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Incarnadine and Sweet

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Another rainy morning, another humid night. Springtime finds Alternia in shades of mauve and purple as the pink moon nears the planet- it’s the second lunar perigee of the sweep.  

In a bush under the windowsill, the tiniest little black bird you’ve ever seen is hopping from branch to branch, picking off berries and dead leaves with his beak and dropping them on the ground. As he jumps around, drops of rainwater are flung up and around from the branches, soaking him. He puffs up impressively, an iridescent black cotton ball, as he shakes the rain off of his back. You watch, captivated in the way only someone very sleepy can be, as the water sparkles in the light of the moons and his feathers shine alongside it, shimmering copper and bright beetle green and shiny solid black at you from the bushes. The toaster beeps at you, breaking your thoughts.

Marvus’s grub toast shakes a leg at you menacingly from within the toaster. He told you once that the best part of the bugs and beetles that all trolls apparently eat is the exoskeleton (“crunchy!” he said around a mouthful of beetles right into your ear- you shudder at the memory). Unfortunately, that means he gets the “extra limbs” style grub bread every time, despite your protests, and you have to get a hold of Skylla to see if she can send you that recipe for vegetarian grubbread again. You butter his toast, then your own before adding your favorite jam- apricot and amaretto. This one sparkles with edible gold leaf blended through it. Marvus is such a boujee bitch, you think to yourself with a smile. But you know he only really buys real food when he knows you’re coming around. Maybe the boujee bitch is you.

The unmistakable sound of fabric rubbing on expensive fabric catches your attention. Ah, you were sort of hoping you could just… tune that out. At the table, Marvus is going over his 70 different fabric swatches for what must be the hundredth time, making piles according to his taste in color combinations. You point to one pile- green and black and purple with white and black fur. He shakes his head, moving the purple swatch to a different pile. After arguing over the color of one particular swatch for over an hour last time, the both of you conceded that maybe trolls and humans have different color vision. Although, to be honest, there’s no way you’re going to concede that a man who regularly dresses in purple, pink, and highlighter yellow has better color vision than you.     

You stare at him for a moment, studying his profile. His eyes are bright with smiling. He’s lost his ramrod straight posture as he relaxes in his own hive for the first time in about two weeks, tilting his head slightly as he contemplates the different color piles he has. He moves a deep turquoise swatch over to a pile with lavender, navy, and white. He catches you staring, turning to face you in ¾ view, and then he does that thing he does where he raises his eyebrow at you and smirks and you raise your eyebrows back at him then he wiggles both of his… it’s a whole process, but it’s got you laughing like he always does.

You move to stand behind him, reaching around in front of him to place his toast down on the table, carefully away from his project. The first pass of your hands through his hair rewards you with a deep, content hum from the center of his chest. You run your hands over his swoopy bangs, pulling all of his hair back off of his chest and face. He has a little paint in his hairline, and you deftly remove it- it’s gone dry a little, so it’s easy to rub out. Your monkey brain is going hog-wild, delighting in grooming him, and his insect brain seems content to relax as he finds safety and comfort under your hands, purring softly at you. You start making a few small braids, french braiding first between his horns, then twice more beside them, letting the rest of his hair fall loose beneath.

He leans back as you braid, staring at you, completely content. His features, usually meticulously composed for cameras and paparazzi, have slackened. His eyes are drooping, his smile is wide and secret, like he’s playing a joke on someone. You lean down to kiss his forehead, and when you pull away his eyes have closed.

“feels nice,” he starts, his fingers idly rubbing a polka dotted silk swatch between his thumb and forefinger.

“If you think it feels nice, just wait until you see what it looks like,” you say, starting a fishtail braid to frame his face. You can feel your smile forming on your face, and you do nothing to stymie its progress. It feels nice to be alone together, doing nothing, feeling no pressure from your outside lives.

“yeah? wats it look like?”

“Looks like shit,” you say. And it’s true, all of your braids are bumpy and uneven- it’s been a while since you’ve had a chance to play with his hair- your fingers are stiff and clumsy from lack of practice. But Marvus laughs and laughs, his breath disturbing the tidy piles of fabric on the table.

“ay yo…” he starts again, turning his chair around to fully face you, and really he’s the only person in the world who can sound shy while saying that. “i got to thinkin- u got met gala on ur planet?”

