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“Gross Indecency: An Otherworld Novel” Chapter Five

July 6, 2016

Gross Indecency: An Otherworld Novel will eventually be edited and put on sale, but for now, I figured as we worked on it, we would also release the chapters for free. 🙂 Call it an experiment. One chapter a month will be put out here, Tumblr, and a couple of other outlets. However, if you support us on Patreon, you get to see the chapter a week or two before it become publicly available. So… support us! 😀 You get lots of fun bits and bobs in addition to fiction.

Right now, Gross Indecency is 128 pages (42,583 words) long, and that’s not even half of the planned novel. 😉 It’s a kinky romp with exiled faeries, so anything goes.

***

London, England, 2016

The stillness of the night was stifling and oppressive. It was unnaturally dark, and, even with the thick canopy blotting out what little light was reflected by the clouds high above in the midnight sky, Rime could tell the difference as he sat next to his lover’s sickbed. He had not slept for days, and a small platter of food lay abandoned nearby, untouched. He was exhausted, and his fingers ached though he resolutely continued to pluck the strings of his harp.

It all happened too quickly. In a sudden seizure, Malachite thrashed next to him, his arms flailing. At Rime’s startled call, a healer appeared and shouted commands that were hastily followed. The silence of the night was broken as other healers came to their aid and worked to subdue the wounded, feverish Malachite.

Then, in a startling moment, Malachite’s struggling ceased completely, and he fell limp to the bed sheets. Sheets that were soaked with sweat and stained with blood that seeped from reopened wounds. The room was silent for an instant and all seemed to stand eerily still, but a heartbeat later, the clamor continued. Rime panicked, and arms pulled him away from the scene as he tried to push forward, his eyes locked on the deathly still face of his lover.

No movement.

No breath whispered between blue-tinted lips.

No glimmer of gold on the edges of his consciousness.

***

Rime screamed as he was pulled from his nightmare. A choked sob and his eyes flashed about erratically as he struggled against imaginary hands that still seemed to hold him captive.

The shrill sound, disharmonious in the quiet of night, woke Malachite from a sound sleep. He blinked several times as he sat up, confused. “Rime?” he asked.

His name, spoken by the one he’d just dreamed dead, startled Rime into a semi-coherent state. His eyes locked onto Malachite, alive and well, and tears immediately filled them. Disentangling himself from the sheets, he practically threw himself at Malachite, encircling Malachite’s waist with trembling arms. “Don’t go silent again,” he begged, distraught. “Don’t go silent and still. Don’t leave me…”

Malachite was shocked to stillness, but then he wrapped his arms tightly around Rime. “I won’t,” Malachite murmured, kissing Rime’s damp face. “I promise. Never again.” He had cut Rime from his mind and soul when he’d left, leaving Rime with nothing but silence and the vague knowledge that he existed… somewhere… but he’d ignored Rime. Blocked him from hearing the very song within him. “Never.”

Picking up an echo of Malachite’s thoughts, Rime gripped more tightly. He tried to mend Malachite’s misunderstanding of his tears with a shake of his head. “Visions… visions of death and silence in the dead of night. They tormented me whenever I closed my eyes, your death always so close… They couldn’t save you. They pushed me away,” he rambled, panic rising in him with the memories. “I called to you, but you didn’t answer. Your voice was stolen from me. I couldn’t save you!” Rime’s mind skipped to their more recent separation, one he had caused and prolonged in his own foolishness. His tears intensified as staggering guilt settled in his gut. “And then I didn’t call. I couldn’t feel you, couldn’t hear you. I could’ve lost you forever… then and now… Please, don’t leave me in silence, Mal. I need you! I need you…”

It was frightening, the discordant babbling from Rime. Malachite brushed his mind against Rime’s, a warm, gold-tinged wind across a cracked, frozen lake, and he shifted their positions. He half-sprawled over Rime’s form, giving what he thought his lover was asking for. Malachite suckled the underside of Rime’s jaw as his hands began to wander over naked flesh. “I’m here,” he whispered, words hot against damp skin.

The warmth of Malachite’s mind enfolded him, and Rime felt himself start to calm until the heated hands brushed along him with clear intent. Reaching down, he stilled Malachite’s movements with shaking, but insistent fingers. “No,” he protested, a startled look on his tear-stained face. “That isn’t what I need. I don’t want sex…”

“You…” Malachite frowned as he stared down into Rime’s face. “You said you needed me.” What else could Rime have meant? The only other time he’d ever used that phrase with Malachite had been when desperate for touch.

“I do,” Rime said, frowning, “but that isn’t what I meant. Your presence, your voice, your calm… I need you, Mal.”

