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colubrum in sinu fovere

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Luca snaps awake, his breath caught in his throat as the remains of whispers linger in his ears. 

He firmly ignores them, pushing the compulsion to do gods know what away, bottling it and boxing it neatly like he has done for the past few days. And weeks. Maybe months. It's hard to tell, and that's a little concerning, but that doesn't matter anymore because as Luca forces his limbs into submission, clumsily swinging down from his hammock, Andrew steps out of his tent (came to check on his napping partner?) and the voices are now back, stronger than ever, whispers overlapping and buffeting him with the compulsion to—

"Andrew." Luca can barely recognise his own voice, it's so stupidly saccharine sweet, the syllables drawn out slowly, laced with that something that he's been pushing away whenever he looks at the bounty hunter, and Luca tries to clench his fists but with a jolt of horror realises he can't, not really. 

"...yes, Luca?" There's something amused in the other's gaze, the man unsuspecting, ready to become victim to another one of Luca's stupid jokes or pranks. And why would he suspect otherwise? Andrew's not the one who's been hounded by faint whispers and goading encouragements. Luca has. Is. 

What was he going to say again?

“I’m booored .”

And wow , Luca never knew his voice could drop that low, almost as if the syllables are too heavy for his mouth; the ‘r’ rolling so slowly out there’s no mistaking the loaded meaning behind his words. Luca would be impressed at how quickly Andrew seems to get it, face flushing — or maybe that’s because Luca’s pressed up against him now? — as he opens his mouth to stammer some response. Luca gazes at him, eyes half—lidded, hand sliding a slow, sensuous path up the bounty hunter’s back. He knows this is fast — too fast — but there’s something in him that doesn’t care, that’s banking this fire he doesn’t realise has been smouldering until now, driving Luca closer, bringing that hand farther up Andrew’s back — it’s too fast , he should say something — and he opens his mouth to speak — maybe a sorry, maybe a do you want this? are you sure? with me? I’ve wanted this since I’ve met you — but what comes out instead is—

“Why don’t you entertain me, hm? Bounty hunter.”

And damn next time Luca should learn to speak like that — he should take notes — pronouncing words so dripping with want and meaning even he himself is a little stunned. He said that? Really? It’s almost enough to make him draw back but he can’t help but notice how Andrew’s eyes widen further, pupils expanding, and that portion of doubtful Luca speaks no more. Silly thoughts. He was wrong to doubt this in the first place. It’s what should happen. It’s what they both want, anyways, judging by the quickening heartbeat he can feel against his fingers. Why did I ever think this was strange? .

And now the taste of salt blooms on Luca's tongue and distantly he realises he's licked a stripe up Andrew's neck, nosed up real close; so close he can almost feel Andrew’s heartbeat under his mouth. It's like a dream come true , his late—night desires given flesh a fever dream a dream he doesn't want to end he wants it to end? but there's this lovely, hazy quality to Luca's cognizance that settles over everything, like a silk blanket spun from cobwebs. And it's real lovely, this, watching Andrew stutter and struggle to respond, unable to hide his body's reaction to Luca and he's heady, filled with the power of it and okay maybe he should be concerned? but it's so hot, the way the bounty hunter lets Luca push them both back, the way he lets Luca press up against him, nosing back at his neck and panting against his ear, lets his fingers slowly, slowly! curl around Luca's waist. And distantly, like he's thinking through a fogged pane of glass, Luca realises Andrew has said something, a mere exhalation against Luca's cheek, breath leaving from heaving lungs.


and it's like a thunderbolt, hearing the man of so little words choose to spend them on Luca's name, mouth forming familiar, familiar syllables and something broken inside him bends further.

They're entwined now, time skipping forward like a record that skipped two loops and Andrew’s leg is between Luca’s thighs and Luca can feel the muscles of the bounty hunter’s back underneath his fingertips and feel his heartbeat thrum loud, so loud, and Luca’s head is so full it might burst but it's good, it's so good , because isn't this what he's wanted for so long isn't this what the man wanted too? Of course he should keep doing it. Keep doing it until the right moment—

And now Andrew is pulling his jaw up, close, closer so that their lips can crash against each others’, and the fact that it’s him taking initiative for once fills Luca up with searing magma that seems to melt him from within. He moans into the feverish kiss, where there is no room for any trace of tenderness; oh, nothing but pure, carnal desire will be drawn out in this moment between the two. It’s sloppy and rough; Andrew’s inexperience doesn’t mix well with Luca’s fervour—yet the bump of teeth against teeth, the accidental nips on both upper and bottom lip, the way the other’s hands scrabble desperately at Luca’s back yet hold off from anything too vulgar… it’s nothing short of absolutely intoxicating.

