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Hannictober Prompt Fic

Chapter Text

Le Chiffre was a man who needed very little. He considered his needs simple; security, privacy, and occasional intelligent companionship were all he required to be content. Privacy was provided by his isolated but well-appointed cabin situated deep in the French Alps, and security was a subject he took very personally. A witch didn't live as long as he had without being an excellent study on all sorts of related disciplines, including invisibility and confounding charms, breach protection, and his last line of defense, what his niece called monsters in the closet. That was a need he was trying to fulfill, since the unpleasant events of the last month, and it left him realizing, stupidly, that he needed one more thing.

He was out of nutmeg.

Le Chiffre was a man who kept books in his head, so the gap in his memory where the nutmeg had been used up must have belonged to his recovery, when his ex-wife, her new wife, and their daughter had come to stay with him while the bleeding of both spells and bodily fluids had trickled to a stop. He did, actually, remember some rather pungent cookies.

Four hours of work, and the mandala on the floor would be useless. He sighed, permitting himself a slight show of fatigue, since there was no one to perform for. A day's travel to the nearest town with an Auchan would render his work depleted, and he knew for a fact, since he had checked, that Auchan did not carry ground lapis lazuli in either the quality or quantity he needed.

All for a plate of cookies.

His fingers rolled through his spice rack absently. The chives needed to be replaced. Really, he needed to replace all the c's… as his mind began filing the 'C' spices into his mental shopping list, his fingertips rolled past a jar that had never been opened. It might have come in a gift and he had absently placed it in the back. It really might be over a year old, come to think of it. But… one of the components of pumpkin pie spice was nutmeg. The bright orange label was quite off-putting, with a small, poorly drawn cartoon of a slice of pumpkin pie on it. He pondered for a moment, and decided that he didn't have a lot to lose.

With careful fingers, he dusted the pumpkin pie spice into a gap in the wheel, completing the mandala. With an audible snap, the magic settled into the meticulous design, and Le Chiffre breathed out with relief, careful not to blow on the powders. Now he would finally be able to summon an appropriate body guard, and his ex-wife would stop asking him about it. All would be well.

With a deep breath, he stood strong and tall, his black cape hanging off of one shoulder, his black suit a void of the best silk wool. Le Chiffre believed in good impressions, especially when the other creature could squash one like a bug with the smallest mistake. A gentle flip of his fingers, and the magic of his request was made, politely, through the medium of the mandala. A Summons for a Protector of person and property, for the term of six months. Travel required. Languages a must. The Summons slipped through his fingers as slick as a ribbon, and the mandala closed.

For several minutes, Le Chiffre waited, perfectly still. His stillness ensured the circle would remain intact. Too many acquaintances had scuffed an outer ring in impatience and thusly lost their limbs and lives. And then a skittering sound filled his ears, accompanied by… singing? Off-key singing, at that. Before he could identify the song, a great popping sound shook the room, rattling jars and disturbing the logs in the fire. Le Chiffre blinked, and then lifted his right hand to clear the blood from his eye. A young, red-cheeked man floated at the center of the circle, looking around curiously.

"This is not my living room," he stated matter-of-factly. He focuses blearily on Le Chiffre. "Hello, handsome," he grinned.

Le Chiffre stared at him. The demon's white shirt was halfway untucked and his tan pants, cuffed to the knee, had a muddy stain on the thigh. Delicate hooves hovered a few inches off the ground, but the rest of him was unflinchingly human, and deeply unimpressive, unless mildly dazed beauty was an asset for intimidation. "I think there has been a mistake," Le Chiffre began.

The demon's eyes went wide. "Don't you dare send me back! I'm prefect… perflectly caplable." The demon waved its hand. "Buddy. At your service." He sketched a little, wobbly bow, which Le Chiffre returned, much more steadily, out of habit.

"Buddy," he repeated, feeling like the pumpkin pie spice had in retrospect not been such a good idea. Buddy looked at him with owlish eyes.

"Yes." He scratched his nose. "That's my name." Another pause. "And you are?"

Le Chiffre cleared his throat. "I am called Le Chiffre. And I was requiring a body guard, if you would be so kind as to… send them on."

Buddy attempted to look larger than he was, and only succeeded in spinning very slowly in a circle. "At your service."

Le Chiffre sighed quietly, and held up a finger to indicate that he would be right back. Buddy waved his arms wildly in what was likely supposed to be a magnanimous gesture.

On second thought, a pot of tea was probably not going to be strong enough to get Le Chiffre through the night. He went for the liquor cabinet.

Chapter Text

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked, looking up to the sky, where the moon and the stars were shining brightly. “The full moon always makes me feel… like I’m in another world, completely different from the daylight. Like dragons and giants and all creatures are allowed to exist only now, like there are no rules and you could do everything you wanted under the moonlight… I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels that way.”

The other man didn’t answer, but Char wasn’t expecting it. Johann was a quiet man, had been ever since he had started serving in the palace a few years back, coming from a country where apparently they had exiled him. That was, though, a detail almost nobody knew; Johann had trusted Char with that story only a few months back, in a night much like this one, when he had found the doctor brooding over something in the library, staring at the fireplace and with his mind miles away. When Char had asked him he hadn’t expected an answer, either, but that night Johann talked. Char knew he hadn’t told him the complete story: that he had served in another place, where injustice had lead him to almost being killed, but to be exiled in the end. From that day, Char noticed that the man seemed to have bad days like those more and more often, and he felt powerless in how to help the one he considered now a friend.

When he also started seeing his own mood affected by everything happening around him, he had decided that a trip was what they needed to clear their heads, and so he had prepared a small party of only four soldiers - Ella had absolutely rejected the idea of Char going with less men than that - and Johann. Since he had not told Johann the true intention behind this trip, he argued that his presence was just in case they encountered any problem and they would be in need of a doctor’s services. Johann accepted without questioning it, and so they had parted the next day.

Now they were both sitting around one of the two campfires they had set up, the four guards merely a murmur in the one behind them.

Char looked at Johann then; he was sitting at arm’s reach, but looking like he was miles away from here, so he had probably not listened to a word Char had said. His eyes were focused on the flames, and he hadn’t looked at him once since they had left the castle. Char sighed, because the man had started to behave like this more and more since he had confessed him his story.

“Have you ever fallen in love?” Char asked all of the sudden.

He immediately felt himself blushing at his boldness, and he was glad it was dark. But to his surprise, Johann did listen to that, and he reacted to the question with a tiny smile that lifted the corner of his lips.

“I have,” Johann said, and he gazed up at him for the first time. “How about you? I know you and Ella are merely friends now, but… I haven’t seen you with any other… companion.”

Char was the one to look down then, and he shrugged nervously. He regretted having asked that, but now there was no going back, so he might as well keep being bold about it.

“I may have. I… may be. I’m not certain.”

“How can you not be certain? When you are… you know it.”

“Yes, but what if the other person doesn’t return those feelings?”

Char hadn’t meant to say it so bluntly, and yet, suddenly all he could feel was anger. He was angry with himself, because he had only realized a few months back that he was inevitably and utterly in love with Johann. And he was mad because he knew the doctor most probably didn’t return those feelings and never would. He knew about the lover he had had. He knew their story hadn’t ended well, Johann being exiled and the woman dying, for which Johann hadn’t seemed to forgive himself.

“In that case, it’s only a matter of… perhaps trying to distance yourself from that person, or leave it in the hands of time itself.”

Char swallowed and looked up to Johann. He felt all the anger vanishing, sadness replacing it with a dizzily speed.

“What if I don’t want to distance myself from you?”

Char saw the realization hitting Johann. The smile fell from his lips as he parted them, his eyes opening widely. Char closed his own and buried his face on his hands. What have I done?

He heard Johann getting up from his log, and he was actually relieved. He’d much rather the man just going to sleep to his tent than answering to what he had just said with pity in his eyes. Maybe Char could pretend he hadn’t said anything the next day, or perhaps he could blame it on the full moon. But instead of hearing the flapping of the tent, Char felt two hands covering his own.

He let Johann slowly take his hands off of his face, and he saw the man kneeling in front of him. He was confused as to what Johann’s intentions were, but he didn’t have to wonder for a long time, because the doctor straightened so their faces were at the same level, and he placed his hands around Char’s face and neck. When Johann started leaning closer to him, Char felt his stomach flipping, his breath getting caught in his throat… But Johann stopped when their faces were still apart from each other.

“May I…?”

Char didn’t let him finish; he leaned forwards as if guided by an external force, because he could’ve sworn he would not be able to move in this situation, in another moment. But he did move, and he erased the distance between them.

He pressed their lips together, and for a moment, all that existed was them; their lips, Johann’s hands on his skin and his own searching for the lapels of Johann’s coat, the breath he took when Johann tilted his head and kissed him again, deeper, slower…

When they moved back, Char looked at Johann wide-eyed and with his heart thumping inside his chest. He was scared of what Johann might say, and a thousand scenarios ran through Char’s mind in a second; Johann had just kissed him out of pity, it had been an impulsive kiss, he had only kissed him because he was a prince… But when Johann looked at him, he smiled and the moon seemed to shine more brightly for a moment.

“I didn’t follow my own advice,” he started saying, and Char frowned, so he continued speaking. “I have tried to fight this, but I wasn’t strong enough to distance myself from you, and I thought time would fix it for me… but it did not; my love for you only grew stronger,” he said, and Char gasped as he felt his eyes getting watery. “I felt terrible at first, feeling like I was betraying everything and everyone from my past… But then, the night I told you everything, I realized I couldn’t keep living in the past. I had to live in the present, and I had to look forward… And that only brought a second realization: that I did not enjoy anything in my present more than… you.”

Char was shocked, because suddenly his behavior made so much sense… It was completely different to Char’s, but at the same time, very similar.

“Why didn’t you… tell me?” he asked, even though he knew the answer.

Char was still the prince, and Johann was the royal doctor. There were things that wouldn’t be well seen by the kingdom, not at first, at least.

Johann smiled, and his hands fell from Char’s face. He missed the contact immediately, but Char contained the need to touch him once again.

“I did not think you would ever return my feelings. Why didn’t you?”

“The same.” Char shrugged, and he smiled as he looked down. “But tonight… I don’t know what it was, but something came over me.”

“Maybe it was the moonlight.”

Char looked at Johann again, and he beamed.

“You were listening…”

“My prince…” Johann said, and he took one of Char’s hands in his. “There is not any word in the world I would not listen if it came from your lips.”

Johann kissed the back of Char’s hand, and when their eyes locked again, the prince couldn’t wait any longer, leaning into the doctor’s lips once again.

Chapter Text

It was easy to daydream when he was walking Kiks.

Work had been long-- the students were at the stage where they still weren't used to staying in one place for long, but the long uninterrupted months of October and November loomed ahead, with only autumn break in the distance as a balm to the soul. Lucas felt the same way. Getting back into the school year was always exhausting, but not physically, so he learned to find ways of exercising his body while letting his mind slip into dreams. Kiks was a godsend.

He had happened upon her in the lot of his grocer, bedraggled and filthy and hungry. She had hopped into his car and he found her unresponsive to his pleas to get back out. And so he found himself the new owner of a dog of indeterminate origin but bright personality, and she was quite content with her new situation as queen of his house. The after-school walk became a ritual they both enjoyed very much.

But she still hadn't learned to behave on a leash, and he was a thousand miles away thinking of perhaps taking a trip during autumn break, when Kiks yipped and spurted right out of his grasp and into the yard of his neighbor.

Oh.

Oh, his neighbor was outside.

And as Lucas watched, increasingly mortified, Kiks plunged headfirst into a large neat leafpile that his very attractive neighbor had just finished raking. Leaves fountained into the air, leaving the curly-haired man with his hands in the air in surprise. Lucas realized with a jolt that he was going to need to talk to him. His face flushed so hot that he felt a little dizzy. This was not how he had envisioned it, introducing himself. Putting on his best jacket and bringing a plate of sweet homemade biscuits, perhaps. And then the man would invite him in for coffee, and they would talk late into the night, laughing and warm.

Lucas sighed. Why should anything go the way he dreamed it? He trotted toward the man, who was now attempting to chase Kiks through the yard. What Lucas didn’t expect was the sound of delighted laughter.

The man took a plunge into a huge leafpile by the corner of the house, and surfaced a moment later, triumphant, holding the end of Kiks' leash and rubbing leaves out of his hair, his laughter bright as sunshine. Lucas found himself helplessly grinning back. They walked towards each other, and met in the middle of the yard, surrounded by scattered yellow and red leaves.

"I'm Joe!"

"I'm so sorry--" Lucas began at the same time, and they both stopped and then smiled shyly at each other. "I'm Lucas. I live over there." He indicated a house catercorner to Joe's, a little white house with a massive old tree in front. "And this sorry thing is Kiks."

"Kiss?" The man's eyes widened even as his flushed cheeks deepened their color. He was English, not Danish, and even more lovely up close than Lucas had imagined. His eyes were the color of a bright winter sky. Flustered, Lucas searched for his voice for an embarrassed moment.

"Kiks. It means… a sweet cookie in Danish. She was a stray. She adopted me, actually." He closed his mouth firmly. Joe smiled brilliantly at him as he handed her back.

"She is a sweetheart," he said, looking steadily at Lucas the whole time. "Perhaps she recognised herself in you." And then he looked down, squeezing his eyes shut. "Gods, I'm so sorry. I'm terrible at this."

Lucas ducked his head so that he could look at Joe's face. "Terrible at what?"

Joe looked over Lucas' shoulder. "I've wanted to introduce myself since I first saw you. Actually. So. Um."

A blossom of happiness flowered open inside Lucas' chest, sweeping against his ribs. "Would you like coffee? With me?" He blinked, and then realized that maybe there was something more urgent. "After I help you clean all of this up, of course?"

Joe smiled at him, and Lucas felt his heart trip dangerously. "I would love coffee with you, Lucas." He looked around his yard. "The leaves can wait, don't you think?" And then he reached out his hand and placed it on Lucas' forearm to pull him gently into the house.

Chapter Text

Galahad tripped over a root but managed to stay on his feet holding onto the tree. He still looked at the ground with a frown, and cursed Tristan in his mind before resuming his walk.

He had been searching for the man for at least an hour, trying to call for his damn bird at first, but then giving up and searching around the lake. He hadn’t seen Tristan in four days, and while those days weren’t completely unusual for the scout - he sometimes disappeared for days, and the hawk would announce his return when they least expected it - Galahad inevitably worried. But now it was different, because now he didn’t have to pretend he wasn’t worried; now, he could be mad that Tristan had disappeared without telling him a word, because now they weren’t just comrades…

“Damn Tristan. When I find him I’m going to…” he muttered, but he didn’t get to finish what he was saying.

“What?”

Galahad grabbed the nearest tree trunk as he fought to keep his heart inside his chest. Tristan was a few feet from him, sitting on the ground with his back against another tree in the border of the forest, the lake behind him. Galahad sighed relieved, but he frowned as he approached Tristan.

“Nice to see you…” Galahad said wryly.

“Good to see you, too,” Tristan replied with a smirk and an honest tone, which bothered Galahad even more.

He noticed for the first time the landscape around them; the sun was starting to set, so the lake in front of them was a dark blue, and the trees had started to drop their leaves in preparation for the winter that would come shortly, so everything else was orange around them. Tristan had probably been sitting there for a while, because he was completely surrounded by leaves and even a little buried in them.

“You’re going to what?”

“What?” Galahad mirrored the question, confused.

“You just said, when you found me you were going to… what?”

Galahad rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest when he was right beside Tristan.

“I hadn’t thought it through yet, but… What would you if I disappeared for days without any warning?”

Tristan’s lips curved in a wide, toothy smile, and Galahad knew he was lost even before the man reached out to take his hand and pulled him downwards. Galahad half fell, half knelt on the ground beside the man, and when Tristan moved closer to him, Galahad felt his face getting hotter already.

“I would have to think about it carefully, because I would want to do many things…”

Tristan’s hoarse left Galahad voiceless, and when Tristan pulled him closer again, he was quick to climb onto Tristan’s lap and circle his shoulders with both arms. As soon as he was settled, Tristan put his hands around Galahad’s waist, one of his hands snaking upwards across his back to hold him. When Tristan leaned into his neck and inhaled, Galahad sighed.

“I’ve missed you…” Galahad confessed in a whisper, and he groaned at himself. He had decided he would try to remain angry with Tristan for a while, and here he was. It had taken only a few words to take him apart.

He felt Tristan’s smile against his skin as he pressed a small kiss to Galahad’s neck. That made him shiver, and he lifted his head, giving Tristan more access. Tristan answered by splaying his fingers between Galahad’s shoulder blades and kissing him again along the column of his throat.

“I have oil in my backpack…” Tristan whispered then, and that made Galahad open his eyes, realizing that he had closed them.

“Wh- What, here?”

“Hmm, why not? Isn’t that why you were looking for me?” Tristan said, pressing another kiss to Galahad’s collarbones.

Galahad had to bite his lip, feeling his cock twitching underneath his clothes. He had truly missed Tristan, in every possible sense.

“It wasn’t. But… I…”

Tristan saved him from the trouble of having to come up with a decent excuse so Galahad could preserve his pride by kissing him on the mouth and pressing one of his hands against his crotch through the skirt he always wore. That didn’t shut him down, though, because he heard himself moaning as he opened his lips and kissed Tristan properly, his tongue searching for the man’s as he tangled his fingers through Tristan’s hair and pulled slightly.

When he moved back from the kiss, Tristan suddenly pushed him sideways and into the ground. Galahad felt all the leaves against his back, heard them crunching beneath him. Galahad chuckled a little breathless while Tristan reached for his backpack, which was set against a close tree, and searched on it. When he found the vial of oil, Galahad raised an eyebrow.

“So what were you doing here all alone with that oil? Practicing for me, Tristan?”

“Wouldn’t you wish that, pup?”

Galahad couldn’t answer to the teasing, because Tristan returned to his original position against the tree, and he dragged Galahad with him. Once they were like that again, Tristan left the vial on top of the leaves and slipped one of his hands under Galahad’s skirt, his nails raking against the naked skin of his thigh until he found and grabbed Galahad’s cock already half-hard cock.

“I see you came prepared for me,” he commented on his lack of underpants, but Galahad ignored that, not wanting to admit that he had, indeed, neglected that piece of garment when he had gotten dressed that afternoon to go look for him.

“What- ah. What if… someone sees us?”

“We’ll tell them I’m giving you mounting lessons,” Tristan said with a smile as he started pumping.

Galahad hit Tristan’s shoulder at the joke, and the man chuckled.

“Shut up and prepare me for the lesson, you bastard.”

Tristan smirked again, victorious, and he gave Galahad a quick kiss on the lips before taking the vial. But to Galahad’s surprise, he didn’t stop the movement of his other hand on his cock; he gave the vial to Galahad, who took it as he fought not to moan already so he didn’t give Tristan the satisfaction.

“Lift your hips a bit, and pour me some of the oil,” Tristan requested.

Galahad shook his head a little at him, but he did as he told him; he braced himself against the tree with a hand above Tristan’s head, leaned closer to him and lifted his lips with the movement. That position left their faces very close, their breaths mingling in the space between. Galahad observed Tristan’s maroon eyes as he felt the man’s fingers slowly caressing his erection, way, way too slow, which was exactly what Tristan wanted. Galahad finally offered him the vial, and Tristan cupped his free hand as Galahad poured a generous amount.

When he felt Tristan’s fingers massaging over his hole, spreading part of the oil, he moaned for the first time, unable to hold it any longer, and he arched his back as Tristan slipped the first finger inside him.

When Tristan started moving inside him, Galahad responded by swaying his hips, the feeling of one of his hands over his cock, and the other fucking him too much, and not nearly enough.

“Fuck…” he let out, pressing his forehead against Tristan’s.

Galahad closed his eyes when Tristan slipped the second finger, and didn’t silence any sound anymore. He didn’t care if someone saw them, or if the very Arthur suddenly appeared beside them; he had missed Tristan, and he felt oh, so good.

When Tristan slipped his fingers out and asked for more oil, Galahad opened his eyes and shook his head.

“Enough of your hand,” he told him, and Tristan looked at him with a mildly surprised expression.

Galahad left the vial on the ground again, and he pushed himself up to fumble with both hands with Tristan’s pants, stopping with that Tristan’s movement over his erection. He undid the laces hastily, and then took Tristan’s very hard cock out of his underpants. He looked at Tristan as he took the rest of the oil himself and started pumping Tristan with his hand, the tables turned. When he saw pleasure taking over Tristan’s features, erasing all traces of his smug smile, Galahad smirked and leaned in to whisper in Tristan’s ear.

“You ready for the lesson?” he asked him, and Tristan let out something between a moan and a chuckle.

Tristan only answered placing both hands on Galahad’s hips, helping him settle over him again. Galahad didn’t lose any more time; he had been patient enough waiting for him all those days, and he had been patient now, with Tristan’s languidness - which he loved but would never admit. But now, Galahad placed himself on Tristan’s lap and put his free hand on his shoulder. He aligned himself with Tristan, and held his breath when he started sitting down onto his cock, slowly but not stopping even when it hurt a bit.

“Oh, fuck…” he let out only when Tristan was completely inside him.

Galahad pressed his forehead against Tristan’s again, and that time he tilted his head a bit to search for Tristan's lips. He found them between both of their heavy breaths, and their mouths met in sloppy, slow kisses.

“I hate when you disappear…” Galahad said, and he gently bit Tristan’s lower lip as he pulled back to look at him. “But I love when I see you again.”

Tristan smiled at him, and Galahad finally started moving, lifting himself and sitting down again on Tristan’s lap.

Galahad looked around them, being once again aware that they were in plain sight, right by a lake that wasn’t far from their own camp and where anyone could see them. But that thought actually made the fire in his belly intensify, tearing a new moan from him as he grabbed Tristan’s locks of hair and he quickened his pace.

“Galahad…” Tristan whispered, and he surrounded him with both hands to hold him close while not interrupting his movements.

Galahad locked his eyes with Tristan, and he felt himself getting close as Tristan groaned. Galahad came almost immediately with a cry, allowing himself to be as loud as he felt like being, since there weren’t any rooms around them with people who could hear them, as he was used to. That time, he yelled Tristan’s name and moaned and panted as he rode his orgasm. And then, he felt Tristan following him, spilling inside him as he tightened his hold around him, pulling Galahad completely against his chest.

Galahad felt both of them sliding sideways, but he didn’t care, and when they fell together to the ground, he simply settled into the leaves with Tristan half on top of him and their legs tangled together.

Tristan slipped out of him when they could move, but Galahad still didn’t want to, so he grabbed Tristan’s forearm and pulled him down again. Tristan complied, and he put his head on Galahad’s chest as he dragged one of his hands along Galahad’s naked thigh.

“I love when I see you again, too,” Tristan said then, and Galahad looked at him, still a little breathless.

Galahad smiled at him, and his lips widened when he saw that Tristan had a few leaves on his hair. He took one of them and showed it to Tristan, who chuckled a little before leaning down to kiss him again.

Chapter Text

When Grigg finally finished cleaning up the kitchen, he took the remainder of what had been his beer and walked to the living room. In there, it was a different story than the kitchen: all the signs from the party he’d just had were still there.

