

‘Me too,’ Marco hummed happily.

They lay there in contented silence for a bit, listening to the sound of one another breathing, cuddled up warm and cosy.

‘Can I ask you something?’ Marco finally said.

‘Of course,’ Robert answered, nuzzling his hair lovingly.

‘Yesterday at the Sports Centre. And again, last night. We could communicate without speaking out loud, couldn’t we? I wasn’t just imagining it, was I?’

‘No, you weren’t. It just kind of happened. I can’t read your mind, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that my kind can communicate with one another without speaking. It makes things easier sometimes. And I sensed that you wanted to say yes to Woj about the football yesterday, but were worried about what I thought. And with … well let’s just say that we can share thoughts and feeling with someone we are very close too … with whom we have a strong bond. Like we did last night. It makes things … it makes things more … intense somehow. It’s never happened to me before, not even with Artur, and we were together for fifteen years and he could … ’

Robert broke off there and Marco didn’t press him further, only waited a moment or two before gently prompting, ‘Artur? Was he your partner before you met me?’

‘Yes. We were partners for a long time. Not like you and me. But we were friends as well. There was a connection between us. It wasn’t just about … um … the feeding. You’d like him. He’s a larger than life character, not unlike Woj in some ways.’

‘I’m sorry that you had to end things with him because of me. Although I’m not sorry we’re together. And I want … I need to have you all to myself. I couldn’t share you, not with anyone.’

‘It’s OK. I couldn’t be that intimate with anyone apart from you ever again, not once I’d found you. And we always knew it wouldn’t be forever. There was something special between us, which is why our partnership lasted longer than is usual or indeed advisable. But we knew we weren’t destined to be together. And everything worked out for the best in the end. I asked a friend to look out for him, make sure that he was alright. And it turned out that they have a thing, a thing like you and me. It’s very early days yet, but well sometimes you just know.’

‘Like with us,’ Marco grinned, twisting round to kiss Robert. ‘I’d like to meet him sometime, if that’s OK with you. And him of course. He was a big part of your life for a long time. And I’m just pleased that he found his own happiness. I hope they are as happy together as we are.’

They kissed long, soft and sweet, luxuriating in the warmth of their love and the fact that the day ahead belonged to them and them alone.

Robert kissed him on the nose. ‘What do you want to do for breakfast?’

Marco stretched lazily. ‘I like the idea of going to our café, but I feel too lazy today. Maybe next weekend. But I’d like to have a special breakfast, so how about we lay the table properly and make breakfast together?’

‘Perfect.’ Robert kissed him on the tip of the nose before hopping out of bed to freshen up. Marco followed him into the kitchen a few minutes later having thrown on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Robert had already started cooking, making eggs and warming through the bread he’d bought yesterday. And of course there couldn’t be a celebration breakfast without Robert’s special pancakes. Marco made the coffee and laid the table, using their good china, carrying through the butter and jam, ham and cheese, not forgetting the pickles. He’d really grown to appreciate pickles since he’d come to live in Poland.

They enjoyed a long, leisurely breakfast together, the rays of the morning sun falling on them through the open window. The bread was good. The pancakes warm and fluffy. The coffee black and steaming. And above all the company was excellent.

They drove out of the city centre to somewhere where they could go for a run together, shaking off any tiredness left in their legs from yesterday as well as exercising off some of the calories from their mammoth breakfast. After showering and changing, they spent the rest of the day in the city, just wandering about, exploring areas they hadn’t spent much time in together. They found a restaurant for an early dinner together and then it was home. Tomorrow was a big day for Marco, his first day officially shadowing Woj.

But neither of them was quite ready for bed yet. Robert looked at him with a mischievous glint in his eyes. ‘I seem to remember someone promising me a massage if I was good. And maybe we need to check if your skills haven’t got rusty before you go back to work tomorrow.’

‘Hmmm I’m not sure that what you’re suggesting is an entirely professional massage,’ Marco grinned, ‘but I’m up for the challenge. Why don’t you get ready for bed and lie down on it for me?’

Marco got ready for bed himself afterwards, putting on a clean pair of briefs and bringing the massage oil he’d bought a few days ago into the bedroom with him. His breath caught in throat at the glorious sight of Robert laid out on the bed waiting for him, his head pillowed comfortably on his arms, the gorgeous curves of his ass perfectly outlined by the tight black fabric of his briefs.

Despite the temptation in front of him, he’d do this properly, at least for a while, although he was pretty sure that things would all too soon descend into a hot mess of lust and desire. The lingering tension in Robert’s muscles began to ease under his touch as Marco massaged his thighs, digging his fingers into the bands of muscle, making his patient groan in painful pleasure.

‘Everything OK?’ he asked.

‘Yes. It hurts a bit, but in a good way.’

‘It’ll get better later, I promise.’

Marco concentrated on his task, paying particular attention to Robert’s problem areas, his hips and his outer thigh muscles, using his elbow to dig deep into particularly troublesome spots. When he finally decided that his therapeutic work was done, he poured more massage oil onto the palms of his hands, working it into his fingers. Now his movements were gentler and more sensuous, caressing Robert’s thighs in tender, loving circles, stroking his sensitive inner thighs, slipping his fingers up inside the elastic of his briefs. It was clear from his aroused moans that Robert especially liked being massaged there, in that beautifully responsive spot where his buttocks met his thighs.

His own arousal was tenting his briefs by now, so he made sure that Robert’s skin was soft and dry before wiping his own hands clean. Robert was blissfully relaxed from his massage, expect for where he was absolutely rock hard. Marco climbed under the covers, inviting Robert to join him, pulling him close, arms round his neck with their groins pressed tight together. They kissed, tongues thrusting deep into one another’s mouths, slow, gentle but incredibly passionate kisses, kisses that seemed to reach deep inside Marco to his very soul.

Both of them were so incredibly turned on that it wouldn’t take much to push them over the edge. He started to move against Robert, rubbing against his arousal in gentle, rhythmical motions. His love responded to his movements, the friction between them just so delicious. They rubbed and thrust together slowly in perfect unison, not chasing their height, just letting the tension build between them until it exploded in blissful release. Marco cleaned them up as best as he could before they fell asleep wrapped in one another’s arms, happy and satiated.

Chapter Text

Marco tried to get out of bed once he’d kissed his love good morning the next day. Robert pulled him back under the covers, holding him close. They play fought for a bit as Marco attempted to squirm out of the arms trying to keep him captive, protesting that they had to get up or risk being late for work on his first day.

‘ … erm … no we don’t,’ Robert explained, breathless from the effort of grappling with Marco, ‘I have a surprise for you. Neither of us have to start work until 11am today, so we can have a leisurely start to the day and breakfast in our café. I thought that would be a good way to celebrate you coming to work with us.’

‘It is, it really is. Thank you,’ sighed Marco as he stopped struggling, kissing Robert tenderly on the tip of his nose before pillowing his head against his love’s chest. They snuggled together cosily for a few minutes until Robert kissed the top of Marco’s head. ‘Unfortunately it is time to get up now,’ he said reluctantly, ‘you need to go and make yourself look beautiful for the day ahead.’

‘I thought I always looked beautiful to you,’ snorted Marco as he climbed out of bed heading for the shower. The Sports Centre had a uniform for its physios, so Marco dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt for breakfast.

There was a spring in his step as he walked the short distance to their café with Robert by his side. Today the sun seemed to shine brighter, the bird song was sweeter and his heart was full of love and joy. Today was a good day. He’d thought be too nervous to eat, but his appetite came flooding back as soon as he got his first whiff of the enticing scent of strong, black coffee.

‘Why don’t you order for us today, Marco? I know that you can do it,’ suggested Robert.

Marco chewed his lip thoughtfully. It was ‘their’ waitress who came over to them, the one who’d been so nice to him on his first visit and who’d been there for almost all of his dates with Robert. Maybe today was the perfect opportunity to try out his still very rudimentary Polish ‘in the wild’. He’d been practicing with Robert and even Woj had helped him to learn a few words. This was the life he had chosen for himself after all and it was time to embrace it fully.

He stumbled over the words a little, but Elena (they’d been to the café so many times that the three of them were on first name terms by now) was very patient and understanding with him. He managed to order coffee, bread, eggs, cheese and ham for them, even some of the delicious little sweet flaky pastries filled with plum jam that they’d had on their very first breakfast date.

Robert squeezed his hand briefly. ‘I know what a big step all of this is for you, Marco. How much you are giving up to be with me. All I can do is tell you how grateful I am that you’re willing to take such a big risk for us to be together and that I’ll be by your side every step of the way.’

He felt surprisingly emotional as he thanked Robert. Marco had no regrets about his decision, the life he and Robert were building together was rich, exciting and fulfilling, but it had still been a wrench to say good bye to his old life. Marco had finally told his employers that he wasn’t going back after his sabbatical was over. He’d given notice on his flat and his parents would take care of his personal belongings being packed up and shipped to Warsaw.

Telling his parents about his change of plans had been the hardest part of all, but he couldn’t put it off any longer. It wasn’t fair to them and he needed them to go through his papers and send all his certificates to him for Łukasz to get his qualifications translated and verified. Their Skype conversation had been difficult, there might even have been a few tears on both sides, but fundamentally his parents wanted him to be happy and accepted his decision without too much argument.

His parents could understand what an amazing professional opportunity he was being offered and why he had to take it, even if he couldn’t begin to explain any of the rest of it to them. He’d told them that he might have met someone special, maybe even ‘the one’, but that it was early days yet. One day he hoped that he could take Robert to visit his home city and introduce him to his parents, although he wasn’t sure if that would actually be possible. But today wasn’t a day to look back. Today was a day to walk boldly into the exciting new future that lay in front of him.

Woj welcomed him warmly when they arrived at the Sports Centre punctually at eleven, punching him on the shoulder in greeting. ‘We’re going to have such a great time, you and I. Come on! Let’s get you sorted out and kitted up.’ He dragged Marco off to the room the physios used to store their stuff and hang out, barely giving him the chance to say goodbye to Robert.

It felt good to be working again, to have an identity apart from being Robert’s long-awaited destiny and true mate. His new colleagues enjoyed their jobs, they had a lot of fun together and with the clients, but they were also incredibly hardworking and professional. Although many of their younger clients were happy to have the chance to practice their English, Woj took the task of teaching him the Polish terminology surprisingly seriously. He’d even made a series of flashcards for Marco, adding to them as he thought of new items of core vocabulary. Robert had arranged for a tutor to come to the Sports Centre for a couple of hours three times a week, but the technical vocabulary was best learnt on the job.

Marco was happy but exhausted, coming home every evening to eat and collapse into bed curled up next to Robert. The first days in a new job were always tiring and the language work on top was really wearing him out. Sometimes he felt as if his brain was actually hurting! But he was making good progress; by Thursday Woj even let him take the lead in working with a couple of clients under supervision. He was longing for the weekend though, Robert had promised to spoil him as a reward for all of his hard work and this time Marco was making no objections at all.

He was surprised when Woj came up to him on the Thursday afternoon. ‘Orders from above, Marco. You’re done for the day. You can get changed and then you’re expected in the boss’s office.’ Marco had no idea what was going on as he changed back into his jeans and shirt, however he still took the time to fix his hair to perfection and check that he looked good before hurrying to Robert’s office.

Robert wasn’t alone as Łukasz was with him. As was a six pack of beer. This was all very strange. And Robert looked nervous, clearing his throat before speaking.

‘You have the rest of the day off, Marco, you and Łukasz. You can ask Łukasz anything, anything at all, and he’ll answer you honestly. Do you understand what I mean?’

Marco nodded, his throat suddenly dry. It was clear that this was the day he was going to learn more about all the weird stuff. He was curious about what Łukasz would tell him, but definitely a little apprehensive as well. And he could see that Robert was worried too.

Łukasz got up out of his chair in one fluid, easy motion, picking up the beer and going to the door. ‘I’ll see you outside, Marco.’

They were at work, but the lines between professional and private were already blurred, so Marco went over to Robert and put his arms round him. He’d obviously made the right decision for Robert clung onto him for dear life, fingers clutching the fabric of his t-shirt, clearly scared about how Marco was going to react to whatever Łukasz had to tell him.

‘It’s alright, Robert,’ he soothed him, ‘nothing that I learn today will make any difference to how I feel about you, about us. In fact I suspect it will have exactly the opposite effect. The fewer secrets we have, the closer we will be. Nothing you’ve told me so far has put me off, has it? And some of that has been pretty earthshattering.’

Robert smiled weakly at that, seeing Marco’s point. They kissed softly before Marco headed out of the door. He hated leaving Robert like this, but he knew this was important. The fact that it was Łukasz who had to talk to him was obviously something to do with the ethical rules Robert had to follow, especially when he was interacting with ‘normal’ people.

Łukasz was waiting in the corridor outside and Marco was glad that he didn’t say anything, just ushered him into the cab that had arrived for them. He’d no idea where he was going, even when they arrived at their destination, a road apparently in the middle of nowhere. But Łukasz obviously knew exactly where they were and led him down a narrow path to a shady and secluded spot on the river bank.

‘I thought you might feel more comfortable here,’ Łukasz explained as he handed Marco a cold beer, ‘rather than in a café or at home. Kuba and I used to come here a lot to talk about things in the early days.’

Łukasz was right, Marco realised, he felt relaxed and ready to cope with anything sitting here in the sun, watching the river go by.

‘Thank you. This is perfect. I appreciate you being so thoughtful. And … um … did you bring a bottle opener?’

‘Oh sorry, give it here.’ Łukasz took the bottle from Marco and very casually but extremely elegantly opened it using his own beer before handing it back to him.

They sat and drank their beer in silence for a minute or two. Marco found Łukasz’s presence somehow calming and soothing and, even though there was so much that he wanted to know, he wasn’t in a hurry to start talking.

It was Łukasz who finally broke their companionable silence. ‘You know the rules, Marco. Ask anything you want and I’ll answer you honestly.’

The problem was that there was so much that Marco wanted to know, but he didn’t know where to start, what questions to ask. He had one idea though.

‘I know you said that you’d answer any questions, but I understand if this isn’t something you want to talk about. Can you tell me more about the relationship between Robert and Kuba? I know that it’s complicated. And since the four of us seem to have been thrown together like this, I’d like to understand more.’

He wasn’t sure how Łukasz would react, but the blond Pole nodded. ‘You’re right, Marco. It’s important that you understand why thing are the way they are between them. And it might help you to understand some other things too.

Robert and Kuba are around the same age, Kuba is a bit older. How old you ask? Let’s just pick a round number and say that they have both walked this earth for about seven centuries now. There weren’t as many of our people in Poland then as there are now. Both of them waited almost all of that time to find their true mate – Kuba and I have only been together for the last ten years. And life kind of threw them together, even though they are very different. As Kuba once put it, just because you are members of the same weird, mystical, supernatural race it doesn’t mean that you want to hang out together all the time. But they always got along OK. And then … ’

Łukasz paused for a moment, taking a sip of his beer, obviously thinking about what to say next.

‘You know that our people have … let’s call them responsibilities, and that we can feel and sense things around us?’

Marco nodded.

‘And you know that … the feeding … is a way of coping with that, of retaining our link with humanity, our sanity even. That we need it to survive?’

Marco nodded again, wondering where this was going.

‘Well, when things are really bad around us, when the world is dark and evil, we need it even more. And the world we live in has changed so much over the centuries. Once we could do more against the evil, but now we have to work in other ways.’

This didn’t really make much sense to Marco and he filed it away as one of the things he wanted to ask more about, but he didn’t want to interrupt Łukasz right now. It was obvious that he didn’t find this easy to talk about.

‘You can imagine how hard it was for Robert here in Warsaw during the city’s darkest days. Kuba was in the south, near where I come from as it happens, and it was difficult there too, but he could cope with the pain, he could find people to share their humanity with him, he could survive. But it was different for Robert. He had to leave the city. He would have lost his reason otherwise, it would have destroyed him. But he was torn apart with guilt. And no matter how far away he ran, he could still feel the suffering of his city torturing him. And afterwards …. afterwards it was Kuba who hunted him down, who told him that he had to come back, that he’d been right to leave but now he had to come back and face up to his responsibilities. And Kuba was right as well. Robert knows that. But … ’

Marco had heard the story from Robert, his love had already shared his pain with him, but now, knowing everything that he now knew and hearing what Łukasz had to say, he longed to be able to enfold Robert in his arms and hold him close and safe, protecting him from the world outside. That would have to wait, however, and Łukasz wasn’t finished with this topic yet.

‘You know that Robert had to tell me about his relationship with you as soon as he met you?’

‘Yes. I know it was for my own protection. And I’m glad it was you. I’m guessing that was why you turned up masquerading as Robert’s driver on our first evening date as well.’

Łukasz laughed. ‘I would have done it anyway to help Robert out with the perfect romantic evening he had planned, but you’re quite right, it was the ideal way to get to see the two of you together without arousing suspicions. And I could see straight away that you were meant to be together, how much you loved each other already. And you saw what I was pretty quickly as well, didn’t you?’

Marco nodded. ‘Yes, that day we went shopping and had dinner. It wasn’t just that you were Robert’s friend and colleague or that you were casually but expensively dressed like him. It was more that there was something about you, an aura or something. I can’t really explain it. I just knew.’

‘That’s exactly the right way to put it, Marco. Some normal humans can ‘see’ us, see what we are, even if they don’t know exactly what they’re seeing. Sometimes it means that they’re destined to be with one of us, like Artur was. Often they get drawn to one of us, like a bee attracted to a colourful flower. It was kind of like that with me and Robert. I knew that I was meant to get this job from the moment I came to the interview. There was just something special about him. You know that we wondered if we were meant to be together at first. But then I met Kuba and knew that I had met my destiny and I began to understand what I was seeing.’

Marco wrinkled his brow, wondering if he was understanding what Łukasz was saying correctly.

‘You see, Marco, that was another problem between Robert and Kuba. Robert was fine telling me about you, but it was much harder for Kuba to talk to Robert about his feelings for me.’

Now Marco was 100% sure he was right and his jaw fell open in amazement as Łukasz confirmed his suspicions.

‘Yes, I was a normal human, just like you, when I fell in love with Kuba.’

Chapter Text

Of all the things Marco had expected to hear today, that hadn’t been one of them. Of course he’d wondered about what kind of a future he and Robert had together given the … um … differences between them, but he’d pushed that thought to the back of his mind. Now he knew that his love had known the solution all along, even if he understood why Robert had never said a word to him about it. This was … well this was big. As in huge. He had so many questions, but his words only came out as a stuttered ‘W-w-w-w-w-w-w-what? … H-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-how? … ’, his mouth opening and closing like a startled fish.

Łukasz took pity on him. ‘I’ll try and answer the question I think you’re trying to ask. Yes, you can make the same decision as well, Marco. When the time is right for you and Robert. There’s no hurry. I’m not supposed to try to influence you, but the days when I was still a ‘normal’ human aren’t that far in the past so I think that I can bend the rules a little. I’ve never regretted it for a moment and I’d make the same decision again tomorrow if I had to. And I believe that you will make the same choice as well. I can see that you love Robert every bit as much as I love Kuba. But don’t think too much about it. You’ll know when the time is right. And when that time comes, trust your instincts.’

‘Does Robert, does he … ?’

‘Oh Marco. Robert wants this as much as he needs air to breathe. Every cell in his body has been crying out for it since the first instant he set eyes on you. That’s why he can’t be the one to tell you this. It has to be your decision. And that is why you might need to persuade him that you really want it when the time comes. One day I’ll tell you exactly what I had to do to Kuba to make him see sense … ’

‘By “one day” you mean after I … ?’

‘Of course,’ Łukasz grinned at him.

Now Marco had even more questions and he still didn’t know where to start.

‘Ask away, Marco. Don’t worry about trying to ask your questions in any kind of logical order. It will all make sense in the end. Well as much as any of it makes sense. This has been my life for the past ten years now and I don’t really understand much of it. I just get on with it and try and live the best and most useful life I can with the gifts I now have. I think that it all made a bit more sense way back in the mists of time and that we’re a bit of an anachronism now, but maybe that’s just my very modern perspective. I am one of the youngest of our kind after all. I’m kind of looking forward to you joining us and not being the baby anymore!’

‘Are some of you older than Robert and Kuba then?’

‘Oh yes, much, much older. Wait until you meet Robert’s friend Manu and then you’ll realise exactly where the Greeks and Romans got the inspiration for all those statues of extremely muscular-looking gods. Manu has a wonderful partner too, even if his sense of humour is a bit of an acquired taste. Our numbers seem to remain in rough approximation to the general human population, thus in the beginning we were few in number, but our ranks have grown over the centuries.’

‘By humans becoming … well whatever you are?’

‘Partially, although usually only when they are destined to be the true mate of one of us. And we do have children of our own as well, although not in large numbers.’

Marco’s head was starting to hurt by now, but he needed to know more.

‘What exactly are you?’

Łukasz laughed. ‘That’s a very good question. I asked Robert exactly the same thing when he and I had “the talk” ten years ago. And he struggled to answer me properly, just like I’ll struggle to explain things to you. I mean, how would you answer if I asked you what a human was?’

Marco had to grin, seeing Łukasz’s point of view. Human was just what he was and he couldn’t really define what it meant either.

‘But maybe it is a bit easier for me to explain than it was for Robert since I wasn’t always one of “the People”. That is the best translation of the ancient name we use for ourselves, not that that helps much either. We’ve always been here, we’re part of the fabric of this world. I guess that we’re part of the fundamental ecological balance.

We’re human, at least I still consider myself to be fully human and nothing has changed in that respect. But things have been added. Skills and abilities, some of which you know about already. And the People have a powerful imperative to care for and protect our world and its inhabitants, above all in the places where we come from or live. That’s why Robert’s link with this city is so strong, like an umbilical cord. He’s lived here more or less continuously since soon after the foundation of Warsaw, when just a few thousand people lived here, and seen it grown to the metropolis it is now. That drive to protect and nurture is stronger in the more senior members of our kind. But the longer I am whatever it is that I am, I feel it growing stronger in me as well.’

‘I see,’ said Marco, feeing the need to say something. ‘So what exactly do you do? Are you like superheroes or something?’ He grinned at the stupidity of his question, but Łukasz grinned back at him in response.

‘I guess that’s where some of those superhero stories come from. In the past glimpses of us were explained away as angels or gods, or as mystical beings. Whereas superheroes seem somehow more logical to the modern mind. We help, that’s what we do. It was much easier in the past just to look after a village or something. Or at least that’s what the elders tell me. But now we work through more normal means, like ordinary people, using the science and technology of our society. I suppose that we’ve adapted. Like at the Sports Centre.’

Marco cocked his head to one side, not really getting it.

‘You’re a physio, Marco. A really good one. Think how many people you have helped. Not just helped them to get better, but helped them to fulfil their hopes, their dreams, their full potential. You’ve given people their lives back. Now imagine that you could use all your skills and experience, but with something else added, for example the ability to see what your client isn’t telling you or what the doctor wasn’t able to diagnose.

That’s exactly what Kuba does. Most of the time he works as a perfectly regular child psychologist, but when there is something hidden, something so deeply buried that no child can face it, then Kuba can help in other ways. That’s why we call him in when we have particularly sensitive cases. And like us, Kuba charges the clients who can pay, but the ones who can’t he treats for free because of our unique set up and mission.

One day we’ll need to move on, not straight away, but eventually. Robert plans to set the Sports Centre up as a trust to let the work continue without us. Kuba and I have long shared a dream of setting up some kind of facility or program to help troubled or traumatised children and young people through sports therapy. The problem was Robert. I didn’t want to just leave him behind and theoretically Kuba wanted him to work with us as he knows how good he is, but practically it would have been difficult. But if you and Robert are together, then I think that the dynamic between the four of us could work and we could build something together, something that was part of you and me as well as our ancient other halves. If you’d be interested that is.’

‘Yes, of course. That sounds amazing. And the four of us working together would be great. But that was one of my other questions. How do you … how do we … manage this? Don’t people realise that there is something weird going on? Like notice that Robert and Kuba have been around for a very long time?’

Łukasz smiled at Marco’s correction to ‘we’, before trying to answer. ‘There are a lot of ways to answer that question. One answer is that we can influence how others perceive us. People like you and Artur can see through that false aura and see us as we truly are, but that is a rare gift. In a few years Kuba and I will need to start thinking about doing that with my family so that we can continue seeing them without giving rise to suspicion.’

Marco breathed out a big sigh of relief. That was one of the things he’d been worrying about.

‘I understand, Marco, I really do.’ Łukasz obviously knew exactly what he was thinking. ‘This would have been hard for me if I couldn’t have taken Kuba home to meet my family. My parents adore him by the way. And I wouldn’t have made the decision I did so easily if it had meant saying goodbye to the people I love. You’ll never have to do that, I promise you. You’ll just need to be careful as the years pass, both of you.’

‘You said that there was more than one way to answer my question?’ Marco prompted.

‘Yes. You’d be surprised what people will accept. Changing fashions in hair and clothes make it a lot easier. And honestly, who is really going to believe that Robert and Kuba are seven hundred years old? Who would believe you if you went into a bar right now or to a newspaper and repeated everything I’ve just told you. OK maybe a conspiracy website would believe you, but you can find people who will believe just about everything on the internet.

And … um … we might just have something to do with that. Not the really out there stuff of course because that wouldn’t be ethical, but some of us who have literary talents have written novels and so on that contain elements of the truth about us, turning myth and legend into cultural icons. It’s easier to hide the truth in plain sight. And in doing so we have enriched the cultural heritage of our communities. Just imagine a world without say Dracula? Or It’s a Wonderful Life?’

Marco’s jaw genuinely dropped open at this. It was funny the things that got him. Robert being seven hundred years old, that he seemed to accept without questioning. But this was almost too much to take in.

‘Of course technology poses its challenges, now that almost everyone has a camera in their pocket and can share images around the world in a matter of seconds. And we’ll still getting to grips with things like facial recognition software. But technology also makes it easier for us in other ways. If a computer says something is true, then it pretty much is. And it is very easy to make computers say what you want them to.’

Now Marco’s head really was reeling. He’d taken all the mystical stuff in his stride, but the sheer scale of what he was walking into was just beginning to dawn on him. And Łukasz was being so calm and pragmatic about all this, as if it was all completely normal.

Łukasz saw the look on his face. ‘I think you need another drink, Marco.’ They’d managed to work their way through the entire six pack of beer by now, but Łukasz had come prepared, probably remembering how much of a shock all this had been for him. He reached inside his jacket, taking out a small flask and drinking from it before handing it to Marco.

Marco drank as well. It was vodka. The good stuff. That was something else he’d learned to appreciate since coming to Warsaw.

‘It’s all just so much to take in. Especially this for some reason.’

‘I know. It was the same for me. I could cope with realising that Kuba was my destiny, that we had this mystical connection, that he had secrets. I’d even let him feed from me and that was utterly mind blowing. But somehow finding out that there was this whole highly complex organisation behind all the weirdness was the most surreal thing of all.’

The two of them grinned conspiratorially as they shared the flask of vodka again.

‘We have bankers, lawyers and so on,’ Łukasz explained. ‘They look after the very exclusive bank that issued your credit card for example. But their main job is to manage our charitable foundations and trusts. They’ll keep an eye on the Sports Centre after Robert and I “retire”. And once upon a time we would have had printers and calligraphers, now we have IT specialists. They take care of our identities for us, making sure we have the right documents to be able to live and work. You know these anonymous experts who find leaks and patches for potential breaches of online security that could be used to defraud the general public, well a lot of them work for us and that is kind of an accidental byproduct.’

Maybe it was the vodka, but this was all starting to seem quite normal to Marco.

Łukasz had one more important thing to tell him. ‘With privilege comes responsibilities. You’ve already learned that the People have a strong ethical code and this doesn’t just apply to our relationships with normal humans. It is important that our gifts never allow us to feel that we are better or more important than others, for it is quite the opposite. We are here to serve, that is our purpose. And we must never use who we are for personal gain. Of course we live comfortable lives – although many of us choose to give that up for a while for our work – but that should never be the focus of our endeavours.’

Now Marco thought about it, it had been obvious that Robert was rich right from the start, but he hadn’t flaunted it. Yes he was well-dressed and had a nice car, but nothing that would have be out of place for a well-paid professional. It was more that he’d had an ‘expensive aura’ about him. They’d been on a couple of very exclusive dates, but much of the time they did things that wouldn’t have been out of place in Marco’s former, more simple life. The seemingly extravagant things, such as the shopping trip or buying Marco’s flat, had been for them as a couple, more specifically for Marco, to make him feel comfortable.

The money had only even become an issue once Robert had wanted to take financial worries out the life-changing decisions Marco had to make. OK Robert liked spoiling him, but after seven hundred years waiting for his true mate, you could excuse him a little indulgence now and again.

Marco took a deep breath. ‘I have one last question. Why won’t Robert undress in front of me? You and Kuba as well I suspect.’

Łukasz turned to look at him, his eyes gleaming bright in shimmering shades of blue and grey. ‘You know the answer to that question yourself already. You’ve seen Robert as his true self in your dreams, where he hides nothing from you.’

‘So it’s true. It wasn’t my imagination. He has … ?’

‘Yes, Marco.’

‘And Kuba? And you?’ Marco’s voice quavered slightly.

‘Yes. To both questions. And to the question you can’t bring yourself to utter out loud. Yes, you will as well one day, of that I am sure.’

Chapter Text

Marco had sat there absolutely stunned for a bit as Łukasz patted his arm reassuringly.

‘I’m going to call for a cab to take you home. And you have the day off tomorrow as well, both of you. I think Robert might have plans for your long weekend. You need time to take all of this in and you and Robert need time together. Work is important to both of you, it gives you structure and purpose. And you need to spend time with normal people, not just live wrapped up in your own little mystical bubble. Even if that does mean that I’ve just called Woj normal!’ Luksasz smiled at the irony of what he’d just said.

‘But you need to explore your bond with Robert, experience just how deep and how strong it is. I remember exactly what it was like in the beginning. Robert made me take time off then and I’m doing exactly the same for him now.’

They walked back along the path to the road where a cab was already waiting for them. Marco’s legs were a little shaky, although he wasn’t sure if that was the vodka or the shock of everything he’d learned today. What he did know was that he needed his Robert and fortunately Łukasz understood exactly how he felt, not saying anything until they stopped outside Marco’s flat.

‘Trust yourself, Marco. Trust your instincts. Tell Robert what you want and need, be open and honest with him. And I’ll be here for you if you ever need to talk to someone. Robert understands that you might need that and it’s not going behind his back.’

Marco thanked Łukasz, pressing his hand warmly before getting out of the car. He flew up the stairs two at a time and stormed into their flat, half-running into the living room. Robert’s head jerked up as he heard him coming and Marco saw a faint flicker of worry flash across his face. Marco didn’t stop to think about that and simply launched himself onto the sofa, burrowing into Robert’s lap and wrapping his arms round his neck.

Robert let out a loud, involuntary ‘ooof’ in response to most of Marco’s bodyweight landing on his stomach, but he hugged on tight as well.

After a moment or two of hugging as hard as they could, Marco started to pepper Robert’s face and neck with dozens of tiny, hot, impatient kisses.

‘I love you, Robert. … I love you so very much. … I want us to spend the rest of our very long lives together. … I want us to do amazing things together, you and me. … And I promise that you will never, ever be alone again. …  Never, ever have to face the pain of loneliness again. … I will always be with to share your burden, to share the light and the dark, the joy and the sadness. Forever.’

Marco was breathless from the kisses and his declaration of eternal love, the longest he’d made in his entire life. And he meant it, every single word of it. He sat up on Robert’s lap, strong arms round his waist holding him securely in place. He was panting and flushed, his lips red and bitten and he saw how Robert looked at him. Saw the love and desire in those beautiful blue eyes.

He undid the buttons on his shirt teasingly, slowly easing it back off his shoulders, watching how Robert’s pupils darkened, his love’s eyes suffused with lust. Next he raised himself up onto his knees, unfastening his jeans and pushing them down along with his briefs. He was hard already, torso and groin exposed and aching to be touched and caressed. But he wanted more than sex, so much more.

‘Please, Robert. Feed from me. Take what you need. You waited so long for this. And I need it too. I need this so very badly.’

He was trembling with the sheer force of his overwhelming desire, his craving to feel the unique intensity of their bond flooding his senses. And he could see that Robert felt the same as his fingers instinctively stroked the curve of Marco’s back, making him arch into his touch.

‘I want it too, Marco. My soul is crying out for your sweetness and your beauty, to taste the love flowing through your veins. But I intended for us to do it this weekend, when we were away, for it to be special and wonderful for you, the way you deserve.’

‘And we can. We will. It will be … ,’ Marco’s voice was low and throaty. ‘But I need this now. I need to feel … I need to feel us.’

He saw the hesitation in Robert’s eyes. Robert wanted this as badly as he did. Of course he was trying to protect Marco, to be honourable and considerate like he always was, but Marco didn’t want that, not right now. Right now he wanted to feel the raw, unbridled force of his love’s primal need and desire for him, the desire that had burned unfulfilled for long centuries.

‘Please Robert,’ he pleaded. ‘I know that we don’t need to worry about me becoming addicted to this, turning into your mindless human puppet, not any more. Not after what Łukasz told me.’

Robert whimpered out loud, the gleam in his eyes proving that he understood exactly what Marco was telling him. And that finally broke the dam of his resistance.

Marco arched backwards, letting Robert’s arms take his weight, tilting his head to expose his vulnerable throat. He was breathing hard from arousal and anticipation, but not from fear. He could never fear Robert. Robert would die rather than hurt him. That was the absolute, literal truth and not just some meaningless phrase.

He moaned loudly as he felt Robert’s lips dragging down the skin of his neck.

‘I don’t want you to wait. Do it as soon as you can.’

‘But I could hurt you, Marco. You won’t be properly anaesthetised.’

‘That’s what I need. I don’t want to be seduced into sweet oblivion by your kisses. Not today.’

Marco put as much force as he could behind his thoughts, hoping Robert would understand that he was serious. It must have worked for just a couple of minutes later he felt Robert’s teeth slicing into his flesh. The pain burned bright and sharp at first, but that soon faded away into the familiar welcoming intimacy of their connection. The love flowing between them through their bond was as strong as ever, but Robert’s emotions were closer to the surface this time, raw and uncensored, greedy and possessive.

Robert made no attempt to shield his thoughts from Marco. And Marco gloried in his love’s sheer, unrestrained passion for him, in the raging torrent of emotion that was being unleashed. As he’d suspected, Robert had been holding back until now. His love had been terrified of driving him away by letting him see his true self, fearing that Marco would be repulsed or disgusted by the strength of his feelings, by the depth of his hunger and need for him. But no longer.

And of course Robert’s naked honesty had exactly the opposite effect on Marco. He felt more loved and desired, more cherished and appreciated than ever before. And there was something else. He felt strong and powerful, triumphant even, for he was the one Robert had chosen, the only one who could give him what he needed.

He was careful to let Robert read all of this in his own mind, projecting his emotions as forcefully as he could. How he thrilled at the knowledge of just how delicious he was to his love. How much he adored the idea that he was feeding and nurturing the man he loved in every cold, lonely recess of his heart and soul, healing the wounds time had left behind. How much he loved how possessive Robert was of him. Not just protective, but truly possessive. He was Robert’s and Robert was his and nothing could ever come between them.

Marco had almost forgotten his aching arousal, lost in the sea of their shared emotions. He was whimpering and moaning, hips instinctively canting towards Robert’s body in search of more friction. His moan turned into cries as he felt strong fingers closing round his hard length, stroking him loosely at first, heightening his desire by caressing the wet head of his arousal with slow, circling motions.

Robert’s hand on him always felt perfect, but this felt rawer and needier than before. He was Robert’s, Robert’s to do whatever he wanted with, utterly surrendered to his love in complete trust and devotion. The fact that this time he could feel Robert’s teeth buried in his flesh, that he could physically feel the slight sucking at his neck made everything seem so much more real, more immediate.

Robert started to stroke him more firmly, obviously wanting to bring matters to their logical conclusion. Marco had had sex before, quite a lot of sex as it happens, but he’d never known that he could make noises like this, wild, whimpering, keening sounds that seemed to be torn from somewhere deep inside him.

His love knew his body well enough by now to know exactly when he was about to reach the point of no return. He stilled his hand, still keeping a firm grasp of Marco, while at the same time sucking harder and more purposefully at his neck. That was enough to tip Marco over the edge into one of the most powerful orgasms he’d ever experienced, screaming Robert’s name out loud before sagging into the arms still holding him tight.

He was dimly aware of Robert carefully disengaging from his neck and laying him down on the sofa, his legs still tangled up in his jeans and underwear until Robert freed him. Not that Marco cared about anything much right now, floating as he was on a post-orgasmic cloud of bliss. He felt satisfied and sated in every single cell of his body. Robert was lying on top of him and Marco half wondered why he wasn’t hard for this must have been as arousing for him. But most of his attention was focused on the spot where Robert was gently licking at his neck, soothing and healing the tiny wound.

It took a long while for Marco to be recovered enough to hold a rational conversation, one that went much beyond contented sighs and little moans. Finally he opened his eyes to see Robert above him, his love’s eyes soft with love and sparkling with wonder.

Robert opened his mouth to speak, but Marco put a finger over his lips to stop him.

‘Don’t you dare apologise, Robert Lewandowski. That was exactly what I needed. I needed you … I needed us, pure and undiluted.  It doesn’t always have to feel like a blissful, beautiful dream. Sometimes it needs to be raw and real.’

‘I just want everything to be perfect for you, Marco. I want to give you everything you deserve,’ Robert confessed, his voice breaking slightly.

‘And you do, you do,’ Marco reassured him, tenderly stroking over his love’s cheek. ‘You. Me. Us. Our life together. That’s perfection. That’s enough. You need to stop worrying. Worrying that you’re not giving me enough. Or that I’ll get scared and leave once I see your true self. I’m here now, aren’t I? And I’m not going anywhere, not even now that I know everything. But you need to stop trying too hard, trying to make everything magical and wonderful. I mean, I’m not objecting to that. I love it when you do that. And I know now how terribly long you’ve waited to have someone you can truly share your life with. But I don’t need it all the time. I just need you. I need you to relax and just enjoy what we have together.’

Robert nodded, seeing the truth in Marco’s words.

‘I suppose what we just did was the weird, mystical version of having rough sex,’ Marco grinned, lightening the mood.

Robert looked slightly embarrassed. ‘And it was so good. At first I was scared to let myself go like that, frightened of admitting my needs and desires even to myself, never mind letting you see them. I’ve always kept myself under strict control, made it all about my partner. But it felt just so exhilarating to finally be able to tear down all those mental barriers. I even … well I even came just from us doing that.’

‘Nothing to be ashamed of. I’ll take it as a compliment to how desirable and delicious I am.’ Marco kissed his love on the tip of his nose.

‘Oh you are. You have no idea how delicious.’ Robert’s mouth was on his again, as if to taste him once more as they shared a long, deep passionate kiss.

They snuggled together afterwards for a bit, Marco’s body still limp and pliant from his incredible orgasm. He was naked, but the evening was warm and the heat of Robert’s body nestled close kept him cosy.

‘What happens with … with the feeding,’ he was still struggling with using that word out loud, ‘when … when I … ?’ He wasn’t ready to say that out loud either, but Robert understood what he meant.