The words find their way out into the hot, humid air between them before he can stop them. “Please, Andrew, touch me—”

A distant part of Luca is startled by his own actions. The Viper, prostrating himself in front of an outsider, begging ? Something definitely had to be amiss. That isn’t the most pressing of matters for him right now, though, because Andrew complies obediently, large palms reaching down to cup the smaller’s entire behind, all but scooping him up to set him on top of a fallen tree behind them and pressing his form into the wooden surface.

Before Andrew can do anything else Luca hooks a leg around his waist, drawing him down and pressing their hips together. He hisses at the friction the action brings, silently smug as he notices Andrew’s indrawn breath. It’s intoxicating; the way he’s able to fell such a sturdy, impassable man with a quirk of his eyebrow, a roll of his hips—though he’s plenty aware of how such a power dynamic might just shift a few moments later, as it had earlier. Strangely enough, he’s not too bothered about it. Those are but trivial matters, however. Right now, he’s focused on the way Andrew’s calloused hands scramble to undo Luca’s belt, tugging whatever fabric he can grasp down to pool around slender ankles. He’s shaking, trembling under Andrew’s touch as a large palm closes in a fist around his length, and by the goddess, it would take divine fucking power itself to be able to stifle the broken moan that escapes such sinful lips as Luca’s head dips back and his hips cant up into the sloppy handjob.

Sloppy, yes. That’s precisely what this is; a poorly planned traverse driven by an unidentifiable impulse coming from within. God, he can’t even remember why they’re so deep in the jungle sometimes, his feet wanting to take him towards something he’s never seen in a place he’s never been, leading the bounty hunter accompanying him to it.

Yet somehow, in this moment, Luca knows that it’s the best decision he’s ever made.

Andrew’s eyes are unfocused, yet Luca seems to be the only thing he sees as his wrist continues to flick in a way that feels so good, better than anything he’s ever done to himself. He’s all but writhing under the bounty hunter’s touch now, far too sensitive from just a handjob, but even with the stimulation on his cock, Luca knows it’s still not enough, and he thinks Andrew does too. This is proven when the smaller opens his mouth to plead ( my, my, pleading now, are we, don’t forget who you are ) for more, high-pitched whimpers and dirty whispers rolling off his tongue like raindrops rolling off the top of a leaf in the midst of a rainstorm, and Andrew’s already making Luca suck two fingers into his mouth, the latter lathing at the digits with a lack of restraint that he would almost find unbecoming if he weren’t so desperate.

His tongue lavishing around thick digits as his mind begins to feel hazier with— lust?—, the Viper slinks back, coiling around his Desolate Sands as he’s charmed.



“An—Andrew!” Luca’s head is hazy, and it’s a struggle to speak with how every thrust punches the air from him, but he can’t, he’s really going to — “Andrew, it’s too much Andrew, I just — I can’t—” and his vision whites out as he comes again , how the fuck did Andrew manage that , the inexperienced bounty hunter still thrusting with carnal instinct, even after sending Luca over the edge several times, brushing over Luca’s prostate with every pass. It’s overwhelming, the pleasure burying him under a wave and this time, Luca thinks, as he grips the rough bark beneath his calloused palms, he’d rather drown. 

“Just one more time,” he hears Andrew pant from behind him, hips never stilling for longer than a second as he chases his own pleasure. “You can— handle it, can’t you…? Hgh…” 

Distantly, Luka realises that as much as the words tumbling from his lips are ones of cessation, his body, despite being exhausted to its physical limits, is still craving more of that wonderful, delicious stimulation; that it in fact can and will still handle more. Gone is all semblance of coherent thought—he is now completely at the mercy of their desires, and there is nothing he can do to stop both their libidos now that they’ve begun. Damn bounty hunter’s stamina.

The sheer force of each rough, pointed thrust shakes his entire body whenever skin meets skin, shoving Luca forwards on the tree stump little by little, his clothes catching on the rough surface, but who cares about that , when the pleasure that rips through Luca as his back arches — as if to meet each movement in the middle — is so heady, so strong he thinks he’s under a spell. There’s a small stumble as Andrew’s arms release the smaller from the one—legged position he’d been in, dropping his right leg back down, and he’d protest if he had the brain power for it but all his words are lost once again as he feels calloused fingers grip a fistful of his hair from behind, the gravedigger’s other hand grasping both of Luca’s wrists behind his back. The new leverage points allow Andrew to literally pull him back onto his cock with each thrust, and it’s so, so fucking deep ; the angle he’s at is letting Andrew’s sensitive tip reach so much further within him than he’d thought possible. Broken moans spill from bitten lips, a cacophony of lewd noises filling the jungle air as they continue to fuck like animals right out in the open of the heady, humid air.