It was a week before Halloween, but somehow it had become a tradition for his group of friends to celebrate it a weekend before. And that’s exactly what they had done, this year at Grigg’s house. And so, there were plastic cups everywhere, a few bottles of alcohol and soda, more than a few masks of undetermined creatures lying around the room… And in the center, of course, what had been the attraction of the party: a cheap blanket with a pentagram in it and an old book of rituals he had found in his favorite secondhand bookshop. They had all taken turns to read a few of the rituals, explain how they were done, and actually try to perform them. Of course, the only thing they had summoned were their own laughter, a fake possession by Bryan and a new couple when two of his co-workers had finally kissed after flirting for months. Grigg smiled at remembering the look on their faces when they had realized the other returned their feelings, and how they had blushed after kissing, also realizing they were still surrounded by people when everyone started cheering and clapping. Grigg was happy for them, but at the same time, it had been a painful reminder that he was completely alone, and had been ever since Jocelyn and him had broken up.

Grigg shook his head and decided to keep cleaning, so he walked to the book and knelt on the floor. When he picked it up to close it and keep it somewhere in his bookshelf, though, he saw the next page to the last ritual they had tried: “The Thing You Desire The Most.” He frowned and examined the ritual, which said he needed things like a glass of wine, blood of any animal at all and even hairs of any person he had ever loved. He snorted at the ridiculous list and kept reading, and when he got to the part that said how to perform the ritual, he was surprised at how easy that looked in comparison with the rest; he merely had to sit in the center of the pentagram, close his eyes, think of the thing he wanted the most, and it would appear.

Grigg arched his eyebrows, and he smiled at himself as he set his beer on the coffee table and sat properly in the center of the pentagram. He chuckled, because it was ridiculous and not even funny now that everyone had left, but he still read the ritual once again and closed his eyes.

He thought of the thing he wanted the most.

He thought of it…

And then, he opened his eyes.

Everything was, obviously, the same, and he couldn’t help but laugh out loud at himself. He was actually slightly disappointed, as if he had ever expected it to happen, somehow.

“Alright, that’s enough beer for me today…” he murmured as he stood up.

He took the book and put it on the highest shelf, the spine standing up around the rest of the books. Grigg heard a crackling as he was turning around, so he looked at the book again, believing it had fallen… But the book was there, and when he heard it again, this time he managed to identify where the sound had come from…

Grigg turned around slowly, and two things happened too quickly for him to register them: he saw a strange ball of blue energy floating above the pentagram blanket… and then, it seemed to explode in a bright light, blinding him for a moment and sending him backwards against the bookshelf.

Grigg fell to the ground and coughed at the impact. When he opened his eyes, he felt his heart thumping against his ears, because there was a man in his apartment. Or, to be more accurate, there was a very strange man standing up from the blanket, dressed in what looked like a weird but well made Halloween costume… and then, Grigg noticed for the first time the very real-looking knife in the man’s hand, and he opened his eyes widely.

“What the... fuck?”

Grigg only had time to stand up before the man turned around swiftly and walked the three steps between them, grabbed his shirt with his free hand to push him against the bookshelf, and raised the knife until its curved blade was very very close to Grigg’s throat.

“Who are you?” he demanded to know in a deep voice.

“I could ask you the same! Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my apartment?!?”

“Your… what?”

Grigg raised his eyebrows, and the man looked around with a puzzled expression. He seemed as perplexed as Grigg was, and while the man examined everything around him, Grigg allowed himself to examine him: he was definitely dressed for a Halloween party, and had make up all around his eyes, as if he had open cracks on his skin. His silver hair was long, and combed back in a sort of intricate ponytail. But Grigg didn’t notice only the man’s physical appearance, because he realized something: he was a bit annoyed, very confused, but not even slightly scared despite having a knife pointed to his neck.

The man, warrior, wizard or whatever the hell he was dressed as, looked at the pentagram then, and turned to Grigg again.

“What did you do?”

“What, with that? It was a party, and-” Grigg started, but the man pushed him slightly with the grip on his shirt.

“What did you do? Did you perform a ritual?”

“Well, y- yes… Or… not? I don’t know, I was just playing around! I don’t even have the things the book said I needed…”

The man closed his eyes for a second as if he was restraining himself, and then looked at Grigg again.

“What was the ritual?”

“Er… dude, are you serious? You broke into my house somehow and you want to blame it on a stupid ritual? You’ve got some nerve…”

What was the ritual?”

He tightened the grip on Grigg’s shirt again and moved the blade almost imperceptibly; but Grigg felt it against his skin, felt the cold of the metal, and he swallowed even if he still didn’t felt scared.

“It was… The thing you… want the most? No, desire the most.”

“And what did you think of?” the man asked slowly.

“What?”

“When you summoned me, what did you think of?”

“Summoned-? I… I don’t know!”

The man moved closer to him, their faces almost touching and the blade scraping slightly against his skin, but not hurting him.

What did you think of…?” he repeated, and Grigg finally exploded.

“I asked for a person to love, okay?!” Grigg blurted out, feeling his cheeks getting hot with embarrassment.

The man’s features suddenly changed completely, from tense and intimidating to baffled but, somehow at the same time, believing. He leaned backwards for the first time since he had began his questioning and loosened his grip until it was more touch than a grasp.

“You… asked for a person to love...?”

“Yeah. I’m ridiculous, okay?” Grigg said, and then sighed. “Look, if you’re gonna rob me, just do it. You don’t even have to use your knife, just don’t kill me.”

The pressure of the knife disappeared from his neck, and Grigg frowned, because he hadn’t expected him to actually do it. The man observed him with a look Grigg didn’t recognize, but somehow it made his skin crawl, something he hadn’t managed with the knife.

“I… don’t understand how this is possible…”

“Yeah well, that makes two of us,” Grigg interrupted him, huffing out and trying to relieve the tension in the air.

“…And yet I was a prisoner in a different dimension. I thought I would always be there, condemned for all eternity… But somehow you have released me and brought me here. With… your ritual.”

Grigg observed the man for a moment, expecting him to burst into laughter and tell him it was all an elaborate prank. But he didn’t do that; in fact, the man simply stood there, staring at Grigg.

“Please tell me you’re really into your Halloween costume and character and you’re not actually telling me the silly ritual worked and you’re from another- did you say dimension?”

He nodded, and for the first time, his lips curved upwards with an almost imperceptible smile. Grigg felt himself smiling too, somehow.

“My name is Kaecilius. And I have a theory as to why I am here. But… until I’m certain, I can’t…”

“Uh… Grigg am. I mean, I’m Grigg. Not sure if I’m pleased to meet you…?” Grigg said with a grimace, still not understanding what was happening.

Kaecilius – who the hell was called Kaecilius?! – moved again, taking a step towards him. Grigg reacted by straightening and reclining against the bookshelf once more. But it wasn’t, again, because he was afraid, but because there was a strange energy around; he felt ecstatic and calm at the same time, he wanted to reach out and touch Kaecilius to make sure he was real, he wanted to propel himself away from the bookshelf and-

“I am,” Kaecilius said, bringing him back to reality.

“What?” Grigg mumbled.

“I am pleased you meet you.”

Grigg swallowed and merely nodded like an idiot. Before he could say anything else, Kaecilius moved back and turned around. He put the knife in his belt and when he located the door, he started walking out.

“Wait!” Grigg said, and Kaecilius turned around. “What the hell, are you leaving like that? That’s it? You tell me you come from another dimension- that I brought you from another dimension, and you leave?”

“I need to investigate this, and answer a lot of questions that I have, too. I must be sure that…”

Grigg pushed himself away from the bookshelf and shrugged a little.

“That… what?”

“When I return, it will be because I’m sure I won’t be putting you in danger just by being here.”

Grigg frowned, but once again he was speechless, and before he could get anything out, Kaecilius smiled at him and, with a small nod of his head, he opened the door and simply walked away across the hallway.

Once he was alone, he closed the door and looked around his apartment. Everything was exactly the same, with the exception of a few plastic cups that had been knocked over, and other small objects had been moved. Grigg ran his hands through his face and decided that he was going to go to sleep, and Next Day Grigg would deal with every thought that was bunching in his mind and threatening to make his head explode. And so he did. He left the living room as it was, and after getting undressed and slipping inside his sheets, he was asleep before he had time to think about anything at all.

The next day, he woke up and groaned when he saw the mess that was his living room. He was going to have to spend half of his Sunday cleaning up, and that was his least favorite plan…

When he saw the pentagram blanket, though, he froze and suddenly remembered everything that had happened; the ritual, the intense bright light, the man called Kaecilius… He didn’t remember drinking that much, and yet, it must’ve been that, right? He thought that perhaps someone had drugged him slipping something in his drink, because despite how crazy that sounded, it was way less crazy than the alternative. But there was no alternative, it just couldn’t be. It hadn’t happened, he had imagined it one way or another…

Grigg walked slowly to the pentagram, and found a small strip of cloth. He picked it up with a frown, and when he recognized it, his heart skipped a beat. He dropped it as he walked backwards, tripping over one of the chairs and falling to the floor.

“Fuck…” Grigg let out.

It was a strip from the man’s strange clothes.

And it was in his apartment.

Which meant he hadn’t imagined everything.

Chapter Text

Le Chiffre watched, increasingly thoughtful, as Buddy the heretofore uncategorized demon tested the boundaries of the mandala. He was… surprisingly calm about it. Some of the Summoned would thrash madly against the border, trying to punch through with strength. Some zinged around like bullets, and others spun inside the wall like a centrifuge of fire. If there was a break, a fissure even as small as a thread, it would be found. But Buddy… Buddy just floated and spun gently, bumping up against the barrier and using the momentum to drift to the other side of the two meter circle. He drifted upwards and then turned a lazy vertical U so that his little hooves were up in the air and his fine white shirt fell to cover his face.

He rucked it out of the way with an absent hand and continued floating. All the while his eyes never left Le Chiffre's face. Not even for a moment. If his body turned, his neck would contort increasingly until his body moved the right way round, which made for some disconcerting positions. Every so often Le Chiffre would take a sip of his whiskey, and Buddy's eyes would widen, rounded in unmistakable longing, and the witch felt the unfamiliar tickle of guilt in his throat. It was rude to keep Buddy here if he wasn't going to use him. It was even more rude to drink in front of him if he was going to send him back. The fire-spirits could be in their realms for hundreds of years without being summoned, and there was no good whiskey to be found in the spirit realm.

Finally, Le Chiffre put the glass to the side, out of site, and walked a little closer. "Why do you not fight the circle? Is it because you have not the strength to break free?"

Buddy was upside down at the moment, his hooves kicking gently against nothing. He held his shirt with one hand so that it did not fall over his face again. He frowned, blinking wide blue-grey eyes. "I was raised to be polite," he replied in a gently reproachful voice. "Besides, I can tell there's no way out."

Le Chiffre's eyebrows raised, and he felt a trickle of blood drip out over his cheek. Buddy watched, fascinated, as Le Chiffre wiped it away. What a profound weakness for a witch, he knew. They both knew. But Buddy said nothing, spiraling softly until he was more-or-less sideways. Le Chiffre tucked his handkerchief back in his pocket, and continued on as if nothing had happened. "You can tell without testing?"

"I already tried it," Buddy admitted. "When you went to pour yourself a glass of…" He took a deep inhale. "Nikka Taketsuru 21. Damn. That's a good one."

Le Chiffre was glad he had put down the whiskey, because he would have dropped it. "You saw the bottle."

"You know I didn't."

"How could you smell through the barrier?" Le Chiffre knew there was no way to smell through the barrier. If a demon could smell, a demon could escape. Only the very… very… he blinked.

"Who are you?"

The demon smiled happily. "I already told you. I'm Buddy." He was upside down again.

Le Chiffre made the decision. He took a knife from his pocket, and in full view of the demon, slit open his thumb. "I would like to hire you for a six-month contract. Bodyguarding, and… whatever else you might like to offer. Standard contract: no bodily harm to me or anyone else unless I specifically request it, and you have the right to refuse so long as I am not in danger of dying through your inaction. You may take up any contract disputes with the Conjoined Panel of Demons and Witches, so long as you do not leave me in harm's way during the dispute. You may--"

"Yes." Buddy was upright now, his little hooves only a few inches from the floor. "I know the Standard Contract for Demonic Binding, and I agree to it. Six months. Renewable on both our agreement."

Le Chiffre was surprised, but pleased. He didn’t know what he had done to impress the demon. He was pretty sure it wasn’t the whiskey. "Agreed." He pressed his bloody thumb to the border of the mandala. Buddy flicked a sharp claw into his thumb, but did not press it into the barrier right away. Instead, he wiped his blood over his lips, and waited, his eyes steady and somehow soft.

Le Chiffre swallowed. Technically it wasn’t any different. A mix blood seal was a mix blood seal. But this close, he could fully appreciate just how pretty Buddy was, and an unwanted blush colored his cheeks. Refusing to think about it, he pressed his thumb to his mouth, coating his lips with blood, and then pressed his lips to the barrier. Buddy didn't hesitate to do the same.

His mouth was warm, and his blood stung like pepper on Le Chiffre's tongue. As the barrier evaporated around him, Buddy pressed closer, taking a deep, lush kiss from Le Chiffre, licking their shared blood delicately from the witch's mouth. Le Chiffre sighed softly into it, and then broke the kiss, looking down in chagrin. Buddy touched his chin, lifting it gently so that the witch was looking into his eyes.

"Hello, Master." He grinned with teeth showing, bright and rosy-cheeked. Le Chiffre gathered himself, and then thumbed over Buddy's cheek.

He could think of a thousand things he wanted to ask, but the words that fell from his lips were, "Can I get you a tumbler of whiskey?"

Continued Here!

Chapter Text

Despite having lived for more than a year now in Denmark, Joe was yet to get used to the sudden drops of temperature that could occur any day at all… Including in the beginning of June.

When that morning they had gone out of the house, Lucas had asked him with a raised eyebrow if he was only bringing that thin jacket, and Joe looked at him with a smirk, telling him that he was a Brit and he didn’t need anything else.

And oh, how wrong had he been. He had been all right the entire morning, since the classrooms had heating, but as soon as the bells rang and they went out, he realized his mistake.

“Do you want to go have a coffee?” Lucas asked, more out of habit than a real question, since they went for a coffee almost every day after work.

Today, though, Joe wished Lucas had forgotten about that, because he crossed his arms across his chest, feeling the damp cold creeping into his bones. But above the cold, was his pride. He didn’t want to admit Lucas had been right, and even if the man wouldn’t hold it against him for long, he would surely mock him a little.

“Uh… Sure. Coffee sounds good,” Joe agreed.

They both took their bikes, and in the way to their favorite coffee shop, it got even worse; the wind was like a cutting knife against Joe’s bare hands and cheeks, and when they arrived to the place, he was sniffling and felt as if his head weighed a ton. Fantastic, he was going to get a cold because of his stubbornness…

Lucas looked at him as they walked into the coffee shop, and Joe simply smiled at him. Inside, it was much warmer, so Joe sighed relieved, but when they sat on their usual table and Lucas started telling him about his day in a mix of Danish and English, he noticed he was starting to feel sick. When the waiter carried their order to the table, he took his cup of coffee and clung to it for warmth as he sipped it and nodded to what Lucas was telling him.

“Are you alright…?” Lucas asked him once they had finished the coffee and they left the place.

Joe was once again hugging himself to try to stay warm, and when he looked at Lucas, he saw the tiny smile on his lips, and he knew he was onto him. Joe sighed.

“All right, you don’t have to gloat.”

“What for?” Lucas asked, and Joe rolled his eyes even if he wasn’t actually annoyed.

“You were right, okay? I should’ve brought something for the cold.”

Lucas smiled, and then he did something Joe didn’t expect: he walked towards him and took his coat off. When Lucas put it around his shoulders, Joe looked at his boyfriend with his eyebrows raised.

“Won’t you be cold, gentleman?” he asked jokingly, even though he was actually really charmed at Lucas’ gesture.

“Don’t worry…” Lucas said, taking his scarf off and putting it around Joe’s neck. He used that to pull him closer, and Joe allowed himself to be dragged until he was against the man’s body, chuckling when Lucas leaned very close. “I’m a Dane… I don’t need anything else.”

Joe shook his head and grabbed Lucas’ hands to pull himself up and kiss him on the lips.

“I hate you,” he whispered against his lips, and he felt more than saw Lucas’ smile.

“I love you, too.”

When they moved back, Joe put on the coat and properly wrapped the scarf around his neck as they got on their bikes. When he buried his face on it, he smiled; it smelled like Lucas.

Chapter Text

It was a cold October evening, and Char was taking his brand new 1956 Chevrolet Belair out for a spin. Work had been a misery, again, but he could hardly let that be the gauge of his day. His uncle was going to bury his designs for the Spring men's collection again, and there was nothing he could do about it yet. Not until he managed to get a controlling interest in the company, and that wouldn't happen until he was 25. It wouldn't happen at all if he wasn't careful with his stocks, and his mouth.

Although the way his uncle looked at his mouth made Char want to punch him in the head. With a baseball bat. He gripped the steering wheel, setting his fingers in-between the ridges on the inside. One more year and he could fire the creepy bastard and move Threads Enchanted in the right direction again. A white blur on the side of the road startled him out of his thoughts, and he pulled over without thinking too much about it, leaning over to crank down the passenger-side window.

"Hey, Mister? You need a ride into town?"

The man looked to be in his forties, with long hair tied back in an interesting manner and wearing a neat white suit. He paused in his steady walking and turned to Char, who pulled back a little, shocked but only for a moment. Lots of older men had scars like this now, what with two world wars behind them. There were tragedies written in skin all over the country now. Char smiled hesitantly, and repeated his question.

The man nodded, a gentle smile gracing his lips, and opened the car door. It groaned open with a squeal, and Char blushed. "Needs oiling," he explained. "She's brand new." He patted the seat as the man eased into the car, bringing with him the cold bluster of the wind and a smoky tang like burning leaves. The man closed the door, and then turned to Char and held out a hand. Char shook it, letting himself feel for a moment the strength in it. He didn't get touched very much, not casually, and handshakes were for business. It was nice.

"I'm Char. Charmont, but you can call me Char. It's British. Like me." He pressed his lips closed, pained at his gaucheness.

The man lifted his eyebrows, and then patted his throat and waved a hand in front of his mouth. Mute. Char grimaced.

"Was that from the war too?" And then realizing how terrible that sounded, he hung his head in mortification. "I'm so sorry. I can't stop my mouth sometimes."

The man pulled his hand away and reached into his pocket, pulling out a pad of paper from some hotel and a pencil. He wrote, in elegant handwriting, "Thank you for giving me a ride. It's nice to meet you, Char. My name is Vandring, but call me Van. That's Danish, like me. Yes, the muteness and the loss of my eye happened during the war." It took him a moment to write all of this down, and during that time, Char marveled at how good the man smelled, and the strength of his fingers as he wrote, and the breadth of his shoulders, and all sorts of inappropriate thoughts that were likely not returned and dangerous even to think. This was Vicksburg, Mississippi, not Chicago, where a man could look another man in the eye without so much fear. He took a deep breath.

"It's very nice to meet you, Van. Can I take you anywhere special?" And he didn’t mean it to come out like that, but Van smirked at him, and all of the sudden Char was blushing like wildfire. "Like, to a pub? Or…" He put his hand over his mouth. Van was watching him, amused. He wrote below his previous writing. "I've not been to a pub here."

That was good enough for Char, who really didn't need any convincing. He grinned at Van, and then pulled the car back out into the road. "I know just the place."

They reached the little pub that Char liked to frequent after about half an hour of driving in the deepening dark. It was way out on highway 80, which is where Char had come across Van, but they had excellent hand pies and a very good local stout on draft that reminded Char of home. As they exited the car, a sharp wind drove through Char's coat-- it was unseasonably cold out, and felt more like the bitter north England cold than what was supposed to be balmy Mississippi. Van shivered beside him, and Char blanched. "I don’t have a coat that will fit you… you are much broader than I." he commented rather unnecessarily. Without a second thought, he tugged off his scarf and draped it around Van's shoulders. It was warm black wool, and looked very handsome against the white suit. Van smiled at him, and Char smiled back, heart fluttering stupidly. When Van landed a soft hand on Char's elbow as they walked inside, it fluttered all the more.

The pub wasn't large, and they took a table away from the little dance floor, in a semi-quiet corner that had a view of the whole room. Char brought them pints and maple sausage hand pies with a huge basket of french-fried potatoes, and they devoured the meal in companionable silence. Once finished, Van brought back two more pints and they spent an enjoyable evening people-watching. Char would point to a person sitting at the bar, maybe a man in a rumpled wash-and-wear business suit, and Van would write, "Affair" on his pad of paper. And then ten minutes later, when the rumpled man left with a young woman, Char cast wide eyes at his companion. "How did you know?"

Van just smirked at him, and tapped his missing, scarred eye socket. He wrote, "I see things."

Char burst out laughing, and then covered his mouth in horror. He was about to apologise when Van's face split into a huge grin. A large hand squeezed his knee under the table, and Char blushed to his toes. He was utterly smitten.

When they drove home, to Char's little house on the other side of Vicksburg, Van's hand was resting high on his thigh the entire ride. Char was barely parked when he was pushing himself across the bench seat to tangle his hands in Van's long hair and lick into his mouth. They kissed for a long, delicious moment, those huge hands curled into Char's back and hip, Van making soft, throaty sounds of urgency against Char's mouth. Only the looming house of a nosy neighbor kept Char from shoving down his pants right there. "Inside," he panted. "Not out here." Van nodded, kissed him again, and then slid over to the door to open it with a great creak.

They made it inside before the clothes started coming off, but barely. Fortunately Char's bedroom was on the first floor, his studio taking the second floor entirely. He groaned out "Last door on the left" as Van pressed him against the wall with his hips and proceeded to take him apart. Char was kissed as Van unbuttoned him, kissed as strong arms lifted him and tugged his pants off one leg at a time. He panted and keened as he was bodily carried to his own bedroom and then pressed into the mattress. "Want you, want you inside me, please," he managed, barely coherent as a now-naked Van nipped at his neck and shoulders. He waved towards a half-used tub of vasoline, and it was only a moment before his legs were propped on Van's shoulders and two slick fingers were inside him.

The urgency relaxed into a low simmer, softening their kisses and touches. Char tugged off his socks with a laugh, choked off as Van pressed into his prostate, the Dane grinning wickedly against Char's cheek. "Gods, gods," Char moaned as he was opened up with gentle firmness, letting his hips rock up with Van's fingers. It was too good, too good for a stranger, far too good for anything in Char's life. "Please, now, please…" and Van was pressing inside him, his cockhead feeling huge and hot against Char's rim. They slid together like home, and for a moment, they simply clutched and panted at each other, kissing what they could reach.

Char squeezed Van's hips with his thighs. "You are so beautiful. So perfect. Feel so good," he murmured, wiggling his hips enticingly. Van looked down at him with an unfathomable expression in his one dark eye, and then began to move. The slide was deep and heavy, weighted with a feeling of intensity that Char had never experienced. Van's powerful thighs drove him slowly at first, and then faster, the urgency coming back all at once. Char clutched him with both hands on his back, knowing he was leaving nail marks and not caring. He cried with every thrust, helpless and overwhelmed, tears tracking down his cheeks. Van kissed them away, gentling until Char clutched him harder. "Fuck me, Van, Fuck me, please, take me," he begged, near incoherent, and Van was driving into him now, both of them lost to it.

