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give me the palm of your hand

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The key that Ayda gave them is warm, still, like an alive thing in Garthy’s hand. The permanent glowing heat of it makes Garthy think of the way they used to warm themself by the furnace of Ayda’s wings, when they were little and the Leviathan was a much less friendly place than it is now.

What a wonderful present: a key from the Gold Gardens to Mordred Manor. The words that Ayda said to them echo in their head. Before she met you, my previous self was unsure if it was normal to be gay. It seems from my notes that I had spent several lifetimes struggling with some of the feelings I had for women. Not that any of those feelings ever translated into action. But my previous self had the privilege of watching you grow up and become who you are, and she learned to stop doubting the part of herself that loved women. I don’t know if she ever communicated this to you. But I am communicating it to you now. And I myself have been even luckier to grow up under your care, never having to wonder if it’s normal for me to be gay, because for as long as I can remember I have seen you in the company of paramours of all genders. I don’t believe I could adequately explain to you how much that means to me and what a significant burden you have removed from my life. So please, take this key. I know that my own key to Mordred Manor is one of my most precious possessions. May this be one of yours, too.

Drops of fire running down her cheeks all the while.

If it hadn’t been for Ayda taking them in when they were living on the streets, kicked out by parents who couldn’t handle how slippery and strange their gender was, Garthy O’Brien might not even exist.

So Garthy wept too, and held Ayda to them, and said, “Thank you, my love. If I saved you from being alone, it was only because you saved me first.”

Which is, Garthy thought, one of the most beautiful and also one of the saddest things they know about being queer: how queer people are always saving each other from being alone. Ayda and Fig—there’s a perfect example. Garthy remembers what that was like, a love so big and alight with so much energy it seemed able to power its own magic.

And now Garthy clutches Ayda’s gift in their hand and stands in an empty room in Mordred Manor, wondering if it’s still possible, at their age, to feel a love like that again, something incandescent and consuming.

When Jawbone and Sandra Lynn walk hand in hand into the room, Garthy has their answer.

Which is that it’s quite all right with them if they’ll never love again the way they did when they were younger, when love was a thousand explosive spells cast at once, because that was, frankly, exhausting. Garthy doesn’t want to love Jawbone like the first time they fell in love. They want to love Jawbone exactly the way they love Jawbone now, simmering and steady and slow. With that twist of wistfulness in their gut at all those years they spent apart, and at the same time that ache of gratitude in their chest for how those years have shaped them both into people who are far, far better for each other now than they ever were before.

Garthy likes this. Likes loving wisely. They want to love Sandra Lynn, too, with the same quiet strength, the same patient clarity.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the frenetic thrum of desire in their blood. They feel it very, very keenly indeed.

They haven’t taken anyone to bed in weeks, not since Jawbone came back into their life. In bed alone at night, they’ve been thinking about this—about the sharp curve of Sandra Lynn’s flirtatious smile, the amber gleam of Jawbone’s knowing eyes. Faced with both in this moment, Garthy feels light-headed, unsure of the words coming out of their own mouth.

But then Sandra Lynn’s kissing them, and oh. Garthy knows how to do this. They slide the key into their pocket and bring both hands up to Sandra Lynn’s face, tilting her chin up to deepen the kiss. She’s so—eager. Already whimpering into their mouth. And Garthy can absolutely relate. The kiss feels obliterating. They can scarcely believe there’s solid ground under their feet anymore; it’s as though holding onto Sandra Lynn is the only way they can keep themself from plummeting. They lick into Sandra Lynn’s mouth, and she moans, sucking on their tongue. Her hand grips their waist, pulling them close till their hips press together.

Garthy draws back, breathing heavily, and Sandra Lynn sways a little, her cheeks pink, reminding them of that night when they first slept together. She had been drunk then, but she’s not drunk now.

Garthy meets Jawbone’s eyes over Sandra Lynn’s shoulder. He’s looking at them, the two of them, like he’s starving, and there’s something just a little startling about that expression on a wolfish face. Startling in a way that makes Garthy feel even weaker, imagining what it would be to lay themself out like a feast to sate that hunger.

“Let’s go to our bedroom,” Sandra Lynn murmurs, her thumb stroking Garthy’s hipbone.

