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Strange Sights

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Ash

*

The whiskey was better than he’d expected, given its age and that he’d stolen it from a new distillery. He’d meant to pay, but apparently his reputation of stealing from the fae preceded him and they’d blacklisted him before they’d even given him a chance to show that he was good for it. So instead he decided to live up to the old reputation. Assholes.

He set the tumbler down on a clean counter and went back to chopping the sprouts he’d harvested. He’d taken a vague interest in culinary herbs and edibles over the months that had passed, and was surprised to find that he was caring more about complexity of flavour, the way things could taste. He still preferred things to be sweet – he could make a killer herbed fruit salad that went down a treat with some of the human guests he went home and fucked thoroughly – but he had a decent grasp of Augus’ tastes and was catering to that more as well.

His months had been lonely and full at the same time. Uncomfortable realisations floated alongside all the frivolity and joy he usually carried with him. It meant bending the ear of bartenders and wait-staff, it meant that sometimes he didn’t go out just to fuck but to find someone to talk to, it meant that a few times he scanned the placards of psychologist’s names in the human world on the side of buildings and wondered if it was worth it. He’d tried it before, a long, long time ago. Hadn’t done much for him. But perhaps he hadn’t approached it with the right spirit. He wasn’t sure he would now, either.

A sound of a doorknob turning and Ash looked up, a grin plastering his face and flattening the low thoughts in his mind. He put the knife down and sprang around the counter, walking with a skip in his step because why the fuck not, he was fae after all, best live up to that reputation – whatever it was – sometimes.

The door opened and Augus stepped inside, placing a waterproofed, wooden kit on the floor by his feet, looking up with a weary smile at Ash’s approach.

‘You got it?’ Ash said, stopping and staring at the kit. ‘You got the kit? You’re-’

Augus nodded once.

‘Passed all the preliminary initiations. You’re looking at a level one healer, brother,’ Augus said, shaking water droplets off his collared shirt, off the cuffs, smoothing the material. He looked up and his nostrils flared. ‘You made lunch?’

‘You are lunch,’ Ash said, and Augus stalked towards him, a growl in the back of his throat. Ash’s eyes widened, a rush of anticipation flooded him as Augus pressed himself close to Ash’s body and damp hair.

‘I am hungry,’ Augus said, licking his way into Ash’s surprised mouth. Ash made a sound of enthusiasm and kissed back, letting Augus lead.

That had been happening more in the past eight months. Ash wasn’t sure exactly when it had happened, except, yes he was…

Two months after Augus apprenticed, he’d come to Ash’s house for a surprise visit and entered his house without knocking. That was unusual enough; but Ash hadn’t expected to be straddled in the middle of playing Call of Duty, and he certainly hadn’t expected a hand in his pants, jerking him off with firm, precision strokes as Augus thrust his tongue into his mouth like he’d been leading from the beginning. After that, come in his jeans and on Augus’ hand and licking it off his fingers eagerly while Augus watched him with a lidded expression and a smile of satisfaction on his face, Ash had pushed him to the floor and given him the fastest, dirtiest blowjob he’d ever given anyone, resulting in Augus coming so fast he complained of a stomach ache afterwards.

Since then, Augus took the lead far more often. It was still obvious enough that Augus preferred to be dominated, but the balance was shifting.

Ash wasn’t complaining.

He chuckled when he was backed into the kitchen table. He’d been hardly aware of moving, Augus’ tongue masterful at stealing his concentration and his breath, the hand in his hair massaging with a firmness that Ash enjoyed, even as blood started to thicken his cock and turn his hands warm with the need to grasp, pull. He mimicked Augus’ movements where he held onto his back, and Augus groaned into his mouth.

‘You’re in an awesome mood,’ Ash gasped when Augus scraped teeth all the way down his neck and sucked a mark onto his collarbone.

Augus laughed darkly against Ash’s chest where he’d started to pull down the collar of his shirt, and the sound twisted in Ash’s gut. One of his legs wrapped around the back of Augus’ legs and he turned them both, pressing Augus back into the table and leaning over him, breathing heavily.

‘What’s the occasion?’ Ash said, lifting Augus’ shirt and dragging fingernails up his ribs, watching Augus shiver, his eyes drift shut.

‘I’m not a green or brown healer,’ Augus said, excitement bright in his eyes when he opened them. ‘I’m argent. Master Ytris said I can combine my specialised wortcunning with- ah.’ He gasped again, back arching, absently showing how limber he was. Ash had scraped fingernails over his nipples, wanting to see Augus come apart through all the excitement. Augus’ impish, happy mood was contagious.

‘Specialised healer,’ Ash said, lips quirking up. ‘So not surprised.’

They kissed until Ash’s mouth felt bruised, lips swollen, and Augus’ face was flushed, freckles standing out stark against his cheeks. They’d gotten darker – more time spent outside, travelling, away from his lake.

He hadn’t even gotten to see Augus once every four weeks like he’d initially hoped. They’d both forgotten to take into account the fact that Augus also needed to hunt, and the week-long digestion process took away from his apprenticeship. Augus had to make up time, and Ash only got to see Augus once every six or seven weeks, and he felt the lack.

Augus handled the distance well enough, but Ash could tell he was homesick. He dragged himself away from Augus’ long fingers and the travel-worn, slightly bitter taste of his mouth.

‘Come on, let’s have lunch. Everything will wilt, otherwise,’ Ash said. ‘Listen to how domestic I sound, isn’t it great? I mean, I’ve always been kind of awesome at some of that stuff, but like…I dunno, it’s kind of cool to be making you food. Mister ‘I used to have to do everything for myself and other people.’’

Augus adjusted his erection in his pants, then left his hand on it, watching Ash lazily. He had a shamelessness that Ash appreciated; so rare in the human world. Besides, Ash thought his hand looked really good against his own pants. Ash waggled his eyebrows and Augus flicked a wave at him with the fingers by his cock.

‘Tease,’ Ash grumped, a smile on his face.

‘I have to practice chastity when I’m staying in Master Ytris’ home? I’m just desperately undersexed, brother,’ Augus breathed.

‘Chastity? What the fuck? How come you haven’t told me that before?’

