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Starseed

Chapter Text

There are approximately ten billion galaxies in the observable universe, each playing host to roughly one hundred billion stars. If this is the case, then why is space such a cold, dark, desolate place? Why doesn’t light spill from every incandescent, celestial body and sweep across the cosmos, illuminating the way for its lost, homeless wanderers?

The answer is quite simple. Most of the universe is empty.

Like him.

He was a perfect reflection of that same universe that had granted him life, gave him love, and then took everything away.

In what felt like eternities ago, home had burned like a beacon, and they had all rejoiced; every single one of them had been called back from the far reaches of the universe to feed off its elements, to exult in the warm ebb and flow of the rolling shock waves and bathe in its phosphorescence. Like the nascency of a new soul, it swelled and pulsated, grew and shifted, it was contained and eager to know the universe, pushing out, restless and relentless in its search for release, until the energy reached a fever pitch and home was no longer a star.

In the blink of an eye, before anyone could brace themselves, the core collapsed under its own gravity. Nobody could have predicted the speed at which their corner of the galaxy was briefly lit up and those who had survived the initial blast had been so deeply mesmerized by the pretty dust clouds that rose in elegant spires, that they had been frozen in place. But not him. And for his suspicion, for all his panic and dismay, he’d barely escaped the resulting darkness that had engulfed the particles and radiation off which they’d fed, had swallowed his kin and even the light. He’d been stripped of his own stellar blaze, left ghostly and shadowed, unnoticeable against the onyx backdrop of deep space.
How could the Elders not have known? How could they have been so wrong about everything? For instance, the universe was not static or unchanging; it was always expanding, speeding away from him, increasing its dark energy and with it, the emptiness -- no, the isolation. Still, he chased the aging stars, calling out to them, wanting desperately to become part of the Great Void along with them, but he could never keep up; after all, a comet is no match for the speed of light.

And contrary to what he’d been taught, it wasn’t this same emptiness that made space oppressively somber; and it wasn’t space existing in a vacuum that rendered it frigid either. It only felt empty because he left burning fragments of himself everywhere he went in search of respite. Over time, the sting of loneliness stole him away, piece by piece, until a mere shell remained, leaving him hollowed out and cold. He lived his hollowness -- he ate the silence, breathed the solitude, and slept the ache that accompanied abandonment and did so for millennia. He was a nothing. A singularity. A gatherer of space dust.

As the years wore on, he’d begun to forget the sound of their voices and when he was particularly forlorn, he’d relive memorable discussions and disputes, playing them aloud, unheard by any but himself.

“The beauty of space comes from its virginal aspect, young one. She’s almost untouched. Unexplored. Flawless,” they would tell him.

Everything is flawless when it’s unfamiliar! He would scathe internally. That’s why certain beings fell in lust at first sight; soon enough, failings and weaknesses caused the feeling to fizzle and they were in search of another unknown. Love, on the other hand, required imagination and the ability to see the allure in something imperfect.

“But what of rogue planets, Teacher?” he argued, “Are they not flawed by their very nature? So much so that they’re ejected from their own planetary systems? They become rebel planets, abiding by their own rules and refusing to be predictable in their orbiting? How is such a revolt not profoundly beautiful and unforgettable?”

“Because this kind of beauty lives only to destroy you.”

Not like the mess of bland dots and smudges that surrounded him at any given time as he floated aimlessly throughout space. Predictable. Boring. Forgettable. Every pinpoint was a solar system, each having the possibility of having intelligent life, though he’d found none so far. He’d allowed himself to meander through infinity, slipping just out and above the Milky Way’s periphery to sleep away the light years out of sheer boredom. When he woke again, it was to the sight of long gas tentacles wrapped in dust and stars, looking for all the world as if it were caressing a central bulge.

He’d never really appreciated its beauty before, but from this vantage point, at the far tip of the outer spiral arm, a perfect sphere of hot plasma caught his attention. A violent storm was brewing at its surface, strong flares shooting out from it and in the direction of the third planet orbiting its large mass. He followed its progression, hope swelling at his core to get caught up in the explosion, cutting in and out, spiraling through the searing tongue licking at the heavens and feeding off its energy until there was an abrupt collision between the charged solar fragments and the changing atmosphere just above the terrene globe.

The result was nothing short of miraculous. The swish and crackling of solar winds sent shivers along his astral form, rippling the darkness as the star’s essence continued to smash and shatter with something so magnetic it pulled him towards the bob and weave of heliacal particles interacting with the ions and illuminating the sky. The planet looked as though it had been set ablaze by greens, purples and red polar flames.

He could not resist immersing himself amidst the flicking, vibrant shades set in perpetual motion, flowing and undulating, a veritable dance of colour in the sky over the northern tip of the planet. It ignited something childlike in him. He was eager, curious to touch and feel. And though it looked like fire, it certainly didn’t feel like it: the air’s density was so low it mimicked the cool jets of a swirled space vortex. It was refreshing, captivating, mesmerizing. Reviving.

He let himself get caught up in the Aurora Borealis, his own energy swelling with the rise and fall, the lights leading him in a complicated, harmonious dance while he followed every step, committing them to memory. He was spun and dipped by the luminous filaments, hair wild, eyes bright like starry orbs behind their lids, face exalted. He was smiling.

His body was arched, head pointed downwards, arms spread wide in reckless abandonment when he first noticed it. His eyes snapped open, then narrowed as they honed in on the wailing whine emanating from winking blue and red beams, but for all their din, they could not conceal the beautiful low hum vibrating a soft melody within. It was a cry for help, lovely and familiar and yet he couldn’t place it in his long, drawn-out existence.

He disentangled himself from his luminous dance partner, who reluctantly let him go to give chase. The sound of sharp, shallow breaths was almost lost under the roar of the conveyance madly barreling through distinct paths and hoards of noisy, smaller bodies of debris, looking as though it was cleaving cleanly through them like a fiery meteor through the sky. The smell that lingered behind it was vaguely oily, sooty, somewhere between heated and burning. Why would any being be voluntarily caught in there? Saving whatever was calling from within became his first priority.

Unnoticed, his pitch black filamented limbs touched upon the top of the noisy transporter as it circled a large white structure and came to a halt. Bipeds spilled out, rounding to the back and threw open the panels that had kept it shut. He could make out their hushed, urgent whispers just over the rattle of the bed they were rolling out, but was still overwhelmed by the other seventy-three conversations going on nearby. He let the information flood through him and many of the unfamiliar concepts and objects flooding his senses began to fall into place.

The same kind of gnawing, childish curiosity as with the Northern Lights overpowered him as he lay flat against the roof of the vehicle, fingers gripping the edge of the back door, inching himself forward until he dipped his head over to see what was coming out. He was trembling with excitement, lip caught between his teeth, unnecessary breath held captive in his spectral body.

“Oooh,” he sighed at the sight of it, the neglected sound being carried off by a glacial wind. It was unbearably, heartbreakingly beautiful. Unmatched by anything in the universe. Like watching a meteor shower, he could no more focus on one feature than keep his eyes on a singular shooting fragment. His head whipped from comely slate hair matted wetly to a flushed heart-shaped face, to the delicate spasming digits holding onto his knees as the small thing writhed on its side, stifling a wounded whimper. The visible skin was like a swath of muted light, ethereal, with something akin to dew drops upon it, sparkling in the moonlight. On his face, an unfamiliar constellation of barely-there spots was scattered over his nose and cheeks, like a reminder, proof of his belonging to heaven. Pink Pleiade lips were pressed tightly together, his brow furrowed, his eyes pinched shut; then he smiled, and even weak, even in pain, it was dazzling. So proud to suffer in near-silence. So lovely he was in his agony. The homeless stellar being was rapt with infatuation, though he’d never felt more helpless than he did now. Not even back then...

“Take the boy to the second floor,” he heard a tired voice direct the individual pushing the bed.

In the time it took for the little thing to be wheeled out from the ambulance, and brought into the building, he found that he was no longer homesick, for home had ceased to be a place; home was now this boy.

Despite the dense cloud of ailment surrounding the stunning creature, he was still all heat and luminescence, energy and something else he could not quite pinpoint. And so he followed, his longing renewed with the urge to soothe and comfort, to be swaddled in that warmth, to live inside him and never leave.

He stopped abruptly at the entrance and looked upon his midnight veil and how it contrasted with the alabaster of the walls. Not wanting to be seen, he pursued the sweet hum of the boy’s distress call, but from outside, cloaked in his shadowy form. He sped along, and caught glimpses of him through the large glass panes, fixating on the sounds made by the ones guiding him along the labyrinthine hallways.

“...omhive, made the move some eight years ago, but born in the United States. No history of having sought treatment while he’s been living here.”

“Wait? You’re kidding me right? He’s like a breath away from... I mean, just look at him…”

He was looking at him every time he came into sight. He couldn’t stop looking at him. Could they not see him properly? He knew the boy’s expression well, agonized and pained, but he was still magnificent. Flawed by illness, yes, but it made him unforgettable and much too resplendent for this little corner of the galaxy!

More importantly, could they not hear him? He was clearly saying something. His head was lolling languidly from side to side, and words were falling from his pretty pout. Mantra or melody, he could not tell, though by the way his lips moved, the whispers repeated over and over, he knew the boy needed something.

Someone, please give him what he needs.

He’d been so desperate for their acquiescence, that his digits had pressed heavily into the double glass, and by the time the humans came to the next window, he had left it partly shattered, the fissures a perfect replica of the webbed silk found at the top corner. One of the workers took notice, but said nothing about it, and simply called the elevator. Once a button was pressed, a red light came on overhead, counting numbers down from five.

“Yeah and no family…”

“Here, in Iceland?”

“No, no family at all. He was found unconscious in the hallway of his apartment complex. Jónsson talked to the neighbour, that’s how we got his name. Said he was orphaned at ten, so he’s completely alone.”

He scoffed. Funny they would use the words orphaned and alone interchangeably. One spent their entire lives being orphaned, not only by parents, but by friends and lovers, by homes and memories. It certainly did not mean that one was alone. Being the last of his kind, he knew the weariness of such a burden. After all, hopelessness was the orphan of loneliness.

“Yeah, twenty-two, works at that witch shop; you know, where they sell crystals and incense and all that rubbish.”

He couldn’t understand the bitterness behind the speaker’s words in regards to crystals and incense, but the tone he used made the stellar being less than charitable in his assessment of these beings. The doors to the elevator finally opened and humans dressed in matching tan attire wheeled in the boy, obscuring him from view once again as he was swallowed up by the small space.

“Just an odd kid, you know,” the former speaker continued now that the boy was out of earshot. “Doesn’t fit in here. My daughter knows him; he believes in a lot of far-out stuff. Sci-fi, aliens, multiverse kind of weirdness.”

Something akin to a growl surfaced in his throat as he took his leave of these wretched creatures. How dare they disparage what was likely the very best of them! He continued in his search for this boy, crawling along the outside wall. The aching little thing was easy enough to find since his core pulsed differently than anyone else’s. While those surrounding him had centers that beat wetly, pounding predictably, the boy’s had a melodic cadence, its chorus melancholy, speaking in the language of the universe, simple, uncomplicated, but unfathomably heavy: alonealonealonealone.

He went around the building, keeping close attention to the higher vibrations emanating from the frail body, finally locating him in a threadbare room devoid of colour, equipped with noisy machines on either side of his tiny frame. His chest rose and fell and rose again, and his eyes were still shut; he could have been sleeping except for the infinitesimal wince when a worker pierced his skin and set an adhesive to keep a needle in place.

Outside he clung to the window, frantic in his need to kiss the small hurts away, to quiet the urgent plea of one soul calling out to another.

“I’m stumped. No idea what’s wrong,” the doctor told the nurse as she scribbled down some notes onto a clipboard and fastened it to the boy’s new bed. Both humans turned away from the little creature and made their way towards the exit. “He’s burning up, but not sweating, has ridiculously shallow breathing, but has no sign of a lung infection or heart failure. His body isn’t reacting the way it should, no reflexes to speak of, but there doesn’t seem to be any damage to his central or peripheral nervous systems. It’s like his body is shutting down all wrong.”

It’s not. His body was giving up, he thought, frowning in their direction. He could see the boy’s bottom lip tremble and wished they would be quiet.

“Do you want me to order some tests? MRI, CT, PET?” the nurse responded gravely.

“It wouldn’t matter. The way he is now, I give him three days, tops. He’ll be gone before we even get the results back.” And they left with a quiet click of the door behind them, leaving the boy to himself.

When his gaze fell upon the boy again, he saw that he had turned onto his side, facing the window, facing him. His eyes were still eclipsed by his lids, but his delicate shoulders had begun shaking, while his chest quavered and a small fist was brought up to his mouth. He heard a hic and pressed his shadowed hands against the glass where it groaned under the pressure of his distress. There was a swallowed sob from within the desolate room and an echo of one from outside. A steady stream of something like viscous vapour spilled from the boy’s eyes, shimmering in the soft light as they trailed down his face. His long, dark lashes swept against his cheek as he wiped the little pearls away with the back of his hand, then fluttered once, twice and on the third time, opened.

Naos, Mintaka and Alnitak all rolled into one. Impossible. How were stars so large fitted into the eyes of such a small being. Blue-white and searing. Rare and luminous and swiftly burning through his fuel. His end, though quickly approaching, would be spectacular; a supernova, both violent and beautiful. Then and there, he vowed to bare witness, because even stars should not die on their own.

Essence uncomfortably compressed and reduced to darkened light, he slipped through the casement, following the shadows cast upon the sad, solitary figure in bed. He stood there motionless, at a loss for what to do to comfort him, for the boy could not be saved, but his anguish could be relieved at least for now. Darkness fell over the the room, and the hitches and gasps became fewer and fewer, until they were replaced by slow, even breaths that hummed adorably on the exhale. The star-born curled around his raison d'être, his slumbering bliss, beseeching tone whispering between them as he cradled his cheek and pressed their foreheads together, “Take me when you leave. We won’t ever have to be alone again.”

