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all I can taste is this moment

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Caleb had not expected the “secret” part of having a secret relationship to be… well, fun. He has kept so many secrets in his life, hardly any of them good. But this one… he finds that he enjoys this. Mollymauk is a bright and joyous person, and sometimes Caleb looks at him from across the tavern and it sparks something warm and light in his chest to think that he gets to be close to that. He’s drawn to Molly, that much he knows—they are soulmates, after all, for all that that entails but does not guarantee. It doesn’t have to mean anything, yet they have both decided to say that it does. It’s an unusual feeling for Caleb, but he finds that he… likes it.

Unlike most things that fascinate Caleb, Molly is something good. He knows that Mollymauk is, in many ways, useless to him. But sometimes he will catch Caleb’s eye and smile, and Caleb’s world will brighten against all the odds and in spite of the nasty voice and ticking clock in his head.

Tonight is a good kind of night. Molly holds court at the bar, spinning a yarn and flashing that dazzling smile in between rounds of the most interesting drinks the barkeep will provide. Caleb finds himself paying more attention to Molly than to his book, but as he’s working on his third cup he can’t really bring himself to care.

Molly glances his way from across the room, and Caleb sees his tail give a quick, pleased flick when he notices Caleb’s eyes on him. Emboldened, Caleb holds his gaze instead of ducking immediately back into his book. When a quick glance shows that no one is focused on Caleb, he decides for once to be bold, and see if he can throw the incorrigible Mollymauk Tealeaf off for a change. He raises his fingers to his lips and blows Molly a kiss over the top of his book.

The effect is immediate. Caleb can feel how Molly’s heartbeat kicks up; there is no hiding that. To anyone looking, Molly’s tail is also a dead giveaway with the way it lifts excitedly, then wiggles about much like Frumpkin’s does. Molly twitches his coattails, hiding the excitable appendage from view, and Caleb smirks at him. He lowers his gaze back to his book then, lest he be too distracted by how pretty Molly is when he blushes.

It’s only four pages later in his studies that he feels a warm, lean body slide into the booth next to him. He keeps his eyes trained on the page, although the arcane words no longer hold his interest. Most of his attention is on trying to hold his straight face, not to let the smile creep across his lips as Molly drapes himself over Caleb’s shoulder like a particularly large cat. He’s well-aware that his heartbeat gives him away, but it’s amusing to poke a bit of fun at Molly’s patience.

“You,” Molly breathes close to his ear, “are a flirt and a scoundrel, Mister Caleb.”

He suppresses a shiver as Molly’s breath ghosts through his hair, warm and sweet with the scent of redcurrant wine. Glancing up, Caleb checks to make sure none of their party is paying attention to them. They seem to all be occupied with drinking or flirting or, in Fjord’s case, encouraging Beau’s attempts at flirting. Their secret is still safe here, tucked away in a corner booth, and Caleb wants to nudge it further.

“You are a menace in your own right,” he murmurs back, setting his book aside. He turns toward Molly. Perhaps Molly did not expect him to be so direct, or to follow through on his flirting, but his ruby eyes have gone somewhat wide, his lips slightly parted. It wasn’t apparent from across the dimly-lit bar, but Molly’s ears have also flushed a delightful magenta color. Caleb chuckles and runs the pad of his finger up along the outer shell of one pointed ear.

Molly shivers, and Caleb feels an eager tail sneak around his waist. He enjoys this, he thinks idly—he likes seeing the reactions he can elicit from Molly, he likes making it a game . It’s like a little challenge, both of them a bit loopy but not quite impaired from the alcohol, pushing the envelope of keeping their indulgences hidden from their friends. It doesn’t hurt that he’s never quite seen Molly like this before, pliant and blushing and leaning into Caleb’s touch.

He trails his fingers from Molly’s ear down his jaw, pausing at the soft point of his chin. Molly lets him tilt his face up with two fingers, while a little smirk just barely shows off one sharp canine. There’s a challenge and an invitation in the quirk of his eyebrow, and Caleb is just past the point of sobriety that would tell him this is a bad idea.

He closes the distance between them and kisses Molly. For a moment Molly stiffens in surprise, and Caleb thinks that he may have overstepped—but then Molly pushes his hand into Caleb’s hair and melts into him. Molly tastes of salt and warmth and fruity, heady wine, and he kisses eagerly. He’s dirty and sweet at the same time, following a tiny sharp nip with a soft sweep of his tongue, and Caleb is so, so tempted to push their luck even further.

He pulls away, sliding further into the booth and out of Molly’s grasp. No one seems to have noticed them—the raucous sounds of their friends’ revelries is still going strong. Molly pouts at him a bit, his cheeks flushed a lovely fuchsia. “Tease,” he accuses, his tail tightening slightly around Caleb’s waist.

Caleb gives the end of his tail a consolatory pat, and it twitches under his hand. Molly’s blush gets even deeper. Caleb files that information away for later. “If you say so,” he says mildly, lips twitching. “You are the expert, after all.”

Molly scoffs and draws himself back to his feet. He swipes Caleb’s tankard up and drains the rest of it in one go. Finished, he points at Caleb with the empty glass. “You’re gonna get yours,” he says, eyes glinting with something between a threat and a promise. Caleb feels his lips tug, a smile trying to break free of the deadpan mask he’s clinging to.

He raises an eyebrow at Molly and picks up his book again. Molly turns on his heel and swans away toward the bar, but Caleb has learned to read him well enough to recognize the spring in his step and the happy twirl to his tail.

He ducks his head back behind his book before his smile can overtake his face.