“ I've never seen one that big before.”
“Great, just get it off of me.”
Flash looked over Vultan’s broad shoulder at the bloodleech slowly boring into his thigh. It was an ugly creature, like most things on the Tangenine moon. He was beginning to wonder if there was anything here worth saving from Ming. So far all he had seen were biting insects, stinging plants, and lower life forms that seemed to think an ex-football player cum hero would make a good snack. Vultan laughed at him, a sound like thunder rumbling in a summer sky. "Are all humans so soft? The bloodleech is pulling right out." There was a nauseating sucking sound and the lumpy, pulsing mass was squirming on the ground beside them. Vultan blasted it into a smoking piece of slag. The smell turned his stomach.
The Hawkman leader helped him stand.
"We've got to find shelter, Old Bird. That storm is going to break soon." He gestured to the western sky that was rapidly turning the purple-black colour of a bruise. "We've got to get to these caves that the map shows."
"We'll never make it in time on foot, Human."
Without further warning the birdman scooped Flash up as if he weighed no more than a child and leapt off the narrow cliff path they were on.
Flash smothered a shout against a broad chest as they dropped like a stone, then Vultan's wings snapped out with a smacking sound and they were falling up instead of down. He unscrewed his eyes long enough to look down and nearly lost his lunch. He held even tighter to the man above him wrapping his arms around the thick neck grateful for the warmth of the thick beard and wide body he was pressed against. One powerful arm supported his shoulders the other wrapped around his waist holding him tight and safe. Then they were landing with a noisy backwashing of his huge wings and a final thump.
"This looks like a good one, Flash."
Choosing to tactfully avoid making a comment about the unexpected flight, Flash surveyed the cave Vultan had chosen. It was a good choice, he conceded. It had a narrow mouth that opened into a small cavern. A stream splashed out of a rock overhead into a tiny creek that disappeared into the wall behind them. Phosphorescent lichen covered the walls making the whole room glow like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon show back on Earth.
He dropped his pack and sat down heavily beside it. The throbbing pain in his leg was joined by an answering pulse in his head. The smell of the burned leech seemed to hang on his clothes and skin. He pulled the offending garments off and washed them in the creek, pausing occasionally to give himself a good scrub or dip his head in the icy flow.
Vultan built a small, clean fire and sat back against his own pack watching the human, amusement evident in his every line. He laughed outright when Flash shot him a dirty look from under damp blond curls.
Flash chose to ignore his companion and concentrate on cleaning out the wound. He rubbed it with handfuls of sand until it opened and bled. At first the blood was an alarming dark color. By the time it flowed a healthy red, Flash was ready to scream. Instead, he bound the wound with some gauze from his pack and rolled his sleeping bag out in front of the fire. In a few moments, he was sound asleep.
He never heard the howling wind break a few moments later or the driving rain and wild thunder that accompanied it. Vultan listened for a while, making sure their little camp would not flood with the heavy rainfall. When he was sure it was safe, he unrolled his own sleeping bag close to his friend's side and watched over him. When the fever hit, sometime after midnight, he soaked Flash's undershirt in the cold water and laid it gently across his forehead before returning to his vigilant position by his side.
When Flash woke clear-headed and dry mouthed two days later, the storm was still screaming its rage outside. Vultan was curled against his bare back with his wing extended across him cupping him in a warm cocoon. He swallowed harshly and turned painfully onto his back. Vultan muttered something incomprehensible and shifted with him, stretching a heavily muscled arm across his chest.
Flash smiled. His friend was pleasantly warm. It felt good to be curled up with someone listening to the storm outside. It had been a long time since he had been with anybody. Dale had been a real sport when he explained why he was not interested in being more than a friend. She was pretty hung up on Zarkoff herself anyway. It kept people from throwing themselves at both of them, so they let the moons of Mongo think that they were a couple. It did make it a little hard to meet people, though.
Flash turned enough to look the Hawkman over. He had an intriguing face, high cheekbones, prominent nose, wide, expressive mouth. His long beard was surprisingly soft, it really didn't feel like human hair at all. He wondered what the long hair of his head would feel like, freed of the leather band that confined it and spilling down across his hands.
He banished the thought and allowed his eyes to move lower down the thick neck to the impossibly broad shoulders and powerful chest. Flash found himself mildly disappointed that the other man was still wearing the padded vest that fit under his armour. The skin visible was a deep golden color from sun exposure. He couldn't see any farther down without turning, but he knew his friend's shape. The stomach was rounded, but Flash knew very well that the layer of fat hid powerful muscles. Vultan could break a man in half if he needed to. The stomach would lead down to narrow hips and long heavily muscled legs, and finally to feet equipped with impressive talons. Vultan would never be considered beautiful like Baron, but he was certainly not hard on the eyes either.
Flash sighed. He had heard tales of Vultan's bedroom prowess and the man had at least ten sons that Flash had met. It was not worth losing a good friendship for the slimmest chance that there might be something more between them. He resigned himself to nobly ignoring his own loneliness.
His nobility was almost shot to the six winds as Vultan shifted in his sleep managing to slide his errant arm across Flash's bare stomach and under the waistband of his pants to come to rest on the crest of his hip bone. He caught his breath and tried to still the thundering of his heart. The Hawkman's sense of hearing was far more acute than a human's. His heart finally obeyed, but other parts of his anatomy were more insistent.
Flash tried to turn enough to hide the beginnings of his erection, but he found himself pinned securely in place. Perversely, the danger of being discovered was only turning him on more. He could not help yelping when Vultan whispered his name in his ear.
"Flash, are you alright?"
"Yeah, how long was I out?"
"Too long if an old bird like me is looking good to you."
Flash felt his cheeks heating and hoped he could blame it on the fever. He tried to sit up, but Vultan's arm was still where it had been, holding him down. He started to say something, anything to make the situation something they could get past, but Vultan made that impossible.
With his usual blunt honesty, he laughed gently. "I'm not complaining, Flash. I'd love to find you in my bed anytime you feel like giving an old timer a thrill."
Flash found himself grinning. "Old my ass, you're insatiable."
The hand at his hip slid up with surprising gentleness across his stomach, just brushing his navel. Flash shuddered and turned to face the birdman. He ran his own hand up into the thick mane of Vultan's hair and released the leather band that held it back. It was as incredibly soft as he had thought it might be.
"Is that a yes, Flash?"
"What about Dale?"
"That's a long story. I'll tell you later."
Flash had thought that he was an experienced man, but when Vultan wrapped himself around his body and took his mouth, he knew that he was only a child by comparison. He gave himself up to experience and skill allowing his body to respond naturally. Vultan taught him things he had never dreamed possible.
By the time that they finished making love, the storm had lessened to a low moaning wind and an occasional spate of rain. Flash sighed contentedly and snuggled in closer to his friend. Explanations would wait until they had to face the Moons of Mongo again.