Chapter Text

For the first time since he’d become intimately acquainted with desolation, he slept soundly, untouched by nightmares of a pitch black, devouring monster whose screaming jets shot out and ensnared the light trying to escape. Gone too was the lingering regret of having deserted his kin, of having survived.

Instead, his dreams were filled with a brilliant pulsar, a tiny compact being whose flickering luminescence called to him, beckoned him, off and on, off and on in a regular, predictable pattern -- no, in a rhythm, like a heartbeat.

He blanketed the boy’s ailing form in his dusky starlight, held him close; the stellar being had never felt so warm, so comforted in all his long life. He absorbed the frail creature’s heat like a cosmic vacuum, in turn reducing what the nurses who came in to check on him called a fever.

The first time they entered the dimly-lit room, a low, rumbling, menacing sound erupted from his core, a possessive warning to the workers not to jostle or unnecessarily touch his little human.

“You had dinner only two hours ago, how can your stomach still be growling after all that leftover Slátur?” the blonde with pigtails admonished, giggling quietly.

“That wasn’t me,” the other said, looking at the boy’s chart with a pen-light and scribbling more notes on it. “Speaking of which, he hasn’t eaten since being admitted, but his blood pressure is normal; I don’t get it.”

“Shh… not so loud, let the poor dear sleep. I’ll get him some dinner before they close the kitchen, and bring it to him when he’s awake,” the first one instructed and they left the room without so much as having made mention of seeing an alien draped over their patient.

He was glad for it as it offered them privacy, but saddened at the same time; he wanted to be seen by the boy, wanted to be heard by him too -- to thank him. Without knowing, the star-eyed wonder at his side had taken his void, twisted and gnarled as it was and made it tangible until it became something beautiful and unrecognizable: hope.

But a glance at his own form, of his fingers interlaced ethereally with the boy’s, had him reconsidering. They were not the same, and from what little he’d grasped of humans thus far over radio waves that traveled across the country and beyond, difference was not something this kin tolerated well. Not that he would stand in judgement of them, his own kind feared the unknown as well.

He remembered being but a little starling clinging to his birth-giver, hiding behind her as her temper flared.

“I’m not asking your permission,” his elder sib told his sire and birth-giver in a heated argument.
“Let the others go,” the birth-giver supplicated, “it doesn’t have to be you. What if you lose your way?”

“What if, like some, you forget who you are,” his sire interjected.

“That’s a chance I’m willing to take. Think how we’ll prosper with newfound knowledge and technology, how she will prosper as a result,” his sib responded, hands smoothing the heated surface of their star. Her fiery coils wrapped around his wrists, also in an effort to keep him home; she never did like to lose her children.

Unable to bear the distance between them any longer, he broke away from the birth-giver, let his blaze join that of his sib’s in an affectionate embrace so that he knew without mistake that his absence would be felt. “Home will always be here for you, and so will I.”

A wailing cry tore him from his distant memory. His eyes snapped open and though he tried to disentangle himself from the boy, his filaments held onto him, covetously soothing and caressing in their touch. He searched the slumbering human’s face for any evidence of hurt or distress but found none. Another cry, and this time, his essence cocooned the small form to shield it from whatever threat lay outside his door. He could hear people rushing past in the hall, colours and codes being shouted, squeaking wheels, the motorized whoosh of doors opening and closing and the rake of rings against metal as a curtain was pulled back.

Cautiously, he rose from the bed, drifted to the door, stuck his head out and saw a man on his knees some meters away, caught in a fit of sorrowing, lamented howls. The same wetness rolled down his face as the boy’s some hours ago, except that the accompanying sounds were nearly deafening and unsettled the astral being.

“She was my everything… the love of my life!”

As if on cue, a muffled, resonating trill, drawn-out and needy came from behind him, and his head whipped back to see the boy shifting restlessly in his bed. He was still sleeping, his lips unmoving; the sound came from deep within, pulsing and retreating like that of a neutron star. He could no longer be far from him, the call ached much too potently, flared inside him, all-consuming. He reached a hand out to him and glistening, backlit tendrils cradled and appeased the human’s body.

“What’s going on?” a patient in the adjacent room demanded of another who happened to wander out into the hall, no doubt lured by the caterwauling.

“I think she died -- that woman in there,” he answered, chin motioning to the room where the staff was gathering. “That there on the floor is her fiancé, he’s been here for weeks. Never left her side.”

And so it was resolved. He would be this boy’s fiancé, whatever that meant; it didn’t matter as long as he never had to leave his side again. While everyone’s attention was on the grieving man and his loved one, the astral being reluctantly let go of his tiny charge, smoothing the stardusted tendrils along his face and hair in an ardent promise to return soon.

Soundlessly, he stepped out from the room, veiling himself among the shadows cast upon the eastern wall and squinted, examining all their features. Sure, he’d spent hours memorizing the little creature, the delicate contour of his face, the gentle slope of his adorable nose, the curve of his shoulders and soft, but pointed angles of his skeleton, but he could never hope to replicate such beauty, such perfection.

Instead, he settled on something decisively human, skin milky like the boy’s, though without the rarified luminosity it seemed to possess and set him apart from his kin. And to his displeasure, he wasn’t very successful at dimming his own subtle glowing halo that surrounded his form -- much like rings around the moon in the winter. He had to hope that human eyes were too weak to pick up on it.

His hair became more subdued, not the flame-like umbrage that roiled and undulated with the imperceptible shifts in the atmosphere. It was still somewhat unruly, fringe sitting longer at the front than the back and when he caught his reflection in a small domed mirror on the ceiling and smiled, he was surprised such a ridiculous mane would suit him so well. As with his skin, he could not completely shake off his unearthliness; his hair took on the colour of the gaps between the stars, deepest onyx like the whirling center of a black hole. He shook it out, and it rained sparkling, infinitesimal space particles about his feet in concentric orbiting circles.

Everything else fell into place, but for the eyes; and he had no more patience to work at it when the boy’s core called so insistently for him to come back. The best he could manage was a bright ochre colour, irises looking for all the world that they were staring perpetually into the crimson orb that gave heat and light to this small planet.

He approached the same blonde nurse as before, who stood at the central station both flustered and distracted by the ongoing chaos. Threads of fabric knitted themselves over his flesh, fitting him with a rough textured, faded blue trouser he’d heard someone somewhere in the hospital refer to as denim and a loose, dull-grey, long sleeved shirt.

He stood there awkwardly, unsure how to address the tired looking female; he certainly did not want to be a bother when it was quite evident that she was overworked. When she still did not acknowledge him, choosing to close her eyes for a minute’s respite from the unfolding bedlam, he cleared his throat.

“Oh!” she gasped, clutching at her chest. Her surprise startled him and he took a timid step back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. Unfortunately visiting hours are over today.” Her tone was as exhausted as her eyes, they were both heavy and strained.

“I'm a fiancé,” he blurted by way of explaining both his interruption of her peace and his presence. He was taken aback by the sound of his voice, and it seemed the young woman was too. It might have been the low elegant timbre, or maybe the smoky, seductive purr; whatever it was, it had a pretty flush creeping up her neck and face, causing her to stammer when she finally spoke again.

“Wh-who’s fiancé?”

He took his full, fleshy lip between his teeth and peered down the hall towards where the supplicating pulsations called to him, through the door, through the wall, he even felt it in the floor beneath his feet. He still did not have a proper name for him, and doubted whatever it was would ever do his little starmate justice. “The dying boy with the burning blue eyes. He was brought in last night,” he stated with a hint of a plea in his voice.

Her face fell, though he could tell she experienced guilt soon after; she must not have wanted to show him the despair and pity she and her colleagues felt towards the lonesome young man. “Listen handsome, I really shouldn't let you, it's against hospital policy, but that boy could really use a friendly face.” She looked about at the calamity still going on some feet away and leaned in to whisper, “I’ll bring you. He doesn't have anyone listed here as family, however, if he wants to see you, I'll let you stay, but it has to be our little secret okay?”

“Thank you,” he responded gratefully, nodding as he read the letters on the nametag pinned to her shirt. It dawned on him then that the boy might not want to see him at all. The idea might not have bothered him so much hours ago when he was but a shadowed spectre blanketing his most precious one, but now that he had put it in his mind that he wanted to be known by him, the thought of not doing so was distressing to say the least.

“Alright love, just give me a moment. I have his food just over here... Maybe you could convince him to eat,” she prompted with a saddened, discerning look; they both knew it would make no difference to his current condition.

A shattering, terrified soul’s lament echoed from the boy’s room, shaking the generic paintings along the walls; even the shadows trembled as though frightened by the intense demand for his return. The lights overhead flickered, and the once calming, steady hum of electricity became inconsistent, pulsing and surging in tandem with the sound of the tiny heart’s muffled wails. He himself went rigid a moment, before letting out a pained hiss, gripping the counter for support.

“You okay, hon?” Liz the nurse asked, finally getting to her feet. She was completely unruffled, except maybe for her slight frustration at her monitor blinking on and off. She tapped the side of it, clearly annoyed, but otherwise oblivious to the insistent pleading cacophony emerging from Room 508.

“Please,” he implored, looking at her from beneath the curtain of onyx hair that had fallen into his face. “Please, I need to see him.”

There must have been something in his expression that made Liz take him seriously, because she abandoned her station immediately, orange tray in hand and led the way. The nearer they got to his room, the more the swollen throb of vital force spilling from there dulled until it was nothing but a whimpering thrum.

He sped past the nurse once they’d both stepped over the threshold, rushing to the boy’s side with long, whispered strides. He stopped short when he reached him, picking the crumpled, discarded blanket from the floor and stood motionless holding it in his hands. Heat still radiated from it and from the little creature’s body; it came off him in observable hazy, shimmering waves, rolling over the astral being’s exposed flesh, leaving it flushed and burning with the need to cool it.

It was Liz who touched him first though, after depositing his food onto a bedside table. The back of her hand came up against his forehead, then both his cheeks, “Poor thing’s burning up, but not sweating again,” she said more to herself, then turned to fiddle with the machine and write something on his chart.

A chill fell over the room, and slender, threadline crystals crawled along the surface of the window, a nebula of frost radiating out from the centre into the shape of a heart. The heat with the blast of cold was likely the culprit, and when the sparkling notches caught the reflection of the moon and stars, they shone into the room, illuminating it, and the boy’s face. He could tell the muscles were only starting to un-tense and take on a more peaceful expression; he wanted so desperately to help, to lie down next to him with this physical body, take him in his arms and fit himself against his back. He hummed contentedly at the thought of it, and a near-imitation of the sound, different only in its pitch, found its way from the boy’s lips to the alien’s ears.

Was it an invitation? A sign that he would not be rejected? He could barely think straight anymore; the boy’s body was so appealing in its home-like warmth, his own resembling outer space, a deep contrasting cool. Would a physical reunion between them produce the same effect like that spread across the window? Maybe without these garments they had to wear to keep their respective thermodynamics to themselves. It seemed an unnecessary barrier, but something these humans were fond of.

“Oh…” the nurse shivered, holding herself with one arm as she put the chart back into its slot on the side of the bed, “we better put that back on,” she motioned to the blanket he was holding.

Yes, and you can leave now, he thought, a little frustrated by what he clearly saw as her intrusion on this very important moment. He didn’t need an audience while he floundered with introductions and explanations. What if the boy reacted poorly to his appearance? He wasn’t sure what counted for sufficiently attractive to this odd species. And what of his title? fiancé? He still had no clue what it meant, and nobody in the hospital had talked about it for his ears to pick up.

He held fast to the blanket, refusing to allow the worker to comfort his little human, especially when he himself was right there. It was bad enough that he was frustrated by the limited movement of this corporeal form; astral filaments pushing against the layers of muscle and bone and skin, trying in vain to break through to feel the boy as the nurse had when she assessed his fever. What right did she have to tend to him at all if she could not see him the way he did? If she could not hear him the way he did? Even now, the addition of a blanket would only cause him harm with fine wisps of vapour rising, curling and twisting from his heated flesh.

“You’ve done so much already,” he patronized her softly, hoping that she hadn’t picked up on the possessive rumbling he felt at his core, “allow me to care for him in the way he needs.”

Before Liz could respond, the boy between them stirred. Her cheeks went pink and a look of wistful longing filled her emerald eyes as they darted from him to her patient and back to him again. She whispered something about young love then touched the boy’s bony shoulder.

He almost begged her not to wake him; not when he himself was so agitated, fingers twitching with nervous energy, a rolling, fluttery sensation building in the pit of his stomach as a series of worst case scenario reactions presented themselves one after the other in his mind: fear, dislike, indifference.

He never understood why this planet’s occupants were so dependent on oxygen, and now it seemed he couldn’t drag enough of it into his body to keep him upright. It slipped through his lips, crept slowly, heavily into his chest, where it seemed to give force to the thundering of his heart as it beat painfully against his ribcage. It made such a racket, at least in his own ears, that he pursed his lips to limit his air supply in an effort to subdue the noise in time for him to hear the nurse speak.

“Wake up sleepy head, you’ve got a visitor.”

Chapter Text

The boy groaned, the sound a mixture of discomfort and listlessness; there was also a certain amount of apathy in the way his small hands tried to swat the nurse’s gentle ones away. A loud sigh broke through his lips and came out shaky, like he was trying to suppress his misery, “What's the point?” he mumbled.

Those words were seared into the astral being’s memory. Not only the loneliness and hopelessness they represented, but their sound, like diamond rain on Saturn, ambient, luminescent. Every letter was a twinkling drop, every word a sweet beckoning serenade that pushed out all other sounds -- machines, sirens, people -- until all he could focus on was the pause between the words, anticipating the next to come.

“Come now,” Liz cajoled him, opening her mouth wide, waiting for the boy to imitate her. When he did, she stuck a thermometer under his tongue and his dry lips closed immediately around it. “You don't want to be rude to your visitor,” she told him, pointing to the person in question.

Another groan, this time pained as he sat himself up and turned his head towards him. His mouth went slack and the thermometer fell out.