“Ah, ah, ah, An—drew— hhaah, so— deep—” he manages to get out, his words punctuated by each thrust of powerful hips. Andrew’s grip on his arms tighten, and he’s yanked helplessly back faster and faster, and the heat builds again, this time laced with that something (feelings, Luca, feelings, how weak of you, how pathetic, for an outsider? ).

Suddenly Luca’s world reorients himself and he realises that Andrew has flipped him over, claiming his mouth in a bruising kiss, their tongues intertwined even as the man continues to thrust. Their lips part, Andrew resting his forehead against Luca, eyes locked on each other as his hips stutter. He knows it’s coming, can feel their mutual release, because the way Andrew’s hips grind up far too insistently and right into a spot that has Luca gasping even louder is such a giveaway, and he’s all but gone, clinging onto that hulking shadow that continues to send wave after wave of dizzying pleasure down his spine. Broken moans litter the air, punctuating rough pants, and just when he thinks he’s about to die from sensory overload, Andrew’s hand wraps around his leaking cock, his teeth nipping against Luca’s lips, and he’s gone.

Luca comes with a cry practically directed at the heavens, clenching hard around Andrew’s cock as he’s fucked through his orgasm, and that seems to be the catalyst for the bounty hunter to groan one last time, his hips stilling inside of the smaller man as he pumps him full of his release. It’s messy, dirty, and probably blasphemous, even; doing such acts so close to a sacred site, but fuck, was it worth it.

In the moment, disarmed by the hazy cloud of the afterglow, Luca lets down his guard. 

He can’t help it but he feels himself smile, a little too tender, a little too revealing, he thinks, knows Andrew thinks it too because the bounty hunter’s eyes widen, understanding blooming somewhere behind them. Suddenly, the frenetic energy between them calms and it’s somehow become gentle , Andrew pausing to gaze at Luca and it’s irrational, illogical, silly, silly human emotions , but Luca feels embarrassed and scared — a man with one foot off the ledge, ready to jump. 

But it’s worth it, Luca realises, to see how Andrew’s face softens, to see the fondness that— shit, was that always there?— mellows his usually stoic features, to feel the tender way Andrew brushes his sweat-dampened hair from his forehead. 

It’s so gentle Luca wants to cry. He wants to cry and scream and hold this moment, this tender moment born from carnal human passion in his hands and cradle it and treasure it forever and then crush it, bury it away with his other failures because when has he ever kept anything he loved? He’s the Viper , he doesn’t love .


I can’t do it. 

Yes you can yes you can yes you can yes you will yes you will yes you WILL

Andrew pulls Luca into another kiss, palms gentle as they bracket his face as if Luca is something precious and Luca could fucking cry at the emotion he now senses there, and he almost does, the tears creeping up on the edges of his vision and blurring the trees around them into a haze of green and brown.

I think I have feelings for you. As much as a person like me can.

And Luca doesn’t mean to say it, he really doesn’t, but his mouth moves before he can stop himself and the words are breathed into Andrew’s ear.

“I think I care about you more than I should.”

and he’s said it, and there’s a chill up his spine that crawls, slithers inside him and tingles cold at the ends of his fingers, slicing like a blade straight through the content warmth of the afterglow. Andrew’s frozen, in shock? repulsion? anger? above him, and Luca thinks with a shiver that for the first time that the bounty hunter is truly unreadable to him. The moment stretches, time sluggish even as Luca feels the chill crawl slowly down his spine, the dread building in his mind as his thoughts jumble together in a cacophony of noise and damn it, he’s blown it already, fucked it up, because of his stupid irrational human feelings and sentiment

but then Andrew smiles, this happy, stupidly sappy thing, and he caresses Luca’s cheek, thumb gently stroking his skin. Luca can feel himself smiling, but doesn’t feel inclined to stop it. Any semblance of the chill that had been crawling through him earlier is gone, banished by the warmth that spreads through him at the sight. 

It’s probably terrible timing but the realisation that these feelings aren’t exactly new unfolds within Luka’s mind, the haze clearing for a moment as the Viper realises that those feelings , those growing flashes of emotion he’s been unable to identify, have been driving his actions for a while now. Picking a stone that happened to match Andrew’s eyes as a gift. Discovering that in his hand, the camera strayed towards the way sunlight glinted off the bounty hunter’s hair, the wind tussling the strands as it swept past. Plotting routes that just so happened to cross the beautiful clearings and views that Andrew loved so much. Luca’s a fool, because he’d fallen long ago without even realising it, floundering around in a well of his own making when the step that would take him up into the view of the sky was already there. A part of Luca mourns for the lost time, another part wary, cautious of something that escapes his mind as soon as it’s brought to his attention because it’s soon overrun by the sheer happiness that courses through him as finally, finally! Luca sees something to truly look forward to: a constant, a potential, a companion that will accompany him far into the future, if Luka plays it right. It’s almost too good to be true, and Luka takes a moment to just gaze into Andrew’s eyes, still amazed at the affection and —  emotion! imagine that! — he finds in them, and just basks in it, content. 