There’s no way trolls have met gala. Or at least, there’s no way it’s comparable to the one you used to see on earth. You tell him as much.

“oh shizz haha! i could be down for human metropolislam gala,” he claps his hands in front of him, apparently delighted. Then he makes a skeptical expression, tilting his head at you, confused.

“who y’all kill for the ritual sacrifice tho?” And there go your suspicions, confirmed.

After explaining a few cultural differences (turns out, met gala on this planet is a religious event; posed as if to fund artists in theory, the money exchanges hands until someone from the church grabs a hold of it- that explains where the funding for all of the parties they hold for their religious holidays comes from), Marvus gets all bashful again.

“soooo… u comin w me? i got a +1,” he seems caught up in his fabric again, captivated by one deep emerald green silk swatch and the tans and silvers of sable fur.

Images flood your brain- the loud murmurs of a large crowd, flashing lights and people talking over you. Topics and gossip so uninteresting and petty that you wouldn’t have anything to say, nor would you want to. You get a headache just thinking about it.

“Sorry Marvy, but I think I’ll have to pass,” you flash him what you hope is a very sheepish, guilty smile as you tuck away one braid that’s managed to stray from behind his ear. You’re certain he’ll understand- after all, even he gets sick of his celebrity every so often. You think back to the times where he kicks off his shoes, leaning his weight on you as you lead him to the couch. You know he loves his life as a celebrity, but you also know he loves coming home from it. You lean in with another little apologetic kiss to his forehead.

Once you pull away, his whole body deflates in a deep, shuddering sigh, ghibli style. His smile hasn’t left his face, but it has left his eyes- save for that, you might have almost mistook his sigh for laughter. He drops his fabric swatches, and he drops his gaze. You swear even his hair looks flatter, something you would have never thought possible.

You watch with horror as he brings his hand up to rub at his eyes. He looks so small, suddenly, so hurt, with his shoulders all hunched and his body all curled in on itself. You really took the wind out of his sails.

“listen, im tryna share my life w u,” he starts. As he meets your gaze, you’re startled to find that he’s abandoned his attempted smile in favor of letting his frustration bleed through. He’s clearly upset- the yellow of his eyes looks dull, like a light that’s close to blowing. You nod, swallowing around your anxiety. You like sharing your life with him too!

“okayy but how tf u think it feels when u only act interested in half of it b?” he sighs, running his hand through his hair as he pauses to find the right words. “im more than jus the guy u sit on da couch w. im proud of my accomplishments. i worked hard for this shizz- i really want u there.” He grabs you by the hands, sincere, rubbing the back of your thumb with his.

You squeeze his hands in yours, looking for courage. You think of a thousand things to say, all fluttering around in a flurry in your mind. How you’re afraid of how quickly he pulls you in with a sharp smile and a single word. How you worry about fitting into his life, not grand enough to withstand the test of the paparazzi and his tight, hectic schedule. How truly and fully you love him and how badly you want this to work out.

But in the end, your thoughts are racing to quickly to catch hold of. You bluster out a weak I’m sorry, promising yourself that you’re going to bring these issues up to him, once you find the words.

“yeah, uh… bet,” he says, standing. He drops your hands, not unkindly but without the warmth he usually reserves for you. “i gotta meet with my costume designer.”

He leaves you at his kitchen table. He hasn’t even touched his toast.

You really fucked that one up.

“Well, what were you expectinge, with a reactionne like that?” Remele, as always, is exactly as blunt as you need her to be.

“Not juste anybody gets an invite to metropolislamme gala- holde still, please, tilte your head left juste a little more… Perfect!” You’ve been sitting with your head in your palm, elbow on the table in Remele’s studio apartment for a good part of two hours now, doing your best to convey vulnerability, but also wisdom, whatever that looks like. Your neck and shoulders are getting stiff from keeping still. The moons are shining through the skylights above you, and the bright light immediately around you makes the corner where she’s standing look foreboding and dangerously dark.

“I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I was just hoping he would understand where I was coming from,” she uses the handle of her brush to gesture left, and you move your head back into position. “Can’t all clowns read minds or something?” you ask her with a wry smile.