The confusion in his bright blue eyes was obvious. They narrowed, took him in from head to toe and then seemed to go off into the distance, clouding over, like a storm on the horizon, trying to remember him from his past. The boy tapped a fist against his lips, considering him, but never looked away.

And all he could do was return the stare, hands clenching and unclenching behind his back. Emptiness filled the pit of his stomach, and his heart raced, pounded, fluttered, beats stumbling one over the other to try to maintain a steady rhythm. The little human was so much braver than he was, wasn’t at all intimidated by the strangeness of the stranger.

“Well, aren’t you going to say something?” the nurse prompted; whom the comment was directed to, he had no clue, but when the boy said nothing, he cleared his throat. Twice.

“Hi… Mmmy everything, l-love of my life,” he stuttered low and hesitant, remembering what the man in the hallway had called his precious one.

“Well, would you look at that,” Liz enthused, noting the reading on the thermometer onto the clipboard at the side of her patient’s bed, “the little thing is speechless. I bet it was love at first sight for you both.”

He wasn’t sure why she was taking such an interest in their interaction, she was practically dancing on the spot, both hands brought up to her mouth, large emerald eyes darting between them.

Would she ever leave? He deliberated asking her when the boy finally answered.

“That’s a ridiculous notion,” he scoffed, “I mean, look at him. Who falls in love with a weird, glowy, puppy-eyed sap?”

He agreed -- with him, not her. Nobody in their right mind could fall in love with someone using only one of their senses. Seeing the boy for the first time had sparked something inside him, he couldn’t deny it, but it wasn’t love. Touching him when he’d curled his body behind the boy’s, smelling him, with his face stuffed in his slate, sweat-damped hair had ignited a flame. It was a blaze, when he’d heard him speak; but to taste him would be kin to being devoured by a roaring inferno. The change would be permanent and irreversible. He would be made new, altered molecularly, bonds broken, a greater energy used to re-strengthen them, tethering him to the boy. Forever.

“Ahhh… so sweet,” Liz whimpered, making a heart shape with her hands, joining her fingers and thumbs together. “Wait, is glowy what you kids are calling hot now?”

The alien brought his hands before himself to examine them; if both he himself and the boy could see the ethereal aspect roll off his human skin, how could she not see it? Abruptly, he crossed his arms over his chest, tucking his hands into his elbows, holding himself a little tightly to try to reign in his haloed silhouette. The insecurities that he’d suppressed prior to hearing the boy speak resurfaced. He was all self-doubt and inadequacy until his eyes left his precious one’s face to follow the progression of a pulsing, wisplike aura emanating from his little human reaching out for him like tiny fingers, swelling and retreating in a hypnotic motion, eager but hesitant at once. The boy could lie to him with his words, but not with his body.

He smiled. At the very least, the boy with the starlit eyes was curious, even if he didn’t know it yet.

The awkward silence in the room finally got to one them. “Your food is right here, darling,” the nurse pointed out, “so you can eat now before it gets cold. I’m sure your fiancé will help you… If you need me, just press the button, okay love?”

Fiancé, the sick boy mouthed. “Fiancé?” he said a little louder once Liz had left the room. His beautiful azure eyes were still slightly bulging, having widened significantly when the nurse had spoken the word. The shock and confusion were still carved plainly into the human’s features and for the second time in as many minutes, the stellar being’s confidence took a nosedive. Was the title he’d chosen an inherently bad thing? An offensive one? Liz had not seemed to think so.

“You’re my fiancé? Am I on a reality show? Is this a Make-A-Wish Foundation kind of thing? I get to marry some prince before I keel over?” the boy peppered him with questions. His voice was embittered, laced with incredulity. He pressed on, not bothering to wait for an answer. “So, you must know my name then… if we’re to spend the rest of my life together?”

He knew the question would come back to haunt him after the nurse had asked him. Why hadn’t he been better prepared? A deep frown wrinkled his brow as he recalled the names Liz had called the human. “Sleepyhead?” he asked.

“Nope.”

“Sweetheart?”

“Try again…”

“Darling!” he called enthusiastically, finally thinking he had it.

The boy shook his head, eyes rolling skyward. Still, he seemed somewhat amused as a grin stretched across his face. “You get one more chance. Fail and I’m kicking you out.”

The alien’s eyes scoured the room, looking for anything that might give him a clue; he was already much too attached to the beautiful dying star to just be forced away from him. Fiery orbs fell upon the human’s wrist and he took in the jumble of letters scrawled across the band. *PH1997*. An odd name, to be sure, but one that was fitting. It was customary for humans and aliens alike to refer to letters and numerical figures to name important astronomical objects.

“Well?” the boy asked.

He was ashamed. For all his knowledge of the vast universe and all the nebulae he’d visited, he could not recall *PH1997. Impossible! How could he have overlooked something so perfect? How could the boy be anything less than a NGC7293 or a NGC6302?

“I’m sorry,” he spoke softly, and took a few steps back, retreating from the heat and closeness he’d yearned for and familiarity he’d yet to understand but coveted nonetheless. It hurt him. He’d held the little human all of a few hours. Had felt his heart beat against him, syncing it with his own until it became a singular, unified sound.

“Wait! Don’t go -- It’s Ciel,” the boy called out to him.

“Ciel?” he echoed out loud, but more to himself than his precious one. “Ciel… hmm… Heaven or sky? Overwhelming in its beauty; a vastness that makes anyone before it humble; eternal space, but with the coziness of home...” he trailed off.

“Sure. That,” Ciel mumbled, and a pinkish hue illuminated the star-like specs on his face, “It’s not my birth name. I just changed it because I’ve always been drawn to anything that isn’t... here.”

The astral being examined the room, certain the boy, Ciel, didn’t mean the hospital. He likely didn’t mean the country either, though from what he’d seen, it was lovely.

“What’s your name then?” Ciel asked, looking at his tray of food suspiciously.

The faint growling sound from the boy’s stomach prompted him to walk around the bed to where the sustenance had been deposited. He could detect a putrid stench coming from under the film that locked in the heat and felt something akin to remorse at the idea that Ciel would have to ingest it. He eyed a series of buttons at the side of the boy’s bed and pressed the one with an arrow pointing up. Once in sitting position and after Ciel’s feeble protests died down, he swiveled the moveable table across the human’s lap and deposited his tray there.

A sound akin to a star shooting across the firmament came from the alien’s parted lips. It was a combination of bizarre fizzing, hissing and crackling, and even though he was by the little human’s side, the noise seemed to come from hundreds of miles away.

Ciel placed his hand over the astral being’s mouth in an attempt to quiet him. It worked. “Yeah, I can’t say that, but I think I heard Sirius somewhere in there though. Like the Dog Star? I suppose it makes sense; it is the brightest star, matches with your glowing aesthetic and stuff… so I’m just gonna call you Sirius okay, buddy?”

He pulled a face, lip curling over a row of perfect, white teeth, nose scrunched, eyebrows mashed together. “No, I don’t like the sound of that. I had a bit of trouble around Canis Major on the way here, and I’d rather forget about the whole ordeal.”

Ciel’s blue eyes sought his and searched his face, and he could tell the boy was momentarily dazed, fixated on his lips. “You’re lucky you’re gorgeous,” he whispered between them, twisting his intravenous cord shyly around his fingers, “because your sense of humour is terrible. How ‘bout Sebastian? It was the name of my dog.”

He sighed, unconsciously taking hold of Ciel’s hand, and untangling the fiber connecting the boy to the pole at the side of the bed, innately understanding that a certain amount of risk came with such recklessness. “Did you love him?” the alien asked, rather than accepting the bestowed name right away.

“Of course! Which decent individual doesn’t like their dog? They’re loyal, without judgement; you’re never alone if you have a dog,” Ciel answered with the most vehemence the astral being had seen since he’d become alert.

He liked this feisty side of Ciel.

Liked all of his sides, really. He was flawless in his sleep, sublime in his wakefulness, intriguing in his melancholy, captivating in his shyness, even beautiful in his pain.

“Okay, then; you can call me Sebastian,” he affirmed, voice thick with raw emotion. With naming came a certain amount of ownership and he would want for nothing more on this curious planet than to belong to Ciel.

They sat in silence; it was a moment, but for Sebastian it felt like a small eternity. He took the folded card on the tray, onto which a variety of words were hand-written -- a menu no doubt-- and read it to himself, having acquired the facile human language and its very limited alphabet after having heard a child recite a book of sounds to their parent some two floors below. Then, he watched Ciel recoil as he peeled off the plastic wrap that looked more like decaying skin so thin it was translucent, only to expose the awfulness that lay beneath: peas that should have been green were but a grey gelatinous clump, the quarter cob of corn was deflated and wrinkled, the scoop of mashed potatoes had long become one with the ashy gravy in which it swam and the palm-sized mystery meat was charred beyond health code standards.

And as if the sight and stench of it weren’t enough to sour the boy’s expression and earn the food a offended glare, there was a palpable shift in Ciel’s aura; even the small tendrils that had moments before, stretched out like solar flares, folded in on themselves, and hugged the boy’s body to distance themselves as much as possible from the vile substance.

“You’re dying. Why would they try to speed up the process by feeding you this?” Sebastian asked completely perplexed, his posture unconsciously mirroring the boy’s.

Ciel’s shocked gasp almost went unnoticed. His eyes finally left his plate of cud only to widen beneath delicately furrowed brows. His lips became a pretty pout and his chin trembled as he spoke, his tone reflecting a forgotten sadness, “Why don’t you tell me what you’re really thinking, Sebastian?”

“Did I say something wrong?” Sebastian asked and he felt the heat rise to his face in response to Ciel’s biting inflection.

“You’re talking about me dying like… like it’s nothing,” Ciel pointed out, nevermind the fact that he didn’t ask how Sebastian knew to begin with.

Of course it wasn’t nothing, and he hadn’t meant for it to come off that way, but did this little human not understand that he was so much more than his outward physical make up? “You should be happy. Soon, you won’t be in pain anymore. You won’t be limited by this body.”

There was a prolonged silence as Ciel considered his words. In the hush of breath that passed between them, it was made clear he’d upset the boy, but he did not understand how. Had he not been honest with him? Ciel deserved the truth, deserved more than whatever the hospital had chosen to feed him to make him stronger. He wondered if Ciel understood this and if this was the reason why he chose not to address the issue of his impending death, preferring instead to change the topic, “Is there something wrong with my body, fiancé?” When he answered, there was almost a falseness to it, as if he was covering up his fear with the seductive, teasing lilt with which he spoke.

The question caught Sebastian off guard. He looked Ciel over, really looked him over and his intense staring might have been what made the boy squirm uncomfortably where he sat. The astral being was no expert on human bodies given that he’d only encountered them for a day or so, didn’t know what constituted a good body or a bad body; all he knew was that he liked Ciel’s the best. Even hidden beneath all that fabric, he could make out the delicate curves and sharp edges. The scent it gave off was ethereal, what little exposed skin there was to touch felt divine and the perfection of the arrangement of his features on his perfect little impish face was beyond compare.

“Other than the fact that it’s failing you, I think it’s an absolutely beautiful little package, darling.” He hadn’t meant for it to, but the sentiment came out as a purr, imitating the enticing way Ciel had questioned him. “That being said, what is it you want to eat?”

“Nothing,” Ciel sulked, looking away, blushing slowly and sweetly as he pushed the mush around his plate with a clouded fork.

Cupping Ciel’s face tenderly with his hand, Sebastian tilted the boy’s chin up, making him look at him. “You don't have time to be bitter, that time has passed. The staff said you had roughly three days and you spent the first one sleeping. Let me make the remaining ones better. Please.” His face was so close to Ciel’s he saw a tear spread as a film across the brilliant blue eyes and felt the effects of the fanning of the boy’s long lashes as he spontaneously blinked them away.

“Chocolate cake,” Ciel muttered once Sebastian had released him, “I want chocolate cake.”

“Very well, let’s get you some then.”

He wasn’t sure exactly what it was Ciel was requesting, but he would scour the whole hospital, and even the city in search of it, if necessary.

“What? How? Where?” Ciel sputtered.

“Well, this food had to come from somewhere. We just need to go there. I think Liz called this area, the kitchen...”

For the first time, Ciel gave him a warm, genuine smile, eyes sparkling with unshed tears; its impact was dazzling and lit up the whole room. “You’re cute,” he told Sebastian, “when you pretend to not know things. But there’s a slight problem with your plan.”

“And that is?”

“They don’t let just anyone into the kitchen, especially after hours. Plus, they won’t let me walk out of my room in my condition,” Ciel speculated giving the intravenous pole a tug and nodding towards the heart monitor that made a blip, blip sound every few moments.

“You leave that up to me,” Sebastian grinned in response to having been complimented and to be able to show off for his little human. He stood, pushing the table and tray aside and scooped up the boy in his arms, holding him close to his chest. A kind of lightness befell him for the first time since arriving on the planet, despite the heavy weight of gravity that kept him grounded. Ciel, despite being housed by a body composed of a variety of substances in all phases of matter, was incredibly light and Sebastian marvelled at the way the boy seemed to circumvent many of the laws of nature that applied to other humans. Perhaps it was this partial elusion of gravity that made Ciel so graceful, even in stillness.

“Hey, watch it!” Ciel protested, clinging to Sebastian, hands, legs and aura, “I dont have clothes under this. Nobody needs to see my… my…”

The alien was at a loss; he couldn’t grasp the boy’s sudden concern for modesty. He’d spent all night with him bare and in his spectral form and it had felt much, much better than being separated by these… articles of clothing.

“But that part you’re wanting to cover up, it’s so cute and smooth,” Sebastian told him, caressing the soft skin of the boy’s thigh and higher as he made his way towards the door, boy and I.V pole in tote.

“Oi! Don’t touch! Just because you’re my fiancé, doesn’t mean you get to do that when you feel like it!” Ciel reprimanded, swatting Sebastian’s hand before it reached his rear.

Sebastian muttered a sincere apology, hoping he hadn’t offended the boy, as he pulled the door open and stuck his head out. The excitement from down the hall had died down, and some seven nurses and a doctor populated the central desk again, chatting away as they worked.