Char's hand went to his own cock, and he barely squeezed it when Van's hand covered his, and stroked him in counterpoint to his thrusts. Char's mind lit on fire, his orgasm clutching hold of every nerve ending in his body, his vision whiting in perfect ecstasy. He howled out his pleasure as Van lost his rhythm, curling over him with a guttural groan that echoed off the walls. Hips thrusting helplessly in the aftershocks of his climax, he kissed Char's forehead, his cheek, his mouth. They clutched each other, relaxing down into each other's bodies, and never managed to get out of bed to clean themselves before they were both asleep.

***

"Late this morning, young British clothing designer and entrepreneur Charmont Kyrria was found dead in his home. No apparent cause of death has been yet discovered, but authorities do not suspect foul play. Witnesses testify that Mr. Kyrria was out by himself for a meal at the Last Corner bar last night, and left alone. Neighbors say that Mr. Kyrria was alone when he came home, although acting erratically, possibly inebriated. A statement from Mr. Kyrria's uncle is as follows.

"We are devastated that such a young, talented man has been lost in his pr---" The television cut off with a blink and a pop, startling the investigators in the room as Charmont's body was wrapped up to be taken to autopsy. One of the investigators unfolded a long black scarf which was found folded neatly on top of the pillow beside the body. All the other clothing had been strewn down the hall from the front door, almost as if... A glassy sound of laughter tickled her ears, and she shivered violently with a chill. She folded the scarf again rapidly, and stuffed it in a bag. The sooner they were out of this haunted house, the better.

***

I can't believe you killed me while I was naked.

I apologise. I have never done this before.

A sigh, and the sound of a kiss. And then another.

Chapter Text

Char didn't mind being dead as much as he thought he would. Van had been shocked, and then deeply remorseful when he realized what had happened; the consequences of their intense coupling had stopped Char's heart. Char was never one to brood for long, though, and they soon established that fucking as ghosts was just as, if not more satisfying than fucking as… well, it could be called interspecies, he supposed. And there was more to be amazed by, on this new plane of existence, than he could possibly have imagined.

Van had indeed lost his eye and his voice in a war, years before he lost his life- just not the war that Char had supposed it was. The Dane wasn't actually a Dane at all, but a Viking, and had come from that area of the world back when Danes were the Dani and ruled by Sigar, the sea king. He had been wandering the world ever since, watching the great civilizations come and go. Sometimes he could be seen, and interact with people, but most of the time he was just a shadow. The last time he had been touched, before Char, had been just after the American Revolutionary war. The admission made Char's heart squeeze, though he supposed he didn’t technically have one anymore. Unimportant details.

Now they were curled together on Char's bed, the body and the forensic specialists gone some unknown time ago, and Char was feeling warm and content in Van's arms. He nudged the Viking with his nose, and got a kiss in return. "How did we have sex? If you didn't have a body?"

"Mmmm," Van hummed, thoughtful. "Should I tell you?"

Char squeezed Van's hips with his thighs, where they were still nestled together. Van smiled at him. "I was possessing you the entire time."

"You were inside me?" He blushed, and Van grinned. "More than just that magnificent cock, I mean," he clarified.

Van nodded, shyly. "It's rare. Very rare, that I can find someone like you who welcomes me in. From the moment I shook your hand, your soul clung to mine, and tugged me inside you."

Char pondered this for a long time, the delicate sense of timelessless vanishing as they settled into each other, spirit as body. The feeling of Van holding his elbow at the pub was still vibrant in his mind, and their bodies wrapped around each other later, Van full and heavy inside him. He snuggled deeper into Van's arms. "Has it happened before?"

Van closed his eyes. "Not exactly like you, but yes." He didn’t continue for a suspended moment. Then, he tucked his chin over Char's head and spoke softly. "I've walked inside a dying man to bring him off the fields of war. Inside a young girl to bring her out of slavery. I've been inside sailors to breathe the salt air, and inside pearl divers to feel the power of the ocean against my body again." His arms tightened around Char. "But I have never fallen in love before. Until you."

Char felt a warm blush of pleasure consume him. "And can we stay together like this? There's no… something waiting?"

Van kissed him. "It will be waiting for us when we wish it to be. And until then, the world is yours and mine."

Chapter Text

When Adam returned home from work, he hadn’t expected to find Elias in the kitchen, hands deep inside a hollow pumpkin, scraping the inside with a spoon.

Elias looked at Adam as if he had caught him doing something he wasn’t supposed to do. Adam looked at Elias with his eyebrows raised and then smiled at him.

“I see you’re getting into the spirit of Halloween soon.”

Elias finally relaxed and smiled as he nodded like a kid.

“Gabriel and I did this every year when we were kids. I miss the Jack O’Lanterns, so I figured I could do one this year.”

“That’s a good idea. It’ll spook every kid that comes to our hallway trick or treating,” Adam said with a grin.

Adam left his coat on the hanger outside the kitchen, and then walked in and opened a beer for himself. He asked Elias if he wanted one, but the man shook his head and simply focused on the task again, so Adam leaned into the counter and watched him as he worked.

Adam observed the careful way Elias was carving into the pumpkin, how the muscles on his forearms flexed, how the fingers of the hand with the spoon curved with it, and how the other hand held the pumpkin so delicately yet firmly.

“What?” Elias asked then, having noticed Adam’s stare.

“Nothing…” Adam said, but the slight blush on his cheeks and the wide smile he couldn’t hide said otherwise. “I just… You know I like your hands, they’re really beautiful.”

Adam took a sip of his beer and set the bottle on the counter, and when he faced Elias again, the man had his hands lifted over the bowl and was staring at them, turning them over to look at the back of them. Elias looked at him in that moment and he looked distressed, so the smile fell from his lips.

“They’re not beautiful…”

“What? Of course they are, I love your hands, Elias.”

Elias looked at his own hands again, and he sighed. “Okay…”

The man walked to the sink and washed the bits of pumpkin from them. Elias was avoiding his eyes while he did that, and he kept avoiding his gaze when he took the design for the pumpkin and started poking holes with an awl, following the pattern.

“You don’t believe me,” Adam noted.

Elias shrugged without looking at him, and kept poking the holes. Adam felt in that moment a mix of anger and helplessness at whoever had made Elias this way. He felt furious at anyone who had ever called him anything but beautiful, anyone who had told him he was not worth anybody’s praise, and anyone who had ever looked at him with anything but adoration. Adam loved Elias, loved every single part of him, so he hated knowing Elias didn’t believe him when he told him something like that.

Adam approached Elias from behind and put both hands on the counter, caging him between his arms. The man noticed it and turned slightly, confused as to what his purpose was, so Adam leaned closer until his chest was pressed against Elias’ back.

“Adam…?” Elias asked, but he ignored the implied question.

“You know… nothing goes quite as I plan with you, Elias. I promised myself you would only be a one-night stand, and yet I came back for you the next day. I promised myself I wouldn’t fall in love with you, and yet I found myself going completely crazy with you…” he explained, and Elias gasped when Adam also pressed his groin against his ass. Adam wondered if Elias would be starting to get hard only with that, but he already knew the answer. “And today, I had planned to come home, read a book, make dinner for both of us, or maybe ordering something, and then I really wanted you to fuck me in our bed until I couldn’t remember my name or how to walk…” he said, and he felt Elias’ groan against his chest. “And yet, since nothing goes as I plan, because here I am. Not sure if I should be angry because you don’t believe me, or if I should take it as a challenge.”

“Adam…” Elias breathed out.

Adam stood on tiptoe to be able to reach Elias’ ear without taking his hands off the counter, and he heard Elias’ gasp at feeling his breath against his skin.

“I think I’m going to go with the second option. Because, Elias… I really need you to believe me.”

“I- I believe you, Adam…” he said with a small voice, and Adam hummed and returned to his original position.

“I don’t think you do, Elias.”

Adam moved one of his hands then, and he put it on Elias’ shoulder. He dragged it down his biceps and along his forearms.

“I don’t think you know how much I love these arms… I love every muscle, and every bit of skin. I love how strong you are, I love when you lift me up in your arms, and I feel so good when you sleep with your arms around me, like I’m the only thing that exists in the world…”

Adam finished the touch in Elias’ hand. He surrounded it with his own and turned it around; Elias was still holding the awl, but he loosened the grip as he touched him.

“And I don’t think you know how much I love these hands… How much I love the way they can take me apart with a single touch, how much I love when they hold me while we’re fucking, or how much I love how gentle they can also be…”

Elias whimpered a little, and Adam smiled; he knew he was probably hard by now, between Adam’s touch, his words, and the way he was pressing his now too half-hard cock against the cleft of Elias’ ass.

Adam left Elias’ hand and moved his hand to his waist. Adam felt him tensing a little, the way he always did right before Adam touched him in a way that led to sex. But Adam didn’t go for the waistband of his tented pants; he dragged his hand upwards, sliding it into his abdomen and lifting his shirt in the process. He felt Elias’ heavy breathing in his hand there.

“I don’t think you know, either, how much I love your belly. I love when I get to kiss it, and touch it… And I don’t think you know how much I love your chest,” Adam said, his hand going into the place as he mentioned it, his fingers tangling in the hair. “I love you hair here, and I love when I’m on top of you and I get to see you from above. And I love it, too, when you lay over me and I feel how broad, how strong you are…”

“Ah… A- Adam,” Elias moaned, and leaned backwards against him.

Adam heard the clanking of the awl dropping from Elias’ hand and into the counter, and he saw that Elias had abandoned the pumpkin too.

Adam craned his neck and nipped at Elias’ ear, which was now much closer to his face with the new posture the man had, almost supporting his weigh on Adam despite having grabbed the edge of the counter with both hands so he wouldn’t fall.

Adam used both hands on Elias then, one holding onto Elias’ shoulder with his shirt still lifted upwards, and the other snaking around Elias’ waist.

“I love your neck, and how beautiful you look with the marks I leave here… I love your beautiful lips, and how addicted I am to your kisses… And I love your mustache, and your maroon eyes and how you look at me, and your hair of ridiculous and impossible color…” Adam recited. “And of course…”

Adam dragged the hand he had on Elias’ stomach downwards, sliding it inside his sweatpants and cupping Elias’ erection through his underwear, which was completely wet with precum. A light squeeze was all it took for Elias to come with a deep moan, spilling into the underwear and Adam’s hand and leaning into his chest. Adam held him with the hand he had on his shoulder so he wouldn’t collapse, feeling Elias’ legs trembling, and pressed light kisses on Elias’ neck and shoulder as the man panted and let out little moans.

“And of course… I love your cock, more than I love mine… which is saying a lot,” Adam finished saying.

Elias laughed breathlessly, and Adam smiled, victorious. He moved back from Elias only to allow him to turn around. As soon as he did, Adam surrounded his shoulders with both hands and kissed him on the mouth, hungrily and eagerly. Adam felt Elias’ hands on his ass, and a second later he was being lifted and carried two steps without breaking the kiss. Elias left him on the empty side of the counter, and he sighed happily against Elias’ mouth as he pulled back.

“So… do you believe me now?”

Elias looked at him through half-closed eyes, and he smiled a little with that adoring face Adam could get drunk on.

“I believe you, Adam,” Elias said, his tone of voice completely different to the previous time he had said that.

“Good. Now, take me to the bedroom so I can properly show you.”

Elias grinned, and he did exactly that, the pumpkin being forgotten for a different moment.

Chapter Text

Will was running as fast as he could. He could hear his own breathing, his heart thundering against his chest, and the wind whooshing against his ears. But despite being running across the woods, there wasn’t time to enjoy the feeling of freedom that always brought him, because on the corner of his eye, he saw the huge, gray-brown werewolf that entered his field of vision.

The wolf growled at him and Will bared his teeth, exerting himself to run faster, faster, faster. But that wasn’t enough, because the other wolf was catching up with him, and as soon as he was beside him, he swerved and collided against him, shoulder against shoulder. Will used their sudden proximity to throw a bite against him without pausing. The wolf dodged the attack, and they kept running side by side, their breaths forming clouds around their noses that were soon left behind with their speed.

In the darkness of the sunset, Will looked at the wolf’s amber eyes for a second, and he knew what he was about to do a second before he jumped at Will’s rear legs. Just when the wolf jumped, Will stopped and dodged the attack, seeing the wolf flying in front of him and into the ground. Will attacked then without losing any time; he jumped on the wolf, biting the fur on his neck, which tore a small whine out of him. The wolf contorted himself beneath Will until he managed to escape his bite and get up.

They stood then one in front of the other, looking at each other while they breathed hard. The other wolf tilted his head, and Will felt himself growling. He was daring him to attack, and that’s what Will did; he pounced on him, and the other wolf did so, too. They clashed in the middle, a disarray of fangs and paws that ended with Will charging at the other’s flank and knocking him over. He stood over him on all fours, growling at him a warning not to move again, and the wolf huffed out in agreement. Will felt pride washing over him; he had won.

Will started changing his form at the same time the other did, and when they were completely human again, Hannibal smiled under him.

“You’re getting faster every day, Will. Better,” Hannibal praised him with the throaty voice he always had after exerting himself.

“Better than you, you mean?” Will asked, raising an eyebrow.

Hannibal suddenly grabbed one of his arms and used his knee to push Will sideways, making both of them roll over. Will didn’t have time to register it until Hannibal was on top of him, his wrists pinned over his head.

“Don’t get too cocky, boy. Cockiness can get you killed.”

Will did the same Hannibal had done, except using only his legs to push Hannibal above his head, rolling together until they were in their original position. This time, though, Will pinned Hannibal’s wrists with his hands, and his legs with his feet.

Will leaned down until their faces were very close.

“You should apply that to yourself, Hannibal.”

He didn’t give Hannibal the chance to reply, because he pressed their lips together in a kiss. It was sloppy and urgent, since they were still trying to catch their breath, but there was no time, because Will wanted more, and now.

They were both already naked after the transformation, so when Will arched his back and ground down on Hannibal’s groin, they both moaned at feeling their cocks rubbing together. Will felt himself being lit on fire at everything that went through his head in that moment.

When Will had met Hannibal, he had been a lone wolf before joining them. He had told them that he had been alone for a long time, but despite that, he seemed like the most civilized of them. Of course, Will found out later that he was not exactly how he had thought him; Hannibal had been the cause of more than half of a series of murders that had happened near their pack’s territory, humans killed by the hands of werewolves, which also had been robbed of an organ each.

“Humans are rude, Will,” Hannibal had told him the day Will had figured it out. “They kill far more wolves than we do humans, and they do it merely for fun. As a sport. Don’t tell me you’ve never wanted to do the same I did… I saw your eyes when you looked at them.”

Will hadn’t been able to deny it, because it was true. He hadn’t agreed with him, though, not in that moment… But he hadn’t told Jack either, the alpha of his pack, who was responsible for the murders. The day Jack found out on his own, and that Will had known for a long time, Will had fled with Hannibal. He had never fit in his pack anyway, as he had never fit anywhere… until now, with Hannibal.

From that moment, they had been running away from Jack’s grasp, and trying to figure out how to live with their new freedom. Will was learning more about himself than ever thanks to Hannibal, even about the darkest parts of his self, and he felt like Hannibal was also discovering himself through Will. And part of that was the realization that they were a two-wolves pack for a reason; they were alike, and exact opposites… and they were perfect for each other. Hannibal had told him he had realized his own feelings long before, but it had taken Will much longer to fully understand. And now that he had, he felt completely free for the first time in his life.

Will tightened the hold on Hannibal’s wrists as he slipped his tongue out to search for the other’s. He heard himself groaning, and Hannibal let out a guttural sound that told Will he was on the same page.

“Ah- Hannibal… I want… I want you to…”

Will stopped talking and flushed as he pictured it in his mind. Will let go of his wrists to straighten over him, so Hannibal used that moment of hesitation to grab Will by the waist and push him sideways again and into the ground. Hannibal blanketed Will’s body with his own and Will gasped at the pressure of both of their half-hard cocks together.

“Tell me,” Hannibal told him. It sounded more like a plea than a demand, and that sent a wave of heat down Will’s belly.

“I want to come in your mouth,” Will said, and he closed his eyes and exposed his neck out of habit, allowing Hannibal access.

Hannibal growled, the sound vibrating deep inside Will’s chest, and buried his face in Will’s neck, where he grazed Will’s skin with his teeth, but didn’t bite; instead, he kissed him over his pulse point, and under his jaw, and finally on the lips again.

When Hannibal broke the kiss and started kissing and licking his way down Will’s body, he let out a moan and writhed against the ground. He felt the leaves and dirt under him, but he didn’t care; didn’t care about anything in the entire world that wasn’t Hannibal and his mouth.

Hannibal released Will’s wrists to continue going down, and when he felt his mouth below his navel, he opened his eyes and looked at him. Hannibal’s eyes were on him, and Will bit his lower lip as the werewolf smiled and settled between Will’s legs. Hannibal took Will’s knees and put his legs over his shoulders. He grabbed the meat of Will’s thigh with a hand and lowered his head into his groin, not losing any more time. Will felt him licking a long stripe across his balls and cock, where he sucked upwards. Will pressed his hands against the ground, fisting a handful of leaves and dirt as he opened his mouth to let out the ragged breaths Hannibal was pulling out of him.

“Fuck, fuck.”

Hannibal smiled again and finally stopped teasing and wrapped his lips around the head of Will’s cock. He first licked the precome, and then Hannibal started swallowing him down, but when Will was halfway into his mouth, he stopped and gazed at him. Will let out half a chuckle and half a groan, knowing what he wanted him to do.

“Don’t you dare taking your fangs out,” he joked, and Hannibal hummed in answer.

Will grabbed Hannibal’s hair, not too tightly, but not loosely either, and then he pushed his head downwards. Will moaned when he saw the way his cock disappeared inside Hannibal’s beautiful red lips, the way he was swallowing him so easily. When he thought he had gone deep enough, he pulled him upwards, and repeated the movement, Hannibal completely pliant to his will. He dropped his head downwards as he did that, and swayed his hips a little at the same rhythm, unable to stay still.

“Hannibal…” Will breathed out in between his panting and groaning.

Will felt Hannibal moaning, so he looked at him again as he pushed him down and lifted his hips slowly. He hadn’t meant it, but he did both movements at the same time, so Hannibal swallowed him farther than he had ever done, to the base, and Will felt the tightness of his throat surrounding him. Will gasped with pleasure and surprise, and pulled Hannibal’s head upwards and off his cock. Hannibal inhaled and swallowed as he tried to breathe normally, spit dribbling down his lips and chin.

Fuck,” Will blurted, and he was about to apologize when Hannibal gave him a little smile.

Will felt Hannibal’s fingers digging into his thigh, and the other hand holding onto his side tightly, Will certain they would bruise the next day. And then, Hannibal ran his tongue across his lips and took Will’s cock into his mouth again. That time, Will didn’t guide Hannibal’s movements, his hand merely resting on the back of Hannibal’s head. Instead, Hannibal was the one who bobbed his head a couple of times, and then, he went farther again. Hannibal swallowed him slowly but steadily until he reached the limit he had crossed before; he moved down, down, down until Will felt it again, the tightness, the hot, amazing tightness of Hannibal’s throat. Hannibal stayed like that for a couple of seconds, as if he were adjusting, and then he started moving slowly. He bobbed his head slightly, Will’s cock sliding into his throat with ease. Will tightened the hold on his hair and let out a rumble as he felt the fire sparking in his gut, and tried to warn him.

“H- Hann…”

Will looked at him just in time to see Hannibal’s eyes lightening a little, the way they did when he changed to his wolf form. Hannibal swallowed him whole again, and Will came hard inside him, the orgasm burning him from within.

As he lay boneless and spent, Will felt Hannibal pulling back slowly, and with a hum, he lapped at Will’s cock in slow, lazy licks until he shuddered, feeling too sensitive. Hannibal set Will’s legs on the ground and crawled over him, lying down half beside him, half on top of him. Will stayed completely still as Hannibal caressed his cheek and kissed him softly on the neck.

“That… was…” Will said when he could talk.

“Yes.”

“Holy shit, Hannibal…” Will let out in a breathless laugh.

Will finally was able to open his eyes and look at him. Hannibal’s eyes were back to normal, and he was looking at him with that adoring expression Will would never get completely used to, and that always made his heart squeeze. Will pulled him closer to kiss him, and he sighed when he moved back. He felt so content and tired, he could’ve easily closed his eyes and spend the night there. But as much as he loved the woods, he’d much rather go back to their house, take a shower together, and curl up against Hannibal in their bed.

“I don’t think I have energy to even change now,” Will said, referring to the transformation.

“Even if you did…” Hannibal said, pausing to press a kiss into Will’s shoulder. “I’m sure if I race you now to our clothes, you would lose.”

“Don’t get too cocky, remember?” Will told him, and he laughed as Hannibal kissed him again.

Chapter Text

Allan Fischer was not happy.

Most people who were forced on a two week vacation due to overwork would be pleased to find themselves aimlessly meandering around a beach, with nowhere to be and nothing to do but read and doze off in a chair. Skagen, a little tourist town at the end of the northernmost tip of the northernmost peninsula in Denmark, was a place where nothing exciting ever happened, on purpose. Beyond his little beach chair were the grey waves where the Skagerrak Sea met the Kattegat Sea, and beyond that, a hazy landmass that night be Norway, might be Sweden, and could just be grey mist rolling in and obscuring the horizon. It was beautiful, he supposed, if you liked that kind of thing.

He lit another cigarette, and was debating on getting a bike rental to travel to the other side of the peninsula, no doubt equally boring, when he heard words spoken in a particular tone of voice that he had learned, over his years as an officer and a detective, was a voice that held secrets. Naturally, he listened in.

The speaker was American, and his English was serviceable enough to eavesdrop with fair ease. "…last night on the beach that was the size of a wolf, but I didn't think Denmark had wolves." The speaker was a middle-aged woman with her hair in a simple knot. Well-dressed, drinking a glass of wine. Calm. Fischer gave her points for Danish history-- Denmark didn’t have wolves, and hadn't for a hundred years, probably more. Likely what she had seen was someone's dog. He frowned, realizing how desperate he must be to find trouble if he was listening to tourist gossip. Her companion seemed to take her seriously, though. He asked how she knew it wasn’t a dog, and she sat back in her chair and gave a visible shiver. "No dog howls like that.”

Interesting. He leaned forward, blowing smoke away from them. "Where did you see it?" They both turned to him, and then the woman pointed out towards the beach.

"Somewhere out in the dunes." He nodded, and got up to go back to his room. He could have dinner and a nap and still investigate. At least it was something to do.

***

Aiden had fled in a panic until he ran out of land. From Bucharest he had angled through Germany and then upwards, following the pull of the ocean tides until there was nowhere left to place a dry paw. Then, exhausted from months of travel, he had slept, his head pillowed on his pack, not even bothering to change back into his human form, since then he would have to put on clothes. Fur was warmer anyway, and the cold wind from the North Sea made it an uncomfortable prospect to sleep naked in the sand.

He knew that he could turn east along the coast of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia… he could keep going until he truly ran out of land at the top of Sweden, but he was tired, and a little miserable, and very lonely, and he just wanted a place to rest for a little while, safe from the people in Bucharest who had made him this way. At least here he could catch fish to eat instead of rabbits. It wasn't so much fun to pick rabbit fur out from between human molars.

With a sigh, he lay on his flank and watched the sea roll in until it tickled his paws, and then he shook himself off, tugged his backpack out of the high tide line, and went looking for something to eat.

