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When Lightning Meets the Ground

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My mission comes in fragmented pieces, in the kind of blazing flashes that light up the dim, shadowed memories that usually make up my dreams. The first one drags me to the edge of consciousness, where I can feel myself twisting in the sheets, feel the uncomfortable sweat dampening them and lingering on his skin, and dimly see the blur of the wooden ceiling as my eyelids flicker. All of it through a haze of sleep I can’t shake off.

There’s a vivid glimpse of olive skin, shining under the sun, that makes cold sweep down my arms. Another of black hair, lifting in the wind with the clouds behind it and the base of the streak of white in my hair goes so cold my scalp burns. There’s a face with crystal blue eyes and a joyful smile, and I can hear myself cry out, feel my back bend into an arch that lifts me a few inches off the bed.

Skin, smile, eyes, and the cold is spreading underneath my skin from the inside out, my breath coming short and sharp but not giving warmth to any of my limbs.

The blue eyes in my mind close, and I jerk awake, my head twisted in against the bed, fingers tangled tight enough in the sheets to ache when I force them to let go and try to control the rapid gasps of my breathing. I can’t help but shiver, bringing my arms in so I can wrap them around my chest, rubbing my upper arms to try and force heat back into them. It only sort of works; there’s a lingering chill deep under my skin that I know will only fade with time. The best I can do until then is try and ignore it.

I roll out of the bed, spitting out a curse when it turns out that my leg is caught in the sheets and I almost crash to the floor before catching myself on the edge of the bed. I straighten up once I’ve freed myself, grimacing at the feeling of sweat, clammy against the skin of my low back. I have to resist the urge to light a fire, even though the idea of flames sounds like a lovely way to try and banish the cold inside me. Which I have tried, and it doesn’t work, so it’s better not to even waste the effort.

The touch of a god always comes with pain; this could be much worse. Has been worse.

There’s a pull in my chest, like a hand curled in around my soul that’s tugging with every beat of my heart, and I follow the direction it’s guiding me as I turn. To stare at a wall. Of course. The pull’s never as specific as useful guidance, it’s just a direction. That’s led to me getting stuck behind walls and a mountain on one occasion, which was fun.

I roll my eyes, and try my best to ignore the insistent pull as I gather my things from the room. It’s the middle of the night, but when a god sends you on a job you don’t just wait till morning to go. Especially not when the only reason you’re still alive is because that god dragged you out of your own grave to serve him. I’ve never tested how far my leash goes, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. Being sent off to kill someone once a month or so, in exchange for getting a second chance at life, is worth it as far as I’m concerned.

There are a lot of other little benefits of being god-touched, but not being dead is a great one.

I head downstairs once all packed and dressed, pack slung over one shoulder and cloak heavy on my shoulders. The man watching the inn — not the owner; maybe an assistant — barely blinks an eye at my abrupt departure, which I’m kind of thankful for even though I keep my mouth shut and don’t say anything. Some people get the whole ‘god’s servant’ thing, and some don’t. And then some start asking which god, and things just get awkward from there.

Most people don’t like to know that — whatever name they call him or her — one of the god of death’s servants is around them. At best I get suspicious looks or outright fear. At worst, I’ve been run out of town a couple of times with a lot of shouting people on my tail. Some with arrows; it stung in more ways then just emotional.

I follow the pull in my chest to head out of the small town, ignoring the darkness and letting my mind linger on the man that was shown to me as I walk. The visions come to my mind’s eye as sharp and clear as if he’s right in front of me, and I study the face and skin of my target. Nothing special, as far as I can see. Handsome, even beautiful, but not the eerie perfectness of some fae, and no strange traits to mark him as something supernatural. No odd eye or hair color, no tattoos or markings as far as the vision shows (not that it shows much), and no light or shadow to his edges. Just a normal human, apparently, but I’ll keep my mind open. The visions sent to me have failed to show important information before. That wasn’t fun either.