‘If you … well since we are true mates, then we can share each other’s strength. I-I-I-I don’t know what that’s like of course, but I’ve been told that it’s wonderful, even better than ... ’

Robert paused for a bit before deciding to continue. ‘Once we find our mates, then we don’t feed on anyone else ever again unless it is in an emergency. I can go for a long time without feeding, especially if there are no particular stresses or tensions in my life. My aura dims, but most people would never notice. You did, but that is because you see me as I truly am.

We … we can influence people’s perceptions and memories when we feed from them if we need to, so that all they remember is having the best sex of their lives. But I never liked doing that. That’s why I always tried to have a long-term partner if it was at all possible, which means that I was accustomed to feeding regularly, like with Artur over the last fifteen years.’

There was another long pause. ‘It’s hard for me to get used to talking about these things with you, Marco. I’ll do my best though.’

‘I understand. Some of it is like that for me too. Not about you, but about how it affects me. I’m glad that it was Łukasz who told me stuff. If it had been you and me, we would have been too focused on what the other one was thinking and feeling to be able to talk about things openly. But now that I know everything, I want us to be honest with each other. And … ,’ now it was Marco’s turn to hesitate, ‘I want this one day … to be like you … for us to share everything. But I need time to take it all in. Especially well … the … the you-know-what. That’s a big thing to get my head around.’

He saw the hope flicker in Robert’s eyes. ‘Are you sure, Marco? I’d never put any pressure on you.’

Marco kissed him softly, wrapping his arms round his love’s neck. ‘You had “the talk” with Łukasz. Did you ever doubt for one single moment that he would choose his life with Kuba?’

‘No, not really. They were so obviously meant to be together.’

‘Of course they were. Just like you and me. I just need some time to get used to the idea. When I woke up this morning, I’d no idea that such a thing was even possible. Or that the other thing wasn’t just a product of my over-fertile imagination. Now changing the topic, you promised to indulge me this weekend. And Łukasz mentioned something about you having something special planned. I think I’ve earned it after today. So I’m definitely in the mood for you to break the rule about not trying to make everything perfect, magical and wonderful for me.’

Chapter Text

Marco stirred awake in Robert’s arms the next morning, blinking sleepily upwards at his love looking down at him. Robert bent down to kiss him good morning, kissing the faint red mark still visible on his neck afterwards.

‘I hate it that I marked your beautiful skin like that. But it will heal in a day or two.’ Robert sounded genuinely upset.

Marco stroked over his cheek with tender fingers. ‘No, you don’t need to feel bad. I wanted this. I like seeing the physical evidence of our love on my body, it makes everything feel real. But you can feed from me again tomorrow and make it as magical, beautiful and special as your heart desires.’

‘Are you really sure you want to do this again so soon?’ Robert asked, even though Marco could hear the hopeful note in his voice.

‘Of course. If you think that I’d pass up the chance for us to share something so wonderful and intimate on our first ever romantic mini-break together, then you need to think again.’

Robert smiled at him gratefully, bending down to kiss the tip of his nose. ‘I hope you like it. It was Łukasz’s recommendation. He and Kuba go there to relax and be alone and there is no need to worry … well about us being two men together. It’s not that kind of place. I thought we could do with some time alone together after Łukasz spoke with you. I booked it in hope, even if … ’

‘ … even if you feared that I might not come back to you,’ Marco finished his sentence for him, kissing him softly. ‘It’s kind of sweet that you are this amazing, ancient, drop-dead gorgeous, incredibly sexy mystical being, and yet you’re so scared that I’m going to run away when I know the truth about you. But you need to trust me. I love you. I’m not going anywhere. And our weekend will be perfect. I know that it will be perfect because you and I will be together. Although breakfast might make this morning even better!’

He could see that Robert was gradually beginning to let himself believe that Marco meant every word he said, even if he still needed time. But Marco could be patient. Robert had waited so long for him that it was not surprising that he still struggled to accept Marco’s unconditional love for him. Maybe this long weekend together would help to change things?

Robert suggested that they shower and get ready before going to their café for breakfast to start their holiday in style and Marco had agreed gladly. After a hearty breakfast to set them up for the short drive, they packed a few things and headed off.

Marco couldn’t help being excited about his first proper holiday with Robert, not to mention curious about where they were going. It took just over an hour for them to reach their destination and he looked out of the window eagerly as they turned off the main road into beautiful parkland. He couldn’t help whistling out loud when he saw what stood at the end of the elegant, tree-lined avenue.

‘It was built as a palace in the eighteenth century,’ Robert explained. ‘There’s even a working brewery in the vaulted cellars underneath the palace and apparently the food is absolutely awesome. They serve fish caught in the lakes in the grounds.’

Marco felt a little under-dressed for such luxury in his jeans and a shirt as he followed Robert up the steps of the central building, which gleamed pristine white in the early afternoon sun. But of course Robert swept in as if he had been born to live here. They were shown up to the royal apartment, for it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise that his love had been unable to resist the temptation of booking the best rooms in the entire hotel for his beloved Marco.

The huge, comfortable bed with its carved wooden headboard certainly looked inviting and conjured up many interesting possibilities in Marco’s fertile imagination. And there were plenty of cosy spots to relax in, even if the crystal chandeliers would take some getting used to. But Marco couldn’t help laughing as he poked his head into the bathroom.

‘What is it?’ asked Robert, coming into join him.

‘It’s all a bit much, isn’t it?’ Marco remarked in the kind of hushed, reverential voice he usually reserved for museums or such like. ‘I mean, are you actually meant to pee in here?’

Robert burst out laughing as he surveyed the ornate green marble bathroom in which every surface that conceivably could be gilded seemed to be shimmering with gold leaf or paint. ‘Yes, it undeniably is a bit over the top. But come and see why I really chose this suite for us.’

He took Marco by the hand and pulled him out onto the huge terrace, which was completely private and not overlooked by any other rooms, and had a stunning view out over the park.

‘Now this is beautiful,’ sighed Marco, wrapping his arms round Robert’s neck and leaning in for a kiss.

‘I thought that we could have dinner here tonight on our private terrace. And they’ll bring our breakfast for us tomorrow. All we have to do is roll out of bed and we can have breakfast still in our underwear if you like.’

Marco did indeed like the sound of that and he showed Robert just how much he loved their perfect weekend retreat by kissing him senseless until they were both breathless and panting.

‘Either we test out that huge bed right now, or we need to leave this room right now,’ Robert breathed, his pupils blown with lust.

Marco couldn’t help wriggling against his love, just for the pleasure of hearing him groan. ‘Tempting as that sounds, and you are always extremely tempting, why don’t we wait until we can have a romantic evening together. Undisturbed.’ He almost purred the last word, making Robert groan again.

‘You’re right, Marco, as hard as it is for me to keep my hands off you. Why don’t we go downstairs for a light lunch? And maybe they’ll let us try some of their special beer brewed on the premises?’

Marco kissed him lightly on the tip of the nose. ‘Sounds like a plan. But first I’ll brave the green and gold monstrosity to freshen up.’

The hotel restaurant boasted quite a few crystal chandeliers as well and Marco couldn’t help being faintly relieved when they were shown to a table on the sunny terrace outside. Breakfast hadn’t been that long ago, but his eyes must have lit up when he saw something on the menu for Robert was smiling at him.

‘Go on, Marco. I know you want to. It will go perfectly with the beer. We can always go for a long walk later. And I took the precaution of packing our sports stuff in case we need to work off some excess calories. I also packed some formal clothes for you if we want to eat in the restaurant tomorrow evening.’

‘Thank you,’ smiled Marco, ‘Now I just have to decide which one to order.’

‘Why don’t we order both and share? I’m sure they won’t mind. And you have no idea how happy it makes me that you love my country’s food so much.’

‘Almost as much as I love you,’ joked Marco.

‘Hmm, it’s lucky I’m not the jealous type or I might think that you were only with me for the food.’

Robert’s smile was even broader at the sight of Marco’s face as the two steaming dishes heaped high with gourmet Pierogi arrived at their table, one filled with meltingly soft and rich slow-cooked beef cheek, the other with lobster. And they did indeed go perfectly with the smooth, wheat beer that tasted faintly of honey.

Marco patted his stomach contentedly afterwards. ‘I think we need to go for that walk now, otherwise I’m running the risk of getting so fat that you don’t lust after me anymore.’

‘That will never happen, Marco, never in a million years. But you’re right that we could both do with some exercise.’

The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the historic parkland that surrounded the palace and being enchanted by the wildlife that roamed the woods, especially the squirrels that ran up and down the tree trunks showing no fear of their human visitors. They also found the oldest trees in the park in a secluded corner, the sign saying that they dated back to the second half of the eighteenth century.

Marco ran his hand over the tree bark reflectively. ‘Normally I’d be thinking about how much these trees have witnessed over the years and how they’ve stood here since long before I was born, but they are mere youngsters in comparison with you. And I suppose that one day I will be older than much of the world around me as well.’

‘Does that bother you?’

‘No, not really. I just need to get my head round the idea. And what I’m also saying is that you can talk about stuff, talk about your life and what you have experienced, and it’s not going to freak me out, I promise.’

Robert nodded. ‘I will. It’s just that I need to get used to the idea as well. I know that I need to be open and honest with you about who I am and the life I have lived before we met, but it’s hard to open up after having to hide my true self from so many people for so long.’

Marco nodded, rubbing Robert’s arm soothingly. ‘I understand. Now shall we go back to our suite fit for a king for the perfect romantic evening you promised me?’

Once back in the hotel, they ordered coffee, lounging on one of the over-stuffed and heavily upholstered sofas for a while. As evening started to draw in, Marco excused himself to get ready for their date. He took a long, relaxing bath, carefully moisturising his skin afterwards, shaving for the second time that day and fixing his hair to perfection, before dressing in simple black jeans and a crisp, white shirt.

Robert’s eyes shone as he saw him, coming forward to take his hand. ‘You look stunning, Marco. Simply stunning.’

His love led him out onto the balcony, which had already been set up for the evening. Strings of fairy lights had been draped over the balustrades, creating a magical enchanted grotto for their romantic date. Candles flickered in antique glass holders on the table. And the champagne was already chilling.

‘May I?’ Robert poured a glass of champagne and handed it to Marco with exaggerated courtesy.

They sipped their champagne contentedly side by side on the terrace, until the doorbell rang telling them that their first course had arrived. Robert had arranged that the waiters would ring to let them know they were there, but use their keycards to enter the suite so that neither Robert nor Marco had to get up to answer the door every time. They had chosen what they wanted to eat from the menu at lunchtime and everything was just as delicious as they had anticipated.

Finally all that was left on the table was their coffee, the last of the wine and their desserts. Nobody would disturb them again tonight and the last of the dishes would be cleared away tomorrow morning. They couldn’t resist feeding each other tiny spoonfuls of their desserts, kissing away any traces of the sweet, sticky mouthfuls afterwards.

Marco sighed as he finished his coffee. ‘I don’t know what I want. I want you and that huge big bed inside. But I’m also blissfully happy sitting here in the late evening sun.’

‘Why do you have to choose?’ asked Robert. ‘Nobody can see us and there is plenty of room for you on my knee on this big, comfy chair.’

Marco’s eyes sparkled as he slid onto Robert’s lap, winding his hands tightly round Robert’s neck. Their kiss was soft and sweet at first, sweet with love and the last traces of their dessert. But Marco was quickly greedy for more, his kisses hard and demanding, his tongue buried deep in his love’s mouth almost as if he was trying to swallow him whole. Robert’s kisses were every bit as urgent, plundering Marco’s mouth and making it his own. They kissed in a hot tangle of lips, teeth and tongues, unable to get enough of each other.

He was squirming in Robert’s lap by now, his burning need almost becoming painful. Robert’s hand was cupped over the bulge in his black jeans, squeezing gently, and he tried to thrust his hips up to find more friction. Robert just chuckled infuriatingly through their wet, messy kisses, enjoying making Marco suffer like this.

At last his love took pity on him. ‘Lean against my shoulder,’ he whispered. Robert’s kisses were soft and gentle once again, tender little licks at his lips as a skilled hand worked its way inside the fastenings of Marco’s jeans. Robert’s hand closing round him felt just so good and Marco sighed with the sheer bliss of his lover’s touch soothing his burning, aching flesh.

His lips were grazed and tender from the ferocity of their earlier kisses, but that just made Robert’s sweet, tender kisses feel all the more intense against his swollen mouth. A hand stroked him gently, stroking him in exactly the same rhythm as the tongue flickering inside his mouth. Marco knew that he was sighing and groaning uncontrollably, letting Robert swallow down all of the aroused noises he couldn’t have kept locked up inside if he’d tried. He was shaking and shuddering, his entire body quivering under Robert’s kisses and caresses, unable to do anything except hold on tight and let his love pleasure him like this.

Nothing else mattered, nothing except for the touch of Robert’s hand and the pressure of his lips. Marco could feel his orgasm building, the heaviness in his balls becoming too much to contain within for much longer, the tendrils of flame spreading out from his groin to lick up his spine. And when he came this time, he seemed to explode from the inside out, his toes literally curling in ecstasy, curling so tightly that they almost cramped. He was whining and sobbing with the force of his release, muttering incomprehensible words of lust and love against Robert’s lips, each one of which Robert heard and treasured in his heart.

Afterwards he just lay there for a long while, barely able to move a finger, feeling utterly blissed-out in every cell of his body. His face was nestled against Robert’s shoulder, his nose buried in the crook of his neck. He could feel his love’s pulse beating strongly, could smell his fresh, clean, masculine scent. Robert kissed his hair and stroked his back soothingly, letting him recover held close and safe in a loving embrace.

‘Every time we do this, I think that it can’t be better than the time before,’ sighed Marco, ‘but somehow it is. The more time we spend together, the more we confide in one other, learn to trust each other, the better it is.’

‘I do my best,’ Robert said with a grin, kissing the top of Marco’s head.

‘I know you do. And there is a very big, comfortable bed waiting in there for us. And maybe I can show you that I have a few tricks of my own as well.’

Marco could have sworn that Robert growled in response. ‘Hold on tight!’ he ordered.

And with that, he stood up, carrying Marco into their bedroom, kicking shut the balcony door behind them as he went, throwing an unprotesting Marco onto the large bed of the royal suite.

Chapter Text

Marco stretched sleepily the next morning, feeling warm, happy and utterly contented. He wriggled round to face his love, smiling up at Robert looking down at him, the morning sunlight falling through the slit in the curtains glancing off his dark hair. They kissed soft and sweet, greeting the new day together.

‘Good morning, my love. Last night was amazing,’ Marco sighed.

‘You were amazing,’ Robert answered him, leaning in for another kiss.

This time they kissed longer and deeper and Marco could feel the unmistakable proof of his seemingly unquenchable desire for Robert stirring in his groin. Of course Robert could feel it too and he broke their kiss with a groan.

‘Much as I would love a morning repeat of last night’s activities, I can hear them setting out our breakfast. And I have to remind you that you are completely naked, which is exactly how I like you, but something that should probably stay private between us.’

Marco had to agree, even if rather reluctantly. So he kissed Robert on the tip of the nose before hopping out of bed. ‘I’ll visit the green and gold monstrosity first then!’

By the time Robert was ready, Marco had slipped into a clean t-shirt and fresh pair of briefs and they went out onto the terrace together, their noses following the enticing smell of freshly-brewed coffee. The morning was pleasantly warm and sunny, perfect for enjoying a relaxed, leisurely breakfast together. Robert had ordered pretty much everything on the menu, including smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and what looked like half a bakery’s worth of rolls and sweet pastries.

Marco was hungry. Again! Something about being with Robert had a strange effect on his appetite for … well for quite a lot of things. But right now it was for breakfast, especially for the smoked salmon. This felt just so decadent, enjoying a sumptuous breakfast in the sun, pretty much wearing nothing but their underwear, especially since Marco could still feel the telltale traces of last night’s love making on his body. So after he had satisfied his immediate hunger, he looked at Robert questioningly from under fluttering eyelashes, trying to look as seductive and enticing as he possibly could.

Robert knew exactly what he wanted and opened his arms invitingly, allowing Marco to slide onto his lap, just like he had done last night. His intentions were a little more innocent this morning, however, and they traded sweet, sticky, coffee-flavoured kisses as they emptied the espresso pot and fed each other small bites of pastry, not because they were still hungry, but just because they liked doing it so much.

When they were finally unable to eat another single mouthful, Marco sighed contentedly, snuggling down against Robert’s shoulder, relishing the fact that his lover was strong enough to be able to hold him like this. Robert kissed his hair lovingly, nosing tenderly through his uncharacteristically messy blond locks.

‘What do you want to do today, Marco?’ he asked. ‘Apart from sit on my knee that is. Which I’m quite happy for you to do for as long as you want to by the way.’

Marco’s voice was muffled where his face was buried in the crook of Robert’s neck. ‘Once we’ve digested our breakfast sufficiently, maybe we could go for a run? And then go exploring later? You could show me round.’

‘Perfect. Especially the bit that means that we don’t need to move for a bit.’

Marco was too relaxed even to speak and just hummed his approval happily into the fabric of Robert’s t-shirt. They sat there basking in the sun for a long while, like two big cats snoozing after a heavy meal until Marco eventually found the willpower to tear himself out of Robert’s arms and stand up. He held out his hand to his mate, ‘Come on. We need to get moving. Or we’ll just go back to bed and stay there for the rest of the day. And then we won’t appreciate it properly tonight.’

Robert grumbled a bit on principle, but had to agree that Marco was right. And the truth was that they would feel better after going for a run since, as much as they loved snuggling, neither of them liked to be cooped up inside for too long and both of them needed to be active. Marco loved running side by side with Robert through the forest almost as much as he loved doing other stuff with his handsome dark-haired Pole, the two of them able to comfortably match one another’s pace.

‘How is your hip?’ he asked once they were back in their suite, his professional instincts automatically kicking in. ‘It looks to be doing better. Woj’s torture seems to be working.’

‘Yes,’ grimaced Robert, ‘it is. But now you mention it, I could do with another massage from my own personal physio once we’re home.’

Marco laughed. ‘I think that can be arranged.’ He leaned over to kiss Robert, who pulled him into a tight hug until he squirmed out of his grasp.

‘No hugging until we’ve both taken a shower!’ laughed Marco.

‘But I thought you liked me all sweaty,’ Robert remonstrated.

‘Of course. At the right time and in the right place. But we need to go out for the afternoon and you promised me a romantic dinner tonight,’ Marco called over his shoulder as he skipped off to the bathroom.

They spent the afternoon exploring the local area, finding a cosy restaurant for lunch. This was the first time Marco had properly been out of the city and he enjoyed their day driving down small country roads and finding villages to investigate. And then it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

They’d decided to eat in the hotel restaurant tonight, not least since it would heighten their anticipation for what would happen later once they were alone in their suite. This time Marco didn’t mind the crystal chandeliers, appreciating the way they made Robert seem to sparkle like a precious jewel in their reflected light. His beloved Robert looked so handsome tonight, his dark male beauty set off to perfection by his well-cut black jacket and simple white shirt. They made a handsome pair, he knew that, and heads turned to look at them as they walked into the dining room side by side.

Their dinner was every bit as delicious as the night before. Marco felt a strange, tingling sensation in his stomach as he looked into Robert’s eyes as they ate, into eyes that looked back at him soft and warm with love. He was hungry for something else, for somehow he had the feeling that tonight would be special. But still they took their time, not wanting to rush things, sipping their coffee and liqueurs.

Finally Robert looked at him with an intense expression on his face, the love and desire shining out of his eyes so powerfully that Marco almost stopped breathing for an instant. ‘Shall we?’ he asked.

The world seemed to have contracted to just the two of them as they walked to their suite. Their movements were sensuously slow, nothing hurried, nothing rushed, both of them wanting to prolong the achingly painful beauty of their longing for each another.

Once they were behind the privacy of their bedroom door, Robert took his face between his hands, tipping his head up for a long, passionate kiss that made Marco’s knees tremble.

‘Why don’t you get ready for bed? As in completely naked and ready for bed,’ Robert whispered against his lips, tenderly stroking over Marco’s cheekbones with his thumbs.

The room was completely dark when he came out of the bathroom, except for the bedside lamp which Robert switched off as well once Marco was safely in bed. He couldn’t help shivering in erotic anticipation as he waited for Robert to come back from the bathroom, already so aroused that even the whisper of the bedlinen against his skin was almost too much.

But what came next was even better. Robert was naked as he slipped into bed beside him, the feeling of bare skin touching bare skin so much more delicious than it had been in Marco’s fertile imagination. Finally Robert was naked in his arms and he surrendered himself to his love as they kissed, no physical or mental barriers left between them. He couldn’t help his back from arching, his hips from pitching, wanting to feel Robert’s body caressing every inch of his naked skin. Their kisses were deep, wet and abandoned, their bodies writhing together in gorgeous ecstasy.

Somehow Marco ended up on top with Robert bearing his weight, his hips grinding into his love where they were both hard and aroused. He loved how this made Robert groan into his mouth, the vibrations of their mingled moans going straight to Marco’s groin.

They kept this up for as long as they could bear, pushing themselves to the limits of their restraint, until Robert eventually turned him on his back, covering him with his own body.

He let out a grateful moan as Robert kissed along his jawline, mouthing at his skin and nipping his earlobe before starting to kiss his neck with long, slow, wet, open-mouthed kisses, his lips and tongue caressing every inch of skin over and over again. This time Marco was only too happy for this to be as beautiful and dreamlike as Robert needed it to be and his love was doing everything in his power to make it perfect for him.

Marco was achingly hard, his arousal sticky with the droplets of fluid that had already leaked from it, begging for attention. But he could suppress those needs for now. He would find his release in later in Robert’s arms, he was sure of that. For now he just let himself drift on the waves of blissful oblivion that his love’s kisses were lulling him into. He didn’t feel Robert’s teeth slice into him this time, but he felt their connection deepen, felt the river of love and trust and comfort flowing between them.

Robert fed on him gently and lovingly, with the utmost care and consideration, but he made no attempt to hide his true thoughts and feelings from Marco anymore, letting him see the depths of his hunger and desire, how much he needed this to soothe the aching, gnawing hunger that dwelt inside him and heal the wounds of his loneliness. They were together now and Robert had everything he had been so desperately longing for, but it would take more than a few weeks of bliss to erase the pain of those long, lonely centuries during which he had waited in hope for his true mate. And Marco gave him everything, gladly and willingly.

He whimpered at the feeling of loss when Robert stopped, whining softly as a warm, wet tongue licked soothingly over the spot on his neck where his love had fed from him. And then Robert kissed him, not ashamed of what they had just done, letting Marco lick inside his mouth and explore the sharp edges of his teeth with his tongue.

Marco’s hips bucked upwards of their own will, seeking the friction he so badly needed. Robert mirrored his movements, rubbing against him exactly where they needed to feel each other. Both of them had been aching for this for so long now that it didn’t take much, just a few thrusts until they came together in a glorious, sticky explosion, mouths still locked together in a messy kiss, more gasping and groaning than kissing.

Robert had just enough energy left to clean them up roughly with the towel he’d brought from the bathroom before they fell asleep nestled close in one another’s arms.

Marco wasn’t surprised or disappointed that Robert got out of bed first after their good morning kisses the next day, only opening the curtains once he was dressed for breakfast. Robert had held nothing back the night before under the cover of darkness. He would be ready to come out into the bright light of day someday soon, Marco was sure of that now, and he would wait patiently until Robert was ready.

Breakfast on the terrace was as magical as it had been the morning before. Marco couldn’t keep the smile from his lips, especially every time he thought about last night, every time he looked at Robert with his equally smug smile.

‘When do we have to check out?’ he asked reluctantly, not wanting their idyll to come to an end yet.

Robert gathered him onto his lap, cuddling him close. ‘We don’t need to rush. I booked the room for the whole long weekend. We can drive home after dinner tonight if you’d like.’

‘Perfect,’ sighed Marco, burying his face in Robert’s neck. But he knew that Robert was worrying about something. He could tell from the slight tension in his body and the nervous way he stroked Marco’s hair.

‘You can use the spa on your own if you want,’ Robert finally said what was on his mind. ‘I saw how you were looking at it longingly. And it’s supposed to be the best spa in the whole of Poland.’

‘Thank you, but it’s OK. I’d rather spend the day with you. That’s more important to me right now. Maybe if we ever come back … ’

‘We will come back if you want to. And maybe one day I’ll be ready to go to the spa with you.’

Marco sat upright, surprised by what Robert had said, his arms wound round his love’s neck. ‘Really! You can … You would … ’

‘Yes, I can. It’s just me. I’m just not comfortable with that yet. Łukasz has told me how wonderful the spa is though. In fact, he was wondering if maybe the four of us would like to spend the weekend here together sometime. I mean, we will want time on our own, but so will Łukasz and Kuba, and it might be nice to do some stuff together as well.’

Marco chewed his lip thoughtfully before answering. This was clearly a big thing for Robert. ‘Of course. I … I asked Łukasz about the history between you and Kuba and he explained some things. He also said that things were easier now you and I are together.’

‘You don’t need to tell me what you and Łukasz talk about, Marco. That is private, for you to be able to talk to someone in complete confidence, someone who understands what you are dealing with.’

‘I know. But I don’t want there to be any secrets between us. And Łukasz also told me about their plans for the future, that you and I could maybe work with them as well.’

‘And?’ Robert seemed to hold his breath waiting for Marco’s answer.

‘I like the idea. I like the idea of us being able to build something important and worthwhile together with our friends. I want this, Robert, all of it. Not just the amazing sex and the perfect romance. I want to share your life, your responsibilities, for us to be able to do amazing things together. That is a precious gift as well.’

The happiness and relief shining out of Robert’s eyes told Marco that he had found the right words. They kissed until they were both breathless and giddy, until Marco couldn’t keep the huge grin from his face. This weekend had indeed seen the breakthrough in their relationship that he’d so badly hoped for.

Chapter Text

 

As much as Marco had enjoyed their weekend away, he was happy to come back to the flat that he was starting to think of as home, as his and Robert’s home. It was late by the time they arrived back in Warsaw and for the first time Marco was glad that he had given into Robert’s insistence that they use a laundry and cleaning service and they didn’t have to start doing household chores.

Marco had been deeply uneasy about the idea at first. He’d never thought of himself as the kind of person who paid other people to do things he could do for himself. It was only once Robert explained it to him that he saw the point. Robert had himself set up the company they used and had worked there until he left to found the Sports Centre. Back in the early ‘90s he’d wanted to find a way for women to be able to work independently and support their families, something that would allow them to fit their employment round the needs of their children and other family members. Today many of the women who worked for them were former victims of domestic or other forms of abuse; some had even been forced into prostitution.

‘We make sure that they are not exploited, that they are paid properly and treated well, that they are respected for the work they do. For me it is no different from paying someone to make a cup of coffee I could make myself or us going to the café for breakfast rather than eating at home,’ Robert told him.

Marco had nodded, seeing the point. And he became even more interested as Robert told him more. ‘We make sure that they have access to counselling and other services. And if they want to go onto further education or training, we support them in that and can offer grants to pay for it.’

Artur, Robert’s former partner, ran the company now. Marco had agreed to meet him at the weekend and he was curious to meet the man who had been such a big part of Robert’s life for so long.

The last few days had rocked Marco’s world on its foundations. But life went on in a surprisingly normal fashion, well as normal as it could be when you were in a relationship with a handsome, charming, incredibly sexy, seven-hundred-year-old mystical being. It felt good being back at work as well, being part of the team again, and Woj welcomed the return of his new partner in crime with his usual exuberance.

Thursday was football training. Enough of them had been interested in setting up a team that plans had been set in motion. They would have to wait until next season to take part in the local league – having their own well-maintained pitch and facilities had made their acceptance a mere formality – but the decision had been made to start regular training straight away.

Robert would arrange to hire a proper coach later on, but for now Łukasz had been elected to act as their temporary coach and Woj was their fitness trainer.

Woj certainly put them through their paces during the warm-up exercises, causing quite a few of their colleagues to grimace. And then it was over to Łukasz. After a few drills, he had them playing against one another in two small teams, just to see how it looked. They were used to playing five-a-side but this was totally different.

Marco had been surprised about their choice of coach at first since Łukasz always seemed so calm and controlled. But on the pitch he was something else, a true leader and motivator, not afraid to make his voice heard if needed. Kuba had come to join them and he was good, as in really good. With him, Robert and Kuba on the team they were going to have a pretty devastating attack. And of course they had an awesome goalkeeper at the other end of the pitch.

Łukasz came up to him after they had showered and changed. ‘It’s getting late and I’m hungry. How about you and I use our not inconsiderable charms to persuade Robert and Kuba to take us to dinner?’ Marco grinned back at him conspiratorially, liking the plan. The four of them needed to spend more time together in relaxed surroundings.

Robert and Kuba were a bit reserved at first, clearly slightly uneasy, but Marco and Łukasz just ignored that and slowly the two ancient Poles started to thaw a little, beginning to laugh and joke together. By the end of the evening they had even reached the understanding that they would go out to eat after every Thursday practice session unless the whole team had plans.

It was Friday evening. The working week was over and they had a long, three day weekend in front of them. Marco couldn’t help being nervous though, as tomorrow he would finally meet Artur for the first time.

Robert sensed that he was unsettled and did his best to reassure him, spoiling him with a lovely dinner, with wine and fresh flowers, candles burning on the table. And Robert had another distraction technique in mind for afterwards as well.

‘You know that massage you promised me, Marco,’ he said, trying – and failing – to sound as innocent as he could, ‘well, my hip is bothering me a little after football practice yesterday. It must be my age beginning to catch up with me. So maybe you could take a look at it?’

Marco looked at him through narrowed eyes, knowing fine well what Robert was up to. But Robert’s hip probably did need some attention after their first serious training session. And Marco couldn’t lie to himself and deny that the prospect of getting his hands on Robert’s gorgeous body was anything less than appealing.

They got ready for the massage, both of them knowing full well that this was going to end up in the kind of massage more appropriate to an adult movie. Robert lay on his front on the sofa dressed only in a t-shirt and briefs; Marco was naked from the waist up.

Of course Marco was a consummate professional and he began by carefully manipulating Robert’s hip, making sure that he had a full range of pain-free mobility, and releasing some of the tension in the muscles and tendons with deft strokes of his fingers. After a few minutes of this, Marco sat back on his heels, thoughtfully chewing at his lip.

‘You know, if you were a normal client, I’d ask you if you felt comfortable removing your underwear. It’s much easier to work underneath a towel than that tight fabric.’

There was a moment’s silence. Marco held his breath, fearing that he had pushed things too far and too fast. He couldn’t help being relieved when Robert reached round to ease down the waistband of his briefs.

‘I don’t think that we need to bother with a towel on top of me either,’ Robert added, ‘but maybe underneath might be a good precaution!’

Marco’s heart was beating faster than usual as he slid Robert’s briefs down those long, positively edible, well-muscled legs, leaving his love naked from the waist down. His hands were shaking slightly as he squeezed a generous glug of massage oil into the palm of his hand. Where to begin!

His oil slick fingers traced the curve where the hollow of Robert’s back swelled out into the perfect ripeness of that gorgeously rounded ass, adoring the perfectly sculpted beauty of Robert’s physique as much as he was massaging it. He was gratified to hear Robert’s sharp intake of breath in response to his touch. His hands slipped effortlessly over the smooth skin, gliding over the hard muscle beneath. He paid special attention to the sensitive spot where Robert’s buttocks met his thighs, making his love moan out loud and grind his groin into the towel beneath him.

Marco stroked over Robert’s thighs, teasing the responsive spots between his legs, noticing how this made him instinctively spread his legs as if in invitation. Robert was the most gorgeous, most arousing, most erotic sight Marco had ever seen and he had to swallow down a lump in his throat at the knowledge that this amazing man, the man  who had been through so much, trusted and loved and desired him so much. And Marco felt exactly the same way, unable to hide the visible proof of his desire even in the loose fabric of his sweat pants.

His voice was thick with love and lust as he whispered ‘Do you want to turn over, love?’

This time there was no hesitation. Robert rolled over. And then, to Marco’s complete astonishment, he reached down to take hold of the hem of his t-shirt before pulling it over his head.

Marco couldn’t move. He couldn’t speak, He just knelt there between Robert’s thighs, utterly transfixed by the most magnificent, most glorious sight he had ever seen. Robert was naked in front of him, strong and proud and male, the shy smile on his lips just making him even more beautiful in Marco’s eyes. He almost didn’t want to break the spell of this perfect moment, but he needed … he needed something … he needed to do … something.

It felt as if the blood was boiling in his veins. He could hear the thud of his heartbeat thrumming in his ears. And then he knew. He didn’t think twice. He just acted. Leaning forward to lick a long, wet stripe along the entire, not inconsiderable length of his love’s aroused manhood. Robert almost screamed, his hips bucking up, his throbbing erection twitching and bobbing in response to Marco’s tongue. Robert’s reaction was so incredible and he tasted just so very delicious, that Marco had to repeat his actions again and again.

Robert was writhing underneath him, moaning and groaning deliriously, obviously being driven out of his mind by the repeated onslaughts of Marco’s tongue. Marco was totally lost in the moment, oblivious to everything but Robert’s ecstasy, revelling in his ability to turn his mate into a whining, begging mess. His tongue flicked over the exposed, engorged tip of his love’s arousal, already sticky with droplets of pleasure. He licked and teased, knowing that this was almost cruel, that the pleasure and Robert’s desperate need to come must be almost physically painful by now. But he went on, wanting to drive Robert to greater heights of bliss, knowing that this would all be over soon after he took him in his mouth.

His mate’s hand was fisted tight in his hair as Robert fought to try and keep his hips still. Finally Marco took pity on him, swallowing him down in one swift move, hollowing his cheeks to suck strongly at the sensitive tip while his tongue massaged the silken skin. He had been right, the warm, wetness of his mouth and the combination of the suction and the friction quickly sent Robert over the edge. Luckily Marco had enough experience to be alert to the telltale twitching and pulsing that was the only warning he got before Robert pretty much exploded in his mouth with a loud grunt.

Marco sucked Robert all through his powerful release, swallowing everything down. Then he quickly stripped off his remaining clothing to lie down on top of his utterly blissed-out lover. They kissed, tongues exploring one another’s mouths. Marco knew that Robert would be tasting his own essence on his lips. Robert’s questing hand slipped between their bodies, taking hold of him and stroking him firmly but gently until he found his release, sighing all of his love and bliss into their kiss.

Robert had just enough energy left to pull the throw that was draped over the back of the sofa down on top of them, snuggling Marco comfortably against his shoulder. He kissed Marco softly on the top of his head.

‘That was wow! Simply wow! I had no idea … ’ Robert seemed to have run out of coherent thoughts. ‘But I think that we’ll need to stay here for a while. My legs seem to have turned to jelly and I’m not sure that I can walk yet.’

Marco chuckled against Robert’s throat. ‘It’s nice to know that I may not be a mystical seven-hundred-year-old being, but that I can still spring a few surprises. And I’m quite happy to lie here for a bit as well.’

Chapter Text

Marco couldn’t help feeling nervous when he woke up the next morning. But Robert was there to soothe him, kissing his nerves into submission until he was melting into his love’s body in bliss.

‘There’s no need to worry,’ Robert reassured him. ‘You and Artur are going to get along famously. Anyone who can cope with Woj and his unique sense of humour can cope with him, I promise! And first we have time for a leisurely breakfast. How about I make you a special breakfast to set you up for the day ahead?’ Robert kissed him on the tip of the nose.

Marco could never refuse an offer like that. The coffee was already made and Robert was busy cooking by the time he wandered sleepily into the kitchen a few minutes later. And Robert had been right. Marco felt a whole lot better about the day ahead once he had a hearty Polish breakfast in his stomach.

Then it was time to get ready to head off to where they were meeting Artur and Arek. Artur was a massive Legia Warsaw fan and never missed a home game, so the plan was to meet up for a drink together beforehand, go to the game and then the four of them would have dinner. Marco was relieved that they had something to focus on apart from the slightly awkward situation of Robert’s ex-partner meeting his current partner. Of course he knew that Robert’s relationship with Artur had been completely different to theirs, but now that he’d let Robert feed from him he understood just how incredibly intimate that was, every bit as intimate as making love.

He was also looking forward to going to his first football match in Poland. Maybe one day he would even be able to take Robert to a game in his home stadium? Take Robert to meet his family? That was something he needed to speak to his love about. But not today. Today he would just try and enjoy himself.

All his reservations fell by the wayside when he met Artur and the huge, blond Pole swept him into a big bear hug. Marco could have sworn that his feet were dangling in the air. Artur sort of reminded him of a bigger version of Kuba and he certainly had the giant personality to match his stature. But there was a look of softness and devotion in his eyes as he looked at Arek. Arek was tall, dark and slender and seemed to be much younger than Artur, even though Marco knew that that was almost certainly deceptive. The two of them were clearly as much in love and as obviously destined for one another as he and Robert were.

They’d only just met and already it seemed as if they had been friends for years. Marco felt relaxed and happy as he followed them into the bar, cocking a questioning eyebrow at Robert.

‘Yes,’ whispered Robert in his ear, ‘Arek might look young and innocent, but don’t let that fool you. He is young by our standards though, only a couple of hundred years old!’

After a quick beer to break the ice, it was off to the stadium. It was smaller than Marco was used too, but modern and impressive. And the atmosphere was electric. He’d heard that Legia fans could be extremely passionate and he wasn’t disappointed, especially since he felt perfectly safe with Robert by his side. Marco had the strong sense that nobody would even dare look at him the wrong way when he was with Robert.

After the match the four of them went for dinner, somewhere Marco had never been before.

‘We thought you’d like it here,’ Robert explained. He’d obviously told the others about Marco’s appreciation for traditional Polish cuisine for the menu was full of all the things he liked best. Now feeling completely at home in Artur and Arek’s company, he ate until his stomach was groaning and he had to sit back in his chair rubbing his belly.

It was a long night and there might even have been a few shots of after-dinner vodka to aid their digestion. Marco was slightly tipsy as they finally stumbled out into the balmy night air.

Artur gave him another big hug in farewell. ‘I like you, Marco. You and Robert are good together. Just like me and Arek. And if Robert hadn’t found you, then I would never have met Arek, so thank you.’

Sunday was mostly spent at home, just the two of them together. They managed to make it to their café for breakfast and to go for a walk, but otherwise they stayed close to home, watching films on Robert’s laptop, snuggled up tight in one another’s arms.

Since they had known that they would be out late the night before, they’d agreed to wait and be intimate that evening. After all Marco had let Robert feed from him twice the previous weekend and both of them had the Monday off work to relax together.

The sun was setting as Marco slid off Robert’s lap, turning to him with a hungry look in his eyes. ‘Shall I go and get ready for bed?’ Robert’s answering smile was all the reply that he needed.

Marco slipped naked between the sheets, already half aroused. He only had to wait a few minutes for Robert to join him, the feel of a naked Robert taking him in his arms still utterly delicious. They kissed, kissed for an eternity until Marco felt as if he was floating high above their bed, cradled in Robert’s embrace. And it felt as gorgeous and as intense as ever as Robert started to feed from him, the bond between them growing stronger every time they did this.

Life went on and Marco’s life started to settle into its new routine. Work. Football training on Thursdays. Thursday nights meant dinner with Łukasz and Kuba. Sometimes they met up with Artur and Arek as well. Sometimes he went out alone with Woj and the other physios. There were times that Robert needed to be on his own and Marco never questioned why. He trusted Robert to tell him when the time was right.