“Why, don’t we have a perfectly functional bedroom here already?” Garthy doesn’t want to go anywhere. They want to pull Sandra Lynn down to the bed with them and just— Anything. Everything. Just strip Sandra Lynn of her clothes and touch and touch and touch whilst Jawbone keeps looking at them with that lupine gaze that makes Garthy feel as though there’s a wolf prowling under their own skin, just waiting to burst through and howl, wildly howl.

“We want you in our bedroom,” Sandra Lynn says. “In our bed.” She kisses Garthy’s neck, just below their ear, and her voice is playful when she adds, “And I have rope. I remember how you liked that.”

Ooh, that’s compelling. Garthy shivers. “All right, darling, you’ve convinced me.”

Sandra Lynn takes their hand. Her other hand, Garthy notices, is still holding Jawbone’s behind her. He hasn’t said anything this entire time, but Garthy knows what it’s like to want something so much that they can hardly speak. There’s just that silent, watchful intent on his face, ravening and adoring all at once, as he leads the way to the bedroom in question.

Thankfully, it’s just down the hallway, and it’s a lovely space, besides. Messy and lived-in, a leafy potted plant in every corner and clothes thrown over the back of a chair and half-read books lying open with cracked spines—Ayda would not be pleased to see those. There are family photos on the nightstand, one of Jawbone and his niece Tracker, and one of Sandra Lynn and Gilear and Fig. Garthy almost doesn’t recognize Fig in the picture, because her horns are nowhere to be seen, and she’s dressed all in pink, which seems unimaginable now.

The most striking thing in the room, though, is the pretty landscape spanning most of the wall above the bed. A massive framed photo showing a forest of trees in autumn, all its blazing red and gold splendor reflected by a lake. At the edge of the water is a griffin, bending to drink.

“Is that Baxter?” Garthy asks.

Sandra Lynn smiles. “Gilear took that photo when we went camping one year. A long time ago.”

Garthy shakes their head in disbelief. They know little about photography, but even so, this doesn’t seem like the work of an amateur. “Have you suggested to him that he should become a professional photographer?”

“Yeah, believe me, I’ve tried everything. He insists that this photo was a lucky accident. I don’t know how anyone can take that by accident, but I also don’t know how anyone can get into the accidents he does, so.” She shrugs.

“It’s a beautiful photo,” Garthy says. “A beautiful room.” Their eyes flicker over the rumpled bedsheets, then to Jawbone. They understand now, why Sandra Lynn needed them to be in this room. It’s where she and Jawbone live.

“More beautiful for having you in it,” Sandra Lynn says, and then laughs a little, probably at the forthrightness of her own comment. She sits down on the bed. One hand still holding onto Garthy, and the other to Jawbone. “Right. Are you two just going to stand there looking at each other intensely all day, or what?”

“I’m excellent at looking intensely at people all day,” Garthy says. “It’s practically all I do at the Gold Gardens.”

“That’s not true,” Jawbone says—finally—his voice low and rumbling. “I remember you being very good at lots of other things.” His hand comes up to stroke the small of Garthy’s back, and Garthy trembles, steps closer.

Jawbone kisses them.

It took some getting used to, at first, kissing Jawbone in his half-wolf form, but they kissed for what felt like hours at the Gold Gardens only a few days ago, and it doesn’t feel so strange anymore. There’s just—a lot more tongue involved. Jawbone’s tongue is broad, too, sweeping into Garthy’s mouth in a thoroughly overwhelming way that makes Garthy gasp and clutch at the front of Jawbone’s cardigan, a handful of fuzzy fabric in their fist.

This is what Garthy loves about this Jawbone. Jawbone in the past was all edge, a human in black eyeliner and studded leather, but everything that people would actually find dangerous about him wasn’t visible. Now he always has the part of himself that terrifies people on show, and he looks so much softer than he ever did. That cozy cardigan versus that deadly mouth: what a thrilling contrast.

Jawbone’s kisses travel down to their neck, and Garthy shudders, tilting their head back to bare their throat to the long swipes of Jawbone’s tongue. They can feel Sandra Lynn’s hand grasping theirs, tightly, and they glance down at her, at the way she’s biting her lip, her thighs squeezed together, just rocking down ever so slightly into the mattress.

Garthy closes their eyes and groans, suddenly too aware of the wetness between their own thighs.

Jawbone takes a deep breath and stills, and then he’s growling and pushing Garthy onto the bed, straddling their legs, shaking out his mane. “I can smell how turned on you both are,” he snarls, “and it’s drivin’ me goddamn wild.”

