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It's been a long time since you've been on this side of the mountains. For the past six years you have been living with your uncle and aunts family, being busy with life and things coming up you didn't travel as much as when you were little. But now you were heading back home. Home to where the river met the ocean and the sun kissed the horizon each and every night.

You took the night train, it was peaceful enough. Not many tourists go out to the town this time of year. Monya, your godmother, wrote she would be waiting for you at the train station. It was nice of her to do so; going through town alone intimidated you. Especially seeing him again. 

You and he used to do everything together. Every photo you had before you left had the pair of you in it, dressed as knights, going on exaggerated adventures, and pledging to watch each other's backs. You two were inseparable- so much so his mother, Monya, often claimed you were brothers to tourists'. Despite your complete lack of scales.

You took out the letters again, Tythas' and Monya's sharing the same envelope. 

Can't wait to see you again. I love you so much.

'Oh, Tythas.' Your best friend, you two still exchanged letters after all these years, and now you would be meeting again. He was so strong and beautiful. He'd be more-so now, grown naga's always seemed to tower over you. His tail would be several feet long, you wondered how his face filled out, and his eye's, did they still contain tiny hypnotizing suns? You wouldn't know, it was scary to think he would be so different in person than on paper.

And here was the station. You packed up your things and climbed off. Monya said she would be waiting in a cafe across the street for you. If you remembered correctly it was The Coffee Den, best banana waffles this side of the mountain.

You looked around for Monya, and found him instead. But he was there though, and he was so beautiful. He was hard to miss, even when slouched in the furthest booth away from you, his tail spilling out from under the table. You walked up slowly, taking in how much he had grown. His markings were more enhanced, you remember tracing them with paint, charcoal, even just fingers when you were young. Telling him that his insides matched his outsides and making him blush. So easy to fluster.

"Tythas?"

He looked up, startled, "... Hey!" His expression faulted as if dazed, "You..."

"'You?'" You snickered, "Don't tell me you forgot my name already?" You dumped your bag in the back of the booth and took your seat.

His eyes went wide and hands flew up in panic. "No! No- nooo." Tythas denied unconvincingly, his cheeks darkening. "'Course not." He pushed a menu in front of you. "I, uh, haven't ordered yet; if you want breakfast."

You let it slide, only intending to tease him. "I'm starving." Already knowing what you wanted, you began to ask; "They still make banana-"

"Waffles?" He finished your sentence, cheekily flicking out his tongue. "'Course, you should have it with the cinnamon cappuccino, they brought it in for autumn."

A cup of coffee sounded heavenly about now. "You know what? I just might." It was just like you imagined. You both ordered, him having a house breakfast, you with your waffles, and coffee for two. "So... how've things been?" Tythas' last proper letter was a month ago, so an update was sorely needed.

"You mean, since my last letter?" He inhaled deeply, "Where to start? The local blue-bellied glow frogs aren't endangered anymore, that old tree on the cliff is still standing- remember how the mayor wanted to chop it down to make a tourist trap? Oh, and guess who owns that beach house we used to break into."

Your jaw dropped, he grinned showing off his needle-like fangs. "That's, wow." You supposed some people would be jealous, you would have loved to buy the house too, but it would've felt strange to stay in a place where you really had one tie holding you to this little patch of paradise. But you were so happy for him. He had been wanting a big project for the off months after his small business took off during tourist season. "Did-did you get that fallen tree out of the attic?"

"'Course," He shrugged. "Fixed it up... turned it into a spare bedroom- y'know. If you're interested."

'You slippery snake.' If he were anyone else you would think he was trying to make a pass at you, "Yeah, that sounds great." You were secretly glad you didn't have to check into the Seaspring Hostel- that place was definitely haunted. Breakfast arrived and you dug right in.

"What about you?" He adjusted himself in his seat, you felt a weight resting next to you and saw a loop of his tail riding up to sit next to you rather than the floor. "How's life in the city?"

You shrugged, chewing your waffle. "Honestly, I can't wait until my contract with work runs out. Need a change of pace."

"There's always harvest work," You wrinkled your nose at that- but it would be good if you couldn't find anything. It would get you back into shape too.

 

The two of you finished your food. Tythas must have picked up in your tiredness, wordlessly paying for the meal before you both exited the building to go home. Somewhere between the cafe and his place, Tythas took your bag off your shoulders. 

If anyone else had done that, or paid for your meal, or even offered you a room you would object. But never Tythas. In the few years you hadn't seen each other, not once had he failed to ask how you were, or even pick up on the nuances of your writing. And a package from him always came with one of his special blends of tea. He was so much more free with his emotions, at least compared to the other men in the city that would try to pick you up, expecting you to do that heavy lifting for them.

It was nice to not be the only 'soft' man.

