ACT ONE: HOME
"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Good boy, Lance.”
He pressed his face into cool pillows and hummed at the praise. Hands grasped his bent knees and laid his legs straight, and a warm body crawled up his own.
“You did such a good job for me.”
Honey loitered in his veins and dripped from his fingertips, lapped up by the sheets that embraced him. Fabric clung to the sweat on his skin and begged for more. Lance didn’t offer more. He melted into an ocean of rippling bedspread; he gave all.
Keith had asked once, in dim candlelight with the smell of sex heavy in the air, what subspace felt like. Lance had no answer. No word in any language could capture such bliss. He cherished that concept, pressed it to his heart and held it tight. Subspace remained a secret that could not be told, only felt. He wanted to keep it that way.
The universe stole many things from Lance. Things that were rightfully his. Things he deserved. Things he ached in want of once they were gone.
It would be pried from cold fingers, siphoned from dead lungs and clenched teeth, and scraped from every crawlspace in his soul before anyone took it.
“Anybody who wants to ruin that for you can catch these fucking hands,” Keith said after Lance stumbled through an explanation. “They’ll have to go through me.”
With that, Keith sealed the security of his promise. Lance believed his private world of tranquility to be safe. The universe itself would trickle sweat from its brow at the sight of a Kogane scorned.
Keith kept his promises. Keith took care of him.
Keith. Keith. Keith.
“I’m here, sweetheart.”
His Dom’s voice found him, pulsating through layers of white-soft-nothing to touch his skin. The words became a breeze that whispered love against his face and raised goosebumps across his body. Sweetheart; a pebble dropped in the middle of a lake where the ripple effect had no end.
“You behaved so well tonight. You’re a good boy, Lance. I love you.”
Gentle hands turned him on his side. Saccharine breath puffed against his jaw. Hot lips slaved over Lance’s right cheekbone, his eyelid, his mouth.
Subspace tugged him deeper, and he obeyed its call –
Only to be jolted back into awareness after what felt like seconds.
A phone rang. The bed shifted, and strong arms no longer encircled his waist. His fingers twitched against the quilt draped over him. Lance whimpered.
“Sir.” He didn’t feel his mouth move, but he recognized his own voice. “Back. Please.”
Keith muttered an expletive. Footsteps moved toward him, and the phone grew louder, closer.
“Shh. I’m right here, sweet boy, you’re okay. Everything’s fine.”
Fingers carded through his hair, then slipped beneath the covers to rub his back. Lance hummed. Contentment once again flooded his chest. The ringing stopped.
“Adam,” Keith said, then paused. “What? Why? It’s almost eleven, and I have class in the morning. We weren’t exactly planning on going out...”
Whatever conversation Keith partook in, Lance had no desire to hear the rest. The temptation of subspace couldn’t be resisted. He drifted out of his body, floated above reality into a more ethereal plane, enjoyed a timeless ecstasy...
Keith pinched him.
A tug at the inside crease of his elbow turned sharp – the emergency switch to end his subspace cycle. A signal they’d agreed upon months ago. A signal they’d never used.
His brain, not yet decluttered, screamed in protest. Still, it knew better than to resist.
Lance jerked to life with a strangled gasp and a spike of adrenaline. His hands shook as he threw the covers off and rolled onto his back.
He moved to sit up. A hand flew to his chest and pushed him back into the pillows.
Keith loomed above him. He wore pursed lips, pinched brows, and a complexion one shade paler than usual. He looked sick. Lance’s heart pounded with concern.
“Keith?” He asked, somewhat frantic. “Babe, what’s the emergency? Are you okay?”
Keith made a visible effort to smooth out his expression. He cupped Lance’s face in both hands.
“Relax,” he said. “Everything’s fine. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Lance sighed and deflated, shoulders slumped. “That’s called an emergency switch for a reason, mullet. Why’d you do that?”
Mullet was a nickname he’d taken to using when his Dom annoyed him (mostly because the implication that he had a mullet bothered Keith intensely). He tried not to be upset at Keith triggering his emergency signal for the first time with no apparent reason.
That was easier thought than done.
To leave subspace early went against professional recommendation. And, standard practice aside, an incomplete subcycle felt icky. A mind post-subspace should sparkle with cleanliness and leave a sub ready to take on the world. The unexpected disruption made his typically low irritability levels rise tenfold.
Lance opened his mouth to whine about the situation, ready to pull out that pout Keith couldn’t say no to. Keith beat him to it.
“Adam called while you were under,” he said. “He needs us at the house. Now.”
“What?” Lance blinked. “It’s late. The house is almost thirty minutes away. What’s so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow?”
Keith took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Lance gulped.
“Veronica’s at the house. She’s looking for you.” Keith spoke slow and steady. A forced calm. “Adam tried to convince her to come back in the morning, but she’s refusing to leave until she sees you. She has an ‘urgent message.’”
Ice-cold shock hit his bloodstream. Lance shivered. “Oh. Um. Okay.”
Keith opened his eyes. They shone with empathy – something Lance appreciated. Having a Dom who related to his feelings beat condescending pity any day.
He pressed a hand over one of Keith’s, thumb rubbing circles on his mate’s knuckles.
“I’m sorry,” Keith said. “I know you're not ready to talk to your family, but..."
“It’s not your fault. Did Adam tell you what her urgent message is?”
“She won’t say. She wants you to hear it first.”
Keith didn’t stop him when he sat up again. Lance leaned into Keith’s unclothed form, bare chests flush against one another, and pressed his lips to a muscled shoulder.
“That’s scary,” he said. The words were hollow.
“Are you scared?” Keith asked.
An urgent message in the middle of the night should be scary. But did he feel scared?
Lance felt nothing but numb. Limbs that curled and shook with pleasure not ten minutes before sat limp. He allowed Keith to soothe a nonexistent anxiety via kisses and roaming fingers.
Veronica. Back in town and seeking him. The thought thrummed through his veins in time with his pulse.
Veronica, who had an ‘urgent message’ to share at eleven P.M. on a weeknight. He’d seen enough movies in his life to know urgent midnight calls were never good news.
“Lance?” Keith asked. Lance nuzzled into his neck. “You with me? We need to go get dressed. It’s going to be a long drive.”
Lance pulled away and mustered a bitter smile.
“It’s going to be a long night.”
God, was it ever.