Garthy flushes. “Yeah?” They can feel Jawbone’s hardness pressed against them, and they roll their hips up in response, hearing Jawbone’s breath hitch. “Why don’t you do something about it then, darling?”

“Oh, I will.” Jawbone hooks a finger under the waistband of Garthy’s pants. “If you help me take these off.”

Behind Jawbone, Sandra Lynn yanks off Garthy’s boots with a ranger’s efficiency, and Garthy shimmies quickly out of their pants. Now they’re completely naked, and everyone else still has their clothes on. Unfair.

But they don’t really get the opportunity to complain, because Jawbone kneels between Garthy’s thighs and he leans down and sniffs, and Garthy hates how it makes them want to squirm but it’s also so extremely, terribly hot that they can’t help but whimper. They fling an arm over their eyes, since there’s no other way to hide—they’re just so exposed. “O’Shaughnessey, that is obscene.”

“You love it,” Jawbone accuses, nuzzling Garthy’s thigh. “You smell amazing, angel.”

Angel. Jawbone hadn’t called them that in years. The old feelings of their youth come rushing back—how loving Jawbone made them understand their Zajiri ancestors better, the ones who had risen from hell to become celestial. What that must have felt like, the rising.

Garthy lets their arm flop back onto the bed, so they can look down at Jawbone between their own spread thighs. “Call me that again.”

“Angel,” Jawbone whispers, dragging fingers through Garthy’s slickness. “You’re so wet, goddamn. Baby, you’re gorgeous, look at you.”

Garthy moans. Just—the way Jawbone is looking at them. They feel like they’re being devoured, swallowed whole. And then Jawbone is nosing at their clit and—oh, fuck. His tongue laps at Garthy’s cunt in wide, sloppy strokes, as though quenching a long thirst, before swirling tight and narrow and precise around Garthy’s clit, and Garthy bucks and swears and wants nothing more than to vanish entirely into Jawbone’s mouth, to be pulled down deep into the darkness of Jawbone’s belly.

“Hey,” Sandra Lynn says, and Garthy’s been too distracted to notice her taking her clothes off, but there she is, her lovely face, and her lovely tits, and her lovely thighs, a bunch of rope in her lap. A blessed vision.

Garthy sighs, burying their face in her tits, mouthing at the soft flesh. “Your boyfriend is a menace,” they mumble, scratching their fingernails across one of her nipples and drawing a sound from her that’s half laughter and half helpless gasp.

“He’s your boyfriend too,” Sandra Lynn murmurs, pulling on their hair to tug their head back. Garthy loves that, loves the sting in their scalp, but what they love even more is when Sandra Lynn lowers that lovely face of hers and kisses them fiercely, biting at their bottom lip, sucking on it. Garthy makes breathless little noises into the kiss and is rewarded by Sandra Lynn’s pleased smile when she lifts her head, only unlatching her teeth from Garthy’s lip at the last possible second, her hand still making a fist in Garthy’s hair.

Garthy whines. Jawbone—their boyfriend, their partner, their lover—still hasn’t let up, and Sandra Lynn’s gazing at them with that wondering brightness in her eyes. It’s like being in bed with the sun and the moon at the same time, and Garthy’s pulled by them both like the tide swelling higher and higher.

They can feel their cunt aching to be filled, and the wildness under their skin longing to tear through. They glance at the rope, their breath catching. “Jawbone.”

Jawbone pauses, though his hand’s still running up and down the inside of Garthy’s thigh, just the slightest, most delicate hint of sharp claws sending shivers up Garthy’s spine. “Yeah, angel? Tell me what you want, baby. I’ll give you anything.”

This still feels like a dream. Like one of those fantasies that used to visit him in his lowest moments. He’s in a house that he owns with a woman that he loves, in a big warm bed, and that woman is naked in this bed with him, and Garthy—oh, Garthy O’Brien, beautiful beautiful half-orc aasimar pirate, is straddling him.

Garthy sinks down slowly onto Jawbone’s cock, and they’re so tight and wet and hot that he’s going to lose his goddamn mind. He has his hands on Garthy’s hips and he can feel how Garthy is shaking, and it’s just—Jawbone’s done a lot of illegal things in his life but nothing’s ever felt so much like something he shouldn’t be allowed to do, to have, as this. It’s so out-of-this-world good that there has to be a law against it, and Jawbone is so, so hard.