She grimaces as you say the word ‘clown,’ but she holds her tongue, thankfully, laughing a bit at your glib joke.

You let out a sigh, she makes a motion with the handle of her brush again, this time up and down, and you sit up a little straighter.

“I really don’t want to go,” you’re whining now, and you know it, but she takes it in stride. She steps back from her painting, studying. Then her eyes travel up to you, taking in your expression with such an earnest gaze that the room feels about ten degrees hotter.

“Sometimes…” she starts, making a few quick, editory strokes on her canvas. “...having a matesprit, or any quadrante, really…” she licks her thumb and strokes away a stray glob of paint, “...means meetinge in the middle, even if you really don’t want to.” She mimics your whine, teasing.

She steps away from her painting a final time, taking it all in. Apparently satisfied, she steps away completely, bringing a glass of water over to you as you finally, finally lift your arms above your head in a stretch.

She’s right, of course she is. You sigh.

“Think you can teach me some tricks for not making an ass of myself on camera?” you ask her. She laughs darkly, apparently aware of the last time you were caught on camera. She steals a little sip of your water before she grabs your hand, stroking the back of it before lacing her fingers with yours. She leaves behind a little smear of brown and yellow paint.

Quirking an eyebrow at you, she leans in conspiratorially.

“What if I tolde you I could sweeten the deale?” she asks in a low whisper. She moves away from you again, reaching behind her for her purse, all while managing to keep her hold on your hand. From inside she pulls out two… they look like elongated floppy disks, but thinner. You recognize them instantly.

“You got invited too?” you ask her, a smile forming on your face despite your surprise.

“Oh no,” she hides her smile behind her hand, coquettish, “I stole them.”

And she laughs, as bright and clear as a bell.

It ends up being Tagora who manages to fully convince you to join Remele and Marvus.

You start your night with him with a bath as he finishes up what he calls ‘the most boring legal case you can get involving a clown and a hentai addicted psionic.’ You ask him what the punchline is and it turns out there is none- it’s all paperwork and faxing the high church, which is always ‘a huge ordeal’ considering ‘most adult clowns can barely operate their own husktops.’ He sips a dainty sip of his decaf espresso from a tiny cup as if to punctuate his sentence, grimacing a bit from the bitter taste of it. God, you missed Tagora.

But there’s good money in this case, and you know he would be hard pressed to pass up the opportunity to further his career like this. And, more importantly, to line his pockets as impressively as this. In fact, the figure he quotes at you is so astronomical that you wonder if maybe he set this all up. But the smirk he gives you reveals nothing.

Tagora lets you soak in the tub as long as you need to in order to soothe your nerves, to think things through. It turns out to be exactly what you need- the warmth of the bath water soothing your tense muscles, the distant measured tick-tacking of his manicured nails against his keyboard as he types away lulling your eyes shut. How lucky are you, that all of your friends are so smart and intuitive.

Marvus texts you as you’re drifting off, not quite asleep.

i no u dont want to join me here, but the invitation still stands, he texts you. Then, either way meet me back @ my hive 2nite, i got a surprise for u ;o)

You aren’t sure if it’s just your guilt speaking, but he seems a little distant. As if to make up for it, you send him a very suggestive picture of you in the bath, and he responds with a little gif of him fanning his face, his hand over his heart, before making a “praise be” sort of gesture.

And just like that, your night is looking a little better. You have a surprise for him, too, you think with a little smirk.

When you’re finally finished with your bath and all dry, Tagora joins you in the bathroom, slathering lotion on your skin, filing your nails, and gossiping about his fellow legislacerators. Apparently, Stelsa and Tyzias are in the process of getting quadrant-signed, it’s the latest talk of the office. He even ends up mustering up the courage to show you texts from Galekh, asking your opinion about their quadrant situation (you’re pretty sure he isn’t vacillating, but Tagora isn’t always great at physical intimacy and so he tends to read every touch as much more flushed than he probably needs to). It’s nice to get lost in somebody else’s drama for once.