It’s habit to just keep walking for the rest of the night, letting the pull guide me where it wants to, and not caring when it leads me off the road and into the woods. I’ve got pretty much nothing to fear from anything in the forest, since most of the animals and beasts can sense who I belong to and tend to take care to avoid me. It’s pretty much just humans, or humanoids, who can’t, which is lucky since those are the ones who have the mob mentality issues and are most likely to attack me if they could. The things most humans fear in woods like these will sense what I am and look for easier, tastier prey. From what I understand I’ve got a nasty aftertaste, and dumb to semi-intelligent animals can sense that I’ll be more fight than the meal is worth. Only something truly starving and desperate would go after me, and anything like that, I can handle.

The gifted endurance lets me just keep going until the sun rises, shining down through the trees and painting everything in dappled patterns of light and shadow. It’s weirdly surprising when the pull in my chest grows stronger, evolving from a light tug into a harder one as I go on. That means my target is close, and it’s strange for me to only be about half a day’s walk away from them. Usually I have to travel a couple days, sometimes up to a week, before finding the person I’ve been sent after.

By somewhere around midday the tug has grown into a breathtaking, uncomfortable yank of pressure every time my heart beats. I grit my teeth against it, but eventually have to pause to lean against a tree and raise a hand to rub my chest over my heart. It doesn’t do anything, and I knew it wouldn’t, but I can’t quite stop myself from trying to ease the feeling away.

“Are you alright?”

I know even before my head snaps up, and my gaze rises, what I’ll see. Blue eyes, olive skin, and black hair flash through my mind, and sure enough, the man from my vision looks back at me. The yanking feeling of my heart eases at the sight, calming back down to the gentle pull it started as. My next breath comes a little easier, and I disguise the sweep of my gaze down his frame to check for weapons as just dropping my gaze for a moment.

“Fine,” I answer, shoving a breath out as I shift the pack off my shoulder and drop it to the ground. “Just stopped to catch my breath.”

“You sure?” he asks, with obvious concern in his expression and his tone. “You look a little pale.”

Yeah, I’m a little pale, and I run a little cooler than normal, and frankly anyone who knows what they’re looking for can identify what I am by the white streak in my hair. Streaks like that are a pretty definitive mark of someone touched by a god. Most people just think I look a little bit unhealthy, but what they’re picking up on is the lingering effect of, well, death. My skin doesn’t really tan no matter how much sun I get, is the biggest part of it. If I really try I can make it tan enough to look normal, but it’s not really worth the effort. Most of the time I don’t mind looking a little bit off.

“Just my skin,” I brush off, straightening up a little and rolling my shoulders back to ease off the long walk. “I’m good; thanks, though.”

My target looks normal in person too, even if his clothes look a little bit light to be this far out in the woods. No cloak, only a small pack that can’t possibly have enough in it for more than a day or two, and boots that look well-worn, but not really like the good, thick ones you should have for traveling deeper in the woods and off of worn paths. Plus, the clothes he has on are just fabric, not leather, which seems a bit out of place.

The concern doesn’t go away, but my target does give a smile that mostly hides it. “Alright. Heading somewhere specific? I can probably point you in the right direction, if you want any help. I know this place can be pretty confusing if you’re not used to it.” Which implies that he is used to it.

I almost refuse, just on automatic, before the offer solidifies in my head. I force a small smile back, hoping it looks at least mostly natural. “Actually, that would be great. I’ve got this map,” I sink to one knee, dragging my pack in so I can open it up on the pretense of searching for the map I definitely don’t have, “but I think I got turned around at some point.”

He moves closer, expression turned friendly and expectant, and I find one of the blades in my pack by touch and wrap my hand around the hilt of it. A moment later and he’s in range.

I strike, yanking the blade from its sheath and the pack and slicing out at his gut. I get a single flash of widening blue eyes before he’s leaping back a whole lot faster than I would have given him credit for so I don’t hit anything but air. He’s resettling, light on his feet but still with wide eyes, and I push to my feet and swap my grip on the knife to a more comfortable one. His shock fades, eyes narrowing and mouth tightening as he drops his pack to the ground.