“They’re going to see us, we’re going to get in trouble,” Ciel warned him.

“No, you’ll see,” Sebastian appeased him, both in words and physically as his onyx coils wrapped around them, concealed their presence as he stepped out of the room and slipped into obscurity, speeding down the hallway, a shadow in flight. All that could be detected was the sound of sharp squeals and squeaks of wheels against the linoleum as the I.V was dragged along and the faint giggling of a boy with a fist set against his lips as he peered over the alien’s shoulder at the nurses’ bewilderment as to where the sound was coming from.

Ten minutes and two floors later, they found the unoccupied kitchen, and as Sebastian had no reference or prior experience with them, he assumed this one to be clean and well-equipped and altogether satisfactory.

Ciel asked to be set upon the floor, but not trusting the little human could stand due to his undernourished state, Sebastian merely deposited him on the counter where he would set to work. Ciel winced and hissed as his skin made contact with the cold surface.

Sebastian was quick to react, “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?” he asked, hands hovering over the boy and looking for any evidence of harm.

“No, no… It’s my bum, this counter is cold.”

“I can warm it up for you,” Sebastian offered, hands drifting to Ciel’s hips, thumb tracing the sharp protrusion of bone there as his fingers swaddled the swell of flesh behind the boy.

“God, how thirsty are you?” Ciel told him, guiding the alien’s hands back towards his own body, but this time he wore a look of amusement rather than exasperation. “Are you an assman? Is that it? Oh, don’t look so offended, you’re not the first…”

Sebastian opened his mouth, then shut it again, not knowing how to respond to those comments. Ciel broke the silence again.

“Do you know how to make cake?”

“I don’t even know what it is…” he answered truthfully, crimson eyes roaming the kitchen, as if expecting something to be labelled cake. They fell on a bowl of shiny red misshapen spheres with stems, then on a moderately melted slab of yellow, followed by a glass cooler with a series of rectangular cartons with peaked tops; any of which could be the elusive food to which Ciel had referred.

“You’ve never had cake?” the boy asked shivering, adjusting his gown between his legs as they swung from the counter.

Sebastian shook his head, tempted to run his hands long the boy’s skin, to make the small raised bumps on his thigh disappear under his touch.

“I certainly can’t marry someone who doesn’t know what cake is. I’ll teach you how to make one, so that in the future, if I’m craving something particularly sweet, you’ll be able to make it for me yourself.”

Ciel spoke as if they had a future together, and the thought of it warmed Sebastian. If pretending would make the boy feel better, if refusing to acknowledge his fate brought him solace, Sebastian would oblige him.

And so began the process of making cake, with Ciel providing guidance, ordering the alien around the kitchen. Sebastian sat on his haunches across from where the boy instructed him, pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator one at a time, waiting for Ciel’s yes or no for each. Upon an affirmative, Sebastian sent the foodstuff Ciel’s way, floating upon invisible tendrils, bobbing their way to the small boy and pouring itself into the bowl upon Ciel’s lap. To his credit, if the human found any of it strange, he said nothing, taking it all in his stride.

Sebastian thought they’d finished when he measured out and added the last of the dry ingredient into the bowl, asking, “It’s cake now?”

“Not quite,” Ciel chuckled, “Fetch me a whisk so I can fold the ingredients.”

At this point, Sebastian had made his way between Ciel’s thighs and the bowl sat in their midst, cradled between their bellies. Fear of losing contact and the strong desire not to take his eyes off his precious one drove him to plunge a hand in the drawer next to them and remove from its depths the first thing he set his hand upon.

“Oh!” he startled, yanking his hand out when something cold and sharp sliced through his human facade. He held it up to his face and examined it as a backlit, glittering substance oozed from a tear in his skin.

“You dork, lemme see what you did to yourself,” Ciel teased, stealing his hand away from him to assess the damage. “Just a nick, here, I’ll clean it up for you,” and with that, Ciel brought Sebastian’s index finger to his lips and pressed a gentle kiss against it.

Sebastian couldn’t be sure, but he didn’t think he was supposed to hear the small moan that came from the back of Ciel’s throat. He likely wasn’t supposed to feel the swipe of a subtle tongue against the small hurt, either.

But he did. And he liked it.

Ciel pulled the finger away, looking at it again and his tummy gave an audible growl. “This is going to sound weird; well maybe not to you, which is the only reason I’m telling you, but you taste delicious.. like moonlight.” The apex of Ciel’s tongue tickled the tip of Sebastian’s finger, coaxing more of the fluid out, spilling onto the wet muscle like light illuminating the ripples on a lake at midnight. “Light and airy, it has a mousse-y kind of texture, velvety,” Ciel described and all Sebastian could do was nod vigorously. The boy gave his finger a final harsh, hungry suck and Sebastian whined without wanting to. His body was no better, reacting in a way that made no sense at all, softening in some areas, hardening in others as his eyes fixated on Ciel’s pretty pink lips and how they hugged his finger. He swallowed, simultaneously producing too much saliva and not enough. He began to squirm where he stood, face hot, tickling sensation spreading in his gut, trousers tightening and becoming uncomfortable to wear.

He needed to distract himself from the pleasant sensation, from the stirring between his legs, lest he give in to the urge to just strip naked to relieve the tension. “So… what’s an assman?” He asked hoping it was a sufficient topic of discussion. Ciel hadn’t explained when he’d thrown the term around a few minutes ago.

Ciel released his finger with a loud smacking of his lips, and the taunting set in the lovely contours of his face was unmistakable. He told him what it meant, one hand holding the bowl in place (it seemed a little unsteady on his lap now for whatever reason), the other tentatively brushing the long fringe from his stunned, handsome face.

“Then I think you’re wrong about me,” he told Ciel unabashed, “not that there’s anything wrong with your ass, I just haven't spent any time becoming acquainted with it.” He grinned broadly when Ciel gave a snort and laugh and continued, “Maybe I’m more of a legman,” he said fingers tracing a figure eight pattern over Ciel’s knee, “or a mouthman…”

He watched as Ciel took his bottom lip between his teeth and was struck with the urge to do it for him. Between them, he felt the bowl grow warmer. In that moment, Sebastian was unsure why he’d been so worried about Ciel’s reaction. He’d not been afraid, not put off by his strangeness. He was a brave little thing, much braver than his own kind; well not the starseeds -- they were the bravest of all; at least they had the courage to leave home of their own volition.

When he next put his hand into the drawer, he looked, and with Ciel’s help, identified the whisk and allowed the boy to mix the ingredients. He did so meticulously and Sebastian thought it was a kind of magical galaxy, the way the colours interacted, swirling into one another, almost vortex-like.

One harsh stroke against the bottom of the bowl later caused the batter to spill over the edge and splash onto Ciel’s bare thigh. They had been talking, but this rendered them silent. They both looked at it and it shouldn’t have bothered Sebastian as much as it did because they’d already slopped some onto the floor and counter, on his shirt and Ciel’s gown; but there on his exposed flesh, it was different.

For one thing, he could finally smell what they’d made together, the distinct aroma of milk, butter and sugar and something spicy-smooth, and then how those ingredients interacted together. Second, its appearance was somehow more appealing against the smooth backdrop of the milky skin; it was rich in colour with a shiny gloss, and as it ran on either side of his thigh, it resembled sunlight creeping over the horizon.

Instinctively, Sebastian took a knee between Ciel’s legs and looked up at him from under a thick veil of lashes and dragged his tongue along the inside, up, then over.

“W-what are you doing?” Ciel stuttered.

“Cleaning you up, like you did me,” he answered nonchalantly, finally letting his lips creep along the expanse of flesh as well. It was enjoyable, but not like when he did it with his tongue. His human tongue had thousands upon thousands of little bumps and was picking up on a variety of flavors, sweet, a bit salty, definitely savoury… but his alien nature allowed his tongue to detect heat and trembling and arousal -- potent and intoxicating. Under his tongue, Ciel’s skin erupted in its own bumps again and the muscles under the skin tensed and relaxed, tremored and stilled.

There was a sound, a playful rumbling from deep in his chest and he finally tasted Ciel rather than the concoction they’d made. He was so much more flavourful than this cake could ever be. Sebastian’s eyes closed, and he focused thoroughly on the task at hand until the substance has vanished, clearing a path for Sebastian's tongue from knee to upper thigh, pushing the green hospital gown out of the way the further up he went. It was Ciel’s hitched breath that roused him, and as he looked up at him, he was stunned by the luminosity that shone from his eyes, like deep-blue quasars, pulling him in.

He rose again, and cleared his throat, “I’m sorry…”

A sheepish expression softened Ciel’s strained features, “Why’d you stop?” he asked cheekily. The bowl between them shook in their hands, absorbing their kinetic energy.

“My mouth… it’s doing something funny,” he said by way of lame explanation.

“What?” Ciel laughed.

“I feel,” he began breathlessly as he licked his lips and swallowed. His mouth felt dry but it was quite the opposite, like this human form couldn't swallow enough. “My tongue is tingling, heavy. My mouth, it aches right here,” he said taking Ciel’s fingers and rubbing small circles into the smooth skin of his cheeks where his jaws met.

“You’re craving a kiss, that’s why. Come here,” Ciel whispered, curling a finger at him, “I’ll make it feel better.”

Obediently, and desperately, Sebastian obeyed, tilting his head, trying to make sense of noses and their awkward placement on the face. Ciel leaned in, met him halfway, and when Sebastian smelled his breath, he closed the distance, savouring the boy slow at first, then devouring him hungrily as their lips moved against one another. He pulled back and cocked his head the other way only to return to him, to open his mouth and receive the heat from Ciel’s core. Their tongues touched, accidentally he thought at first, but then again and again with purpose. They wrapped around one another with a caress, fondled one another, the tips wiggling playfully together and Sebastian even felt the pleasurable scrape of teeth against his own. His body was on fire. Here was the inferno.

He embraced the boy, arms tight and protective as he continued to kiss him; not only because he wanted him closer, but because he felt like he was falling, head over feet, as if gravity had ceased to exist on the small blue planet. It was new and exciting and he remembered the Elders advising against it. Dangerous, they said. And he didn’t care. The Roche Limit; the nearest distance in which a celestial body, held together by its own gravity, can approach a planet without disintegrating due to its superior gravitational pull. It was too late for him now. He’d breached that radius; with Ciel he’d been altered, made new to orbit around him in saecula saeculorum.

He felt the bowl tip between them and pulled away in time to stop it from falling over. “My mouth isn’t the only place tingling,” he told Ciel heatedly, pupils blown and body buzzing warmly with enthusiasm.

“Ha!” Ciel snickered, “That’s just too bad. This is our first date.” Sebastian followed Ciel’s eyes as they fell between them, gawking at the cake, steaming, bubbled over the lip of the bowl, fluffy and soft, having baked in the heat of their passion.

“I don’t know what you are,” Ciel told him hesitantly, looking back up at him, “I know you’re not like me, but I don’t care -- not when you can do that.”

What that the boy was referring to -- kissing or making cake -- Sebastian never asked, it sufficed that Ciel accepted him.

“Let’s find some icing for this and eat, alright?” the human told his alien after having been prompted by his stomach.

And they did. Sebastian fed the little dying star, kissing the corners of his mouth when the icing smeared against it. Ciel ate two whole pieces, singing praises about how delicious it was, and how he, as a cake connoisseur, had never had such a delicacy before. He’d fed some to Sebastian, and while it wasn’t terrible, he’d found Ciel’s mouth had tasted much better and had satiated him more than he’d ever remembered feeling.

After a quick clean up, they hid within the shadows and returned to Ciel’s room. The blue-eyed boy yawned the moment they crossed the threshold and Sebastian physically felt the drag of Ciel’s aura, wispy filaments against the ground, evidence of the human’s exhaustion. When they reached the bed, the dulled energy about the boy gave a final show of strength and clung to him valiantly, begging him to stay -- as if there was anywhere in the universe he’d rather be.

He climbed into bed, still holding on to a sleepy Ciel, crossed his legs and settled the boy in his lap. He held him protectively as the boy rambled, trying his best to stay awake. He spoke to the alien about how Earth functioned, about important people and places, explaining that these details were important for him to know, “in case something happens to me,” to which Sebastian said nothing, but held the boy tighter in his arms. The alien knew the moment Ciel had slipped into slumber because mid-sentence the language he began to use was no longer human -- it became a faint hum that undulated in a calming rhythmic pattern and Sebastian responded in kind.

Liz came in to check vitals and left with an incline of her head and a gentle smile. Their conversation had not been interrupted as earthlings did not possess the capacity to make out the vaguely soothing vibration with their limited anatomy.

Every now and again, a whimper of pain fell from Ciel’s lips, but he did not stir. Sebastian soothed him, sung to him a lullabye he’d heard one of the new breeders singing to her child as it seemed to calm the neonate. The second time, he held the melody and substituted his own lyrics, crooning words of worship, recounting the myths of his home, of starmates made from the same atoms and when the Universe was but a tiny trillionth fraction of a second old, they were torn apart and scattered across time and space by the Big Bang.

Sebastian had never believed in starmates before, but Ciel was irrevocable proof that they existed. He was adored by the stars, past, present and future because the heavens can’t help but fall in love with a beautiful, stubborn heart. It was why he took up their hands, his large one engulfing Ciel’s small human one until they became unified; the white of the Milky Way marrying the once sombre Universe. When he released it, and laid it in Ciel’s lap again, a dark ring of stardust was left permanently etched around Ciel’s ring finger like an orbit.

Chapter Text

While Ciel slept, the alien listened to the world buzzing around him, learning from patients, visitors and staff, from the network of wires that spanned the country but most importantly from the boy’s heart. It had continued singing to him, its chorus incomplete until his own whispered back its reverent devotion and longing.

When the sun rose over the horizon, Liz interrupted his silent serenade against the the boy’s matted, slate hair.

