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Mating Rituals

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Eames startles, roused to wakefulness but unsure why. Unsure, for one horrible moment, of where he is. The warm weight of Arthur’s arm slung across his chest grounds him more surely than a totem and his racing heart begins to settle.

From their snug nest of sleeping bags Eames searches the Vermont night beyond newly raised timbers. Nothing stirs. He takes in the familiar balsam and sandalwood of Arthur’s shampoo, the murmur of the nearby river. He’s dozing off again when an unearthly bellow spooks him back to alertness.

The arm around him tightens. “S’just an elk,” Arthur says, shifting closer and nuzzling into his shoulder.

“Bloody hell, that’s a desolate sound.” Eames is not quite sure he believes that noise came from anything terrestrial but Arthur tends to be right about these things.

“He’s lonely,” Arthur mumbles, “…looking for a mate.”

“Well, tell him you’re already taken, hmm?”

Arthur expels a breathy laugh against Eames’ neck, “Gonna fight a gay elk for me, Eames?”

Eames twines his fingers with Arthur’s and runs his thumb over the simple band: smooth and cool, still new enough to thrill.

“I’ll battle a whole herd of gay elk for you, pet.” Eames, trying for flippant, hits terribly earnest instead.

“Be still my heart,” Arthur says around a yawn and slides back into sleep.

Eames holds him close, curled together on the stone foundation of the home that will be wholly theirs, unlike others spaces that were first his or Arthur’s. He picks out half-remembered constellations through the frame of reclaimed fir beams and joists, timbers Arthur spent months hunting down. Despite the drowsy predawn peace, Eames knows he would fight the entire sodding world to preserve his place here, at Arthur’s side.

Though he rather hopes the damned elk stay the fuck away.