“Usually people don’t try to kill me without some kind of explanation…” He smiles, even though it’s tighter and definitely not friendly any more. “Or at least a name.”

There’s a ritualistic answer to that first question, but honestly I hate saying it. I hate how the words make me sound preachy, or like some kind of religious zealot, when I’m not. This is my equivalent of a job, and that’s it. I’m not passionate about it, it’s not the focus of my life, and if I could get away with not doing it, I would. So I stopped saying the ritual words a long time ago; ever since I figured out that I could and nothing bad would happen.

Instead, I offer him a small grin and just tell him, “You’re my target,” before I lunge forward.

He stands his ground, and then his left foot is sliding back a bit, shoulders curling, and he shrieks loud enough to startle me. Wings burst into view, expanding from what was definitely a bare back a moment ago, and I jerk to a halt, almost falling on my ass, as they spread out and rise.

They’re massive, with feathers midnight black as his hair with thin little crackles of blue sliding down them, sparking between them like lightning come out to play. I stare at the wings, my breath catching hard in my throat at the sheer beauty of them, and at the danger. His face seems sharper suddenly, a little smoother, blue eyes inhumanly brilliant and I realize too late that he’s gathering himself and leaping at me.

I slash out with my knife, but those wings lift and beat in the span of half a moment, propelling him up and over the slice. He comes down on top of me, boots slamming into my shoulders and driving me to my knees with his weight before the wings beat again and lift him away, buffeting me with enough air to make me squeeze my eyes shut to protect them from the lifted dirt and bits of old leaves. I spin around as soon as he’s off me, following his descent as I try and get back to my feet.

His back is to me as he lands, not more than four feet away, and I push forward off a single knee to try and take advantage. Which is when he spins, wings curling part way in but part way still leaves more than enough of their width for one to bash into my side and slam me to the forest floor. The knife gets knocked from my hand at the impact, along with the air in my lungs.

He’s moving, stepping over my sprawled form with those wings held up and they almost block all the light from reaching my eyes with how huge they are. I try to scramble back, and his mouth curls into a small smile that doesn’t reach his eyes.

Stay,” he orders, and both his hands lift. I see the danger in his sparking fingertips, but can’t get out of the way before they flick forward and little bolts of lightning snap into my chest.

I jerk, shoulders seizing as I try and gasp in air against the sting of the electricity. He sinks down into a crouch, wings brushing the ground as he tilts forward over me, a knee pressing down over one of my wrists and a hand grabbing my other wrist and pressing my arm down on top of my chest. I twist against the hold as soon as I have enough air to breathe, but there’s deceptive strength in his hands and it’s enough to keep me pinned without a real fight.

“You’re fae,” I growl out, holding his gaze, and he gives a smile that looks a bit more playful, but still doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Miss that when you took the job?” he mocks. “Who hired you?”

I bare my teeth instead of answering.

The hand on my wrist sparks, and I grit my teeth and jerk a bit at the spasm of electricity. “Who hired you?” he repeats, smile falling away.

I show my teeth again, and force a rough little laugh. “That all you got? Stings a bit.”

He echoes my laugh. “Well, you’re not so human either, are you? How about we start over then? Maybe something a little simpler?” His free hand comes forward, knuckles brushing my throat and then pressing my chin up a couple inches. “What’s your name?” he asks in a soft voice, and I can feel the pull of magic threading through my veins, feel the way my breath catches as I stare up into those brilliant, blue eyes.

I shake it off in the next moment, giving an irritated grumble and pulling a bit against his hold. “Jason. You haven’t got the power to glamour me so knock it off, fairy boy.” He smiles, not even reacting to the half an insult, and I wince when those threads of magic tug a bit. It’s not painful, just kind of uncomfortable and invasive feeling.

“You answered, didn’t you?” he points out. “Alright, Jason. What are you?”

The magic winds deeper, and I snarl at him. “Bite me. Get your damn magic out of my system before you run into something that’ll snap back.”