You make a point to let Tagora know that you’re going with Remele, and explicitly tell Remele that Tagora is helping you get ready. You know that both of them are incapable of mixing business and pleasure, so you speak kindly of them, shutting down any barbs they may make in reference to one another. If you had kept your respective friendships a secret from them, the resulting cat fight, while potentially hilarious, would destroy a cornerstone of your friend group. You do your best to explain why you’ve managed to stay friends with the both of them, and how maybe they are a little similar. You’re pretty sure trolls might call this a fledgling auspisticism, but you are still figuring out the intricacies of black romance.

He goes quiet as he helps you with your makeup. This feels very intimate to you, mirroring exactly what you might be doing with Marvus, had you decided to go with him tonight. You suppress your blush, promising Tagora that you won’t spare him any of the gossip. You help yourself into your clothes, although Tagora is close underfoot, helping you with zippers and buttons. If this is a romantic relationship, you decide that Tagora is maybe a little clingy. Damn, maybe you should be working on your romantic communication skills.

You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror- Tagora has really outdone himself this time. Your face is immaculate, dewy and clean from both your bath and his expensive crush cosmetics. Your lips are painted black, fading to a dark, subtle purple as you near the center- it’s suggestive without being crass. He’s used meticulously cut and shaped beetle wings to make your cateye, sparkling shades of green and gold and muted pink- he’s really a master, the iridescence is going to look brilliant under the many lights of the gala.

“Ready for the finishing touch?” Tagora asks you, clearly excited. And suddenly, you can’t wait to go.

Arriving at Metropolislam Gala is exactly as disorienting as you’d expected it to be. Before you even enter, trolls everywhere are flashing pictures of you, vying for your attention. You do your best to turn your patented squint-and-grimace technique into a smirk. There’s no getting around this- as an alien, you were bound to be the focus of a lot of attention tonight. You think back to your private joke you set up with Tagora- your smile turns genuine, excited to see the outcome.

Remele finds you moments later, a vision in blue and yellow. Her pantsuit is impeccably tailored, the cerulean pinstripes against black subtly broadening her shoulders and highlighting the straight, strong lines of her legs. Her yellow waistcoat is so bright and clean that it’s nearly as blinding as the flash of the cameras, and her knock-off Trollouboutins are so close to the real thing that you’re nearly convinced that you might have imagined her joining you at your hive, lacquering the bottoms of her heels herself while she shared some hilariously over the top indie films.

She oohs and aahs at your look, perhaps she’s even being genuine. You really aren’t on the up and up regarding troll fashion, so you decided to dick around and have as much fun as possible. You’re pretty sure that’s one of the core tenants of clown church anyway.

You know precisely jack shit about high fashion, so you really let your mind go wild with the stupid nonsense. Around your shoulders you’re wearing a feathered capelet fastened with a green silk ribbon. The feathers are arranged in a rainbow; your human mind says gay rights and the troll culture part of your mind says lowblood rights- it’s truly a double whammy. You let her spin you- the hidden false diamonds fly out with the force of your spin, sparkling and shimmering on a hidden sort of wire skirt as they catch the light, then wrapping around your legs as the momentum carries them around.

As you’d expected, you are supremely bored by this event. Most of your time is spent warding off curious trolls, and skillfully avoiding the topic of quadrants while doing your best to stay out of sight. Remele guides you around, poking fun at some trolls wearing some truly bizarre things (there’s one dude who wrapped himself in so much satin and tulle that he looks like a rolled up Turkish carpet), and gossiping a bit about some others (one of the empress’s hired muscle is here- Remele tells you all about how they’re working so hard to break out of the mold of ‘dumb muscle’ and into the ‘deep poet’ niche. You watch them stumble over their own feet and right into the bartender.)

Inevitably, some tabloid reporter asks about your anatomy, and it’s not tasteful. Thank fuck you have Remele by your side- she's prepared for this. Immediately, she steals your spotlight by taking off her suit jacket, inverting it as she spins around and lets it fall into place as a cute little peplum over her trousers. She practiced that for four full hours at her hive earlier in the week, and it was well worth it. Even though you’ve seen this a few hundred times already, the effect is is astonishing- she goes from androgynously masculine to androgynously feminine, not in dress but demeanor. All eyes are on her- the graceful sway of her movements, the muscle of her now exposed arms- and the excited murmur as trolls notice she really isn’t wearing anything under her vest- the bashful, well practiced smile at the hoards of trolls now facing her way. This is going to be great exposure for her work.