“I was going to give you me… my presence, my voice… I never withhold those from you when we have sex,” Malachite said, continuing to stroke Rime’s hip.

It was with a startling moment of clarity and dejection that Rime realized he’d brought them to this state, where sex defined their relationship. “You don’t understand,” he whispered, his eyes tearing up again. “Can’t you just… be with me?” He wanted Malachite to hold him close, to brush his hair as he cried, to comfort him.

Realization dawned in Malachite’s gray eyes. “Oh,” he breathed. How long had he wanted to do such a thing? So many years… arms aching, heart aching. Gently, he lay beside Rime and drew him into his arms, against his body. He pressed a chaste, loving kiss to the distressed brow while one hand stroked the long, pastel hair they both loved so much. “I’ll always be here,” he swore breathlessly, and then he began to sing. Softly. Lowly. Malachite sang about the crashing sea covered in dense fog just before the stormy skies opened and added their tears to the salty ocean. It was a song he’d composed centuries before, standing lonely on a jutting cliff, desperate to feel whole.

Rime broke down into a desperate fit of tears, burying his face in the crook of Malachite’s shoulder. Never before had he appeared so vulnerable and raw in front of Malachite; he’d always restrained himself in the past. But the fright of losing Malachite, even in the realm of dreams, left him in need of the closeness he had so often kept at bay out of fear. Hearing Malachite’s song in a way perhaps only he could—as a minstrel and as bondmate—he let his sorrow and fear flow from him. It was the sense of wholeness in the song that Rime so desperately yearned for, a unity he only felt in Malachite’s arms, with his soul close.

The promise given to Rime made his heart ache, and he gave himself up completely to Malachite’s keeping. His tears continued for several minutes as he embraced Malachite, gradually tapering off into fragile silence broken only by deep, steadying breaths and the comforting notes of Malachite’s song. His skin warmed beneath Malachite’s touch, and his scalp tingled soothingly as his mind finally calmed.

The final notes of the song drifted into the quiet air. Malachite continued to stroke Rime’s hair and back long after the song was complete. He used the corner of the sheet to wipe Rime’s cheeks and nose, his mind whispering to Rime’s. I love you.

I love you, Rime thought back, and his mind was calm and affectionate, a placid lake after the upset of a raging torrent. He smiled softly as he opened his eyes, taking in every detail of Malachite’s face. I could never live without you… I need you. I’ve always needed you, Mal.

Malachite smiled, brushing his fingers lovingly down Rime’s cheek. “You lived centuries without me, Rime,” he pointed out.

Lifting a hand, Rime mirrored the caress. “It was a hollow existence, filled with dreams and illusions, wisps of air and wide, empty spaces. Nothing more.”

Malachite stared unblinking at Rime, his eyes shimmering with rarely seen moisture. “And now?” Malachite asked, the words barely audible.

“I live, made whole by you. My soul has been enriched and completed since it entwined with yours,” Rime murmured.

Malachite brought their lips together, kissing Rime with such tenderness, it made his own chest hurt. It was a thorough kiss, and while it was passionate, it wasn’t sexual. It wasn’t meant to arouse; it was meant to reaffirm.

It was a touch Rime had never allowed any other… and only rarely shared with Malachite. He now berated himself for denying them both the comfort and love that could be found in such a simple caress. When their kiss ended, he stared at Malachite for long moments, strangely hesitant.

A sweet, warm smile graced Malachite’s face as he caressed Rime’s. “What is it that sits on the tip of your tongue, hmm?” He felt the odd hesitance in Rime and found it endearing.

“I…” Rime paused, and, as if that hadn’t been enough, a deep flush streaked across his cheeks.

Malachite chuckled. “Now that is unusual,” he murmured, brushing his lips over Rime’s blushing cheek. “I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen this shade upon your beautiful face.”

A smile twitched on Rime’s lips, and the rosy hue darkened slightly. He shifted with uncertainty as he finally spoke the words poised on his tongue. “I want you to make love to me.”

Malachite regarded him with a raised eyebrow. “You just told me sex wasn’t what you needed.”

“It isn’t,” Rime said. “It isn’t the sex that I want, Mal; it’s the closeness… the intimacy. It’s something I’ve feared to share with you, though I’ve often craved it.” His voice lowered until it was barely audible. “I want to have you close. I want to make love with you, not just have sex.”

Malachite blinked several times. “Just… just us?” he asked. “No restraints… or canes… or flavored lube?”

Rime couldn’t help but chuckle. “No… no flavored lube. Just us… the ordinary way.”