Instead of pulling back it spreads, and his eyes get brighter, more impossible, wings flaring out a bit as he leans down over and into me. My breath catches for reasons not at all related to his attempted persuasion. At this angle, my world is blanketed in the endless blackness of his wings, with the blue of his eyes staring down at me. He’s breathtaking. Not even in the otherworldly, beautiful way of most fae, but a way that feels more natural, more human.

Then he flinches, wings fluttering as he winces, pulling his hand away from my chin and shaking it like he’s been stung. His magic shrinks back as well, withdrawing to sit just beneath my skin instead of sinking deeper into my bones. I can feel the chill at my core, the power left in me by my god bridling at the touch of unfamiliar magic. I’d bet that he didn’t like encountering that at all.

“God-touched,” he says, with a smile and a small laugh. “Well, that explains things. So, if you’ve been sent to kill me, why? Why does your god want me dead, Jason?”

I snort. “No clue. You think he talks to me? I get a dream, I kill the person, and I get to go back to my life. You’re just another face in my head, fairy boy.”

“How flattering,” he says dryly, but he’s still smiling as he comments, “Left out some important details, don’t you think?” His free hand lowers to pull the tie for my cloak open, letting it fall loose to either side of my throat before his fingers brush along my skin. I suck in a breath at the sharp tingle of electricity on his nails, not enough to hurt but it does leave behind a little rush of heat that sinks down beneath my skin and lingers for a couple moments.

“Yeah,” I agree, “would have been good to know you were fae. Not the first time, honestly.”

“Sounds like a terrible person to work for.” His fingers are tracing patterns over the skin of my throat, and I swallow as they graze over my Adam’s apple, leaving behind that path of tingling warmth.

“I— I didn’t choose to.”

His head tilts to one side, peering down at me with a smile that looks distinctly fascinated. “And yet here you are trying to kill me.”

“It’s not personal. Just the job.” I twist the wrist trapped under his knee, and in retaliation the tingle in his fingers becomes a sharp zap that makes me flinch. But the heat that comes with it…

Maybe it’s the unfamiliar warmth, or the feeling of his magic lingering beneath my skin, or just the touch of skin to mine, but I find myself tilting my head back a couple inches, baring my throat to his touch. Which is a terrible idea, because fae are a notoriously untrustworthy group of people and I just tried to kill this one on top of that. He can do enough damage to me in this position even without me purposely making it easier. I’m pretty hard to kill — and keep dead — but a fae could probably manage it, with enough power behind them or a nasty enough drive to want me dead. Like this one might have.

“Do you want to make it personal?” he murmurs, finishing the sentence with another sharp little zap to the skin below my ear. My breath catches, and I twist my head away. He leans down a little further, wings flaring again so they block nearly all other view of the forest around us. “Do you like to play with danger, god-touched?”

His magic twists beneath my skin, and he smiles as it sharpens to heat, to the spark of electricity in my veins. Whatever words I had on my tongue slip away as I jerk, my back arching off the ground as far as it can against the press of the hand pinning my arm, a strangled groan making it through my teeth. It stings, it kind of hurts, but I feel warm and that’s a feeling I haven’t had in years, ever since my god dragged me up from my own grave and claimed me as his own.

A little pain is worth that feeling, as far as I’m concerned.

The electricity fades away, leaving my veins humming and still so hot beneath my skin. I have to take one deep breath before I can manage to say, “Yes.”

The smile I get definitely qualifies as dangerous. “Good,” the fae whispers, fingers trailing up to my jaw. “Then catch me if you can, god-touched.”

He shoves me down as his wings beat and he jumps, lifting into the air like he doesn't weigh anything at all. I scramble to my feet, staring up as he laughs, gaining height beneath the tops of the trees and spinning in dizzying loops. Suddenly, that flash of blue eyes and black hair against the background of thin air and clouds makes a lot more sense.

“Wait!” I call. “What’s your name?”

He stops spinning, but he doesn’t come down. He’s smiling, wide and joyful, keeping aloft with hard beats of those powerful wings, as he yells down, “Catch me and find out!”