Fuck, O’Shaughnessey, you’re going to kill me,” Garthy says, voice quavering, bowing their head as they sit fully on Jawbone’s lap. It feels incredible, to be inside them again after all these years, to be so close and connected, like the two of them are one continuous thing that will never know separation again.

Jawbone can barely breathe. “And here I thought you were the one trying to kill me.” He grabs a handful of Garthy’s ass and squeezes, and Garthy groans, their hips stuttering.

Sandra Lynn is kneeling at Garthy’s side with the rope, and Jawbone watches as she expertly ties Garthy’s hands behind their back and tugs on the ends of the rope, making them arch their back. “How does that feel?” she asks.

The gold circles in Garthy’s irises are spinning around their fathomless black centers, and they can’t seem to answer for a moment. Sandra Lynn kisses their jaw and their neck sweetly, and runs her fingers through their hair, saying, “You look so good, baby.”

“Yeah?” Garthy says, at last, their voice faint and distant. “It—ah—it feels brilliant, thank you.”

Sandra Lynn grins and kisses them again, this time on the mouth, hard and firm and loving, her hand clasped gently around Garthy’s throat before letting go. She lies down on her side next to Jawbone, handing him the ends of the rope and petting the fur on his chest. “Don’t they look beautiful, honey?”

Jawbone meets Garthy’s half-lidded eyes, the unending black of them rimmed by gold that’s still wheeling freely, almost sparking. “You look so goddamn perfect, angel.” And they really do. With their arms forced back, and their inked torso on display, all those pretty flowers and that angular Zajiri script highlighting the definition of their muscles. He reaches up to touch the tattoo that covers one of the scars on Garthy’s chest, right below Garthy’s heart, and Garthy inhales sharply.

“Does that say somethin’?” Jawbone asks, quietly. He’s sure these tattoos weren’t there fifteen years ago, or if they were, they looked different.

Garthy grimaces. “I wish you wouldn’t ask.”

“Oh, I’m sorry if that was insensitive of me, you don’t have to—”

“No, darling, it’s not that.” Garthy’s hips glide forward and back again. “It’s— You have to understand, I was young and you’d just left me and I was very, very drunk.” A blush darkens their face, and they keep grinding against Jawbone as though that will help, their mouth falling slack. Jawbone skims his thumb back and forth over the tattoo, his knuckles brushing over Garthy’s nipple, and Garthy bites their lip, stifling a cry but arching into the touch. It’s a real sight to behold.

“What is it?” Jawbone prompts.

“It’s,” Garthy pants, eyes darting away and snagging on Sandra Lynn, who—Jawbone turns to look, too—is touching herself as she watches them, fucking herself with two of her fingers as she rubs her clit, and even her hair strewn over half her face can’t conceal how flustered she is, pink to the pointy tips of her ears. “Oh fuck,” Garthy rasps, and stumbles in their pace before riding Jawbone more frantically. “Sandra Lynn, love, you look incredible. I could watch you do that all day.”

Sandra Lynn moans and her legs fall further open, and oh, she’s so gorgeous like this, Jawbone just wants to eat her out until she comes and comes, but he also loves watching her. And he can tell she loves having an audience. She looks steadily at him through her veil of hair and brings one hand up to suck on her own fingers, three of them at once, sliding them in and out of the wet ring of her mouth, and Jawbone curses—she knows how much he loves it when she does that.

She uses those fingers, glistening with spit, to play with one of her nipples, to pinch and tease and rub it to hardness, and Jawbone growls, leaning over so he can kiss her breast, can flick his tongue over that hard nipple again and again until she cries out and grasps at his mane, pulling him away. “Focus, honey,” she whispers. “I want to see you make them lose control.”

Jawbone tries to focus. Above him, Garthy is rocking more and more unevenly, irises whirling, collarbones glazed with sweat. “I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things in my life, darlings, but not anything like the two of you together.”

Jawbone follows the path of a drop of sweat down to the tattoo that he was asking about, and he rests his fingers on the patch of skin, feeling Garthy’s heart pounding just beneath it. “You still haven’t told me what this says.”