“The ordinary way,” Malachite repeated. “You… you aren’t teasing me, are you? I can’t take that sort of teasing, Rime. I simply can’t.”

Bringing both hands to Malachite’s face, Rime kissed him just as tenderly as Malachite had kissed him. “I’m not teasing… not this time.”

Wonder filled Malachite, shared with Rime through their marriage bond. He’d never thought this moment would come, when Rime only wanted him, with no trappings and no pain. He licked his lips, a touch of nervousness in his voice as he softly said, “Anything, Rime. I’ll give you anything and everything within my power.”

“I don’t need everything,” Rime murmured, his lips brushing against Malachite’s. “I simply need you and all your soul can give me which your body alone cannot.”

Malachite rolled over, pressing Rime into the softness of their bed. He settled comfortably atop him, fingers teasing Rime’s shoulders and throat. “I’m yours.”

Rime let his hands wander along Malachite’s sides and back, skimming over the planes as if for the first time. His touch was light and gentle, if a bit tentative. He’d never asked this of anyone, to handle him in the simplest of ways. Despite having been with Malachite for centuries, Rime felt a wave of near-childish excitement run through him. “I love you so much,” he breathed. “I’ve longed for one in whom I could trust, who would hold me close in our passion and simply love me. A juvenile fantasy, I know, but you—” Rime’s words were halted by Malachite’s mouth covering his.

After several heartbeats spent kissing, Malachite lifted his head and gazed down at Rime. “Enough words,” he murmured. “Words muddle what body and soul clarify.” Malachite bestowed feather-light touches with his lips over Rime’s closed eyes, his cheeks, his chin. He traced the strong, pale jawline with his tongue, pausing to lavish the pulse points found on each side. His hands never ceased moving, his caresses gentle as the calloused fingers traveled hips and sides.

Rime’s pulse sped, and his body rapidly responded to Malachite’s touch. It was astonishing to him how easily he could be roused by the smallest of Malachite’s attentions. And yet, for the first time in centuries, he felt the slightest anxiety. It certainly wasn’t the act itself that caused the feeling, but the finality that came along with it. With this act, Rime was giving himself completely to his bondmate, knowing that, for the rest of eternity, he would belong to Malachite alone. It was the ultimate commitment. No more half-assing it, and he laughed with the relief and certainty that filled him.

“Am I doing something that amuses you?” Malachite teased Rime’s ear with hot breath and moist tongue.

“No.” A purr rumbled through Rime’s chest. “I’m committing to you. Forever. I never knew I’d lied so badly.”

Malachite lifted his head, puzzled. “You married me, Rime. I thought that was the highest level of commitment.”

“Even bound Fae sometimes hold back,” came the reply, accompanied by Rime’s brilliant smile.

Pain stabbed through Malachite at the admission. Yes, he’d known it. How could he not? But actually hearing Rime admit it tore through him, and he did his best to hide by dipping down to nip and suckle Rime’s throat.

The response startled Rime, and he immediately pulled Malachite up, looking him in the eye. “I’m sorry, Mal. That was thoughtless of me. I love you, and… I was afraid. I’m still afraid,” he confided.

Malachite searched Rime’s eyes, seeking something in the old, ice blue gaze. “Why?” he dared to ask, the word barely a breath between them.

“Because it means I’m truly happy. I’ve finally found all I’d searched for.”

Malachite’s thumb rubbed at the skin beside Rime’s eye. “You’ve finally found all you’ve searched for?”

“No,” Rime said resolutely as his smile slowly returned. “I’ve found all that and more… all I never knew to search for.”

Malachite closed the distance between them again, kissing Rime deeply as he rocked against him. He spent an endless amount of time at Rime’s mouth, taking and giving in turn, making the kisses last as long as possible. He kept sliding his body sensually over Rime’s, hands cupping, massaging, touching. It was something he’d never permitted himself to do, touch and kiss and nothing more. It was heavenly—his greatest wish realized.

Rime moaned and purred, melting beneath Malachite’s weight. He didn’t make a single move to hurry Malachite, and he didn’t feel the slightest need to ask for more than was given. It was liberating in a very fundamental way, and unbelievably arousing. The simplicity of Malachite’s kisses, the erotic slide of their bodies, sent his hands quivering as they touched and exploited Malachite’s more sensitive spots.

Lips stinging, Malachite slipped lower, tongue trailing over Rime’s chin, along the front of his throat, pausing at the protrusion of his larynx. He wrapped his tongue around the bump, raked his teeth lightly, and suckled. Rime’s throat was his absolute favorite place to torment, mark. Malachite savored the sounds, the vibrations, each one causing his own body to surge with desire.