‘It’s so…’ Augus moved away from the table fluidly and stretched his hands behind him, looking around his home, taking in all the details. ‘It’s unpleasant. He’s an ascetic.’

‘You’re so not ascetic,’ Ash muttered, finishing off with the sprouts. ‘Wait, are you supposed to be practicing it on your days off?’

‘He says ‘he can’t stop me,’’ Augus said, air-quoting and rolling his eyes.

‘Wow, the asceticism so hasn’t made a dent in his passive aggression, has it?’

Augus laughed under his breath and pulled several books out of his bookshelf, stacking them on the coffee table. He ran his index finger along the table’s edge, inspecting his finger for dust. But Augus’ home wasn’t like human homes; it was well-preserved by fae magic, there was little dust to deal with. Still, he sighed and looked around again.

‘It feels unlived in. I don’t like it.’

He walked over and picked sprouts off the chopping board, ignoring Ash batting his hand away. Ash’s eyes widened when he realised that he used to do this to Augus all the time, and his vague annoyance was chased away by a rush of affection, knowing there was a strange symmetry in what they had become. He looked up, and Augus was picking things directly out of the salad bowl.

‘Hey, I haven’t dressed that yet!’ Ash said, smacking his hands away and laughing when Augus sauntered out of the way like he’d been about to leave anyway.

‘I want to fuck you,’ Augus said, crunching into a dark green succulent and pinning Ash with a promising stare. ‘That’s what I want. Now, look at me and tell me that doesn’t make you uncomfortable?’

Ash swallowed.

‘Fucking is more than just your cock in my ass. It’s more than just penetration. You’ve…fucked me before.’

‘Then let me be precise,’ Augus said, each word sharp like glass, sliding under Ash’s skin. ‘I want my cock in your ass, brother.’

‘Goddamn,’ Ash said, putting down the knife again. ‘Look, I know you think-’

‘You don’t know what I think,’ Augus said. ‘But I do know it makes you uncomfortable. I don’t want it all the time, or even often. But I want it.’

‘Why? You didn’t before. I mean okay, sure, I’ve been fucked and pegged and bent over things before, but…you know it’s not- You know that’s not my jam, Augus.’ Ash was aware of a faint pleading in his voice.

But he knew that Augus had a right to ask for it. After all he’d done to Augus. Distance between them had made them both more aware that Augus was recovering from some of the things Ash had done. Prostate massage was still an iffy subject, Augus often safewording out of something that he’d once enjoyed; Ash aware that he’d been the one to ruin that.

He only hoped it was temporary.

Augus sniffed at the dressing that Ash had made and dipped his finger into it, lapping at his finger with a conscious sensuality that had Ash shaking his head and realising that at some point…he was probably going to end up with Augus’ cock in his ass.

He’d seen Augus’ cock. It wasn’t small.

‘I want you to know what it’s like,’ Augus said, licking his lips slowly. ‘I want you to know what it’s like when you identify as a top, when you’re also naturally dominating. I want you to know what it’s like when you let someone you love into you like that, like you’ve been…doing with me. That’s why. I want you open, Ash. Open, loose, wanting.’

Ash’s breath shuddered in his lungs and he gripped the counter.

‘I want you to know you’ll be okay, after that,’ Augus purred softly. ‘That you trust me to make that okay for you.’

‘You’re killing me over here,’ Ash laughed.

‘Am I?’ Augus walked around the counter and came up behind him, resting his chin on his shoulder, pressing his chest to his back. ‘You don’t think that would come later when you were coming while I was inside you?’

‘Jesus, Jesus fuck, this is my game,’ Ash said, breathless. ‘You’re not supposed to be the one who-’

‘You so conveniently forget that I used to do it for a living, Ash,’ Augus murmured, trailing two fingers up his side and not stopping until they pressed up into the heat of his underarm, stroking too firmly to be ticklish. Ash stared at the salad.

Guess the tables have turned then.

‘How long have you wanted this for?’ Ash said, and Augus shrugged.

‘Not too long. Long enough that I was a little put off that I couldn’t jack off to it a few weeks ago.’

‘That asceticism, huh?’ Ash said, laughing, as Augus’ other hand slid underneath his shirt and rucked it up, as fingers grasped a handful of his flesh and pulled, possessive. It ached, but it was nothing to the burn of pleasure, the gooseflesh that rose all over his skin. He dropped his head slightly, tried to imagine it, Augus inside of him. He couldn’t. He’d not really allowed himself to think about it. None of the pizza dreams involved Augus approaching him like this.

His cock twitched in interest, but his cock was a sex enthusiast, and Ash was…

…Ash was unusually wary.

‘Is this like…revenge?’ Ash said, wanting to laugh but not finding the energy for it.

‘No,’ Augus said, voice faintly soothing. ‘Not at all.’

‘Because after like, everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if-’

‘Ash,’ Augus crooned. ‘Don’t do that.’

‘You’re always telling me you’re a vengeful fae,’ Ash said, and Augus nuzzled into the side of his neck, scraping teeth across it, nipping. Ash closed his eyes, it wasn’t like the salad really mattered anyway.

‘Maybe it is a kind of revenge,’ Augus said, licking into his ear and pressing his voice right there, making Ash feel threatened, turned on, his cock getting harder and his fingers pressing into the counter like he wanted to push away. ‘But not the kind you’re thinking. You’ve made me feel – shall we say – quite good. Perhaps I just want to return the favour. In this particular way.’

‘Yeah, but-’

‘Ash? Overthinking?’ Augus laughed and dragged clawtips over his belly, causing muscles to twitch. Ash groaned softly. ‘But that’s very much not like you, brother. Perhaps you need help turning off that mind of yours for a little while. And I could dearly, dearly use the break.’

‘Stop it,’ Ash breathed. ‘Stop using that…client voice on me.’

‘No,’ Augus said, laughing. ‘No, I think I’ll keep using it until I have you opening for my cock. Hm? Doesn’t that sound lovely? Come on then, Ash. Indulge me.’