“I’m sure you know,” she told him quietly, jotting notes on the whiteboard near her patient’s bed, “that he has no family, has had no other visitors? It would be nice if you got him flowers or something to make his room a little less…” she trailed off, but Sebastian could detect a very maternal, stern note in her tone. “I mean, as his fiancé, it’s your duty to keep him happy. And it wouldn’t kill you to get him a stuffed bunny and a balloon. If you need money, tell Kristín at the giftshop to put it on my tab.” The more she spoke, the gruffer her voice became, until she simply excused herself, closing her surprisingly untired eyes, her hand before her lips and swallowed the lump in her throat.

Sebastian merely sat there with a sleeping Ciel in his lap, staring at her, confused by the fervency in her words, sure that not all workers at the hospital took such a personal interest in their charges.

A minute passed between them, and when she opened her eyes again, they were full of unshed tears. “The store opens in a few minutes if you want to go before he wakes up,” she smiled kindly and left.

Liz was right. The room was desolate, bland, everything was a dull white -- pillows, linens, walls, floor, ceiling; a sharp contrast to the unmarred brilliance of a billion tiny pinpricks illuminating the black canopy of the night sky. Could any other colour have shown the building’s age and flaws any better than the one that had been selected? Ciel’s room really was not deserving to hold such an incredible little creature, and neither was he if he couldn’t make it better.

Sebastian doubted he would find anything befitting the boy in the hospital; he’d traveled the universe and hadn't come close to anything of the like, but as he could not be torn from Ciel’s side for a drawn out length of time, he would have to make due with what he found nearby.

He disentangled himself from his precious mate, kissing him tenderly on the forehead and left to span the globe in a quest for loveliness. He was only gone a matter of five breaths, and by the seventh, he’d arranged his treasures about the room, borrowing some fifty crystal vases he found scattered around the city.

It had been easy once he’d taken to the sky again. After Ciel and the dancing lights that had lured him to his new home, the alien had been utterly astounded by the sheer amount of liquid that covered the small planet.

All that blue. Depths that reflected Ciel’s mind, turbulence that mimicked his suffering. Strong like him, giving shape to the land, stubborn like the boy, kissing the shoreline, retreating and kissing it again as though it could not get enough, could not be separated from it even as the moon ordered it to. And yet the very vastness of Earth’s water and its rarity in liquid form in space could not compare to the beauty and uniqueness that were the myriad of shades that swirled together to form Ciel’s pale blue eyes.

Gently, he cradled the boy back in his arms and moved them to the chair in the corner where he nestled him against his chest and rocked him. He watched on as long, black eyelashes fluttered and when his eyes opened, Ciel shielded them as a hesitant smile stretched across his face.

The sun chose to shine through the drapes at that moment, casting multicoloured shadows as they penetrated the crystal containers spread haphazardly throughout the room.

Unable to stop himself, Sebastian had not only collected water samples from the bluest oceans or the clearest lakes; he’d helped himself to samples of pink from Lake Hillier, the yellows and oranges of Waiotapu, the minty hues of Haku Falls, the liquid rainbow of Caño Cristales and the vibrancy of an artist’s palette of a triple crater lake in Indonesia. The effect was mesmerizing, even to one such as himself who’d observed nebulae first hand. The room seemed to sway lazily in time with the breeze blowing from outside, sweet and refreshing as it swept through the space. The tinged projections danced upon the walls resembling a rose-stained haze with bursts of fire scattered about and faint filaments of dust revealing a full spectrum of celestial luminosity.

“It’s like Heaven,” Ciel whispered, yawning as he nuzzled the crook of Sebastian’s neck. His small hands moved upwards, trying to loop his arms around the alien’s shoulders, but fell just as quick, as he lacked the physical strength and endurance to hold them up.

Feeling his human’s distress, Sebastian rose and stretched Ciel out on his bed, under the covers. He laid next to him, draped the boy’s arm over his neck and hitched and held Ciel’s thigh up so that his slender leg came over his hip.

“Mm… Not quite,” Sebastian smirked, inconspicuously manipulating the colours with his starlit coils, stealing fragments from each primary hue until it blended white. He whipped them slowly until the mixture materialized into tiny puffs of gossamer, mirroring delicate altocumulus clouds.

“What about stars?” the boy asked cheekily, grinning, head back against the pillow, looking overhead.

“You’re greedy,” Sebastian teased. In the time it took for Ciel to blink, the alien had gone to the Ninohe River of Lights and come back, to rest next to the boy again as a swarm of fireflies filled the spaces where colours bled one into the other, creating small illuminated vortexes.

“Impressive,” Ciel complimented.

“And the real thing is so much better. I’m not doing deep space justice, I can’t get the scent of rum right, or the way your lips will taste like berries when you lick them,” Sebastian reassured him, smoothing his slate hair behind his ear. “You have nothing to be afraid of, Ciel.”

“I’m not afraid... it’s just, this is my idea of Heaven. Being like this, with you. Even with the pain it’s tolerable,” the human confessed weakly, coughing between words. His face crumpled, staring up at Sebastian with near-cosmic, supplicating eyes, as he clung to the soft warmth of the alien’s shirt.

More hacking and gasping, and flecks of blood seeped through the pale grey fabric before Ciel. Sebastian’s hand drifted behind the boy, rubbing small, comforting circles between his shoulder blades.

“I keep thinking the pain’ll go away,” Ciel whispered to keep the tickling in his throat at bay, “and mostly it does when I sleep. But after last night, I don’t want to sleep anymore. I’ve never had this before and I don’t want to lose it. What if I wake up and it’s gone, you’re gone?” Fat tears welled up in Ciel’s eyes, spilling over and when he tried to blink them away, they splattered from his lashes onto the bloody coughed-up splotches of Sebastian’s shirt.

“Then you need to endure it,” Sebastian told the sickly little thing, tilting his chin up, speaking a hair’s breadth from the boy’s trembling lips as he gently thumbed away the flowing salty pearls. “Pain is an essential component of human life. Why else would you have buildings dedicated to housing it? Because it’s transcending, my love, unique to each and everyone of you like your genetic code. Everyone's pain is different. Everyone suffers in their own way. Some of you are overwhelmed by it, while others are stoic. A select few welcome it as a distraction and some resign themselves to it right away. But you, Ciel; you make pain a thing of beauty. You wear it with pride, like a crown, like an honour bestowed to you, because deep down you know that existing, even for a brief time, is a privilege.”

And sensing the boy was about to sob, Sebastian pressed his lips against Ciel’s and swallowed his anguish so that his precious one could keep his dignity. He laid him flat on his back, licked at the searing fire inside his core, trying to quench the flames of Ciel’s misery as he reached over the side of the bed for the button that would summon the nurse to bring the boy some much needed relief.

By the time Liz waltzed into the room some minutes later, boy and alien were a mess of limbs, hands knotted in one another’s hair, feet tangled, mouths panting and smacking. “Whoopsie,” she giggled, arms full, and though she knew she was disturbing them, she simply stood there watching, “guess I should have knocked first…”

Sebastian broke away and Ciel’s lips followed him, still moving, chasing after the soothing diversion the alien had provided. A large hand lay on the boy’s chest, reveling in the expansion of the delicate cage where his heart resided. As he felt the melodic cadence pulse beneath his fingers, it dawned on him that its beats were numbered and suddenly he did not wish for the human’s end to come about so quickly. He wanted more time to know Ciel’s body, to see the flesh respond so eagerly under his touch, to smell him, to hear him, to taste him.

He wasn’t exactly sure, but by the look of utter mortification on the boy’s face and the nurse’s flushed appearance, the way the alien’s hand had migrated below the sheets to knead Ciel’s soft, svelte thighs, had perhaps been a faux-pas among humans. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the items Liz had deposited at the foot of the bed. Reluctantly, he sat up, hoping it would quash his temptation to continue lavishing the boy with tender caresses and kisses.

It didn’t.

The nurse snorted, albeit a little nervously, as she came over to the IV and administered a shot of opioid and saline flush to her patient. “I thought you’d want to bathe your fiancé. There are two towels there, one for him to sit on and one for you to dry him off, a sponge, some soap… and I can fill this basin with warm water…”

The more she spoke, the more Sebastian’s eyes grew as he devoured Ciel with them. Bathe. He knew what that word meant. He heard it several times, from various floors; each time, it necessitated the removal of garments! He began to undress the little human with his mind, untying the string behind his neck and pushing the robe over the front of his shoulders to let it fall in his lap. His own breath quickened in slow increments at the thought of it, until Ciel’s voice broke through his musings.

“I don’t want a sponge bath,” the boy protested petulantly, folding his arms and turning his head away. “That’s almost worse than the real thing, soaking up your own filth.”

“Well, I’m sorry sweetheart, but you’re simply not strong enough to stand on your own in the shower,” Liz answered sympathetically.

“He can help me,” Ciel insisted, thumb pointing towards the alien. “That shower’s big enough for the both of us. He’ll even keep his clothes on, won’t you dear?”

Sebastian’s eyes flashed indignantly in Ciel’s direction. Clothed? Naturally he’d have rathered felt the boy pressed up against him, their skin slick with yearning, glowing with warmth, but he couldn’t find it in himself to be disappointed at the prospect of seeing the earthbound star vulnerably bare, allowing himself to be pampered. A little slower than he’d intended, he nodded fervently in response to Ciel’s request.

“That’s fine. Lemme put this stuff in the washroom,” she conceded. He heard her turn on the water and when she came out she told Sebastian, “Make sure it doesn’t get too hot in there, I wouldn’t want him passing out.”

The alien scooped up his love, who held on to his IV pole and dragged it with them across the room. He sat him on the counter near the sink and watched their reflection in the mirror behind Ciel. He’d never seen them together, and was likely never to do so again; he wrapped his arms around the frail body and held him intimately, nuzzling the boy’s neck and keeping an eye on their doppelgangers, committing them to memory. Ciel spread his legs and invited him closer, and while there was no fortitude behind the embrace, the sheer will exhibited left Sebastian speechless.

“Undress me,” Ciel whispered, as the steam seeped from the enclosed shower space into the bathroom, concealing the minute details of their appearance. It should have been impossible, but the sight of them, holding the other so possessively, only got better. Like this, they were the same. Two shadows, two bodies without the slightest sign that one was weakening.

Like he’d imagined it before, Sebastian divested the human of his hospital robe, this time letting it fall to the floor. He licked his lips appreciatively, taking in its perfect symmetry, each sharp protrusion of bone, where the colour of his skin differed -- from flawless milk to flushed rose.

“Hey! My eyes are up here,” Ciel giggled.

“Sorry,” Sebastian mumbled, but he wasn’t. “Can you walk? Or would you like me to carry you?”

“Can you control your hormones if you carry me?”

Beautiful boy. Funny little human. His. And his alone. Who else could make him feel so… Words failed him. One in particular; a small word, but cumbersome and complex, one he’d never used before. One nobody here had spoken…

“I can try, but you make it difficult,” Sebastian told him with a sly smile. He picked up the frail, now shivering creature and led him into the steam. Ciel clung to him like the humidity in the stall, and before even stepping under the water, the alien’s clothes fit him like a second skin.

“G-get us under the water,” Ciel commanded, teeth chattering, leaning towards the warm rain falling from the calcium-stained nozzle the way plants naturally moved towards sunlight.

“I'm sorry, you must be chilly.” Sebastian was fixated on the showerhead; it wasn't good enough for his precious one with the water smelling slightly of chlorine and fluoride. It wasn't pure enough to cleanse away the sick that weighed them both down.

“A bit, b-but I’m more invested in s-seeing you in wet clothes,” Ciel told him sheepishly, tilting his head up to look at the alien; and what the water could not wash away, the boy’s dazzling smile did, if only for a minute.

“Who’s the one unable to reign in their hormones now, hm?” Sebastian scolded playfully.

“I can’t help it when you look like that.” Ciel’s small hand, the one with the IV catheter, groped along the alien’s damp-clothed chest as the other fell into his own lap, concealing his obvious arousal.

Sebastian’s lips parted and his core trembled as the boy’s fingers traced the curve of his collarbone with slow, deliberate care, then along his shoulders and up the side of his throat. It was almost impossible to concentrate on extending his astral body beyond the hospital, beyond the atmosphere and into interplanetary space; but he did it, tendrils fondling the surface of the moon, their heat melting the ice and trickling down the length back to where he held his starmate. Abruptly, the water streaming from the shower was turned off and was replaced with a warm, gentle rain from the swollen aura that took the shape of an brilliant onyx cloud above them.

He sat Ciel on the bench and took a knee before him, reaching for the small basin that contained bathing essentials. When he looked at him again, the boy’s head was resting against the wall, inclined skywards; his mouth was open and he drank from the moon as though it was the most natural thing in the world. The watery substance, which sounded and felt like tinkling, silky pearls against their skin, melted upon contact with the human’s fevered flesh and diffused into Ciel’s leaving a glowing, shimmery residue.

The boy had never looked less human or more beautiful since he’d first laid eyes on him. Afraid the artificial soap and sponge would do away with the lunar effect, the alien discarded them and set his large hands upon the boy’s tiny waist, thumbs massaging sharp hip bones and smearing the celestial luster. Ciel moaned and Sebastian hid his face against the boy’s chest with an echoed hnngh of longing.

“I’ve always wanted to shower with someone,” Ciel told him, his voice dropping to something seductively needy, fingers carding through Sebastian’s long wet fringe.

Sebastian wanted to give Ciel everything he ever wanted. He deserved it. Anything his heart desired would be his in his final day, no matter the cost, no matter the effort required.

He tore himself away from the boy, took his foot and rested it on the soaked denim covering his thigh. He kneaded the arch, and Ciel’s toes curled adorably. “What else did you always want to do?” Their eyes stayed locked as his hands gently moved across Ciel’s calf, around the sides and along the back to the tender underside of his knee.

“Be kissed in a shower.”

“Is that so?” the alien responded a little shakily, roaming over his knee, proceeding up the boy’s thigh when Ciel’s foot slipped, the ball of it pressing into the alien’s hardening ridge between his legs. Sebastian hissed, and as Ciel was about to apologize and remove his foot, he placed a hand over it, keeping it there. “That… that can be arranged,” he told Ciel, not missing a beat of their conversation as his mouth found the center of the boy’s slippery chest.