Garthy smiles ruefully. “I thought I’d successfully evaded your questioning.” Jawbone gives the rope a careful tug, and Garthy gasps, eyes fluttering shut, their hips jerking without any rhythm. “Aah—! Fuck, it says ‘wolf’ in Zajiri. Are you happy?” They turn their head away to the side before slanting their gaze back at Jawbone, almost shyly. “Don’t gawk at me like that, O’Shaughnessey, I was twenty-six and foolish and sick of crying over you, but nobody had ever made me feel the way you did and I didn’t know if anybody ever would again.”

Jawbone doesn’t know how to stop gawking. Just the way Garthy looks right now, vulnerable and tender, the blush deep on their cheeks. Wolf written right below their heart in Celestial, over the scar which is as much a part of who they are as the wolf is a part of who Jawbone is.

His angel, carrying a reminder of him always.

“Baby, that’s the best thing I ever heard,” Jawbone says, softly, and Garthy’s heartbeat is feverish under his palm.

“Yeah? Well, it’s mortifying in my opinion but perhaps I’ll concede it was worth it, if only for the way you’re looking at me right now.” Garthy lets their gaze meet Jawbone’s directly, and there’s something so delicious about the glimmer of embarrassment on that face.

Jawbone just wants to eat them all up.

He lets his hands drop to Garthy’s thighs, smoothing up the sides of them, and he slips a thumb in between them to rub at Garthy’s clit.

Garthy shudders with their whole body, throwing their head back. “Planes above, O’Shaughnessey, will you please just fuck me already?”

“Sure,” Jawbone says, “I can do that.” He grips Garthy’s waist and thrusts up into that slick heat, and it feels—oh, it feels so good, like letting the wolf take over on a full moon and running in the wild, when he’s sure he won’t hurt anybody and he can just be free and feel the wind whistle past him as he races under the open sky, moonlight pouring over his fur. And Garthy’s making the most desperate, beautiful noises, their body pliant and slippery with sweat. Jawbone has always thought that Garthy might have been born from the sea itself, and now it feels like they’re turning to liquid in his hands, dissolving back into seawater. They’re both just their most elemental selves in this moment, and it’s goddamn sublime.

He glances at Sandra Lynn beside him, and she’s still touching herself and breathing fast. He can smell her and Garthy in the air, like the scent of the sky before a storm, heavy and sweet. Sweat shines on her skin, too, her hair sticking to her face. “God, it’s so hot watching you,” she says, her voice rough. “Come inside them, baby, I wanna eat them out after.”

And oh, there’s an idea.

There’s so much he still wants to do, so much he’s missed. He misses Garthy’s mouth sucking him off, and most of all he misses when Garthy would fuck him with a strap-on. He’ll have to ask for that, next time. He remembers the way Garthy would finger him until he was begging for it, and then stretch him open so slowly, just tease and tease and tease with the shallowest strokes, and he would be near tears with how much he wanted Garthy to just press all the way in, as deep as they could possibly go.

The memory of it is enough to make him feel feral. He slams his hips up, driving himself as deeply into Garthy as he would want Garthy to plow into him, and Garthy mutters what must be a curse in a language Jawbone doesn’t speak and grinds down just as hard, their thighs trembling. Jawbone could drown in the black whirlpools of their eyes.

“Jawbone, darling, come for me, I wanna feel you, I’ve missed this so much— Missed you filling me up and making me feel so fucking good.” Their voice is so ragged and they look like such a gorgeous mess, and Jawbone’s orgasm wrenches itself from his core, just as there’s nothing he can do in the face of the moon but howl. He digs his thumbs into the flesh above Garthy’s hipbones and anchors them there, and Garthy whines, held fast, hips unable to do more than twitch as Jawbone spills inside them.

Yeah, Jawbone’s definitely missed this, too.

He takes a moment to regain his breath and just look at Garthy, who’s so beautiful like this that Jawbone’s still not a hundred percent convinced that this is really happening, but then he sits up and gathers Garthy in his arms and kisses them, and Garthy is solid and warm and real.

“Angel,” he says, touching his nose to Garthy’s. “You make me feel so good, Garthy, you’re stunning. I missed you so much.”

Watching Jawbone and Garthy together is a revelation.

There’s a part of Sandra Lynn’s brain that keeps saying that she should be jealous, but really she’s so—happy. Happy to know that Jawbone is so loved, because he should be. She doesn’t know how she ever thought that breaking up with him would be the best thing to do, or how she lived for so long believing that love was a multiple choice test she would always fail because she just could never seem to pick the right damn answer and stick to it.