Augus slid his fingers between Ash’s and pulled him away from the counter. Ash laughed again, wanted to be the one racing to the bedroom and found himself not exactly lagging behind, but not moving forward with a spring in his step either. He knew he could say no. He did know that. Though he felt like he owed Augus, somehow. After everything he’d taken from him, how could he say no? How could he say no after tearing so much from his brother in turn?

‘I quite like this,’ Augus murmured. ‘How nervous you are.’

‘Shut up,’ Ash said, blowing a slow exhale out. ‘Just shut up. This is so not my style. And unlike you, I am not a closet fucking masochist. And I really don’t think I’m about to discover like, some hidden latent talent of being a hidden sub or something like that.’

‘I know,’ Augus said. ‘That’s what I like about it. And that’s why we won’t do it often.’

‘Often,’ Ash said, staring at Augus’ bed as they entered his room. Augus let go of his hand and closed the door behind them, unbuttoning his shirt easily, something detached in his motions.

Ash watched him. He suddenly had an idea of what Augus might be like with his clients. Aloof and withdrawn, with that seductive voice and forthright way of saying what he wanted. Directing them where he wanted them, pulling the responses he wished while staying…separate.

He didn’t want Augus to stay separate. Didn’t want their first time doing this to be like…

Yeah, but look at all the things you did that Augus didn’t want in the beginning. You just snowed him. Fucking snowed him. You could at least show some remorse or something and just deal with it. He’s not gonna be like you, is he?

‘Shit,’ Ash whispered.

Augus shrugged off his shirt and draped it over the back of a chair. He undid his belt buckle lazily and met Ash’s eyes as he slid it out of his pants in a fluid movement.

‘I doubt the humans get to see this side of you very often,’ Augus said, sounding pleased. ‘The great Ash Glashtyn, on the back foot, apparently fucked and pegged and bent over things before.’

‘This isn’t the same and you fucking know it,’ Ash said.

‘I do,’ Augus said, undoing the fly of his pants and then pulling them down, stepping out of them, naked and already half-hard and gods, Ash had no idea how long Augus had been entertaining this particular notion but the fact that he was already getting off on it likely meant he was thinking about it even before he got home.

I don’t know if I can do this.

He watched – words pooling in his chest like so much debris – as Augus walked up to him and trailed a hand down his side before curving in and grasping his now limp cock. He pressed the heel of his hand in easily – as though this was something they did all the time – and began massaging. Ash closed his eyes, his mouth opened, heat washed through him.

‘You can say no at any point,’ Augus said, voice less mischievous than before. ‘I mean it.’

‘You mean like, basically, you’re gonna be the opposite of how I was.’

‘Yes,’ Augus murmured, pressing his lips to the stubble on his chin, ‘and also no. I plan on taking you apart quite thoroughly, brother. That’s something we’re going to have in common.’

The hand between his legs was sliding up and unsnapping the button of his jeans one-handed. Sliding down the zipper. Slipping underneath boxers and finding the weight of him. Lukewarm fingers against his cock, massaging friendlily through his pubic hair before grasping him and working him in the tight space. Ash groaned again, his head tilted back. He liked this part. His fingers twitched with the need to grasp, to throw Augus down to the bed, to wrest back control.

He pressed his lips together and forced himself to stay still.

‘You know I would never hurt you, don’t you?’ Augus said, moving his hand, talking like it was casual conversation. His other hand was up by Ash’s face, fingertips playing over his lips, encouraging them to relax.

‘Yep,’ Ash said, and Augus laughed.

‘Sound a little more convincing there, Ash. I only want two things. I want to make you feel good. And I want you beneath me. That’s all. Not revenge. Not to treat you the way you think you deserve to be treated.’

‘Yeah, but when you-’

‘No.’ Augus hooked his thumb into Ash’s mouth and kept his lips apart. Ash growled a sound of frustration. It was hot, it was the kind of thing he would do to someone else. His cock twitched and grew in the tight space of denim and he wanted to take his jeans off, wriggled like he could just make them fall to the ground – but they were tight around his waist, especially with Augus’ hand in there too, and they weren’t going anywhere.

‘That’s all I want. Hm? Don’t pretend I’m some stranger now, Ash. Not after all we’ve experienced. Look at me. Do you think I’m going to hurt you? Really?’

Ash opened his eyes, met Augus’ green ones, saw the lambent light in them that meant that Augus was aroused, that he wanted this. His hips strained into Augus’ hand, breathing heavy and large in his chest.

Augus, the one who had raised him, who had the bad habit of hiding his emotional states from others when it counted and who sounded like pornography when he was being split upon a cock. Who had cared for him when he was sick, hungover. Who always had blankets and fruit waiting for him, even though he never ate fruit.

Something settled in Ash’s chest and he offered a wry smile.

‘Guess I was freaking out a bit there, huh?’

‘A little,’ Augus said, stroking Ash’s jaw. He tugged harder on Ash’s cock and jerked a sound from him. A low grunt. ‘I want you to undress for me and then lie down on the bed.’

‘You dominating me? Hm?’ Ash said as Augus let go of him, fingers drifting away from his cock slowly, as though he didn’t really want to let go.

‘A little,’ Augus said. He walked over to his chest of drawers, leaned back against it and folded his arms. ‘Go on then.’

‘Fuck you,’ Ash said fervently, hopping out of his jeans and making a small choked noise when the denim caught on the foreskin of his cock. He shrugged out of his shirt at the same time, dropping clothing everywhere, boxers following. He grasped his own cock briefly, squeezing it, reminding himself that this was going to be fine. Better than fine, even.

‘The bed, huh?’

‘Please,’ Augus said, waving a hand in its direction.

Ash jumped onto it with enthusiasm, bouncing from the force. He cracked up laughing and flopped onto his back, taking a pillow as he went and throwing it at Augus, who caught it and shook his head, dropping it to the floor. Ash was still laughing when Augus walked towards him, and then the laughter died in his throat at the way Augus placed both of his hands on the bed before crawling upon it, slinking up to Ash meaningfully. He swallowed, stared up as Augus looked down at him, bracketing his head with his arms, knees on either side of his waist.

‘Are you quite done?’ Augus said, and Ash licked his lips.