***

Fischer considered himself a very patient man. Others might not, but that was likely because he didn't find them worth waiting for. But give him a goal: a stake-out or an opponent to outfox, and he could outwait a stone. Now he sat perched on the edge of a dune, tucked into the shadows cast by taller dunes, and waited. He couldn’t smoke, so he rolled his lighter between his fingers and slipped his mind into the drone of the sea.

The full moon was high in the sky when a shape interrupted his field of vision. He flicked his eyes over to watch it pad up the shoreline. It was definitely not a dog. Even in just the moonlight he could make out the huge shoulders, the massive head and long legs of the wolf. It snuffled in the tide, dancing back from the surf, and snapped its jaws at the little fish that must have been pooling around its paws. Fischer watched it play and hunt for a long time, and was just considering what he should do-- scare it away? Call the Skagens Politi and ask them to deal with it? Then something happened that he could not at first process.

Where the wolf had been, there stood a man, slender and naked in the bright wash of moonlight. With a holler that cracked at the top, like his voice was rusty with disuse, the man plunged into the cold sea. Fischer stared in pure disbelief as the man flung himself out of the water, salt spray arching up off his long hair, and then dove back in. Fischer was moving before he could process that it might not be such a good idea to approach a man who might be a mythical shape shifter. He made it nearly down to the shoreline before the man saw him.

They stared at each other for a breath or two, and then the man scratched at his hair and walked out of the sea and towards Fischer. "Gonna arrest me for skinny-dipping?" he snarled as he walked by. Fischer fell in beside him, a little ways away as to not seem like a threat.

"No, but I would like to ask what happened to the wolf." He figured there was no sense in delaying this discussion. The man stopped in the sand, his toes curling, and Fischer saw his shoulders fall. His hair was quite long, falling between his shoulder blades in dripping, widly uncombed rivulets, and he was beautiful in a way that Fischer usually didn't notice about men. Powerful around the biceps and thighs, slender at the wrist and ankle. The man turned fully to him, and Fischer absolutely did not glance at his soft sex outlined with curly hair at his groin, or his slender belly and pronounced ribs, just as he had definitely not been looking thoughtfully at his ass. He tugged his eyes up to the man's face, and got another look at the fine features, which were now fixed in a surly scowl.

"Howabout you fuck off?" And he planted his hands on his hips and looked furious. Fischer grinned-- he couldn't help it.

"I could, but then I would miss the pleasure of your company." He held out a hand. "My name is Fischer, and I trust my eyes, so don’t try and tell me what I didn’t see, yeah?"

The man studied his hand, and then rolled his eyes, giving up on his posturing for the moment. He shook it briefly-- his skin was cold from the seawater and the night air. "Aiden. You a cop or something?"

Fischer nodded. "Or something. You a werewolf?"

Aiden sneered at him. "No such thing as werewolves."

Fischer sighed, and reached in his pocket for a cigarette. He pulled on out for Aiden, who accepted, and even let him light it. They smoked for a moment in the quiet. "You gonna make me stand out here all night and guess?"

"What's the benefit of telling you?" And then he shivered, and Fischer felt like a dick. He tugged off his jacket and wrapped it around a protesting Aiden. It fell past his hips, nearly to the tops of his thighs. Aiden scowled for a moment, and then pulled it closer around his body, muttering a thank you.

"If you tell me, then I'll have a better idea about whether you are a danger to people."

Aiden ignored him, finished his cigarette, and began trudging to his pack, which Fischer spotted hidden in the reeds. He pulled it open and shook out a pair of jeans. Even in the dark, Fischer could tell they hadn't been washed in a while. He wondered how long it had been since Aiden had washed his clothes, or slept in a bed. An uncharacteristic pang of something that could be compassion welled up in him. "You can wash your clothes at my hotel-- they have a washer. And a shower," he added.

"You want to fuck me? Because I don't have anything to steal."

A shiver laced up Fischer's spine at the flatness in Aiden's tone. "I hadn't been thinking of that, no." He turned away, giving the other man space as Aiden tugged on jeans over damp skin. "I'm not in the habit of fucking exhausted, starving strangers."

"Who turn into wolves."

An unexpected laugh caught him, and he grinned. "Not recently."

Pulling his backpack over his shoulder, still wearing Fischer's coat, he made a moue and tipped his head. "I haven't had a hot shower in weeks. Or a bed."

Fischer didn't budge. Aiden rubbed his hand through his wet, cold hair, and sighed, exasperated. "Fine. I'm a Loup Garou. It's not a werewolf. It's something… else."

Fischer nodded at him, thoughtful. He waited for his imagination to balk at him, and for the protest he knew he should make, but nothing came. "There's a little place across from my hotel that does a good pizza. And you can tell me all about what the hell that actually is."

"You're an asshole," Aiden muttered, but he began walking back towards the edge of town, not looking back to check if Fischer was keeping up. Fischer grinned as he walked after him. Vacation was looking up.

Chapter Text

“I did not say I had been here, I said I had talked to someone who had.”

“Oh, because that’s the same!”

Tristan smiled, and Galahad felt even angrier.

“Why the hell are you smiling?! We’re lost in an abandoned house because of you and you smile?”

He didn’t answer, so Galahad huffed out and turned around to complain to the rest of the group, but he froze in the middle of the hallway, because there was nobody behind them. Bors, Lance, Gawain, Dago… Everyone except Arthur and Gwen –who had said as an excuse that it was kids’ stuff, when in reality they all knew they probably were making out somewhere - had been there a couple of minutes before when Galahad had started arguing with Tristan. He was sure, because he had heard Bors saying ‘here we go again’. But now, Galahad lifted his flashlight and only saw the end of the hallway through which they had come.

“T- Tristan.”

“I know,” he said, stepping beside him. Galahad swallowed and let out a nervous breath.

“These idiots… Do they seriously think they’re going to scare us by hiding?”

They looked at each other, and he saw in Tristan’s face what he was actually thinking: they were already scared.

“Guys! Come on, it’s not funny!” Galahad said loudly, but there was no answer.

Something touched his shoulder, and he turned around startled v to see Tristan’s hand there.

“Come on, we should… keep going. We’ll find them at some point.”

“But-”

Galahad kept quiet, because he suddenly heard a creak at the end of the hallway. They both pointed their flashlights there, holding their breath. In that moment, the entire world seemed to be holding his breath, the silence even unnatural, as if it was an invisible but deep, dense creature that had suddenly appeared. Galahad felt the hair on his neck standing up, and his heart beating hard. Thud-thud. Thud-thud. They were still for a minute, but when nothing happened, he sighed.

“Crap…”

Just as Galahad was lowering the flashlight, he saw a distinct shadow moving around the hallway’s corner, and he gasped. He turned to Tristan abruptly, crashing against him and dropping his flashlight in the process. But there wasn’t time to pick it up, because Tristan took his hand and started running, pulling him along.

“What the hell was that?!?” Galahad asked as he kept running, looking back for a second.

“I don’t know but I’m not staying to ask!”

They ran through hallway after hallway, finding a set of stairs at some point. The ones going down were completely ruined, so Tristan threw himself to the ones going up, and when they found another hallway, they stopped, out of breath.

“Is this a freaking labyrinth or what?” Galahad whispered, pretty certain that all the hallways were exactly the same.

Tristan didn’t answer, but when he started walking, this time slowly, he seemed as tense as Galahad was. They moved across the hallway, a doors at both sides, most of them closed, a couple ajar. Galahad shuddered again and moved a little closer to Tristan. He suddenly realized Tristan was still holding his hand, and now that they weren’t running, Galahad frowned. But he didn’t have much time to think much about it, because they heard something.

They froze again, and Galahad tightened the hold on Tristan’s hand as they kept quiet so pick up their ears.

Nothing…

Nothing.

Galahad turned to Tristan, and there it was again, now more clearly: a scratching, like someone raking their nails over a plank of wood…

Tristan didn’t even give Galahad time to think, because he threw his body against him and pushed him backwards. Tristan dragged him to one of the many doors of the hallway, and once they were inside, he closed the door as much as the ruined and bloated wood allowed him to.

“What the-”

“Shh, listen,” Tristan said.

Galahad turned his head a little prick up his ear, and they both heard the sound getting closer and closer… Tristan turned and tried opening the door.

“No!” Galahad whispered, but Tristan raised a hand.

“Wait…”

Tristan managed to open the door slightly, and through the slit, they heard the scratching louder… and then, the cause of the sound entered their field of vision: a pigeon and its little claws over the wood.

“Motherfucker!” Galahad said, and the pigeon startled and flew away across the hallway.

Galahad sighed loudly, and when they looked at each other, they laughed together at their foolishness, all the tension starting to release.

“I can’t believe we thought…” Galahad started, and Tristan chuckled.

“Yeah…”

Galahad was suddenly aware of just how close Tristan was. He moved back, but his back hit the other side of the tiny room. Using Tristan’s flashlight, they saw that they were in what had probably been a sort of closet, maybe for the brooms. But whatever it had been, now it was an enclosed space in which they were almost pressed against each other. Galahad felt himself blushing intensely, and he looked down with a nervous huff.

Tristan was a year above him in high school, same as Arthur, Bors and Dago. The way they had all ended up being friends with Gawain and him had been out of pure luck. Galahad had never been bullied, not more than the usual insults anyone could receive in high school. He had been good at laying low, but he hadn’t been able to stand aside when he saw the school’s bullies taking on a younger kid. He had ended up in a fight that he would’ve never won, and right as the bully was about to punch him straight in the face, someone else knocked the guy out. When Galahad looked to his savior, he saw Tristan smiling at him and offering him a hand.

After that, Gawain and Galahad had become friends with that strange group of friends, and Tristan and Galahad’s constant bickering had started. Deep inside, even though he wouldn’t even admit it even to Gawain, Galahad knew he had a crush on Tristan, and that was partly why he was annoyed at him most of the time; he had had the crush even since before he had met the guy, but what had been a stupid high school fantasy of a junior ever even getting the chance to talk to a senior, had slowly become a reality with the acquired friendship.

Not even a month before, they had celebrated a party only for them, and when they started playing truth or dare, Galahad grumbled. They made a few rounds, and then Gawain dared Galahad to kiss Tristan. He punched Gawain in the shoulder as the rest of the guys laughed and cheered, but he stood up and left. At the end of the night, Tristan found him in the kitchen while the rest were in the living room, eating the pizza they had ordered.

“Am I really that gross that you’d rather eat the Tabasco as a punishment than kissing me?” Tristan asked all of the sudden, talking about the dare Gawain had presented him with when Galahad returned to the friends.

Galahad looked at him flushing once again. “I… didn’t want to kiss you in front of the rest…”

Tristan raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh.”

Galahad cleared his throat and pursed his lips. He was about to excuse himself out of the kitchen when Tristan hunched and pressed their lips together. It was merely a kiss of lips against lips, soft and gentle, and before Galahad could process it, Tristan pulled back and smirked.

“There. We owed that to the sacred game of Truth and Dare.”

After that night, neither of them had mentioned it, and they had continued behaving as before, only spending even more time together. But even after that, Galahad hadn’t dared to dream that Tristan had actually wanted to kiss him. It had been once, and because of the game. But now… now there wasn’t a game. Now, they were completely alone, and the stupid abandoned house had led them to a very, very small closet.

“Maybe we should go search for out idiot friends…” Galahad said, and Tristan nodded.

“Maybe…”

Galahad swallowed hard, his heart skipping a beat as he looked into Tristan’s eyes. The other was also looking at him intently, and so Galahad thought, fuck it. They started moving to the other at the same time, slowly getting closer… Galahad put both hands on Tristan’s arms as he stood on tiptoe, closing his eyes… and before he reached Tristan’s lips on his own, the other pressed their bodies together and kissed him.

Tristan pushed him gently against the wall, and Galahad parted his lips as he held onto his shoulders. When he felt the kiss deepening and Tristan’s tongue over his own, Galahad moaned into his mouth and tried to pull him closer.

He felt vibrant, like he was about to burst, he felt like laughing out loud and screaming at the same time, and his heart felt the same way, fluttering happily inside his chest while they kissed. While I make out with Tristan, Galahad thought.

In that moment, Tristan let out a deep groan and pressed Galahad even more against the wall… and Tristan’s leg moved to press against his erection.

“Ah, shit,” Galahad said.

Tristan pulled immediately back – or, at least, as much as the tight space allowed him to - and he looked, for the first time since Galahad had met him, truly sorry.

“Sorry. I’m-”

No!” Galahad said quickly, and he moved close to Tristan again. “Do it again.”

Tristan stared at him open-mouthed, his eyes half closed and breathing hard. He looked like he was about to devour Galahad, and he would let him.

“Are you sure?”
“Tristan…”

Galahad didn’t have to repeat it again, because Tristan threw himself against him, his entire body over him. Galahad held onto him and even dared to take a few locks of his long hair in his hand as he writhed hips a little, feeling the friction once again and moaning loudly. Tristan put a hand over his mouth to muffle the sound, and they stayed frozen like that for a moment, their pelvises together but not daring to move. Because there might not be ghosts in this house, but their friends were still somewhere.

Galahad started moving slowly again, swaying his hips and thrusting into him. He felt the other’s erection against his own, and he closed his eyes and moaned against Tristan’s hand. Tristan circled Galahad’s waist and pressed their bodies even closer as they kept rubbing their bodies against the other’s.

It wasn’t comfortable, or a good angle for what they were doing, but Galahad didn’t care at all, because he was feeling the friction with every single one of their movements, he could feel Tristan’s back muscles under his hand, and his chest against his own, and he wouldn’t have changed anything at all.

Tristan dropped his hand from Galahad’s mouth, but he replaced it almost immediately with his lips. They breathed hard against each other, and Galahad kissed him when he felt a new moan rising in his throat.

When he felt himself getting too close, he opened his eyes and threw his head backwards, praying Tristan was too, and he wasn’t about to make a fool of himself. Tristan pressed a sloppy kiss to Galahad’s neck, sucking at the same time that he ground against him again.

Galahad came with a strangled groan, tightening the grip on Tristan’s hair and shoulders. As the aftershocks slowly faded and they stopped moving, Galahad heard Tristan gasping and panting against his ear. He was now completely still, and Galahad bit his lower lip as they moved back to look at each other. Galahad blushed again when he saw Tristan’s soft and beautiful expression; he had never seen him like that, and he had never seen him looking at anybody like he was looking at him in that moment.

“Are you okay?” Tristan asked him, and Galahad nodded.

“You?”

“Better than okay. Though we made quite a mess…” Tristan chuckled, and Galahad snorted.

When they moved completely back, they started fixing their clothes, and Galahad brushed Tristan’s hair a little, having made a mess of his hair, too. Once they finally were more or less decent, they walked out and Galahad sighed, remembering they were still in the maze that was that house. They started walking the way they had come, and after a couple of minutes they heard a voice. They froze in the hallway, but when they heard it again, Galahad smiled and sighed relieved: it was Dago.

When they finally reunited with them, the rest only cheered for a second, because then Gawain hit Galahad’s shoulder.

“Where the hell were you? We left you guys alone to prank you, because you would not stop fighting! But when we were going to come out of the room to scare you, you were gone…”

“We were… uh… around,” Tristan said, and Galahad pursed his lips and nodded.

“Yeah. And don’t worry about the fighting, we made out. UP!” he quickly corrected himself. “We made up.”

Gawain raised an eyebrow and Bors sighed and told the rest that it was time to get the fuck out of there. They all agreed, and Tristan and Galahad followed the rest. As they walked, Galahad felt something in his hand, and when he looked down, he couldn’t help but beaming and intertwining his fingers with Tristan’s.

Chapter Text

Luke didn’t know how they had gotten to this point, he really didn’t… But it wasn’t like he was going to complain.

It had started with a light-hearted discussion on whether Luke’s cat should be allowed inside the walk-in closet, or even in the bedroom.

“I do not appreciate having all my suits full of black cat fur,” Le Chiffre explained.

“Come on, almost all your suits are black, you can’t even see the hair.”

The truth was, after everything that had happened and they had moved together, Le Chiffre hadn’t worn many suits. He didn’t have a reason to, anymore, but he still loved them and Luke had caught him taking them out of the closet and staring at them longingly a few times. He was pretty sure he didn’t miss his previous life, but merely the suits, the glamor…

The discussion ended when the aforementioned black cat jumped on Le Chiffre’s lap. He pointed at it as if that proved his point, and Luke laughed until his ribs hurt.

The next day, he told Le Chiffre to dress up. He looked at him with a puzzled expression – or, a puzzled as Le Chiffre allowed his expression to be -, but simply stood up and went to their walk-in closet to change, not even questioning him. Luke had his own clothes ready in the bathroom, so he changed there and waited for him in the living room, sitting on the back of the couch.

When Le Chiffre walked out, dressed in a beautiful black suit, Luke smiled. Le Chiffre stayed completely still, his eyes traveling from Luke’s face down his torso, where he was wearing an unbuttoned shirt, down to the black silk boxers he was wearing… and nothing else.

“I thought you could use your precious suits, instead of having them lying there for the cat to ruin them.”

Luke moved away from the couch and towards him. He ran a hand from Le Chiffre’s chest to his navel, feeling the cloth under his fingertips. Le Chiffre’s expression didn’t change at all, except for a small twitch in his eye that Luke had learned to read in time.

“Remember our first time, in that convention?” he asked, looking him in the eye. “I thought you were such an asshole, not even taking your jacket off while we fucked…” Luke chuckled, and he let his hand fall. “But I get hard now even thinking about that night.”

Luke took Le Chiffre’s hand and pulled him into the bedroom once again. He closed the door so the cat wouldn’t get in, even though he would be sleeping somewhere around the duplex. After that, he went to the bed and sat at the edge. He nodded towards the dresser.

“Choose something from the drawer. Not the lube, though… I’m ready.”

Le Chiffre’s nose twitched, and Luke knew it was not from displeasure, quite the contrary; when they engaged in these activities, it was usually Luke the one using the toys on Le Chiffre, by both of their preference. Now, Luke was still calling the shots, had even prepared himself before, but he was also allowing Le Chiffre complete freedom on him.

“Anything…?” Le Chiffre said, his breath shuddering slightly. Luke smiled.

Anything.

Luke observed him as he opened the drawer they had completely dedicated to their toys. Luke bit his lower lip and writhed a little on the mattress, impatientto know which he would go for. He wondered if he would take one of their pairs of handcuffs… or perhaps he would go for something completely different like the leather whip… But when he turned around, he was holding something else: the gag Luke had bought months before, which they hadn’t even gotten the chance to use yet. It was a black leather circle with a deep red ball, and Luke felt his cock getting rock hard only at seeing it. He had bought it with the intention of using it on Le Chiffre, but he very much liked this scenario too.

“Do you plan on continuing last night’s discussion while you use that?”

Le Chiffre approached him and left the gag beside Luke’s thigh, the mere brush against it sending a shiver down his spine. He put a finger under Luke’s chin and made him look up.

“That wouldn’t be a fair discussion… and I love to win, you know that.”

Luke smiled as the other bent over to kiss him lightly. When Le Chiffre straightened, Luke did so too, his palms pressed flat on the mattress, and licked his lips, knowing what was coming now.

Le Chiffre unbuttoned his pants and opened his fly to pull out his cock, already half hard. He caressed Luke’s cheek with his other hand, dragging his fingers slowly into his hair, where he grabbed a few locks. Luke stared into his eyes, and he nodded.

“Open,” Le Chiffre ordered.

“You really want to shut me up, huh?”

Le Chiffre merely smiled, and so did Luke right before opening his mouth, hollowing out his tongue. Le Chiffre tightened the hold on Luke’s hair as he leaned closer, and parted his lips to accommodate his breathing as he was entering Luke’s mouth. Luke hummed, but didn’t do anything else other than locking his eyes with Le Chiffre’s and kept it that way as the other started to pull back and in again, fucking his mouth in a very slow rhythm. Luke felt Le Chiffre’s cock getting harder inside his mouth with each gentle but firm thrust of his hips, harder every time he reached farther into Luke’s throat. When he reached the back of his throat, Luke closed his lips and sucked out of instinct. Le Chiffre moaned above him, merely a small sound, but more than enough for Luke. When Le Chiffre pulled out, he grinned victorious, but didn’t say anything.

Le Chiffre released Luke’s hair and brushed his own backwards, and then nodded towards him.

“Take everything off.”

Luke did so, throwing the newly acquired underwear to the floor, and the shirt backwards to the bed, and Le Chiffre took the gag and bent over. Luke smiled again, delighted at how much Le Chiffre seemed to be enjoying this, and the other cracked a crooked smirk.

“Lift up,” he said, and Luke did so immediately, lifting his chin and opening his mouth.

Le Chiffre put the ball of the gag carefully inside Luke’s mouth, and he felt the silicone of the ball with his tongue, letting it roll on his mouth and testing the feeling of it, how his jaw ached but not too much… Once he was satisfied and certain he would be able to wear it for a while, he nodded and Le Chiffre surrounded his head with the leather. Luke felt the straps getting tighter as Le Chiffre fastened it, and he moaned simply at the feeling.

Luke observed then as Le Chiffre took his suit jacket off and folded it neatly to leave it above the dresser. He also rolled up his sleeves up to his elbows in slow, careful movements. Luke knew it was partly an act, since he would probably be even more eager than him, but he wondered what Le Chiffre would do now; he might want him on the bed, on his back, or perhaps on all fours to fuck him from behind… What he didn’t except was for him to turn around and walk to the corner of the room, where he sat on the wide armchair they used sometimes while they were getting dressed.

Luke raised his eyebrows and looked at him, elegantly sprawled, hands on the arms of the chair, licking his lips deliberately. Luke tried to swallow, but realized for the first time just how hard it was with the gag.

“Come…” Le Chiffre said in a low voice.

Luke didn’t lose any time before getting up and walking to him. Le Chiffre raised a hand, which Luke took before climbing onto his lap and setting on his thighs. Luke raised his hands to put them on his shoulders, but he reconsidered it and hummed as he slowly moved his hands backwards, putting them behind his back and grabbing one of his own wrists with the other hand. Le Chiffre’s upper lip twitched as he saw this, and he stayed completely still for a second. Luke was started to wonder if he was going to merely look at him when the man cupped Luke’s neck with a hand and circled his waist with the other. Le Chiffre kissed the corner of Luke’s mouth, his cheek, his jaw, and finally teased with his tongue across his lower lip and the edge of the ball, where he had started to drool. Le Chiffre dragged the hand he had on the small of Luke’s back down and into his cleft, where he slipped two fingers inside him, gasping at finding Luke wasn’t lying; he had prepared himself thoroughly in the shower before telling Le Chiffre to dress up, and then had applied enough lube for him not to need any more. It would probably hurt a bit, but he would welcome it.

Le Chiffre fucked into him slowly as he kept pressing feather light kisses across his jaw, which was starting to ache a bit. Luke closed his eyes and let himself enjoy the way Le Chiffre’s fingers slipped so easily inside him, the way his lips brushed over his skin…

“Lift up,” Le Chiffre said again.

Luke opened his eyes and straightened with Le Chiffre’s help, since it was hard to move with his arms pinned on his back. Le Chiffre then pulled him as closer to him as the position and the chair allowed them, and he lowered his body into the chair. Luke breathed heavily through his nose, knowing what he was going to do. When Le Chiffre took himself in hand, Luke didn’t wait for him to tell him to move; he slowly sunk onto his lap, feeling the head of his cock slipping inside him, though not as easily as his fingers. Luke felt the tightness and moaned around the gag. Luke continued sinking down anyway, letting out small, muffled sounds. Once he had Le Chiffre completely inside him, the man held him with the arm around his waist, looking him in the eye and letting him catch his breath for a few seconds. Luke was starting to feel the burn on his jaw, on his shoulders because of the posture he had willingly taken, and on his knees… but as soon as he could, he lifted his body and sat down again. Le Chiffre helped him move, lifting him a little, and holding him as he sat on him.

