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spring, they call her; i call her solitude

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Yusuf knows when he arrives, can feel it in the shaking breeze that floats through the whispering trees. He grins as he feels it, and the ground beneath him becomes a pathway of marigolds and myrtle bushes as he gets to his feet and sprints.

He breaks through the forest, the draped leaves of the willow trees brushing over his shoulders in farewell. They barely tug, leaves dropping as he passes the precipice of autumn, blessed by the delightful return of his lover.

It’s easy to spot him – a shiver of cool against the brilliant glare of the open field. When Yusuf slows, getting close enough to really look at him, his heart flutters. Nicolò’s intense, severe eyes soften for Yusuf as he draws near.

When Yusuf glances down at his feet, he blushes. There is a garden of vines bursting up from the ground beneath them, ivy curling around Nicolò’s ankles to keep him still. Nicolò looks down at them too, quietly amused, before looking back at Yusuf.

“You don’t need to restrain me to keep me near you, my love,” Nicolò remarks, a small smile quirking his lips.

Yusuf rolls his eyes, and takes Nicolò’s alabastrine hands in his own. Nicolò brings their joined hands together and kisses his knuckles softly, looking deep into his eyes. As his lips brush Yusuf’s skin, peonies bloom around Yusuf’s feet. Nicolò smirks a little and Yusuf’s mottled skin flushes deeper.

Yusuf’s got honeysuckle and freesias growing in his hair and his beard, unkempt and wild with the ferociousness of this fondness he has for his lover.

“I am sick with love for you,” Yusuf whispers softly, and Nicolò’s eyes flash with regret.

This summer has been a dark, thundering solitude. A sullen season, a mimosa pudica curling up into himself at the touch of anyone but Nicolò. A hungry summer, overrun with wildflower weeds and thistle leaves, because he liked the way they stung a little, the overgrowth consuming everything just as Yusuf’s sorrow consumed him. How long had Yusuf clung to the early morning fog, because the cool air brushing his skin felt like Nicolò?

Kiss me and make me feel something new. I am weary with the humid numbness, cloying and constraining. Shock the nape of my neck with the chilling touch of your lips, send shivers down my lonely spine. Then warm me up all the way to my bones.

Nicolò must hear his thoughts, because he gathers Yusuf into his arms and presses his lips to Yusuf’s. Yusuf opens up for him, making bright petunias out of his desire. Nicolò groans as he licks into Yusuf’s mouth, sipping the longing sigh from his tongue, before pulling back to look at Yusuf wondrously.

He must taste like pomegranates, still. Yusuf has been splitting them open all summer, scraping out the seeds and suckling the tart taste off his thumb, wishing Nicolò were there so he could sample the fruit against his fingers. The Antirrhinum pods that Nicolò had gifted Yusuf with had kept him company for the season, the skull shape reminding him of nights spent in Nicolò’s arms; chrysanthemums never looked so pretty winding their way through the stone walls next to Nicolò’s bed. Every day without him had felt like its own kind of death.   

But with death comes rebirth – him and Yusuf were not opposites, not really, just on each side of the same inevitability, like how the moon rises at the end of each sunset, or the way fall follows each summer.

Under the dirt and the old, buried bones they go, until they’re descending into the underworld. The tables are lined with the purple dried pampas grass he’d left there, so they’d remain with Nicolò for the months Yusuf had to be away from him.

Cerberus comes bounding, pleased and panting, to greet Yusuf. The creature shakes itself into a smaller form so Yusuf can more easily pat them. He laughs as they try to nuzzle and lick him, heads uncoordinated from excitement.

Nicolò sighs, “You know, you’re meant to be a fierce hound, a terror of the underworld.”

Cerberus flops onto his belly, as if in deliberate defiance of this statement. Yusuf grins, distracting the creature by creating a trail of hyacinths away from them. Cerberus takes off, chasing the line with determination.

Nicolò is looking at him fondly when he drags his eyes away from the hound.

“What?” Yusuf asks, a slow smile spreading across his features.

“I adore you, and I missed you. Please let me show you how much,” he replies.

Yusuf can feel the honeysuckles sighing, pollen dusting onto his cheeks in golden specks. He lets Nicolò guide him to their room and lay him out on the burgundy sheets.

Nicolò runs his hands over Yusuf’s earthy, supple flesh and devours his mouth again. Growing grevilleas and snapdragons bite at his fingertips as he sinks them into Nicolò’s hair.

Yusuf feels exposed like a clementine skin as Nicolò peels off his white toga and settles between his thighs. Sunflowers burst up, as springtime is redefined by Nicolò’s lovely mouth on his cock. He moans, budding open like amaryllis, as Nicolò strokes the stem of his cock while his tongue swivels around the ruddy tip.

“Please, Nicolò,” he gasps, gold-leaf and breathless with his desire.

Nicolò heeds his begging, and his body is a vibrant, ripe offering as Nicolò works an oiled finger into him. It is delphinium and larkspur digging into his thighs, wrapping around the pistils and spreading him for Nicolò to open him up.

“So eager,” Nicolò murmurs, irises dark, swallowing up the heat in the room.

“Been too long,” Yusuf counters, sighing sedum as Nicolò pulls his fingers free and slicks up his pretty cock.

Everything is sweet pea and daisies as Nicolò presses inside, blooming open for him and him alone, until he’s as deep as he can go. Dripping pre-come from the stigma of his hard cock, Yusuf wraps a hand around himself, whimpering as Nicolò pulls out before thrusting back in.

When Nicolò’s prick brushes his prostate, camelia and cranberry come up like sunbursts in his gut, spreading out into his body until all his veins are pulsing stems. The roots of them are digging, curling and twisting as Nicolò picks up his pace.

He is consumed by it, even more so as Nicolò kisses him and breathes dahlias into his lungs, until he’s struggling for air against the onslaught of pretty pleasure. He is at the mercy of Nicolò’s ferned touch, of his own returned lush eagerness.

The roots inside him grow into thick knots, wrapping around everything, winding tighter, tighter, tighter before they snap, and Yusuf cries out and comes, sapped daffodils and lemon blossoms filling his nostrils. The stalks fall away, writhing as Nicolò pushes into him a few more times and comes as well, filling him with the feverish frangipani frustration of a wasted summer.

Yusuf kisses his shoulder with heliotrope and forget-me-nots, revelling in the shiver it elicits from Nicolò.

It’s going to be a beautiful winter.