Unfortunately, you’re now alone at this venue as she hams it up for the cameras. It’s a small price to pay- without her by your side, you easily slip away, unnoticed. You decide that this might be a good time to look for Marvus.

Spending over 10 hours looking at hundreds of different fabric swatches turns out to have been well worth the time. Marvus is resplendent in his cloth of gold cape. You enjoy watching him from afar, taking everything in.

He’s very comfortable in front of a camera- his posture straight and proud, hands folded on top of his cane-sword. You give him a nice, full once over- it’s easier since you know he hasn’t seen you yet. A little thrill starts in your heart as you recognize his hairstyle- it’s a tidy version of the one you clumsily attempted to braid in his hair a few nights prior.

His cape is embroidered with religious themes- two cherubs on each side. The one on his right, with the green cheeks, is holding the riddle box. She has one hand tight over the lid, her eyes closed in a peaceful bliss. The faded question mark is lovingly embroidered onto the riddle box with bright red thread. On his left, a cherub with red cheeks and a mischievous expression is turning the crank of, presumably, the same riddle box. A light, purple and lime green fog seeps out from under the lid, embroidered with great care in large, sweeping spirals. Holding his cape together under his throat are pins of Jake and Jack, the Jeckel brothers, connected by the chain of hearts they juggle.

He moves a bit, and the movement of fabric catches your eye. A long, black skirt trails behind him, made of fabric that looks so expensive that you almost feel obligated to pay for the privilege of seeing it. It’s slitted up the side- and really the slit is cut high enough to be considered ‘a little risque’ on him and ‘distasteful’ on anyone else. There’s not much else about the skirt that makes it special besides the fact that he’s wearing it, and he’s wearing it well, moving in such a way that brings the fabric to life like ink made sentient.

He turns, presumably to show off his leg, and you catch a full view of the back of his cape. Embroidered in bright, bold colors is a depiction of the carnival of carnage. The thread is fraying, by design- it looks completely ravaged and deranged. You smile as you realize that the two of you match a little- the rainbow of your feathers and the rainbow of his frayed threads, his cape and your smaller capelet.

Tying his outfit together are, regrettably, a pair of gucci slides. It’s so very Marvus that you snort in an attempt to stop yourself from laughing out loud.

He turns immediately, recognizing the sound of you. Once he catches sight of you (and, check this out, you get to be the one leaning all cool guy style against a pillar with your arms crossed lax against your chest, completely smitten), his posture gets impossibly straighter. He grows taller as he bounces on the balls of his feet- you’re surprised he hasn’t made a run for you.

You saunter slowly towards him, putting on a show for the cameras, but also for him. He holds his arms open wide, smiling like you’ve never seen him smile, blissful and excited, his eyebrows drawing up towards each other like palms in prayer. The yellows of his eyes are bright and wet with emotion. You walk into his arms, and embrace him in full view of hundreds of trolls.

And he dips you.

And he kisses you full on the mouth.

Marvus’s hive is blessedly cool and quiet, save for his hands grasping your arms and his gasps in your hair.

You kiss him at the hollow of his throat, quirking your fingers forward a little in his nook and earning another sort of sharp exhale-turned-relieved laughter. He’s abandoned his cape in favor of wearing yours (and he was just wearing a tank top under his cape this whole time, that hack), and the ribbon tickles at your nose.

You sneeze loudly into his chest, and he laughs even more.

“dam i almost forgot- hey c’mon now!” you keep his laugh going by nipping lightly at his jaw.

“i actually got a surprise for u and u wont even let me give it 2 u.” He pouts, but the effect is lost when you see the smile in his eyes. It’s a really bizarre expression and it’s got you snorting with laughter, which makes him laugh again, grabbing you playfully by the shoulder.

“I’m the one that’s giving it to you though?” you tease him with a suggestive quirk of your brow. You wiggle your fingers a little in his nook to illustrate your point, and he makes a quiet noise of surprise like he forgot they were there. He pulls you out of him, taking a hold of both of your wrists, before opening your palms and kissing you there.

He pulls you further into his hive, although the route he takes isn’t to his bedroom.

“Where are we going?” you ask him, but he shushes you, bringing up a finger to boop at your nose.