His hands switched legs and ascended in small, rubbing motions until they too had reached Ciel’s thigh. His cool lips left a trail of goosebumps along Ciel’s sternum, elicited groans and tiny nondescript noises at the back of the human’s throat. They spoke no words until Ciel uttered, “Oh god,” when Sebastian’s lips swept over the hard rosy bud of his erect right nipple.

Lifting his gaze to Ciel’s face, Sebastian was encouraged by the hunger he saw reflected in Ciel’s eyes and felt the corresponding tug and throb in his jeans. Ciel gasped as Sebastian’s lips closed around his nipple, hot tongue flicking it. It grew tighter when his mouth abandoned it in search of the other, but he couldn’t not touch it, amused by how much harder it got as he circled and teased it under his thumb. Ciel’s breath hitched, followed by a low moan and his name as he’d never heard it from the boy before.

“K-keep going,” Ciel implored, pushing the drenched locks out of his face to watch as Sebastian kissed lower, mouth dragging from chest to soft belly, nipping the navel, and the smooth virgin skin just under it. He came back up, pressing feverish lips to his neck, licking and sucking the water that ran down the graceful column.

“No, down, go down. Please, Sebastian…” Ciel ordered weakly, hands shooting out and grasping the alien’s shirt at his shoulders, trying to remove it. Sebastian helped, threw it across the stall and felt Ciel’s nails dig into him as he pushed him back down.

The boy’s slender legs spread apart and his small hands came at either sides of the bench and wrapped around the edges.

“Please.”

The whispered plea cut through the rain as though it had been yelled, and the alien could deny himself no more. His fingers wrapped around the pretty, strained erection and he held it snugly in his fist, absorbing its heat. Ciel hummed his approval. Completely transfixed by the way it pulsed, Sebastian began to stroke it slow and long, lust swirling in his guts when fluid dribbled from the soft, spongy head. The boy’s scent enveloped him, a heady, salty-sweet mouthwatering aroma.

He looked up at him, a tantalizing, addicted grin on his face and the sight of Ciel with his lip between his teeth was all the consent he needed. He closed his eyes and with his hand still wrapped around him, took a small, tentative lick. He felt Ciel jerk against him and he licked again, stroking him from base to tip with his wet tongue.

The boy’s body shook subtly and his arousal swelled, throbbing with fullness in his hand. “Is this what you want, Ciel?”

“Yes!”

He put his mouth back on him, taking the length into his mouth until his nose was buried in the slate curls at the base. His large hands covered Ciel’s and they laced their fingers together as he began to bob his head experimentally. It seemed to work. Ciel’s fingers tightened around his own.

Every sound the boy made had him burning, made him want to covet and worship his little human body even more. No matter how broken it was, he loved every part of it. Ciel was delicious and tasted like home, and he lost himself to the flavour, moaning around the length, tongue swirling over the sensitive head, lapping at it, hollowing his cheeks as he sucked with gentle pressure.

“Sebastian… Sebastian… S-Stop… stop…”

Their eyes met and Ciel’s were delirious, rolling into the back of his head. His hips were bucking into the alien’s face, and his delicate fingers found his member just below Sebastian’s lip’s and squeezed hard.

He’d felt it building, Ciel and his release edging closer and closer. “No,” he told the human, kindly, “don’t deny me,” Sebastian rose on his knees and took Ciel’s mouth in a deep, meaningful kiss, and placing his hand over the boy’s stroked his hardness once, twice and on the third time Ciel cried into his mouth. His body twitched, and thick warmth shot onto Sebastian’s belly.

Ragged breaths filled the shower stall and rain washed away the evidence of their experience, but not before Sebastian brought his love’s release to his lips to taste it. He watched with regret as the remainder swirled in a vortex down the drain and disappeared. “Next time, I’m not letting any part of you go to waste,” he joked with Ciel, who’s aura wrapped around him in a state of bliss and tranquility.

“What about you?” the boy asked, cocking his head to the side, his shapely brow furrowing.

“What about me?” Sebastian’s skylit tendrils retreated into him, and he got up to fetch them towels.

“Are you okay?”

Sebastian didn’t understand Ciel’s question. How could he be anything but okay. It was an understatement of the most ridiculous degree.

“I don’t understand, darling,” he chuckled, “I’m better than okay. That was… that was the single most intimate encounter I’ve ever had.”

“Ever?” Ciel asked lifting his arms, though not much, so that Sebastian could wrap a soft, fluffy towel around his torso.

“Ever.” They had no secrets between them and he had no shame admitting to the boy he’d never loved anyone else. He picked Ciel up, and his filaments brought along with them his medicated drip. By the time they emerged from the bathroom, they were dry, save for their hair which had retained the smell and moisture of the lunar rain.

“But you’re so old,” Ciel pointed out. “I mean, you don’t look it, but I can tell. You’re not like me. Like any of us.”

“I’m older than you can imagine. Your kind was still unicellular when I became the last of mine.” He’d not intended to burden the boy and he regretted it the moment Ciel’s face fell. “I’m sor-”

“No, don’t say sorry. Tell me. It’s your turn, I told you all about me last night.”

Sebastian settled his charge on the bed, and it seemed that when they’d been occupied, Liz had come back and left a fresh robe and some syrupy fruit in a cup for her patient. “What do you want to know?” he inquired, slipping the armholes over Ciel’s arms and fastening the string at the back.

“Everything. But first, tell me why, how that was your first time with…” Ciel flushed handing Sebastian the food and a spoon after the alien had put his own shirt back on.

“Where I am from, you simply didn’t offer yourself like that to anyone. You were beholden to someone from the moment of your creation,” the alien explained, as he offered a spoonful of peach to the boy.

“Like a soulmate?”

“Yes, I supposed you could say that. My soulmate was special. Not just another starborn like myself, or my makers. My promised one was tasked with a very important mission, not unlike my brother: to find another home, should ours fail us, or should we come under attack. The night I was to meet my reason for existing, my kin threw what you would call a party. Our star had never shone so brightly, had never been so warm and inviting. But he never showed up. Everyone else did. They came from across the universe, some even from another universe. I waited. And once the blast that had swallowed my family and friends subsided, I waited still, suspended in space, for my love to return. He never did. It’s not unheard of for starseeds to perish on their mission or to forget who they are altogether.”

“Sebastian…”

The alien kissed the top of the boy’s head, and inhaled deeply. “I’ve made my peace with it, Ciel. And were it not for the events that triggered my suffering, I would have never found you. You have made every moment of my long existence worth living.”

ALIVE

Ciel made Sebastian feel alive. This was the word he hadn’t known previously because he’d never felt it. He had no reference for it until the boy had cut through his melancholy and had given him a purpose.

Ciel pushed away the spoon waiting by his mouth, highly doubting he could swallow anything with the way his throat felt it was closing up. “I don’t want to leave you,” he croaked, “I don’t want you to be alone again.”

“You won’t have to. I’ll follow you, wherever you go.”

Chapter Text

The problem with being alive is that one cannot be alive for long, or at least not forever. And just because you existed, did not mean you were alive.

Sebastian felt this at his core, and now so close to his end, so did Ciel.

The two had spent the day talking, exchanging gentle and passionate kisses, caresses and lingering stares. They committed one another to memory with sight and touch, smell and taste. Every starlit freckle was accounted for, every nuanced blue in the infinite sky of Ciel’s eyes, every inch of his still moonlit skin glowing despite the sickness that ravaged him from the inside.

The small boy had tired of lying in his bed and unable to walk or stand of his own accord any longer, had asked the alien to move him to the wheelchair in the corner of the room. The more Ciel’s breathing had become laboured, the more his feet had grown numb from cold. And so when Liz came in, Sebastian was at Ciel’s feet rubbing small circles with his thumb into the dying boy’s bluing toes and the arch of his foot to help with circulation.

Liz’s face fell when she heard the rattled wheezing as Ciel squirmed and giggled under Sebastian’s touch. Her heartbreak was almost palpable as she inserted a cannula’s nasal prongs into Ciel’s nose, then fingered tubes behind ears and secured the slide at the back of his head, all in an effort to relieve the pressure from his lungs for the simple act of breathing.

“Don’t look at me, Sebastian,” Ciel mumbled petulantly, turning his head to the side, chin tilted downwards in embarrassment, “I’m hideous.”

Sebastian rose to his knees and slid his arms around Ciel’s back. He nuzzled the boy’s chest, easily finding his heartbeat, pressed his lips against the faint thrumming under muscle, bone, flesh and cotton and hummed into it, reassuringly, lovingly. “You think it’s your appearance that makes you beautiful?” Sebastian felt Ciel’s weak fingers smooth his hair at the base of his neck. “Humankind’s attempts to explore the universe and littering it with its man-made satellites and telescopes never took away from its awe or beauty; it only showed how deeply extraordinary and important it was. You are my universe, Ciel, and call me selfish all you want, but if this,” he said, looking up at the boy as he ran the plastic tubing between thumb and forefinger, “keeps you in my arms longer, then it only enhances your loveliness.”

“You’re such a sap,” Ciel exhaled, head lolling onto his shoulder as he yawned.

Liz scribbled on the clipboard, happy for Sebastian’s help in distracting Ciel while she took his temperature and blood pressure. “This should help you get more oxygen, but I’m going to need you to take a wee nap, honey. Your heart rate and blood pressure are too high for my liking.”

“No way!” Ciel protested, drawing in a sharp breath.

Liz looked to Sebastian sympathetically as the alien got to this feet. Help, her big green eyes begged.

Sebastian’s head shook the tiniest bit; he didn’t want Ciel sleeping, didn’t want to miss out on any time with him.

“Just a short one. Here, I’ve got a very, very mild sedative. It’ll take the edge off, let you rest,” the nurse said digging in her pocket for the small container.

A new sheen of sweat covered Ciel’s cheeks and forehead. He was agitated, fussing in his chair, hands reaching for the locked wheels to move away from them. “I don’t want to sleep. What if i don’t wake up. Please Sebastian, don’t…”

“Shh… Ciel, it’s okay, you don’t have to sleep,” Sebastian told him, wiping his face with a tissue, “let me hold you in bed, we’ll rest…”

“But I wanted to go outside,” Ciel’s voice was slurred with tiredness and was more fragile this time, like a child running out of steam after a tantrum.

“Ciel, if you rest, even for twenty minutes, you’ll feel better when you go outside,” Liz tried to sound convincing; twenty minutes wouldn’t be enough and they all knew it. Ciel wasn’t going to get better and he was only going to feel worse the longer he fought. She’d more than tripled the dose of his morphine; any human would be unconscious at this point, but with Ciel’s core temperature being what it was, he burned through the drug too quickly for it to have any effect but that of an ineffective pain reliever.

It was bad enough Ciel was fighting to stay alive, but he had now taken on fatigue as a rival. Sebastian could see the determination to stay awake etched in the narrowing of his eyes, saw his fingers twitch and the weary, sleepy spasms rock his body. “I’ll watch over you. No more than twenty minutes, okay love?” And though it pained him, he tacked on, “Close your eyes. I won’t let anything happen.”

Ciel nodded, eyes heavy, body sagging in his chair and before Sebatian could so much as move him to his bed, he was asleep.

Sebastian turned his gaze to Liz, and there was something a little hostile in the way he addressed her. “How are you still here? You’ve been working non-stop for three days. That’s not normal human behaviour. And you show no signs of being tired.” Not normal human behaviour. Something clicked and Sebastian put himself dutifully between the nurse and his love.

“Neither do you. Some of us don’t need sleep, do we ...?”

Sebastian’s eyes widened when she spoke his name; his real name. It was clear, the pronunciation as flawless as if he’d intonated it himself. It left him speechless.

“I’ve been stationed here a while to care for the lost ones. You think you were the only one lured here by the pretty lights?” She smiled and Sebastian could see it now; Liz did exhibit some otherworldliness - her hair was too gold, her green eyes too bright, even the way she moved was a bit too fluid. Any other time, he might have noticed, but he only ever had eyes for Ciel. “He’s my charge, and has been for twenty-one lifetimes. He’s been here much longer, but of course you felt that, didn't you? He remembers nothing. Not who he is, or where he’s from. That’s why he can’t find his way back. I can’t tell you the relief it was when you showed up.” Liz touched the alien’s face affectionately, this time with her light rather than limb.

Sebastian’s posture lost its defensiveness, but the unfamiliarity of her aura left him aggrieved. “You're not from… you're not like… me?”

Liz smiled and tore the blanket from Ciel’s bed, draping it over the sleeping boy tenderly and smoothing out the wrinkles. “No dear. I'm not even in the right universe. I've just been waiting for Ciel to be alright before I took my leave. I just didn't want him to be alone.” She leaned over Ciel, moved his wet, matted hair to the side and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead. “Even though our time is always short, I am going to miss him. You’ll tell him about me, won't you?”

Tears glittered down the nurse’s face and onto Ciel’s and his aura swelled like lungs taking in a mighty gulp of air before it could be expelled in a sob. The boy’s nebulous filaments clung unconsciously to her for the length of a breath, then released her.

“Of course, I will,” Sebastian promised, his own throat getting tight at the willing sacrifice she made in looking after Ciel. She never spoke of what it had cost her, or of the time she could not take back and it was this selflessness that he would recount to the boy once he was made whole again.

Liz gave Sebastian a firm nod and spoke as she walked away, unable to face the alien, “Given his temperature, he’s got maybe another three hours. Don’t let him nap too long.”

Sebastian felt every passing second as it ticked on the clock over Ciel’s bed. He thought he knew what an eternity had felt like when he’d been wandering alone in space, but it was nothing in comparison to this.

He understood only now the strength it required to be human. What must it feel like to know love, to worship someone mind and body, then to see them consumed by illness or injury? To feel hopelessly helpless as they suffer? Worse still, the crippling desolation and abandonment as your fated one was ripped away, leaving behind a void, an incompleteness, a shell of a person… could such an individual still be considered human after that? Why would people choose to put themselves in that position given that risk?