Every weekend Robert fed from him and it was more beautiful each and every time. Marco had the sense that Robert was more and more able to let himself go, let himself relax deeper into the strength of their connection, into Marco’s unconditional love for him.

He thought about the decision that lay ahead of him from time to time. It wasn’t really a decision for he knew what his choice would be. When he would take this irrevocable step was, however, entirely up to him, he knew that. He wanted this. He wanted this future with Robert and all the opportunities it would bring, but he was also content with his life now and happy to enjoy it for a while longer.

The summer began to fade into autumn. The sun sank into the horizon a little earlier each evening. Soon there would be a chill in the air after the sun had set. Marco didn’t mind that one bit. He had loved his magical summer with Robert, but he was looking forward to cosy candle-lit evenings snuggled up in front of the fire, wrapped in blankets and kept warm by their love for one another.

Thoughts of winter made him think of Christmas though, and that meant thoughts of home. They had agreed to spend their first Christmas together here in Warsaw and Marco was very much looking forward to his first Polish Christmas experience. Robert had promised to make it perfect for him and he had no doubt that his love would do everything in his power to make that happen. But he missed his family and he had asked Robert if they could celebrate the new year in Dortmund. Robert had agreed, although there had been a look in his eyes that Marco knew all too well by now. Something was bothering Robert.

Łukasz invited him for coffee towards the end of September. They always enjoyed their time together, not least plotting their next moves in ‘operation Robert & Kuba’. And Marco knew that Łukasz still took his responsibilities as official advisor and counsellor on matters relating to the weird stuff extremely seriously. It did help, knowing that he could talk to Łukasz whenever and about whatever he wanted.

They talked about work and about what they had been doing recently for a while before Łukasz came to the point.

‘I’d ask you how things are, Marco. But I can see that everything is good. You look happy and contented. Glowing even.’

‘Yes, I am,’ sighed Marco. ‘Things are better than I could have dreamed of. And Robert seems to finally be relaxing, no longer scared that I’m going to run away, able to show me his true self.’

Łukasz nodded knowingly. ‘I remember that well. Kuba was exactly the same in the early days.’ Have you thought about … ?’

‘Often. I want it. But things are so good right now that I don’t want to unsettle them. And … ’

‘And …’ Łukasz encouraged him to continue.

‘It’s just that I asked Robert about going to Dortmund at the end of the year and meeting my parents. He said yes, but there was something bothering him, I could see that. I have the funny feeling that it might be something to do with the weird stuff that he still has trouble talking about sometimes. I love Robert, but my family are important to me and I can’t imagine a life that they aren’t part of, at least while they can be.’

‘He’s worried that your family won’t like him. Of course they will. All they are going to see is a handsome, charming man who adores their son and makes him unbelievably happy. But he sees things differently. He sees that he has turned your life upside down and changed it forever. That there are things that you can never tell your family, that you will always have to keep secrets from them. And he feels guilty about that.’

‘Kuba was exactly the same, wasn’t he?’ grinned Marco.

Łukasz nodded, carefully inspecting a fingernail, obviously thinking about what to say next.

‘I’ll never forget the first time I met Kuba’s grandmother,’ Łukasz finally said. ‘She’s amazing. She lives in a village in the south. Everybody knows her. Everybody loves her. I guess it’s kind of like it was for our people in the old days. She’s lived through so much and now she’s totally obsessed with football. Every time we go and visit, she’s watching a game on television.’

Marco’s mouth was hanging open. He hadn’t expected this. But now he thought about it, it was totally logical from what Łukasz had told him about the origins of the People. Those who had begun life as normal humans were usually destined mates of one of the People, like Łukasz; the others were born like this. So he should have known that Robert and Kuba must have been born into the People. He’d just never thought things through properly and realised that meant they must have some kind of family out there as well.

‘S-s-s-s-so … so … so Robert has family?’ Marco stuttered.

‘Yes, he does. And when you mentioned him meeting your family, he couldn’t help thinking about introducing you to his family. Not to mention worrying about not having told you about them before now. I guess that Robert knew all about your family within the first few meetings, but he couldn’t talk about his. And the longer that went on, the more difficult it became to raise the subject. And … ’

‘ … he’s worried about me getting freaked out by the idea,’ Marco concluded. ‘OK, I have to admit that the idea is a little intimidating. I mean, Robert is worried about my parents liking him. But the thought of meeting Robert’s family is kind of mind blowing.’

‘Oh you don’t need to worry either. Robert’s family will just be all too delighted that he’s finally found you. They’ve been hoping for this for so long. And they will see just how much you love each other and how happy and fulfilled you’ve made him.’

Chapter Text

It was Saturday evening. Their special evening. Marco loved everything about his life with Robert, but the sheer, breathtaking intimacy of allowing his love to feed from him and the depth of their bond never ceased to feel absolutely amazing.

They were relaxing on the sofa together after dinner, letting the anticipation build between them, the electricity almost crackling in the air between them. Robert’s lips trailed over the vulnerable skin of Marco’s throat, hot, wet kisses foreshadowing the bliss that was to come later.

Marco was half hard already, eyes shut, moaning softly in response to the caresses of Robert’s mouth. He was close to begging for what he craved, but he forced himself to swim up through the sweet, soporific waves of tenderness and lust flooding his body, trying hard to focus as he sat up, straddling Robert’s lap.

Those beautiful brilliant blue eyes looked at him in concern. ‘There’s nothing to worry about,’ Marco hastened to reassure him, ‘but Łukasz and I had coffee last week. And you know that I don’t want to keep any secrets from you, even though it is important for me to be able to speak to someone else about stuff. And … well … I mentioned about taking you to meet my family. And I now know that you have a family too. Łukasz didn’t exactly tell me outright, but he told me about meeting Kuba’s family and I kind of worked the rest out. Like he meant me to, I guess.’

He saw all the conflicting emotions flit across Robert’s face: from fear, through relief to hope. ‘It’s alright,’ Marco tried to keep his voice calm and loving, ‘I understand why you couldn’t talk about them at the beginning and that it was difficult to broach the subject the longer we were together. And I’m OK with it, honestly. It actually kind of feels more normal that you have a family, people who love you. And I want to meet them one day if that’s at all possible, even though I have to warn you now that I’m nervous as anything that they might not like me!’

Now Robert’s eyes were soft and glowing with love. ‘You need have no fears about that, Marco. My family are going to love you. I’ve already told my mother all about you, about how handsome, kind and loving you are, about what a good, honest man you are, about how you have accepted everything about me with openness, love and understanding.’

Marco sighed happily, snuggling himself down against Robert’s shoulder. ‘You’ve told your mother all about me! That’s so awesome. I like the idea. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside for some strange reason.’

Robert laughed softly, kissing him on the forehead. ‘Yes, I told her about you soon after we met. Only Łukasz knew about us before she did, since he had to. And she’s been demanding regular updates since then, you know how mothers are.’

‘Just like mine, I suppose,’ Marco chuckled. ‘And now … maybe … could we? I feel that I need you right now … without waiting a minute longer ... ’

Robert didn’t answer, simply picked him up and carried him to the bedroom, laying him down carefully on the bed. Marco looked up at his dark-haired love, almost bursting with love and trust, wanting to give himself to the man he loved completely and utterly, mind, body and soul, without reservations.

It was soon clear that Robert intended to take his time and savour this for as long as possible. He undressed Marco almost painfully slowly, covering every inch of skin that was revealed with long, wet kisses. It seemed to take an eternity of longing and aching until Marco was naked from the waist up, his back arching up off the bed to meet Robert’s lips, his painful desire sublimated under the sheer bliss of being worshipped and adored like this.

His jeans were gently eased down, all the way off. Robert kissed his feet, planting individual kisses on each of his toes, something that would have made Marco giggle if this wasn’t all so unbelievably, mind-blowingly erotic. The sweet torture was far from over, however. Robert kissed his way up Marco’s legs, teasing his sensitive inner thighs with loving licks. His legs were splayed open, wide and wanton, desperate and needy, begging to feel Robert’s caresses where he most needed to feel them.

He held his breath as his love finally arrived at where his desire was hard and visible, no longer capable of being restrained by the tight fabric of his underwear. He mewled embarrassingly loudly when he felt warm breath ghosting over the most responsive part of his body once he finally lay there, naked, open and willing, displaying himself for the one he loved. But then there was nothing. He felt cold and alone for a moment, whimpering needily at the loss of his love’s touch, needing and wanting to feel Robert’s warmth against him once more.

It was only for a moment, however, the instant it took Robert to rip off his own clothing and lie back down on top of him, grounding him with the warmth and weight of his body. Robert felt hard and soft in all the right places, just so deliciously naked above him, the feeling of bare skin against bare skin unutterably gorgeous.

Marco surrendered himself to what was to come, closing his eyes, leaning his head back against the pillows, baring his neck and throat to Robert’s ardent kisses. And Robert’s kisses were indeed as hot, ardent and passionate as he had expected, covering every inch of Marco’s throat with soft, slow, wet kisses. Were it not for Robert’s weight holding him down, Marco truly believed that he could have floated up off the mattress on a cloud of sheer bliss.

He was already delirious with love and lust and desire when Robert finally allowed himself to bite into Marco’s flesh, establishing their bond. This was as intense and arousing as ever, incredibly intimate, the two of them sharing their deepest feelings without holding anything back, Marco nourishing and healing his love’s soul with his own body. The strands of their connection flowed sparkling silver between them as Robert fed from him exquisitely slowly, prolonging the experience for as long as possible, gently sipping and teasing at the ribbon of pure, unconditional love he was drawing from Marco.

Marco had thought that the sensations flooding his body were overwhelming many times before, but this time he really was totally overwhelmed by the intensity of their connection, unable to contain everything inside his physical body any longer. He felt as if he was exploding, exploding in a silver shower of passion, fracturing into shards of brilliant, bright joy. Robert never broke their connection, suckling tenderly at his throat all through his powerful climax, a release that seemed to last longer than Marco believed physically possible. Or maybe time really had stood still for both of them?

He was scarcely able to move in the aftermath, drained by the force of his climax, nothing left except for the warm bliss suffusing his limbs. There was just enough energy left to slip a hand between their bodies, cupping Robert’s arousal, letting him rub against his palm, the friction enough to send him quickly over the edge. He could feel, he could share, every single blissful moment of Robert’s orgasm through their bond.

He luxuriated in his love’s embrace afterwards, nuzzling at his cheek while Robert licked soothingly over the patch of skin where he’d fed. They snuggled together for a long while before sharing a deep, intimate kiss.

‘That was … that was …’ words failed Marco. ‘I … I came … just from … ’ his voice trailed off.

‘I know,’ breathed Robert, stroking his hair, ‘it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. You gave yourself to me, completely and utterly, trusting me, loving me, keeping nothing back.’

Marco bit at his lip, wanting to ask something. He'd wanted to ask this for a while now and tonight felt like the right time, as much as there would ever be a right time. ‘Can I see you as you truly are? Your real self? You know what I mean.’

There was a moment of hesitation before Robert replied. Not by speaking, but by getting out of bed and slipping into his briefs and t-shirt before holding out a hand to Marco in invitation. Marco looked at him, not fully understanding.

‘Not here, Marco,’ Robert explained.

Marco was still confused, but he copied Robert’s example. The two of them put on their shoes before leaving the flat. Robert led him up the stairs and then really surprised him by climbing through a hatch onto the roof. Marco paused for a moment, unsure as to what was going on, before following him.

The air was cool, but the evening was not yet cold. The view across the rooftops of Warsaw was breathtaking. But that held no attraction for Marco, for something else was the focus of his attention. Robert stood there, completely naked, utterly magnificent. They had been naked together before, but this was the first time Marco had been able to fully drink in the beauty of the sight before him.

Robert was the most stunning vision he had ever seen, glimmering in the pale moonlight, all smooth skin and powerful, worked-out muscle. Marco walked over to stand before him as if hypnotised, instinctively shrugging off his own clothing, not caring that he was now naked on the roof of the building. Nothing else mattered anymore. It was as if there was nobody left in the world but them.

And then it happened. Something Marco had only seen in his dreams before now. Slowly, ever so slowly, Robert unfurled his wings, almost shyly at first, but then increasingly confidently to stand there proud and magnificent under the night sky.

Tears streamed down Marco’s cheeks and his breath caught in his throat. Robert was so beautiful that it physically hurt to look at him. His wings were as black as his hair, complementing his slightly tanned skin and deep blue eyes to perfection. The glossy black feathers reached above his head and the tips trailed elegantly on the ground. Marco guessed that the span of Robert’s wings was about one and a half times the length of his arms, keeping everything perfectly in proportion.

Robert looked every bit the powerful, ancient creature of myth and legend that he was, but he was also his Robert, the man he loved and shared his life with. Marco had never felt more humbled, more privileged to be the chosen mate of this amazing being than he had in this moment.

He stepped forward, longing to stroke Robert’s beautiful black wings. ‘May I?’ he asked carefully, even though his fingers were already aching to caress the enticing, welcoming velvet blackness, black as midnight, black as the feathers of a raven, so black that they gleamed with a sheen of deepest, darkest blue.

Robert couldn’t speak, but he nodded, giving Marco permission.

Marco paused for a moment. This was somehow a solemn, sacred moment between the two of them. He knew that Robert felt it too. He could sense it in the way his love’s body trembled faintly, in the tremors fluttering across his wings. He lifted up a hand, reverently stroking over one of the wings with the back of his hand. Robert’s wings seemed to have a life of their own, whispering and rustling, responding to his touch. The feathers felt warm, strong, incredibly soft and silken under his fingers, thrumming with power.

His strokes became more confident, his fingertips brushing across the surface of Robert’s wings in wide, arcing circles. He couldn’t help imagining how those soft, feathery wings would feel against his naked skin, how much he longed to be enfolded in their gentle, velvety caress.

There were tears on Robert’s cheeks as well by now, tears of joy and relief. But there was something else written on his face. Could it be desire? Marco watched him closely as he ran his fingers over the soft black feathers once more. Yes, Robert’s reaction was unmistakable, he was reacting to the touch of Marco’s hand.

‘Are your wings … well are they … um … an erogenous zone? Does it feel good when I touch them?’ Marco was embarrassed to ask, but he had to know.

Robert grinned at him, suddenly looking more like the handsome, funny man Marco knew from work than a slightly intimidating, mighty, winged being.

‘I never thought so, no. But it appears that they are when you touch them. They respond to you and to you alone, to my true mate. They recognise you, just like my heart did the first time I saw you. I guess that they’ve been waiting for you all this time just like the rest of me.’

That was when Marco knew. His decision was made. He heard Łukasz’s words ringing in his mind: You’ll know when the time is right. And when that time comes, trust your instincts. Now he just had to persuade Robert that the time had come!

Chapter Text

Marco saw the hesitation on Robert’s face, saw him preparing to argue with him. He didn’t want that, not tonight. He wanted nothing to spoil the magic of this special evening. So he placed his fingers against his love’s lips, cutting off the words he didn’t want to hear. Instead he told Robert what he needed to say so badly, the speech he’d rehearsed in his head so many times now in readiness for the right moment.

‘I’m sure, Robert. I’m surer than I’ve been of anything in my life before. I want you. I want this. And if I am your destiny … if I am the one you have been waiting for all these centuries … then does that not mean that you are also my destiny, that you are the one I have been waiting for as well, even if my years of loneliness have been but the blink of an eye compared to yours? And if that is true, then you have no right to deny me my wish. I know what I am doing. You need to trust me that I know my own mind.’

Marco was breathless as he finished speaking, worried that perhaps he had gone too far. But he saw the understanding and acceptance in Robert’s eyes. And he understood as well. Robert wanted this so badly that he had to be completely sure that he wasn’t pushing Marco into anything. He had to be absolutely sure that Marco was making this decision of his own free will and in full knowledge of the consequences.

Robert took him in his arms. It was as if he had read Marco’s deepest longings, for he wrapped his wings gently and tenderly round him, cosseting him in the warmth and strength of his feathery embrace. This felt so good that Marco could have lingered long in this perfect moment, but he wanted this so fiercely that he didn’t want to plant any doubts in Robert’s mind. So he closed his eyes and leaned his head to one side, granting Robert complete access to his throat.

Marco was so focused on what he was doing that it took him a moment to realise what had happened. His eyes blinked slowly open to find Robert looking at him, a hand under his chin holding his head in place.

‘What?’ Marco asked in confusion. ‘I thought you wanted this too. I need this so badly, Robert. Please don’t make me beg. This is important to me. I want … I need this now.’ He knew that he sounded a bit like a petulant child about to stamp his foot, but he had no words left to express just how much he longed for Robert to do this. He was past lengthy discussions and rational thinking and explanations … he just wanted … needed …

There was a strange expression on Robert’s face. ‘I want this more than I can say, Marco. And yes, this will happen. Here. Tonight. If you want it. But it won’t happen like that. Not like you’ve seen in the films. It needs to be your conscious act. This is something nobody can ever do to you against your will.’

Marco didn’t understand at first, but then realisation dawned and he felt sick to his stomach. ‘No! I can’t! I’d hurt you. I don’t have anaesthetic in my saliva like you do and … well … teeth … like … ’

Robert chuckled, pulling him close. ‘Oh, Marco. All of this and you’re worried about hurting me! That’s one of the many reasons I love you so much.’

Marco had to smile himself. It did sound rather ridiculous, even to him.

Robert kissed his hair gently. ‘It will hurt at first, but that is a small price to pay for our lives together. Do you think that Kuba ever regretted that for one moment to be with Łukasz? Or that the scar on his neck does anything but remind him of the strength of their love for one another and how much Łukasz wanted this?’

‘No, not when you put it like that, but still … ’

‘I know. It goes against your nature. I understand. Shall I help you?’

Marco nodded.

‘Alright, my darling. Wrap your arms round my neck. Rest your head on my shoulder, mouth against my throat. Open your mind to mine. Just relax and let it happen.’

Marco obeyed, feeling strangely calm now that Robert had taken charge. And now he could fully enjoy the gorgeousness of being cradled in his love’s embrace like this, strong arms bearing his weight, nestled safe underneath those beautiful wings. He sighed happily against Robert’s throat, not really sure how this was going to help, but trusting Robert to make this possible.

At first the touch was so light that he thought he might be imagining it. But then he felt it again. And again. Feathery light strokes down the curve of his spine, over the swell of his buttocks, along the sensitive skin of his thighs. Robert was caressing him with his wings, slowly and carefully, so expert and delicate in his movements, exercising complete and utter control. This was one of the most arousing things Marco had ever experienced, the touch of his love’s wings both deeply comforting and exquisitely erotic.

Even though he had come not so very long ago, his body was responding to the caresses of Robert’s wings, stirring where their groins were pressed tight together. Robert kept one hand wrapped firmly round his waist while the other found its way into the hot, damp space between their bodies, gently stroking Marco between his legs. Whether from his wings or his fingers, Robert kept his touches feather light, but they were enough to begin to drive Marco out of his mind.

He meant that quite literally, the assault on his senses rendering him incapable of thinking, incapable of anything but surrendering himself to the gorgeousness of the sensations coursing through his body. Before it shut down completely, the tiny, still rationally functioning part of his brain knew that that was exactly what Robert intended. Instinctively he began to suck at the vulnerable skin on the side of Robert’s throat, suckling gently and in harmony with the rhythm of his love’s gentle strokes.

That’s it, my darling. Let yourself go. Don’t think. Just feel. Let it happen. You’ll know when the time is right, I promise you. I love you so much. You are going to be so beautiful. I can’t wait to see you … to show you so many things … to be able to share everything with you forever. Robert’s voice was a constantly reassuring presence in his mind, soothing and encouraging him.

He was ready for action again by now, his arousal twitching and jerking in response to Robert’s fingertips brushing against it. And his love was hard again as well, he could feel him hard and smearing sticky wetness against his hipbone.

Marco bit down, his teeth not yet breaking Robert’s skin, as he felt skilled fingers caressing his length, as Robert took both of them in his hand, slowly and gently stroking them together, stroking them almost tenderly. This was complete sensory overload: Robert’s strength holding him upright, the feathery touch of his wings, the gorgeous feeling of their hard, bare cocks slipping and sliding together, being so perfectly stimulated by his love’s hand. And through it all, Robert’s voice in his head told him how amazing he was, how much he loved him, bearing him along on a tide of loving bliss.

The world seemed to stand still again, everything reduced to this one, perfect instant. Marco could feel his orgasm building slowly, ever so slowly, gradually spreading through every part of his body. When his climax came, it seemed to consume him, beginning inside, deep in his groin, rippling outwards through every limb. And when he reached his height, spilling all over Robert’s hand as his love twitched and pulsed against him, he knew that it was time. Instinctively he bit down harder, biting down the loud cry he wanted to let out, urged on by the man who held him safe in his arms.

This was all astonishingly easy, he thought, sucking greedily at Robert’s flesh, hungry and thirsty for more. He wasn’t elegant and restrained like Robert was when he fed on him, but he knew that that didn’t matter. This was about satisfying a raw, powerful, primal need. Robert’s hand came up, fingers twisting in his hair, holding his head tight to his love’s neck, encouraging him to drink his fill.

It was as if he was consuming the pure essence of the man he loved, letting it flood through his own veins. It was as if his orgasm was being reversed, pushed back inside his body, its force multiplied, filling him with power. This was the most glorious feeling imaginable, his veins burning hot with love and desire for his mate.

He would have let this go on forever if Robert hadn’t gently encouraged him to let go, stroking his hair and peppering his cheeks with soft, loving kisses. It’s time, Marco, he heard in his mind, but you don’t need to be afraid, I’m here with you, no matter what happens.

All of a sudden he felt weak and dizzy, unable to support himself. His knees buckled and he would have stumbled were it not for Robert’s strong arm round his waist. Robert eased both of them to their knees, using their discarded clothing as a makeshift cushion, encircling him in the safety of his wings.

What’s happening to me? I feel … strange …

I know, darling. Your body is changing and growing. It will be hard for a while, but I’ve got you.

Marco leaned his head against Robert’s shoulder, holding on tight, grateful for the security of Robert’s arms round him. The fire running through his veins burned hotter and hotter until he could contain it inside no longer, until he felt as if he must explode. And explode he did in a way, his new wings sprouting from his shoulder blades, the visible sign of his altered existence. He felt them grow inch by feathery inch, felt himself changing and transforming. When it was over he slumped in Robert’s arms, temporarily overwhelmed by what had happened to him. His senses seemed to have been heightened even further, making him aware of everything round him although the night was now dark. Something was stroking him, soothing him, something that wasn’t Robert’s fingers. He lifted his head up, looking round, catching the first glimpse of his wings. But something else captured his attention.

‘Our wings! It’s as if they are greeting each other, talking to each other,’ he said in awe.

‘Yes, they are,’ Robert smiled at him and that smile was the most beautiful thing Marco had ever seen, full of love and wonder.

Their wings were fluttering together, dancing flirtatiously, wing tips brushing against wing tips.

‘May I?’ breathed Robert.

Marco nodded, holding his breath as Robert stroked over the surface of his wings for the every first time. He felt his love’s caress in the very core of his being, arching his back in automatic response to how good it felt.

‘Oh this is going to be very interesting,’ chuckled Robert, ‘but first, if you feel strong enough, do you want to test them out?’

‘Can I? I mean, do I not need to learn how to use them first?’

‘You will. But for now I will hold your hand. You’ll be quite safe, I promise.’

Robert helped Marco to his feet since his legs were still a little shaky. Hand in hand they walked to the edge of the roof. Marco hesitated, however. Despite everything he’d seen and experienced, he was still reluctant to take this last leap of faith.

Shut your eyes. Hold on tight. Trust me! Robert reassured him.

Marco had to trust his love, he had to do this. He shut his eyes, holding onto Robert’s hand almost painfully tightly. He felt a slight tug at his hand pulling at him and then he was falling, the ground rushing towards him. He opened his mouth to scream but suddenly he wasn’t falling any more, but soaring into the air, his wings beating strongly.

Open your eyes, my darling. You’re magnificent. Even more magnificent than I could have imagined.

Marco obeyed Robert’s instruction. This time his mouth fell open in delight and he was able to relax his death grip on Robert’s hands. They were flying high over the city, the lights of Warsaw twinkling below them. This felt amazing, flying over his adopted home hand in hand with the man he loved. Marco felt strong and powerful, but he also felt something else stirring in him for the very first time. He felt … well he felt protective about the sleeping city and its inhabitants. A gentle squeeze of his hand told him that Robert knew exactly how he was feeling.

He followed Robert’s lead and they flew along the line of the river that snaked its way through the heart of the city, landing on one of the bridges that spanned the Vistula, balancing on the balustrade, using their wings as counterbalance. The clouds parted and the light of the moon shone directly upon them, letting Marco see his and Robert’s shimmering reflections mirrored in the water. They looked perfect side by side, shining dark and gold, complementing each another to perfection. He was lost in the sight, utterly enchanted by what he saw, when he heard Robert’s question in his mind. Just when he thought that today could hold no more surprises.

Can I show you my home, Marco?

Chapter Text

Marco had always assumed that Robert had a home of his own somewhere in the city, that he must have lived somewhere before he had just moved in with him. But he’d known that that was one of the things Robert kept private and would share with him one day, when the time was right. And it seemed that that day had finally come.

Of course. I’d love to see your home.

Robert squeezed his hand in acknowledgement. They stood up on their tiptoes, flexing their knees slightly before leaping effortlessly into the air, their wings bearing their weight and carrying them upwards into the night sky. Marco had been apprehensive about flying for the first time, but this time their take off was graceful and elegant and he was able to enjoy the short flight right from the very beginning, even if he was glad that Robert kept a firm hold of his hand. But he trusted his wings, his wings that were a part of him but seemed to have a life and a personality of their own. His wings would never let him fall, but bore him strong and proud over the slumbering rooftops of Warsaw,

They were only in the air for about five minutes when he could feel Robert’s excitement flowing through their bond. They alighted on a flat roof, on what seemed to be a large roof terrace. For a moment Marco wondered how they were going to get inside. Robert was completely naked so where could he have hidden his house keys? Was there some kind of weird stuff magic involved?

The answer was, of course, technology. Robert went over to the door to what must be the main house, which had a fancy-looking control panel.

‘Retinal scan,’ explained Robert. ‘The front door is downstairs, but this is the one I use if I have been out flying. I’ll program it to let you in as well later.’

The door opened to reveal a flight of stairs leading downwards. Marco took his shoes off before following Robert down the steps, thrilling at how elegant his new wings felt trailing gracefully behind him. He felt a bit like a character in a movie right now!

And he felt even more as if he was in a film set when he emerged into the main room of the house. Robert fiddled with a control panel on the wall. The room felt suddenly much warmer and was bathed in gentle, golden light.

Robert’s house wasn’t at all what he expected. It was modern, fairly minimalistic and mainly built out of sleek, shining white brick and concrete, while one wall of the central room was glass, providing a panoramic view of the city.

‘It’s special glass,’ Robert reassured him, ‘we can see out but nobody else can see in. I always wanted a house like this, a house from which I could watch over my city. We can lie here in winter, snuggled up with our wings wrapped round each other, cosy and warm, watching the snow fall over Warsaw. That was always my dream.’ Robert’s voice broke slightly and Marco felt a sharp stab of hot, fierce love in his heart, reminded again of how long his love had waited to find his mate.

He went over to Robert, taking him into his arms, soothing him and reassuring him that he would never feel cold and alone ever again. His wings caressed Robert’s seemingly of their own accord, stroking them gently, clearly comforting their mate.

Robert relaxed gratefully into his embrace, drawing strength and comfort from him. It was a while before Robert felt able to continue, to go on showing Marco round his home.

There was a huge central living area, a well-equipped kitchen big enough to eat in, a formal dining room and a small study on the ground floor. Robert explained that this was an ecohouse, built to have a minimal environmental impact and to have a low carbon footprint.

‘The whole house is pretty much energy neutral. It was built to show how this kind of technology could relatively easily be incorporated into new buildings even in a country like Poland with relatively cold winters. That is something the People are very committed, trying to find efficient and cost effective ways to steward the planet’s resources for the next thousand years and beyond. Having been on this earth for so long, we have a very different perspective on sustainability and building for future generations. And that means that I don’t need to feel guilty about … ’ Robert’s voice trailed off and he blushed faintly.

‘Guilty about what?’ prompted Marco.

‘Guilty about keeping the house warm enough to walk about naked in, even in the middle of a freezing cold Polish winter. You see … ’ Robert drew a deep breath, ‘ … being naked is our natural and most comfortable state. Our skin and above all our wings are incredibly sensitive and wearing clothing becomes irritating after a while. So when I come home after a long day, I don’t just take off my shoes but everything else as well.’

Marco’s jaw dropped open, unsure which one of the dozen thoughts in his head to come out with first. ‘But you’ve been wearing clothing all the time, twenty-four hours a day all those weeks with me. You must have been so uncomfortable. And your poor wings!’ Instinctively he stroked Robert’s wings, as if apologising for the indignity they’d suffered. Somehow Marco knew just how painful that must have been. He’d only had his wings for a matter of hours, but the idea of having to keep them imprisoned day after day felt physically painful.

‘You were worth it, Marco. Worth every second of it. And I would have continued like that forever. But that was one of the reasons why I had to be on my own sometimes. I had to be free, to let my wings breath, let them fly. I never came back to this house. I knew that I didn’t want to come here again without you by my side as this house would feel cold and empty without you. But I used to go and visit Łukasz and Kuba, especially when Kuba was away on business.’

‘I’m glad,’ said Marco. ‘I’m glad that you were able to be free. And now you can be your true self, never needing to hide again. But …’

Now it was Robert’s turn to prompt him. ‘But what, Marco?’

‘Well, how am I supposed to cope with you all being naked, sexy and gorgeous around the place all the time? I mean, how am I supposed to think about anything but making love to you?’

Robert pulled him close with a deep, throaty groan. ‘Who says that you are supposed to think of anything but us making love when we’re alone? I think that you might well be surprised at … um … just how horny you are in your new body and just how much stamina you have. You have no idea how much self-control I’ve had to exercise over the past few weeks to show you the respect you deserve.’

He wriggled happily against Robert. ‘You mean you wanted me so much and you were just trying to be sensitive for all those weeks.’

‘You have no idea how much,’ groaned Robert, ‘how much I longed to never let you out of my arms, never let you out of my bed. And talking about bed, I need to take care of something quickly and then why don’t I show you my bedroom?’

‘That sounds perfect,’ purred Marco, rubbing himself against Robert just for the satisfaction of hearing his love groan again.

‘Stop that, Marco, or we won’t make it any further. And I owe you the decency of a large, comfortable bed at least.’

Marco relented, letting Robert out of his grasp. He went over to stand in front of the window, looking out over the sparkling lights of the city. It felt somehow exciting to be standing here naked before the vast floor to ceiling windows, able to see out but hidden from the world outside. His wings fluttered slightly, making their presence known as well. They were happy to be home, he could feel that.

He sensed Robert coming over to join him, coming up behind him and wrapping his arms around his waist, nuzzling gently at his neck. Robert’s wings reached round to caress his with gentle, feathery strokes. They stood there for a long moment, enjoying their closeness and the view over the city until Robert whispered ‘Bedroom?’ invitingly in his ear.

Marco needed no further encouragement and he followed Robert up the small inner flight of stairs to a balcony overlooking the large living area. There was a large, comfortable guest bedroom on this level, as well as what must be the master bedroom.

But Robert didn’t open the door straight away, turning to look at him with a serious expression on his face, taking his hands in his. ‘This is my home. I built it hoping that one day it would be the home I could bring my mate to. I’d like it to be our home. But if you’d rather that we found somewhere new together, then that’s OK as well. The weeks we spent in your flat together have been the happiest weeks of my life. You’re all I need to feel at home.’

Marco smiled at him. ‘I feel exactly the same. Home is where you are, where we are together. I love our little flat, but it isn’t really practical with these,’ he gestured at his wings. ‘Your house, your home is beautiful, perfect. Maybe we can bring some of the things we bought for our flat here? Your picture of Warsaw in the old days? Our beautiful vodka glasses? The cushions and fairy lights? There’s a distinct shortage of fairy lights here, I’ve noticed that already!’ Marco winked.

Robert grinned sheepishly. ‘Yes, you’re quite right. This house is spectacular, but it’s all a bit too much like a show home. I kind of enjoyed having the opportunity to decorate the flat and make it all cosy and welcoming!’

‘Then we can do that here. This is our home and we do whatever we like with it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it!’ Marco bit his lip thoughtfully. ‘But I want to keep my flat. It’s special to me, to us. Maybe we can use it for people who are in temporary need of a home and have nowhere else to go? Maybe for some of the woman who work for your old company? I’m sure that Artur would help.’

Robert pulled him close, kissing his hair tenderly. ‘That’s a wonderful idea, Marco.’

Marco sighed against Robert’s shoulder. ‘It’s starting already, isn’t it? I felt the pull as we were flying over the city. I felt, well I felt protective. Łukasz kind of warned me about this. About the feeling of responsibility. This isn’t only about true love, hot sex and beautiful wings. There are duties and responsibilities that come with all this privilege and happiness.’

‘Yes, there are, Marco. But I don’t think this is all coming from your transformation. This is part of who you are. It’s why you were so open to me, why the universe chose you to be my true mate.’

They hugged for a while, cherishing this perfect moment. It was Marco who finally brought matters to a head. ‘Someone promised me a bedroom. I’ve waited long enough for this. I don’t want to wait much longer.’

Robert chuckled. ‘Of course. Me neither.’

The master bedroom was decorated completely differently to the rest of the house. Downstairs was light, airy and modern. The master bedroom was furnished with what were obviously antiques. A large, ornately carved wardrobe. A chest of drawers. And a huge bed with an oak headboard.

‘Would you like to shower with me first?’ Robert asked. ‘It was a bit dirty on that roof and, well, I might have got your hair all sticky as well.’

‘The roof!’ Marco exclaimed, suddenly remembering that they’d left their clothes up there. ‘What if someone finds our things and thinks that something terrible happened?’

‘There’s no need to worry. That call I had to make … Well you know that I had to tell Łukasz what had happened.’

Marco nodded.

‘He’ll arrange for us to take a few days off work, say that you must have caught something from me. Which is kind of true after all! And he’ll rescue our things from the roof.’

‘But how? He doesn’t have a key,’ Marco started to object, before feeling a bit stupid. Of course Łukasz didn’t need a key to get onto the roof of the building. He had wings!

‘Łukasz will come over later today, bring us some things. This house has been empty for weeks now. Kuba has to go out of town for a day or two and Łukasz will visit once he’s gone. But until then you are all mine and I don’t intend to let you out of my arms.’

‘A shower sounds good. But can we? I mean with these?’ Marco glanced over his shoulder.

‘Don’t worry. They’ll love it too. You’ll see.’

The ensuite bathroom was quite something, as large as the entire bedroom in their flat. And the walk-in shower was huge, big enough for both of them with their wings fully extended.

‘I had it made big enough for two in the hope that this day would come. It’s a rainforest shower,’ Robert explained as he switched on the lighting system inside the shower and turned on the water.

The water was pleasantly warm as Marco followed Robert inside. The glass door slid shut, cocooning them in their own warm, wet paradise. Showering with Robert was something Marco had dreamed of but feared might never happen, but this was blissful beyond his wildest dreams.

His wings did indeed love the shower, rippling and quivering with joy, enjoying the caress of the warm water over their feathers. Robert’s wings wanted to join in too, their wings playfully fluttering and floating against each other, clearly enjoying their first shower together. Marco couldn’t help smiling. But then he felt Robert’s lips on his, hot and demanding, their first proper kiss since everything had changed earlier that night.

Marco melted into the kiss, melted into Robert’s wet body, tongues deep in one another’s mouths, licking and probing all around. They kissed until they were breathless and dizzy, until Marco’s head was spinning, until he was completely incapable of rational thought any longer, delirious with love, lust and arousal.

He was dimly aware of the soft little moaning sounds he made as Robert washed his hair. Marco had never thought that having someone wash his hair would be such an erotic experience. He knew that he was whimpering and whining while Robert gently and tenderly washed the rest of him, the feel of a soapy washcloth gliding over his skin almost too much stimulation to bear. Marco was burning with need for Robert by now, burning to feel his love’s hands and mouth on his body, above all burning to feel him deep inside, filling and stretching him, quenching that burning, aching need.

Robert turned off the water, urging Marco out of the shower, carefully drying him with what felt like the softest, fluffiest towels in the world.

Marco was so hard and aroused that he could barely walk. But as ever Robert had the answer, picking him up effortlessly and carrying him out of the bathroom and over to the bed, the tips of his wings trailing elegantly across the floor. Robert laid him gently in the centre of the huge bed, looking down at him as if he was the most precious thing he’d ever seen. Marco’s brain might have half-melted with lust and need, but he knew that this was all new to Robert, that it was time for him to take the lead and make this as special as possible for the man he loved. And he knew exactly what he wanted as well.

Chapter Text

He pulled Robert down towards him, whispering in his ear, ‘Do you have something?’ He could manage without, this wasn’t his first time, but it would be much easier with lube.

Robert flushed slightly before reaching over to open a drawer in the bedside cabinet. ‘Yes, since the day after we met. I wanted to be prepared, just in case … well … you know … ’

Marco laughed. ‘Exactly the same here! It’s hidden in the bathroom in the flat. Ever since we met. I hoped that we’d need it someday!’

He took the lube from Robert’s hand, pulling his love down for a long, deep kiss, feeling the nervousness and tension begin to drain out of his body again. Robert might be a seven-hundred-year-old mystical being, but Marco was pretty sure that this was all new to him.

Let me take care of you, Robert. Just relax. Let me look after you. Everything will be wonderful. I promise.

He felt Robert begin to think about arguing with him, but then he sensed the relief washing over him, glad to have the responsibility taken from his shoulders. Carefully, very carefully, he arranged Robert exactly the way he wanted. Flat on his back on the bed, his magnificent wings spread out on either side of him.

Marco’s breath hitched in his throat at just how beautiful his beloved mate looked like this, those brilliant blue eyes soft with love and trust. Kneeling over him, he used both hands to stroke over his wings, feeling the feathers ripple and undulate in response to his touch.

It feels as if they’re purring with happiness, he heard Robert say. They longed for your touch so badly, my darling, to be able to show themselves to you. I think my wings knew that we were true mates even before my heart dared to allow itself to believe that all my dreams had come true.

Marco lowered himself down, supporting his weight on one arm as he settled over Robert’s body. He bent to kiss his love, keeping the pressure of his lips soft and gentle, mirroring the caressing motions of the fingers of his free hand as it swept across the velvety black feathers. Robert sighed in bliss, parting his lips to let Marco delicately lick at them before delving inside. Robert tasted hot and sweet, of love and passion, of everything that Marco had ever wanted and desired.

They were both aching and needy, but Marco wanted to take his time. This was a special night for both of them, the night in which they would truly become one, the marriage of their very souls, and Marco wanted it to be slow, beautiful and perfect. His beloved had waited so long for this that he deserved it to be perfect. Marco would make it perfect for him.

He caressed Robert’s wing one last time. Until later, my beauties. I need to take care of your master now. The raven-black feathers rustled in acknowledgement.

His tongue licked deeper inside Robert’s mouth, teasing the insides of his cheeks and the sensitive roof of his mouth, before sinking into long, deep, passionate tongue kiss. He was so aroused that he knew he couldn’t take much preparation. In fact, if Robert had touched him intimately right now, he might well have come on the spot.