‘I’m really nervous, hey.’

‘Good,’ Augus said, before dropping his lips to Ash’s and biting at his bottom lip hard enough that it hurt. Ash opened his mouth on a curse, and Augus slid his tongue inside, one hand coming up and twisting in Ash’s hair, the other bracing himself on the bed. He shifted his knees until they were pressed hard against either side of Ash’s body. Augus’ tongue was a hot weight in his mouth, twisting and exploring, tasting and then thrusting leisurely, mimicking what was to come with carnal fervour.

Ash’s cock stayed hard, his hands came up and stroked down Augus’ back, needing to calm himself, participating in the kiss and licking the taste of dressing and salad out of Augus’ mouth.

‘You’re the one who’s all about multiple orgasms,’ Augus said against his mouth, letting go of his hair and reaching down between them, wrapping strong fingers around his cock. Ash arched up into the touch, hips shifting. ‘How long does it take before you can come again?’

‘I don’t know,’ Ash breathed at the firm, steady rhythm Augus was setting. ‘Like…I don’t fucking know, maybe five, ten minutes before I can get hard again. And then it just depends on like…what’s happening. Humans are pretty impressed by it.’

Augus kissed him viciously, teeth and sparks of pain, and Ash realised belatedly he probably shouldn’t have mentioned humans and what they were impressed by, while Augus had a hand wrapped around his cock. It wasn’t something that ever went down well, and usually he kept better track of those kinds of things these days. It was getting harder to concentrate. Augus’ fingers were demanding, not coaxing, and the claw-tip that skated around the flushed curve of the head of his cock felt like a threat, a promise. When Augus did it a third time – not breaking the skin, not even scratching it, but stirring up unsteady reactions of pleasure-pain, Ash growled in the back of his throat.

Not a masochist,’ he said, tearing his mouth away, panting.

‘Your cock doesn’t mind,’ Augus said, speeding up, working him with none of the slowness that he showed his own body. Augus was clearly driving towards one goal, as quickly as possible.

‘Jesus, I know- ah, fuck. I know what you’re doing.’

‘Do you?’

‘You’re…ngh.’ Ash panted, hips bucking up into Augus’ hand, shuddering at the speed of it while Augus’ lips hovered close to his own. ‘You’re…working on the theory that if I come, I’ll be more relaxed for-’

That was it, he was giving up on language, it was too hard. He arched his back, sensations popping like fireworks down his spine all the way to the top of his neck. He didn’t often get himself off this fast, and Augus clearly knew his way around his cock. Even the occasional gentle claw scrape was winding him up.

‘Mm,’ Augus hummed, licking the side of his face possessively. ‘It’s a good theory. Now shut up and focus on what I’m doing. Just let me take care of you, Ash.’

It was the words, in the end, that did him in. Just let me take care of you, breathed over his skin, the warmth of his voice wrapping around him and shooting down between his legs, tightening in his balls. He braced himself on the bed, arched hard, chest pressed to Augus’ chest, feet digging into the mattress as his cock pulsed in Augus’ hand. One of his arms came up, his fingers bruising Augus’ back. He groaned, capturing Augus’ lips with his own and kissing him, rocking up into that tight, sticky vice of precome and the sweat on Augus’ palm, skin catching, each spurt of come a hot spill on his pelvis.

‘Ah, fuck,’ Ash rasped. He winced when Augus tugged at his cock again, moved back and forth like he was just going to keep jerking him off. ‘Wait, fucking-’

‘You are beautiful,’ Augus breathed. ‘Did you know?’

‘I’m sensitive, get off,’ Ash mumbled, shoving at him. Augus didn’t budge. ‘Augus, I swear to fucking god, if you don’t-’

‘Indulge me,’ Augus said. ‘Indulge me, Ash. Just a little longer. Persevere for me. You can do that, can’t you?’

Ash’s voice broke into nothingness as Augus kept moving his hand over Ash’s cock, forcing stiffness to it that was nothing more than ache and oversensitivity. Ash’s head tilted back, his mouth was open as he shallow breathed his way through the dull thud of it. The faint pain wasn’t a turn on. But the knowledge that Augus was looking down at him, watching him with that assessing, calculating gaze, was more thrill than it was fear. His legs shifted to try and make himself more comfortable, but Augus’ hand held his focus and he moaned a pained sound, hips twitching to the side.

‘You’ve had your fun,’ Ash gasped.

‘I suppose I have,’ Augus said, sliding his hand away and trailing fingers and claw-tips through the come on his pelvis, before pressing his fingers into Ash’s open mouth. ‘There we are. Eat up.’

Ash made a hungry noise, slurped at his fingers messily and then sucked them down until his long fingers touched the back of his throat. He opened his eyes, met Augus’ gaze, tasted silt and musk and salt and water on his tongue. Beneath that, the faintest hint of the dressing that he was going to use for the salad. He grinned around Augus’ fingers, scraped his teeth along the fleshy undersides, winking when Augus shivered.

Augus only withdrew his hand when there was nothing but saliva left on his fingers, and then he painted fingertips across Ash’s cheek, his chin, his lips, marking him, something intent in his gaze. Ash watched Augus’ face, his expressions, the driven way he did everything; nothing like the uncertain creature he had around him the rest of the time.

‘I can see it, you know,’ Ash said, as Augus pressed his thumb into his larynx, causing his heart to skip a beat. ‘I can see how you’d be good at this.’

‘That’s not as flattering as you think it is,’ Augus said.

‘No, I mean, fuck- I mean really. I mean, I think-’

‘I’m not dominating you,’ Augus said. ‘You’ll know, the day that happens. If it ever happens. This is sex. I’m taking the lead, certainly, but…’

Augus tilted his head, looked speculative.

‘Turn over,’ he said, voice steady, dark.

Ash blinked at him. Augus raised an eyebrow, lips downturned; he looked displeased.

‘Did you not understand me? I said turn over.’

Something rebellious roared to life in Ash’s gut. Augus didn’t talk to him like this ever, and he opened his mouth to say just that, but there was something menacing on Augus’ face. Something in the way he used his body, arched it over him. He closed his mouth and didn’t like the mix of feelings that were stirring inside of him. Trepidation and arousal and something like apprehension snagging with fear.