Luke could feel the brush of Le Chiffre’s clothes against his chest, his thighs, his ass and his cock, and he whimpered around the gag. He was getting close already, even untouched, but the slow rhythm was not nearly enough. Despite the brush of the clothes against his cock and Le Chiffre’s cock hitting that sweet spot inside him… he needed more. He groaned, hoping Le Chiffre would understand him without words, and he did. He tightened the hold around Luke’s waist, grabbing his wrists with a hand and pulling him against his chest, and then he started pounding inside him with deep, hard thrusts. Luke felt himself drooling as he let out constant moans, and he pressed the side of his head against Le Chiffre’s as the man fucked into him exactly in the pace he wanted and needed.

Le Chiffre’s labored breathing turned into a grumble and panted against his ear, and Luke felt his orgasm growing and bursting inside him. He cried out as much as the gag allowed him, dropping his forehead against Le Chiffre’s forehead as the man thrust inside him twice more, coming inside him with a strangled groan.

They stayed still for a few moments, and Luke suddenly felt Le Chiffre moving; he pulled out of Luke and felt him tucking himself in his underwear. Then, he moved the hand over his wrists to the small of Luke’s back, and the other to the inside of his knee and lifted him as he stood up. Luke moved his arms for the first time, surrounding Le Chiffre’s neck and letting out a groan when he realized how his own shoulders ached.

Le Chiffre walked to the bed, where he climbed with a knee and let himself fall with Luke under him. He straightened and made Luke crane his neck, unfastening the gag’s strap and slowly taking it off. Luke felt the mark the leather had left on his skin, and when Le Chiffre pulled the ball out, he took a deep breath and licked his lips. He groaned at feeling how much he had drooled, and how much his jaw ached. He lifted a hand to wipe his mouth, but Le Chiffre stopped him with a gentle hand. He took a handkerchief from the pocket of his pants and wiped Luke’s chin softly, which made Luke want to purr and curl up with him.

“I think I’ve ruined your suit way more than the cat could’ve…” Luke whispered when he put the handkerchief away, seeing his own mess all over Le Chiffre’s shirt and pants.

“Hmm. I have a few more suits we could ruin this way.”

Luke smiled and cupped Le Chiffre’s neck to pull him down, kissing him on the mouth slowly, still feeling the ache, but completely satisfied.

Chapter Text

It was late by the time Father Harris realized that it was far too late to be reading still, when he had to give Mass in the early morning and then serve confession. He sighed and closed his book, looked around guiltily, and then tugged the comic book out from between the pages of his Bible with quick, careful fingers. The newest "Darkest Demons," he had received it this morning with the paper, brought by Tris, the delivery person who shared his love for a good scary story. He considered comics his guilty pleasure. Other priests drank, gambled, and even read romance novels; he knew for a fact that Brother Winston was hiding an entire library of historical romance in his floorboards. But live and let live, Father Harris thought as he curled up the comic book and tucked it into the inner pocket of his cassock. It was good to keep up with popular culture; it added an air of confidence to his demeanor. Thusly justified, he reached up and snapped off the piano lamp, plunging the small office into pitch darkness.

"Bother," he muttered, fumbling for his torch. He must be the last left in the church, and perhaps the verger hadn't even known he was still there. She had likely already gone to bed, so Father Harris was careful not to make any noise as he opened the door to his office and shone his torch out into the dark hallway. Quiet steps got him to the end of the hall, and he turned the corner that led into the deserted sacristy and out past the altar into the transept. Their church was not particularly old- it had been built in the 1930's, after one world war and before another. It had classic lines: the cross-shaped sanctuary was modeled on several small Italian churches, and Father Harris thought it a very handsome building. He whistled a bit as he headed through the nave by the light of his torch.

Two things happened one right after the other. First, his torch went out. Second, someone whistled back.

A chill shimmied violently across Father Harris' skin, and he felt his nape hairs standing straight outwards, prickling with electricity. He stood for a moment, heart thundering, hand gripping the metal torch gone clammy, before he could breathe normally. Just an echo, he reasoned, and that comic had been really scary. He shook the flashlight hard and it fluttered back to dim life before going out entirely. Well, nothing for it. Imaginary demons in the belltower or no, he still had to go home and feed his cat.

A cautious step forward, and then another, and he forced a laugh. These flights of fancy were unbecoming a priest. He wet his lips and tried whistling again, something cheerful from My Fair Lady. When he paused for breath, the whistling continued. Definitely not an echo.

"Katie, is that you?" Katie was the verger, and though he had never known her to whistle, it was more likely that than what his hindbrain was screaming at him. When there was no reply, he tried again, hoping his voice would not squeak. "Who's there?". And since he was a priest, after all, he added, "Do you need help?"

A rustle from the direction of the balcony, where the organ pipes rose to the arches, caught his attention. He started towards it, trembling all over, but determined. "Are you hurt?" Although what reason an injured person would be whistling "I Could Have Danced" escaped him at the moment. "Is this a prank? I would like to remind you that this is God's house."

"Is it, now?"

The deep, rich voice resonated off the echoing chamber of the sanctuary. Father Harris forgot how to breathe. He’d never heard a voice like that.

He took a moment to gather himself. “It is, at that. Would you come here so that we can speak face to face? No one is a stranger in the Lord's eyes.”

“Are you certain that is what you want? I am indeed a stranger to your Lord, Father.”

Father Harris took a deep breath, and lifted his chin. Look brave, be brave. He could do this. “I would prefer to see you, yes.”

A deep, shivery chuckle, and then the rustling sound grew much louder. Father Harris couldn't see but he could sense something coming towards him in a rush of wind that smelled sharply of what reminded him of an overheated copier. He did not back up a step,but only because the wall was pressing on his back. In the darkness of the sanctuary he could make out the shape of a man, tall and broad-shouldered, standing just a few feet away. He squinted, but couldn't make out any features. The shape cocked its head.

“You are quite beautiful. That is unexpected. The priests I have encountered have all been embittered by their burden of too much pain.”

Father Harris had at least heard that before. That he was 'too pretty to be a priest’ and that it was 'such a waste.’ He never knew how to respond to those kinds of backhanded compliments. But this man didn't seem to be fishing for anything- he seemed to be telling the truth as he saw it, and it drove Father Harris to respond with a truth of his own.

“It's a difficult job,” he admitted. “Somedays it’s impossible, and you go home and try again tomorrow.”

“Do you ever tire of them? The pain, the wasted potential?”

At that, Father Harris frowned. “If I did, it would be my failing rather than theirs.”. He shifted, his knees still weak from fright. “Will you tell me your name?”

“My name is Kaecilius.” The man made a small, formal bow. “What may I call you?” His voice was softer now, close up: a voice that Father Harris found very pleasant to listen to.

“Father Harris,” he answered. And then, inexplicably, he added, “Grigg.” Awkwardly, wondering why he had given his birth name, he held out his hand. “It's nice to meet you, Kaecilius.”

They stood for a long moment, together in the darkness, Father Harris's hand outstretched between them. Then Kaecilius lifted his hand and clasped it tightly, and light flared up between them, and Father Harris could see him clearly.

His was a handsome face, with silvering hair pulled back, and a slightly curved bridge where his nose had been broken and healed. His mouth was a perfect bow, and his cheekbones were high and pronounced. But it was his eyes that startled Father Harris into wonder. Deeply sunken, they were blackened with glittering obsidian and amethyst, fathomless. Kaecilius looked wounded. Without thinking, Father Harris lifted his other hand to… touch? To soothe? The tips of his fingers stroked softly along the edge of the blackened eye-socket. With a grunt, the man reared back to avoid his touch, baring fangs that were inhumanly long. Father Harris realized at once that Kaecilius was a demon, unfortunately at the same moment that his courage finally failed him and he fainted dead away.

***

He woke to the smell of dark roast. Morning light hurt his eyes, and he turned and hid his face in his pillow. What a bizarre dream. He resolved to read fewer comics late at night, or maybe even only during the daytime. Rolling over, he realized he was still in shirt and trousers, shoes off and his cassock hanging over a chair. With a sigh, he got out of bed, shedding his shirt and pants on the way to the shower.

A hot shower did wonders, and he was feeling more himself when he trailed into the kitchen in boxer briefs and a white T-shirt. It still smelled of coffee, and he realized why when he saw a steaming carafe made up in his antique silver coffee service. Which had been, up to that point, unpolished and in a box in the cellar. Now it stood gleaming in the center of his table, with creamer and sugar pitchers and an assortment of pastries and fruit laid out.

Utterly bemused, he reached to fill a cup, because Father Grigg Harris would never turn down a cup of coffee and a pecan roll, even if it came compliments of hell. Underneath the cup was a folded note, and he tugged it open with the hand not pouring creamer.

It read, in elegant handwriting:

Dear Grigg,
Last night was not a dream. I look forward to the next time we meet.
-Kae

***

The next few weeks passed in a haze for Father Harris. Every morning he woke both hoping for breakfast and hoping against it, but none greeted him. He stayed late at night in his office, but there was no sight of Kaecilius. He even found himself talking to empty rooms, even knowing it was a terrible idea to encourage a demon to interact with him. Something about him, though, about his wounded eyes, made Father Harris want to see him again. Perhaps he could help.

And then, one night, about two weeks after the incident in the church, Father Harris was reading again very late; the new Night Terrors comic was out and he was deep in the story when he heard a scratching sound. Normally he would ignore this, because there were mice in the vents, but this wasn’t coming from the direction of the vents. He got up and picked up his new flashlight, walking out into the hallway in the dark. The flashlight’s beam immediately flickered and died, and Father Harris’ heart picked up. “Kaecilius?” he asked the darkness. The scratching intensified.

He made his way out the the nave, going slowly so that he would not trip. For a moment, in the great dark space, there was nothing. And then, everything happened at once.

Round, glowing holes erupted along the walls of the sanctuary, and a half dozen strange, warped beasts came flying out, screaming and twisting in the air. Father Harris’s eyes went wide in shock, but he gripped his heavy flashlight like a baseball bat, and as the first winged, oddly-hinged and bony beast came at him, he whacked it on its head as hard as he could. It gave a choked-off cry and fell to the ground, bursting into black oily dust. He spared a moment to realize Katie was going to kill him if that didn’t come out of the carpet. Two beasts came at him at once, and he realized, his stomach sinking, that he was not going to make it. Regardless, he readied himself for the closer one, hefting back his arms to hit as hard as he could, and-- a bright, cold light flashed in front of him, spearing both creatures with what looked like a lance of ice. Someone shouted his name, and then the remaining creatures wheeled as one, all three arrowing towards Father Harris’ demon, standing in a pool of icy light in the middle of the transept.

Father Harris began running, wielding his flashlight like a battleaxe. Kaecilius pressed his hands together and pulled another icy spear from the air. The monsters were almost on him when Father Harris began screaming at the top of his lungs.

It was enough of a distraction to matter. A flashlight connected with one, and the other two were speared into oblivion. When the oily dust had settled, Father Harris was staring at Kaecilius with a frown. “You were gone for two weeks!”

The demon squinted his eyes in confusion. “You fainted, Father, at the sight of me,” he reminded, sniffing to clear his nose of grime. “I didn’t think you would be wanting to see me again so urgently.”

“It’s Grigg. And you didn’t even ask me what I wanted.” They stared at each other, contemplating, and then both spoke at once.

“You hammered those demons with a flashlight?”
“What in the nine circles were those creatures?”

A shy grin turned up Grigg’s lips as he heard the admiration color Kaecilius’
voice. Kaecilius looked away. “It took me two weeks to fight my way back to you, and they followed me. There will likely be more. I’m putting you in danger just by being here.”

“Why did you come back?” Grigg stepped closer to him. It was dark, the only illumination the light of the moon streaming in the high windows.

Kaecilius cleared his throat. “When you touched me…” He stepped closer. The soft light illuminated his skin. Where Grigg had touched him, the skin was lighter. Not cracked or broken. Healing. “I… its been a very long time since I have felt a touch that has not brought pain.”

Grigg reached his hands up and trembling, pressed them against Kaecilius’ face. The demon’s eyes closed, and he shivered. Tugged by something he didn’t know how to name, Grigg leaned in and pressed a kiss to the demon’s mouth, soft. “It’s been a long time since I have felt any kind of touch at all,” he admitted.

Kaecilius opened his eyes. “Grigg, it’s dangerous to be with me.” But he tugged Grigg in and wrapped his arms around the priest’s waist, pressing a kiss to Grigg’s cheek.

Grigg sighed softly in his arms. “I’m accustomed to impossible. Dangerous sounds positively delightful.”

Chapter Text

Bones

"I require a human skull. Would you be so kind as to bring me one?" Let Chiffre was deep in his research, pen sketching random designs in the margins of his notes. This particular spell had been perplexing him for days. Suggestion spells were always harder when the targets were obstinant, and politicians were the worst. He rubbed his eye, wiping blood away with a resigned sigh. Contaminating a suggestion spell with his own blood would be a calamity. He was tired. "Buddy?"

A clatter on his desk startled him out of his exhaustion. A dry skull rocked back and forth, eye sockets leering at him. On top of that was one... much less dry. Quite fresh, in fact. He blinked, and looked up into Buddy's smiling face. "I didn't know which kind, so I got both just in case you needed the soft parts." He beamed at Le Chiffre, honest pleasure clear in his blue eyes.

Le Chiffre attempted to get his voice under control before he spoke. "Ah. May I ask where you got the... fresh skull?" The very not-empty eye sockets of this one did not so much leer as scream at him.

Buddy grinned. "Fresh as a daisy, yeah? It was in the same place as the other, but don't worry," he confided. "No one was using it."

Let Chiffre looked up at his demon's delighted smile, and all of his censure evaporated. He was in terrible trouble, if he couldn't withstand the charms of his own demon. "Thank you, Buddy. I appreciate your help. Very much."

Buddy was floating in the air again, his little hooves crossed over his knees. He raised a hand to Le Chiffre's cheek. "This is dangerous, my lord." He put his hands on his hips, expression somber. "I've incinerated dozens of handkerchiefs with traces of your blood. It would only take one to compromise you."

"I'm aware, thank you," Le Chiffre responded dryly. "What would you have me do?"

Buddy looked away for a moment, and when he turned back, he was blushing. "Would you allow me to take care of it?"

Warily, Le Chiffre refrained from responding. The Contract clearly stated that Buddy would not harm him, but he could easily see his enthusiastic demon taking out an eye in service of the greater good. "What did you have in mind?"

Blushing even harder, Buddy leaned forward, until he was very close, and Le Chiffre could smell the hot sunshine smoke of him. A delicate tongue flicked out and licked a stripe up Le Chiffre's cheek, cleaning the blood from his skin. He startled back, but Buddy reached out a strong hand and took hold of his shoulder to keep him from stumbling backwards. "There," he whispered, still so close. "No danger of compromising you now."

Le Chiffre's eyes flicked involuntarily to the demon's sweet mouth, and immediately away. No, no danger of being compromised at all.

Chapter Text

Adam hadn’t wanted to hear the scary story when Nigel suggested it, but at the same time, he thought that he had never had many friends growing up, he had never gone camping, or gone to a summer camp, or anything like that… so he had been curious. That’s why he had made a deal with Nigel; he got to tell him his scary story of Halloween… and Adam could choose the activity after the story. Nigel had given him one of the crooked grins Adam loved so much, and had shook his hand playfully.

And so, Nigel told him the story about a woman who had bought a puzzle, and when she started putting the pieces together, she realized it was a picture of herself, sitting in the room she was in, and making a puzzle, exactly what she was doing. Scared, she continued, and the last part showed a face looking at her through the window. She turned around, alarmed, but there was nothing there, so she finished. And as she put the final piece of the puzzle… glass shattering sounded behind her.

Adam looked at their apartment window, his heart beating quickly, but there was nothing there, and Nigel took his hand to comfort him. Adam smiled as he looked at him, because it hadn’t been too bad… and he had heard his first scary story.

An hour later, though, he was doing something he liked much better. Adam was on top of their bed, the side of his face pressed against the mattress while he let out constant moans and gasps, his hands fisting the sheets at both sides of his head, waist lifted up and on his knees. His erection was bobbing against his stomach with every involuntary thrust and small movement of his hips, leaking profusely on the sheets… and the cause of this was Nigel’s tongue, who had been fucking him enthusiastically and making him squirm and cry out for Adam didn’t even know how long.

Adam felt the man pulling out his tongue again, and he let out a breathless moan as he swallowed, trying to catch his breath a little. But Nigel’s plans didn’t include giving him a little break, because he felt Nigel’s tongue licking up his already sensitive hole. Adam whined and thrust forwards once again as he shuddered.

“You okay, baby?” Nigel asked from behind him, giving him a gentle squeeze on his ass.

Adam nodded a little against the mattress before remembering Nigel couldn’t see him.

“Y- yes, but…” Adam moaned again, feeling his cock twitching between his legs. “Nigel…”

Adam heard Nigel chuckling softly, and his mouth returned to him, but differently; Nigel licked over Adam’s balls, which made him jerk a little out of surprise, but mostly out of pleasure, because the next thing he did was sucking on them, rolling his tongue as he did, and making Adam cry out and leak even more.

“Just a little more, baby…” Nigel said when he moved up and pulled his buttocks even farther apart with his hand.

Nigel’s tongue returned to his entrance, where he circled the rim and then fucked into him as he had been doing. But this time, Nigel’s free hand also surrounded his waist and took Adam’s cock in his hand. Adam pressed his mouth against the mattress to try and suppress another moan, but it was impossible. At first, Nigel’s hand didn’t move, as if he were merely wrapping his erection as his tongue kept going in and out of him. When Nigel’s hand finally moved up and down his cock, his tongue pulled out and he circled his hole with his lips, sucking hard as he tightened the hold on his cock. Adam felt his orgasm bursting inside him as he spilled in hot spurts all over the sheets.

Adam collapsed completely against the mattress as he tried to catch his breath. Nigel pressed a kiss on one of his buttocks, and then moved over him, lying down on top of him, his body blanketing him. He put his chin on Adam’s shoulder.

“If I would’ve known the outcome of telling you scary stories would be this, I would’ve started long before. Maybe we should include them in our routine…”

Adam looked up at him and licked his lips.

“Will they include this, afterwards…?”

“Oh yeah, gorgeous. This was the best part of telling you that story.”

Nigel kissed him on the shoulder, and then on the cheek, and Adam smiled, tired but completely satisfied.

Chapter Text

Grigg thought his costume was great: he was a skeleton… but unlike ninety eight percent of skeletons in Halloween, he was dressed all in black, and he had made the white bones himself, which were now glued to his clothes. He had been excited for people to see it, but his friends had said it was nice, and they changed the topic immediately. Grigg had sighed and continued drinking as they talked. When he left them for a while and started wandering around the house of the co-worker who had invited them to the party in the actual Halloween day, he realized he was a bit tipsy, and he looked at his beer bottle with an accusatory glance. Still, he shrugged and took another sip as he kept walking. When he lowered the bottle, though, he realized he was in a much less crowded part of the house. There were people coming and going, but not as many as in the main rooms.

He was about to turn around when he noticed someone staring at him at the other side of the hallway, and he frowned… but then, he recognized the person.

“Hey, it’s- It’s you…!”

It was the man who had broken into his house a week before, after his stupid attempt at the ritual, the one who was called Kaecilius and who had been dressed in strange clothes. Now, he who was dressed like a normal person; or, as normal as he could look, since he was wearing a pair of jeans with a shirt, but it was a strange juxtaposition with the strangeness of the makeup around his eyes, which he was still wearing. That very same man was now there, and he approached him with quick steps. Grigg smiled, even though he knew he probably should be concerned, and when the man was right in front of him, he covered his mouth with a hand and dragged him to the inside of the closest room. Once they were inside, Grigg freed himself from his hand.

“Hey-!”

“I apologize, but I wanted to speak to you privately,” Kaecilius said, closing the door and facing him.

“Well, you could’ve asked,” Grigg said, huffing out.

He looked around for a second, and saw that they had walked into a bedroom, but it looked more like a guest room than a main bedroom judging by the lack of decoration. He looked at Kaecilius again and took a sip of his beer.

“Okay, I have a very important question,” Grigg said, and Kaecilius waited. “Why on earth are you dressed in normal clothes today, on Halloween, when the other day you were wearing a super cool costume?”

Kaecilius smiled a little, looking down at his own clothes for a second.

“I… wanted to see you, but I wasn’t aware what day it was. I figured normal clothes would attract less attention, but it turned out it was the only day in which I was wrong.”

Who isn’t aware of what day Halloween is?” Grigg asked, and he set his beer bottle on top of the dresser beside him, but he suddenly realized something. “Wait, did you just say you… wanted to see me?”

“Yes.”

Grigg felt a sudden heat crawling up his chest and neck and coloring his cheeks, but he wasn’t sure whether it was the alcohol or the man staring at him. He cleared his throat, looking around to avoid the man’s eyes.

“So… how did you find me? Are you a friend of Sarah? Is that why you pranked me the other day, and how you found me today?

“I didn’t prank you, and I don’t know this Sarah, no. I found you with a locating spell.”

“Ah, a locating spell, of course,” Grigg said in a wry tone, shrugging.

Grigg was going to chuckle when the man suddenly stepped closer to him.

“Grigg… do you believe in soul mates?

“No…” he answered, overwhelmed by the man’s closeness, but strangely, in a good way.

“Neither do I. But I believe we’re connected somehow… I still haven’t figured it out, but my theory is that we knew each other, in the past… somehow…”

Grigg let his eyes roam the man’s face, from his mysterious eyes, with the realistic makeup, down the slopes of his cheekbones, down his pouty lips. Grigg licked his own lips, and he felt himself leaning in a little. He felt the man’s breath against his lips.

“You appeared when I asked for someone to love, and I’m a bit drunk right now, so I don’t really care whether it was a prank or not, but… am I making any sense right now?”

“Not much,” Kaecilius said, honestly.

“What I meant to say, is that I want- I… Just. Kiss me?” Grigg asked him, raising his eyebrows.

Grigg felt himself flushing at his own request, and he was about to open his mouth to say he was sorry and run away from the room, embarrassed, when Kaecilius wrapped both arms around his middle and pulled him closer. Grigg let out a small ‘oh’ when he found himself completely pressed against the man’s chest and arms, and then Kaecilius tipped his head and kissed him. Grigg’s eyes closed on his own, he felt his muscles relaxing against the man, his hands going from Kaecilius biceps to wrap him around his shoulders and neck… and he parted his lips. Grigg deepened the kiss and moaned into the other’s lips, and for a second he was aware that he was kissing a complete strange, a man that had appeared in his home, after making a ritual… But he decided that he didn’t care, not in that moment. It felt good, and he felt strangely calm when he was with him, so why not.

Grigg noticed they were moving forwards, and he didn’t realize it was him the one pushing Kaecilius back until the man’s legs met the edge of the bed and they fell over it. Grigg laughed against the man’s neck, and he squirmed. It had been so long since he had been this intimate with anybody that his body reacted immediately. Grigg pulled back to meet his eyes, and Kaecilius sighed.