He squeezed a generous amount of lube onto his hand, reaching round to liberally coat his entrance, easing first one and then a second finger inside himself, readying himself to take his love inside his body. The stimulation and the anticipation was so arousing that he couldn’t help groaning deep into Robert’s mouth, but he never broke their kiss, not even for an instant, even if their kisses got a little wet and messy.

He felt Robert’s question in his mind. It’s OK, I just want to be ready for you he thought reassuringly, you can do this for me the next time.

Once he was relaxed and open enough, he eased himself down Robert’s body to straddle his thighs, using a generous amount of lube to coat his hard length. He saw the delicious shudder ripple through Robert’s body in response to his touch, rippling all the way from the tips of his toes through to the feathery fronds of his wings.

Marco kept his movements slow and deliberate. This was a moment shot full of deepest, purest love and desire, but there was also an element of theatre to it, befitting such a solemn occasion. He knelt over Robert, bearing his weight on strong thigh muscles. Flexing his shoulders, he extended his wings to their fullest extent, letting them beat gently for a few seconds, displaying himself to his love in all his magnificent glory. Marco did indeed feel utterly glorious in that instant. He could see that Robert felt exactly the same way about him, he could see it reflected in his eyes as his love gazed up at him, utterly transfixed by the sight in front of him.

Robert’s eyes opened wide as he felt Marco begin to slowly sink down onto him. Marco struggled to keep his own eyes open as he gradually took Robert deeper and deeper inside, clenching hot and tight round his long, thick cock. Ever since Marco had finally come to terms with the fact that he preferred men to women, this had been his absolute favourite way to make love. Of course it felt good being cuddled close and intimate, face to face with his partner, but there was something about feeling his lover so deep and hard inside him in this way that had always fulfilled some intense, primal need in his soul.

And now he knew why. Robert felt perfect inside him, filling and stretching him to his limits, touching him everywhere he needed to be touched. Once he’d taken everything Robert had to give him, Marco paused for a moment, letting both of them savour the gorgeousness of being joined like this. And then he began to move, slowly and steadily, keeping his movements rhythmical, powering up and down on his heavily-muscled thighs, his outstretched wings acting as the perfect counter balance.

He’d always felt strong and powerful making love like this, glorying in his male strength, but now it was easier, more graceful and elegant, more satisfying than ever. His wings held him effortlessly in place so that Marco could let his mind float freely, so that he had no need to think of anything except for the delicious stimulation of Robert’s cock moving inside him and the pleasure building in his groin.

Robert came first, he’d expected that. He knew that Robert was about to come from the way he struggled to keep his body still, from the way his cock jerked and pulsed against Marco’s walls. He slowed his movements, riding Robert as slowly as was physically possible, clenching his muscles tight round his love’s hard length. He wanted Robert to feel every single second of his climax, to feel Marco hot and tight round him as he came, filling him with the proof of his desire. Only once Robert was finally completely spent, Marco stopped moving, sitting down hard on his beloved’s softening cock.

It wouldn’t take much, he knew that, as he took himself in hand, stroking himself to his climax. His mouth was open, his back arched, his wings holding him upright. His body was covered in a glistening sheen of sweat, highlighting his muscles. Only a few strokes up and down and he came, harder and more powerfully than ever before, covering his hand and both their stomachs with hot spurts of creamy fluid.

Ever so gently he lifted himself off of Robert, lying down on top of his love, his outstretched golden wings laying themselves down on top of their raven black mates, neither of them caring about the wet sticky mess coating their bellies. Their wings seemed equally happy to be reunited, gently nudging up against each other.

‘Do you think they’ll ever stop doing that? Marco whispered. ‘Stroking and caressing each other, I mean.’

‘No, I think not. ’

‘Good,’ Marco hummed happily. ‘I like it.’

‘So do they,’ laughed Robert.

They lay there for a long time after that: utterly blissed out, neither of them wanting to sleep, exchanging sweet kisses and soft caresses.

Even though his release had been so powerful, their close physical proximity was having its usual effect. Marco was almost completely hard again and he could feel Robert’s arousal swelling against his lower belly.

‘What do you think,’ he suggested with a wink, ‘shall we test out that legendary stamina you were talking about earlier?’

‘Yes … but … ’ Robert hesitated.

‘What is it, my love? You can tell me anything.’

‘Will you … will you make love to me? But … I know it sounds ridiculous. I’m the best part of seven hundred years old and … well I’m still a virgin.’

‘I suspected that. That’s why I … the first time … And it’s not ridiculous. It’s beautiful. You waited all this time for me, for your true mate. It’s a privilege for me to be the first and only man to be allowed make love to you. I promise that I’ll make it as good for you as I can.’

‘I know you will, Marco. You are the one I’ve waited for … that we’ve waited for.’

Shut your eyes, my beloved Robert. Don’t try and think about anything. Relax. Just feel. Let yourself drift away on the sensations.

Robert shut his eyes obediently. Marco made sure that he had the lube to hand before kissing Robert. For a long time he did nothing but kiss Robert, kissing him senseless, kissing him with lips, tongue and teeth, wanting to chase away every doubt, every fear, wanting there to be nothing left but the sheer, raw power of their love and desire for one another.

His love’s mind was open to his and he could feel Robert floating away on a cloud of blissful arousal. Marco tried to keep his movements as gentle and relaxed as possible, continuing to kiss Robert while he liberally coated his fingers with lube. Slightly to his surprise, Robert parted his legs instinctively, allowing Marco to gently massage him, teasing the sensitive rim with slow, sure strokes, little by little increasing the pressure. Marco wanted to take his time. It didn’t matter if Robert was over-stimulated, if he came too quickly. Indeed nothing would make Marco happier.

Marco eased the tip of one finger inside Robert, who hissed quietly.

‘Everything OK?’ Marco murmured against his lips.

‘Yes. S’good. Just new. Strange. Good strange though.’

Slowly Marco worked a finger all the way inside Robert, twisting and turning it, using his knuckle to stimulate his sensitive walls. His love was moaning and sighing happily, obviously comfortable with what was happening. There was a sharp intake of breath as he worked a second finger inside, but Marco chased away the slight burn with his kisses.

‘I’m ready,’ Robert whispered.

‘No, you’re not. Not until I say you are. This is your first time and it needs to be perfect.’

‘What did you say about me wanting to make things perfect?’ Robert teased him.

Marco knew exactly how to shut him up, curling his fingers sharply into the spot that he was sure would make Robert see stars of pleasure.

‘W-w-w-what!’

‘I may not be seven hundred years old yet, but I have a few tricks of my own,’ chuckled Marco.

‘Don’t stop!’ Robert’s voice was hoarse with lust as his hips bucked up, almost out of control, in response to another sharp caress against his sweet spot.

Marco went on preparing his love almost leisurely slowly, scissoring and twisting his fingers deep inside him, curling his fingers into that spot from time to time. Robert was utterly lost in his pleasure, a begging, moaning mess, so much so that he didn’t even notice Marco adding a third finger.

Finally Marco pronounced himself satisfied, coating himself liberally in lube. Robert was so open and relaxed that there was scarcely any resistance as Marco pushed inside, just enough for him to feel deliciously tight in all the right places. He set up a slow, steady rhythm, helped by his wings gently beating either side of him, holding him in position without having to rest too much of his weight on Robert’s body.

This was slow and loving, close and intimate, everything that his love deserved for his first time. Marco drank in every single one of Robert’s loud moans, keeping his eyes fixed on his face, attentive to his pleasure and comfort. He had the suspicion that he could make Robert come untouched since he’d been so responsive to having his prostrate massaged. Easing Robert’s knees up, he shifted his own body just far enough to make sure that he was hitting that special spot with every thrust inside.

Robert’s response to the first thrust aimed directly at that incredibly pleasurable spot was electrifying, his back arching up off the bed almost violently as he cried out loud. Marco loved how Robert’s back arched so beautifully with every subsequent thrust inside him. Robert underneath him like this, taking everything so well, responding to him so perfectly, was just the most beautiful thing imaginable.

You’re beautiful. You’re perfect. Making love to you is more amazing than I could ever have dreamed of. Marco couldn’t help himself from telling Robert how wonderful he was over and over again, unable to keep the emotions from spilling over out of his mind.

He would have wanted this to go on forever if he could, thrusting deep inside the tight heat of his gorgeous lover, but even their stamina had its limits. They came almost together, one of their orgasms pushing the other over the edge, even though Marco would have been hard put to say who came first.

Afterwards he collapsed on top of Robert’s body, utterly satisfied, completely drained, scarcely able to move a finger. It took a good ten minutes or so before either of them could move, making it to the bathroom to clean up and get ready for bed.

It had been a long night. The sun was thinking about rising by the time they finally collapsed in each other’s arms again.

‘I’ve set the alarm,’ Robert murmured sleepily.

Marco could only grunt in response, utterly exhausted, asleep almost the moment his head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

He was completely disorientated when he woke up, unsure of where he was, even who or what he was, the buzzing of the alarm clock startling him into sudden consciousness. Everything felt new, strange, different. Panic began to flood his body. He forced himself to calm down, to listen to Robert’s soothing words in his mind.

It’s OK, Marco. Everything is OK. Just remember. Remember what happened yesterday. You’re wonderful. Beautiful. Perfect. I love you so very much, my darling.

His breathing returned to normal and he could focus instead on the soothing warmth of being held close in his love’s arm. And that soft, warm, comfortable weight wrapped round him like the fluffiest, cosiest blanket imaginable … yes … now he remembered … that was Robert’sraven black wing. His hand seemed to move of its own will, his fingers longing to stroke those beautiful black feathers once more. Robert’s soft sigh of bliss at his touch made his heart soar with joy.

‘I want to turn round and kiss you,’ he said, ‘but I’m not sure exactly how to do it with these. I’m afraid that I’m not very graceful with wings. I keep worrying about them getting in the way.’

Robert’s soft laugh tickled the back of his neck. ‘You are so graceful, if only you could see yourself. But it’s a big thing to get used to, I know. You need to remember that they’re part of you, you can’t hurt or damage them by doing normal things. Just turn round. Don’t overthink it. They’ll end up in the right place, just like your arms will. It’ll all be second nature soon and you won’t even think twice about it, I promise.’

Marco wasn’t so sure about that, but he followed Robert’s advice, turning round only a little bit more cautiously than usual. And, slightly to his surprise, everything followed him, more or less ending up in where he’d hoped. Now he and Robert were face to face, one of his wings trailing elegantly across the bed behind him, while the other had wrapped itself round Robert’s body. This felt so good, so right, so perfect that Marco could only sigh happily, closing his eyes as Robert captured his mouth in a good morning kiss. Well, maybe it was nearly a good afternoon kiss if he was completely honest, but it felt as good as ever. Robert’s lips were soft, warm and demanding against his, their tongue thrusting deliciously deep into each other’s mouths.

Neither of them moved once they finally broke their kiss, lying cuddled close, gazing into one another’s eyes, smiling stupidly at each other, unable to stop their happiness from bubbling over.

He kissed Robert gently on the tip of the nose. ‘Thank you. For everything. For last night. For this.’

Robert looked at him incredulously. ‘You’re thanking me? When you’ve given me everything I ever dreamed of? I was happy before. Our life was perfect before. You were perfect before. But this! I have no words to express how beautiful and amazing you are now, how excited I am about our future, about all the things we can do together, that we have to look forward to.’

The only possible response Marco could think of was to kiss Robert stupid, to kiss him without ceasing until they were both breathless and dizzy. So he did just that.

‘You are happy here, Marco?’ Robert asked when they finally had to surface for air. ‘In our home? I meant what I said. We can find somewhere new if you would prefer it that way.’

‘No. I love this house. And we can make it our home. But I do have a question. This room. Your bedroom. The furniture is so different from the rest of the house. And I was surprised that you had antique bedroom furniture. I remember how you reacted to the echoes of the memories in the objects in the antique shop.’

‘You’re right, Marco. This bed isn’t really an antique. Nor is the rest of the furniture. I had everything made especially by a craftsman. They’re in the style of the furniture that was fashionable when I was a child, like the furniture in my first home.

It seemed to work with my vision for this house, something solid, hand-made out of sustainable wood. But it was more than that. I guess that I’d always been running away from how long I’d walked this earth, how long I’d been alone for, trying to forget it. But when I built this house, I built it in the hope that I would be bringing my true mate here, so I wanted to be whole again, to bring my life full circle, past, present and future.’

‘You started building this house after you met Łukasz, didn’t you?’ Marco asked in sudden understanding, finally putting things together. ‘You thought he was the one?’

‘Yes, I did,’ Robert sighed, ‘and then he met Kuba and I could see from the very beginning that they were meant to be together, what it would really be like to meet one’s true mate. What flickered between me and Łukasz was just an echo of that. So I had to believe that I would find that for myself someday soon. And I did. That’s why I knew the minute you set foot in the city, why I had to find you. You don’t mind, do you?’

Marco pulled his love tight. ‘No, of course not. Łukasz and Kuba are meant to be together. Just like you and I were destined to be soulmates. I’m just glad that we found each other and that the four of us can be friends.’

They hugged for a long moment, until Robert cleared his throat. ‘… um … speaking of friends. Łukasz will be here in an hour or so to bring us “breakfast”. Maybe we should shower first?’

‘As long as we can shower together this time as well,’ Marco hummed happily against Robert’s throat. ‘I’d been longing to do that ever since we met and now I’ve seen our amazing bathroom … ’

‘Of course! It would be my pleasure!’

They made their way out of bed slowly, tidying up and straightening the bedclothes. Afterwards they went into the sumptuous bathroom, which was every bit as huge and luxurious as Marco had remembered from last night.

They took a long, relaxed shower together, savouring the slippery feeling of wet, naked bodies rubbing together under the warm water. Marco’s wings seemed to enjoy their second shower every bit as much as the first, fluttering and dancing happily in the jets of water. And Marco definitely enjoyed having his hair washed by Robert for a second time as well.

‘I could get used to being spoiled like this,’ he sighed as Robert dried him off with a huge, fluffy towel once again.

‘And you can, for I’m never going to stop spoiling you,’ Robert assured him, sealing his promise with a kiss on the forehead. ‘But right now I need to go downstairs. Łukasz will be here soon.’

Marco looked at him in confusion. ‘Aren’t you going to get dressed first?’

‘No, why should I? It’s Łukasz.’ Robert looked equally confused until he realised what Marco meant. ‘I’m sorry. Everything feels so natural between us already that I forgot how new it all is to you. Łukasz has seen me naked hundreds of times. It’s normal for us. But if it makes you uncomfortable, I’ll put something on. He’ll understand.’

‘No, don’t,’ Marco blushed faintly. ‘You’re right. I just need to get used to this.’

Robert kissed him again. ‘And it’s entirely up to you what you want do. Łukasz would love to see you, but he’ll understand if you need more time. If you’re not comfortable being naked in front of him, feel free to wear something of mine. I’ll give you a moment to think.’

They exchanged one final kiss and then Robert slipped out the door. Marco appreciated Robert giving him some time to think. So much had happened in the last twenty-four hours and his head was still reeling. Just him and Robert alone was one thing, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to face anyone else yet.

He went over to the mirror to fix his hair, smiling to himself when he realised that he hadn’t changed that much! He might now be some kind of weird mystical being and the proud owner of a pair of beautiful wings, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to tease his hair into its usual vertical perfection.

But then he realised that this was the first time he would be able to get a proper look at his wings. He had seen them briefly reflected in the waters of the Vistula and caught glimpses when he was with Robert. But he’d never really been ‘alone’ with his wings. He suspected that was one of the reasons why Robert had given them their privacy.

They really were breathtaking. Marco turned and twisted before the large bathroom mirror, his wings swishing proudly as he moved. He had the distinct impression that they knew that they were being admired and were preening themselves. And they deserved to be admired, huge, golden and feathery as they were, delicate and powerful at one and the same time.

‘Yes, you’re beautiful. You know you’re beautiful. Shall we go downstairs so that Łukasz can see you?’

Maybe it was his imagination, but he could have sworn that they nodded their agreement. Marco paused for a second, considering going and hunting out a pair of Robert’s briefs, but he decided against it. This was his life now and he wanted to embrace it fully. No hiding. Not anymore.

He went out onto the balcony overlooking the main living area. He could hear distant voices. And he could smell coffee! That made his decision even easier. He set off down the stairs, his wings trailing elegantly behind him.

The door to the kitchen was slightly ajar. He poke his head through the crack, clearing his throat to draw Robert and Łukasz’s attention. Both of them looked at him, clearly delighted to see him.

‘Can I join you?’ he asked.

‘Please,’ smiled Robert.

He was barely inside the door when Łukasz stood up and came over to him, sweeping him into a fierce bear hug. ‘I’m so happy for you, Marco. For both of you. And you look magnificent. Every bit as magnificent as I knew that you would.’

Marco couldn’t help blushing. But strangely enough he didn’t feel as self-conscious as he’d feared. OK, he was stark naked. And he had wings. But Łukasz seemed to find this all completely normal. At last Łukasz let go of him and he went over to Robert, who was standing by the kitchen table waiting for him.

‘I’m so happy you joined us,’ Robert said softly. ‘Łukasz brought coffee. And some of those pastries with plum jam that you love so much.’

Marco could feel his eyes lighting up and he closed his eyes in bliss as Robert fed him one of the delicious pastries. But he really wanted coffee and of course Robert knew that as well.

The three of them sat companionably round the table while Robert and Marco enjoyed their breakfast. Łukasz had brought all of Marco’s favourite things. Not just coffee and the pastries, but his favourite dark bread along with jam, cold meats, cheese and pickles. Marco ate hungrily. A lot had happened since last night’s dinner. Łukasz joined them in drinking coffee and was tempted by some of the pastries as well.

Robert and Marco were sitting side by side and they couldn’t hold back the silly smiles that flitted across their faces as their wings insisted on brushing together, almost like a pair of shy lovers holding hands underneath the table.

Of course Łukasz noticed and couldn’t help grinning at them. ‘Kuba was just as surprised when his wings turned out to be so … um … responsive to me. He had no idea. I guess that that is one of the things they leave for you to find out when you find your true mate.’

‘It was kind of mind blowing,’ Robert had to agree, ‘but in a good way.’

‘Now that you’re finally one of us, Marco, I’m not your official mentor any more,’ Łukasz went on a little more seriously, ‘but you can still talk to me about anything and everything, you know that.’

‘Thank you. I’m really grateful for everything you’ve done for me … for us. It wouldn’t have been as easy without you. And I don’t think that we’d have got this far so quickly without you. You were always so calm and understanding, you always knew the right thing to say at exactly the right time.’

‘It was nothing,’ Łukasz assured him, ‘it was my pleasure. And Robert helped me so much with Kuba that I was happy to be able to be there for the two of you.’

‘Łukasz is just being modest,’ Robert interjected, ‘he’s really good at this. I recommended that he support Artur as well. In fact, you might be asked to give him a reference, if you’re willing to.’

‘Of course. And a glowing one. But why?’ Marco was genuinely interested.

‘Well, you had a lot to cope with coming to terms with all of this. But it isn’t much easier when you grow up with it. Especially when puberty hits and you get confronted with all of this,’ Robert gestured at his wings. ‘So sometimes we go off the rails a bit and it’s important to have somebody to talk to in confidence. That’s one of Kuba’s specialisms, in fact that’s what he’s off doing right now. And Łukasz and Kuba hope to be registered as a kind of temporary foster home, to provide a place where confused young people can take some time out, a place to think and work things through.’

‘They’d be awesome at that,’ Marco agreed. ‘But can I ask, how does it work? This getting wings and puberty thing.’

Łukasz smiled at him. ‘The People are born with their wings, well a tiny version of them at least. Where do you think the inspiration for all those depictions of cherubs came from? Kuba’s grandmother has a painting on her wall that everyone thinks is a Renaissance cherub, but it’s actually Kuba’s baby picture. I think it’s utterly adorable, but he hates it of course.’

Marco turned to Robert with a question on his face. Robert went bright red. ‘Yes, of course. I’m sure my mother will insist on embarrassing me by showing it to you one day. Our wings kind of vanish after a couple of years,’ he quickly changed the subject, ‘I suppose to give us a few years of normal childhood and education but they come back, this time grown to their full extent. That’s sort of what puberty means for us.’

‘How old were you when … ?’

‘Older than it would be for a normal human, I guess because we live for so much longer. The age at which we hit puberty is our "true" age for the rest of our lives, how we appear in reality. I was twenty-nine. It usually happens somewhere between the ages of twenty and forty, but there are no fixed rules.’

‘I see. And my "true" age will be … ?’

‘ … the age you are now, the age at which you transformed,’ Łukasz supplied for him. ‘I’ve been thirty-two for ten years now!’

‘I still have so much to learn,’ Marco sighed, ‘but I guess that I have a long time to spend learning everything.’ He paused, thinking about something. ‘Łukasz, since Kuba is out of town and you’ve brought us all this food, would you like to stay and have dinner with us? Be our first proper guest?’

Chapter Text

‘I’d love to be your guest, Marco. But are you sure that you and Robert don’t want to be alone?’

‘Yes, but we’ve got a whole week together ahead of us. And this is important too. This,’ Marco gestured at his wings, ‘isn’t just about me and Robert, but about a whole new life, a new family, a new set of responsibilities. And you are an important part of that. So this would be the perfect start to our life together.’

The way Robert squeezed his hand tight told Marco that his love understood and approved.

‘OK then. But if I’m going to stay, I guess that I’m a bit overdressed for the occasion,’ Łukasz winked at him.

Marco could feel a question forming in his head, although he wasn’t sure if it was appropriate. But it must have been clear to read on his face.

‘Of course you’re curious, Marco. And you have a right to know. This is part of your life too. You must have been wondering how this works, how you were going to be able to go to work, play football, go for a run, live a normal life outside these four walls.’

He let out a sigh of relief. ‘I was wondering. I mean, I caught glimpses of Robert over the last few days, when we were … um … naked together. But I never tried to look or touch, not properly.’

Robert leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. ‘Thank you. You always respected my privacy, gave me the time I needed, and I appreciated that.’

Łukasz stood up, bending down to take off his socks first. ‘Kind of spoils the overall effect otherwise,’ he joked. And then he turned his back to Marco, undoing his trousers and stepping out of them. He slid down his briefs, leaving himself naked from the waist down.

Marco watched in amazement, his eyes wide with wonder, as Łukasz unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off his shoulders, letting it fall to the ground. Łukasz was completely naked, his back broad and heavily muscled, his waist narrow and curving, his legs strong and powerful. But that wasn’t what captured Marco’s attention. He was fascinated by the patterns on Łukasz’s back, which he knew must be his wings.

Łukasz’s back was truly breathtaking beautiful, a precious work of art. His wings seemed to have been somehow miniaturised and hugged his body close, mapping its curves to perfection. The delicate fronds fanned out either side of his spine, curling over his shoulders and hips like an elaborate, intricate tattoo. Łukasz shifted his weight and the play of his muscles under the skin made his wings ripple as if they were alive, which they were Marco supposed.

‘They’re beautiful, Łukasz, so beautiful,’ Marco breathed in awe.

‘I have no idea how this works. But then I have wings in the first place, so I really shouldn’t be surprise by anything now. I kind of think of it as them curling up and going to sleep. I more or less tell them to do it and it happens, almost as if by magic. It’s nice. I’m aware of them, but I can do anything I want, even swim. And they are still … um … highly responsive like this. That’s one of Kuba’s kinks. He likes it when we go somewhere where we can relax together topless and he can stroke my slumbering wings until I’m purring happily.’

Marco had to grin. That sounded just like Kuba, loving and teasing his Łukasz.

There was a moment of silence, a moment so heavy with meaning that Marco could feel it in the air. And then he watched in wonder as Łukasz’s wings seemed to wake, stretching themselves, chasing the sleep from their feathers before breathing out, growing in every direction until they reached their full extent, beating gently in the stillness of the kitchen. He saw the muscles of Łukasz’s back tense, making his wings fold neatly behind him. That meant that he had enough room to turn round and face Marco, before he unfurled his wings again, standing there in all his naked, winged glory.

Łukasz was every bit as magnificent as Robert. Completely different, but equally magnificent. With his powerful, heavily-muscled physique, dark-golden wings and strong but handsome features, he reminded Marco of the statues he’d seen of the Archangel Michael as a mighty warrior angel. A slight snorting noise behind him made him realise that he must have uttered at least some of this out loud.

‘Sorry, Robert,’ he shrugged helplessly. ‘I mean, you’re my true mate and your wings are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen … ’

‘ … but Łukasz really is magnificent,’ Robert finished his sentence. ‘Don’t worry, I had exactly the same reaction the first time I saw him and you should have seen the look I got from Kuba.’

‘Well he is rather possessive of me sometimes,’ Łukasz smiled, ‘but he would have been equally annoyed if you hadn’t been impressed. You really couldn’t win in that scenario, Robert!’

‘I think maybe it’s time to break out one of the bottles of wine you brought us,’ Robert suggested, shooting a glance at Łukasz that Marco couldn’t quite interpret. ‘We should celebrate. And I think that Marco might still have some questions.’

He did have questions, his head was buzzing with questions. But he waited until they were sitting comfortably round the big kitchen table sipping their wine. He’d only just had ‘breakfast’, but this was his first full day with wings, so he couldn’t expect it to be normal.

‘Robert mentioned that the four of us could maybe go to the spa in that fancy hotel sometime. How does that work … ? Can we … in public, I mean?

Łukasz’s eyes lit up. ‘The spa! I’ve been longing for a spa weekend. Maybe we can go before the winter sets in, when we can still walk in the countryside. Although the spa is amazing when there is snow on the ground outside as well. I’ll talk to Kuba. If that’s alright with you, Marco, if it’s not too soon for you that is.’

‘No, it sounds fun. I’d like that.’

‘And the great thing about that hotel being a former palace is that there is lots of “wing space” in the bedrooms for later,’ Łukasz explained. ‘But to answer your question. The vast majority of people can’t see our wings when they are “sleeping” and there is usually a reason for it if they can. I could see Robert’s, for example, even before I had my own. And so could Artur. So we were pretty sure that you would be able to, which is why we were careful undressing in front of you. But you don’t have to suddenly start showering in private at work, for example.’

Marco couldn’t help feeling relieved at that. He’d hated the idea of Woj and the others thinking he thought he was too good to get changed in front of them all of a sudden. It was different with Robert and Łukasz as they were the bosses and he had the feeling that Robert had always been careful in front of other people, just in case.

‘But it’s an entirely different story when our wings are unfurled,’ continued Łukasz. ‘Then everyone can see them, although we can shield ourselves in flight. The thing is, who is going to believe that there are actually winged humans flying around the place, especially when we can make our wings disappear almost instantaneously? But we try to avoid that happening too often, to avoid causing distress or making people think that they are seeing things or losing their minds.’

‘Although sometimes it helps. Sometimes people need to believe that there is more than the world they see in front of them. A pair of wings can come in very handy when it comes to persuading someone not to jump off a bridge, for example. Or maybe sometimes a little boy just needs to believe in magic.’ Robert smiled, obviously remembering something.

‘So as long as your wings are at rest, you can pretty much do anything you like,’ explained Łukasz, ‘although I’d probably avoid having a back massage from someone who doesn’t know that you have wings. Not that I think that will be a problem for you and Robert since you have each other.’ Łukasz somehow managed to wink and grin at the same time.

‘Our wings don’t show up on a standard medical scanner either,’ continued Robert, ‘and our physiology is basically the same as normal humans. So while we don’t get sick very often, we can go to the doctor just like anyone else. But, if there is something wrong that relates to one of our unique characteristics, well then we have our own special clinics.’

Marco cocked his head to side in interest at what Robert was saying. ‘Tell me more.’

‘For example, we have a big clinic in Munich. It’s a specialist centre for orthopedics and neurology, with a particular focus on spinal injuries. It treats people from all over the world, free of charge if need be. But the upper floors are dedicated to the People, specialising in problems with our wings and upper bodies.

In fact, my mother was really interested when I told her that you were a physio. She was wondering if someday you’d like to visit the clinic, maybe spend some time with the orthopedists. We don’t have many physios among us and developing … uh … wing maintenance and rehabilitation physio programs could be an interesting idea.’

Marco could feel his eyes shining with enthusiasm. ‘Oh yes. That sounds really cool. There is so much to learn and experience. I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all.’

‘You’ll do great,’ Robert kissed him softly on the cheek. ‘But now it’s time to make dinner.’

Marco burst out laughing as Robert handed him a big apron, large enough to cover his front from his nipples down to his knees. ‘You’re not seriously suggesting that I wear this!’ he asked, holding the apron up against himself.

‘No, I’m not suggesting, I’m insisting. I don’t want any of your … um … sensitive bits to get damaged or burnt. You still need to be careful. And sometimes you need to cover up.’ Robert dropped his voice to a low, conspiratorial tone. ‘Do you remember that luxurious, comfy, incredibly sexy underwear I bought for you?’

Marco nodded, his throat suddenly dry.

‘Well I bought it partly hoping that this day would come one day. You’ll find that it is still incredibly comfortable, even in your new, highly-sensitised state.

Marco shivered at Robert’s words and he could feel his cheeks glowing red. So he quickly changed the subject, asking another question that had been bothering him.

‘Why did you lower your voice, but still say that out loud? Why not say it telepathically? I know you can.’

‘Because Łukasz is here and it would be rude. And because … ’

‘May I, Marco?’ Łukasz asked.

Marco nodded, not really sure what he was agreeing too. He felt a pushing sensation, a pressure in his mind. It wasn’t like when he could hear Robert’s thoughts, but he relaxed, tried to consciously let down his barriers. And then he heard Łukasz’s words.

Hello, Marco. It’s good to know that we can do this, for emergencies and so on.

His legs were shaking and he had to sit down right away. ‘So we’re all telepathic?’

‘In theory, yes,’ Łukasz answered his question, ‘although the ease of communication depends in large part on the closeness of the relationship. I was pretty sure that I could speak to you without causing you discomfort. That pressure you felt, well it can be a lot worse.’

‘Is that why we don’t use it?’

‘In part,’ Robert supplied, ‘but also so as not to set us apart, for us to think that we are somehow superior to or above normal humans. Direct mind-to-mind communication is for families and close friends, above all for true mates at those moments when their bond is at its closest. The rest of the time, we use spoken words by deliberate choice.’

‘I see. That makes sense. And I must confess to being relieved. I mean, I love feeling you in my mind when we’re especially close. But I’ve spent the best part of twenty-eight years speaking my thoughts out loud and it’s difficult to change that overnight.’

‘That’s quite normal,’ Łukasz reassured him. ‘Just like there are times you’ll want to be with Robert with your wings at rest, just like it was at the beginning.’ It’s part of who you are and will be for a very long time.

Marco looked at Robert, checking that he was OK with this as well. ‘Really? I thought that now we both had wings, you’d always want them to be part of our … um … alone time?’

‘I want what you want, what is best for both of us. Of course our wings are part of us, but they’re not the whole of us. And anyway, it will be interesting to see if our sleeping wings are as responsive as Łukasz’s are.’ Robert winked at him filthily.

‘Tell him about the island though,’ prompted Łukasz.

‘Island?’ queried Marco.

‘Yes, we have special places, secluded places, where we can go on holiday and be ourselves, get away from everything. My favourite is a beautiful island. We can walk along the beach. Swim in the ocean. Stand under a waterfall. I always longed to share it with someone special.’ Robert’s voice was thick with emotion and Marco hugged him in understanding.

‘As beautiful as the island is, you felt even more alone there. But you’ll never be alone ever again. I can’t wait for you to show me the island.’

‘And you can meet my friends,’ Robert smiled at him.

Łukasz tactfully gave them a moment to hug before clearing his throat and asking after dinner.

The evening passed pleasantly. Robert cooked, ably assisted by Marco and they ate comfortably round the kitchen table, candles burning and the wine flowing.

Finally Łukasz stretched sleepily and announced that it was time to go home. ‘Obviously I can’t drive anymore, but that’s fine. Kuba has left his car in Warsaw so I was going to suggest leaving mine here anyway, since I guess you’ll want to go back to the flat and pick some stuff up. One of you can bring it back later.’

Marco giggled slightly tipsily. ‘So that was the meaning of the questioning look Robert gave you. You wouldn’t drive after drinking, but you can fly!’

‘Of course. Even if I’d be fine driving, it’s against the law. But there are no laws about flying and drinking. And I’m not sure that my wings can actually get drunk. Not to mention the fact that I’m not exactly going to be a danger to anyone except maybe a passing pigeon!’

His new life was strange but fun, thought Marco, as he followed Robert and Łukasz up the flight of stairs to the roof terrace, Łukasz holding a small bag with his phone, keys and wallet. They said their goodbyes and then watched as Łukasz took off, rising elegantly and effortlessly into the night sky. There was a brief flash of gold in the moonlight before he vanished out of sight.

‘How beautiful,’ breathed Marco. This was the first time he’d actually witnessed one of the People taking off as he’d been too busy holding onto Robert’s hand when they’d flown together.

‘Yes, it is. We can fly together again this week, if you’d like. But now it is time for bed.’

Hand in hand, they turned and went back inside.

Chapter Text

They went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. This was the first time they’d been able to do this since they’d been together and it felt surprisingly nice.

Robert noticed the faint smile on Marco’s lips. ‘Happy?’ he asked, knowing full well what the answer would be.

‘Yes,’ sighed Marco. ‘Today has been a good day. And … well … it’s kind of ironic that me having wings means that we can do normal things like shower together or get ready for bed in front of each other. In a strange way, our everyday life has become more normal at the same time as everything else has been turned on its head.’

Robert chuckled, pulling him close, kissing his hair. ‘I know what you mean. We can be a normal couple now, despite all the weird stuff, since we can share the weird stuff fully.’

His love had put it perfectly. It felt so good being in Robert’s arms, but he was tired, so very tired. ‘Would you mind if we didn’t do … um … anything tonight? I mean, you’re as gorgeous and desirable as ever, but it’s been a long day and I really need to sleep.’

‘Of course not. This has been a big day for you. And there is something I’d really like to try if it’s OK with you and we both need to be fresh for it.’ Robert whispered his secret wish softly in Marco’s ear.

Even though he was exhausted, he couldn’t help feeling aroused just by Robert’s suggestion. ‘Alright with me? That’s more than alright with me! Although I have to warn you that it will probably make me explode with sheer lust and desire!’

Robert’s warm breath tickled his neck. ‘I may be less experienced at this sex stuff than you, but I though making you explode was kind of the point!’

‘I’ve bred a monster,’ Marco pretended to complain, not that he minded one little bit. He loved this passionate, unrestrained Robert that had been unleashed since last night. ‘But I have a request of my own. I want to hold you in my arms tonight, wrap my wings around you. You waited for this for so long, let me hold you tonight.’

He saw how much Robert longed for this, just as he saw him think about arguing. So Marco decided to put an end to the debate. ‘We’re equals now. We share everything. Let me look after you the way you have looked after me all these weeks.’

Marco lay down first once they were in the bedroom, his wings carefully outspread, ready to encircle his love in their warm embrace. Robert sighed gratefully as he lay back against his chest, the feathers of his raven black wings brushing deliciously soft against Marco’s skin. Once they were completely comfortable, Marco wrapped one arm round Robert, his hand splayed protectively over his love’s heart. His wings closed comfortingly around Robert, enclosing him in a warm cocoon of love.

Thank you, Marco. This is perfect, blissful. Everything I ever longed for and dreamed of.

The words weren’t strictly necessary, for Marco could sense the utter peace and contentment in his love’s mind. And so they drifted off to sleep.

Marco had dreamed of his magnificent winged Robert as usual that night. But this time he woke to find him in his arms, a warm, heavy, feathery weight resting against him.

Good morning, my love.

Good morning, darling, Robert answered, before continuing out loud. ‘That was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in seven hundred years. But you will let me spoil you by making you breakfast, won’t you?’

Marco laughed at Robert’s slightly exaggerated claim, even though he was pretty much willing to believe it, rolling over onto his back to let his love turn round for them to kiss good morning. ‘Of course you can make me breakfast. And I really hope that Łukasz brought the ingredients for pancakes.’

‘As if I’d let him forget an important thing like that!’ Robert teased, kissing him on the tip of the nose, before slipping out of bed to use the bathroom.

By the time Marco followed him downstairs, the coffee was already brewing. Marco sat at the scrubbed wooden kitchen table, sipping his coffee and watching Robert make their breakfast. There was bread with ham, cheese and pickles of course. But what Marco was really looking forward to was the heap of pancakes with jam that was Robert’s specialty.

Once they were finally full and drinking their second coffee of the morning, it was time to discuss their plans for the week.

‘I thought that we might stay at home today, give you a chance to get properly used to your new wings. And I might have other plans as well,’ Robert winked filthily. ‘And tomorrow, if you’re ready, we could go to the flat to pick up your stuff. That way we can take Łukasz’s car back before Kuba comes home. Now we’re living here and not in the flat, you probably should buy your own car for the times we can’t travel together.’

‘I can’t afford a … ’ Marco started to say, before realising that he could. He hadn’t thought much about the bank account with the black credit card Robert had opened for him. He’d used it a couple of times to pay for dinner when they were out with Łukasz and Kuba and to buy some sports kit, but really he didn’t need much.

‘Of course you can,’ Robert retorted, his smile showing that he understood exactly what Marco was thinking about. ‘And that’s something else you need to think about. Before that money was to give you independence and security no matter what happened; now you need to think about what you want to do with it. How you want to invest it. You’ll need to speak to someone about that.’

Marco’s mouth dropped open. This was another thing he hadn’t thought about. More responsibilities.

‘Or … ’ Robert stopped speaking.

‘Or?’ Marco prompted.

‘Or we can pool our resources, have one bank account, make all the decisions together,’ Robert suggested.

‘That would make everything much easier. But you have so much more than me. All of this!’ Marco gestured around him.

Robert’s eyes flashed brilliant blue. ‘Everything I have is ours. I want us to share everything. To plan for the future together.’

Marco reached across the table to take Robert’s hand. ‘I want that too. We’re in this together now.’

His love’s smile was dazzling as he squeezed his hand. ‘I’ll arrange a meeting with the person who looks after my affairs. And now shall we clear up? Then we can get on with more … um … interesting things.’

This all sounded very mysterious, but Marco pushed that to the back of his mind, focusing on the everyday normality of him and Robert tidying up the kitchen. Although their wings did insist on caressing one another as they loaded the dishwasher, which maybe was a little more out of the ordinary!

They flopped down on the sofa for a bit, letting their breakfast go down. Marco felt totally relaxed lying naked in Robert’s arms as his love stroked his thighs and belly soothingly. But long enough of this and of course his mind turned to other things, especially the thing Robert had whispered in his ear last night.

‘Do you want to go to bed for a bit?’ he suggested hopefully, relieved when Robert agreed.

His love was clearly nervous as he settled back on the bed.

‘Everything will be alright,’ Marco soothed him. ‘I’ll make sure that you’re perfectly prepared. And the strength in your thighs and in your wings will take care of the rest. You’ll be magnificent. I promise.’

He sensed Robert beginning to relax and they kissed tenderly as Marco began to stroke over his love’s sensitive entrance, his fingers slick with lube. Last night had been the first time anyone had ever touched Robert there. Today he had some idea what to expect and Marco concentrated hard on making it as enjoyable as possible for him.