Then Sebastian looked at Ciel and knew why. The boy was heartbreakingly beautiful with his bottom lip pushed out, his head nodding slightly as he slept contentedly. Less than three days with Ciel and he was willingly enslaved to him. He would give anything up for him, trade places with him. Love had made him stronger and he had no doubt it did the same for homo sapiens.

Ciel’s lips twitched, and curled into a smile. “What are you dreaming about, my love?” Sebastian teased, watching him intently. He hoped Ciel was replaying their time together, of the alien caressing his skin, holding him, kissing him. But Ciel didn’t answer. Sebastian hummed to him again, low in his chest like a rumble, a vibration only his mate could answer, except he didn’t, whether it was because he was too tired, or too weak, Sebastian wasn’t sure.

A peaceful expression masked Ciel’s face and Sebastian could feel no pain emanating from his aura; the alien’s heart sank as he swooped in, a hair’s breadth away from Ciel’s face to feel the air slip past his lips. And he did. He took it into his own body, and the familiarity of it calmed his frantic core.

When twenty minutes had gone by, he almost didn’t have the heart to wake him, but his selfish longing to hear Ciel’s voice outweighed his altruism. He already missed it so much.

“Ciel…” Sebastian whispered close to his ear, lips brushing the tiny hairs on the shell, “Ciel, it’s time to wake up.”

The sleepy boy made a sound at the back of his throat and brought the blanket up to his chin. “Please… j-just a bit more…”

Sebastian was close to relenting and letting Ciel have his way, but he knew they would both regret it later. He stroked the side of his face adoringly, then tucked the blanket around his sides and wheeled the chair out of his room and into the hospital’s central courtyard, hoping the fresh air would help rouse Ciel.

Darkness had begun to fall late afternoon in Iceland, and as patients took their dinners, the unconscious boy and his alien strolled along the path outlined by evergreen boxwood hedges and fenced by the large red blossoms of flowering quince. The staff had done well to plant a garden that still bloomed in February; it was no less beautiful, no less fragrant than its summer counterpart with its shy snowdrops, vibrant hellebore, and vines of winter jasmine. Even the witch hazel birthed clusters of spidery orange-and-yellow flowers that blazed like little suns in the midst of winter.

The cool breeze ruffled both their hair, but did nothing to stop the beads of sweat dripping from Ciel’s hairline or the snow that melted beneath the boy’s wheelchair as they made their way to the central fountain. It had not been turned off for the season and the water froze in place like an elaborate ice sculpture.

Sebastian sat upon the stoney edge and locked the wheelchair in front of him, facing him. Without taking his eyes off Ciel, he slid his middle finger along the cool surface of the ice, illuminating it in a rich profusion golden hues. It thawed into a gentle stream of yellows, ambers, metallics and satins and with hints of poppies and olives.

The boy heard the shimmer of colours spilling into the basin and over the sides, felt the light reflected on his face, giving him the impression of being kissed by the sun and his eyes fluttered open.

“Feeling better?” Sebastian asked, gently massaging Ciel’s knees.

“Not really,” the boy shrugged. “Thank you for bringing me outside. I wanted to see the garden before…”

Sebastian nodded in understanding, interrupting him so he would not have to finish. “Your presence here makes the garden lovelier.” As proof, the petals opened a little wider, became brighter, angling towards the boy like he was their source of light.

“That’s you, not me,” Ciel laughed weakly.

“I promise you it’s not.” The alien was true to his word, though he might have been responsible for the rosy finches, common redpolls and evening grosbeaks that flocked to the shrubs to trill, chirp and warble.

Sebastian followed Ciel’s gaze to the patch of snow behind the fountain where statues of children playing various games had captured his attention. He had a wistful look on his face, but melancholy left a shadow along the darkened circles of his eyes. “That was never me, you know. I never had that. I’ve always been alone.” He took a shuddering breath and pointed to the statue on the opposite side of the courtyard,“That’s more like me.”

It was an exquisite bronzed angel, sad and weeping, eyes skyward to the heavens, arms reaching out, beseeching to be taken, its wings extended, ready for flight on the tip of its toes, but tethered to the large boulder onto which it was carved. The statue was elevated beyond the bushes and shrubs so that it could be seen from any point in the garden. So that it would be seen by everyone.

“Maybe at one point, but now, it’s more like this…”

Soundlessly, the wings fell off the statue and were absorbed by the snow. Gone was the mournful expression and tears, replaced with one of exultation, the face softened, became etched with stars along the bridge of its nose and cheeks, the hair was shorn and the feet broke from of its restraint. And as the stone remained miraculously suspended in the air, fissures broke through it like a network of veins and arteries, but instead of blood, there was light and it shone through, shedding luminescence on even the darkest nooks and crannies of the garden.

“It’s… beautiful.”

“And it still doesn't do you justice, Ciel. It’s merely a small token by which the humans can remember you.”

Ciel scratched his nose, belatedly forgetting the cannula that had been inserted. His breath hitched as the prongs were removed by accident, and before he could fuss with them, Sebastian’s steady hands were assuring his comfort. Once in place again, the alien kissed his nose lightly, got to his knees in the soggy earth before him and lay his head on his lap. “What are you really, Sebastian? Not that it matters, but I’d like to know.”

“I’m like you,” Sebastian told him, his tendrils having tucked a star-shaped flower behind Ciel’s ear and smoothing his hair tenderly. “We are part of this universe, we exist in her, in return, she exists in us.”

Ciel smiled as he kept his hands in Sebastian’s hair; the alien really did remind him of his dog sometimes. “I think there was a Moby song about that…” he chuckled.

“Was it any good?”

“No. Not particularly.”

The silence stretched on some minutes. Sebastian thought about how he could stay like this forever, that even broken, the boy was where he’d made his home.

“I’m going to die soon.” This statement of fact disturbed the quiet. Ciel might have shouted it for how loud it ricocheted inside Sebastian’s mind. He hadn’t forgotten, but he had stored it away for now.

“You are,” was all he could say. Ciel deserved better than lies.

“Can you stop it?”

“I cannot.” Sebastian gazed up at him, took his cold hands in his own in a cocoon and blew into them. “I can manipulate the elements, span your globe and the solar system in minutes. I can raise effigies and defy physical laws.” He released Ciel’s hands and took his face instead, forehead pressed against forehead, “I can love you more deeply than anyone has ever loved anything, but I cannot stop death.”

Ciel inhaled sharply, but it was Sebastian that exhaled shakily for them both. “Ciel, death doesn’t have to be like a flame that’s snuffed out. It’s more like this…” The alien took a handful of nearby snow; it was so white it twinkled like stars against his milky flesh. It went from cold to warm as it liquified in his hand and made a puddle. Slowly, he brought it closer to his mouth and breathed over it; the resulting crystalline steam took on a sheen of spectral prism as it was made lighter, then turned to vapour and rose into the early evening sky. He placed his hand over the boy’s heart and felt it beat once for every three of his own. “You’ll abandon your body, but this light inside you will go on.”

“Then why are you so scared? Do you not believe what you’re saying?” Ciel asked defiantly. Sebastian tried not to smile, Ciel had not yet lost his fire.

Sebastian rose to his feet and began to wheel them back towards the entrance. “I’m not scared, I’ve just grown attached to this form. I’ll miss the superficial things that come with this package: the sounds you make, the way you smell... and taste.” His stomach growled at the thought of it, but he pushed it down. “Don’t worry, I will more than love the next form you take, my love.”

Ciel shifted in his chair, twisting his neck to look up at Sebastian. “And you promise you won’t leave me, no matter what?”

Sebastian tilted the boy’s head back and kissed him gently upside down. It was like a brand on his lips; Ciel’s flavour only intensified the more he burned. “You have my word. Come, let’s go inside so I can warm you up properly. We can sneak into the kitchen and get some chocolate for you.”

Ciel sighed and Sebastian wasn’t sure if the sound was pleasant or not. “I’m not hungry,” the boy said staring up into space. “It’s a night like any other night isn’t it? I always thought I’d go out with a bang. Or a meteor shower or something. Everyone likes to think they’re special. That their life had a purpose or was meaningful.”

Sebastian’s brows knitted together, confused by the boy’s words. He knew them individually, knew what a purpose was, when something was special, but he could not fathom the context in which Ciel uttered them. “I have something to show you, better than a meteor shower.”

Upon returning to Ciel’s room, he shut the door behind them, and with a grand sweep of his hand, the room went pitch black.

“I can’t see you,” Ciel protested, hands out and grasping at the air in front of him.

Sebastian’s tendrils reached for Ciel, embracing his limbs and coaxing him out of his chair. They settled his small feet on the alien’s larger ones, and he held the boy to his body so that when he spoke next, Ciel’s ear rested against his chest so that he could hear and feel his words. “But you could feel me, couldn’t you? And now that you know how that feels, can you think back to a time when you couldn’t? Because I can’t, and I think I know why.”

The room was still dark, it got a might hotter, the air a little denser. A buzzing could be heard overhead as well as the faint telltale peal and clatter of collisions. Sebastian spun them in circles, swaying to the white noise like it was music. “That was us, thirteen billion years ago. People think the Big Bang is an explosion, but they’re wrong. We were then as we are now, energy manifested in particles that existed for the tiniest glimpses of time in an ever-expanding universe. But somehow, I found you, and you found me, a pair of quarks, breaking and forming and breaking again.”

Above them, a murky cloud swelled and thundering flashes of light flickered, sometimes breaking through and illuminating the room. Clashes of hot and cold air whipped up a flurry, and Sebastian held Ciel tighter. The boy wore a look of pure awe, he was at once mesmerized and mesmerizing. “We travelled together with the universe, over a billion kilometers, evolving into matter as the temperature cooled. All this within the second the universe existed! We spent the first three hundred and eighty thousand years blind to one another and then the afterglow kicked in. Our primordial soup gave birth to atoms which gave birth to stars. To our home.”

The darkness was pried open and the room was filled with luminescence, of spiral galaxies, of supernovas and constellations. Until now, his memory had been clouded with grief. Until now he remembered none of their story. Until now, he didn’t have a reason. “You were kept from me, and I from you, as was the custom of our kind. I would see you properly for the first time on that day.” Sebastian kissed Ciel’s head, let the truth of his words spill onto the boy, along with his devotion and reverence. “I longed for you. I missed you. I dreamt of you. I ached and aspired to know you. To be made whole again.”

“I-I d-don’t remember…” Ciel stuttered, clearly overwhelmed.

Sebastian’s shirt dampened where Ciel rested his cheek. “I didn’t either until now. But you feel it, don’t you? In your bones? At your core? Both are made of starstuff. We are the universe’s way of experiencing itself. And since you are my universe, you are my way of experiencing purpose and meaning and love.”

“Is that why are we dancing?” Ciel told him in a hoarse, but playful tone. Sebastian understood this to be the boy’s way of coping with the immensity of what he’d been told.

Sebastian’s swaying slowed and as his tendrils held Ciel in a tight embrace, he brought his hands to the boy’s face. In a measured, but rapacious way, he worked his fingers into Ciel’s hair, under his cannula and brushed his lips against his ear. “Is that what you call this? Dancing? Where we are from, my love, this is the prelude to our bond.”

Ciel’s breath hitched and as he gazed upwards, he saw the universe reflected in Sebastian’s eyes. Their infinite depths were familiar, the spark of burning embers, like meteors across the firmament, intimate and beckoning.

Heaven had been pulled down into Ciel’s room and under a rain of burning space debris and muted lights speeding by, Sebastian gathered the boy with the starlit freckles into his arms and led them to his bed, treading lightly around the room in grand circles, stroking his face affectionately and caressing the crown of Ciel’s head with his cheek.

He sat Ciel at the center, supported by billowy shadows and straddled his legs, careful not to put any weight on them. He kissed his cheek, his forehead, his nose and lips; splayed his large hand at Ciel’s nape, his thumb tracing a gentle line slowly down his back, the press of it soft against Ciel’s spine, against every vertebrae.

Ciel sighed and his mouth found Sebastian’s neck, breathing delicious warmth onto his frigid alien skin. It intensified the longing that twisted like a dagger in his heart; he knew from experience that no matter how much he held to his memories, they faded with time. He so desperately wanted to remember this Ciel -- the way his face radiated despite his illness, the flavour of his creamy skin, the taste of his ruby mouth, the way his little moans carried with them the sound of relief and pleasure, pain and expectation -- the more he thought about it, the more he clung to Ciel, the more it ached to lose him this way.

Ciel was so pliable, molded perfectly in his embrace as he lowered him tenderly onto the mattress. The boy’s body was already so depleted that he could barely fight gravity to bring his lips up to kiss him, much less his arms to loop around his neck. And still, he was so willing. Need rolling off him in exquisite, auric waves that mingled with the alien’s, tenaciously holding on to him as if his very life depended on it, and not the other way around.

As close as they were now, sharing breath, heartbeats indiscernible, they were practically one. If they could just stay like this, Ciel’s body might hold out a little longer. If they didn’t move, didn’t speak, could he keep him an hour more?

“I want you,” the boy whispered between them, his lips barely moving.

Eyes closing, Sebastian pulled in a ragged breath through his nose. “You have me, always,” he mouthed softly just below Ciel’s ear, knowing it was not what he had meant, nor that it would be a sufficient answer.

Ciel shook his head, and Sebastian could only imagine the effort it took for him to do so. “I want you.” His voice broke, his eyes burned, and through the slits that he managed to keep open, they were noticeably red-rimmed like he’d cried for years. “Please.”

Ciel was all vulnerability and the very act to which he was alluding would squander what time they had left, rushing him headlong to his end; he didn’t seem to care. In his current state, he was the very embodiment of determination and fervour and his needled hand came up and brushed Sebastian’s face gently, adoringly in a final plea. What did Sebastian’s future suffering mean if he could not give the boy everything he wanted in the here and now. He would be lying to himself if he said he did not want to complete the ritual with Ciel, to know him the way he had billions of years ago, to create and destroy and transform.