He looked at Augus searchingly, before turning onto his stomach, deciding that if things didn’t get better in the next…sixty seconds, he was done. He was done.

A hand pressed between his shoulder blades, holding him in place.

‘Raise your arms above your head and cross your wrists together,’ Augus said.

‘I don’t want to,’ Ash breathed, realising the difference. That there was a difference between Augus topping, taking the lead, and him actually being dominating.

Augus grasped both of Ash’s wrists in a grip that brooked no disagreement and pulled his arms up – ignoring Ash’s resistance – and crossing them at the wrists above his head, pinning them down with his hands and waterhorse weight.

‘If you were a client,’ Augus said, ‘there would be consequences for this continued disobedience.’

‘I don’t like this,’ Ash said, wincing at the way he sounded.

‘No,’ Augus agreed, his voice turning soothing. ‘No, I know you don’t.’

He let go of Ash’s wrists, pressed the palm of his hand to the back of his head in a soothing gesture that made Ash’s breath catch in his throat.

‘That’s why I’m not doing it,’ Augus said. ‘But you should know there is a difference.’

‘Fuck,’ Ash shuddered, evening out his breaths again. ‘I just don’t get it. I don’t get how people like that. Never knowing if they’re doing like…the right thing.’

Augus laughed softly, massaging the back of Ash’s head.

‘They do the right thing by obeying me, and gain security and safety by knowing that the orders I’m giving them are ones they can fulfil. For many, it’s very rewarding, even in those moments when it does bring elements of fear and uncertainty. It’s freeing. Didn’t you tell me that you talked to a dominatrix about all of this? Didn’t you try it?’

‘I may have like…glamoured her a bit. I guess she went kind of easy on me,’ Ash said, and Augus’ laugh was full-throated; the kind of laugh Ash hardly ever got to hear. Unexpectedly, his eyes burned, his heart ached. He licked his lips, found the taste of his own come there and shivered.

‘Well, for many who enjoy it, they get both the ability to know they are doing the right thing by obeying me, along with physical gratification – if that’s something I wish for them. It’s challenging, yes. Sometimes it’s supposed to be, and I am…of a challenging nature.’

‘No shit, Sherlock,’ Ash breathed.

‘The reason you don’t enjoy it, among others, is that you don’t like to obey,’ Augus whispered into his ear. ‘Because you’re a cocky, precocious, spoiled brat.’

Ash shifted his arms where Augus had placed them and then reached up, grabbing a hank of Augus’ long mane and dragging him down, glaring a mix of arousal and need at him.

‘Fucking kiss me already, if I’m so fucking spoiled.’

Ash cut the inside of his lip on his teeth when Augus pressed forwards, snarling, forcing Ash’s head into an awkward angle and biting his tongue when he slipped it into Augus’ mouth. Ash grunted and then growled softly, only for Augus to return the growl, rolling his hips down meaningfully where he straddled him. Ash abandoned viciousness, moaned plaintively. He didn’t know what he wanted, but he didn’t want it to be rough.

He withdrew and watched Augus as he reached over, limber enough to stay straddling him even as he bent himself into almost a right angle to reach his drawer and take out a vial of lubricant. Ash’s heart was beating hard.

It’s happening. It’s going to happen. Jesus.

Augus dropped the vial beside them, then dragged the heel of his palms from the base of Ash’s back all the way to the top of his shoulders, stretching out over him as he did so. He licked into the curve of his neck, snaking under curls of hair and following his hairline. Ash hummed, he could certainly do with more of that. And he did like Augus in a more…forthright mood. Participatory Augus was something he wanted more of. At least sometimes.

‘That’s really nice,’ Ash said, and Augus stroked his arms in long, languid strokes.

‘Would you do me a favour?’

‘What?’

‘Would you raise them above your head, cross them at the wrists? You have no idea what a picture you make, Ash, stretched out like that for me.’

Ash hesitated, then felt like he was melting into the bed when Augus repeated those long strokes down his spine, over and over. Each one pressed in hard into his lower spine, rocked his pelvis down into the bed in slow, rhythmic strokes. He blinked hazily. It didn’t matter that much, did it? Augus asking him? It wasn’t like he was being told.

He raised first one arm, then the other, crossing them at the wrists, fingers flexing uncertainly before settling into loose fists.

‘Good,’ Augus purred. ‘You look…’

But however he looked, it was clearly so good that Augus didn’t really have the words for it. The long strokes continued down his flanks, curving underneath and dragging back at his belly, before returning to his spine. They were hypnotic, soothing. Augus would reach up from time to time and start at his wrists, before dragging his palms and fingers down all the way over the knobs of his elbows, over the curves of muscle in his arms, before sneaking into his armpits and pressing in firmly, Ash huffing out exhales of pleasure.

If he was honest with himself, he could’ve put up with thisa long time ago.

Ash relaxed further into the bed, closing his eyes, occasionally shifting his wrists, but never uncrossing them.

‘Spread your legs for me,’ Augus said, his voice warm.

Ash didn’t tense, but he paused before responding. He turned it over in his mind, even as Augus shifted his weight off his back and began to slide down his body, playing Ash’s skin like an instrument as he went. A palm curved over one of his ass cheeks, before sliding further down the back of his thigh to the dip of his knee, where fingertips fluttered and Ash giggled before he could help himself.

Ash slid his legs apart, spine arching as he did so, the closest he’d get to squirming in discomfort. Augus knelt between his legs immediately, and Ash’s eyes opened in shock when Augus placed palms flat on his inner thighs and spread them further.

‘Hey,’ Ash protested. ‘You don’t-’

‘Let me,’ Augus said quietly. ‘It’s not painful, is it? Are you telling me that you, of all people, are embarrassed?’

Ash muttered a curse at him under his breath and ignored the burning in his cheeks.

It was different than it was with everyone else. He’d had a lot of experiences, but there weren’t too many he could truly call new experiences. This would be one of them. He focused on calming his breath, assisted by Augus stroking him again, over the curve of his ass, over his spine and down over the back of his thighs.