It seemed to be working. The initial sharp intake of breath as Marco pushed gently inside with a finger was quickly replaced by soft sighs and moans. And Robert was just as responsive to having his prostrate massaged as he’d been last night, his back arching up off the bed every time Marco caressed him there. He opened his love carefully and thoroughly, wanting him to be as relaxed as possible, able to take him in without too much difficulty. Marco didn’t like to boast, but he wasn’t tiny and this was only the second time Robert had done this.

Finally he judged that Robert was as loose and open as possible, his lover almost blissed-out already. He wiped his hand clean, before kissing Robert gently on the tip of his nose.

‘You’re ready for me, my love.’

Robert opened his eyes, his expression far away and dreamy. ‘Is it weird that I like the feel of your fingers inside me as much as other things?’

Marco smiled at him. ‘Of course not. Sometimes you’ll crave to be filled and stretched to your limits. Other times … well my fingers inside you feels very intimate and I can caress you in all the right spots. I’m pretty sure that I can make you come just like that, but that’s for another time.’

He rolled onto his back, letting Robert climb on top of him. He stroked his love’s thighs soothingly. ‘Just relax, Let it happen. It will.’

There was a look of concentration on Robert’s face as he slowly lowered himself down on Marco. He could see the look that flitted over his love’s face as he felt the stretch for the first time, but he kept going, letting Marco fill him, taking him deep inside. Concentration turned to triumph and then to pleasure.

Robert felt so good round him, just so perfectly hot and tight, that Marco had to fight not to come on the spot. He wanted to make this last as long as was humanly – or whatever he was now! – possible.

His love was determined to take him all the way inside, swallowing every last inch. Only once he’d done so, did he spread his wings to their full extent.

Marco swallowed hard. Robert was the most magnificent sight imaginable poised there like that, his beautiful dark angel floating above him.

You’re so beautiful. Magnificent. I can’t believe that you’re mine. I love you so much.

You’re the one I waited for, Marco. Who made all of this possible. I love you more than I ever thought that it was possible to love anyone.

Robert let his eyes fall closed as he began to move, surrendering himself to the powerful sensations coursing through his body. But he kept their mental link open so that they could share their pleasure and their complete oneness with each other.

This was equally overwhelming for Marco, but he fought to keep his eyes open, keeping them fixed on the incredible sight before him. Robert was so beautiful that it almost hurt to look at him. His handsome features were suffused with pleasure. His strongly-muscled torso shone with a thin sheen of sweat as those powerful thighs moved him up and down apparently effortlessly. And his wings held him perfectly in place, beating black and glossy in time with his movements.

Marco never knew how he was able to hold back, how he had the sheer force of will to restrain himself until Robert came, that gorgeous body convulsing in ecstasy above him. But he did, only exploding inside the man he loved once he was sure that Robert was completely spent.

He caught Robert’s blissed-out body as he collapsed on top of him, stroking his back and hair over and over again as he told him how wonderful he was. His golden wings fluttered against their black mates, obviously communicating their own appreciation.

It took a few minutes before Robert was coherent enough to look at him, a cheeky smile on his face. ‘I did make you explode, didn’t I?’

‘Yes, you did. The only surprise was that I lasted so long! Shall we rest for a bit before showering and making dinner?’

‘Would be nice.’

Robert was almost half asleep as he snuggled up against Marco, head tucked comfortably underneath his chin.

Chapter Text

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny. Waking up with his wings and Robert’s wrapped round each other was starting to feel completely normal, as if it had always been this way. But today would bring something new. Today he would ask his wings to go to sleep for the first time so that he could go out like a normal human being, or at least one without visible wings.

‘Nervous?’ asked Robert, smoothing his hair back from his forehead, kissing the worry away.

‘Yes. I know it sounds odd. I’ve only had my wings for a matter of days. But I don’t like the thought of having to imprison them like this, of being without them.’

‘I know. But it will be alright, you’ll see that. They’ll still be part of you, just curled up sleeping. Much as I like the thought of keeping you here naked forever, it really isn’t very practical. And even though it might take a while, we’d eventually get bored as well.’

Marco grinned in agreement. Robert was right. As usual. ‘Can we shower together first?’

‘Of course!’

He would never get enough of this, him and Robert standing together under the flow of warm water, their wings enjoying the shower every bit as much as they did. Robert made him breakfast again afterwards, knowing that pancakes would always bring a smile to his face. And then it was time.

‘I’ll go first,’ Robert decided. He seemed to breathe in, to tense his muscles slightly, and then his wings began to contract until they vanished completely behind him.

‘May I?’ Marco asked. Robert’s response was to turn round. Marco gasped in astonishment. Robert’s back was every bit as beautiful as Lukasz’s had been, his wings etched across his skin in an intricate, elaborate pattern, the tips curling over his shoulders and hipbones, feathery fronds rippling over the powerful muscle beneath. He’d caught fleeting glimpses of his love’s back before, but never seen it in its full glory.

He traced the lines with his fingers, cautiously at first, but increasingly confidently as he saw Robert responding to his caresses. ‘They like that,’ his mate clarified, ‘they still react to your touch.’

That made Marco feel better. ‘How do I do this?’

‘It’s hard to explain. Just think of it and it will happen.’

He concentrated hard, trying to copy what Robert had done, telling his wings to curl up and go to sleep. And to his great surprise, he felt them shrink, felt them wrap themselves tight round his body in a sleek, snug feathery cocoon. Robert pulled him close, stroking over his back with tender, loving fingers.

‘You feel so good like this, Marco,’ his love murmured against his hair, nuzzling his temple and his cheek.

He sighed contentedly. Robert’s fingers caressing his back was extremely pleasurable. Not quite the same level of intense erotic stimulation as when Robert stroked his fully outstretched wings, but very nice all the same. They stood like this for a long moment, enjoying their closeness until it was time to get dressed.

‘You’ll need to wear some of my clothes until we collect your things. But they should fit you OK,’ Robert said, rummaging in a drawer for briefs and socks. ‘Although my shoes might be a bit too big.’

It felt strange wearing clothes after being naked for so long. Robert saw his unease.

‘You’ll get used to it, I promise. Everything will feel totally normal after a while, including changing from your public to your private self and back again. It will just take time.’

Marco had no problems fitting into Robert’s clothes and he could lace a pair of his sneakers up tightly enough to be able to walk comfortably. The mid-morning sun felt warm on his skin and he breathed in deeply as they walked to Lukasz’s car parked outside. He’d never felt more alive, never felt more aware of the music of the birdsong, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the beauty of the world around him. But what he was most aware of was the handsome man walking beside him with brilliant blue eyes and the most dazzling smile in the world.

‘I have an idea,’ Robert announced. ‘Let’s not go straight to the flat. Let’s go shopping. Buy some things for the house.’

His love knew him so well even after just a few weeks. Marco wasn’t quite ready to face his old life, but a shopping trip would help to distract him. And shop they did, buying new bedlinen, throws and cushions. Robert insisted on buying more garlands of fairy lights and candle holders since the ones they had in the flat would never be enough for their house. And he also stocked up on luxury shampoo and shower gel since it seemed that they would be showering together quite often.

The car loaded up, Robert parked near to the city centre. Marco was confused as they got out, until he realised that they were going to his favourite Pierogi restaurant for lunch. That was exactly what he needed to keep his spirits up.

‘Thank you,’ he said quietly. ‘This is exactly what I needed. It feels like a date, just like one of our early dates. I feel like we are still “us” somehow.’

‘That’s exactly how I hoped you’d feel. And I have another surprise I hope you’ll like.’

The surprise turned out to be a visit to the antiques shop they’d found Robert’s picture and their vintage vodka glasses in. This time Marco could feel the slight echoes of the past that Robert had felt on their first visit, but not so strongly. He supposed that was because this wasn’t his past since he hadn’t lived so long yet.

‘I thought we could choose something together for our home,’ Robert explained.

Marco loved the idea and it didn’t take long before they had found exactly what they wanted, a beautiful crystal decanter to match their precious glasses.

‘It’s perfect. Beautiful. Like our love,’ he breathed, before apologising. ‘Sorry, that sounds so soppy.’

‘Yes, it does, but I like it,’ grinned Robert. ‘Are you ready to go to the flat now?’

It did feel odd going back. He’d come to this flat full of hopes and dreams, wanting to break away from his old life and build a new one, even though he had never expected his life to change quite so dramatically. Everything was exactly as they’d left it on Saturday night.

They tidied up, stripping the beds and leaving the linen and towels for the laundry service. Marco cleaned his kitchen, he supposed for the last time. And then they packed. He hadn’t brought much with him, but the clothes Robert had left there had to be packed up, not to mention everything Robert had bought for him. There was just about enough room left in the car for everything they’d acquired for their living room and for the precious glasses and picture.

He stood in the doorway, taking one last look round.

‘Ready?’

Marco nodded. He was ready. He locked the door, took Robert’s hand and headed down the stairs.

It took a while to unpack the car and then to put away and hang up all of his clothes. Having his things there really made this feel like home now. After that it was time for the fun bit - decorating their living room. Robert got much more carried away than Marco, who was beginning to worry about controlling his love’s enthusiasm when Christmas came round.

Finally they were finished, standing back to admire their handiwork.

‘I’m afraid that we’ve destroyed the pristine, show home elegance of your stunning house,’ Marco had to admit.

‘I don’t care. My house has a heart now. You gave it a heart. Your loving heart has made it a home. Our home. Shall we take Lukasz’s car back and then the rest of the evening is ours?’

Marco followed Robert in their car, Lukasz and Kuba’s address programmed into the satnav as backup. Kuba had just arrived home as well – his case was still standing in the hall – and he hugged Marco warmly, obviously delighted to hear his news. They accepted the invitation to stay for coffee.

Lukasz and Kuba’s home was similar to Robert’s in many ways, overwhelmingly white, bright and modern, but it had a much cosier lived in-look, with big, squashy sofas.

Kuba brought in a steaming pot of coffee and a plate piled high with cake. ‘Lukasz baked it. He always bakes cake for me coming home,’ he announced proudly, sitting down beside his mate and taking his hand in his.

The cake was good, as in really good, and Marco managed to polish off a large slice despite the hearty lunch he’d already had. Robert reached for his hand as they sipped their coffee, stroking the back of his hand tenderly with a thumb.

‘How are you doing, Marco?’ Kuba asked. ‘It’s a lot to take in, I know.’ Marco was suddenly reminded of Kuba’s professional interests.

‘It is. My life changed overnight. And I’m still adjusting to these,’ he nodded at where his wings would be. ‘But I have no regrets. I’m happier than I imagined possible. And looking forward to the future.’

‘I’m sure you are. It was the same for me and Lukasz. Ten years of blissful happiness and that’s just the beginning.’ Lukasz and Kuba smiled at each other, clearly every bit as much in love as they had been at the beginning.

The four of them talked for a bit, discussing their future plans to open a sports therapy centre for children and young people for the first time. After an hour or so, they took their leave. Marco was keen to spend some time alone with Robert and he had the distinct impression that Lukasz needed to spend some quality time with Kuba as well.

Back home, he chewed his lip thoughtfully. ‘Would you mind if we stayed like this for a bit, Robert? I’m kind of getting used to it.’

‘Of course. Whatever you want. Maybe tomorrow we can fly together properly as well?’

‘I’d like that,’ murmured Marco, biting his love’s earlobe gently, ‘but right now I’d like you naked upstairs.’

Robert wasn’t making any objections as he followed Marco up the stairs to their bedroom.

It felt good to be naked again, freed from his clothing. And it felt even better when he pulled Robert into the shower under the jets of warm water. This time it was him who washed Robert, making full use of all the new products they’d bought that morning. Robert purred happily as he shampooed his hair before washing him all over, loving how the rich, creamy lather slipped sensuously across the gorgeousness of his love’s well-trained body. He found the fluffiest, cosiest towel he could to carefully dry Robert off, paying special attention to the delicate tracery of his wings.

Robert automatically went to get into bed, but Marco had other plans. Taking a clean towel and a washcloth with him, he led Robert downstairs. His mate looked confused but not uninterested as Marco spread the towel over one of their sofas and asked him to lie down on his front. Marco collected the last things he needed – their antique vodka glasses and a bottle of vodka – before cracking his knuckles ready for action. He was going to give Robert a back massage he’d never forget!

Just relax, my love. Enjoy it. Let me indulge you.

He began by carefully massaging Robert’s neck, working out any remaining kinks and stress from their busy day. It was only once he could feel the last of the tension draining out of his love’s body that he began to stroke down his back, fascinated by how Robert’s wings seemed to ripple and flow under his fingertips. Soft sighs and moans told him how much his caresses were appreciated, but Marco wasn’t finished yet.

Starting at the nape of his neck, he kissed over every inch of Robert’s back, tracing the lines of his wings with loving, worshipping lips and tongue. Marco worked downwards as slowly as he could, letting Robert’s arousal build. He was hard himself by now, but that could wait.

Robert wriggled and whined needily as Marco’s tongue followed the contours of his body, licking down to the base of his spine. This was incredibly erotic, slow, sensual and loving. Marco had seen Robert naked from the waist down before, but now he could appreciate the full glory of the sight in front of him. There was a loud groan as he tenderly mouthed at the flesh of Robert’s buttocks, sucking red marks into the skin, gently biting down.

He sucked and nibbled at the incredibly responsive spot where his mate’s buttocks met his thighs, wringing even louder groans from him. But Marco had even more in mind, something he knew Robert would never have experienced before, would never even have thought of.

Robert started in shock as he felt Marco’s breath ghosting over his entrance, lifting himself up off the sofa. But Marco soothed him, holding his hips down. Relax into it. This will feel good. I promise.

He took his time, indulging the sensitive rim with soft, little licks until he felt Robert relax under him again. But still he was no hurry and he was determined to drive his love out of his mind with lust and desire. He alternated between licking long, wet stripes over his quivering entrance and mouthing softly round the rim.

Robert was moaning and whimpering by now, whining in response to every flick and lick of Marco’s tongue as he licked his love wet and sloppy. He pressed down harder on Robert’s hips, urging him to rub himself against the towel underneath him as he carefully eased a tongue inside him for the first time. The friction would help to bring him to his climax and the stimulation of Marco’s mouth would do the rest.

A minute or two of gorgeously messy licking and rubbing was all it took until he sensed Robert’s limbs going rigid underneath him and his back arched up off the sofa with the sheer force of his orgasm.

Robert collapsed back down, utterly spent and utterly blissed out, clearly every bit as mind blown as Marco had hoped for. Marco knew that he needed to take care of Robert so he wanted to see to his own arousal as quickly as possible. Not that it would take much, he knew. So he lay down on top of his love, chest nestled against his wings, gently thrusting his hips against him until he came as well.

He cleaned them both up with the cloth he’d brought from the bathroom before pouring a glass of vodka for each of them. He needed to rinse his mouth out before they kissed and he was pretty sure that Robert could do with some fortification.

Robert’s eyes were still soft and unfocused from their lovemaking as he rolled over to let Marco snuggle up to him while they sipped their vodka, building a little nest out of the pile of cosy cushions and the fluffy throw they’d bought today.

‘Seven hundred years on this earth and still so much to learn,’ Robert smiled at him.

‘It’s going to be so much fun learning all these new things together,’ Marco grinned in anticipation as he leaned in for his kiss.

Chapter Text

They slept with their wings folded up that night, cuddled close in one other’s arms. Marco woke to the soothing feeling of Robert stroking over the patterns his sleeping wings etched on his back. He wriggled comfortably against his love’s still sleep-warm body, sighing happily, not wanting to get up yet.

Robert had made love to him last night, his love growing in confidence every time they were intimate together. They had kissed long and deep as Robert had prepared him, a little clumsily at first, but then those long, elegant fingers had felt just so gorgeous exploring inside him. And Robert had felt even better deep and hard inside him, possessing him, making him his. Marco had gone to sleep cradled in his love’s arms, completely and utterly satisfied, his body still pleasantly aching from the memory of their lovemaking.

They kissed good morning - just like they did every morning - rubbing noses softly afterwards, smiling stupidly as they did so.

‘Shall we shower before breakfast? Robert asked. ‘I have something special in mind for breakfast today.’

‘You?’ Marco joked.

‘Maybe later? For lunch perhaps? But we need some energy. A lot of energy for the things I have in mind for you.’ Robert chuckled suggestively.

Marco liked the sound of what Robert had planned. Of everything Robert had planned. A shower and breakfast sounded like a good start. But there was something Marco had to do first. He forced himself to leave the comforting warmth of Robert’s arms, clambering out of bed to stand in the middle of the room. Robert was kneeling up on the bed by now, obviously interested in what was going on.

He took a deep breath, not really sure how to do this. And then he breathed out and … well the best way to describe it was that he tried to think it and hope that it would happen. Luckily it seemed to be working. He could sense his wings awaking, responding to him, slowly uncurling themselves from where they were wrapped round his back and growing upwards and outwards. It only took a minute or two until he was standing there, his wings standing tall and proud, swishing backwards and forwards.

They’d been together for days now, naked almost all of the time. But this was the first time Robert had seen his wings unfurl. He could see the love and the wonder shining out of Robert’s eyes as he got out of bed and came over to him.

‘I could look at you all day, my darling. You’re so beautiful. So magnificent. The way the early morning sunlight glints on your golden wings. I’ve seen you before, but somehow it feels as if I am really seeing you for the first time.’

It was kind of like the first time for Marco too, standing there watching Robert’s wings unfold in front of him. He’d had no idea what to expect that night on the roof and everything had been so new, so shocking. But now he could stand there in rapt wonder as his love’s glossy black wings gradually unfurled, fluttering blue-black as midnight. Just like the first time however, he felt compelled to raise a hand and stroke the soft, warm feathers. Robert’s reaction was just every bit as strong as the first time as well. His wings rippled in response to the caresses of Marco’s fingers while his brilliant blue eyes darkened with lust.

They fell into one another’s arms, kissing deep and passionate, hands roaming all over each other’s bodies. Their wings enclosed them in a soft, fluffy cocoon, obviously glad to be reunited as well. After long minutes of breathless kissing, Robert pulled away for a moment, his lips red and swollen from their kisses.

‘If we don’t make it into the shower very soon, I’m going to have to take you back to bed and make love to you. And I promised you breakfast,’ Robert confessed, his voice rough and hoarse with need.

Marco leaned in to whisper in his love’s ear, teasing him by nipping softly at his earlobe. ‘Who said anything about having to choose between a shower and bed, especially when you have that big walk-in shower, just perfect for doing … stuff … and working up an appetite for breakfast.’ He let his voice fade to a soft purr.

Robert’s only response was a strangled moan as he let Marco lead him into the bathroom. Marco made sure that the water was at the perfect temperature before pulling Robert into the shower, backing him up against the tiles and kissing him senseless. He pushed his thigh between Robert’s legs, rubbing up against his arousal, tearing a loud moan from his love’s throat.

Although Robert clearly wanted him, there was a slight tension in his body. Marco realised that Robert thought he was going to take him in the shower. Maybe one day he would, but he knew that his love wasn’t ready for that yet. He turned round, spreading himself against the tiles, knowing just what a tempting sight he would make like this, presenting himself to his love with outstretched wings.

Robert was close behind him, breathing hot in his ear, obviously incredibly turned on by the prospect of making love to him like this. But something was holding him back. ‘We haven’t got any lube, darling.’

Marco had to smile. He was offering himself to his lover on a plate, pretty much seducing him in the shower, and Robert was still able to control himself enough to think about his welfare.

‘I’d be very disappointed indeed if that expensive shower gel you bought didn’t make decent lube! And we made love just last night. I’ll be OK.’

Robert didn’t need any further encouragement. Soon they were melded together, bodies writhing together under the running water, their wings fluttering together. Robert held him tight from behind, kissing, biting and mouthing at his neck while his free hand slipped between Marco’s butt cheeks. They were glorious together like this, slippery, wet and naked under the shower. Marco instinctively pushed back, thrusting himself onto Robert’s fingers, forcing them deeper inside him.

He’d thought that Robert might take him hard, which he wouldn’t have minded, but his love had other plans for him. Even though Robert had prepared him thoroughly, he was still tight in this position and Robert’s cock felt deliciously big inside him. Soft rolls of his love’s hips sent waves of bliss cascading through his body. Robert had also reached round to take his cock in his free hand, stroking it gently, almost casually. His pleasure was enhanced even further by the gorgeous sensation of their wings brushing together. Shower sex was even better with wings thought Marco, before his brain gave up thinking altogether and just abandoned itself to the sheer hedonism of what they were doing.

His climax overtook him almost by surprise, Robert having to hold him upright as his legs almost turned to jelly. They were locked together so closely and so intimately that he could feel Robert pulsing and twitching inside him more strongly than ever before as his love finally let go.

They washed each other, soft and dreamy in the aftermath of their lovemaking, not having to say a word, still caught up in the bubble of happiness and bliss they’d created for each other. It was only once they were out of the shower and dried that Robert kissed Marco on the forehead and broke the silence.

‘Not bad for my first time having shower sex, if I say so myself. And next time, I promise that I’ll give myself to you.’

‘You were more than not bad. You were amazing. And you don’t need to do anything. This is all new to you and you need to take the time to be comfortable with everything. Just like you gave me time. But I do remember someone promising me breakfast. And I’ve most definitely worked up an appetite by now.’ Marco winked.

Downstairs in the kitchen, Robert set to work. Marco loved watching Robert making breakfast for him. It felt just so domestic, so normal. He did have to suppress a giggle at Robert wearing an apron every time as it just looked so incongruous with those magnificent wings. On the other hand, he was very much in favour of Robert’s sensitive parts not getting burnt as well.

Breakfast was as special as Robert had promised. It was pancakes, but not like any pancake dish Marco had ever seen. The pancakes were filled with a slightly sweetened cream cheese and raisin filling, rolled up and baked in a dish, covered with a sour cream sauce. There was a berry compote on the side as well.

‘These are delicious,’ Marco exclaimed, his mouth full of pancake.

‘They’re called Topfenpalatschinken,’ Robert explained. ‘It’s a traditional Austrian recipe. I learned to make them sometime in the nineteenth century from a famous chef.’

‘So that’s why you’re such a good cook!’ Marco felt a bit dim for only just realising. ‘You’ve had so much time to practice!’

‘Yes, I suppose so. And with enough practice maybe I’ll be as good at making love as I am at making pancakes,’ grinned Robert.

‘You are already. Better even. But I don’t mind practicing. Both sex and pancakes. Maybe even both together one day!’ Marco leaned over to give his love a sticky pancake kiss.

‘I look forward to that! But the reason I wanted to make them today is that we’re flying to Vienna next weekend. I’ve got a surprise for you, something I want to share. It’s all arranged Łukasz confirmed it when we visited him and Kuba yesterday.’

‘A surprise!’ Marco exclaimed. He was curious, but he was sensitive enough not to press for details. Robert was becoming very open about sharing his life with him, but he knew that it wasn’t always easy for him.

They cleared up and then relaxed on the sofa for a bit, enjoying just being together. It was early afternoon when Robert asked him if he wanted to try flying again.

‘Your first time was at night and everything was so new that you couldn’t really take it all in,’ Robert explained, ‘but maybe you’d be able to enjoy it more today.’

Marco chewed his lip thoughtfully. He did want to fly with Robert. His wings were part of him now, a trusted friend even, and he longed to feel what it was like to soar in the sky with them and with Robert by his side. But he was worried too. He realised that he needed to be honest with Robert.

‘I want to. But I’m worried about flying in daylight. What if someone sees us?’

‘We can shield ourselves as long as we’re moving. And nobody can see onto the roof when we land and take off, I made sure of that when I built this house. I’ll be with you all the time and I’ll make sure that we aren’t visible, at least until you get the hand of it yourself.’

Excited but nervous, Marco followed Robert up the narrow flight of stairs onto the roof. They held hands, not tightly this time, but just enough to give Marco some reassurance.

Taking off was surprisingly easy. One quick spring into the air and his wings took up the strain, bearing him aloft as he climbed effortlessly into the air. He could feel the joy emanating from his wings. Their joy at flying properly with him for the first time. Their joy at flying with their raven mates. He could feel Robert’s joy through their mental bond as well. They were together, the way they were always meant to be, sharing everything.

Marco had no fear anymore. This was who he was. He felt strong and powerful. But also awed and humble at the precious gift he had been given. He felt every bit as protective of the city below him as he had that first night as well.

They flew together for about half an hour before Robert decided it was time to turn back.

‘You need to build up your strength,’ he explained as they landed back home again. ‘Soon you will be able to fly much longer distances and we can go exploring.’

Marco was glowing with excitement and exhilaration, longing to fly with Robert again, to take to the air with his beautiful wings. But he knew that Robert was right. He could be patient. They had an eternity ahead of them to explore the world together.

Chapter Text

Marco was buzzing with excitement, adrenalin flooding his veins. But he knew that he needed to rest and let himself recover physically. The physio inside him was telling him that even if every instinct in him wanted to soar into the sky on golden wings with his mate by his side, now was the time to take it easy. So he let Robert guide him to the sofa.

Robert opened his arms to him, letting him snuggle back against his chest. Marco sighed contentedly as Robert wrapped his arms round him, enfolding him in the warm caress of his wings. This was perfect, sheer utter bliss, he thought.

I’m glad!

That was Robert’s voice in his head!

Did I say that out loud?

No. But you kind of thought it out loud. We’re getting closer and closer as the days go by so our mental bond is becoming stronger as well.

Oh!

Strangely enough, Marco didn’t mind that one bit. In fact he liked the idea of them being even more one mind and one being than before. He trusted Robert never to abuse that and to respect his privacy as well.

He stroked the tanned skin of Robert’s forearm, the short, dark hairs surprisingly soft underneath his fingers. Robert was relaxed and happy, he could sense that. So maybe it was OK to ask Robert something he’d been musing on for a few days now?

He kept on stroking over Robert’s arms soothingly as he spoke. ‘I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but I’d love to know more about your past life. You must have seen and experienced some amazing things.’

There was a brief silence and Marco began to worry that he’d gone too far, but then Robert began to speak and didn’t stop. Once he started it was as if a dam had been opened and the stories came flooding out. Marco listened absolutely entranced, fingers caressing his love in encouragement throughout.

Robert and Kuba were as old as the kingdom of Poland itself. Marco had always known that and that it was why they identified so strongly with their homeland. Their lives and that of their country were inextricably intertwined. But hearing about it in detail was still a revelation, especially as Robert talked about places that had become familiar to him during his time in Warsaw.

Robert had seen the Royal Castle when it was still the residence of the Polish monarchy. He’d lived in his city during its Baroque heyday. He’d even heard the young Chopin play the piano! He and Kuba had travelled in the south when it was under Hapsburg rule, which was why he was such a master of Austrian cooking. There were darker, more painful stories as well, Marco knew that. But today was a day to share happy memories and his heart thrilled within him that his love finally felt comfortable enough to talk about his past.

His love’s voice was hoarse by the time he finished speaking. Marco twisted round to face him, gently stroking over his cheek.

‘Is it OK for you? For me to speak about my past, I mean?’ Robert asked almost shyly.

Marco couldn’t help smiling. ‘Of course it is. It’s normal for couples to want to find out more about each other, to learn about their lives before they got together. It’s just that most partners don’t have such an interesting life as you do. When people asked me what my dream man would be like, I definitely never thought about putting “listened to Chopin playing the piano” on my wish list! But I love you. I love everything about you. And that means your past as well as our future.’

They kissed, their soft, sweet kiss all too quickly turning into something rawer and needier, all lips, tongue and teeth. Robert’s eyes were dark with desire, his breath rasping in his throat as Marco pulled away from his reddened lips. He wanted to spoil his love, to indulge him, and he had something special in mind.

‘I’ll be back in a moment,’ he promised, placing one final kiss on his love’s wet, swollen lips. ‘I just need to fetch something.’

Marco made a mental note that they should probably stash lube in pretty much every room of their house since having a gorgeous and completely naked Robert around the place was definitely doing things to his libido. He made it to their bedroom and back with the necessary supplies in record time, Robert looking at him with obvious interest and already half hard.

‘Lie back! Relax! Just enjoy!’ he commanded, unable to take his eyes off his love. Robert was just so breathtakingly handsome with his dark hair and blue eyes, the shyness of his smile taking the edge off what might otherwise have been intimidating good looks. And that body! Slim and elegant, sleek with powerful muscle rippling under the skin like a big cat.

Marco was determined to fully enjoy every single inch of his lover’s body and drive him to the very edge of his self-control, secure in the knowledge that all his needs and desires would be satisfied. Even if there would be some sweet torture getting there!

He traced the sculptured lines of Robert’s shoulders and collar bone with his tongue, leaving a shimmering wet trace in his wake. Robert’s nipples were hard and erect by the time he was satisfied with his handiwork, his love moaning uncontrollably. Marco took his time licking and kissing over Robert’s worked-out abs, the scent of his love’s arousal strong in his nostrils.

Squeezing a generous amount of lube onto his fingers, he eased Robert’s legs open. Still he took his time, sucking at the sensitive skin of his dark-haired lover’s thighs and mouthing at his balls, all the time massaging his twitching entrance with lube-slick fingers.

Robert’s hips were pitching and tilting towards him by now, his legs drawn up, displaying himself in invitation for Marco to go in deeper. He took the hint, licking over the velvety soft skin behind Robert’s balls while he slid a finger gently inside.

His love reacted to being caressed inside as beautifully as ever, his legs quivering with barely controlled lust. A second finger joined the first in gradually stretching and opening Robert. But Marco didn’t intend to make love to him, not today. He wanted to make Robert come just from his fingers and his mouth, make him come with fingers deep inside him and his lover’s face buried in his groin.

Slowly, ever so slowly, he started to lick up Robert’s length, massaging the silken skin with his tongue. His love was rock hard by now, jerking and pulsing under Marco’s touch, leaking pearly droplets of pre-come. He took the sensitive tip into his mouth, alternating between sucking gently at it and swirling his tongue over the head. His fingers twisted inside Robert, searching for the spot that he knew would make his love cry out in ecstasy.

Robert’s sharp cry told him that he had found his target. This time he didn’t ease back, his fingers circling and curling into the sensitive spot, knowing that this over-stimulation would be painfully pleasurable. He was overloading his love with sensation and Robert couldn’t keep still, his body thrashing about on the sofa, his wings beating in response to the relentless caresses of Marco’s fingers.

He could feel the tension rising and building in his love’s body, building to a tumultuous climax that finally overtook him. Marco sucked him through it, feeling him pulse and clench round his fingers. Since he hadn’t taken Robert deep into his mouth, he was able to fully savour the moment, swallowing easily and comfortably despite the force of his love’s orgasm.

Robert flopped back on the sofa afterwards, his body limp and pliant with bliss. Marco eased his way up back upwards to lie on top of his love, raven-black wings closing round him in welcome.

‘You need … ’ Robert breathed, unable to move a muscle but aware of Marco’s arousal pressing against his hip.

‘Sssssh,’ Marco hushed him, taking Robert’s hand and closing it over his length. He moved his hips gently against Robert, content to enjoy their closeness until he came with a loud sigh, his orgasm more relaxing than overwhelming. This had all been about Robert, about him pleasuring his beloved mate until he was absolutely out of his mind with desire. And it seemed as if he had been successful as his love lay in his arms, totally blissed out, soft sighs escaping him from time to time.

It was a long time before either of them spoke, until Robert thanked him, kissing him on the cheek.

‘I knew that I could make you come like that,’ Marco chuckled, snuggling down closer against his love’s body.

Thursday dawned. Łukasz had suggested that Robert and Marco come to football training that evening as usual. It would be a good way for Marco to ease himself back into normal life and their colleagues would accept that he was recovering but not ready to come back to work until the next week. The plan was for them to go for dinner with Łukasz and Kuba afterwards as well, especially since they had a spa weekend to plan.

Marco couldn’t help feeling nervous as they got ready to leave. He felt so different. Everything had changed utterly. So it was hard for him to believe that nobody else would notice the difference. And he wondered how he would feel changing and showering in front of his friends and colleagues now he knew how his wings looked at rest. He’d been assured that nobody else would be able to see them, but he still felt self-conscious.

He understood why Łukasz had made this suggestion. Łukasz knew exactly how he was feeling. And it would be easier for him to deal with this awkwardness at football practice when any weirdness could be put down to him still not being 100% well, rather than at work when there were clients to look after.

Woj greeted him warmly, pulling him into a huge hug. Marco flinched instinctively at the contact until he realised that it was OK and hugged back.

‘I’ve missed you. It’s not so much fun without you. But don’t come back to work before you’re fully fit,’ Woj made him promise.

He enjoyed training. It was good to be moving again. Apart from flying and … um … an awful lot of sex, he’d been unusually inactive over the past few days. And it was important for him to realise that his wings didn’t affect his fitness or his ability to play sport, to be able to trust his body again. Everyone was happy to see him but he was surprised at how concerned they were. People kept asking him if he was OK and telling him not to feel he had to come back to work too soon.

There was only a moment of hesitation before he stripped off to shower with his colleagues. Woj had decided that Marco’s recovery needed to be celebrated and had brought a crate beer of beer along. This was the first time Marco had been separated from Robert since his transformation and he was glad that he still felt like … well he felt like his old self drinking beer with Woj in the showers.

There was wine at dinner as they planned their spa weekend. Marco was looking forward to this, to spending some alone time with Robert but also sharing the trip with their friends. He was a little tipsy by the end of dinner, however what happened when the evening drew to a close soon sobered his up.

Kuba drew him aside as they were leaving, making sure that Robert couldn’t overhear their conversation.

‘You’re really pale, Marco. Even by your standards. The last few days have obviously taken their toll on you. You and Robert need to share each other’s life essence as a matter of priority and definitely before you can go back to work.’

Chapter Text

Marco was sunk deep in thought as he followed Robert to the car. Now he understood why Woj and his other colleagues had been so concerned about his health. They truly believed that he had been ill and in a way he had been. Neither he nor Robert had noticed how pale he was until Kuba had pointed it out.

He’d known that they would have to do this one day as Robert had mentioned it almost in passing. But he hadn’t expected to have to face it so soon. And probably neither had Robert. Something about the way Kuba had taken him aside to speak to him privately alerted him to the fact that Robert might not be totally OK with this either. Just when things were going so well!

He excused his silence in the car by saying that he was tired, which was true. But he couldn’t hide the fact that there was something on his mind from Robert, even if he had wanted to. Their relationship was based on openness and honesty as well as respecting each other’s privacy and boundaries and he wasn’t going to threaten that now of all times.

Once they were home he asked Robert to sit down on the sofa and poured both of them a glass of vodka. He could see the look of worry in Robert’s eyes as he sat down beside him.

‘Tonight,’ Marco began, ‘everyone kept asking if I was alright. And Kuba explained why. He said that I’m very pale. That the last few days have taken their toll on me. And that … and that we need to share our life essence as soon as possible and definitely before I can go back to work.’

Robert’s reaction was exactly as he feared. First of all he was distraught that he hadn’t noticed, that he’d failed to take care of his mate. And then came the worry and the uncertainty.

‘I don’t know how to do this, Marco. I’ve never done this. I don’t want to hurt you or make you worse. I hate myself for what I’ve done to you right now. That I’ve put you in this position. For not being able to help you properly.’

Marco sighed inwardly. He would have to be strong for his mate. He placed his hands on Robert’s shoulders, looking him deep in the eyes.

‘I wanted this. I chose this. I wanted you. I knew that we were entering unknown territory. In a way that makes it easier for me. I like it that you don’t know everything anymore. That there are things we can explore and discover together, that belong to us as a couple. And we’ll be OK. I’m sure that our love … our instincts will guide us.’

Hope flickered in Robert’s eyes. ‘You really think so.’

‘Yes. I really do. And I have an idea. Why don’t we have a romantic day tomorrow? You can bring me breakfast in bed for the first time since we moved here? Go on a date? We could go out for dinner? Maybe go dancing? Just like we did at the beginning. And then, once we are both naked in bed, I’m pretty sure that things will just happen naturally.’

Robert’s eyes were shining at the prospect. Marco had guessed right. The idea of being allowed to spoil his mate like this made everything easier for him. And it would be easier for Marco too this way. But now there was something he needed to do. He needed to show Robert how much he had given him.

He stood up, stripping off his clothes to stand there naked before his love. Breathing out, his wings knew exactly what he intended, sharing his excitement as they uncurled themselves, beating gently once they were unfurled to their full extent. He held out his hand to Robert in welcome.

‘Fly with me, my love. High in the night sky the way we are meant to, true mates in heart and soul.’

He could tell how much Robert wanted this but as ever he held back, concerned about Marco.

‘Don’t you need to rest after football training? Especially after what Kuba said?’

‘My legs, yes. But my wings feel left out. They need some exercise as well!’

Robert needed no further encouragement and he undressed quickly, his wings equally eager to join their mate. They went upstairs to the roof terrace, standing hand in hand for a long moment looking out over the lights of Warsaw. And then they took off, flying in close formation over the rooftops of their city.

Marco’s first flight had been at night but he’d been too preoccupied to fully appreciate the joy of flying over the slumbering city, the lights twinkling in welcome below them. At night, in the quiet of the darkness, he felt even more protective of the city over which they flew. This was their world, their city and he felt both powerful and humbled. The sound of Robert’s wings beating strongly alongside him was a comforting presence, their minds loosely linked as well.

They flew for about half an hour again that night before landing back on the roof. His love’s eyes were shining and Marco knew that he’d done the right thing.

Robert kissed him softly on the back of the neck as they curled up together in bed that night, Marco lying nestled under the cover of his mate’s raven-black wing.

‘Thank you, Marco,’ he murmured.

‘My pleasure. And you can spoil me to your heart’s delight tomorrow.’

Marco woke to sweet kisses fluttered against his neck the next morning. As he stirred sleepily, he was surprised to feel a hand slipping round to caress him between his legs. Moaning slightly, he shifted to give Robert better access, letting his love stroke him until he was fully hard. The touches were soft and gentle, tenderly erotic. There was nothing hurried or rushed about Robert’s movements and Marco leaned back into his love’s embrace, letting himself be slowly caressed to his climax. His orgasm felt like a wave of warmth spreading through his entire body, suffusing his limbs as he let out a long ‘ooooooooh’ of bliss.

Still sleepily warm, he shifted round to kiss Robert good morning, noting the smug look of satisfaction on his face as well, obviously happy with how he’d greeted Marco this morning.

‘Thank you, my love. I know you promised me breakfast in bed, but that was an even better start to the day.’

Robert kissed him on the tip of the nose, making him squirm contentedly. ‘Breakfast is still to come. Get yourself ready while I go downstairs and get everything ready.’

After a trip to the bathroom, he made himself comfortable sitting up in bed, suspecting that Robert was going to conjure up a feast. And he was not disappointed. Robert had outdone himself this morning, setting out an elaborate spread on a couple of side tables he’d brought upstairs. There was not only a pot of steaming coffee but also a bottle of sparkling wine in an ice bucket. As ever there were eggs and ham and a selection of cheeses, jams and pickles. They’d bought fresh bread the day before and the pancakes were keeping warm in a heated dish.

‘I have all these things for entertaining,’ Robert explained as he climbed into bed with a tray, ‘but never really had the opportunity to use them recently. Maybe we could have a dinner party now we’ve moved in together? We could invite Łukasz and Kuba, Arek and Artur? Maybe even Woj and his wife sometime?’