Then he’s rocketing upwards, straight towards a thin gap in the roof of leaves above us. My breath catches, and I’m sure that he’s going to smack right into them, but then at the last moment those wings snap in against his back and he goes right through the narrow gap, vanishing from view. I can barely hear a snap and thud sound that must be him throwing them back out and taking off. I stare at the leaves, straining for a last glimpse of him but there’s nothing. No blackness, no laughter, no movement that isn’t just the leaves.

I can feel the pull in my chest again; harsh yanks that gentle into an easier tugging feeling. He’s moving fast. The heat is bleeding out of me, and I shiver a bit at the chill coming back to my skin. I was so used to it that I’d stopped even noticing it, but after that taste of warmth I’m hyper-aware of the feeling, hyper-aware of how it lit me up from beneath my skin and made me feel alive again. I crave more of it, I want it with an almost painful intensity, it joins that tug in my chest and I race for the fallen puddle of my cloak and pack.

I have to find him.

My hunter catches up with me again two weeks later, coming out of nowhere and the first sign I have of him is the touch of a hand to my shoulder. Before I can do more than open my mouth to gasp, and start to tense, it’s yanking me down and slamming me onto my back. A black shadow swings around and over my waist, and when I raise my hands to grab him, to let loose the lightning under my skin, sharp metal presses against my throat. I freeze up, and the man over me flips the hood of his cloak back with his free hand.

Pale skin, blue-green eyes, and a flash of white teeth that match the shock of white hair at his temple. He’s grinning, but his eyes are half wild in a way that speaks to me of animals and instinct. The light of the fire I was sitting on casts him mostly in shadow, but I can see the poised tension in his shoulders, and feel it in the press of knees in against either side of my waist.

Jason,” I breathe, with a smile. “You came back.”

“I’ve been set to hunt you,” he answers, his voice rough but almost whispered between us. “You—” He swallows, but the hand holding the blade to my throat is steady. “You owe me a name.”

I keep still, and I should feel threatened by the metal pinning me to the spot but I just don’t. “It’s Dick,” I answer instead, and then slowly raise my hand to touch the arm with the blade. “Are you going to claim my life, god-touched?”

He stares down at me, and I hold his gaze as I let my hand slide up his arm, fingers catching in the dark grey fabric. He doesn’t stop me from raising my hand all the way up to the side of his neck, or from lightly curling my fingers in the short strands of hair just behind and below his ear. He actually turns a bit towards my touch, eyes flicking closed for a moment as he breathes out through slightly parted lips, like just my touch affects him. I have to double check to make sure my lightning is contained within my skin, and it really is just my touch.

His eyes open again, and he shivers just a little bit before admitting, “I don’t know. You’re—” Another shiver, harder. “You’re my target. That should be all that matters.”

“Is it?” I ask, lifting my free hand as well so I can brush it over the back of the hand holding the blade to my throat. His skin is cool beneath my fingers, like he’s been in the wind and the dark of the night for hours, and it’s reminiscent of the chill that I felt at his core, the power of a god.

I watch Jason swallow, letting my eyes drop to his throat to follow the bob of his Adam’s apple. I want to follow it with my fingers too; I want to explore his skin and his reactions and the way he surrenders when I let some of my power out to play. Most humans don’t find anything but pain in the touch of my magic, and I’ve never met someone like Jason, who actively leaned into it. Who seemed to enjoy it when I got my hands on him before.

Acting on instinct, I lightly grip his hand with mine and pull. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he lets me pull the blade from my own throat and twist his hand off to the side, or that he doesn’t stop me from slipping the blade from his fingers and tossing it over to the side. He just stares as I lever myself up, bringing us close as I sit up in front of him. He shifts back about half an inch at the sudden proximity, but that’s not enough to stop me from sliding my hand around the back of his neck.

I smile, slow and soft because I can see in his eyes that Jason’s already given in.

So I shake my wings out of my back, letting out a soft sigh or relief at unbinding them and letting them manifest like they want to. Jason sucks in a sharp breath, knees pressing into my hips, and I just give a quiet laugh and tighten my grip on his arms.