Things drifted into a comfortable silence as you both made your way to his place, you were glad he picked you up, the thought of sleeping in your old home didn't sit right. "Hey, Tythas?"

"Hm?"

"It's really good to see you again," You wrapped your arm around him to give his shoulder a friendly squeeze, not expecting an arm to slither around your waist and pull you close.

Looking up through your eyelashes you could see him smile down at you. "It's good to see you too." 

The moment you entered his house you saw some familiar items; a pinboard with some postcards, a couple origami swans on the coffee table. Things you had sent him over the years. He kept all of it. 

You hid the swell of emotion with cheeky banter. "Still a pack rat I see."

He smiled knowingly, forked tongue flittering out to taste the air. "I keep things close."

Tythas invited you to take a nap while he worked, which you did. Sleeping the entire day. You woke to the sound of a knock and the smell of something delicious. 

Tythas cracked the door open. "Hey." 

You blinked, "You made dinner?"

"It's not quite ready yet." His voice was gentle, soft like the quilt you lay under. "I drew you a bath in case you still felt stiff from the train."

"That sounds amazing." You moved to lean on your elbow, pushing the quilt down to expose your chest.

He hesitated, you couldn't see his face in the shadow's but you could feel his eyes on you. His tongue flicking out to taste the air. "I'll call you down when dinner's ready." He shut the door.

So there you sat in his massive tub, a heavenly smell coming from the kitchen and a bath full of flower petals making you feel like a king. Like his king. But that was taking things a bit too far, wasn't it? You chided yourself, they were nice thoughts. There was an obvious attraction, or was it just friendliness?

You sat staring at the ceiling for an eternity, he was displaying some old naga courting traditions, but that could also be his interpretation of human hospitality. This was a mostly naga community, after all. He had also read somewhere that naga's could smell pheromones, and would check potential mates for interest. But that could also just be Tythas smelling the scents you carried from the city. Would it be easier to just ask him? Definitely. Would you? Definitely not.

But spirits you would hope.

You were happily dozing, fingertips tracing over your collarbone, down your sternum, tickling your stomach, and scratching the tender flesh of your inner hip. Your other hand brushing over your nipples, massaging in turn them between your fingertips. You resisted the urge to moan out loud. There was a knock on the door.

"Nearly done!" You called, sitting up in panic, voice echoing off the tile.

You heard him shift behind the door, luckily he didn't peek in. "Just letting you know to dress warm, we'll be eating outside."

"I- yeah, I'll be right down." You barely managed to keep your voice level.

And you were alone again. That was close.

 

You got ready and rushed down the stairs. The heat from the bath masking your blush, and a hearty scrub of flowery soap hiding your scent. Hopefully.

Tythas was just finishing up packing a picnic basket. He looked up at you, "Ready?"

You put on a shaky smile and shrugged, "I guess, where are we heading?" Your clothes felt too loose and too constricting.

Tythas draped a woollen scarf around your shoulders; before putting on his own jacket and picking up the basket. He opened the door for you. "Age before beauty."

You side-eyed his cocky smirk. "Wiseass." It was all in good jest, you would match his sly tongue one of these days.

The air outside was starting to chill, a stark difference from Tythas' warm home. You adjusted the scarf Tythas gave you, taking in the scent of mint and rosemary., and him. He must have noticed your ministrations, wrapping his free arm around your waist.

He hissed through his teeth a little as he tasted the air. "Mind if I steal some body heat?

You leaned into the embrace, for a cold-blooded creature he radiated a lot of heat. "Go for it." You failed to sound nonchalant, your words coming out as breathy instead.

Tythas lead you to a small fire pit, right above the tideline. Firewood was already collected and stacked nearby.

"Are you okay with the cold?"

"I'm fine the sand is still quite warm, you help too." He teased, turning to you, his tongue flicking out, just barely brushing the shell of your ear.

Tythas placed the basket down, you heard glass clinking on the inside but thought nothing of it. 

He curled completely in toward the fire pit as he struck a flint, sparks flying toward a pile of dry grass. Soon enough the tinder caught alight and spread to the fule. 

The light caught the ridges and dips in his muscles. Everything about him was soft and smooth.

"And now we have light." Tythas grinned up at you.

You smiled back. "Hey, I was wondering.. I mean- what you wrote in the letters-"

"That I love you?" Tythas interrupted. "I know things are different in person but..." He shrugged. "That just means I get to fall in love with you all over again, right?"

You stayed silent. Stunned. 

"Um," He reached in the basket, drawing out a bottle. "Wine?"

He made to pour you a glass, something to take the tension off. But you stopped him, placing your hand on his. "Tythas?"

Tythas looked up at you eyes wide, unsure.

 

"I love you too."