It is a strange thing, to pledge allegiance to a serpent. It is to admit a certain fondness for poison, a taste for that which burns and blackens. A taste for ash. A fire of the soul.
Miguel's soul is lost. Lost to this keen-eyed boy, whose mouth is as soft as a demon's, and whose tongue is as forked. Cesare loves him, yes, but Miguel knows better than to believe that this shelters him; Cesare's love is more dangerous than his enmity, more devouring, more complete. None can survive it. Miguel knows that he won't.
For Cesare is smooth, as a serpent is smooth, and only at his hands do his sword-calluses roughen, and whisper, like scales, over Miguel's skin.
"It's been two hours," says Cesare, above him, still moving, still riding him, slowly, as if Miguel were his stallion on a long journey across the planes. Certainly, there are hot summers and blazing horizons, here; Miguel can do nothing but ache and endure them. "You must be thirsty."
Yes. No. "Please," says Miguel, because he has to, because Cesare wants him to.
Cesare's eyes are slitted, heavy-lidded, when he pulls out his dagger. It's a gleaming curve in the firelight, a serpent's fang. Cesare draws it across himself, across his own sweat-slicked chest, and gasps as the blade gathers blood. That his hand is still steady is an insult; that the cut is shallow, but might not have been, is a terror. To harm that body - that precious body, that Miguel has protected for so long, and that Cesare so carelessly endangers -
"Please - " Miguel's hips buck, despite himself, and Cesare laughs. Softly. And sinks down upon him, and rises, and sinks down again. Miguel stares up at him, panting, blinded.
"Oh, you are thirsty. Well, then," he says, brings the flat of the blade to Miguel's mouth, so that Miguel can taste him on it, dark-tinged and coppery, poisonous and sweet. "Drink."