“How drunk are you…?”

“Not that drunk, I assure you. I can still say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Grigg said, proud of himself.

Kaecilius cocked his head, and he nodded and suddenly pushed Grigg to the side. He thought the man was rejecting his advances, but he immediately put himself above him, pressing Grigg into the mattress and kissing him again. Grigg wrapped his arms around him and returned the kiss, and when Kaecilius moved down to his neck, Grigg moved his head backwards to expose his throat to him, and he moaned when the man nibbled and sucked the skin there.

Grigg dragged one of his hands down the man’s body, and he slipped it between both of them to palm Kaecilius’ groin. The man groaned against his neck, and Grigg smiled at feeling he was half hard, which meant it wasn’t only him. Grigg stroked him through his jeans as he wriggled his hips, thrusting against the man’s thigh. Kaecilius then moved upwards, sitting back on his heels, where he started fumbling with Grigg’s clothes.

“Your costume…”

“It’s cool, huh?” Grigg joked, but he found the zipper he had installed in the costume for when he had to go to the bathroom.

As soon as he unzipped it, though, Kaecilius moved his hand away and replaced it with his own. When Grigg felt the man’s hand slipping inside his costume and underwear and cupping his erection, he let out a strangled moan.

“F- yes, touch me,” Grigg said, delirious with lust.

Kaecilius did touch him, and oh how did he touch him. He started massaging him slowly as Grigg panted and writhed on the bed, suddenly unable to do anything else other than feeling. Kaecilius then took his cock and started moving his hand up and down, spreading Grigg’s precome and applying the perfect pressure. When he also lowered himself again onto Grigg’s body and buried his face on his neck to bite the place where neck met shoulder, Grigg moaned out loud, only to cover his own mouth with a hand, remembering they were in a party, in a house that wasn’t his. Kaecilius smiled above him, apparently proud of his work.

“Grigg…” he whispered, and Grigg dropped his hand from his mouth.

Kaecilius leaned down to kiss him on the lips in between their heavy breaths, their tongues finding each other easily, as if they had kissed a thousand times before.

Grigg was finally able to react, slipping his hands between their bodies again, undoing Kaecilius’ fly and taking the man’s cock in his own hand. It was a tight space, since the bones in Grigg’s costume made it harder to move and they didn’t want to stop kissing, but they made it work somehow. They kept stroking each other as they kissed, Grigg thrusting into the man’s hand, and when Kaecilius thumbed at Grigg’s slit, he came with a moan that the man swallowed in another kiss. Kaecilius followed shortly, his lips leaving Grigg’s and groaning against his collar.

They stood still for a moment, and then Grigg started laughing.

“Oh man, I hadn’t done anything like this since I was sixteen,” he snorted. “And certainly nothing like… this.”

Kaecilius looked at him and smiled, but said nothing. They stood up from the bed with each other’s help and fixed their clothes. Then, Grigg took Kaecilius’ hand to lead him out of the bedroom and into the first bathroom he found, which was occupied by two women who looked at them with a raised eyebrow as they walked past them. Grigg dragged Kaecilius inside and locked the door, and he chuckled again as he shook his head.

“Okay, hmm… turn around, please,” he said, feeling suddenly shy.

Kaecilius did so while Grigg cleaned himself as best as he could, and washed his hands. He then switched places with Kaecilius, and waited as he heard the water running.

“That was… I’ve never done that with someone I barely knew,” he said, flushing once again. Strangely, he did not regret it at all, nor was he ashamed. On the contrary, he was tempted to turn around and kiss the man again, which was causing this feeling of bashfulness.

“I don’t think you did,” Kaecilius said, in a matter-of-fact tone. Grigg frowned.

“What do you mean? We very much did… that.”

Kaecilius remained silent behind him, so Grigg turned around to find he had finished.

“What I mean is… I don’t think I am someone you barely know.”

Grigg remembered what the man had told him before, that he had the theory they had met before… But that was impossible. Grigg would remember a man like him. Still, strangely, it didn’t sound crazy.

Grigg approached the man and raised his hand to do something he had wanted to do since the man had appeared in his apartment: to touch the marks around Kaecilius’ eyes. When he felt the cracks underneath his fingertips, he gasped with surprise. He had expected them to be painted, but if that was some sort of makeup, it was a really elaborate one with prosthetics, because they were raised marks, as if he were touching scars, except they were a deep black and purple around his eyes… though he could’ve sworn the day he had met him, it had been even more blackened, the marks deeper and bigger around his eyes…

Who are you…?” Grigg asked in a whisper.

Kaecilius gave him a smile, but Grigg thought it was a sad one, and he felt his heart clenching.

“That’s a question that I cannot answer yet. If you have patience, though…” Kaecilius said, and he erased the distance between them with a step. “I will return, and I will answer it.”

Kaecilius’ eyes went to Grigg’s lips, and Grigg leaned into him, cupping his face with both hands and kissing him deeply. He kept his eyes closed as they kissed, and also when they parted. He felt Kaecilius pulling away, but he simply smiled…

When he opened his eyes, the bathroom door was open, and the man had left, but the warm, tickling sensation stayed with Grigg.

Chapter Text

Curse

"Just." Darko sighed, straightening Nigel's coat. "Just don't piss him off, ok?"

Nigel scowled at him, tugging his sleeves down. "Why would I intentionally piss off the little asshole? We have to follow this fucking protocol to get a business license, and I'm not looking forward to bending a knee to a little hopped-up tin-pot wizard with an insecurity problem." He frowned in the mirror, and tugged his braid over his shoulder. "Besides, no one can resist my charm." He grinned toothily, and Darko eyed him doubtfully.

"Just follow my lead, ok, you fucker?"

Nigel gave him a dire look, and then turned to exit the parlor. They headed down the hallway towards the audience room, Darko clutching his reference papers, signed by a dozen business partners and people he had paid a lot of money to so that they could win this endorsement and get on with their lives. Riversend was a busy, wealthy port, and it had taken them years to work up to qualifying for a license here. It would be a good expansion, and perhaps the last one they needed to solidify their hold on the exotics market.

As they walked into the audience room, Nigel noticed that it was quite a bit simplified from the last time they had been here. The senior Wizard Raki had turned them down four years ago, but kindly gave them pointers on how to qualify in a few more years. Now he was dead, and the son had come into power, so they were hopeful but uncertain. As they approached the dais, a courtier dressed in simple clothing held up his hand.

"Would you please wait a moment, gentlemen? The Wizard Raki will attend you shortly." Darko nodded, smiling, and Nigel nodded, irritated. They had already waited all day. Nigel was hungry and he needed a smoke.

After about ten long boring minutes, a young man dressed in robes that were clearly too big for him came out from a room in the back. Nigel leaned towards Darko, and murmured, "Is he old enough to drink?" Darko shushed him. The little wizard turned to them.

"I'm of age, gentlemen, and it's rude to talk about people when you think they can't hear you." Darko cast Nigel a look of utter disgust and stepped forward, bowing. Nigel bowed too, his cheeks red, feeling like this was perhaps not the best way to begin. "Apologies, my lord," he muttered.

Up close, the wizard looked harried. His wide blue eyes took them both in, and then he beckoned to the courtier. "Harlan, could you bring their petition?"

Darko handed the papers over, and they stood nervously while the wizard read every one, at length. Nigel's feet began to ache in his good boots. The only sound was papers flipping and the murmur of the water against the dock right outside the windows. Eventually, the wizard stood straight and laid the papers aside. "Darko and Nigel Ibanescu, from the northern province of Roma. I know your names already, because my father left notes on you. What is your business here?"

There was no inflection in the young man's voice, to tell them whether that was good news or bad. Darko cleared his throat. "Exotics, my lord. Spices and rare fabrics from the West. Hand-stitched rugs and clothing. All of the best quality, of course."

"Ethically sourced?"

Darko raised his eyebrows. "Ethically sourced, my lord?"

"Everything that comes through this port must be ethically sourced, Mr's Ibanescu. Do you pay your supply chain a living wage? Are the plantations from which you harvest your spices sustainable? Do you certify that there is no child labor involved at any point in your 'exotics?'" He waited expectantly, and Darko smiled at him- the smile that indicated he was beginning to get angry.

"Your father did not require such certification, lord."

The wizard looked at him with a blank face. "I am not my father, Mr. Ibanescu. And I do require it."

Nigel stepped forward, his temper hot. "Now look here, you-- Wizard Raki. It took us five fucking years to put this together. That was what was on the list!" He pointed at the sheaf of papers. "We did everything you fucking people asked!"

Nigel had the wizard's full attention now. Darko just put his head in his hands. The wizard tilted his head, and Nigel was struck by two thoughts at once: one, that he was quite beautiful, and two, that maybe... Just maybe he should not have lost his temper. He bowed, belatedly.

"We've been though a lot, my lord. It would be really fucking nice if you would allow us to do business here."

The wizard looked at him for a long time. Nigel started to sweat, and he could feel Darko coming to pieces behind him. He closed his eyes and sighed. All that work.

"Which one are you?"

The question startled him. He looked at Darko, who raised a resigned eyebrow. Nigel turned back to the dias. "I'm Nigel Ibanescu, lord."

"Nigel Ibanescu, I don't like swearing. Please stop."

Nigel gathered himself, and swallowed his pride. "Apologies, lord."

The wizard turned away. "Come back in a month's time, and I will look at your ethical certifications." He turned on a hell and walked right back out the door he came in from, without looking back.

***

Walking out of the castle, Darko was tight with fury. "You fucking asshole! We could have lost everything! Do you know how much fucking money is tied up in this??"

Nigel sneered at him. "Of course I fudging know, you doggy-style biscuit eater!" He fell silent in horror, his hand clapping to his mouth. Darko stared at him. "Golly dingle fiddlesticks! Fiddlesticks!!" Nigel held a hand to his throat. "Fiddlesticking fudgecakes!!"

Darko's eyes grew wider and wider, until he erupted in laughter. "That little fucker cursed you!" Nigel scowled at him.

"Quit laughing, you applehole!" Darko collapsed on the ground, clutching his stomach, rolling with hilarity. Nigel just stood there, utterly stunned, as people walked around them and stared, uncomprehending of his horror.

***

Business was impossible for Nigel now. He stood utterly silent and tried to look as dangerous as possible, but word had gotten out. Darko wasn't helping either, since he burst into laughter whenever Nigel forgot and tried to swear.

So one night, fed up and utterly humiliated, he left Darko in negotiations with a nutmeg plantation owner and headed back to Riversend, cursing in his head the entire way. At the end of two days of travel, he was storming through the castle, ready to demand and threaten his way in to see the little shipbell that had done this to him. The doors to the audience chamber were locked, and so Nigel headed up, past empty hallways, climbing up stairs and pushing open doors until he came out on top of a tower. Out of breath, he wheezed with his hands on his knees, until a voice said, "Could you close the door? The light ruins my night vision."

The young wizard was standing in front of a beautiful brass telescope, making careful adjustments. Nigel kicked the door shut with his foot, and filled his lungs with the cool night air. Stars flooded the sky, and Nigel peered upwards, not knowing exactly what to say now that he was here. The wizard beckoned to him. "Come and look, Nigel Ibanescu."

Nigel walked over and bent to look into the eyepiece. A bright yellow light swam into view, sharply focused. He jumped back in surprise. "It has rings!"

The wizard smiled, bright and happy, and Nigel forgot for a moment that he was angry. "I've been looking for a piece of glass pure enough, and cut well enough, so that I could finally see for myself. I'm quite surprised that it is so clear."

Nigel didn't know what to say in reply. He frowned at the ground. "You've ruined me, you know. No one will take me seriously now," he said quietly. “I can't do business like this.”

The wizard was silent for a long moment. "I just wanted to teach you some manners. I'm sorry if I hurt your business." He sighed. "I'm not very good at this. My father was better with people."

"A flocking cat would be better with people." The wizard met his eyes. "My lord," he added belatedly.

"My name is Adam."

"I'm sorry?"

"Why would you be sorry about my name?"

Nigel couldn't help but grin. "I'm not sorry about your name."

"But you just said..." Adam looked wholeheartedly confused, and Nigel found himself in the unfamiliar position of taking pity on someone.

"In that context, it meant, 'why are you telling me.'"

"Oh! I'm not very good with figurative language. I told you because I want you to call me by my name."

"You want me to call you Adam?"

Adam nodded, smiling. "You aren't afraid of me."

Nigel gave him a half-grin. "You'd fit in a pint glass. Why would I be afraid of you?"

"Nigel, no one would fit in a pint..." He paused, thinking, his brows rucked together. "Oh, you are making hyperbole."

"I don't know what that is, but that's not all I can flocking make." Nigel's grin dropped off and he snorted disgustedly out of his nose. "I can't foxing flirt like this." He threw up his hands. "I fleecing give the frog up."

"Why are you trying to flirt?" Adam looked genuinely perplexed. Nigel gazed at him out the side of his eye for a moment, and then took his hand, gently, and raised it to his lips to kiss. Adam blushed and looked away, his other hand tugging at his coat.

"Do I need a reason?"

Adam's face fell serious again, almost at once. "Yes. Otherwise I will believe you are just trying to get your way."

Nigel acknowledged that with a tip of his head. "That's fair. Well. First, I find you beautiful. Second, I like your no-bullsheep way of talking." He rolled his eyes as Adam pressed his lips together in a clear attempt not to giggle. "Third, you aren't afraid of me. That's surprisingly alluring."

"We find ourselves not afraid of each other," Adam repeated, looking pleased. He looked out over the city, drawing his coat around his shoulders. Nigel came up behind him, close enough to share a little body heat. "I find myself conflicted," he finally said.

"Why's that?"

Adam still wouldn't meet his eyes. "I wanted to ask if you would come work for me as my advisor." He turned to face Nigel's surprise. "But now I feel that would be a conflict of interest."

"Why's that?" Nigel repeated, softer.

Adam gave him a small smile, and then leaned in and kissed him, once, soft and close and warm. Nigel's arms came up around Adam's shoulders and he pulled him back in for another, longer kiss. When they parted, they were both smiling at each other.

Nigel tucked a stray curl behind Adam's ear. *You're fucking amazing.” His eyes went wide. “Hey, I can fucking swear again!”

Adam gave him a wry look. “Kissing always breaks curses, Nigel.”

Nigel grinned at him. “Are you going to re-curse me, Adam?”

“Would it do any good?”

“It would give me an excuse to kiss you again.”

Adam smiled again, and it was the loveliest thing Nigel had ever seen.

Chapter Text

In retrospect, getting drunk in the north of Spain, while supposedly being on the run and trying to go unnoticed, may not have been his brightest idea. But Will hadn’t expected to discover the amazing hard cider they had there, and after the initial surprise and the entire bottle they drank, came another… and then, a third one that Hannibal had to take from Will after pouring himself only a finger of it.

He walked out of the cider bar they had been having dinner in with Hannibal’s hand on his elbow, and on the way to the house they were staying in, he wondered why the man wasn’t more drunk, as he always did when they drank together.

As soon as they walked in the house, Will kicked his shoes away while Hannibal set the bottle on the table and took his coat off. But strangely, Will didn’t feel sleepy as he always did when he drank a bit more than usual. He felt like…

Will looked at Hannibal, who was picking Will’s shoes up, and he took off his scarf as he approached him. He caught Hannibal’s neck with it, making him turn around and pulling him closer. Hannibal raised his eyebrows and his eyes went to Will’s lips, so he grinned.

“Sit down,” Will commanded, nodding towards one of the chairs in the living room.

“Will-” Hannibal started saying, but Will didn’t let him finish.

He moved back and pushed him backwards to get closer, and Will shoved him with a hand flat on the chest, Hannibal falling on the chair. He settled in and smiled a little at him as he left Will’s shoes on the floor. Will went to the speakers and turned them on, and then he started browsing Hannibal’s iPod.

“You seriously don’t have anything else apart from classical music in here…?” he asked, and he saw Hannibal parting his lips to answer, but then he found something interesting. “Oh, never mind.”

When the music started playing, he turned and started moving his shoulders to the rhythm of the music. Hannibal stayed still, following him with his eyes and gazing up and down.

Will took off his coat and threw it to the couch, not sure it would reach it, but not caring, either. He then unbuttoned his shirt slowly, and when he was right in front of Hannibal, he left it open but didn’t take it off. Will hummed with the music, and bent over with both hands on Hannibal’s thighs, their faces very close.

“I would’ve never guessed you’d have Barry White in your music,” Will whispered.

“He’s an amazing artist.”

Will kept leaning in, but right when their lips were about to touch, the music escalated, so he pulled back and started moving slowly at the song’s rhythm. He turned around and unbuttoned his pants, letting them fall to his ankles and bending over to take them off, deliberately showing off his ass to Hannibal.

When he discarded the garment and straightened, he felt Hannibal’s hand on his hip. He slapped it away and sat on Hannibal’s lap.

“Tsk. You don’t touch a dancer. Unless…” Will said, leaning back into Hannibal’s chest and looking back to him to whisper, “the dancer wants you to.”

Will writhed on Hannibal’s lap, and he felt the change in Hannibal’s breath, hitching in his throat. He felt victorious, as he ever did every time he pulled any sound at all from Hannibal’s lips. Will took Hannibal’s wrists and put his hands on his sides as he moved slowly to the music’s tempo. Hannibal grew bolder as Will moved, dragging his hands up Will’s ribcage and into his chest, where he grazed his nipples. That’s when Will stood up again, grabbing both sides of his shirt and pulling it off slowly.

I'm never, never gonna give you up,” he said at the same time of the song, and smiled wide at seeing the tent in Hannibal’s pants.

Will threw the shirt to Hannibal, and when he slid it off his face, Will sat on Hannibal’s lap again, only this time facing him. He kept dancing a little, burying his face on Hannibal’s neck and inhaling his scent.

When the song ended and another started, he pulled back and surrounded Hannibal’s shoulders as he tipped his head and grazed their lips together, merely a brush.

“Take me to bed. Let’s… do all the things you want me to,” he quoted from the song.

Hannibal didn’t need for him to tell him twice; he put both hands on Will’s ass and stood up. He only was able to carry Will for a couple of steps, because he had to stop and Will stood on his own as he laughed. Hannibal smirked, but he leaned into Will’s lips to silence him with a proper kiss.

Chapter Text

“I want you to bite me.”

Will observed as Hannibal looked very slowly from the two plates of food he had prepared up to him, his features falling as he took in what Will had just said.

Will had been watching Hannibal cooking their dinner. He had just woken up, but it had seemed as if Hannibal had been up for hours judging by how active he was. Perhaps he had, waking up long before the sunset and spending those last hours of daylight in his study.

Will had seen him prepare dinner almost every day ever since they had killed the Dragon together. Tonight, though… tonight Will felt different. He had felt ready to voice some of the things he had wanted to say, to voice his desires.

He had waited until Hannibal prepared the meal – a wonderful meat that they didn’t have to eat, but that Hannibal still prepared, since he loved cooking and eating food just for the sake of it, even if he wouldn’t nourish from it – and then told him.

“Will-”

“Have you ever… done that with another vampire?” he asked, and he would’ve held his breath if he had any.

Hannibal swallowed and shook his head.

“That is the most intimate act within our kind…”

“So I’ve heard,” Will nodded. “I have never done it, either.”

Will stood up from the stool and took a kitchen knife from the drawer.

“Should I… cut myself before?”

When he turned around, he saw Hannibal’s fangs coming out, and he approached Will in two steps too quick to the human eye. He put his hands on both sides of the counter, caging Will but not touching him, not yet.

“We don’t need that…”

Up close, Will saw that Hannibal’s eyes had turned red. He smiled a little and set the knife down on the counter.

“Very well,” Will said, and he tipped his head a little. Hannibal’s eyes went to his neck.

“Are you…” Hannibal began, but he had to close his eyes for a second to pull himself together. “Are you sure…?”

“I’ve never been more sure about anything before in my entire existence.”

Hannibal groaned a little and leaned in, so Will closed his eyes and dropped his head backwards. Hannibal’s hand came to rest in Will’s back and he felt him nosing his neck, inhaling before brushing the skin with his lips… Will gasped, and then he felt the sting, and he opened his eyes as his own fangs came out.

Will held onto Hannibal’s back as he felt the vampire’s fangs settling inside him, and the blood began to flow. Will felt Hannibal’s lips around the wound, and he began to suck, drinking the blood and massaging with his tongue under the two incisions.

The pain faded almost immediately thanks to the analgesic effect the fangs had, and it quickly gave way to a tingling sensation, and he heard himself moaning. He had heard about vampires who bit and drank from each other, something only partners who had been together for a long time did, and now Will understood why; it was a perfect feeling. He could feel Hannibal’s fangs deep inside him, deeper than he would’ve ever thought they could reach, his tongue was rolling and applying the perfect pressure, and since this was not about feeding… it was the most intimate thing Will had ever done, indeed. Even more than when they had killed together.

Will felt his cock getting hard, and he sank his fingers into Hannibal’s back to pull him closer. When Hannibal’s entire body pressed against him, his thigh on his groin, Will moaned loudly, but Hannibal pulled away. He flinched when his fangs left his neck, and shivered when Hannibal licked the two incisions, his skin sensitive there.

Will wanted to ask him why was he stopping, but Hannibal merely looked at him and leaned in to kiss him. It was a soft touch at first, as if Hannibal was afraid Will would pull back. But Will did no such thing, and when Hannibal moved closer again and kissed him, he parted his lips and searched for Hannibal’s tongue as he grabbed a handful of Hannibal’s hair. He tasted his own blood in his tongue, and groaned again.

When they parted, Hannibal looked at him intensely.

“Will…” he said, his voice throaty.

Hannibal still had his fangs out, but he slowly craned his neck, exposing his throat to him. Will knew what he meant by that, and he tightened the hold on his hair as he leaned in to his neck.

Will squirmed against Hannibal’s thigh and positioned his fangs over the vein. Hannibal’s hand grabbed his shirt on his back, and Will finally thrust inside Hannibal. He heard him moaning and felt the vibrations in his fangs, and when he began massaging with his tongue, the blood started flowing, hot and sweet into his tongue and down his throat. It was the most delicious blood he had ever taken; he could taste himself in it, but he also tasted Hannibal. It was different and the same, because now their blood was one, in both of their bodies.

Will began swaying his hips against Hannibal as he drank, and the man moaned. Hannibal rested his free hand on Will’s nape, encouraging to keep going, and Will grumbled as he did, sucking harder. He felt Hannibal moving against him too, and soon they were thrusting at the rhythm of Will’s sips.

He could’ve been like that for an eternity, but Will knew the blood they were sharing was both of their life supply, so he pulled back with a wet sound. He licked and sucked on the wound, and he felt Hannibal’s hand tightening the hold on his hair as he did, trembling a bit against him.

When he was satisfied, he moved straight to Hannibal’s lips again, kissing him slowly and deeply. Will used both hands to pull Hannibal even closer, and they kept moving, grinding down against each other. Will came with a strangled moan, and Hannibal soon followed him.

Will rested his forehead against Hannibal’s, and they breathed hard together, because even if they didn’t need to breathe to be alive, there were times like this one in which they certainly needed it.

They stayed still for what could’ve been an entire life, as their fangs retracted and the wounds on their necks healed slowly. When Will moved back, he brushed the corner of Hannibal’s lip with a finger, taking some of the blood there and sucking his thumb. Hannibal was looking at him adoringly, as one could only do when you have waited thirty years for a loved one.