‘I’d like that,’ smiled Marco, although his eyes were drawn to the delicious looking breakfast laid out for them.

They enjoyed their coffee with the bread and its accompaniments, satisfying Marco’s hunger and his need for his morning caffeine. Then it was time for some true indulgence with the pancakes and sparkling wine along with some berries. And of course Marco let his love feed him bites of pancake between sips of wine, knowing just how happy it made him.

After they had cuddled for a while to let their massive breakfast go down and cleared everything up, Robert suggested that they go for a run to get rid of any residual stiffness in their legs from yesterday. Marco agreed readily and they drove out to a beautiful spot where they could run in the forest. Running side by side with his mate felt as companionable as flying together had last night. He was gradually getting used to how his new life was full of all these amazing, magical new experiences he was having but still very normal, almost the same as it had been before.

They showered together back home, just about managing to avoid having sex in the shower, wanting to let their desire for each other build over the course of their date night. Both of them took their time getting ready, fixing their hair to perfection. Robert looked utterly mouthwatering in a tightly fitting shirt and tight, black jeans that highlighted every curve of his gorgeous ass. Marco couldn’t help licking his lips looking at him, thinking about the evening that lay ahead of them.

It was late afternoon when they were ready to leave, taking a cab to the Old Town. A walk in the autumn sunshine helped to work up an appetite before they made their way to their favourite pierogi restaurant. Although Marco had eaten a massive breakfast earlier, that had been a while ago and he was able to eat his way through a huge pile of pierogi before leaning back and rubbing his belly contentedly.

Robert smiled happily at him, still delighted by how much Marco appreciated his country’s cuisine. ‘Shall we go and work off some of the food we’ve just eaten?’ he asked.

The club was as quirky and as exclusive as Marco had remembered it. The hostess greeted them warmly, clearly recognising him as well as Robert this time, showing them to a table in the corner where they could be undisturbed. They held hands across the table like a pair of young lovers. Marco couldn’t help himself from gazing deep into his love’s eyes, drowning in their deep blue depths. He felt giddy with love, tingling with anticipation, bubbles effervescing in his stomach that had nothing to do with the champagne they were drinking.

Marco wasn’t the most graceful dancer, but he and Robert fitted together perfectly on the dancefloor, as if they were made to be in each other’s arms. Dancing with Robert felt even better now he finally knew what was hidden under the tight fabric of his shirt. Marco could sense the tiny frissons of pleasure that ran through his dance partner’s body as his hands caressed the outlines of his sleeping wings. Robert’s fingers splayed possessively across on his back felt much more intimate as well now they were resting on Marco’s wings, his wings that were just so very responsive to his love’s touch.

They walked part of the way home before taking a taxi. This was their city. No harm could come to them here. It would be winter in a few weeks and they wanted to make the most of being able to be outside while they still could.

The mood was soft and contemplative as they arrived home, a magical feeling in the air that Marco could almost grab hold of. They got ready for bed straight away, instinctively knowing that neither of them would want to move from each other’s arms later. He could see his love’s eyes on him as he stripped off, moving seductively, letting the lamplight cast golden shadows on the planes of his body as his wings unfurled. He was conscious of licking his own lips once more, eagerly anticipating what was to come as he watched Robert undress.

His love stood in their bathroom, suddenly unsure of what to do next. This was all so new to him and he was out of his depth. Marco realised that it was up to him to make this work for both of them.

He reached out his hand with a slow, seductive smile, leading Robert into their bedroom. The night was quiet, so quiet that their breath rasped loudly in the darkness. Everything seemed to have slowed, even to have come to a standstill. There was only him and Robert alone in this instant of eternity.

Sinking back on the bed, he pulled Robert on top of him, their bodies melding against each other straight away. His skin, his muscles, his very being seemed to remember how it was when they were together, their wings fitting perfectly together, sealing them in a cocoon of love.

They looked deep into one another’s eyes before they kissed. Marco felt as if he’d been kissing Robert for a lifetime already. He knew every inch of Robert’s mouth and tongue off by heart. Knew how the soft, wet, slightly roughed pressure of his lips felt against his. But he could never get enough of this. Never get enough of their tongues possessively deep in each other’s mouths. He lost all track of time as they kissed. It could have been minutes or hours. He was hard and aroused, his aching need pressed up against Robert’s. He knew that they would find their release together later, but he could wait, not wanting this to end.

He needed more. He kissed a soft trail along Robert’s jawline, letting his lips drag across the vulnerable flesh of his love’s throat. He kissed and kissed and kissed, wanting to send Robert into the same dreamy, delirious state of ecstasy that he had been in when Robert fed on him.

Still he didn’t resist when Robert gently eased his head aside to kiss and mouth at his own neck. He could feel the soft waves of blissful ecstasy starting to flow through his body, supporting him in a cloud of love and lust. But then he felt something unfamiliar. Something was happening to him. He felt strange. A sudden sharp stab of fear pierced through him.

Don’t worry. Relax. Embrace it. You’re changing. For the first time. Robert’s voice was warm and reassuring in his mind.

Marco surrendered himself to the unfamiliar sensation. This time he would be able to taste Robert’s life essence without hurting him, unlike the last time. And he would be able to nourish his love from his own body at the same time. This was a precious gift to be valued and cherished, he knew that.

Robert let him lick and scent at his throat for a moment first, the scent of his beloved’s skin calming him. And then his instincts took over, his newly sharpened teeth sinking into Robert’s unresisting flesh.

His love tasted so good. He tasted of love. Of home. Of summer sunshine. Of goodness and duty and loyalty. There was a darker, bitterer note as well, but that was part of who his love was and Marco welcomed it.

He felt Robert gently suckling at his neck. He’d been oblivious to teeth breaking his skin, so focused on how delicious Robert tasted. But now he felt love and strength flowing between them, renewing and strengthening them, deepening and reinforcing their bond.

They sipped slowly, drawing out this perfect moment. But once their bodies had found release, they instinctively knew that it was over, slowly disengaging from each other, licking over the slightly reddened spots on each other’s necks until they were healed again.

Neither of them wanted to move for a long while afterwards, lying cuddled close together.

‘That was wow,’ Marco finally said, his face muffled against Robert’s skin. ‘Although I seem to be saying that a lot recently.’

Robert moved just enough to be able to look at him, stroking his hard back from his forehead.

‘You look so beautiful, Marco. Glorious. Transcendent. All golden and glowing.’

Marco suspected that he might be blushing. But he had to admit that he did feel rather awesome. He felt stronger, more powerful, more full of life and hope than ever before.

There was only one way to respond. And so he kissed his love softly on the lips once more.

Chapter Text

Marco still felt strong and powerful once he went back to work on Tuesday, ready to take on the world. His week with Robert and his new wings had been wonderful and magical, but he wanted to get on with the rest of his life.

Woj greeted him warmly, obviously relieved to see him looking healthy again, the paleness gone from his cheeks. After a quick team meeting to catch up on what had happened when he’d been away, Marco was soon back in the thick of things. In some ways it felt as if he’d never been away once he was back doing the job he loved. But there was something else, something prickling at the edge of his consciousness. He couldn’t quite grab hold of it, but he seemed to be able to detect feelings and emotions in his clients hidden under the surface.

He had lunch with his team as usual, not wanting to set himself apart. But it had been arranged that he would have afternoon coffee with Robert and Łukasz so that they could make sure that everything was OK. He was alright of course, but he told them about the strange sensation he’d had, not wanting to leave anything to chance.

Robert and Łukasz exchanged glances. It was Łukasz who spoke.

‘We had a suspicion that something like that would happen. Today is the first time you’ve had close contact with anyone who isn’t one of the People since your transformation. And given the nature of your calling, which is to take care of people and help them, it seemed highly likely that you would respond like this. It’s exactly the same for Kuba. It might help if you spoke to him. He can guide you in learning how to push these feelings to the back of your mind when they are intrusive but still be able to access them when you need to.’

Marco nodded. That would indeed help. ‘Do you …?’ he asked.

‘It’s a bit different for me and Łukasz,’ Robert answered, ‘but yes. It’s more like intuition or empathy when we are working with youth or amateur sportspeople or teams. Sometimes we just instinctively know what to do or what the problem is that nobody is telling us.’

This was all very interesting and complicated, yet more things to come to terms with. Marco was silent on the drive home that evening and Robert left him alone with his thoughts.

Hi love turned to him with a smile once they were inside. ‘Shall we make ourselves comfortable before thinking about dinner?’

They went upstairs to their bedroom to undress.

‘This used to be a bit simpler,’ Marco joked, ‘taking my shoes off, maybe changing into a t-shirt and comfy pants.’

‘I always liked this part of the day, coming home and being able to be my true self again. But it means even more now that I’m able to share it with you.’

They both stripped naked. Robert carefully hung up his suit and put the rest of their clothes in the laundry basket. Marco couldn’t help watching Robert walking around their bedroom, enjoying the play of his muscles under the skin, the rippling patterns of his sleeping wings across his back.

‘This might sound silly, but do you mind if we do something? Kind of a ritual, I suppose,’ Robert asked with that shy smile on his face that Marco loved so much.

Of course Marco would do anything Robert asked him to. He soon understood what his love was thinking as they stood facing each other, holding hands and looking deep into one another’s eyes. They breathed out in unison, their wings waking and gently unfurling, stretching out to their full extent, wingtips touching.

Marco closed his eyes, focusing on the sensations coursing through his body. He could feel their wings fluttering against each other, sending tendrils of pleasure running up and down his spine and spiraling outwards through his limbs. He could feel the power of his bond with his mate thrumming in the air between them. And then the gap was closed. Robert’s arms were round him, stroking over his shoulders, back and buttocks, greedily reacquainting himself with his body. Their lips met, soft and wet. Their kiss stayed sweet, almost innocent, but still Marco could feel himself responding to his love in an unmistakable fashion.

Robert broke their kiss regretfully, stroking over his lower lip tenderly with his thumb. ‘If we go on kissing, we’re going to end up making love instead of making dinner.’

Marco grinned at him. ‘Not that I’d raise any objections. But you’re right. I seem to have developed almost insatiable sexual appetites since I transformed.’

‘And there was me thinking that it was my irresistible body.’

‘Well maybe in that incredibly sexy apron you wear when you’re cooking!’

Robert kissed him on the tip of the nose. ‘Talking of aprons … ’

They made dinner together, eating in a relaxed fashion round the big kitchen table. After clearing up, there was time to relax on the sofa for a bit. Robert pulled him into an embrace, wrapping soft, feathery wings round him and kissing him on the top of his head.

‘Are you sure that you’re really OK with everything, Marco? It just seems like there’s one thing after another for you to deal with.’

‘It’s a lot. But I knew that. I want to learn everything. And I’m lucky. I have you by my side. And Łukasz and Kuba as backup.’

He felt Robert’s arms squeeze tight round him.

‘I’m happy you feel like that. I’ll be here with you, every single step on the way.’

‘I look forward to it. And now would you like to follow me upstairs. I think my insatiable appetite for you is definitely returning.’

Robert’s laugh tickled the back of his neck. ‘I think that I can live with that!’

Friday arrived and Robert and Marco went straight to the station from work to catch the night train to Vienna.

‘It’s not very luxurious,’ Robert apologised, ‘but I’ll make up for that in Vienna, I promise. And I know that you like the romance of train journeys, so I thought this might be a nice surprise. Although I’ve booked a flight back for us on Monday.’

‘I love it!’ Marco exclaimed, his eyes shining. ‘There’s something so special about the idea of going to sleep in one country and waking up somewhere completely different. And we have the whole weekend ahead of us.’

Their cabin was small but comfortable. Marco missed sleeping in Robert’s arms, but there was something innocent and nostalgic about the two of them lying in their narrow bunks and talking until they fell asleep. It reminded him of camping trips and weekends away with his football team when he was young.

And he was every bit as enchanted to be waking up with the countryside still whizzing past the window and at the breakfast they were brought in their sleeping cabin.

Robert smiled as he looked at him. ‘I just love how the smallest things can make you happy, Marco.’

‘You make me happy,’ Marco grinned, leaning in for a kiss.

A taxi took them straight to their hotel where their room was waiting for them.

Marco whistled under his breath once they were shown to their room. ‘This is even more impressive than the spa hotel you took me to!’

Robert shrugged. ‘I’ve always had a weakness for the Hotel Imperial. It was built in the nineteenth century as a palace for the Dukes of Württemberg. And it even has a cake named after it that you can only get here. We can try it if you want!’

Well of course that was a rhetorical question. But first they had business to see to and Marco would finally learn why Robert had brought them to Vienna.

Marco showered and shaved carefully, changing into the lightweight suit that he’d packed. Something told him that he wanted to make a good impression today. Robert did likewise. And then they set off on the short walk to an upmarket looking office building, the kind Marco would usually expect to be closed on the weekend. But the entry phone buzzed to let them in and soon they were in the lift up to the top floor of the five-story building.

 Robert obviously knew exactly where he was going, going straight to one of the offices and knocking on the door.

A kind-looking and well-dressed man with twinkly eyes greeted Robert warmly and the two of them hugged, much less formally than Marco would have expected from the surroundings. He looked around curiously. On the one hand, this looked like exactly the kind of office you’d expect a high-powered lawyer or accountant to occupy with an expensive looking desk and high-spec laptop. But the walls were lined with bookshelves crammed with leather-bound books, some of which looked very old indeed. A couple of these ledgers lay on the desk as well, alongside one that seemed to be brand new.

‘Thank you for seeing us on a Saturday, Kamil,’ Robert began the conversation once they were sitting comfortably. ‘With all the upheaval of the last few weeks, Marco has had to take quite a bit of time off work and he really didn’t want to take any more leave. He has a very strong sense of duty. And I wanted him to know why we were here right from the start of our trip.’

Kamil smiled. ‘I’d expect nothing less from your true mate, Robert. And of course I’d make the time for you and Marco. You know how much I’ve hoped that you would find the one you’re meant to share your life with. And of course I was curious to finally meet the man who’s captured your heart!’

Kamil turned to Marco, addressing him directly. ‘This firm has handled the business for Robert’s family for … well let’s just say for a very long time now. I’ve personally worked with him for several centuries.’

That didn’t surprise Marco as much as it should have for he’d realised straight away that Kamil was one of the People.

‘We use modern technology, of course, but we still prefer to keep the old traditions alive and record all of our transactions in these ledgers. Our records date back to over a thousand years in different forms and we’ve had to find ways to deposit some of the older ones in archives for historians to make use of without arousing suspicion. The ones in this office go back just a couple of hundred years.’ Kamil stroked the leather volumes on his desk almost lovingly.

‘These are Robert’s current business ledgers that record all his current assets and property, as well as all the projects and foundations he is involved in and supports. I have a file for you on my computer and would have started a ledger for you, but Robert tells me that you have decided to merge your assets and make decisions on all your projects together.’

Marco nodded, his throat suddenly tight and dry.

‘Good, glad to hear it. And it’s much easier doing this now than it would have been in the future. So what we’ll do is keep Robert’s last ledger open as a record of all his current activities, but start a new one for the two of you and all future actions will be recorded there in both of your names.’

Robert reached over to take hold of his hand and squeeze it. ‘Is this OK for you, Marco? What you want?’

‘Yes. It’s kind of like us getting married isn’t it?’

Kamil smiled at him. ‘That’s exactly what it’s like. You’ve joined your hearts and now you are joining your lives. This is kind of the ceremonial bit. I’ll make sure the boring stuff like transferring your property into both names is done as well. You’ll be having to sign a lot of documents over the next few months, Marco. I’ll warn you of that now.’

There was something meaningful in the air as Kamil carefully took the new ledger and opened it to its first blank page. Then he opened the old-fashioned inkwell that had pride of place on his desk, filling it with fresh ink and dipping his pen nib inside. He really had meant what he said about doing things the traditional way, Marco realised.

Marco could hear the light scratching of the pen across the paper as Kamil inscribed the date and their names in an elaborate script. Underneath it he wrote some words and figures, transferring Robert’s account balance over as he explained. And then he entered Marco’s details after a quick glance at the laptop.

‘Since I am formally opening a joint account in both of your names, I need your signatures.’

Marco reached for the pen, but Robert stopped him. ‘It’s a little more complicated than that.’

Marco watched, at first uncomprehending, as Kamil handed Robert a small silver knife. Robert ran his thumb over the blade of the knife, squeezing out a few drops of bright red blood and letting them drip into the inkwell.

‘It doesn’t need to be much,’ he explained as he handed the knife to Marco.

Marco breathed deeply before copying Robert’s actions.

Kamil gently stirred the ink with his pen, making sure that their blood was fully mingled with the ink, before handing the pen to Marco.

Marco signed his name with a flourish. And then Robert signed underneath his signature. This really did feel special, as if they had done something deeply significant.

‘Do you want to see what you’re worth?’ Kamil asked.

Marco supposed that he really should know, that it was the responsible thing to do.

Kamil fiddled with his laptop for a couple of minutes before a printer whirred into action. He pushed the piece of paper over the desk.

When Marco read what was on the paper, he felt as if his eyebrows rose up so high that they were almost part of his spiky fringe.

Chapter Text

 

Marco was still shocked when they walked outside into the autumn sunshine. They’d parted on warm terms from Kamil, promising to come back not only to discuss business but to spend some time with him and his family.

Robert left him alone with his thoughts for a while before clearing his throat to speak. ‘I had been going to suggest a champagne brunch to celebrate, but I guess that might seem rather tasteless now.’

Marco turned to smile at him, realising that his love felt bad about his reaction. ‘No, that would be lovely. I mean, we did kind of just get married this morning so we should celebrate! It was just a shock. I knew that you – we – were wealthy, but seeing it written down in black and white made it seem real, or rather totally unreal.’

‘I know. I feel that way too sometimes. It’s the product of centuries of careful investment. I seem to have a talent for that kind of thing, with Kamil’s help of course. And a lot of it is tied up in property and trusts, being used for good causes. I don’t really think of the money as mine - as ours - to be honest, but as something I have a duty to look after. I never thought much about it until you came into my life. But then I wanted to spoil you, to give you everything, to share the world with you. Suddenly all my dreams had come true in you.’

Marco stopped walking, placing his hand gently on Robert’s arm, a gesture that wasn’t inappropriate in public but would still let his love know that he’d understood exactly what he was saying.

‘You made all my dreams come true as well, Robert. You showed me what it meant not just to love someone, but to trust them and share your innermost self with them. And being your mate has given me things I thought only existed in dreams, things that have enriched my life beyond belief. And we don’t lead a lavish lifestyle. What have we done in the past week? Gone to work. Played football. Had dinner with our friends. Cooked dinner. Had a lot of sex.’ He winked at his love.

‘ … and now we’re in Vienna … ’

‘Now we’re in Vienna!’ Marco thought for a moment. ‘This need to get away sometimes. To experience things. Even the luxury. That’s got something to do with the weird stuff, hasn’t it? With the years of memory? The responsibility?’

Robert seemed almost to sag with relief that Marco had worked this out for himself. ‘Yes, it is. Especially for those of us who are very sensitive to feelings and emotions. Like Kuba is. Like you are. That’s why Łukasz and Kuba go to the spa hotel to recharge. Kuba especially needs that as sometimes it all gets too much for him. He needs Łukasz. But he needs to be able to relax as well.’

‘You suspected that it would be the same for me all along, didn’t you? That’s partly why you spoil me so much.’

‘I have to admit that I enjoy spoiling you,’ Robert grinned, ‘but yes, I want … I need to protect you as much as possible. You’re so precious to me.’

Marco linked his arm through Robert’s. ‘Then take me for the most romantic champagne brunch in the whole of Vienna, my knight in shining armour.’

Vienna was a wonderful city to eat in. Perfect for a romantic brunch. And obviously Robert had already chosen somewhere special for them to go. Marco ordered Eggs Benedict with thick slices of ham. And there was champagne and Viennese pastries to follow.

As they toasted their ‘wedding’ with the champagne Robert had ordered, Marco couldn’t help himself from telling his love what he was thinking. Today had been so meaningful for the two of them that he longed to be able to share their joy with the people who mattered to them.

‘It might be a silly idea, but one day … maybe … could we have … well … kind of a proper wedding? A ceremony? A party? Invite our friends. Our work colleagues. Our families. OK we’d have to meet each other’s families first. Is such a thing even possible?’

Robert took his hand across the table. ‘Of course it is. Łukasz and Kuba did something similar as it was important for Łukasz for his family to be part of his relationship. I’d love that. My family too. Maybe some of my friends that you haven’t yet met could come? They’re longing to meet you. How about next summer? Or is that too soon? We can get a wedding planner. Do you want to get married in Dortmund or here in Poland?’

Marco’s head was spinning. ‘Yes. I mean next summer would be perfect. Especially if we can get some help. I must be the only man ever to get married and get engaged all on the same day!’

‘We could … we could go and get rings. This city is full of jewellers. And we could use them again in our ceremony.’ There was hope and doubt on Robert’s face, wondering if he had gone too far.

‘I’d love that.’

They found the perfect rings in only the second jeweller they visited, rings that fitted as if they had been there waiting for them. Simple white gold bands, polished to satin perfection in the middle with a thin band of shinier metal on either side. That was exactly what Marco had always wanted. He didn’t want yellow gold, but nor did he want something too shiny. They decided to wait and have the rings engraved for their ‘second wedding’ next year and left the shop with the precious packages burning a hole in their pockets.

‘I have an idea,’ Robert said, taking Marco by the hand.

Marco was surprised when Robert led him to the gateway of royal palace in the heart of the old town, thronged by tourists even though it was autumn. But the Hofburg wasn’t Robert’s destination. Instead he stopped in front of a beautiful art deco building.

‘Is this OK?’

‘Perfect!’ smiled Marco.

The butterfly house was indeed the perfect place for them to exchange rings. It was magical and beautiful, romantic and beguiling. And of course the elegant winged creatures made Marco think of their own magnificent wings. They wandered through the butterfly house, utterly captivated by the variety of colourful butterflies fluttering everywhere they looked.

Robert stopped, turning towards Marco, taking his hand in his and slipping the ring on his finger. Marco slid Robert’s ring onto his love’s finger, his heart brimming with love and happiness. They kissed, short and sweet, sealing their bond yet again. A few tourists might have applauded the two handsome men who were obviously head over heels in love.

Fueled by their love and their late brunch, they spent the rest of the afternoon simply exploring the heart of the city, soaking up the atmosphere. Not much had changed here in the last two hundred years and Robert entertained him with tales of times past in Habsburg Vienna. Marco was fascinated but he couldn’t help sneaking a look at his engagement/wedding ring from time to time and twisting his hand to make it glint in the sun.

Back at the hotel, they rested for a bit before changing for dinner. Marco wanted to try Sachertorte when he was in Vienna and Robert had arranged a table for them in the Hotel Sacher itself, in the Wintergarten with a view of the Opera. And of course they had Sachertorte on the dessert menu!

It was the perfect end to the perfect day. A beautiful meal in wonderful surroundings in the company of the man he loved and would spend the rest of his life with, followed by a slice of the best chocolate cake Marco had ever eaten alongside a mound of sweetened vanilla cream whipped to fluffy perfection.

They went for a short walk before going back to their hotel. But Marco wasn’t ready for bed yet, far from it. He had another hunger that needed to be sated.

Teasingly slowly, he eased off his jacket and took off his tie, slowly undoing the buttons on his shirt. He could see the lust sparkling in his love’s eyes.

‘It would be a pity to waste that huge bathtub;’ he purred seductively.

Robert obviously agreed, undressing with almost indecent haste. But both of them carefully took off their rings, placing them on the nightstands for safekeeping.

They kissed as the bathtub was filling, sweet kisses that still inflamed the fire of their desire. Marco stepped into the foaming water first, leaning back and opening his arms for Robert.

His love felt so good nestled against his chest, warm and solid, the outlines of his sleeping wings pressed against Marco’s chest, the two of them caressed by the warm, foamy bubbles.

Robert sighed happily, relaxing completely and utterly into Marco’s embrace. He nosed through his love’s damp hair, gently kissing the vulnerable skin of his throat. More soft sighs told him how much Robert was enjoying this.

Marco was determined to indulge Robert. He stroked over the sensitive skin of his love’s inner thighs, the soapy water letting his fingers glide easily over the skin. The soft sighs transformed into gentle moans as Robert wantonly let his legs fall open, begging for more.

Now he had perfect access, fingers travelling upwards to caress Robert behind his balls and cup their heavy weight in his hand. His fingers trailed over the soft skin of Robert’s hard manhood, stroking and simulating. He could feel his mate squirming against him, his breathing loud and harsh in the still of the bathroom. Everything was quiet except for the sound of Robert’s breathy moans and the soft splashing of the bathwater round his hand.

He tightened his grip round his love’s waist as he began to stroke his length more firmly, instinctively knowing that Robert’s back would arch and his hips cant up in response to Marco’s touch. He held his love safe and close as he stroked him to his climax, cradling him in the aftermath as Robert lay boneless and blissed-out against his chest.

Marco was achingly hard as well, but he knew that Robert would see to his needs. For now he just wanted to hold his love until the water was cold enough to chase them out of the bathtub.

Eventually they climbed out, drying themselves off, Marco moving a little awkwardly due to the evidence of his desire for Robert throbbing between his legs. But there was something else to take care of first. They held hands, looking deep into one another’s eyes as their wings unfurled to greet each other. The bedroom was more than big enough for their wings to unfold fully and still walk around comfortably.

Robert smiled shyly at Marco, blushing slightly. ‘I’d like to … um … pleasure you with my mouth. But I’m not as experienced as you are so it might not be very good.’

‘Believe me, your mouth on me is going to feel just amazing. And you know what they say – practice makes perfect.’ Marco winked to punctuate his point, making Robert laugh and breaking the tension.

‘How do you want me?’ he asked as he walked over to the bed.

‘On your front,’ breathed Robert.

Marco lay down carefully, pillowing his head on his hands, his wings spread elegantly either side of him. His arousal was hot and throbbing rubbing against the sheet. The problem wasn’t going to be Robert making him come, but him being able to hold back long enough to let his love do what he wanted to.

He shivered in erotic bliss as tender fingers brushed over his feathery wings.

'You’re more beautiful than any of those butterflies, Marco. Glorious, shimmering and golden.’

Then he felt Robert’s lips against his spine, kissing downwards to linger in the curve of his back. Robert was getting bolder now, biting gently and mouthing at his thighs and buttocks.

‘Good, so good,’ he murmured encouragingly.

He held his breath as his love parted his butt cheeks, knowing how new this was for Robert. But he couldn’t help squealing at the gorgeous feeling of a supple tongue licking over his entrance, his fingers curling into the bedsheet. He was getting uncomfortably close to bursting point so he felt a little relieved when Robert urged him to turn onto his back after a couple of minutes. But there was no respite from the stimulation of Robert’s tongue that explored every inch of his groin, licking, sucking and probing.

His need to come was becoming painful, his cock leaking and twitching. He cried out loud as Robert licked up the length of his cock and took him into the blissful wet warmth of his mouth in one smooth movement. His hips stuttered upwards of their own will, one hand fisted into Robert’s dark hair. Robert had slightly hollowed his cheeks, the suction utterly delicious as he massaged Marco with his tongue. Marco was ready to burst. He held back as long as he physically could, managing to warn Robert that he was about to come with jerky movements of his hips and his fingers tightening in his love’s hair. And Robert had absolutely no difficulty in swallowing down everything he had to give, gulp after gulp.

He loved the self-satisfied look on his love’s face afterwards, the counterpart to the blissed-out expression on his own. He pulled Robert in for a kiss.

‘You have absolutely no need to practice anything, my love. But I’m not going to say no to as much practice as you want for both of us to … um … perfect our technique. Maybe we can review the situation a couple of hundred years from now?’

Robert’s throaty laugh as they kissed made it quite clear that his love 100% agreed with his suggestion.

Chapter Text

The rest of their long weekend was every bit as magical and Robert promised to bring him back to Vienna very soon. The city where they’d officially got engaged surrounded by a cloud of beautiful butterflies would always have a special place in their hearts. But Marco was glad to get back to their everyday life as well and the work that he loved. Not to mention the fact that next weekend would be their spa trip with Lukasz and Kuba.

Marco was looking forward to this mini break with their friends, the first time they would be together for any length of time since his transformation. He was also hoping that talking to Kuba would help him to find ways to control and channel his new gifts. That was one of the many things he really appreciated about his new life. He wasn’t alone in dealing with the challenges it threw up and, while Robert was always by his side to support him, it was important that there were other people in his life as well as his true mate.

Łukasz and Kuba had driven to the spa hotel after football training on Thursday, giving them a night alone before Robert and Marco joined them. They would travel back on the Sunday while Robert and Marco would stay until Monday. That way they could all have the longest break possible without having to take time off work.

Finally Friday evening came round. It had been a busy day. Woj had the day off as well so Marco had been in charge. He showered quickly before dressing in dark jeans and a close-fitting shirt, smart but sexy as befitted a romantic weekend in a luxury hotel. Despite his eagerness to be underway, he still took a minute or two to tease his hair to perfection.

And it had been worth taking his time when he glimpsed the look on Robert’s face when he saw him. Robert looked as if he wanted to eat him up on the spot. And Robert looked every bit as appetising with his suit jacket slung casually over his shoulder and his shirt sleeves rolled up to reveal a tantalising glimpse of those powerful forearms.

The journey to the hotel only took around an hour, with Marco at the wheel this time. The former palace at the end of its imposing drive looked as impressive as it had the first time and Marco could feel the butterflies of excitement fluttering in his stomach. They were shown to their room, the same grand suite with the over-the-top bathroom as before. Of course now Marco understood that these large hotel rooms were partly necessary to give them enough room to unfurl their wings. It was strange to think that the last time they were here he hadn’t yet seen Robert’s wings except in their dreams.

They’d just settled in and unpacked when there was a knock at the door. The plan was for the four of them to have dinner in their suite tonight to be able to talk in privacy. A table was set up before the window and it was still warm enough for the balcony doors to be fully opened, granting them a perfect view of the park beyond.

Łukasz and Kuba hugged him and Robert warmly. The next knock at the door was the waiter bringing their starters and the first bottle of wine. It had been a long day and Marco ate hungrily as they talked about what had been going on at the Sports Centre and Kuba’s practice as a child psychologist. Their plans to work together one day lay well in the future, but it was good to get to know more about each other’s interests and professional dreams.

When the dessert plates had been cleared away and all that was left on the table was coffee and a bottle of chilled vodka, it was Łukasz who made the suggestion.

‘Maybe we could make ourselves more comfortable? But only if you’re completely OK with that, Marco?’

Marco thought for a moment. Actually he was OK with that, more than OK.

‘Of course. This is my life now. And you’re our friends. It still feels a little strange with someone who isn’t Robert, but I need to get used to it.’

Łukasz nodded. ‘I know exactly how you feel. It took me a while too, apart from with Kuba that was.’

Marco shrugged of his clothing as quickly as possible, not wanting to think too much about this. By the time he was standing there naked, Robert was naked as well. His love reached out a hand to him. Marco gripped on tightly, shutting his eyes as he breathed out, encouraging his wings to unfold.

He felt calmer once he had his wings, once he could feel Robert’s wings fluttering in a loving caress against their mate. Only then did he open his eyes.

Łukasz and Kuba were standing opposite him, also holding hands, their wings fluttering together in greeting just like his and Robert’s did. And Kuba was looking at him with an expression of wonder on his face.

‘Now you know how I felt seeing Łukasz for the first time, Kuba,’ Robert grinned.

‘You’re magnificent, Marco. Truly magnificent,’ Kuba breathed. ‘Sorry for appreciating your mate like this, Robert,’ he apologised afterwards.

‘No need to worry. I’d be offended if you didn’t think that Marco was magnificent. A bit like you would have been offended if I hadn’t appreciated how glorious Łukasz was! And I think we’re both secure enough to deal with it by now.’

The ice broken, Marco allowed himself to look properly at Łukasz and Kuba. Łukasz was as golden and resplendent as the first time he’d seen him, still every inch the warrior angel. But his expression was somehow softer and more gentle with his mate by his side. His love for Kuba shone out of him, illuminating his face.

And Kuba. Well …

It’s OK, Marco. You’re allowed to think that my mate looks like a very muscular, grown-up cherub.  Łukasz ’s amused chuckle reverberated in his mind.

And that had indeed been exactly what Marco had been thinking, recalling Łukasz telling him about Kuba’s baby portrait that still hung on his grandmother’s wall. Kuba was stocky and well-built, clearly immensely powerful. But there was a roundness to him in contrast to Łukasz’s angularity. His wings were the same shade of dark blond as Łukasz ’s, but tinged with red, almost exactly matching the colour of his facial hair.

They settled themselves down on the two settees in the living area of the suite. Robert opened his arms and wings to Marco, inviting him to snuggle into his embrace. Marco felt warm and safe, cosseted in feathery tenderness. Łukasz was lying back in Kuba’s arms in almost exactly the same position. This felt so right and so natural, as if Marco had been doing it all his life. He hummed happily as Robert nosed gently through his hair before placing a soft kiss on the top of his head.

The four of them talked until late, the conversation deeper and more intimate now they were in their true forms. Marco was a little surprised when Łukasz and Kuba got up to say their farewells without bothering to get dressed again.

‘We left our balcony windows open just in case,’ Kuba winked at him. ‘I’m sure that we can trust you to look after our clothes until tomorrow.’

Łukasz and Kuba went out onto the balcony carrying nothing but their room key. There was a rush of air and a glint of wings flashing in the moonlight and then they were gone, lost to the night sky, leaving Robert and Marco alone once more.

Robert pulled him into his arms, fluttering kisses over his cheeks and hair. ‘Happy’ he asked, his voice muffled by the kissing.

‘Yes,’ sighed Marco in response, ‘tonight was perfect and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend. I’m tired but … um … well … ’ He was tired, but an evening spent curled up so intimately in his love’s embrace had had its effect on him. He wasn’t exactly horny, more languidly sexy.

Luckily Robert knew exactly what he meant. ‘Me too! What did you have in mind?’

Marco did indeed have an idea. They were both too sleepily relaxed for sex, but there was something he’d been longing to try. He had the feeling that it might be even more enjoyable with wings and a mental bond. And Robert seemed to like his suggestion as well.

They got ready for bed first, sure that they’d fall straight to sleep afterwards. Once in bed, they kissed, focusing on nothing but kissing for long minutes, deep, passionate, wet kisses that seemed to go straight to Marco’s soul. Not to mention other other parts of his body! It was only once he could feel the desire stirring in his groin that Marco broke their kiss and crawled down Robert’s body.

Robert was half hard by now as well, his arousal twitching as Marco’s breath ghosted over it. And Robert was soon rock hard under the skilled ministrations of Marco’s tongue.

Marco had showered after work but Robert hadn’t. Even though his love was fastidiously clean, Marco loved how he smelled like this, rich and ripe with arousal and the scent of male musk. Having his face buried in his lover’s groin like this was intoxicating and he was soon completely hard himself.

Ready for more he asked through their mental bond, thinking it could come in handy once their mouths were otherwise occupied.

You bet I am! The longing and lust in Robert’s response reverberated round Marco’s mind.

It took a minute or two for them to arrange themselves comfortably, especially since this was all new to Robert. But it was worth it once they were wrapped in a cocoon of arms and wings, mouths perfectly positioned in front of each other’s groins.

Just relax and take it easy Marco advised. We’ll come, I can assure you of that. But let’s just enjoy this.

And it did indeed feel utterly blissful. Robert’s tongue lapping and licking wetly at his aching cock, a little tentatively at first but with increasing confidence, was amazing. And it felt even better when his love took him into his mouth and sucked sweetly at the leaking tip, swirling his tongue into the most sensitive, responsive spots

Robert felt perfect in his mouth, hot and heavy. And he tasted just so good. Their mental bond was open, letting them share one another’s pleasure, alerting them to what was mind-blowingly good. This was so intimate, loving and beautiful, bound together by their minds and wings. But it was also incredibly erotic and arousing, almost filthily so, with mouths and groins pressed tight together.

This was more familiar for Marco and so it was not unsurprising that he came first, pausing in what he was doing to let Robert lick and suck him to a toe-curling orgasm, one that he seemed to feel in every cell of his body. He grunted and panted his ecstasy into the sweat-fragrant dark curls that covered his love’s private parts before redoubling his own efforts, determined that Robert’s climax would be every bit as powerful as the one he’d just experienced.

And it was. He could sense that from the deluge of bliss that flooded their mental bond, from Robert’s moans against his over-sensitive skin. His love tasted perfect on his tongue, hot, thick and salty. It was only once he was sure that he’d sucked every last drop from Robert’s softening cock that he made his back way up his love’s body to take him in his arms.

They lay soft and supine in one another’s arms, blissed-out and boneless, exchanging kisses that tasted deliciously of their lovemaking.

That was mind-blowingly awesome he heard Robert say. We need to do that again.

It was. And we do he replied.

But right now what they needed to do was sleep. So they did just that, curled up together, their wings wrapped around them making a soft feathery nest.

Chapter Text

Marco woke up to find Robert kissing the tip of his nose. He stretched sleepily before snuggling back down into Robert’s arms.

‘How do you feel about today?’ Robert asked, fluttering soft kisses all over his face.

The plan was that he would spend the morning with Kuba while Łukasz and Robert would do something together. They spent so much time at work that it was good for them to be able to see each other out of the workplace without the weight of pressure or responsibilities. After a light lunch, the four of them would spend the afternoon in the spa. Their treatments were already booked.

‘I’m looking forward to it. I’m curious about what Kuba has to tell me. But it’s important that I learn not only how to control my abilities but how to use them to help people.’

‘How did I ever end up with such a perfect mate? Not only are you the sexiest thing on two wings, but you’re so generous, loving and caring.’

Marco grinned at his love before leaning in for a kiss. ‘Now is that shower big enough for both of us and our wings? I’m hungry for breakfast but I’m hungry for something else too.’

‘You’re insatiable, Marco,’ groaned Robert, clearly not minding at all though.

The shower was indeed big enough for both of them to fit into comfortably with their wings tucked behind them. And they might have spent rather a long time in the shower that morning, kissing and lazily stroking one other to climax under the stream of hot water. Marco’s head slumped down onto Robert’s shoulder as he came, biting into the flesh to muffle his cries.

Somehow they managed to make it down to breakfast in time, trying to look as innocent as possible as they greeted Łukasz and Kuba.

As if they’re not making love as well every moment they’re alone and not actually asleep Robert’s voice in his head forced Marco to choke back a giggle.

After breakfast, they said their goodbyes. Marco followed Kuba to the car, glad that his companion didn’t seem to want to make conversation.

‘It’s OK, Marco. I won’t force you to talk about anything you don’t want to. It’s one of the things any good psychologist learns, that sometimes talking isn’t helpful. But at the same time we can talk about anything you want to or need to.’

Marco let out a sigh of relief. ‘Thank you. I mean, I want to … I need to talk about things but sometimes it’s not easy. I’m still getting used to things.’

‘I understand. I really do. This has been my reality for all of my adult life, but it still took some comings to terms with. And I remember what it was like for Łukasz at the beginning. We loved each other. We were meant to be together. But that didn’t automatically make things straightforward.’

‘You and Łukasz. You’ve been together ten years now and the bond between you is as strong, if not stronger than ever if I’m right. This thing between me and Robert isn’t a honeymoon? It won’t wear off? It will always be special and intense, magical even?’