She’s felt so confined and conflicted her whole life, looking at what she thought were the only options available to her and never being able to make herself fit any of them. But she’s a ranger, for god’s sake, she should know that life isn’t limited to paved paths. That it’s in the wilderness, in trackless forests with towering trees and unruly undergrowth, that she feels the most like herself. Comfortable and alive and free.

If it wasn’t for Jawbone, she’d still be trying to tread the same miserable road. She loves him so much, and it makes her happy to know that she isn’t the only one.

And she’s also never been more turned on.

Garthy’s dripping cunt is an inch from her face and Garthy’s looking down at her, and she holds her tongue out and catches a drop of Jawbone’s come on it, thick and salt-bitter. She swallows, dragging her nails all over Garthy’s ass and then kneading the flesh, and they let out a hiss of pleasure and finally relax down onto her face. She inhales with her nose in Garthy’s coarse black curls, and god, her sense of smell may not be as good as Jawbone’s, but this close it’s just impossible not to lose herself in the heady scent of them, of Garthy and Jawbone both. She’s dizzy with it.

She licks more of Jawbone’s come from Garthy, drinking it all up, and she keeps her eyes open and on Garthy above her while she runs the flat of her tongue all the way up to Garthy’s clit, pressing it hard against them before sucking gently. “Oh, darling, yeah, keep doing that,” Garthy says, breathily. “You’re the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Sandra Lynn shivers at the compliment, and Garthy looks so good like this, the long lean lines of their muscles shifting as they grind down against Sandra Lynn’s tongue, the flowers rippling on their abdomen. She loves the taste of their arousal, and the taste Jawbone left behind, the taste of him fucking someone who isn’t her. She reaches down to rub herself again, but she hears Jawbone’s voice saying, “Baby, let me take care of you,” and he pushes her knees further apart and bats her hand away, replacing it with his tongue.

She cries out, forgetting herself for a moment, turning her head to nudge her mouth clumsily against the juncture of Garthy’s thigh, kissing and biting at the skin there while pleasure rolls through her at the sensation of having Jawbone’s greedy, devoted mouth on her. She feels flattened by it, like the grass beneath Baxter when he takes off soaring into the air with a powerful beat of his wings.

“Oh, hmm, you’re feeling good, aren’t you? You like having your pussy eaten while you eat me out, lovey?” Garthy says, and her attention snaps back to them. They’re smiling, their eyes wicked black voids. “You like having Jawbone’s tongue tease your tender little clit? He’s so good at that, isn’t he?”

Fuck, they’re so mouthy and she loves it. She bites down hard on their thigh and pulls their skin between her teeth until they gasp, and then she returns to their clit, working it with her tongue, finding the same relentless rhythm as Jawbone, and she can feel the pleasure building in her just as she can see it kindling in Garthy’s eyes, the gold flaring brighter and brighter, almost blinding—

She squeezes her eyes shut, but even so the afterimage of Garthy’s eyes is seared on her vision, burning through the darkness. She’s falling with nothing to cling onto but those twin hoops of gold, and as she comes, light bursting like stars behind her eyelids, she groans, bucking her hips into Jawbone’s mouth, and reaches up to grab the rope that’s still binding Garthy’s wrists together. For a second she tugs on it to pull Garthy down, down onto her mouth, but then she takes one of their hands instead, twining their fingers together—a promise of something, though she doesn’t know what—and she looks up at them, sees the sweet surprise of affection skipping across their face like a pebble across water, and silently asks them to come with her.

They do, breathless and beautiful, babbling so many endearments and curses at once. She lets herself revel in it, the same triumphant joy as when she fires an arrow that strikes true, and then she’s sliding out from underneath Garthy, pushing them down onto the bed on their back, their hips propped up by their own bound hands. She looks down at them, and god, her face is drenched in Garthy’s wetness, all over her nose and her lips and her chin, and her breaths are jagged and sharp. She’s still so turned on, and Garthy doesn’t look wrecked enough. There’s something still too composed about them and their smugly satisfied face.

Jawbone hugs her waist, saying, “Lynn, baby, look at you, you’re so beautiful.” He kisses her and licks the wetness from her face, and she can see the way Garthy’s looking at them, licking their own lips.

“Would it be too much trouble for you to untie me now?”

Sandra Lynn narrows her eyes at them, and she dips two of her fingers into the opening of Garthy’s cunt—god, it’s so loose and slick. “You think you could come again?” she asks, massaging it.