“We are bonded by blood now,” Hannibal whispered, and Will laughed tiredly but contentedly.

“I’m afraid we were already bonded way before this.”

Hannibal smiled too, and he leaned in to kiss him again.

Chapter Text

When Tristan found Galahad, he had expected to see him apple picking in the orchard near the stables. But what he found was Galahad sitting behind the barn, between a few bales of hay, the basket full of apples but forgotten beside him, and Galahad focused on… something else. He was with his back against the barn, head thrown back with his eyes closed and lips parted, and his hand between his legs, under his skirt.

For a second, Tristan thought Galahad was in pain, and he tensed, completely ready to run to aid him. But then he saw the way Galahad swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat as his hand did the same under his clothes, Tristan smiled; Galahad was definitely not in pain.

Tristan approached the knight slowly, staying outside his field of view even if he could see Galahad’s legs and waist. As he got closer, the sounds became clearer: Galahad was panting and clearly making an effort not to be loud, but mostly failing, and when he was right beside the bales of hay, he heard the beautiful sound of Galahad’s hand in action.

“Should I be jealous?”

Galahad jerked, having been caught off guard, and moved his hand on top of his skirt, trying to conceal what he had been doing. But as soon as he looked up, he closed his eyes.

Fuck, Tristan…” he said, dropping his head against the wood of the barn and sighing. When he recovered from the scare, he looked at Tristan. “Jealous?”

Tristan smiled and stepped in front of Galahad. He knelt and put his hand on Galahad’s bare ankle.

“That you’d rather do this alone than with me…”

Galahad smiled and huffed out, breathlessly. He adjusted his position, relaxing once again, and extended the leg Tristan was touching. Tristan understood the message, dragging his hand up Galahad’s calf and into his knee.

“Do you want to know a secret?” Galahad asked when Tristan reached his thigh.

“Of course.”

“I was thinking about you…” he said, and Tristan looked into Galahad’s eyes. “About your hands.”

Tristan put his free hand on the barn’s wall to lean closer to the man, claiming his mouth in a kiss as he slipped his other hand across his thigh and grabbing his cock as soon as he found it. Galahad gasped into the kiss, and Tristan groaned quietly, because Galahad was so hard, and so wet, the precome leaking from the tip.

Galahad had probably been doing this for some time now, because Tristan felt him pulsing in his hand soon, and he deepened the kiss as Galahad himself thrust upwards into his hand.

Galahad came with a strangled moan. Tristan kept kissing him as he kept caressing him slowly and Galahad let out small sounds.

Once he moved back, Tristan took a small rag from one of his pockets and lifted Galahad’s skirt slightly. He cleaned the man’s thighs, his own hand, and discarded the messy rag away. When he looked at Galahad again, he was struck with how beautiful he looked, his cheeks reddened by the activity, his lips as well by their kisses… Tristan saw the knight was trying to suppress a smile, and so he leaned closer again.

“What?”

“Do you want an apple?” Galahad asked, and he laughed.

Tristan silenced him with a new kiss.

Chapter Text

Will viewed the box with trepidation. The Verger Dollmaking company had been, and possibly still was an icon in the 1/6th size ball-jointed doll industry, but since Will had been instrumental in implicating Mason Verger in a murder trial that had horrified Baltimore for several months the previous summer, he had not had any contact with the rest of the family. It had been Will's uncanny ability to recognise the expressions of missing people in the faces of the dolls being produced that had tipped him off in the first place, and once Jack Crawford, the Agent-in-Charge, had been convinced, the discoveries had begun to be unearthed. Literally.

Will had never had a large collection, because his salary as a mechanic never gave him much extra to play with, so he spent more time studying dolls on websites and in catalogs than purchasing them. He had six now, all exquisite pieces of work, and if the size of the box emblazoned Verger Dolls was any indication, he now had a seventh. The troubling thing was that he had no idea if it had been sent by Margot Verger, the new CEO, or by Mason, perhaps as a last vicious goodbye. Would it look like him and have a knife through its heart?

He did not open the box several weeks. It sat on his table, and then on a shelf in the back room, until curiosity eventually overcame good sense. Now he was sitting with the box on his lap, cutting the ribbon with his sharpest fishing knife. He took a deep breath, let it out, and opened the lid.

Inside was a shape wrapped in gold and red tissue. Will moved aside the delicate paper to uncover the face of the doll. It was a masculine face, unfamiliar but handsome, with a bowed mouth and high cut cheekbones. The eyes were a deep reddish amber, and the hair, immaculately cut, was a silvery bronze. The doll was dressed in a wool suit of delicate red and black plaid, with waistcoat and tie, and oxblood leather shoes on its feet.

It was without a doubt, the most exquisite doll Will had ever seen. "You are beautiful," he murmured, and stroked a gentle finger to straighten the hair he had mussed with the unwrapping. Carefully, he lifted out the doll. An engraved card fluttered down to land on the floor. With a careful grip on the doll, he leaned over to pick up the card. It read, "Hannibal. One of a kind, in thanks. M. Verger."

Well, that didn't solve anything. He chewed his bottom lip, and then looked back at the doll. In the play of light on its delicate features, he thought it almost looked like it was smiling.

***

In the months that passed, Will found himself often holding the doll, amazed at its exquisite, haunting beauty. He kept Hannibal in a dark room upstairs, away from damaging sunlight. Before he held the doll he would always scrub his hands utterly clean, even scraping his nails free of oil and grime. During lonely nights, of which there were many, he found himself telling Hannibal about his day. One customer in particular was giving him excessive anxiety: Ms. Prurnell was the owner of a 1965 Volvo 1800S, a dream to work on, but Prurnell was always finding fault with his work, returning the car to fix over and over when nothing was wrong with it. He hadn't been paid for any of the work he had done on it in the last month, and he was ready to snap. Hannibal stared up at him with that slight smile and didn't reply.

A week later, Will was telling the doll a story he still couldn't believe: Kade Prurnell had brought the car into the shop by tow, and with every single electrical line, rubber hose, all four tires and the spare, and the leather of the seats sliced through. The car was ruined. And the most astonishing thing was that she had the entire event on camera, because she was that kind of paranoid, and it appeared as if the car was destroying itself, in its locked carport. The leather split like an overripe peach right in front of their eyes on the video. Will had answered her in amazement. "Are you accusing me? I couldn't have possibly done that. No one could have!"

To which she replied, "No one hates me as much as you do, Mr. Graham."

He undoubtedly could have argued that he was certain that many people hated her just as much as he did, but in that moment she looked as if she was about to either cry or try to hit him, so he just shook his head. Regardless, they had lost her business, for which everyone in the shop was grateful, even later when she attempted to sue them for emotional damages. Will laughed for the first time in weeks as he told the story, stroking the fine cloth of Hannibal's jacket.

This was the first incident, as Will recognised as he looked back on what had happened after. Every time he told Hannibal a story about someone being rude to him, he felt better, even lighter. And occasionally, he would return with inexplicable news that something bad had happened to that person. Not always focused on property, but sometimes bodily harm. A person who talked down to him at the shop would show up to pick up their car with a broken leg. Bruises, and once even a missing finger, the pointer finger, the same one that had been pressed into Will’s sternum a few days ago as the owner shouted about the cost of replacing his transmission..

It wasn't until the first murder that Will realized that there was an undeniable pattern. One, these were always people that he mentioned to Hannibal. Two, was that, inexplicably, Hannibal was growing bigger.

The murder occurred on a Monday, while Will was at work. It was only that which saved him from intensive questioning, because he had gotten into a huge and very public fight with the man, Garret Hobbs, just a week before. Hobbs had claimed that Will was looking at his daughter, and he had been, but only because the girl looked like something was troubling her. He was trying to suss out if she was in danger when her father confronted him, loudly and at length. It was the most embarrassed Will had ever been, and his manager threatened his job for it.

Will knew about the murder before it hit the papers, because the local PD had called him in to question him. Mystified, he had answered their questions and then had gone home, sullen and exhausted. When he went up to talk to Hannibal, the doll was laying on Will's chair. Confused, Will tried to set Hannibal back on the shelf, but he wouldn't fit. Staring in shock, he fished out Hannibal's presentation box and tried to lay the doll inside. He was easily a half a foot longer than when Will had received him.

"What the hell?" Will said faintly. Hannibal stared back at him, and was that small, mysterious smile more pronounced? Will set the doll gently down, his hands trembling, and only then noticed the smudge of blood on his thumb. Suddenly frantic, thinking he had bled on the doll's fine clothes, he rushed with Hannibal into the bathroom in the hall, turning on the light and looking him over. The doll's fine hands were both stained brownish-red. With shaking hands, Will began carefully undressing the doll, setting the clothing aside on a clean towel to check it over. The fine white shirt was stained at the cuffs. Will used stain remover and a cotton swab to clean the linen, and then got out a bottle of household bleach and made a very mild solution to clean Hannibal's porcelain hands.

He removed the shirt next, and was disconcerted to find what looked like old bloodstains on the arms of the doll, where there was no way his dirty hands could have smudged the surface. Feeling increasingly confused and anxious, he cleaned up the blood there as well, and then took off the doll's shoes, socks, pants and delicate cotton briefs. There was a small smudge at the knee. And Will saw, with a blush, that the doll was anatomically correct, with a penis and balls, painted with delicate curls of golden hair. He shook his head, marvelling at the construction at the same time he was trying to control his own fear.

Once the doll was clean, he redressed it carefully and smoothed its hair. "What have you been up to, Hannibal?" he whispered.

He wasn't sure if he was relieved or disappointed when the doll did not reply.

Hannibal did not return to the shelf in the dark room. For some reason he didn't want to look too closely at, Will wanted to keep an eye on Hannibal. He took him to the front room and set Hannibal at his bedside, and as he laid down to sleep, he watched the doll in the moonlight until his eyes closed.

***

The second murder took place a fortnight later. Will had cautiously resumed telling the doll about his day, except now he whispered in the doll's ear as he lay in bed. Hannibal had gravitated to Will's pillow, and although Will didn't remember moving him, there he stayed. And Hannibal kept growing. They watched the news together as it detailed how Kade Prurnell had been found in her car, locked in her carport, her throat and wrists sliced neatly open. The day before, Will had come home to Hannibal drenched in blood, and he had spent much of the night cleaning him carefully, knowing in the unexamined back of his mind that he was destroying evidence.

The police had wanted to speak to him again, of course, and Will again had the alibi of work. In the moments he allowed himself to think about it, he knew Hannibal had waited until Will was safely in public. When he lay with Hannibal in his arms that night, Hannibal's toes had reached to Will's knees. The tang of blood was in his nose, and he breathed it deeply, and kissed Hannibal's cool cheek in the dark.

In his dreams that night, he was kneeling in supplication in front of the doll that was no longer a doll, but not quite human either. Hannibal's hands were on his head, in his hair, and the doll spoke in a rich, accented voice. "Bring me another, Will, and we will feast together." When Will woke, Hannibal's amber eyes were on him, calm and bright.

"You want me to commit murder for you?" he asked in an anguished whisper. Hannibal didn't speak, but Will could feel the shudder of his answer vibrating through his body.

For both of us.

It took another month before Will brought a man home. He had picked him up on the street, in the dark, using soft words and submissive gestures to get the man in his car. He let the man kiss his jaw and put heavy hands on his body, and smiled sweetly all the while. When they came through the door, the first thing the man saw was Hannibal, now nearly life-sized, laying on the bed.

"What the fuck is that?" The man looked at Will with disbelieving eyes. "What kind of freaky shit are you into?"

Will smiled at him. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

Will had never seen Hannibal actually move before that night. But when the man put violent hands on Will's shoulders, a dark shadow filled the space next to them. Will saw Hannibal's eyes gleaming like lanterns in the dark, and then there was nothing but screams.

***

Will Graham quit his job and then vanished, leaving behind a world that didn't really miss him much at all. It hardly mattered to Will, who was seen thereafter rarely in public, but always in the company of a well-dressed man, their heads bowed together as they whispered to one another in the dark.

Chapter Text

Buddy hadn’t wanted to go to the charity fundraiser weekend, but his mother had asked him to go in his sister’s place, for the family business. So he had gone unwillingly. But what he had expected to be a dull, boring weekend in which he would have to fake-smile his way through, turned out much better than what he had anticipated, especially when he met a man from Denmark who had inherited a fortune and was looking for charities to fund with it. Buddy was immediately drawn to him from the first day, to the stories he told about his time in Africa, and how he was now trying to do as much as he could with the money he didn’t need. He was definitely not like the rest of rich old men who were merely trying to look good in the newspaper while not caring at all about the charities.

They stayed until late in the night both days, talking at the bar even after the rest left. In a bold moment after a few drinks, Buddy invited Jacob to go to the small haunted hayride the hotel was organizing the next and last day, and to his surprise, the man accepted immediately. Buddy hadn’t wanted to get his hopes up; he was trying to live more honestly with himself, but he didn’t expect Jacob to return the crush Buddy had slowly developed during that weekend. But when they met at the hotel’s hall, Jacob greeted him with a kiss on the cheek, and Buddy felt himself flushing.

“So this is common here, right?” Jacob asked him once they hopped on the wagon.

“Yes. Every year they set up hayrides everywhere when Halloween’s approaching. I loved them when I was a kid,” Buddy explained. “Of course, it’s a very rural thing, so my parents were horrified to even take me…”

A woman dressed as a sort of zombie came from behind a tree, and a few people screamed. Jacob startled beside him and chuckled as soon as he realized that it was merely an actress playing her part.

“And they scare you!” he said, and Buddy smiled.

“Maybe I should’ve warned you?”

Jacob scratched his nape and then he cleared his throat.

“So… yours is a family business, is your family here, too? Or it’s just you representing the company?”

“Oh, uhm… it’s just me, but I’m actually filling in for my sister. She’s the one who manages this part of the family business now since my father died.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry…” Jacob said quickly, and Buddy nodded.

“Thanks, but it’s fine. I… didn’t have the best relationship with my father. He didn’t approve of… well, me,” Buddy said bitterly.

“I’m sorry.”

A man with a saw came from the other side of the wagon, but Buddy was focused on Jacob. He nodded and smiled, so they turned to see where the wagon was taking them.
Once he relaxed in the hayride, he started telling Jacob all sorts of facts about the hayrides, and stories about the ones he had been in, and he pretended to be more scared than he was for the sake of the activity.

When they arrived to the point where they had started, he was sad it hadn’t been longer. Jacob jumped off the wagon and offered him his hand, and Buddy took it as he smiled a little. Jacob grinned and parted his lips to tell him something, but in that moment a drop fell on Buddy’s nose. He blinked and brushed it away with his thumb, but then another fell, and another… People started urging the rest to go to the hotel, using anything they had around to cover themselves, and then it suddenly started pouring down.

Before Buddy could react, Jacob grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the hotel’s entry. But it was way too far, and the water was falling in thicker drops every second, so he suddenly stopped and pointed at a closed pergola not too far from them. Buddy nodded and they ran together. As soon as they made it there, Buddy closed the doors behind them and turned around laughing.

“Oh god,” Buddy said, out of breath. “Now, that’s something that hadn’t happened to me in any haunted hayride.”

Jacob smiled widely and shook the water from his hair with a hand, which made him look even more handsome. Buddy swallowed with difficulty and looked around for the first time. The pergola had stained and colored windows, and they probably were open most of the time to have a view of the entire garden and hotel from there. But they were luckily closed now, and the light reflected on them, painting the room with a hundred colors.

“We can… wait here until it clears up,” Buddy shrugged, pretending like he was nonchalant when in reality he was excited and terrified at the prospect of being trapped inside with Jacob. What if the man discovered about who Buddy was, and he hated him for it?

He sat on one of the two benches that were in the center of the pergola, and Jacob did the same right beside him. They stayed silent for a moment, and then Buddy felt Jacob’s eyes on him, so he returned his gaze. He felt flushing once again, and he smiled nervously.

“What?”

Jacob didn’t answer. Instead, he raised his hand to Buddy’s face, and he opened his eyes widely and tensed. He felt Jacob’s fingers in his cheek, and when the man pulled back, he saw that Jacob had a wisp of hay in his finger.

“From the wagon,” Jacob explained, and he laughed softly as he threw it away.

Buddy pursed his lips and tried to talk himself out of what he was going to do. He tried to name all the reason why he shouldn’t, and he definitely couldn’t blame it on the alcohol… but he didn’t care. He leaned towards Jacob with his heart hammering inside his chest, and kissed him a little too urgently and sloppily. Buddy felt Jacob’s hand on his shoulder, and he pulled away immediately, horrified at himself.

“Fuck, I’m sorry, I’m such an idiot-”

Nej, Buddy, I…”

Jacob didn’t finish the sentence, and he didn’t have to, because he raised his hand again to Buddy’s face, this time to cup his jaw and neck. When he leaned in, he did it much slower than Buddy, and when their lips touched, it was a much more soft touch.

Buddy moaned quietly, and when Jacob’s hands moved to settle in his back, pulling him closer, he finally began to relax into the kiss and in the man’s arms.

Chapter Text

Michael didn’t want to watch the horror movie alone. Arne didn’t want to watch it, period. So they reached an agreement; Michael suggested something to do after the movie if Arne watched it with him, and Arne agreed, though making sure Michael knew it was reluctantly. And so, when everyone else had left the house, they sat in the living room’s couch and Michael put the movie on.

“See why I don’t like these movies? Take a damn gun and leave the knife, stupid!” Arne shouted at the screen for the second time.

Michael knew the reason why he didn’t like those movies wasn’t the stupidity of its characters, but the jump-scares. He hated to be scared, and to be caught off guard, and horror movies did exactly that, even if he insisted on denying it.

The guy on the movie saw the killer in that moment, and he tried to attack him with the knife, but the killer out powered him easily, slashing his throat. Arne looked away for a second, frowning.

“See?! What did I tell you?” he took his gun out of his sweatpants and swung it around. “If they were really that smart, they would’ve taken a gun!”

Michael shushed him and continued watching the movie, and Arne lowered the gun with a groan.

When the movie ended, Michael was happy to have finally watched it, but when he looked at Arne his smile fell. He was as tense as a wire, and sulking, so Michael took his hand. That made him jerk, startled, and he looked up.

“C’mon, let’s do the other thing.”

“You were serious…?” Arne asked, his eyes wide open.

Michael frowned, a little upset at his disbelief. “Of course. What, do you think I’m a liar?”

Michael didn’t wait for Arne to answer, and he stood up from the couch and dragged Arne behind him. He went straight to the bathroom, where he closed the door and knelt by the bathtub. He put the cap on the drain, and turned the hot water on.

As the bathtub began filling, he stood up and took his shirt off. Michael then turned around and saw that Arne was still tense, so he smiled as he approached him.

“Are you going to take a bath with all your clothes on?”

“No…” Arne said, but he didn’t move to take anything off.

Michael smiled and took another step towards him. He stood on tiptoe and kissed the corner of Arne’s lip. That made him react, his lips parting with a gasp and shuddering.

“Do you want to take my clothes off, and I do yours?” Michael suggested, and Arne nodded slowly.

And so, they did exactly that. Michael took Arne’s wrists and put his hands on his own hips. Arne finally reacted, gripping the waistband of his pants and unbuttoning them with haste. When that fell down his legs, pooling around his ankles, Arne hesitated before taking his underwear, waiting for Michael’s nod. Arne knelt to pull that down, taking both garments from his feet and throwing them on the sink. Michael then did the same with Arne’s clothes, taking them off slowly though determinedly. When he took Arne’s underwear off, he saw the man swallowing, and he covered his cock with both hands. Michael smiled but looked away as he collected his clothes and put his gun carefully on the sink; even though they had been doing things for months now, Arne still felt shy sometimes, so Michael allowed him a minute to catch up.

Michael stopped the water when the bathtub was sufficiently filled, and he offered his hand to Arne. The man took it, and they stepped inside together. Michael made Arne turn around and sit between his legs. Once they were both sitting in it, he cupped his hands and soaked Arne’s hair, and then took the shampoo. He started spreading the shampoo and cleaning his hair, and he felt Arne leaning back into his touch as he carefully massaged his scalp. Michael could’ve sworn he almost heard him purring.

“Put your head back,” Michael told him when he finished.

Arne did so, and Michael rinsed up his hair. When it was completely clean, he told Arne he could turn around and put his back against the bathtub’s wall. The man did so as Michael washed his own hair much less carefully than he had done Arne’s. Michael rinsed his hair with Arne watching intently his every move, and when he finished, Michael hugged his own knees.

“I’m sorry I made you watch that movie… I really thought you’d like it if you gave it a chance,” Michael said.

“It’s okay, I liked some things… the guts and blood were nice.”

Michael laughed, a loud laugh that echoed in the bathroom’s walls.

“You’re so gross.”

His voice was drenched with fondness, but Arne still frowned and opened his mouth to protest. Michael didn’t let him, though; he stood up slightly with both hands on the bathtub’s edges and lowered himself on top of Arne. As soon as Michael was close to him, Arne tensed again, but this time it was a completely different tension; it was the way he tensed every time they kissed, or touched each other at first. It was the same way a thirsty person would tense at seeing a glass of water… and Michael knew this, so he smiled right before leaning in and kissing him softly on the lips. Arne let out a small whine when their tongues touched, and Michael let his body sink onto Arne’s. He wrapped his arm around Arne’s middle, and when they parted, he let his head drop on Arne’s shoulder. Michael pressed a small kiss there before settling and snuggling into Arne as much as the bathtub allowed him to. He smelled and tasted like clean, and Michael felt Arne nosing at his hair. As they lay there, almost dozing in the warm water, there was no sign of tension in Michael’s body anymore, so Michael smiled.

Chapter Text

It was called the Corn Maze. Will had read about such things in the beforetimes, small fields of actual corn cut with lines that made up pictures when seen from above. No such picture existed of the Maze, though. That would have been unsporting, or so the Administration said. The airspace above the Maze was zealously guarded by fire cannons and deep smog expelled from a hundred generators, and besides that, the Maze was altered every year, before the Running of the Slaves, by attendants in machines that protected them from the creatures in the Maze. Still, some died every year, and were honored in the same way that all who died were honored, during the great Administration celebration where the winners, if there were any, were lauded and fed and given Freedom for themselves and a single child.

Will’s mother had defeated the maze, and had chosen Freedom for her first child, a daughter. But Abigail had died a few months later of illness, and the Administration had refused all appeals to reassign Freedom to Will, born a year after. His mother had abandoned him to his father’s care after that, unable or unwilling to suffer the death of a second child.

But Will wasn’t planning to die in the Maze. He had prepared for this for years, and now that he was of age, a man at fourteen years old, he was as ready as anyone who had ever stepped the first foot into the twisting labyrinth. His father was a generator repair person, and Will would be as well once he won Freedom. He told himself that this is what he wanted, because usefulness was important. “Be of Use” was the slogan of the Administration-- the unsaid portion was, of course, “Or Else.”

Will was set to be released at the West Gate. His father stood waiting with him, unable to do anything but provide small comfort. Will’s father was a Freedom recipient, and had never run the Maze. He only knew a few stories, illegally whispered into his ear by his wife as they lay together in the dark. Beware the other Runners. Beware the metal teeth in the shadows. And above all, Beware the Wendigo.

What he would do if he encountered any other Runners was clear. He had a small sharp knife in his hands, along with a small bottle of water for his thirst. And his feet were quick, his eyes sharp against the traps laid against him. But the Wendigo… well. He closed his eyes. Fast. Silent. Watchful. It would have to be enough.