Which is how he notices the pain that flashes through them, clouding those beautiful eyes and shattering the lo emotion within them.

And gradually Luca realises that his hands are warm, and he looks down to see–

There we go. Perfectly done. Completed, without a hitch.

Red. Why is there red? 

And why does Luca feel so happy about it?

It does not happen in slow motion, like in the stories Luca was told as a child. It happens quickly and swiftly and quietly and unwillingly and perhaps even willingly? but why why why why why— 

because you wanted to.

—the handle of the blade that now pierces Andrew's back is still clutched in Luca’s shaking hand, and it burns , magma hot and icy cold in Luca’s palm, and where did that come from? when did his arm move? Luca’s not really sure but all he knows that as he gazes at it there’s this disgusting rush of satisfaction , the cloud in his mind whispering words of achievement, of a goal complete, of a plan that has worked perfectly.

plan? no? this wasn’t planned I swear it wasn’t Andrew I’m so sorry Andrew please don’t look at me like that Andrew 

—and look at the foolish man, the insolent bounty hunter who dared to take what belonged to the Goddess: a blade to the heart for all the trouble he went through. Luca would have given him credit, maybe even deigned to leave a small gift before the man succumbed to death in appreciation for the pleasure that the human had brought to his body, but unfortunately, orders were orders and this time they did not include allowances for such liberties.

Luca feels his grin split his face, savage and smug, and he can’t help but take the liberty of twisting the blade in deeper, fingers tightening against the hand of the knife, now slick with blood, watching rapt as the man’s eyes fill with pain, choking words that don’t reach Luca’s ears scraping against the bounty hunter’s throat as they claw their way out, almost forced—

You did well, my Viper .

And with a crushing, cold realisation Luca understands. His grip slackens, His memories unfold now, like a flip book of calculations and seductions culminating to this moment, and Luca's so cold, shivering at just how much of what he - his body - did that had not truly been him.

I actually….I—

No you didn't .

Yes I did, Luca thinks, something jagged, sharp-edged, flaring up inside him, his teeth clenching - fangs bared, Viper - as a rush of desperation, anger, who the fuck knows , courses through him and wipes out everything in a riptide that leaves nothing but the knowledge of what Luca - just Luca, not the Viper, not anymore, never - needs to do next.

Luca's grip on the handle of the knife, slick with blood and bitter betrayal, tightens.



Andrew returns to the tent just as the sun reaches its peak. He immediately notices Luca, collapsed almost dangerously across his hammock, eyelids fluttering as he dreams peacefully. Andrew knows it won't last — soon, the man will jerk awake, strangled gasp hidden behind clenched teeth, and pretend that he is fine. Andrew knows better.

As he ducks into the entrance of his tent Andrew smiles briefly at the quiet ring of the wind chime as he brushes past. It had been a gift from Luca in the early days of their partnership; a peace offering that had been presented with averted gaze and blustering words. Its sound used to soothe him — now he just remembers the times when Luca didn't struggle to fall asleep and struggle to wake up; when every new artifact they discovered brought joy and not a flicker of fear in Luca’s eyes; when Andrew didn't have to breathe against the oppressive weight of something that has only gotten stronger the further they venture into the forest. 

As Andrew's gaze slides over the various memorabilia — maps, a drawing of an effigy they found last week, a blurry picture of the two of them, taken by a surprisingly stealthy Luca — that decorate (" clutter , bounty hunter, clutter " a voice that sounds suspiciously familiar teases in the back of his mind) the various surfaces of his tent, Andrew thinks. He thinks about the way Luca has become near silent the closer they come to the fabled temple; the way his eyes sometimes glaze over and his mouth starts to shape words before he catches himself, a false smile plastering itself on to his face; the way the self—declared "laziest man" now avoids sleeping like the plague — maybe because of the way it has become fitful and restless, the man turning and tossing as he battles some foe in his mind; and the way he now tries to distance himself from Andrew, slowly and subtly, but most noticeably right after he wakes up. How something, some tension between them, has been slowly building with no outlet. How something has changed, recently.  

Andrew picks up his gun. He stares down into the barrel. It's clear — nothing will be stopping a bullet if he fires. His fingers tighten around the handle.

As he hears the distinctive sounds of Luca gasping, the man jolting awake from his now—frequent nightmares, Andrew loads the gun. He has a feeling he’ll need it soon.