You end up in… one of his living rooms? This one is suspiciously empty- you see an outline in the wall where a tv must be hiding, and you nearly fall and bust your ass- he’s got one of those couches that are set in the ground encircling a large, smooth stone table. You notice the looming speakers in every corner- this would be a killer spot for your next movie night. You make note of this for later.

The huge windows on the back wall show off a breathtaking view of the night sky above the cliff side. The beach grass at the edge sways peacefully in the ocean breeze. You watch the river of water that winds around his house cascade right off of the edge, fogging a bit in the humid heat of the springtime early morning.

It’s that obscure hour between moonset and sunrise, the whole world has gone blue and lavender. Trolls call this the sapphire hour- it’s the darkest part of the day/night cycle. Where the moons are slowly dipping sleepily below the horizon, all of the stars are still shining proud, bright and brilliant.

Marvus sneaks up behind you, wrapping his arms around your waist and resting his chin on your head.

“check it- great milenkos out 2nite lol,” he points to a cluster of stars. You don’t see it, so he moves over the the windows, using his breath to fog the glass and tracing some sort of shape into the condensation. He maneuvers you until you finally see it. Like all constellations, it’s abstract, but you can kind of make out a tall skinny dude wearing a big hat, his hand beckoning.

Marvus gives you a jist of the lore- The Great Milenko has powerful chucklevoodoos. He’s supposed to tempt you into sin with some sort of powerful illusion that shows you the worst bits and pieces of yourself. Also he can bring back the dead? Something like that. Marvus tells you that the story is a reminder to stay humble, and the power that your own decisions have.

Sometimes you forget that he’s devout.

The story strikes you. You have your own decision to make.

“Hey,” you say, somber as you turn to face him. He grabs your hands, a show of support.

“I’m sorry I get so caught up in my thoughts the way I do,” you’re staring straight at his chest. It takes all of your willpower to look up and meet his eyes, but you do. Because it’s good and because it’s right.

He’s smiling indulgently down at you, patient. So you gather your thoughts, taking a moment to breathe.

“I’m proud of you,” you continue. “But sometimes I worry that I don’t fit into your life.”

“if u didnt fit u wouldnt still b here babe,” he frowns a little, but it’s a kind sort of frown, wrought and twisted with a little bit of confusion, a little bit of concern.

“And sometimes I’m afraid that I fell for you too fast,” you blunder forward, making sure you’re saying everything you need to say.

“we could slow down if you want,” he makes a weird motion with his face, like he was going to wink at you but he stopped himself. The motion warms your heart- sometimes you forget he only knows as much about you and your species as you’ve told him. You can tell that he’s trying very hard to make this work, just like you are. You turn one of his palms up in your hand, tracing the lines in his skin with your finger.

He’s still wearing your capelet, looking silly all puffed up around his shoulders. You bring your hands to his throat, undoing the bow and letting it slip off his shoulders. It’s very loud when it hits the ground, the material and mass of feathers heavy enough that all of the feathers sort of crunch against the hardwood floors. It’s loud enough to startle him. He jumps forward into you, and you, unprepared for this turn of events, stumble back, losing your balance.

In an attempt to catch you, he barrels forward, arms outstretched, a comedic exaggeration of “oh shit” lighting up his face. You aren’t helping, breathless with laughter and tears blurring your vision. You stumble backwards together, the fall of your feet bringing him off balance, his anxious attempts to catch you throwing you off balance in turn.

In the end, he does manage to maneuver you safely onto the couch. For all that the cushions are plush, the breath is knocked out of you as you finally land, back first.

Marvus lands on top of you, the comedy of the situation catching up to him as he joins you in laughter.

“You’re silly,” you say, right as he says “I love you.” He kisses your fingertips as he hovers above you, some of his braids coming undone, strands of his hair framing his face.

“I love you too,” you reply. “Do I get my surprise now?” Maybe emotional intimacy isn’t your strong suit after all. Well, never let it be said that you don’t try.

But he doesn’t seem to mind, sitting up with the slow, powerful grace of a dancer. He moves to kneel on the table- it looks uncomfortable, that table is pretty solid and you know from experience that Marvus has very knobbly knees. You’re suddenly very grateful that he took his gucci slides off at the door. Even though the look was Marvus through and through, those slides were just... so awful, really ugly.