‘Yes it will always be special, I’m sure of that. And you’re right about me and Łukasz as well. The connection between us grows deeper, becomes more intimate the longer we’re together. But the magic, if you want to call it that, doesn’t make our relationship magically perfect out of nothing. You’ll still need to work at it, compromise, show understanding. It won’t stop you getting grumpy if Robert’s forgotten to buy coffee and there’s none for your breakfast.’

Marco had to grin at that. Robert might indeed be his true mate and the handsomest man on earth, but that probably wouldn’t be enough to stop him getting grumpy without his morning coffee.

‘But your bond, if it is properly nurtured, can help you to overcome these obstacles,’ Kuba continued. ‘Plus it helps that your wings will always want you to make up so that they can be reunited with their mates as well.’

Kuba was silent for a bit, obviously thinking about whether or not to say something.

‘It’s thankfully very rare, but our relationships can be abusive. The mental bond can be abused. One partner can control or damage the other. What should be the beauty of the connection between true mates can be distorted and turned into something ugly.

I’m not telling you this because I believe that Robert could ever behave in such a way. But I think that you might be able to sense it in others. I can, although thankfully I’ve only come across in once in the last five centuries. So can Kamil, which is why he always personally meets with newly mated couples regulating their financial affairs. So if you ever meet one of the People and you have the feeling that something is unwholesome or unhealthy, don’t ignore that feeling.

You don’t have to do something about it yourself, but tell someone. Robert or me, for example, or Kamil if you want to make it less personal. I promise you that it will be properly investigated, no accusations made without evidence. And nobody will ever know that it was you who raised the alarm.’

Marco nodded, his throat suddenly dry. There was a serious side to his new life as well, one that he was ready to embrace.

They drove to a nearby forest where they could walk.

‘I thought you might be happier talking as we walk at first. And I know a café nearby where we can go afterwards.’

Kuba really had tried to make this as comfortable as possible for Marco. He couldn’t help being reminded of when he and Łukasz had had ‘the talk’, on the riverbank where he now knew that the two of them must have gone to sort things out in the early days of their relationship. And he remembered how Łukasz had told him more about Robert and Kuba’s past and how that had helped him to understand things better. That gave him an idea.

‘If it’s OK, if you don’t mind, I’d love to know more about your past and maybe Robert’s as well. I know that the two of you are almost the same age.’

Kuba thought for a moment. ‘Yes, we are. We are as old as the kingdom of Poland itself. I’ve always thought that that is why we were brought into being. There weren’t as many of us then as there are now, not in Europe. I was born in the south, Robert in Warsaw. But our lives and the course of events brought us together, seemed to inexorably twine our lives together whether we liked it or not. And now that Robert has found you and I am with Łukasz, that makes more sense than ever.’

‘You mean that I was part of Robert’s destiny all those centuries ago?’

‘Yes, I think you were. Like Łukasz was mine and I met him through Robert. It’s strange. We were born not so far apart and yet had to go away to find each other.’

Kuba was silent for a bit before going on, his voice dreamy and distant as he recalled long-forgotten memories. ‘Robert was a merchant. A very successful one. He travelled all over Europe and made a lot of money. But he always put his money to good use, founding orphanages and institutions for the elderly and the sick. Centuries ago, that was the best way to try and help those forgotten by society. And that was one of the reasons why we worked together. For I was a priest for well over four hundred years. It was my calling, my way to serve people. And I helped Robert set up and look after his charitable foundations.’

Marco nodded. Robert and Kuba had lived in a world nothing like the one he now knew them in, had once been almost completely different people than the men he’d met, but these identities and histories made a certain kind of sense.

‘Robert was always the more glamorous one, richer and more successful. I made my peace with that. The work we could accomplish together was more important. But things began to change in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. I decided that my calling was no longer the church and began studying the newly emerging discipline of psychiatry. It seemed a natural next step. I studied in Vienna under some of the great masters before returning to Krakow.’

‘Let me guess, Robert visited you in Vienna?’ Marco asked.

‘Yes, that’s one of the reasons he knows it so well. We explored the city like a pair of young students and, unlike Warsaw, Vienna has remained more or less unchanged. And that was when things got difficult. Our country suffered so much in the wars of the twentieth century. After the first war we became an independent nation again for the first time in centuries. There was so much to be done but there was hope. Robert and I were proud to be a part of that, to be part of our country’s destiny. But then … well you know how that all ended. You know what happened to Robert’s beloved Warsaw, how it was left shattered and ruined, many believed never to be rebuilt.’

‘Robert told me that it was you who forced him to come back.’

Kuba sighed. ‘Yes, it was. I understood why he had to flee. The pain and the suffering would have destroyed him. If he’d stayed, I don’t think that he could have survived. But he was scared to come back, partly because he was so ashamed of having abandoned his city in its hour of need. So I tracked him down, determined to force him to come back.

At first he wouldn’t listen to me. And then … well I told him that he was right to have left, but that he was a coward if he didn’t return, that I could never look him in the face again if he deserted his city now when his people needed him. He hated me for saying that of course, but he came back and that was the only thing that mattered.’

‘You knew how to motivate him,’ Marco observed. ‘You used your skills and your training to find the words that would make him face his pain.’

‘Yes, I did. It was a big risk. I tried to use more reasonable arguments at first, but he wouldn’t listen. I had to try everything. I owed him that much after all the centuries our lives had been bound together.’

‘And he forgave you?’

‘Eventually. Not easily. And never explicitly. I don’t know if he told you, but Robert helped to rebuild the Old Town with his bare hands. And I came and stood beside him, toiled beside him in the dirt and the dust. And somehow, as the rubble was cleared away, as the buildings were rebuilt stone by stone, we were able to rebuild our relationship. I helped him find his new direction in sports management in a world where being a businessman was no longer appropriate and now it suits him more than a life as a merchant ever did.’

‘He told me the story about the people of Warsaw rebuilding their city, but not that you and he were part of it.’ Marco suddenly realised something. ‘Robert had to come back to Warsaw. That was part of his destiny as well. For this was where we were meant to meet and fall in love.’

‘It was. And it was where I met Łukasz. That complicated things. Robert and I had been alone for so long, having almost given up hope of finding our true mates. That was one of the things that bound us together. But then I met Łukasz and Robert had the agony of seeing the reality of what he longed for so desperately in front of his eyes every day. But then you found your way to him. And now I hope that the four of us can maybe be friends, real friends, in the way that has always been difficult for me and Robert on our own.’

‘I hope so too.’

And this conversation really did bring him and Kuba closer, making it possible for them to speak openly about the special gift they shared. Kuba explained to him how he tried to control it, blocking it out where it would be distracting but bringing it to the fore where it could be helpful.’

‘After a while it becomes second nature, even if you will end up with a headache sometimes at the beginning.’

Kuba looked at him thoughtfully. ‘I don’t want to intrude, but I know that you and Łukasz can share your thoughts if you want to. If you let me do the same, I can let you see how it works.’

Marco agreed and they went to the café Kuba had mentioned earlier, ordering coffee and pastries. Once they’d been served, Marco felt a pushing sensation against his mental walls, not unpleasantly so, but forceful all the same. It was Kuba. He relaxed and focused on letting Kuba in.

Hallo Marco! Normally I would never intrude on other people’s privacy, but it is important that you learn this too. So today we’ll make an exception. And we’ll never see any of these people again. Focus on my thoughts and on the patterns they make.

Marco did as Kuba suggested, fascinated to see what he imagined as a barrier - something like the portcullis on a medieval fortress - being lifted. Once Kuba’s mind was open to those around them, he still couldn’t detect anything specific, just a background hum of emotions, mental background noise if you like. But then Kuba zoomed in on specific individuals and Marco could sense more. He couldn’t read their thoughts, which was a massive relief, but he could sense emotions and feelings. And the more Kuba focused, the sharper the emotional reading became. This was incredibly exciting.

Why don’t you try, Marco? I’m here in your mind to guide you.

And together they practiced Marco raising and lowering his mental barrier until it was almost second nature. It would take him time to perfect his techniques, but he was sure he would master it. Even if he was exhausted afterwards!

Chapter Text

Marco was relieved that Kuba was sensitive enough not to try and make conversation on the drive back. Łukasz and Robert were waiting for them in the car park. Without stopping to think, Marco jumped out of the car and threw himself into Robert’s arms, burying his nose in his love’s neck, seeking comfort and strength.

Robert held him tightly, stroking his back tenderly with one hand, even though he was clearly a little concerned. I love you so much, Robert, he thought, trying to sound reassuring,

Kuba’s voice was calm and even. ‘We’re fine. Marco’s fine. We talked about some pretty serious things and did some practical stuff as well. He needs to eat and then to relax in the spa.’

Of course they had planned this perfectly, knowing full well that he might feel a little overwhelmed by his time with Kuba.

The four of them ate a light lunch. Robert and Łukasz told them about what they’d done that morning. And then it was off to the spa. It was truly breathtaking thought Marco as he undressed, storing his things in the locker and putting on swimming trunks and a bathrobe. They were heading to the showers when Łukasz and Kuba stopped them.

‘We arranged something special for you,’ Kuba confessed. ‘There is a private spa zone for couples here, with a sauna and a small infinity pool. We booked an hour there for the two of you.’

‘But … ’Marco felt he had to protest even though the idea sounded incredibly inviting, ‘we’re here together.’

Łukasz brushed his objections aside. ‘You and Robert could do with this time on your own. And Kuba and I were there yesterday. There is plenty of time for the four of us to enjoy the spa experience together later. We’ll be in the pool area. Come and find us when you’re done.’

A member of staff showed Robert and Marco to a discrete private suite. The lighting was dim and relaxing, the atmosphere quiet and calming.

‘I suppose we can get completely naked here,’ Marco grinned, stepping out of his swimming trunks.

Robert pulled him under the shower and kissed him, the two of them luxuriating under the warm jets of water, illuminated by a changing spectrum of coloured lights. After drying off, they made their way into the sauna for a bit. But the infinity pool was far too inviting to resist for long. After another quick trip under the shower, Marco sank gratefully into the warm water of the pool. Soft lights played over the surface, inviting him to relax. There was enough room to float freely, even swim a stroke or two.

It’s almost as good as flying, he heard Robert in his mind as his love swam up behind him. And for the next half an hour they just let themselves drift, surrendering themselves to the water and one another’s embrace.

Marco felt refreshed and renewed by the time he slipped back into his swimming trunks and they set off to join Łukasz and Kuba.

The pool area was sumptuous, a series of fresh and saltwater pools at various temperatures and in different sizes. Some had places to rest and relax in the water, others had jets and waterfalls. They found Łukasz and Kuba relaxing side by side in one of the warm water pools.

‘I don’t need to ask if you feel better, Marco,’ Kuba observed, ‘I can see it written all over your face. Shall we go and get some juice from the bar before exploring further?’

‘Yes, I do feel better. Thank you for thinking of it. And some juice would be great.’

The poolside bar made the most wonderful alcohol-free cocktails, packed with exotic fruit juices. Marco felt relaxed and carefree now, sitting drinking with Robert by his side, his legs swinging on the bar stool as they chatted freely and easily.

They spent some time trying out the various pools. And then it was time to try out one of the unique features of this spa. The spa had its own ‘shower experience zone’ including a rainforest shower area for them to wander through. Even though they were sleeping, Marco could sense just how much his wings loved the time they spent in the rainforest shower.

Clean and dried, it was time for some pampering.

‘A full body massage is too big a risk, unless it’s from Robert,’ Łukasz winked. ‘But the foot and ankle treatment here will leave you feeling as if you’re walking on air.’

Marco had never had a spa treatment like this in his life and he felt a little awkward at first. But Łukasz proved to be right. It felt blissful and he nearly went to sleep on the massage table.

They didn’t bother getting dressed again before going to their rooms, too blissed out and relaxed after their afternoon in the spa.

Łukasz cleared his throat. ‘I don’t know about you two, but I could do with an hour or so alone with my mate. Shall we meet in the bar for pre-dinner drinks in a couple of hours?’

Marco certainly wasn’t arguing. Naked in bed with Robert in his arms just a few minutes later, he couldn’t help giggling into his love’s neck ‘Did Łukasz just tell us incredibly politely that he and Kuba needed to have sex?’

‘Yes, he did. And he was saving my blushes from having to tell them that I needed to make love to my mate. A whole afternoon with you almost naked, all wet and slippery by my side. I’m a civilised man, but I have my limits.’ Robert growled possessively against Marco’s throat, a noise which went straight to Marco’s already excitable groin.

He pushed the tube of lube into Robert’s hand. ‘Make love to me. Make me yours. I need to feel you deep inside me.’

Robert’s kisses were as thorough as his preparation of Marco was. He licked and nibbled gently at his lips as lube-slick fingers slowly circled his entrance, making Marco sigh and shift underneath his love’s body. Roberts tongue slipped into his mouth, licking around inside as he slid two fingers through the tight ring of muscle that yielded to grant him entry.

Robert wasn’t just preparing him, this was part of their lovemaking, part of the deep intimacy between them. He was open and surrendered to his lover, letting him inside his mouth, his body, holding nothing back as he moaned deep into Robert’s throat, his hips pitching and stuttering upwards. Robert wanted him ready and relaxed, aching and begging to be filled. This was slow and languid, not hot and urgent, but it was still incredibly sexy.

Marco loved every slow minute of Robert indulging and worshipping him like this, but he needed more and couldn’t help himself from whimpering his needs to Robert between their deep, wet kisses. ‘Please. Need you. Need to feel you.’

The sweet torment went on a little longer until Marco felt as if he could explode from the heady mix of pleasure and frustration, his gnawing and aching need building to fever pitch. Finally Robert took pity on him, by which time Marco was open and relaxed enough for his love to be able to push all the way inside in one single, powerful thrust of his hips.

Marco’s back arched in response and he would have cried out if Robert hadn’t claimed his lips in a passionate kiss. His love was so big and so hard inside him, filling and stretching him, throbbing against every responsive spot. Marco wrapped his legs round Robert’s back, moving in time with every delicious thrust inside him.

He was close enough and definitely horny enough that he could come untouched if they found the right rhythm. And there it was, every stroke brushing over that most pleasurable spot of all, the lust boiling in his groin building with each thrust until it exploded all over Robert’s taut belly. Through the white haze of his height he was dimly aware of Robert coming hot and wet inside him, before the two of them slumped into each other’s arms in a sticky pile of post-coital bliss.

They lay cuddled close in silence for a while, listening to one another breathe.

‘You didn’t ask what Kuba and I spoke about,’ Marco finally said.

‘No. And I won’t. Just like I’d never pry into personal conversations you have with Łukasz or any of our other friends.’

‘I know. And I appreciate that. But I want to tell you.’

So Marco told him what he and Kuba had talked about, what he now knew about the history Robert and Kuba shared, stroking his love’s back and hair reassuringly as he did so. He knew that Robert still had lingering fears that Marco would learn something that would change how he felt about him and the life they had chosen.

‘Thank you for sharing this with me, Marco. And I promise to make try and make sure that we never run out of coffee at home!’

They kissed softly, sealing the compact of their love once more. And then it was time to get ready for dinner. Much as he loved Robert naked in bed with him, there was still something special about seeing him dressed up in all his splendour. Robert looked so good in the simple dark suits he chose to wear on special occasions.

Łukasz and Kuba were waiting for them in the bar, also dressed for dinner. See, they look just as self-satisfied as we do Robert observed in his mind.

The four of them made a handsome group and heads definitely turned as they made their way into the dining room. Marco hadn’t eaten much at lunchtime so he was ravenous by now.

Their table was in a quiet corner of the room and they could talk freely without risk of being overheard.

‘You need to come and visit our home region of Silesia sometime,’ Łukasz suggested. ‘My family would love to meet you. They’re always interested in my life and the people I work with. And you have to meet Kuba’s awesome grandmother as well.’

‘I’d like that,’ Marco answered. ‘I feel like I’ve found not just a new life but a new family here.’ Robert squeezed his arm, obviously delighted to hear that.

‘Have you made plans to meet each other’s families yet?’Kuba asked. ‘I know it is a big step, but you are intending to get married soon.’

Marco sighed. This still worried him. ‘We’re agreed to spend our first Christmas together in Warsaw but go to my family in Dortmund to celebrate New Year. And then Robert’s family are coming to visit us in January.’

‘I thought it might be easier for Marco if they came here,’ Robert added. ‘Maybe we can all go out for a meal when they’re here. My mother hasn’t seen Kuba for a long time now and would like to catch up.’

‘We’d be delighted to,’ it was Łukasz who answered. ‘And seriously Marco, I know you’re worried about this but you don’t have to be. Robert’s family are going to adore you and be delighted that he’s finally found his true mate. By the way, have you decided where you want to get married, here in Poland or in Germany?’

Robert looked at Marco, letting him answer. They’d talked about this of course, but it had to be Marco’s decision.

‘I think I want us to marry in Poland. I can invite all of my family and friends and pay for hotel rooms and travel, so nobody will be left out. And somehow it seems like our relationship belongs here, that this was where we were destined to meet and fall in love. So it feels right that we get married here as well.’

Łukasz and Kuba nodded in understanding.

‘I suppose we’ll need to call the wedding planner when we get back,’ Marco laughed. ‘Finding a venue is the number one priority.’

Robert was fiddling with his napkin. ‘Well … if you like … we could always get married here. I’ve asked and we could book the whole hotel for a long weekend next summer. It’s close enough to Warsaw for people to be able to get here easily. It’s somewhere that is meaningful for us. The gardens would be beautiful for a ceremony. And there’s lots of space not just for a reception but for us to be able to spend time with our guests and for them to enjoy themselves.’

Marco turned to him with shining eyes. ‘Really! We could do that? Wouldn’t it be very expensive?’ He blushed as it dawned on him what he’d said.

‘We can afford it, Marco. And it’s worth it to be able to share this amazing experience with the people who are close to us. We’re not wasting money on an extravagant show-piece wedding – that wouldn’t be us – but we’re sharing our joy with the people we love. I guessed that would be what you would want, a weekend with family and friends. We can go away and spend time alone together afterwards. But we’re only going to get married once. And it’s especially important for me to be able to give you the perfect wedding day with your family and friends. You know why.’

‘If you want this, Marco, say yes,’ Łukasz advised him. ‘We’re not super rich like you and Robert, but we’re comfortably well off and Kuba wanted to do the same for me. He knew how important it was that my family were part of my new life while they still could be. And the memories of that day will stay with me for a lifetime.’

‘Your mother still cries when she talks about how beautiful our wedding was,’ Kuba remarked.

That made Marco’s mind up. ‘Yes, I want this. Thank you, Robert.’

‘If it’s not too sudden, we can call the hotel manager and he’ll come and meet us while we’re having coffee and we can make the booking.’

‘Why not!’

Robert gestured to the waiter and explained what they wanted. Their coffee would be served in the bar and the hotel manager would come and join them there.

‘Would you like some privacy?’ Łukasz asked. ‘You are about to arrange your wedding after all!’

‘No,’ Marco shook his head. ‘The two of you are part of our lives. And actually there’s something I’d like to ask. I don’t have a brother, so would you do me the honour of being my groomsman, Łukasz? It seems only right and fitting. And I trust your fashion advice!’

‘Of course!’ Łukasz hugged him warmly, obviously excited about the prospect.

Robert was fiddling with his napkin again, not making eye contact with anyone. ‘ … um … I don’t have a brother either, so I was wondering … um … would you mind being my groomsman, Kuba? I mean after all these years that our lives have been bound together whether we like it or not, it seems meant to be.’

Chapter Text

Neither Łukasz or Marco had expected this and they held their breath waiting for Kuba to answer. It was obviously a shock to Kuba as well and he said nothing for a moment or two.

‘I won’t be offended if you say no,’ Robert tried to smooth the awkwardness, ‘after all things haven’t always been easy between us, but I’d genuinely be delighted if you say yes.’

Kuba looked quite emotional. ‘Of course I’ll stand by your side on your big day. It would be an honour to do so.’

Robert and Kuba weren’t quite at the hugging stage but they did shake hands warmly.

The four of them went through to the bar where their coffee was served. Kuba spoke quietly to the waiter and four glasses of vintage cognac also made an appearance.

‘We need to celebrate!’ he shrugged when Robert lifted an eyebrow at him.

The hotel manager came over to them clutching his diary and a date for the wedding was found for July next year. The hotel recommended a wedding planner who’d organised weddings there before and it was agreed that Robert and Marco would come back for a weekend later in the year to discuss their wedding plans in more detail.

‘Of course you are coming as well,’ Marco insisted to Łukasz and Kuba. ‘We need someone to help us test out the wedding menus!’

Marco went outside for a couple of minutes to make a call. He wanted to tell his parents that he had a date for his wedding straight away and make sure that everyone important kept the date free. He could rely on his mother to pass the news on.

He came back in to find the others talking and sipping their brandy. Sitting back down in his place beside Robert, it was clear that something was going on.

‘What is it?’ he asked, narrowing his eyes.

‘Well, the spa is fun,’ Łukasz explained, ‘but our wings don’t get to join in. And you know how much they like water. Our wings are creatures of the air but they seem to love water almost as much.

There is a lake not far from here. We could fly there tonight. Swim in the lake. Sleep out under the stars. The weather is just about warm enough. And our wings keep us warm as well. That’s why we can still fly when it’s cold, even in the depths of a Polish winter. It’s not as luxurious as the hotel, but it might be fun.’

‘Can we?’ Marco looked at Robert with shining eyes. The idea of swimming naked in a lake with his wings did indeed sound wonderful. And incredibly romantic, as befitted such a significant day.

‘Of course we can!’ Robert squeezed his arm.

They drank up and went to their rooms. Łukasz and Kuba said that they would get everything ready for their romantic night under the stars and that Robert and Marco should just relax for an hour or so.

Marco’s head was swimming with joy as they went up to their hotel room. Once inside, Robert pulled him into his arms, kissing the top of his head.

‘Happy?’ he murmured against Marco’s hair.

‘Blissfully happy. Just when I think things couldn’t be any more wonderful, somehow they are. This weekend has been perfect. And we’re going to have a beautiful wedding with all the people we love and care about there to share it with us.’

Robert’s were soft and warm on his, tasting of coffee and fine brandy. They kissed until Marco felt dizzy, dizzy from their deep, wet passionate kiss, only Robert’s strong arms holding him upright.

I think we’re wearing too many clothes he heard Robert’s voice in his mind, their mouths being otherwise occupied.

Do we have time?

We’ll make time

They undid each other’s clothing with urgent fingers, pulling at ties and shirt buttons, belt buckles and trouser fastenings, desperate to be naked and feeling each other skin against skin. They were still kissing wet and messy, tongues buried deep in each other’s mouths, when their wings unfurled. Somehow they managed to stumble over to the bed, Marco pushing Robert down on his back,

‘It’s lucky you prepared me so well earlier,’ he smiled as he lubed both of them up, ‘as that means that we don’t need to waste any more time.’

Robert’s eyes were wide at the sight above him, at the vision of Marco impaling himself on him and sinking slowly down, his wings fully extended on either side. This was the way they had made love for the very first time and it seemed fitting for tonight, not to mention the fact that Marco knew that Robert could fully appreciate the glorious sight of his mate making love to him like this.

And it felt good, so good. Robert was thick and hard, deep inside him, filling him completely, his wings sharing his pleasure in being intimate with his mate like this. He could make both of them come in double quick time like this, he was sure of that. Using his powerful thigh muscles, he rode his love into oblivion, his wings helping him to keep his balance and allowing him to stroke himself in time to the rhythm of his movements. It took just a matter of minutes before he collapsed on top of Robert in a satisfied, sticky heap, his love kissing his neck.

‘Wow, that was wow, just wow, Marco.’ Robert sounded breathless and almost incoherent, his mind blown by what Marco had just done to him.

‘Good. But we can only snuggle for a few minutes. We need to clean up before Łukasz and Kuba come back.’ Marco couldn’t help a note of self-satisfaction from creeping into his voice.

They had just about made it out of bed and into the bathroom to wash when Marco heard Łukasz’s voice in his mind.

We’re about to land on your balcony. I hope the two of you are decent!

And they were, more or less, by the time they went out to greet their friends.

Łukasz and Kuba took off again first, rising effortlessly up into the midnight sky, lit by the stars and the silvery gleam of the moon.

Ready? Robert turned to smile at him. And then they followed Łukasz and Kuba into the night.

Flying was starting to feel relaxed and natural for Marco, as normal as walking. He trusted his wings not only to bear his weight but to take care of him. They were a part of him in a strange, unique way that he’d never thought possible, even if they did seem to have their own distinct personality. They were only in the air for a few minutes before landing by the side of a lake. The moonlight shimmered across the surface of the water invitingly. Everything was quiet and still, only a few nocturnal forest animals had come out to welcome them.

‘The night creatures like us. They know that we’re no threat to them. And they seem fascinated by us as well,’ Kuba explained.

Łukasz and Kuba had prepared everything perfectly. There were blankets to snuggle up in after their midnight swim. Snacks for later as well, not to forget a bottle of chilled vodka. But first Marco longed to be in the water, the water that was summoning him and his wings with its siren call.

He waded out into the lake. The water was cool but not unpleasantly so. And Łukasz was right, his wings seemed to be keeping him warm. He could feel his wings vibrating slightly, clearly anticipating their midnight swim. Once the water was up to his hips, his wings already trailing in the lake, he let himself fall forward, allowing the water to take his weight.

This felt blissful beyond belief, swimming naked outside in the middle of the night, the cool water flowing over his skin. And he could feel the pleasure thrumming through his wings, he could feel them thanking him for this, wordlessly communicating how good it felt for them too. He seemed to be able to float even more effortlessly with his wings and he felt utterly free and relaxed, his joy almost childlike.

They’ll fold behind you to let you swim properly. But if you turn and float on your back, they’ll really love that Robert’s advice sounded in his mind.

He followed Robert’s advice, turning on his back to float effortlessly, looking up at the most perfect view of the moon and the stars. The night was clear, almost cloudless and he could identify most of the major constellations. This was utterly magical. Robert had turned on his back as well and reached for his hand, the two of them floating side by side in the deep quiet of the night, their wings brushing together under the water. Not a sound could be heard except for the slight splashing of the water and the faint sounds of the forest creatures on the shores of the lake.

They floated together for what felt like an age. Relaxed and refreshed, they swam for a bit, Marco quickly adjusting to the strange sensation of swimming with his wings folded behind them. And they could play in the water too, splashing one another and turning somersaults. Toward the end, the four of them just messed about in the lake for a bit, enjoying some carefree time.

Marco was grinning as they finally made their way out of the water to dry themselves. ‘That was utterly amazing,’ he said, ‘thank you so much for thinking of it.’

‘We can do this again, maybe in spring,’ promised Robert. ‘And in winter we can go to the island. You’ll love it there.’

‘Oh you will,’ echoed Kuba. ‘And so will you now, Robert. I know how hard it was for you to really enjoy it without your mate. But now you have Marco.’

They cuddled up in the pile of blankets for a while to talk and drink. Łukasz was enfolded in Kuba’s embrace while Robert’s arms and wings kept Marco every bit as warm as the snug blankets. They drank vodka and talked until they were all yawning so much that they lay down for a couple of hours sleep, waking as the dawn light started to streak the sky.

It had been an utterly magical night, thought Marco as they cleared up to fly back to the hotel. Robert had ordered a late breakfast to be served in their room, Łukasz and Kuba had done the same. So they could sleep for another couple of hours before breakfast. Not that they had much to do today. The only things on the agenda were a late breakfast, another afternoon in the spa and then an early dinner together before Łukasz and Kuba had to drive back to Warsaw.

Once they had said farewell to their friends, it was still fairly early. Both of them were a little tired. After one last drink in the bar, Marco asked Robert if he wouldn’t mind them going back to their room. Marco did indeed want an early night, but not that early a night. He had plans for this evening as well.

They got ready for bed together, going through their usual ritual of holding hands and looking deep into one another’s eyes as their wings unfolded.

Marco kissed Robert tenderly. ‘Would you like to try something new? I think you might like it. You’ll be able to feel me deep and intense, but it will still be comfortable. And it could be interesting with wings as well!

He helped Robert to kneel on all fours on the bed, his wings stretched out on either side of him. He could see how Robert shivered as he caressed his body, how his wings rippled in response to Marco’s touch. His love was incredibly aroused by this but Marco wanted to heighten the sensations even further. He stroked slowly down Robert’s sides and spine, letting his fingers trail over his thighs. Long lines of slow, soft, wet kisses peppered his love’s body until he was moaning and whining, begging Marco for more, his cock hard, twitching and leaking.

Robert looked so breathtakingly gorgeous and sexy kneeling like this for him that Marco was already painfully hard. But he still took his time preparing his love, working the lube inside him, opening and stretching him with his fingers. Robert pushed back onto Marco’s fingers with his hips, clearly loving this, wanting and needing more.

Having his lover inside him was still new to Robert and Marco was still gentle with him, but Robert was relaxed and aroused enough that he could push inside in one slow, careful movement. His love felt gorgeous round him, tight and hot, sighing and moaning blissfully. Marco was deeper inside him than ever before, filling and stretching him. Loud whines punctuated every thrust of his hips as Robert keened in pleasure, the sensations coursing through his body obviously almost overwhelming.

Marco waited until he knew he was close before stilling the movements of his hips and leaning over Robert’s body to take his cock in one hand and stroke it. His wings were lying directly on top of Robert’s in an intimate feathery caress. The combination of feeling Marco hard, deep and throbbing inside him and the stimulation of his cock soon sent Robert tumbling over the edge of the abyss into his orgasm, taking Marco with him.

He pulled out as gently as possible, knowing that Robert would be sensitive, turning his love onto his back to clean him up slightly. Then he pulled Robert close, cradling him in his arms and enfolding him in his wings, adoring how the man he loved with all of his heart sighed and whined in utter blissed-out satisfaction.

Chapter Text

Marco had asked Robert if he would mind them driving back to Warsaw after a lazy breakfast on Monday morning. He’d loved their spa weekend with their friends, but he wanted to spend some time at home as well, not to mention the fact that there was something else he wanted to do if Robert agreed.

They breakfasted in their room, lingering long over their pastries and coffee, exchanging soft, sticky kisses, kissing the crumbs from each other’s lips. And then it was time to leave, to make their way back to the city Marco was starting to think of as home, and not just because it was where he lived with Robert.

Their home even smelled like a home, of the two of them, Marco thought as he walked over the threshold. Robert laughed delightedly as Marco explained what he was thinking.

‘And what do you want to do this afternoon?’ Robert asked.

Marco wrapped his arms round his love’s neck. ‘Firstly I’d like just to relax for a bit. And then … later … well Kuba helping me to train my mental abilities used up a lot of strength, so I was wondering if we could share our life essence again?’

‘Of course. Whatever you need, my darling. Shall we go upstairs to unpack and change first?’

They put their things away in the bedroom before undressing, standing naked before one another, no barriers between then. Robert took his hands, gazing deep into his eyes as they breathed in deeply before willing their wings to unfurl.

It felt as wondrous as ever, every bit as wondrous as the first time, seeing Robert’s midnight black wings unfold before his eyes. His mate was magnificent, utterly magnificent. Once their wings were spread to their full extent, fluttering together and glittering in the light of the afternoon sun, Robert took Marco’s face between his hands and kissed him tenderly.

Sighing happily, Marco leaned his head against Robert’s shoulder. ‘This isn’t going to go away, is it? The strength of our feelings for each other, I mean. This isn’t just a honeymoon phase we’re going through. When I look at Lukasz and Kuba, I see that they are as much in love as ever, that the wonder and the passion is still there. And I find that somehow reassuring.’

‘Yes, they are,’ Robert murmured against his hair. ‘I’ve watched their love for each other grow and deepen over the years, but their desire for one another burns as strong as ever. And we’ll be exactly the same, I know that.’

They went downstairs to their living room, curling up on the spacious sofa to watch a movie, their wings surrounding them in a blissfully soft and feathery cocoon.

Marco lay there, relaxed and supine in Robert’s arms, his love’s chest warm against his back. This was the perfect way to while away an afternoon. The sky outside was growing dim as the closing credits rolled over the screen.

Robert’s lips whispered softly against his neck, gentle butterfly kisses fluttered against his skin. Sighing happily, Marco snuggled deeper into his love’s embrace, melting under the caresses of Robert’s lips. Slowly, ever so slowly, his love increased the intensity of his kisses, tracing wet circles over Marco’s throat. Tender fingers ghosted over his chest, teasing his nipples, roaming down his belly, stopping just short of the faint line of hair that led to his groin.

But that part of his body was far from being neglected. The tips of Robert’s wings were brushing just so gorgeously over his sensitive skin of his inner thighs, making him shiver with desire. Their wings had always been part of their lovemaking but never so intimately as this. He couldn’t suppress his moans as soft feathers caressed him between his thighs, stroking his balls before running up and down his hard length. Marco was aroused, incredibly aroused, but his need for his love wasn’t painful, more warm and comforting, as he knew he would find his release in Robert’s arms when the time was right.

He wriggled round so that he had access to his love’s throat, licking, kissing and sucking at the sweet flesh until Robert was moaning blissfully under his kisses. He could feel Robert jutting hard and wet against his stomach, leaking with arousal. But neither of them were urgent in their movements, keeping things slow and easy, full of passion and need, but not hasty.

They were dreamy with lust and desire, floating on the tide of their love for each another. Marco felt the newly familiar surge coursing through him that told him his body was changing, that it was time. Almost instinctively he sunk his teeth into Robert’s neck, feeling love and strength flowing into him, flowing between them in a bright, beautiful stream that he could see and feel in his mind’s eye, refreshing and renewing him. Robert was nourishing himself as well, their love circling between them in an eternal circle, strengthening and deepening their bond even further.

Their thoughts were open to open to one another and Robert’s love flooded his mind, telling him how much he was loved and that, no matter how long he had waited for him, every second had been worth it.

They lingered in the moment, wanting to prolong the incredible intimacy between them. Desire was prickling in Marco’s groin, shooting tendrils of electricity up and down his spine. He didn’t fight or chase his release, but relaxed into it, letting it bathe him in his love and need for his mate.

This time their climax overtook them like a brilliant explosion, vibrating through their bond as they came where their bodies were pressed tight together.

Neither of them wanted to move afterwards, lying slumped in one another’s arms, nuzzling softly at each other, their wings protecting them with feathery warmth as they luxuriated in the aftermath.

The close contact had its effect, however, even though they had both come hard less than an hour ago and were still sticky with the evidence of their passion. Marco was hard again and he could feel Robert’s own desire pressing against his groin. He needed to feel his love inside him, filling and possessing him, and he pressed the tube of lube he’d secreted behind one of the sofa cushions into Robert’s hand.

‘I’ll be OK just with lube,’ he murmured into the crook of Robert’s neck, ‘as long as you go carefully with me.’

And Robert was careful with him, treating as if he was made of the most precious porcelain, pushing inside him deliciously slowly, rolling his hips against him in soft waves, letting their lovemaking build to a slow, loving climax. They snuggled close for a long while afterwards before going upstairs for a much-needed shower.

Marco felt as if he could conquer the world the next morning as he made his way into work and headed to get changed. Woj couldn’t resist teasing him about his romantic weekend, but it was all meant friendlily.

The weekend had been magical and had recharged his batteries, but that wasn’t the only thing on Marco’s mind this morning. He was seeing a client today whose recent injury had been a mystery to him and Woj. Maybe what he had practiced with Kuba might help? That was one of the reasons why he had been so keen to renew his strength by sharing Robert’s life essence last night.

Pawel had been connected with the Sports Centre for nearly a decade, almost since he’d been old enough to kick a ball, and Robert was advising him on his career development. He was a talented footballer, already part of one of the youth programs. Robert thought he had a good chance of making it as a professional and they had high hopes that he would soon be accepted into one of the youth academies that fed the professional teams in the city. He was not only talented, but hard working and had the right attitude.

He’d suffered a minor ankle injury a couple of months ago. It had healed alright and the doctors were happy, but there was something not quite right about the way Pawel’s recovery was progressing, both he and Woj were in agreement about that.

They’d referred Pawel to Marco’s injury prevention program in the hope that it might help. While Marco was working with him today, he tried to open his mind to Pawel, wondering if he might sense something that would help them with their diagnosis. He couldn’t read Pawel’s thoughts, for which he was very grateful, but as he focused on him, it was as if he had a heightened awareness. He was still using all of the skills and intuition he had acquired over the years as a physio, but they were sharper and clearer, more effective.

Gradually he began to see a pattern. The first time might have been sheer chance but it happened over and over again. There was a part of his body that Pawel clearly didn’t want him to touch, inwardly tensing every time Marco went anywhere near it.

A horrible thought struck Marco. He stopped working on Pawel, sitting down, careful to put some distance between them, giving the boy some space.

‘Pawel, I have to ask you something. Has anyone ever tried to touch you in a way you didn’t want them to? You can trust me. Anything you say to me is in confidence and I promise you it will be dealt with properly. You don’t need to let anyone do anything you don’t want them to do, no matter how important they are or how much influence they have over your career.’

‘No, it’s nothing like that,’ mumbled Pawel, ‘you know, don’t you?’ The boy looked distraught, gazing at the floor.

Marco couldn’t help being relieved that his worst fears were unfounded. But there was still a mystery to be solved.

‘I’m glad, but what I said still holds true, Yes, I noticed that you didn’t want me to go anywhere near your groin. I know it can be hard as you get older and more conscious of your body, but if you want to be a professional footballer you’ll need to get used to doctors and physios touching you. And yes, sometimes it can be a little awkward and intimate, but we’re professionals too. Our job is to take care of you. We’ve seen everything. And we’ll do everything we can to make sure that you’re comfortable. It makes it easier for us as well. So you can always say if you want to keep an item of clothing on or you want a towel to cover you up. It will get easier, I promise.’

‘No, it won’t. Since I’m never going to be a professional footballer.’ Pawel was trying to choke back the tears, Marco could hear that in his voice.

‘Why? Don’t you want it anymore? Did something happen?’ Marco asked.

‘You’re right that I didn’t want you to investigate too closely. There’s something wrong. It hurts sometimes. I googled it. It’s my adductors. That’s the end of all my dreams. I know that, I just needed time to come to terms with it, enjoy these last few months doing what I love. The medical for the youth academy would have found it anyway and they would have rejected me.’

Marco’s heart was breaking for the boy. That explained a lot, why something seemed not quite right even though the ankle injury had healed.

‘It’s not the end. You’re right that adductor problems are a big issue for a footballer, but it’s not the end of your career, not if you receive the proper treatment. It might well be something you need to keep an eye on throughout your career so it’s good that we know now. There are still a few months until the youth academy will make a decision. Why don’t I go and get Woj and we can work out a rehab program to have you top fit by then? We might need to cut back your training for a bit to let you recover, but it won’t be for long, I promise.’

The look of gratitude and happiness on Pawel’s face warmed Marco’s heart. They’d give him the lecture later, tell him that he had indeed been risking his career by playing and training knowing that something was wrong, and make sure that he always told the doctor and physios what was going on in future. But today wasn’t the right time for that. Today their job was to build him up and motivate him, get him ready for the youth academy. For Marco was 100% sure that Pawel would make it, something told him that.

Chapter Text

Autumn had taken hold. The leaves were turning; the mornings crisp and clear; the evenings cold. Winter was lurking on the horizon. But Marco didn’t mind, indeed he was looking forward to long cosy evenings snuggled up in Robert’s arms, held snug in the feathery embrace of his love’s jet black wings.