The alien’s filaments pulsed under the boy, giving away Sebastian’s eagerness. Glittering, obsidian wisps tenderly unfastened the knot at the back of Ciel’s robe to reveal perfect flushed flesh. The fixed luminous points overhead put the boy’s burning on full display, and made the faint dew that permeated his skin twinkle like rose-diamonds in the moonlight. Ciel’s loveliness eclipsed the tubing and the stark setting.

“Do you want me?” he breathed, chest heaving. He was so exposed, so unashamed and woke Sebastian’s absolute carnality.

“Of course,” he purred and it reverberated throughout the hospital, a hum that drew out the boy’s. A harmony, that unbeknownst to them, thrilled throughout the building, calming and soothing immeasurable desolation, inconceivable pain, sorrow and grief. One by one, the staff and patients and guests swelled with the depths of the love shared in room 508 and fell into a peaceful slumber; all but the nurse who waited patiently at her station. She stood, and as she ascended, she faded, ethereal form bursting in a flame of emerald-azure against the backdrop of night and made way for home, satisfied that after so long, her work was finally done.

In the room, Sebastian whispered a solemn promise to his love, a secret they’d shared when the universe first expanded. The boy would not understand its significance now, but he would remember soon. His fingers danced over Ciel, connecting the beauty marks upon his skin like constellations, leaving a searing trail of golden stardust in their wake.

“I’ve waited twenty-one years for you,” Ciel rasped, shivering under the alien’s gentle touch.

Sebastian chuckled; how endearingly human Ciel was in this form to have no conception of time. “I’ve waited millenia, and you are worth every second.” He arched the boy’s back, large hands at his sides, fingers fitting between his ribs and absorbing the heat. He ran his lips along Ciel’s jaw, then down the column of his throat, tasting the pulse that beat at the base of his neck. His tongue cleansed Ciel, dragging hotly along the shallow dips of his clavicle and down his sternum. Ciel shivered and he felt it against his mouth. Ciel sighed and Sebastian echoed it. Ciel groaned and fed the alien’s hunger. Flesh to flesh, heat to heat, both needing.

Sebastian ate up Ciel’s expression; the boy was bliss and longing, rapture and urgency. “Delicious,” he mouthed the taut skin of Ciel’s hipbone and licked his lips as he came up panting, lightheaded, “addictive... beautiful… I’ve tasted heaven and you’re so much more than that… Please… Please let me…” With a hand that shook, he spread the boy’s soft thighs.

There was an answering moan, an intensified thrumming from Ciel’s core, the curl of perfect toes and the slightest smirk raising the corner of the boy’s mouth.

And then the alien felt it at his extremities. A tugging, a manipulation of his tendrils beyond his control. Irresistible little imp. Ciel might not remember his true form, but his body did; it also remembered its starmates’. They were so close, so connected, belonged so completely to one another that his very essence subsisted on Ciel’s; obeyed him dutifully.

Sebastian didn’t fight it. He let his filaments be shamelessly exploited, bending, lifting Ciel’s leaden legs at his sides. He didn’t resist the gentle push from behind so that they could be face to face, once more. Everything was familiar and with no need of a human facade, Sebastian’s astral form blanketed itself over the precious, bared boy below him.

The alien’s hum hitched as he penetrated the depth of his love; he filled him, his most sensitive area swelling and expanding inside Ciel, the pulse and throb of it dictating the boy’s intake of air.

“Does it hurt?” he asked, kissing the boy’s face, and tasting salt upon his cheek.

Ciel shook his head imperceptibly, and forced the tendrils to secure his arms around Sebastian’s neck. “H-hold me and never let me go…”

His voice was so low, and with the calming thrum electrifying into something more rhapsodic, Sebastian still didn’t miss it, because he had felt it. It was a command; one he surrendered himself to. He moved inside him, taking Ciel slowly, sampling him, possessing him. Whining and moaning as he filled him. Too tight, too tight, but so good, so hot. Ciel was so much bigger than his small, fragile body. It was no wonder he was dying; he was being compressed from the inside out. The boy was a whole galaxy caught within a star. A nebula wrapped in the world’s softest skin.

Sebastian brought Ciel’s hands over his slate hair and held them there, laced their fingers together, kissing him deeply, and stealing his breath. He felt the sheer strength of will behind Ciel’s reciprocity and ached for him even more.

The room was suffused with a celestial scent, with choking gasps and fervid moans. The heat of Ciel’s passion screamed through his veins as the boy soundlessly repeated the alien’s given name over and over.

Sebastian drowned in the depth and devotion he felt from Ciel. His midnight coils pulsed and heightened under the boy’s command, turned him over and sat him on the alien’s kneeling lap. They moved together, chest to back, lips to nape, Sebastian’s arms caging the boy protectively. He loved him so much, he thought he would go mad with it. “Don’t leave me,” the alien begged him, tears like diamonds spilling over and glistening where they fell upon Ciel’s burning flesh, “you’re all I know… all I’ve ever known.”

Ciel turned his head to look up at Sebastian and as their eyes locked on one another, they both stopped breathing, creating a moment that wasn’t theirs to keep. Their bodies tensed together and heat rushed through them; the boy surged and bloomed and Sebastian felt it at the tips of his tendrils, his heart, his mind, his soul and fell into climax with his starmate.

He lay Ciel down next to him, and as with the first night he saw him, Sebastian spent his time holding him, watching him. Earth spun and atoms collided because of the love they shared so many years ago and it would not suddenly come to a halt because their bodies would cease to exist. Of course their essence would always be there, Ciel’s lighting the universe as only he could, but this was when they were alive.

Sebastian wasn’t aware of having fallen asleep; in fact he had done so without wanting to. Ciel was just so warm, and his aura so pleasant and both had lulled him into the softest, sweetest slumber he’d ever experienced. The trilling bell-liked melody that emanated from the boy was like a lullaby at first, then slowing… slowing… and the more the alien came into consciousness the more the resonance echoed a series of beeps.

.
.
Beep.
.
.
.
.
Beep.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Beep.

And by the time Sebastian blinked his eyes open, the cardiac monitor gave its final warning cry: jeering, flat and sharp.

Tendrils shot out, knocked over the wailing machine and silenced it permanently. With manic hands, he rolled Ciel onto his back and pressed his face immediately to where the boy’s heart was not beating. He called to it, beckoned it. Ciel was cold. Where was his heat? Where was the light he promised him would go on?

“Come on, Ciel! I know you’re in there…” It was a monumental effort to keep his voice steady, to hide the desolation threatening to creep back in again. What if he scared him? What if he was already gone?

Without him.

Sebastian couldn’t bear to look Ciel in the face, to see his eyes, orbs like barren blue moons staring back at him, the twinkle and brilliance missing from them. The alien lamented his loss, choking on his grief, one mournful breath at a time. His hands lingered, shaking over Ciel’s frigid skin, insisting his heat to transfer over, to force life back into the boy’s precious body; but without Ciel, he himself was not alive, had no life to give back.

He tried nonetheless, and by dint of will alone (whether his own or Ciel’s), the flame that was extinguished revealed tiny, flickering embers that still burned, albeit dimly, beneath the sallow skin. The faint energy was panicked. Lost. Couldn’t find his way out; at least not on his own.

Sebastian cradled Ciel to his astral form and burst through the fifth story window, taking to the sky. How long did he have until the last of the glowing embers finally burned out?

Higher and higher, Sebastian took the boy towards a graveyard of stars, breaking through a brilliant sequence of colours, from light to dark. He cut into clouds and deep oranges and yellows as vapour rolled off the shadow, dampening the corpse in his arm. He left Ciel’s planet behind, traversed the pinks and whites of the horizon and as he sped past the upper atmosphere, the haze of blue gradually faded to the black of outer space.

The burden in his arms became lighter as Ciel shed his ailing human layers, letting them fall back to his surrogate home in tails of golden, spiraled stardust. “There you are my love,” Sebastian crooned, blowing away the remaining sooty cinders from the beating heart of the neo-nebula he nestled against his chest.

The alien pressed his lips to the luminescent sphere and felt Ciel’s chrysalism. He was tranquil and content, cloaked in amniotic glow.

His familiar warmth returned, and evolved to incandescent heat; the orb swelled and pulsed and set Sebastian on edge and his tendrils aflame. He fought against the painful need to release him. Ciel wasn’t ready, he still too young. He hadn’t had the time to remind him of home yet.

The alien flinched and Ciel shot out of his arms. After thousands and thousands of years away, he had but one destination and he would break every law and rule the universe upheld to make it there as quickly as possible; after all, he had someone waiting.

Sebastian gave chase, through solar flares, meteor storms and asteroid belts and past four black holes, but Ciel, being newly reborn was faster. Stronger. He had spanned the solar system before the alien had even processed that he was no longer in his arms. A deep, resonating cry filled the vacuum of space as Sebastian called to him, stretched to the limit of the galaxy and was cut off. It would never reach Ciel.

Gravity had made him sluggish, but Sebastian persisted. Decades spent in search of him, from galaxy to galaxy, spreading the word among intelligent life and leaving his mark and vow to Ciel. Going home was no longer an option, it wasn’t there, and in the time since its disappearance, the universe had expanded. He knew that even if he tried, he would not find it. Nor would his starmate.

He saw Ciel on the rare occasions when he would pause to rest. He would dream of the boy, his resplendence, the taste of him on his lips, and skin on his fingers, only to wake each morning, tears frozen to his face, gasping for non-existent air, to remember he was gone.

No, not gone; he was out there. Somewhere. And that hope sustained him.

And until he found him again, all he needed to remember was how it felt to be alive.

Chapter Text

He spent years looking. At first, he was certain there would be a natural draw, like the way the Shapley Cluster pulled galaxies towards it at 2.2 million kilometers per hour.

Except that in his case, it should have been faster; he was making up for lost time after all.

He stumbled through space, piecing fragments of memories together as he went, until he recalled his human face, his burning eyes, his tender touch and his comforting aura with perfect accuracy. It should have eased his loneliness, but it did quite the opposite. The universe was dark without him. Cold. Why had he left in search of home when he was already there, cradled in its arms?

And now he was lost in the infinite cosmos, without a way back to Sebastian.

Where would he start? Out of one hundred billion galaxies, one billion trillion stars, a quadrillion times as many planets… it seemed almost impossible that they would find one another.

Until emerald and amethyst lights flickering like flames above a small red dot of a planet in the distance beckoned him. Homesickness and hope swelled inside him as he rushed to the surface, slowing as he caught sight of its inhabitants. This was not Earth, but it was a start.

The first time he encountered the lights was a blessed chance, the second, a mere coincidence, but by the thirty-seventh time, the starseed recognized the storm of colours as a pattern. The lights were guiding him home.

He had no use for them once he crossed the threshold of the spiraled milky formation of the familiar galaxy; he heard the forlorn lament immediately, it called to him in a song of longing that mimicked a heartbeat across multiple solar systems, come find me, come find me, come find me. What other choice did he have but to obey? He could no longer be without his starmate, than the universe could cease to expand.

Almost a century had elapsed, but the tiny blue planet had scarcely changed. The fire at its northern pole burned brightly in graded icicles that pierced the heavens in greens and blues and purples, despite the fact that it should not, given that Iceland was in full summer with its midnight sun. Still, he felt him there. Sebastian had infused the kaleidoscopic blaze with both his sorrow and his joy.

When his feet touched down, it was in the last form he’d taken, one resembling a young man with large, soft, starlit eyes and a speckle of freckles upon his nose and cheeks. He hoped he was recognizable without the frailty and that damnable intravenous pole.

He strode confidently through the hospital doors, past the emergency area and to the long-term patient rooms. The scent of Sebastian filled the halls and greeted him with the warmth of a caress; how had he failed to notice the aroma of satiny chocolate and pearlescent moonwater the last time he had been in his arms?

Room 508 was much like he left it, with dazzling colours and a painted firmament overhead, but by the bed was a vase of fragrant honeysuckle, a family of stuffed animals, as well as floating star and moon balloons tied down by pretty ribbons. The bed was unmade, and by the way the bottommost section of the blankets was undisturbed, a child was likely its occupant.

A child?

Long lashes swept his cheeks as he closed his eyes and focused on the sounds around him. Babies crying, heart monitors, clinking dishes, bad news, good news and a sweet little feminine voice that chimed in the wind and carried up to the fifth floor open window.

“... and he was so sick because he had all that light inside him. Ciel spent his last days being loved and cared for and when it was time, he was released into the world so that he could go back home.”

Ciel’s feet raced down the flight of stairs as he listened, astonished by what he’d heard. How did the little girl know his story?

He rushed through the lush green bushes of the courtyard, frustrated by his slow, human’s pace and stopped short some distance from the statue of the wingless angel whose inner brilliance broke free from its restraints. There, a sickly child, no older than four sat in a wheelchair, expelling her final breaths, chest heaving as she gazed supplicatingly at the tall man who brushed her cheek with familiar tenderness.

“Did he make it, Sebastian? Did Ciel make it home?” she asked with a pained expression.

“Not yet, but he will one day, Luciana. I lit fires across the universe for him to find his way.”

The melody of Sebastian’s voice had Ciel swaying in place, heat spreading through his limbs, heart filling to burst. And yet, he could not go to him as he wanted, rooted to the spot as he was, mesmerized by the sight of him.

“Thank you for taking care of me. I'm sure your starmate is closer than you think,” the beautiful, dark-haired child mumbled and Ciel caught the golden, smiling glint of Luciana’s eyes before they closed one last time. He watched as her body dissolved in a tourbillon of sparkling stardust and eclipsed the moon as she left Earth.

Ciel stepped forward, a whisper on the cobbled path as Sebastian gazed with unmistakable yearning in his twilight eyes at the statue of the boy he’d been waiting a lifetime for. Filaments like the arctic sun surrounded Sebastian, bathed him in resplendent mist, thin wisps of it coveting the tall frame, and lavishing it in celestial devotion. Ciel nestled his face between the taller man’s shoulder blades and laced his fingers around his waist.

“Welcome home, Starseed.”