Augus reached for the vial and Ash laughed helplessly, the sound more nerves than anything else. He half thought Augus would check on him, but Augus only popped the cork out of the vial, and Ash’s fingers curled, his hands clenched into fists.

‘Aren’t you normally telling people to relax, right about now?’ Augus said.

‘Yeah, yep,’ Ash said, opening his eyes and staring down into the dimness of the blanket. ‘Yep. I’m- It’s a bit different when it’s you.’

‘I’m finding this quite a novelty,’ Augus said, a smile in his voice. ‘Normally you’re all over me, exerting all manner of control, and here you are – quite the pretty picture – and all that sureness of yours seems to have evaporated. Why, Ash, are you feeling shy?’

‘Fuck. Off,’ Ash said, abashed. He was. He was so going to make Augus pay for this. Turned out that coming once didn’t take the edge off at all.

‘Do you fuck yourself with your fingers when you jack off?’ Augus said, sliding slick fingers between the crack of his ass, Ash resolutely refusing to twitch, but not exactly relaxing into it either.

‘Sometimes,’ Ash said. ‘It’s not like…it’s not like I’ve never done this before. It’s not…my first rodeo.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Jesus, of course I’m fucking-’

Ash yelped when Augus pressed down and then in, not stroking over his entrance, not doing anything that acted as much of a warning. One moment Augus’ hand was slick and cool and close, the next moment he had a finger sliding inside of him and was still moving, pressing deep until Augus was in him up to the last knuckle.

‘Are you sure?’ Augus said again, and Ash wanted to claw the smug smile he heard in his voice off his face. But he was too busy gasping. This wasn’t his first rodeo. But the fact that Augus’ finger was inside of him, Augus between his legs – it did something twisty to his chest. He gasped for breath, then moaned sharply when Augus’ finger slid back and fucked forwards. He’d expected…he didn’t know what he expected – slowness? For Augus to treat him with the same languor with which he seemed to touch himself?

This was nothing like that.

Augus’ finger curled inside of him, and Ash felt like one of his feet was going to cramp.

‘Cross your wrists for me,’ Augus encouraged.

Ash realised he’d slid his arms apart in order to clutch at his own hair.

Huh.

He slid his arms back, confused, because this was Augus taking control of the situation. He knew that it was, no matter how sweet Augus’ tone was. But Augus was…right. It did feel good to have something to do, something to hang onto that he could do. When Augus hummed a sound of rich approval at him when his wrists crossed again, he thought something was melting all the way down his spine.

‘Damn it,’ Ash muttered. ‘You’re a fucker, you know that?’

Augus slid his finger back and pressed in with two, and Ash groaned thickly, realised he probably shouldn’t bait Augus while he was in such a position. The stretch of it was good, and he hesitantly pressed his hips into Augus’ fingers. At that, Augus’ other hand slid under his hip and jerked him back, his fingers hilting and curling in a single, fluid movement that scraped his breath out of his lungs.

His cock was starting to fill again, and he shifted against the bed to make himself more comfortable, even as Augus fucked him open with his fingers, the pace firm, each thrust rocking him hard against the bed. Ash twisted his wrists until he could clasp his own hands together above his head, wanting something to hang onto, pressing his forehead down and deciding that when Augus wanted to take someone, he took.

A glancing brush against his prostate and Ash opened his mouth on a cry that never voiced, because Augus was already sliding his fingers free and shifting over him.

‘What, already?’ Ash said, ignoring the way his voice sounded a little higher than normal.

‘You’re fine,’ Augus said. He slid length of his cock along the seam of Ash’s ass and Ash locked up, ready to call it quits. ‘You’re fine.’

‘You promise this isn’t revenge?’ Ash said.

‘Trust me,’ Augus said, pressing his chest against Ash’s back, laying his arms over Ash’s arms and pressing the palms of his hands around Ash’s interlocked hands. ‘Ash, just because we’re trying something new, doesn’t mean I’m a different person, does it?’

Ash was trying to think of how to answer that question when Augus’ hips lifted and he lowered an arm to adjust himself and push forwards. Ash’ eyes widened as he felt the head of Augus’ cock slide through lubricant until it rested, blunt and pushing faintly, against him.

‘Do you trust me?’ Augus breathed, his voice shaky. It was the first time he sounded uncertain. The first time, since he’d come home. But that was oddly familiar, and Ash sighed something that would have been relief, if he hadn’t been charged with so much anticipation.

‘Yeah,’ Ash rasped. ‘I always have.’

He wasn’t surprised when Augus pushed in at that moment – that’s when he would’ve done it as well – and the stretch was noticeable, stung a little, but Ash was too busy focusing on the fact that this was Augus pushing inside of him and he would never be able to repeat this moment again. Not like this. His awareness opened and his body turned itself over to sensation, shoving away the anxieties that tried to swamp him.

Instead he became aware of Augus’ fingers stroking over his wrist. He smelled their sweat mingling together, his own come, the faintest hint of blood from where he’d cut the inside of his lip. He felt the ache of Augus pushing deeper, withdrawing, pushing in again – shallow thrusts that allowed him to work his way steadily inside. He felt tight, full, pinned, and he turned his head to the side and moaned freely, wanting to find a way to express it all, finding himself unable.

It was good. Augus was good at this, and he spread his legs wider, pushed his hips back on a thrust and grunted, seeking leverage.

‘Yes?’ Augus said.

‘Yeah. Fucking, yes, Augus. Just keep- Keep doing that.’

All that anxiety and it turned out that when Augus was finally inside of him, he just felt easy about it. It was Augus, and he did trust him, and there was the ache of being fucked – sure – but he didn’t mind that, that was a different kind of pain. He moved his hips back into it, pushing back into Augus’ pelvis, listening to the way Augus’ breathing was becoming increasingly uneven.

It felt good, his cock was hard and he needed to grasp it, take it in hand, something. But he was pressed flat against the bed and the motions he used to push back weren’t enough to get the room he needed.

‘Can- Can we shift?’ Ash gasped. ‘Yeah?’