Garthy lets their head fall to the side and makes a soft noise that’s half muffled by the sheets.

“That’s not a no,” she says, and she presses three fingers deep inside, into that soaking wet hole, and she fucks Garthy hard and fast until they’re writhing. Jawbone lies down next to them, tangling one hand in their hair, pulling on it and kissing their neck, and Garthy whines.

“Fuck, you’re both ruthless.” Garthy’s eyes are eclipses, almost entirely black except for those thin gold haloes, wavering and smoky in their glow. “Oh, just like that—fuck, don’t stop, don’t stop, harder—”

She complies and lets Garthy rub their swollen clit against the heel of her palm as their hips snap up reflexively, seeking friction. “Baby, you’re so well-fucked, you’re just a sopping mess, aren’t you? Are you gonna come for me again? Hmm, angel?” She’s just trying it out, this pet name that Jawbone was using, but Garthy hears that and loses it.

“Yeah, oh, fuck—please, I wanna come for you, I’ll be so good for you, Sandra Lynn, darling, please, just fuck me.” Their shoulders thrashing and the gold in their eyes muted and flickering on the point of extinguishing, the last remnant of their composure gone.

She smiles at them, curls her fingers viciously within them while she pets their thigh soothingly at the same time. “Come on, my angel, come for me again.”

Garthy stills, their body arched into a taut line, the tension in them like a drawn bow, and then they’re letting out an agonized moan as they come, thighs quivering. They collapse onto their side on the bed, panting, and Sandra Lynn wipes her fingers on the sheets and makes quick work of the knot that’s binding Garthy’s wrists. As soon as their hands are free, they wrap their arms around her and drag her down onto the bed with them and kiss her with so much force that it knocks all the breath out of her.

“You know I love it when you tie me up, but I wanted to touch you so badly, you haven’t got any idea,” they say, half into her mouth, still busy just kissing her, her lips and her jaw and her neck, their hands roaming all over her body, caressing her back and her arms and her tits, fingers twisting her nipples, and she gasps. She’s still wet—watching Garthy get off again was so much—and she only has to slip one of Garthy’s thighs between her own and grind against them a few times before she’s coming again as Garthy keeps tugging mercilessly on both of her nipples at the same time, saying to her, “You’re so lovely, darling, you’re a dream, yeah, grind on me just like that—you like me playing with your perfect tits, don’t you? Oh, fuck, you’re so gorgeous when you come, my dearest, sweetest Sandra Lynn.”

She blinks, letting go of Garthy, dazed, and she sees Jawbone grinning at her over Garthy’s shoulder. She smiles back weakly and rolls onto her back, staring up at the ceiling, trying to catch her breath.

Beside her, Garthy and Jawbone are cuddling, and it might be the two orgasms she’s just had talking, but she really thinks this is the happiest she’s ever been. As her breathing slows back to normal, she listens to Jawbone and Garthy whispering to each other, just telling each other how good it all felt. She hears them laughing, and Jawbone says, “I love you,” and Garthy says it back to him.

And she isn’t ready to say that to Garthy yet, but she knows it won’t be long till she is. She finds their hand, and she holds it in hers, tracing the lines on their palm with her fingertips. They turn to look at her with those dark eyes, and she kisses their knuckles and weaves their fingers together again. And she knows now what she’s promising. She’s promising the future.

She thinks about how she imagined Garthy brushing their teeth alongside Jawbone in this room. She thinks about what the future might hold, about ink-black nights and golden mornings, about unexplored territory and difficult terrain, about straying from well-trodden routes and making her own way through the wilderness for love.

And when Garthy regretfully says, “As lovely as this is, it’s probably time I head back to the Leviathan,” she sighs and slings an arm over them, pulling them close, pressing a kiss into the crook of their shoulder.

“Can’t you stay?” she asks. “I think I can speak for Jawbone when I say that we both wanna wake up next to you.”

Jawbone grunts mildly in agreement, nuzzling the shaved hair at Garthy’s temple, and even though she knows Garthy is uneasy without the amplification of their magic that the Gold Gardens affords them, they barely even hesitate, as though they only wanted someone to ask them to stay.

“All right, my darlings,” they say, in their cool, languid voice. “I won’t leave just yet.”

And from where Sandra Lynn lies, the future looks haloed in gold, just like Garthy’s eyes.