“Easy, god-touched,” I whisper to him, as I spread my wings out behind me. His gaze is caught on mine, but I can see that same wild tinge to them, that little unnerved, unsure part. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

I draw my wings in, and he flinches a bit but doesn’t jerk away. I envelope us in them, circling them around his back until they overlap, and I can feel the drag of them against his cloak and his shoulders. They block all the light, from both the fire and the stars shining through the canopy above us, with only the crackles of the lightning moving through my feathers to light the space between us.

He gasps, and I smile and lean in a bit so I can brush my mouth over his jaw. “Welcome to my world.”

He shudders, but then one of his hands is touching my waist, his head shifting in against the press of my mouth. “It’s beautiful,” he breathes. “I… You’re so warm.”

I squeeze the back of his neck, carefully loosening my control so lightning springs to the tips of those fingers and sinks into his skin. I can hear him gasp, feel the hand on my waist contract as he tilts his head back, baring his throat to my touch. I don’t bother trying to resist the urge to shift my mouth lower and find the jut of that tempting Adam’s apple to breathe against.

“Is that what you want?” I ask. “Is that what entrances you, Jason?

Yes,” he whispers.

I laugh, raising my free hand so I can undo the tie of his cloak before I shove it off his shoulders. “Most people don’t find anything but pain in the touch of my lightning. But you…”

I breathe out, closing my teeth over his throat as I let my power snap and bite into his skin. He tenses for a moment, but then he’s shuddering and leaning forward, a dark moan rumbling from the depths of his chest. I let go, bringing my other hand up so I can get both hands on the sides of his neck and jaw, holding him still as I pull my head back to look him in the eyes. They’re half-lidded, his mouth slightly parted, and I can feel the hunger in the pit of my stomach, the desire.

“What do you feel?” My voice comes out soft, but betraying that want.

Jason turns his head, pressing his mouth to the inside of my wrist. There’s a graze of teeth behind the kiss that makes my breath catch, as he tells me, “Heat, under my skin.” His teeth bare, and then he’s meeting my gaze and giving a rumbling growl that tightens up my gut. “More,” he snarls, eyes narrowing and I can feel the power in him. Not just muscle, but the lingering bits of a god sunk deep in his bones and soul. “Give me more.”

I smile, and I let my own power out to play.

He cries out, loud in the confined space provided by my wings, his back arching as my lightning surges down through his skin. I give a breathless laugh and hold him tighter, curling my hands into his hair and rocking up as much as I can with his weight over my hips, feeling my magic flash through him and wake that core of cold power. I gasp in a breath at the chill of it against my senses, as his hands grasp at my back and waist, grabbing handfuls of my clothing. He jerks, twitching, breath coming fast and in uneven gasps.

I kiss him. He starts, but then a moment later he’s surging forward against me, pulling me closer and meeting the almost desperate press of my mouth. I can feel him against me, physically and more, and I just want him closer. I want to taste the power in him more than anything else I can think of in the moment. I want to keep him in the safe haven of my wings, take my time opening him up in every way to see what he’ll enjoy. I want to saturate him so thoroughly with my magic and my influence that he’ll never wash clean again, so I’ll be able to taste myself on his skin.

“Jason,” I whisper between our mouths, as I flex my hands in his hair.

He shudders, and then he’s gasping and twisting against me as I slide more of my power into him. His hands yank at my clothing, and his head twists in my grip and curves away. I open my eyes so I can see the flash of his gritted teeth, and the way his eyes are squeezed shut. I just watch, letting him pull at me and enjoying the sounds slipping through his teeth. I run my fingers up through his hair, getting a better grip before I lean in and press my mouth to his throat. He actually whines, and I find myself baring my own teeth and biting down a little harder.

I let more of my power leak through my shields, sharp and sudden so I slice lightning through his system before pulling it away again. He jerks, arching hard as his eyes snap open, mouth parting but no sound coming out.

I calm my power down before he’s even finished with the soundless cry, leaving it beneath his skin but shielding him from the electricity that comes with it. A fraction of a second later, like some kind of puppet with snapped strings, he collapses down against me. His head presses to my shoulder, body leaning into mine and his hands loosening. He’s breathing hard, just a bit uneven. I tilt my head in against his, stroking my fingers through his hair and shifting my wings around us.