With his back to you, he tosses his hair over his left shoulder, glancing over his right briefly to see if he has your attention. You sit up a little straighter on the couch to show your interest. He takes his shirt off, and it’s kind of a process, getting stuck on one horn. But he shucks it to the side, uncaring.

In an amazing feat of flexibility, he brings one hand between his shoulder blades, holding the top of the skirt steady- you’re surprised at how high waisted it is, nearly a dress. He brings his other hand back from around his waist, slowly undoing the zipper. Wow.

“Wow,” you say from the couch. He smirks at you from over his shoulder again, clearly proud of his own ability.  You really can’t help yourself- you rub a small bit of the fabric tentatively between two fingers. You notice the subtle polka dot pattern embossed in the fabric, shining with hundreds of muted colors. It’s amazing, you can feel your wallet draining even from here.

He slides onto his chest as he removes the skirt, the teeth of the zipper dragging across his skin as he pulls it down and off. He lets it pool around him, the soft susurrus somehow sensual among the sounds of the running water outside and the slide of his body on the table.

He’s a vision, slowly rising on the table, his hands in front of him, his back slightly arched. Around his knees, the fabric pools around him like he’s managed to capture a piece of starry sky, black as pitch and smoother than ice. Bringing your eyes up, you take in the fact that he’s wearing stockings (should you call them flesh toned? They’re gray), held up by a deep red and gold garterbelt. The lace frames his hips as if it were a part of him, something delicate and secret he keeps close against his skin. As you finally take him in, all of him, you notice him tying up his hair, smirking at you and completely smug. It’s not an unattractive look.

“You’re good at, uh, wearing clothes,” Hmm… that’s not what you meant to say. You shake your head a little bit, trying to clear your thoughts as you let out an embarrassed laugh.

“You look too good, you got me tongue tied,” he moves forward, lowering his eyes at you.

He seats himself slowly into your lap, grabbing a hold of your shoulders. Grabbing your hand, he guides you to the bare skin of his thigh. Your fingers trail over him, catching a bit in the hair there, before you find the elastic band of the garterbelt. In your lap, Marvus moves back a little, just enough to wink at you, setting you at ease. There’s no need to be nervous- you know Marvus, and you know him well.

“You wear your clothes well,” you amend, whispering against his neck before kissing him chastely at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. And you snap the elastic against his skin of his thigh.

He laughs low in his throat, smiling with all teeth, eyes hazy but intense as he leans a hand against your knee for balance. With his free hand, he reaches back to grab you by the head, pulling your face under his jaw. You press open mouthed kisses there as he grinds against you, making the smallest moans and relieved exhales. You feel the vibrations of the sounds he’s making against your lips as you kiss lower, against the column of his throat, and you finally bite him. Your teeth aren’t sharp enough to break the skin, but he presses his whole body back against yours in reaction, searching for more of your heat, more pressure to grind against.

You bring one hand between his shoulders, pulling him flush against you. You trail slow, sleepy kisses against his sternum. And he sighs, content.

And for the first time this week, you get it.

The buzzing of your phone wakes you from your peaceful slumber.

Marvus hums beside you, drawing you closer into his hold. Messiahs, but this couch is comfortable. Or maybe it's just him. You’re a little upset that he never brought you here before.

Your phone, right. You stand up, letting the blanket drop from your bare shoulders. The windows that you spent so much time in front of have tinted in the light of the sun. You can barely make out the steam rising from the river, the grass wilting under the rays as the central succulents bloom.

You check your messages- both Remele and Tagora have tagged you in a few pictures on chittr. Your heart stills in your chest, before you remember that you went to some big celebrity event last night. Aw, man, you missed the ritual sacrifice.

You go through the all of the pictures of you, a slow smile waking on your face. Your plot with Tagora was a resounding success. With the rainbow drinker serum on your skin, you are so incandescent and bright that you can’t make out any of your features, save for in one photo.

It’s a picture of you and Marvus, his hair spilling all along the left side of him. He’s dipping you, the shadow of his looming figure dark enough to let some of your features shine through. His mouth draws near as if to kiss you, but you remember him laughing, delighted, against your cheek instead.

And, despite the fact that the serum is on your skin, Marvus shines brighter than the setting sun.