Augus withdrew in a single movement that left Ash feeling hollow and he grunted, dazed for a moment. But then there were hands at his hips, pulling him up, and he went with it quickly, pushing onto hands and knees. Unlike Augus, he had no problems with the position once he got started. It didn’t make him feel threatened or intimidated to be mounted like that, even though he was aware he probably should.

Augus knelt between his legs, fisting his cock and sliding back in. Ash wasn’t prepared for the change of angle, which sent a thick heat through him like molasses. His back arched, he groaned.

‘Give me your arm,’ Augus said, breathless. ‘This isn’t going to happen again for a while, I suspect. Let me just…’

Augus encouraged Ash’s arm behind his back and then grasped it by the wrist, pulling it up and pinning it between his shoulder blades. It wasn’t painful, but as Augus resumed his thrusts, it was difficult to keep his balance, and he could no longer get a hand between his legs to touch himself.

‘Jesus, fuck, Augus. Come on, man.’

‘But you look so good, brother,’ Augus said, the words fervent, and Ash shook his head in frustration and then bowed it because Augus was getting better contact with his prostate and actually the whole thing was starting to feel pretty damn great. He couldn’t come from a cock alone – not like Augus – but it would get him close enough that he was starting not to care.

Augus’ thrusts became harder, faster, without Ash having to ask, but it was upsetting his balance too much and he went down to his elbow, his other arm sliding up higher between his shoulder blades and Augus hilting inside of him in a way that did hurt.

‘Fuck,’ he cried out, and Augus withdrew a little, rubbed his thumb into Ash’s palm. ‘Okay, okay, but don’t fucking stop! I mean-’

Apparently Augus had no intention of stopping, because he began moving again – if possible, harder than before. Ash turned his head sideways and focused on catching his breath. He didn’t know what he’d expected, but he was fairly certain it hadn’t been this.

He realised that if he twisted his other arm on the bed, tilted his body, he could maybe get fingers around his cock.

He reached in stops and starts, finally managing to first stroke fingers in a quick swipe down the head of his bobbing cock, and then when Augus withdrew, he reached and grabbed himself, crying out because he was sensitive and Augus wasn’t stopping – not even accommodating his attempts to bring himself off. He moved his hand awkwardly, elbow pinned to the bed, angle all wrong, an ache moving down his arm.

But even that much contact was enough, and he spread his legs. The grip Augus had on the arm behind his back – fingers digging into his wrist – was brutal, commanding. It was a hint of how things could be, if Ash had any sort of tolerance for it. As it was, he felt torn between arousal and feeling protected. This wasn’t threatening. This wasn’t intimidating. Augus had never used his waterhorse territoriality against him. Had always used it to defend Ash from others. Had always been the one coming to his rescue, time and time again, when they were younger.

The fact that Augus had all that strength wrapped around his wrist, ploughing into him with thrusts that shouldn’t be so fluid for how hard they were, was like being snatched up in a bubble of arousal and promise; that Augus would always be there for him, even in this.

Ash laughed in bursts. These were not feelings he expected to have, not right now, not with a hand around his cock and his thumb reaching up to shakily strain for the head of himself.

He took a deep breath and clenched hard around Augus, and Augus faltered, moaned weakly.

‘Come on, love,’ Ash breathed. ‘Come on, baby.’

Augus’ grip tightened on his wrist, twisted his hips in a way that had Ash forgetting about trying to speak as his cock jumped in his hand. He swore, mouth wide, flooded with heat. Augus’ other hand was unforgiving on his hip, and Ash decided to abandon himself to it. He was so close anyway.

He was aware of swearing more as he got closer, but he was focusing on the fireflies of light behind his eyes as they became more and more agitated. He heard himself make a sound like keening, didn’t care, hoped Augus liked it.

He tensed, gasped when he realised he was going to come; hardly able to get a decent rhythm with his hand – especially as Augus’ thrusts were the kind that would be pushing him up the bed in a different position; his hand had gotten knocked away twice from the force alone. But heat raced along his back and then shot back down it again, his cock was so hard it ached.

He came with a shout, clenching around Augus helplessly, creating a friction that Augus ignored, thrusting so hard that Ash felt as though Augus was milking him of everything he had left. His hand fell away from his cock and braced himself on the bed, he could hear his breathing – heavy, long rasps as his thighs trembled and his back felt like it was going to spasm.

Augus kept on going after he’d finished, and Ash shifted slightly, still coming down from the high of it all.

‘Come on, love,’ Ash said. ‘I want you to. Come inside me already.’

Augus let go of his wrist instantly and his hand slammed down behind Ash’s face as his hips stuttered, pressed deep.

‘That’s it,’ Ash breathed. ‘That’s the way. I’m so- I’m so glad we did this.’

‘Gods,’ Augus moaned, head dropping down between Ash’s shoulder blades, hips moving in spasmodic pulses, filling him with heat.

Even now, Ash felt protective in turn. All this time thinking Augus was invincible and didn’t need any protection, and it turned out he did. He clenched around Augus again and again, drawing whimpers from his throat. He reached out with an aching arm and pressed it against Augus’ hand where it rested on the bed.

Augus shuddered over him, breath gusting out hot over the sweat on his back.

He slid out a few minutes later. Ash waited to see what would happen. But Augus was oddly silent, and as soon as he was empty, leaking, he turned and took Augus with him, both of them lying side by side on the bed, Augus’ face still flushed, freckles standing out like tiny beacons.

‘Are you okay?’ Ash said.

‘Am I okay?’ Augus stared at him in shock.

‘That’s what I said, yeah. Are you okay? I’m fine. That was great. You fuck like a champion. Guess it really does run in the family.’

He reached up and smoothed some of Augus’ hair away from his head, neatened the waterweed and watched the way Augus shivered beneath his fingers. His sensitive brother. Ash stroked his cheek, his shoulder, stroked a line down his arm and circled his wrist carefully with his fingers.

‘Level one healer, got your healer’s kit, fucked your brother. Good day for you, huh?’

Augus’ lips turned up in a rare, genuine smile. One that reached his eyes. Ash leaned forwards and kissed it, wanted to see if it would taste any different even though he knew very well that it wouldn’t.