The bell rang. His father squeezed his shoulder, and Will entered the Maze. The gate shut behind him with a quiet click. And he began to run.

Will knew no whispered stories of the West Gate. No one knew anyone who had survived it. He stepped carefully, dodging the obvious pits filled with sharp stakes and the nets of razorwire that blocked much of the path. As he ran, every so often he would hear a scream, and he kept count. 40 Slaves ran the Maze. 39. 32.

By the time he had to stop and rest, the number was halved. Will let himself smile as he drank a sip of water. Fewer Runners meant more resources as he traveled further in. He let himself hope that he might find food, or even an additional weapon off a fallen Slave. After a moment, he began running again, eyes sharp, knowing that he had to make it before dark. At least before dark, there was hope.

Will ran for what felt like miles, his feet dancing around spike traps that glinted dully against the gold of the stalks. But he was tiring. In a careless moment, his foot hit a hidden sensor plate, and it was only the click that warned him before a spiked gate swung with force from the border of the path, catching his thigh as he dove out of the way. Pain roared through him, and he fell to the side to try and stop the bleeding. He squeezed his leg to check for broken bones, and then tore the sleeve from his shirt to tie it tightly under his groin. The bleeding slowed but didn’t stop, and he knew that he had just marked the water. Dragging himself to his feet, he limped on. Speed was essential, especially now that he was a wet red beacon for the Wendigo. There was nothing else he could do.

The day was the longest he had ever endured, and it was still too short. With resigned determination, he limped through the deepening dusk, until he could no longer see, and then sunk to a crouch where he stood, unable to go on and terrified to stay still. With unprotected hands, he burrowed back into the thorny hedge, took another sip of water, and tried to think of a plan.

The gates would be closed now, but they would open again at dawn. If he survived the night, he could go on, with the last of his water and a leg that was no longer much able to hold his weight. Will closed his eyes, and thought of his father, and tried not to think of the monster he knew, without a doubt, would now be hunting him in earnest.

A sharp sound tickled his ear, and he startled upright, groggy and thirsty and aching. He must have fallen asleep, and how stupid was that? He shoved himself to his feet and immediately toppled over, barely containing a cry of pain. Unable to get back up, he began to crawl.

He didn’t get far.

Blocking the path was an enormous shape, somehow even blacker than the night that surrounded it. Will raised his eyes and caught a glimpse of moon-bright eyes, like the silver reflective eyes of a cat. He sighed, to tired to be much afraid. “Could you please move out of my way?” he grated out, throat dry.

The eyes tilted, as if the demon was studying him. And then, in a voice much more cultured than Will expected, the monster replied, “What will you give me in return if I do?”

“What would it take to get you to carry me the rest of the way out?”

The Wendigo laughed, a surprisingly gentle sound. “Sweet boy, I would have your heart.”

Will experienced a burst of fear, but he tamped it down. This was no unreasoning beast of fearful stories. And if it could talk, Will could, too. “Hearts aren’t very nutritious,” he argued. “You could have my leg instead. It will feed you and your family much better.” He thought for a moment, and then added, “If you could take the injured one, it would already be tenderized as well.”

The Wendigo snorted in what sounded like amusement, and then watched him in silence for a long moment. “I have no family. I used to, but they were taken from me.”

Will looked away, feeling a stab of his own empathy for the quiet grief he heard in the monster’s voice. He didn’t know what to say, or whether anything he could reply would be welcome. Instead, he reached out and laid a hand on the beast, on the warm leathery skin of its leg. The Wendigo startled, and reared back, and Will fell backwards, the pain of his injured leg waking with a vengeance. He rolled over and clutched his hands over the wound, trying not to make a sound. Beside him, he heard the monster rise to its feet, and he squeezed shut his eyes. Sharp claws pressed against his leg, right where he was bleeding, and the pain overtook him. He passed out.

And woke to light surrounding him.

Will blinked against the sunlight, and a shadow fell across him. When he could focus again, he recognised his own father, who was staring at him in astonishment, tears on his cheeks. Will tried to push himself up to sitting, and fell over awkwardly. Hands reached for him, and he was lifted into a chair. Dizzily, he stared at his father. “What happened? Why are you in the Maze, daddy?”

His father shook his head. “I’m not, Will. You made it out. Somehow, you made it out. You’re Free.”

“Somehow?” Will didn’t understand, but then all the disparate parts fell together when he reached for his wounded leg to find it gone. Where it had been was a stump of thigh, cut off half a foot below his hip. The end of the stump was neatly sealed, as if a surgeon had knitted the skin together. It didn’t even hurt.

The Wendigo had accepted his bargain, after all. Will turned and looked back into the Maze, but the Gate was closed.

He knew, though, that he would be seeing his strange monster again.

Chapter Text

"This is not exactly what I meant."

Le Chiffre was kneeling in the middle of his own summoning circle, his hands over his head, as Buddy fought to maintain a bubble of protection around them. His little hooves skidded sparks on the concrete floor until Le Chiffre took hold of his legs and held him steady. The witch tried not to think of his cheek pressing into Buddy's furry thigh.

Outside the bubble, separated by a magical membrane thinner than a soap bubble, Le Chiffre's lab was a roaring tornado of madness; everything he owned was currently travelling at approximately a hundred miles per hour in a tight circle in-between the two of them and the fortunately reinforced walls of the room. Le Chiffre watched, helpless, as the contents of his experiments, his potions, ingredients, priceless tools, and instruments were reduced to pulverized debris in the onslaught. A lifetime of research, so much magically irradiated dust.

The little demon standing above him was trembling with the effort of protecting him. Which was as it should be, thought Le Chiffre sourly, as the torrent had been the little demon's fault in the first place. Le Chiffre had asked him to blow out the candles, and Buddy had done so as he did everything: with enthusiasm. His magic had reverberated within the space like an echo that increased in volume, until it became clear they had to take cover or die. Now they just had to wait it out, and considering the amount of raw magic steeped within the walls, Le Chiffre only hoped that it would deplete before his demon did.

"Jean! Jean, don't let go!!"

Oh yes. There was that.

Names held power, and a witch’s names held more power than most. It had been late, and they had both been soft with exhaustion and wine, and Buddy had been telling Le Chiffre the story of his last master, a kind but rather stupid woman and the man she had loved, who had attempted to enslave Buddy rather than Contract him. It hadn't ended well for anyone. And Buddy had looked so lost, staring into the fire, that Le Chiffre had begun telling him stories from his childhood, and his name had just. Slipped out.

Buddy had looked at him, storm-colored eyes wide with shock, and Le Chiffre had excused himself and locked himself in his room to contemplate his own stupidity. But Buddy had never used it against him, and only now did it leave his lips, as he tried desperately to draw power to maintain the spell of protection.

Le Chiffre reached up and took his hand, and his little demon squeezed their fingers together, and the wobbling bubble solidified.

It seemed like hours that they stayed trapped there, not like Le Chiffre could tell, since his three hundred year old Bavarian clock was currently circling the room in about a thousand pieces. But eventually, the last page of the last book fluttered to the floor, and the room took a deep, relieved breath, and settled. Buddy collapsed to his knees, ragged panting the only sound in Le Chiffre's ear. Until the timbre of it changed, and Le Chiffre realized the little demon was crying.

Without much thought behind it, Le Chiffre reached up and stroked over Buddy's wild curls. They sat tangled together on the concrete floor as Buddy shook in Le Chiffre's arms. Finally, Buddy sniffled and looked up with misery in his red-rimmed eyes. "I release you, Jean," he whispered.

Le Chiffre stroked a thumb under his chin to lift his face gently. They looked at each other, breathing heavily. "Whatever for?"

Buddy glanced away at the utterly demolished lab. He forced an unhappy laugh. "Don't be disingenuous, Jean. It's cruel. Bind me to never use your name, if you feel I'm not to be trusted, and I'll get out of your hair."

Le Chiffre took the demon's head in his hands, and kissed his forehead, right between his tiny little horns. "I've no intention of doing such a thing."

"But I destroyed your lab! All your work!" Buddy was shaking again, and Le Chiffre gathered him up and held him close.

"All of this is replaceable. You, however, are not." Le Chiffre leaned in to press their foreheads together, the little horns against his temples. "If you agree to stay, I would be..." Relieved, he wanted to say. Happy. "Grateful," he decided on, although it wasn't much better.

Buddy shook his head in disbelief. "You want me to stay? After all of this?"

Le Chiffre nodded, knowing he was playing his entire hand and, at least at the moment, not caring. "I want you to stay."

Chapter Text

Adam hadn’t wanted to go to the enchanted house of the ghost hunters. He had absolutely no desire to spend his Friday night listening to a woman talk about the discoveries her team had made in that supposedly enchanted house, but for some reason, Beth did. Adam remembered that Harlan had told him that if he wanted to keep a friend, he sometimes had to do things he didn’t particularly enjoy; a compromise, he had called it. And since Beth already did many things with him that she didn’t love, like going to every space event and talk with him, he figured he could do this for her.

And so, they had ended up with a group of ten people plus Sandra and Oscar, two of the ghost-hunting team’s members. They gave them flashlights and asked them to stay close during the tour just in case, and so they began walking to the living room, in which they had most of their equipment. Beth immediately walked to the front of the group, but Adam stayed behind them.

“We chose this house because there had been many reports of paranormal activity,” the woman started telling them. “It used to be a place where teenagers came just to prove that there was nothing, and most of them came out terrified, having experienced something…”

“Do you also think this is total bullshit?”

Adam jerked at the whispered words beside him, but he smiled a little and turned to the stranger who had talked, looking at his shoulder. He nodded.

“I’m here accompanying my idiot friend over there,” the man said, nodding towards the group. “How about you, gorgeous?”

“I’m- My name is not gorgeous,” Adam whispered, leaning a bit closer to the stranger to speak clearly. “I’m also here with a friend. She’s not an idiot, though.”

The man chuckled, and Adam feared the group would hear them and shush them, but the woman kept talking about the different devices they used. Adam saw Beth looking at them wide-eyed and with a smile on her face.

“So what is it?”

“What is what?” Adam asked, confused.

“Your name, gorgeous.”

Adam made an o with his mouth, and he looked up at the man’s face for a second. He was very handsome; high cut cheekbones, pouty lips smiling at him, and a sandy hair falling over his forehead, in which he had a small, rounded scar. Adam looked away immediately and blushed at having stared for a moment.

“I’m Adam.”

“Nice to meet you, Adam. I’m Nigel.”

Adam nodded and smiled as he looked at their feet. After a moment, the woman announced they were going to move to another room, and so Adam followed the group. He stayed behind with Nigel as they visited the ground floor, and then they walked upstairs and through a hallway.

“Adam,” Nigel called him, and when he looked up, he saw the man was looking at a door ajar. The group was moving to a room at the end of the hallway, but Nigel nodded towards that door. “Want to make this visit more interesting?”

“I don’t think we should stay behind…” Adam said, looking from Nigel’s shoulder to the group.

“C’mon, she’s going to talk about how they heard sounds and saw shadows, blah, blah…” Nigel said, rolling his eyes, and Adam smiled at the man’s acting. “Don’t you want to know what they really do?”

Adam bit his lower lip and looked at the group, which was getting away. He made a choice, so he sighed and nodded. They waited until the group was out of their sight, and then Nigel approached the door. Adam realized then that Nigel didn’t have a flashlight, so he lifted his own and pointed it to the door as Nigel pushed it. It opened with a low creak, and they stepped inside slowly. Adam gasped, not knowing where to look, exactly; the room was full of monitors, and there seemed to be one for each room of the house. The image on them was greenish, as every night vision camera was, and Adam saw movement in one of them; it was the group. He saw them talking and walking until they disappeared from one of the screens and appeared in another.

“These assholes are taping everything…” Nigel said.

He figured the cameras were for their investigation, and perhaps they expected something to happen during the tours they gave, which was why they were still recording.

Nigel whistled beside him, and Adam turned away from the screens to see him investigating what looked like a big microphone attached to a smaller device. Adam approached Nigel, and the man leaned closer and raised his hand to the mic… When Nigel touched it, a high-pitched sound suddenly filled the room, and they both jumped back. Adam hit the wall and stared at the now silent microphone as he felt his heart hammering inside him. And then, he felt something else: half of Nigel’s body against him, as if he was trying to protect him.

Fuck…” Nigel said, and he suddenly laughed.

Adam also smiled at their foolishness. Nigel turned slowly around, but didn’t move back from Adam, nor Adam did want to move away from the wall.

“Did you get scared?”

“Just a little,” Adam confessed, and it was true.

“I’m sorry.”

“Why? I’m not scared of you, it was just the sound.”

Nigel smiled and nodded, and Adam was suddenly aware of just how close they were. Nigel felt nice, and he was a little bit turned on at having this beautiful man so close to him, but he didn’t know how the man felt.

“Adam?”

“Hmm?”

Adam felt Nigel touching his hand, and he gasped a little; it felt electric, warm and cold at the same time…

Nigel cleared his throat then and moved back.

“We should go find the others.”

“Uh, yeah,” Adam agreed.

They walked together out of the strange room and in the direction they had seen the rest go. Adam felt himself smiling as they walked, and when he heard the group in a room near them, he paused and looked at Nigel. The man smiled at him and put his hand on Adam’s shoulder.

“I’m right behind you, gorgeous.”

Adam nodded and walked into the room, feeling Nigel behind him, as he had said. As soon as the group saw them, the woman stopped explaining whatever she had been talking about, and Beth walked to him.

“Adam! We were looking for you, where were you?” she asked him, apparently worried.

“I was just… I stayed behind, that’s all.”

Beth hugged him, and Adam thought it was not that big of deal. He had just been gone for a few minutes, but he still allowed Beth to hug him. When she moved back, she stayed beside him, and the ghost-hunting woman cleared his throat. Adam wondered if she was irritated at the interruption.

“As I was saying… The original owner of the house was not the only one who died here. There were other people, even families after that, but all of them left the house because they didn’t feel safe, or died under strange circumstances.”

“What was the original owner called?” a man from the group asked.

“Nigel. He was called Nigel.”

Adam’s eyes widened as his heart skipped a beat, and he turned around hastily. Nigel wasn’t there anymore.

Chapter Text

“Adam…? I think the store sent me the wrong costume.”

Adam looked away from his own reflection in the mirror, where he had been checking his policeman costume, to the part he could see of their bedroom door.

“What do you mean?”

Elias didn’t answer, so Adam frowned. They had agreed not to see their costumes until the party the next day, but Adam sighed and walked to the bedroom.

“Elias, wha- Holy… shit.”

Adam froze under the door. Elias was in front of the floor mirror, and his costume consisted on a sort of top that covered only his shoulders and had a hood with horns, and then a pair of shorts barely covering Elias’ bulge. Everything else; his chest, stomach, arms and legs, was completely bare.

Elias crossed his arms over his stomach and tried to pull the shorts down, but that only made it worse, because as soon as he did that, his pubic hair threatened to appear above the cloth.

Adam swallowed and looked at Elias’ face, which was contorted with anguish. He walked into the room and to him.

“Hey, baby…” he said, touching his arm and leaning into him. “If you don’t like it we can return it.”

“There’s no time… the party is in two days,” he said. Adam noticed his voice was changing, getting more and more stressed, and his eyes became watery.

He looked at him in the mirror, and bit his lower lip.

“Baby, I… I’m not gonna lie, I love this costume on you.”

“Adam, it’s awful! It’s not even half a bull.”

“Well, whatever percentage of bull it is… I fucking love it.”

Elias turned to look at him, and Adam raised his eyebrows. He made Elias turn back to the mirror, and this time, Adam put both hands on his hips, caressing the waistband of the shorts and slipping his thumbs inside.

“Look at yourself, Elias… You’re… so hot that you drive me crazy. I’m having trouble even coming up with anything else to say, and I’m supposed to be a fucking writer.”

“Really…?”

“Hey!”

Adam circled him and stood in front of him. He put both hands on Elias shoulders and squeezed him there.

“Remember what I told you the other day? You didn’t believe me when I told you just how beautiful you are. Do I need to convince you again…?”

Elias smiled and flushed, probably picturing in his mind the memory of that day. He sniffled and shrugged with only one shoulder.

“I believe you, but-”

“But?”

“I don’t know. People will look at me and think…” Elias pursed his lips and didn’t finish that sentence.

“I don’t care what people think. And if people can be slutty nurses and slutty policemen…” he said, and he took a step back and pointed at himself. Elias smiled, “then you can be a slutty bull.”

Elias laughed at the term, and Adam smiled, victorious. He leaned closer and circled Elias’ shoulders with both arms. Adam touched the little horns on top of Elias’ head.

“You like that, hmm? Do you want to be my slutty bull?”

“Am I not already…?” Elias said, and Adam opened his mouth in fake shock.

“Aren’t you cheeky?”

Adam kissed Elias, their tongues finding each other with ease as Elias put both hands on Adam’s buttocks, squeezing and tearing a laugh from him.

Chapter Text

The door crashed against the opposite wall with the force they opened it, but Lee couldn’t have cared less. He turned around in the arms of the very eager man that was touching him and searching for every bit of skin he could find, and he felt the man’s lips brushing along his neck, so he shivered and smiled as he grabbed his coat and pulled him inside the apartment.

Lee found the man’s lips with his own and he kissed him as he pushed the door without looking; he heard it closing, so he kept walking backwards, dragging Draco with him and taking both his own and the man’s coat off as they went. When he found his bedroom’s door, he turned away from Draco for a second, opened the door and they walked in, only to have Draco push him against the nearest wall as soon as Lee faced him again.

Lee let out a low moan when the man pressed him against the wall. As he surrounded Draco’s shoulders and pulled him even closer, he thought how much had tonight improved…

Lee had been in his bar, recommending a table a good wine when something in the main door caught his eye: it was the man named Draco. Lee smiled as he saw the man walking in, taking his coat off and sitting alone in a booth as he subtly looked around. He had been waiting for that to happen ever since they had met, and it had taken him two months to come back… but there he was, finally. Lee apologized to the table for pausing midsentence, and finished telling them why they should order that bottle of wine. When they finally decided, he gave the order to one of the waiters and walked to the booth.

“See? I told you you’d be back,” he said, a hand on the free seat and another on his hip.

Draco gazed up slowly, looking from Lee’s feet up to his face, and gave him a tiny smirk. He nodded towards the seat across from him, so Lee sat down with a wide smile.

“So all I get is an I told you so?”

“Forgive me, where are my manners,” Lee said, and he dramatically extended his hand across the table. “Pleased to see you again, Sir.”

Draco huffed out and finally shook his hand, squeezing for a second longer than necessary. One of Lee’s waiters approached them in that moment, and they ordered a drink.

“So. What made you change your mind?” Lee asked once they had a beer and a glass of wine in the table.

“Nothing. I just…” Draco made a pause and sighed. He took a sip from his beer before continuing. “Look, I… don’t know if I believe in all those things, you know: reincarnation, other lives… But I do believe in what I see, and in what I feel.”

Lee didn’t lose his smile, but he cleared his throat and leaned forwards, placing his elbows on the table.

“And what is it, what you feel…?”

That question led to more drinks, and even more talking, until they realized it had started snowing outside. Draco observed that pursing his lips and groaned.

“What?” Lee asked.

“I’ll have to take a taxi, no way I’m going to walk home with that…”

Lee’s smile widened, and Draco’s eyebrow twitched.

Ten minutes later they were barging into Lee’s apartment, right above the bar, and he could feel Draco’s hands everywhere. Draco was kissing, licking and sucking the skin above his collarbones, and Lee pulled up and off the man’s shirt, interrupting him only for a second. Draco used that to take Lee’s shirt off, too, and when he leaned into him again, Lee felt the man’s hands on his ass and thigh… He smiled as he writhed into the touch, but Draco suddenly pulled him upwards, and Lee could only let out a surprised ‘oh’, hold onto his shoulders and circle the man’s waist with his legs.

When he looked into Draco’s eyes, he felt himself setting alight at the man’s look of desire, at how beautiful and powerful he looked under the dim light of the streetlights, and how strong he was, holding Lee like that. Lee dragged a hand across the man’s shoulder and into his chest, where he buried his fingers in the patch of silver hair. He only knew this man from seeing him once before tonight… and yet as he looked into his eyes and they breathed in tandem, everything felt so familiar, as if they had done this a million times before. Lee cupped the man’s face with both hands, and Draco leaned in to kiss him again, their tongues dancing together as their bodies did the same.

When Draco dropped him back on the floor and moved back, Lee smiled and sighed. Men like him always tried to make him drop to his knees first, or only him, in the most selfish cases, so he was sure he knew what came next… But to his surprise, Draco pressed another quick kiss to his lips and suddenly went down to his knees. Lee almost choked with half a chuckle and half a moan when the man unbuttoned his jeans, pulled them down along with his underwear and grabbed his cock with a firm hand.

God,” Lee blurted.

“Alright?”

“Oh, fuck yeah,” Lee said.

Draco smirked, and he pressed his tongue flat against Lee’s cock. When he swallowed him, Lee dropped his head against the wall and did something he had wanted to do ever since he had seen the man for the first time at the bar: he grabbed the man’s thick braid and moaned loudly.

Hours later, they were lying on the bed. They had spent quite some time on the same spot against the wall, where Draco had made everything in his power to undo Lee, and then had moved to the bed, where he had continued to show Lee what a generous and good lover he was. He had once again felt the same, as if this was something completely new, but also familiar…

Draco was lying half on top of him, his head on Lee’s chest and his arm around his middle, and he observed the man’s braid resting on his back. Lee smiled again and decided that whatever this was, whether he had known this man before, or in any other way, he didn’t care. The only thing he cared, as Draco had said, was about what he felt… and he felt very good.

“Battle wound?” Draco asked then, and that brought Lee back to reality. He suddenly realized the man was running his thumb across the scar on his waist.

Lee swallowed and sighed quietly.

“You could say that. Cancer.”

Draco stayed quiet for a moment, and Lee feared he had scared him off, but the man didn’t stop the movement of his finger.

“Did you… win the battle?”

“So far, yes. It went into remission a year ago.”

Draco looked up. He had expected to see pity in his eyes, as he usually saw in everyone’s faces when he told them about it. But Draco had a small smile, and Lee bit his lower lip, a warm feeling spreading through his chest.

“I’m glad,” he said, and he sounded sincere.

“What about these?” Lee asked in turn, touching the scars he had seen in the man’s shoulder.

“Battle wounds, as well.”

He had told him at the bar that he had served in the army for a few years, so Lee nodded. Draco put his head back on Lee’s chest, and Lee placed his hand on the man’s braid, caressing it where it rested between his shoulder blades. He looked through the window and realized the glass had started freezing, so he figured it would be pretty early in the morning.

“It’s not snowing anymore,” he said out loud as he realized it.

“Are you subtly telling me to go…?”

Lee laughed, and Draco’s head moved with him.

“Not at all. Actually, maybe you’re gonna have to stay here tomorrow. You know how dangerous these first frosts and snowfalls are. You could slip on the sidewalk.”

The man looked up with half a smile, and Lee bit his lower lip. Even in the semi-darkness, he was so beautiful…

“So you’re worried about me, huh?” Draco said in a joking tone.

“Safety always comes first,” Lee said with a fake serious face.

Draco hummed, and he squeezed Lee’s hip as he climbed on top of him to kiss him again.