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The north’s call presents many challenges to be met. Survival cut to the quick of winter’s bone. Frostbite and journeys too far to anything like the world most know. But the most obvious is that of the mountains, never far on the horizon.

It takes two summers, rather than one, to find time for them.

Few take leave from Tweechik, and fewer still return alive. But the weather is promising, and the trail has been calling for far too long to ignore it under such circumstances.

Ascension is action --  each grip on cool stone and boot dug in to a promising crevice is a move made in a game where the adversary is the mountain itself. A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi , for every shift of the step. A pause along a particularly treacherous switchback. Blondie takes out his canteen, taking a sip of water. The village of Tweechik is a greasy streak of smoke on the clear horizon.

Nice to see it all from a distance.

“Shi--” a rock tumbles out from under, Blondie’s canteen flying down the mountain. Grips on the jagged rock and strength are tested against the weight of Blondie’s muscle. The canteen makes a metallic echo as it tumbles out of view, smashing out of shape as it does so.

A fluid tug brings Blondie back to the trail.

“God above. Thanks.”

Unnecessary. It was nothing but instincts.

“Come on.”

By now the summit is in sight, glittering in the thin sunlight. One last scrabble onto the ledge-- and hell.

That is a sight.

So Sue’s advice was sound, as always. The rest of the range of mountains stretch out far into the blue haze cast by the sky, each crag and valley somehow uniform and unique. From summer’s distance, Tweechik looks almost green. A view from the skies, one of gods and angels. One step closer to the clouds, seemingly reachable from the edge.

The edge.

Looking down from just a moment before, a sheer drop one could watch a rock fall for miles, it seems before splintering in the trees beneath.

That takes the breath away -- pushes it right back to the top of the throat, the view tilting, a few steps back.

The rock face at the summit has no grips -- and there’s very little of it. One could almost turn around, stretch out overtop to see the southern view, but that would still leave nothing to hold on to--

“You alright?” Blondie is squinting at the view, flexing his fingers. So close to the edge. Though there’s barely three feet between him and the wall.

He’s staring. Legs are not amenable to pressing forward.

“Hey--” He intercepts the movement, pushing back against the hard rock.

“I’m fine,” something of a useless denial, as he’s already got one hand on the heartbeat. He tilts his head, parts his lips. The heartbeat quickens, for an entirely different reason.

“Seems like you need a distraction.”

The sky is searingly blue for once, summer in the north. Blondie presses a hand to the jackrabbit pulse offered in the neck, and then with his mouth, the heat of his tongue teasing the flesh there.

Oh god, Blondie is many things, observant being the least of them, but sometimes he simply knows .

You can’t fault his instincts.

“Am I wrong?” Blondie steps back, a question in his eyes.

“Don’t stop,” and sure enough, the hot breath in his ear goes straight to Blondie’s groin. He flicks open fabric to trace the year-old scar, a reminder, no doubt, Nemo ante mortem beatus.

Something in the air, the thin vertigo of it, sets the fire and ache in all too fast. There’s almost a clumsiness to stripping off Blondie’s pants, a relief in taking his cock in so deep it blurs the setting out of sight. Certainly Blondie’s moan is an ample distraction.

Blondie fucks hard, even with what little movement the ledge allows, bracing himself on the cliff face and letting his length choke and overwhelm all sensation. The only thing that remains is breathing the thin air as the need builds, eradicating anything else.

Just as a headiness from loss of air starts to build, Blondie pulls off with a gasp, stomach shaking but hands still steady. I stand when he offers his hand, and he backs in to the wall of the summit again, so that there is nothing to be seen but the rasp of the rock and the harsh kaleidoscope of greys.

Blondie runs a finger distractingly downwards, undoing the belt slowly to expose bare skin to the mountain’s face, “So?”

Yes .”

He carried the oil with him, clever bastard, all those switchbacks up the side of the mountain to tease out a scream finger by finger on this cliffside. The scar is raw friction against the chips of rock, catching where the stitches once were.

Not for the first time, I know that it wasn’t a mistake.

He drags it out touch by touch, but once he’s finally forced his length inside, his movement, the sound of his boots on the rocks drags the image of the sheer drop back to the forefront of memory. Blondie is screaming through his release, but the cliff face offers nor grip nor purchase, nothing but his arm to dig nails into.

He catches his breath, pressing hard against the rock, slowing, but not letting up. He knows, and yet--

“You had me on that last ledge, you caught me,” He breathes, and there’s truth in that, as much as it had been a strain to pull his body back. I hadn’t even hesitated, years of travelling with a partner becoming instincts far too soon.

“Come on, relax. I’ve got you, Angel. I’ve got you.”

Fingers scrabble against the sheer rock, the rush of release just as dangerous as the climb, as the fall.

And still held fast.

I let myself relax, breathe, feel nothing but the sun and his grip, his breath on my neck.