Ash wrapped his arms around him, not caring that they were wet and warm and sticky – liking it, even. He only let go to reach behind them and grab the edge of the blanket it, flipping it over them.

‘Well, there’s salad there, for whenever you’re ready,’ Ash said.

‘I don’t know how you do it,’ Augus said. ‘I don’t know how you can be so nervous, for so long, and then be…so alright with it. Because you are, aren’t you?’

‘Yeah,’ Ash said, closing his eyes and pulling Augus even closer. ‘I am. I just realised it was you, I guess. I realised that like, you’ve always done your best for me. Always. Out of the two of us, I’m the one who kind of…needs to buck up a bit. And I know I’ve been doing that! I do. But like, yeah, I guess I just realised that you’re the one who saved my life when I was a tiny thing. You’re probably not going to do anything to hurt me on purpose.’

‘You’re doing fine, Ash,’ Augus said. ‘You can’t blame yourself for being an Unseelie waterhorse forever.’

‘Can,’ Ash grumbled.

Augus laughed, pressed his lips softly to his forehead.

They didn’t sleep or doze, but stayed entwined together until they realised that showers were probably necessary, to stop them from becoming glued together in their own come.

*

Later, sated on salad and herbed roasted vegetables, Ash asked Augus about his healer’s kit, and watched – pleased – as Augus opened it up and showed him everything in it so far. He talked with a rare excitement, showing each herb and fungi and ointment, explaining what they all did, sometimes pausing and watching Ash critically as though he couldn’t quite decide whether Ash wanted to hear about it or not.

It was something Ash had been working on; though in truth it wasn’t that hard. It turned out it kind of was interesting, even if it wasn’t his area.

After that, they swam naked through Augus’ lake and made their way to the flat rock under a heavier, summer sun. Ash lounged on his side, hip pressing hard into stone and hardly minding. Augus lay on his back and had his eyes closed, hair fanned out around him, looking every inch an eldritch creature of the kind that seduced others to their doom. His thick black lashes were a smudge against his cheeks, his mouth pulled down in that perpetual faint frown.

‘I still think about it,’ Ash said. ‘You know. Everything. That…part of me that attacked you like that. And like, everything else. That you still have to use safewords for some things. Things you used to enjoy. That’s not- It’s not fucking right.’

‘Ash,’ Augus sighed. ‘It wasn’t, so we did something about it. I can’t believe that you – of all people – can’t see that, can’t be more relaxed about it. You who are usually so happy to encourage others to move on, to accept things as they are.’

‘This matters, man,’ Ash persisted. ‘It matters. Okay? You fucking matter to me. I can’t just…jettison it out there and forget about it.’

‘You haven’t, you idiot,’ Augus said.

‘Don’t you worry still? That I’m gonna leave, or get bored, or that…I don’t know, that I’m gonna move on or do something else that’s terrible to you? I mean come on, there have been a few times in the past eight months where I’ve still pushed you pretty hard.’

‘You like extremes,’ Augus said, keeping his eyes closed. ‘I like them too, in certain circumstances. It’s okay, brother. You just need some more time to get used to it, I think.’

‘Yeah, but-’

‘It’s fine,’ Augus said again, sounding as though it truly was.

Ash scooted closer to him and rested his hand on Augus’ warm belly. He was absorbing heat from the stone, from the sun. He was a secret creature coming out to make the most of the warmth, the gleam of it. Ash pressed his nose to Augus’ shoulder. He used to think of them as the sun and the moon, and he thought about it again. The way he burned his brother like fire, scored his flesh, marked him and then ached for him when he was away. The moon always disappeared, it had to.

He wondered what Augus would say, if he knew the way Ash thought about them both sometimes.

Probably take the piss.

‘You dominated me a little, before, didn’t you?’ Ash said, and Augus smiled then.

‘I did. Some soft topping. Nothing much. Could you handle it again?’

‘I think…yeah,’ Ash said. ‘If it’s like that, yeah. Not the other way though.’

‘Heaven forbid,’ Augus said, yawning and turning. He didn’t even open his eyes as his lips pressed to the side of Ash’s face and kissed his way down, finding his lips. ‘I’m going to do it again. Though I think I prefer…the other way around, with us.’

‘Me taking you apart?’ Ash laughed.

‘Putting me back together again.’

Ash stroked idle lines across Augus’ skin, and then some time later pressed lazy kisses across his flesh, generous with his tongue and finding his way into dips and curves that he had learned almost off by heart now. The place just below Augus’ left pectoral which could elicit more of a reaction than when he licked his nipples with the flat of his tongue. The inner curve of his left collarbone, where Augus always sighed the first time it was mouthed and didn’t seem to notice he did it – as predictable as any poker tell. The slight way Augus first tried to move away from being licked along the neck, a tiny twitch in the opposite direction, before arching into the touch. All things that Ash had mapped and remembered.

‘It’s good that you’re feeling alright about today,’ Augus said, his voice scratchy with pleasure. ‘I was sure it was what I wanted, but unsure how you would take it.’

‘And if I’d said no?’

‘I think I might have pushed, actually. Not the way…you used to. But I think it was important. For me. Besides, I’ve been feeling more, shall we say, expansive lately. Trying new things and what have you.’

Ash kept kissing his body and then froze mid-lick.

He looked up and laughed.

‘Really?’

Augus grinned up to the sky, eyes still closed.

‘I was long overdue a new heartsong. And you have wanted me to ‘get out more’ as the saying goes.’

‘So all this…you becoming a healer. Fucking me. I don’t know…the other things we’ve been doing lately – it’s been…it’s been in line with your new core energy?’

‘Perfectly in line,’ Augus said, and he blinked green eyes open and met Ash’s gaze. ‘You’ve been good for me, Ash. I know you still have your uncertainties, so do I – I’d be a fool not to. But never doubt that my life is better with you in it.’

Ash pushed his ear to Augus’ chest, listened to the heavy thump within and was glad that he knew where home was, even after losing his way so many times. Augus dragged his fingers through Ash’s hair and Ash shivered, smiled. Their fingers threaded together and Augus hummed, content, stretching out further beneath the sun, both of them soaking up the heady warmth of summer’s bounty.