“Did you enjoy that?” I ask, speaking directly into his ear in a low whisper, before I nudge my nose against his skin and put my teeth against the shell of his ear.

He trembles.

His voice, when he speaks a few moments later, is low and rough. “Yes,” he whispers back, against my throat. “I— Don’t stop. Please don’t stop.”

“Slow down,” I murmur in slight reprimand, but with a smile.

I lower my wings, bringing us back to the rest of the world as I draw them against my back. Not hiding them though, not for now. Jason jerks a little bit, but he doesn’t stop me from twisting and pulling him down so we’re both sprawled out over the ground, his head beneath my chin and our legs tangled. Then I spread one wing out over both of us to serve as something like a blanket. He shifts, and I carefully relax the shields on my power just enough to let it crackle through him as a light sting. To him, if I’m gauging his resistance right, it should be a pleasant buzz underneath his skin.

I can feel him relax, easing against me with a soft sigh of breath. One of his arms slides around my waist, palm pressing to the small of my back, and he shifts into my touch when I run my fingers through his hair, so I keep doing it.

“How did you find me?” I keep my voice quiet, not wanting to change the way he’s pliant and relaxed against me.

His arm draws back from my waist, and I look down to watch him tap his fingers over his heart. “I can feel you,” he whispers. “This tug in my chest, pulling me towards you. The closer I am the harder it pulls, until I see you.”

Curious, I close my eyes and focus on the magic I have inside him. I explore around his heart — it’s beating slowly, for a human — and find a small spot that chills me the same way that the core of power in him does, right in the center of his heart and reaching outwards. I bow my head down against his, following the thread of that power out from Jason’s chest and… right into mine. It’s faint, nothing I would have noticed in a hundred years and completely insignificant next to all the other power under my skin, but it’s there. A tiny little hook near my heart, like a single thread in comparison to the chain attached on Jason’s side of it.

Experimentally, I curl my magic around that thread and tug.

Jason gasps, back bowing as his head tosses back, eyes wide and surprised. “What…?” he breathes, and I tug again. His hand grabs the cloth at my waist, teeth baring as he forces himself out of the arch and twists in against me, forehead pressing to my shoulder.

With the grip in his hair, I pull his head back until I can meet his eyes, studying his expression as I pull for a third time. He jerks, eyes flickering closed for a moment as his brow furrows.

“Does it hurt?” I ask, watching him breath in sharp little bursts.

He meets my gaze. “That’s you?” He sounds a little incredulous. I smile, and tug again instead of answering. Gentler this time, so he just twitches and sucks in another breath. “I— Yeah, a little.”

I keep my smile, stroking my fingers along his scalp. “Do you like it?”

“I’m—” He pauses, staring up at me. “I’m not sure. It feels too— too intimate; like you’re tugging on my soul.” Another gentle tug and he arches again, slow this time instead of snapping into it, like he’s just reacting to sensation. “God, are you?”

I take another look at that thread of power, at how it sinks into Jason’s chest and curls. “Maybe,” I offer, and then I lean in, pulling him into a kiss. It’s less desperate now, so I take my time exploring his mouth, holding him to me as I let my power buzz away within his skin, let myself spread out into every inch of him I can, until his breath is catching and he’s almost whining against my lips.

Then I pull back, leaving my power in his skin but separating our mouths. “Jason,” I murmur, “look at me?”

His eyes open, and I smile at the haze to them, at the way he’s almost shaking beneath my touch.

“Sleep, god-touched,” I whisper. “When the morning comes, find me again.”

His hand clenches down on my waist, and he gives a small sound of protest. “I don’t know anything about you.”

I give a soft laugh, catch him in another kiss and then breathe, “I’m a prince,” against his mouth. His eyes widen, and I can hear his breath catch. So I gather him up against me and tuck my wing farther over him, luxuriating in the feeling of my magic spread underneath his skin.

Sleep, my little lightning chaser.”