Robert had taken him shopping as he hadn’t brought any winter clothing with him, not that even his German winter clothes would have been warm enough for the depths of a Polish winter. Of course Robert had enjoyed spoiling him and wrapping him up in warm scarves and big, snuggly jackets. A bit like playing dress-up with a penguin, Robert joked, before swiftly adding that he found Marco irresistibly cute like this.

Marco was glad of his new winter clothes the next time they went to a Legia Warsaw game with Artur and Arek. He enjoyed spending time with them, and sometimes Woj came too, but it could be cold in the stadium.

After a match, buoyed by victory, Robert and Marco were having dinner with Artur and Arek. Woj hadn’t been able to join them this Saturday as his wife wanted to go shopping, so Marco took the opportunity to ask a question that had been preying on his mind for some time.

‘Woj suspects that we’re not exactly normal, doesn’t he? I mean he knows there is something weird going on.’ He didn’t know quite how to put it.

Robert laughed. ‘As if Woj would have the right to complain about anyone not being exactly normal!’ But then he continued more seriously, ‘Yes, I think he knows there is something that he can’t quite put his finger on, but Woj isn’t one to make judgements about other people and, as long as there isn’t any hassle and he’s left to get on with his work, he doesn’t really care. In fact, I was thinking that he might be the best person to entrust the Sports Centre to when we move on.’

Now it was Marco’s turn to laugh. ‘He’d hate that, having to do the paperwork and what he calls the boring stuff.’

‘I know. In a way that’s why he’s the right person, because he doesn’t want the job. But I wouldn’t be that evil. The plan would be to recruit a successor for Lukasz, someone Woj can work with, and train him up, then Woj would take over from me. Woj is much more capable that he lets on and he will be great with the mentoring work and with the strategic vision. And I know that I can sell it to him by pointing out that it stops anyone coming in and interfering with him or doing something he doesn’t like.’

Robert really had thought this through and Marco couldn’t help smiling, even if they did have to keep all of this a secret from Woj for a few years.

Marco was happy at work too, settling into his new routine. Robert had arranged for a language tutor to come to the Sports Centre once a week and work with him on a one-to-one basis. Maybe it was being in a Polish-speaking environment so much of the time, but Marco seemed to be picking up the complex language much faster than he would have expected.

He remarked on this to Robert one day when they were relaxing at home, only to be surprised by Robert looking at him somewhat sheepishly.

‘What is it?’ he demanded.

‘Well ... ’ Robert admitted, ‘I think that I might have something to do with that. When we share our thoughts, let our minds touch – especially when we’re intimate – some of my language knowledge might seep into you, well it more kind of leaks out of me. That’s partially how I learned to speak so many languages over the centuries.’

Marco looked at him in shock for a moment before bursting into delighted laughter. ‘You mean I’m learning Polish while we’re having sex!’

‘Well … sex … and other stuff too, like when we share our life essence. And sometime when we’re just being close.’

Marco could have sworn that Robert was blushing. He let him suffer for a moment before putting him out of his misery. Pulling his love close, he purred in his ear ‘Now you mention it, I think I could do with some special language tuition right now.’

Accelerated language learning wasn’t the only benefit of Marco’s new mental talents as they continued to help him at work. Pawel was making good progress. He’d had to take a break from full training for a few weeks, but Marco and Woj had designed a program of physio treatment and gym work to get him back to full fitness. And Marco had been able to use his new intuition to help other patients. Often it was more a question of knowing the right questions to ask. He’d been spending more time with Kuba as well, getting to know Lukasz’s partner better while they worked together on teaching him to harness his abilities.

The four of them were still having dinner together every Thursday after football training. Their team was coming together nicely and they would have a good chance in the league they were registered for next season, Marco thought.

It was the last week in October. Training had been fun but hard, the new coach Robert had found for them really putting them through their paces. They’d eaten hungrily and were enjoying their coffee when Kuba started pointedly studying his nails before speaking, not looking at either Marco or Robert.

‘Lukasz and I were thinking of going to the island before winter hits us, to get some sun into our wings to take us through the long, dark months. Maybe you’d like to join us? I think it would be good for Marco to have a couple of days away from everything, somewhere where he will only have to come into contact with the People and not many of them at that, to get some mental peace and quiet. And you know that the flight will be safer if Lukasz and I are with you, Robert.’

Marco was intrigued. And Kuba was right. He was making good progress in controlling and managing his new abilities but a couple of days away from everything would be a relief. He could sense Robert’s hesitation, however, and something about what Kuba had said confused him. Why would it be safer?

Lukasz came to his rescue. ‘We can travel most of the way by plane,’ he explained, ‘but we have to use our wings for the last parts of the journey. It’s the only way to get to the island as it’s somehow protected, somehow not quite in the same reality as the normal world. And much of the flight is over water and further that you have ever flown before. Robert can help you, share his strength with you, but it would be good if Kuba and I were there as backup. We’ve both shared our minds with you already, so the bond is strong enough.’

Marco nodded. That made sense. He turned to Robert. ‘I’d like to go, and Kuba is right that the break would do me good, but you have to be alright with this as well.’

Kuba’s voice was surprisingly soft as he spoke directly to Robert. ‘I know exactly how you feel. I would never have taken any risks with Lukasz when this was all new to him either. But I hope that we know each other well enough for you to be sure that I would never, ever take any risks with your mate either. Marco is strong, really strong. He’s ready for this. And Lukasz and I will be there to make sure everything goes smoothly.’

That seemed to make up Robert’s mind for him. ‘OK,’ he nodded, ‘let’s go. But I have to warn you to expect to have to put up with disgusting public displays of affection from us.’

‘I think we can manage,’ Lukasz smiled, winking as he inched a little closer to Kuba, ‘and I’m pretty sure that we’ll be coming up with our own disgusting public displays of affection as well.’

The four of them agreed on a date just two weeks later, meeting at the airport for the flight south. It felt strange to be travelling without luggage, but they wouldn’t be needing any where they were going as Robert had pointed out.

Marco couldn’t help being curious about what would happen once they landed. A car met them at the airport and drove them to an isolated building. Robert grinned at him before using the retina scanner to open the door.

‘It means that we can get back in and collect our things even when we’re totally naked. It was easier back in the old days when you didn’t need travel documents and keys and could just fly off as and when you felt like it.’

The interior of the building looked a bit like any locker room would, with space to hang up your clothes and shelves for personal belongings. Marco had no problem with stripping off in front of Lukasz and Kuba, but he couldn’t help feeling a bit more self-conscious about what he knew would have to happen next.

Outside, completely naked, he shifted uneasily from foot to foot. Luckily Lukasz and Kuba understood exactly how he felt.

‘We’ll wander down the beach for a bit, give you two some privacy,’ Lukasz announced before taking Kuba’s hand and walking off.

Marco turned to face Robert, taking his hands in his, struck once again by just how handsome his love was and by the look of love in his eyes.

‘I know I was reluctant at first, Marco, but Kuba was right and I’m so happy that we’re getting to share this experience together.’

‘It was kind of cute you being all concerned about me, but I know that I am safe with you. I trust you. And Lukasz and Kuba as well. None of you would ever let anything happen to me.’

Holding hands and gazing deep into one another’s eyes, they breathed out as their wings slowly unfurled, rising majestically into the late afternoon sunshine. This was an intensely intimate, precious moment and they were still gazing deeply into each another’s eyes as their travel companions came sauntering back up the beach, their beautiful golden wings fluttering behind them.

It was time to go, Marco’s heart was beating fast as he stood on the beach ready to take off. He and Robert had shared their life essence the night before to make sure that he was as strong as possible for the flight and he couldn’t help remembering that as he felt Robert’s mind caressing and enfolding his again.

The flight was exhilarating beyond anything Marco could have managed. He’d flown over the city several times by now, but this was something utterly magical, flying free over the ocean, his wings beating powerfully and bearing him aloft, the soft sea wind against his naked skin, his magnificent mate by his side.

Part of him wanted to fly forever, to fly with Robert at his side, but he could feel himself tiring by the time they could see the island on the horizon. But there was no need to worry for Lukasz was quickly by his side, sharing his strength with him through their mental connection, and Kuba was with Robert, supporting him in keeping his mental bond with Marco intact.

The four of them were still mentally connected like this when they came into land, the golden sand pleasantly warm under their bare feet. Marco was still overcome with the wonder of the journey that he almost failed to notice the man waiting to greet them. But once he had seen him, he couldn’t take his eyes of him. The man radiated quiet power and authority and his eyes were rich with the wisdom of the ages.

That’s Miroslav, the chief guardian of this island, one of the most revered elders among the People. It is a great honour that he has come to greet us Robert explained.

Miroslav greeted Lukasz and Kuba warmly before turning to Marco and Robert. At first Marco found it hard not to tremble under the penetrating gaze of such a powerful elder, but Miroslav’s eyes were kind and his voice reassuring.

‘It’s a pleasure to finally meet Robert’s true mate. You have no idea how much I’ve longed for this day, for Robert to finally find the happiness he deserves. And now I see you, I see what he had to wait so long for the right one. You are perfect for him, the two of you are destined to be together. And you have enriched our people as well with the gifts and talents that you bring, I can see that too. Welcome to the island in the name of the People. I hope that you find the rest and refreshment that you need here.’

Chapter Text

Marco was still dazed from his meeting with Miroslav as they were shown to their home for the next few days. It was simple but beautiful, with everything they would need: a cosy cave hewn into the rock face with a big, comfortable-looking bed made up with crisp white linens and a well-equipped bathroom, the shelves filled with toiletries. They were travelling light and wouldn’t be needing much else, Robert observed with a wink.

As agreed, they met Łukasz and Kuba on the beach for a walk. Marco felt every last drop of tension flowing out of him. This was indeed paradise. The sand was warm under his feet. The sun felt perfect on his naked skin. His wings trailed patterns in the sand behind him. And Robert’s hand clasped his tightly and lovingly.

But Marco couldn’t help casting longing glances at what Łukasz and Kuba were doing. Their arms were wrapped round one another’s waists and their wings were curled round each other as they walked along chatting companionably.

Do you think we could try that too? he asked Robert.

Why not!

It took them a false start or two to be able to get their arms and wings in the right position without getting tangled up, but they managed it. And this felt even better with Robert’s arm snug round his waist and his wingtips caressing his arm and shoulder. He pulled Robert tight, enjoying being so close to his love, relaxed and carefree out in the open air under the sun.

The four of them walked for a while, chatting about everything and nothing, until Łukasz surprised Marco with a question.

‘Shall we shower before dinner? We had a long flight after all and it would be nice to be clean.’

Marco agreed, even though he was enjoying their time outside. But when he turned to go back to the small village they were staying in, Łukasz stopped him with a grin.

‘I don’t mean back in your cave. Kuba and I have a special place where we like to go and we want to share it with you and Robert.’

Robert obviously had no idea where they were headed either so the two of them followed Łukasz and Kuba. Where they ended up took Marco’s breath away. A small lake was hidden away behind a curtain of thick vegetation and a waterfall cascaded from the cliff overhanging it in a brilliant blue curtain of falling water.

The water was the perfect temperature as they waded in, their wings floating behind them. Łukasz and Kuba disappeared into a secluded corner leaving Robert to pull Marco under the water and into his arms.

‘Now I have you exactly where I want you,’ his love purred, capturing his lips in a passionate kiss. It felt as if Robert’s tongue was everywhere in his mouth, as wet and as supple as the water caressing their bodies. Marco began to feel dizzy from the sheer sensory stimulation of standing under a waterfall while Robert kissed him senseless. Luckily there were strong arms round his waist to hold him upright.

His wings were loving this too, dancing and playing under the cascade of water. And, slightly to his embarrassment, they weren’t the only part of his body that was finding this exciting. He was becoming distinctly hard against where he was pressed tight against his love’s body. Robert wasn’t in a much better state either. Neither of them could help being aroused by this amazing experience.

Luckily Robert swallowed down the embarrassing whimper he let out as he felt a hand sliding between his thighs to cup his balls. By now both of them were utterly oblivious to the fact that Łukasz and Kuba were just a few metres away, lost in their own little world.

A whine escaped him as Robert’s strong, slightly calloused hand closed round his length, stroking him deliciously in all the right places, a thumb swiping over the sensitive head almost making his knees buckle.

More. Please, he gasped out over their mental connection.

Robert took both of them in hand, stroking them together, his movements becoming more jerky as they got closer to their release, their kisses wet and messy, teeth grazing over lips and leaving faint marks. Hopefully the noise of the waterfall was loud enough to drown out Marco’s strangled cry as he came, but he was past caring by this point.

They stood under the water afterwards, letting the water play on their skin as their heartbeats and breathing returned to normal, leaving them feeling calm and satisfied. Only then did they trust themselves to emerge from under the waterfall.

Łukasz and Kuba joined them just a moment later. The four of them shaking themselves dry, letting the sun’s rays finish the job.

They look every bit as smug and satisfied as we probably do! Marco could hear the laughter in Robert’s voice in his mind.

They walked back to the beach near the village with their arms and wings wrapped round each other, feeling even more relaxed now and refreshed from their shower. When they arrived back, Marco couldn’t help whistling at what he saw.

The beach had been set up for a private romantic evening. Cushions and blankets were laid out ready. The drinks were chilling. Food was set out. And a fire was burning, ready for their barbecue.

‘Since it’s your first night on the island as a couple, we wanted to make it special for you,’ Kuba explained.

And it was just so very special, watching the sun set on the horizon as they cooked and ate together. Dessert under a twinkling canopy of stars was quite possibly one of the most romantic moments of Marco’s life, made even better by Robert feeding him small bites of food and letting him lick the melting chocolate from his fingers. He felt totally uninhibited in front of Łukasz and Kuba now. They were their friends and he knew that they understood exactly how he and Robert felt about each other for that was exactly how they felt about each other too. Kuba had managed to pull Łukasz onto his lap and was kissing the crumbs from his lips.

After they had eaten, they relaxed back onto the cushions to finish their drinks, Marco using Robert’s chest as a pillow while his love stroked lovingly over his skin. This was blissful but much more of this and he would find himself in an embarrassing state of excitement all over again.

Łukasz and Kuba were kissing until all of a sudden Łukasz freed himself from Kuba’s embrace and stood up to extinguish the fire and to pack up the leftover food.

Illuminated  only by the stars and the moon, Łukasz glinted like a golden statue standing there on the beach. He held out his hand to Kuba who got up and took it, almost as if he was in a trance. ‘We’ll come down and tidy up the last of the stuff tomorrow. The two of you deserve a lazy morning. But now I need to be alone with my mate. And I’m sure the two of you feel the same as well.’

Marco’s jaw was hanging open as he watched Łukasz and Kuba heading towards the village hand in hand, moonlight shining on their wings.

‘Did Łukasz just tell us that he and Kuba need to have sex again?’

‘Yes, he did,’ smiled Robert. ‘That’s probably why the four of us being together works. We can enjoy our time as two couples but we know that we need private time as well. And he’s quite right that I need to be alone with you. I have something very special in mind.’

Marco shivered in anticipation at Robert’s words, hastily scrambling to his feet.

Once back at their cave, they got ready for bed, sensing that they might not want to move again afterwards. Robert’s eyes were dark with lust as he carefully laid Marco on the bed, looking at him greedily as he was spread out against the white sheets, all pale skin and golden wings.

‘You’re so beautiful, Marco,’ he whispered, ‘inside and out. Looking at you makes my heart hurt sometimes. I’m so happy that you chose to share your life with me and I’ll do everything in my power to make you happy every single day we spend together.’

Marco’s only answer was to smile and hold open his arms in invitation. Robert was warm and heavy on top of him, grounding him perfectly, all hard muscle and soft skin. Their wings were lying on top of each other too, gold and black contrasting and complementing one another to perfection. Marco could almost hear his wings sighing in bliss at their mate’s touch. And then he really was sighing himself as Robert started to kiss him.

His mate had brought the lube to bed as well and Marco opened his thighs eagerly, granting Robert access to the most intimate part of his body. Robert took his time, slowly stroking over Marco’s entrance until he was quivering with need before working a finger inside. He didn’t normally need this much preparation but Robert obviously wanted to take things slowly tonight, stretching out the foreplay. Not that Marco minded. Robert could reduce him to a begging, moaning mess, but his love would always give him what he needed in the end.

He moaned happily as Robert’s lips travelled down his neck, kissing the skin of his throat over and over again. This brought back pleasant memories of him and Robert sharing life essence the night before and his body seemed to be responding in the same way.

The flight took a lot out of you, Robert’s voice was soothing in his mind, you need to feed again. If this isn’t comfortable for you, we’ll try something else. But just relax and let me in, my darling.

Marco did as Robert asked, willing to give whatever he had in mind a try, relaxing under his love’s mouth and fingers, his body undulating with bliss in response to Robert’s touch. It felt extra intense being opened up like this, feeling Robert’s fingers deep inside him as his body gradually adapted to being able to share every part of him with his love.

There were three fingers inside him, not meeting much resistance, by the time Robert bared his neck, inviting Marco to kiss him there. Robert was ready for him as well after this eternity of kissing and long, slow preparation so Marco didn’t linger too long, breathlessly wanting what would come next.

They gazed deep into one another’s eyes for a long moment before Marco spread his legs as far apart as he could in invitation. Robert pushed into him, moving slowly but surely until he was buried as deep as was physically possible, Marco trying to relax and open himself up, granting his lover easy access.

‘Is this OK?’ Robert breathed, clearly feeling overwhelmed.

And it was. Robert had prepared him well enough and used enough lube that having his love deep, hard and unmoving inside him was more than OK.

Robert tilted his head, this time inviting Marco to sink his teeth into his throat. Marco needed no second invitation. His love tasted so good as he slowly sipped and sucked at the small wound, feeling himself being renewed and invigorated by the golden stream of love flowing out of Robert and into him. He felt Robert’s teeth break his own skin and sensed the stream of love changing to a circle, a circle binding them in an eternity of love and devotion. In this moment they were truly one, joined in mind, heart and soul, holding nothing back.

And underpinning it all, Marco could feel Robert deep inside him, pressing against every sensitive and responsive spot, throbbing and pulsing. He felt more completely taken and possessed than he’d thought possible. Every inch of him belonged to Robert, craved to be with his love, to be a part of him, including his aching hardness trapped between their bodies.

His climax overtook him like an explosion this time, soaring through the bond circling between him and Robert. He must have almost lost consciousness for he was only dimly aware of Robert coming inside him and very carefully withdrawing.

His love cradled him to his chest, gently stroking his hair and kissing his forehead, tenderly taking care of him as he floated freely in the bliss of his aftermath. Finally he was able to string a couple of coherent words together.

‘That was amazing. I felt so close to you. It was so … so powerful. I think if we did that too often I’d just end up utterly, mindlessly addicted to you, well at least more so than I already am. But it was just wow!’

He could feel how happy Robert was through the ebbing tide of their bond. ‘I’m glad. I hoped that it would be good for you. And it was every bit as good for me, I can assure you.’

They kissed tenderly before snuggling down to sleep, wanting to recover their strength for whatever their first full day on the island would bring.

Chapter Text

Marco had never slept better than he did that night on the island, cradled close in the feathery embrace of Robert’s wings. He was still enjoying the warm, sleepy closeness of their morning cuddle when a knock came at the door.

Good morning! You don’t need to answer the door, Łukasz’s voice floated into his mind. Enjoy your relaxing morning. Your breakfast is waiting for you outside. Kuba and I will see you later.

Breakfast! Now Marco thought of it, coffee would make this morning even more perfect. And of course Robert knew exactly how he felt.

They stretched the morning sleep out of their limbs after kissing good morning and used the bathroom attached to their cave before going outside. The terrace in front of their temporary home was set out for the most perfect romantic breakfast imaginable. There were fresh flowers. And of course the fragrance of fresh coffee filled the air. Big bowls of exotic fruits caught Marco’s eye. But there was bread as well. And pancakes. Even some of his favourite Polish pastries. It was like tropical paradise version of a traditional Polish breakfast!

‘How did …?’ Marco was almost rendered speechless.

Robert winked at him. ‘This island has many secrets.’

They lingered long over breakfast, managing to eat most of what was laid out before them. There was plenty of time for kissing and stroking in between bites. Afterwards they lay down in the sun to let their breakfast digest, snuggled up on a pile of soft, cosy blankets, their wings acting as sun shades. Marco could feel his wings sighing with bliss as they soaked up the warmth of the morning sun.

He must have fallen asleep like this for he was woken by the gentle tickle of kisses trailing over his face. He opened his eyes to see Robert smiling down at him, his love’s eyes shining blue like sapphires.

‘Shall we shower?’ Robert asked. ‘Łukasz and Kuba will be here soon’.

Their bathroom was simple and elegant, but the shower was big enough to accommodate both of them and their wings, so they luxuriated under the water, washing each other’s hair, soaping their bodies. Marco couldn’t help being aroused by this, his desire soft and languid rather than urgent and needy, but it was desire all the same. Robert slipped a hand between them, stroking them together until they came panting and sighing, wet skin sliding against wet skin.

Marco leaned his head against Robert’s shoulder to catch his breath again. He couldn’t help being reminded of the waterfall and how good it had felt being intimate under its falling sheet of water.

‘Can we maybe go back to the waterfall tomorrow?’ he asked.

‘I guess you don’t just mean to admire the scenery,’ Robert laughed. ‘Of course we can!’

They were just about dry and presentable again when Łukasz and Kuba arrived, holding hands like a pair of young lovers.

‘The four of us are having afternoon tea with Miroslav later,’ Kuba explained. ‘It’s a great honour and all down to you, Marco. And before that, shall the four of us go and have some fun flying?’

Marco looked at him quizzically. OK, he so he loved flying, but for fun?

‘You’ll see,’ promised Robert, taking hold of his hand and preparing to take off.

Marco always found flying exhilarating. He loved the feeling of strength and power, the sense of symbiosis with his wings. And he loved flying with his mate, the two of them soaring over the city they called home. But it had never been like this. Relaxed. Playful. Even fun.

The four of them had flown to the other side of the island, flying high over the tree canopy. And once they had arrived at their destination, well they just had fun. Flying together and playing in the air. Weightless and effortless. Playing tag until they were laughing and breathless. Just enjoying their wings and the freedom they had with them. And Marco gradually came to realise that this wasn’t just fun. He needed to have full control and trust in his wings, for their movements together to be second nature, for them truly to be one with each other.

Once they had landed back at the village, he voiced his thought. ‘That wasn’t just for fun, was it?’

‘No, not just for fun. It’s also a work out for our wings,’ Kuba admitted. ‘A bit like football training is fun but also hard work. It’s not so easy to find space to fly like that now everywhere is so heavily built up. It’s one of the reasons why time on the island is so important to us.’

Marco was becoming very curious about the island and he hoped that he would learn more during their time with Miroslav, even if he was nervous at the prospect of afternoon tea with such a respected member of the People.

But he needn’t have worried for Miroslav welcomed them warmly, his eyes full of warmth as well as wisdom. The table was set for a sumptuous afternoon tea with fine china teacups, sandwiches, tiny quiches and tarts, as well as cake.

It should have felt incongruous that the five of them were sitting around naked eating such an exquisite meal, but it felt strangely natural. Marco supposed that he must really be getting used to his new life. Already he couldn’t imagine being without his wings and the idea that he had had a life without them seemed almost unreal. A faint rustle of feathers told him that his wings sensed his thoughts and felt exactly the same way.

Miroslav told him a bit more about the island while they were eating.

‘There have been several places like this over the centuries that we can use as a refuge and place of safety. Currently there are four, each one under the guardianship and protection of one of the eldest of the People.’

‘May I … would it be rude if … ?’, Marco couldn’t help himself from asking.

‘Miroslav is one of the originals,’ Kuba saved him from his embarrassment, ‘he is as old as humanity itself.’

Marco’s jaw dropped in astonishment, suddenly understanding the source of the wisdom of the ages he saw written in Miroslav’s eyes.

‘Yes,’ smiled Miroslav, ‘there are a handful of us originals left. Most of us spend our time in relative seclusion, like I do here on the island. We serve humanity, but sometimes it can all become too much and we need to withdraw and find inner peace to let us continue our work – like you need to do right now, Marco. And after millennia, well our people take sympathy on us and let us retreat a little from the daily work. I suppose you could call it a kind of retirement.’

‘Retirement!’ snorted Kuba. ‘Miroslav is as active and hardworking as ever. So many of the People have come here for solace and comfort, to find wisdom and new direction in the crises of our lives. He’s more like our social worker. Don’t you believe that retirement line for one moment!’

The twinkle in Miroslav’s eyes told Marco that Kuba was indeed telling the truth. But something had struck him. ‘Crises? What kind of crises can we have?’

‘Oh many, Marco. Sometimes we get too involved with the world we live in and the pain gets too hard to live with. Or if we fall in love with a normal human who doesn’t choose the path you have done. That happens but it means that there must come a time of parting. And the severing of such a bond is very hard for us to cope with.’

Marco’s eyes were huge. Such a thought had never struck him. He turned to Robert. ‘Did you … ? Would you … ?’ He seemed incapable of finishing a sentence today.

‘Of course I feared that you would make that choice, even though I didn’t want to put any pressure on you. If you had wanted to be with me but not like this,’ Robert gestured at Marco’s wings, ‘then I would have taken everything we could have and cherished it for the precious gift that it was. But one day, yes, you would have broken my heart utterly and probably beyond repair, even though I would never have let you know that.’

‘But that would never have happened, Marco,’ Miroslav interjected. ‘You are Robert’s true mate, the one he was waiting for. I knew you would come. I told him so. I told him he just had to be patient when … ’

Now it was Miroslav’s turn to break off his sentence part way through. A heavy silence hung in the air.

‘You know that Kuba had to pretty much drag me back to Warsaw,’ Robert explained. ‘And I’ll always be glad that he did. But the rebuilding of the city was so exhausting. Not physically, but psychologically and emotionally. And it was hard for me to find someone to feed from, to sustain my link with humanity. Those were the years in which I came to hate that side of my nature, my need to do that to survive. And somehow I just stopped feeding. It was never a conscious decision, I just stopped.’

Marco reached out to hold his love’s hand, gripping it tightly.

‘I don’t know what would have happened if Kuba hadn’t found me like that. He didn’t say a word, he just picked me up and carried me here to the island. He flew all the way here with me in his arms. And even once we got here, he said nothing for days. Here I could think straight, could free myself from the maelstrom of emotions which had surrounded me in Warsaw.

After a few days, Miroslav gave me a choice. He said that I could stay here for as long as I wanted, even if that was forever. Or I could go back and live the life I was meant to live. I choose to go back. And that was when he told me that he was sure that I would find my true mate in Warsaw, that I just had to wait for him or her. And it happened. Seventy years later it happened.’

Marco let go of Robert’s hand, walking over to give Kuba a fierce hug. ‘Thank you for saving my mate,’ he said softly.

‘He really did save me, you know.’

‘You don’t have to tell him, Robert.’

‘No, I need to. He needs to understand everything, Kuba. I owe him that. And you.’

Marco came back to sit in front of his mate, taking hold of his hands once more.

‘You see, Marco, I was incredibly weak. The island was sustaining me but I desperately needed to feed. And given the state I was in and how repugnant I found the idea, it was too big a risk for me to go back and then try and find a willing human partner.’

Marco swallowed, having some idea of what was coming next.

‘It is very rare for us to take life essence from one of the People other than our mates except in an emergency. But this was an emergency. Miroslav offered himself, but that just didn’t feel right. So I accepted Kuba’s offer, even though it was far from easy for either of us.’

‘And I’ve never regretted that decision, Robert. It was the right thing to do. And it was through you that I met my beloved Łukasz. And now you have Marco and I hope that the four of us can finally begin to have a more normal relationship.’

‘This is how it was meant to be,’ Miroslav smiled beatifically. ‘Marco and Łukasz are not just the true mates both of you waited so long for, but are a valuable addition to our community. And now, it’s been a draining afternoon so I think the four of you need to relax. Why don’t you go along to the beach? I hope matters have been arranged to your liking!’

Chapter Text

The four of them walked to the beach in silence, not yet ready to speak. Marco’s arm was wrapped tight round Robert’s waist, their wings sheltering them, seeming to know instinctively that they needed comfort.

Everything had indeed been set out to perfection. A fire was burning. There were piles of cosy blankets, as well as food and drink for the evening.

‘Miroslav has the uncanny knack of knowing exactly what we need even before we do,’ Łukasz explained. ‘It’s one of the many things that makes him a perfect guardian for this island, even if it can be a little spooky sometimes!’

It was Łukasz who took charge, sensing that the others were not ready to talk yet and that they needed something to focus on. He made them mugs of steaming hot chocolate with a hint of cinnamon, whipped cream, and marshmallows.

Both couples instinctively snuggled up in the same positions, mirroring one another across the fire as they sipped their hot chocolate, letting the rich, sweet liquid warm them from within. Marco was sitting between Robert’s legs, leaning back against his love’s chest, feathery wings enclosing him in a loving embrace. Kuba was holding Łukasz similarly close.

It was Marco who finally spoke. ‘I’m only gradually coming to understand all of this, but it seems that the four of us are somehow bound together. It’s not that I mind that, of course, it’s just a lot to take in.’

‘It seems as if we are, Marco. Robert and I were always somehow connected. We wondered if it was only because we came into the world in the same place at around the same time. Destiny seemed to keep bringing us together, but that might have been pure chance. Then you and Łukasz came into our lives and it all seems to finally make sense. I’m glad that you now know everything about the complicated past that Robert and I share. We weren’t sure when would be the right time to tell you. This is very … well it’s very personal.’

The four of them sat and talked until late, relaxed and at peace. Later Łukasz cooked for them, grilling over the open fire. There was something magical about eating outside under the stars, Marco had always felt that way.

The four of them cleared everything up before making their way to bed.

Marco needed to be close to Robert, to feel his love buried inside him, filling and possessing him. Their lovemaking was soft and slow, intense and passionate, punctuated with long, deep kisses. And tomorrow they would spend the whole day together, just the two of them.

He woke surprisingly early, excited about the day that lay ahead. Robert was still sleeping and Marco twisted round to be able to watch him. Robert looked so young and carefree, the lines of worry smoothed from his face. His heart swelled with love and he bent down to gently kiss Robert on the lips, kissing his sleeping beauty awake.

A pair of brilliant sapphire-blue eyes blinked open and looked up at him, their gaze clear and steady.

‘Good morning, darling,’ Robert greeted him.

‘Good morning, my love,’ Marco answered. They kissed again, long and deep this time, at least until Marco’s stomach let out a loud rumble.

‘Someone needs their breakfast,’ Robert laughed.

They breakfasted outside on the terrace again before getting ready to set off for the day. Robert carried a bag with provisions as they walked along the beach hand in hand.

‘This island has many secrets,’ Robert explained as they walked. ‘I’ve been here dozens of times and never found the lake with the waterfall. Miroslav says that was because the island knew that it would make my heart ache for the true mate I feared that I would never find. But now I am here with you, it will show me the way.’

After an hour of walking, they came to the clearing in the trees where the lake stood. It was as breathtaking as the first time Marco had seen it, with the crystal-clear fall of water tumbling musically over edge of a cliff into the blue lake below.

‘It’s so beautiful,’ he breathed, ‘the perfect place for a romantic date.’

‘Yes, it is,’ Robert squeezed him tightly. ‘I’ll unpack and then we can enjoy the water. I can sense that you’re longing to.’

Robert unpacked the bag he’d brought, setting out their lunch and spreading out a huge picnic blanket. He took something else out of the bag, something Marco hadn’t seen him pack.

‘Shall we see if we can make love under the waterfall or if that’s only possible in films?’ Robert winked.

‘At least it will be fun trying,’ Marco grinned in response.

They waded into the water, swimming towards the waterfall. The lake was pleasantly warm and Marco could feel how his wings luxuriated in being caressed by the soft waves as they swam. Finding an outcrop of rock to stand on just out of reach of the spray of the waterfall, Marco wrapped his arms round Robert’s neck. He wasn’t exactly sure what to do next, but his wings beat encouragingly, seeming to want to remind him that they were there and ready to help out. Trusting them to bear his weight, he raised himself up on his tiptoes and jumped into Robert’s arms, his legs clinging onto his love’s waist.

This was surprisingly comfortable and secure, he thought. Robert’s arms held him in place and his wings were beating just hard enough to hold him upright.

‘You look like a golden koala bear with wings clutching onto me like this,’ Robert giggled against his neck.

‘I hope that at least I’m a very sexy koala bear!’

‘I’ll show you sexy!’ Robert growled against the skin of his throat.

Marco leaned back, arching into the bliss of Robert’s touch. Robert sucked softly at the vulnerable flesh of his throat, making him moan out loud. Lube-slick fingers caressed him intimately, opening him and working as much lube inside him as possible. It was still going to burn a little, he knew that, but Marco welcomed that. He craved that sensation of being taken and possessed by his lover, of being completely and utterly taken apart. He always had and even more so since he had been together with Robert.

Neither of them could hold out for long, their need for one another too strong to withstand. One of Robert’s hands was splayed possessively over the curve of his back, the other helping to guide him into position. His wings bore his weight as he lowered himself down deliciously slowly, able to fully savour the gorgeousness of his love breaking him open and filling him. Robert was big and thick and strong, stretching him to his limits and massaging him in all the right places.

 Marco was almost out of his mind with the intensity of the sensations flooding through him, wriggling with need, his fingernails digging into Robert’s shoulder muscles.

I need you. I need more, but I don’t know how he thought urgently, trusting his love to know what to do. And Robert did.

Hold on tight, darling!

Marco didn’t really have much choice in the matter. So he held on for dear life as he felt Robert’s arms close tighter round him. And then they were flying, Robert carrying both of them, not very high or far, just far enough so that they were now standing on the rocks directly under the waterfall.

This felt even better. Robert deep inside him. Their bodies pressed close together. The water caressing them. His wings vibrating with sheer bliss.

This was your fantasy, wasn’t it my darling? Take what you need. Drive me out of my senses with your beauty. Robert’s voice was rich with love and raw with desire in his mind.

Marco leaned back slightly, using his wings as counterbalance. His hands were clasped tight behind Robert’s neck. And then he began to move. His leg muscles were strong from hours in the gym and football training, but even then this would have been incredibly strenuous if it were not for his wings. His wings made it all feel ridiculously easy, bearing most of his weight, allowing him to move relatively freely.

Robert was right, this had been his fantasy, or at least making love in the waterfall had been his fantasy. But never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined something so glorious, so erotic, so abandoned. He felt wanton and powerful, taking his pleasure from his beloved mate, knowing that Robert was enjoying this every bit as much as he was. His love’s breathing was harsh and ragged, even though Marco’s wings were doing most of the hard work. Marco shifted slightly, adjusting his weight so that every thrust onto Robert stimulated that responsive spot inside him.

His fingers dug hard into Robert’s flesh as he approached his climax, so hard they would leave marks behind. But Marco was past caring, crying out his love’s name in triumph as he came. Slumped on his mate’s shoulder, he felt Robert finding his own release spurting wet inside him. He was still clutching onto Robert as they rose into the air, flying over to where the picnic blanket had been laid out earlier. Robert laid Marco down carefully, cradling him in his arms, stroking his hair tenderly.

‘You were wonderful, amazing. You have no idea how beautiful you looked above me like that, Strong and powerful with your golden wings. You were my fantasy, the dream I feared would never come true.’

Marco sighed happily, snuggling down in his love’s arms. ‘That was more than I could ever have dreamed of. Simply mind-blowing.’

‘Well, if you haven’t had enough excitement for one day, there’s something we could try later.’

Marco’s eyes opened wide. ‘Sounds most interesting. But for now I just want to wallow in how blissed out I feel right now.’

‘No objections here.’

They spent the couple of hours lazing by the lake, trading soft kisses and caresses. Of course the inevitable happened and, almost imperceptibly, their kisses became deeper and more passionate.

‘I think that someone is showing interest in trying something new if I’m not mistaken,’ Robert smiled.

‘I do seem to be ready for another round,’ Marco agreed.

They held hands as they flew out over the lake, hovering about five metres above the surface.

‘How do we … ? Marco asked.

‘Let’s just kiss for a while. Our wings will take our weight.’

Strangely enough, they had never kissed while flying until now. There was something magical about kissing while suspended effortless and weightless in the air, putting their trust in their wings.

His love felt so good against him, all smooth skin and hard muscle. And something else was hard too. Robert pushed the lube into his hand, hooking a leg round his waist to make it easier. They continued kissing, making Marco’s head swim with lust and desire, as he carefully prepared his mate. Robert was sighing and moaning deep into his mouth in response to Marco’s fingers curling inside him, wriggling with anticipation.

It was Robert who made the next move, looking at his mate with an expression on his face that went straight to Marco’s groin. And then he leaned back, his wings spread out either side of him. His ankles were on Marco’s shoulders, his thighs resting against Marco’s stomach. And he was the most beautiful, most desirable sight Marco had ever seen. Robert was all laid out on display for him, his strong muscles clearly visible under smooth, tanned skin. And those beautiful, velvety black wings simply framed his lover’s body to perfection.

‘Make love to me, my darling,’ Robert’s voice was deep and throaty with lust.

Marco could scarcely breathe as he took hold of Robert’s legs, using them as leverage to push inside in one smooth thrust. It had never been so easy. Robert had never been as open and relaxed for him as he was here, suspended in the air above the lake on this magical island. His love was taking this wonderfully, able to let go and let Marco thrust deep and strong inside him, to let Marco make him his more fully and more completely than ever before

He’d always been careful with Robert before. But not this time. Robert was – in a sense quite literally – in his element, his back arched in ecstasy, his head thrown back and his mouth open as he panted and moaned. And he felt just so good round Marco, hot and tight, welcoming him into his velvety heat

He could tell when Robert was close. He could tell from the harsh rasp of his breath and the fact that his moans had turned into whines. He could tell from the way his legs were beginning to tremble. From the way Robert’s gorgeous cock jerked and twitched against the rock hard muscles of his belly. From the clenching and pulsing round his own hardness. His love was losing it, letting Marco take him apart, lost in his lust and desire for his mate.

He slowed his movements, taking a firmer hold of Robert’s thighs, shifting his body weight so that every thrust, every stroke, brushed against that almost unbearably sensitive spot inside. He could see the exquisite torture of intense pleasure etched on Robert’s features. Time seemed to stand still round them as Robert’s back arched just so beautifully as he came, arching into the air beneath them, his wings holding him in place and rippling with joy as they shared his climax.

Frozen like this in the sky, he had a perfect view of Robert’s release, of the blissful agony on his face, of the raw power of his orgasm splashing across his chest and stomach. Waiting, not moving, barely daring to breathe, Marco stayed still until Robert was completely satisfied, before thrusting his hips forward as gently as he could, hoping that he could come as quickly before his love was too sensitive for this to be comfortable.

This time it was Marco who gathered his blissed-out mate up in his arms, bearing him down to ground again and carefully laying him on the picnic blanket. There was something else Marco craved to do. He needed to taste his mate. They had shared so many deeply intimate experiences before, but never this. Slowly and tenderly, Marco licked his love clean, tracing the lines of his abdominal muscles with an adoring tongue, gently licking over his chest and sucking softly at his nipples. Robert moaned happily, shifting underneath him, still mindless and boneless with bliss. So Marco cradled him in his arms, protecting and supporting the man he loved in the beauty of his vulnerability.