A lilting sound of pleasure vibrated through Rime. He slid one hand up into Malachite’s hair, holding him close. His fingers combed through Malachite’s loose curls, massaging scalp and caressing ears with small tremors. “Mal…”

Malachite shuddered, his name whispered like that. “Rime,” he breathed, leaving Rime’s larynx behind in favor of kissing shoulders. He dragged his fingers over finely shaped collarbones, eyes glittering moments before his head descended to Rime’s chest. Teeth and tongue drew nipples into tight peaks, and Malachite’s hand eased between their bodies to ever so lightly scratch at the sensitive patch of skin on Rime’s lower stomach. You are my most magnificent instrument, the one I seek to master in all ways.

“Ah!” Rime arched beneath Malachite, a shock of pleasure traveling up his spine. Only Malachite knew how to work him, make him weak with want. Never had he loved another so completely. Never had he found another who inspired him as Malachite did with every word and gesture. His music had been enriched merely by Malachite’s presence, from the notes of his violin and flutes, to the tone of his voice as he cried out in passion. It was as if a new movement had begun between them, one that outshone all that had come before it.

Aroused and flushed, Malachite smiled. “Shall I take you into my mouth, love, or take your gorgeous body?” he asked, hand loosely fisted around Rime’s cock. His heart ached with love for the precious being sprawled wantonly on the bed before him. Rime’s thoughts filtered into his own mind. The cool breeze of Rime’s spirit met and swirled around the fiery gold flame of his own, causing a furious storm that threatened to consume them both even before their bodies merged.

Rime’s hips automatically rose to meet Malachite’s hand, and he didn’t hesitate when given his choice. “Take me. Please, take me.” He’d denied them both this level of intimacy for far too long, and Rime surprised himself with how desperately he wanted the closeness he’d all but forbidden them.

Malachite nodded, kissing Rime deeply, swiftly, before crawling to the side of the bed to dig through the drawers there. It annoyed Malachite how many odd bottles of lube they owned, all the toys and devices. Finally, his fingers landed on a simple bottle of lube, and he grinned as he settled himself between Rime’s thighs once more. Glancing from Rime’s face to his groin and back again, Malachite shook his head. “No. This won’t do.”

A small frown came over Rime’s lips, but just when he was going to ask what was wrong, Malachite snatched one of the large pillows on their bed. Lifting his legs and backside effortlessly, Malachite propped him atop the pillow. Rime was silent for a few moments as he searched his memory, eventually laughing. “I… have never actually done this,” he murmured, shifting into a comfortable position on the pillow.

“Amazing,” Malachite murmured, stretching out against Rime’s body. He kissed Rime’s lips, shoulders, and chest while his hands roamed creamy thighs. “Something you haven’t done. I never thought I’d see the day, Rime.”

Rime fwapped Malachite’s shoulder, unable to screw his face up into a convincing sneer. “Shut up! I like surprises.” Leaning forward, he nuzzled Malachite’s throat and jawline, nipping here and there.

Malachite moaned, eyes fluttering closed. His body throbbed in time with his heart, and his pulse pounded in his throat. “Please,” he whispered. “More.” A simple word, a simple request.

And it was with simple motions that Rime complied, peppering Malachite’s throat with kisses and licks that slowly grew more passionate. One hand cradled Malachite’s neck as he began sucking slowly at the flesh directly above Malachite’s vocal chords. It was a favorite spot of his, one Rime had often enjoyed teasing and marking as his. Malachite had given up his music before Rime had rekindled it for him, and Malachite’s voice—the flesh that housed it—was his claim.

“Ah,” Malachite breathed, his head lolling back to expose himself more thoroughly. It was exquisite, and his heart raced. His throat, always so sensitive, was eagerly offered up to Rime. “If I asked you to mark me,” he panted softly, “would you do it?”

“Of course,” Rime murmured against damp skin, his own breath quick. “Anything you wish.”

Malachite righted his head and licked at Rime’s full lower lip. “Will you mark me?” he asked, eyes half-lidded and dark as smoke.

“Yes,” Rime purred, kissing Malachite’s lips in a sweetly, almost chastely. With a single finger, he traced up Malachite’s neck from the dip between his collarbones. The slow drag of his calloused fingertip guided Malachite’s neck up and back, and he returned to the spot he most enjoyed. Rime suckled at the flesh, waiting until it grew hot before he increased the pressure. He drew out the process, stroking Malachite’s hair and ears, taking time to fully enjoy every change in the skin he took between his teeth, and every glorious sound that vibrated beneath his lips.

“Rime.” The word rumbled up from the depths of Malachite’s soul as moisture pooled in his eyes. He trembled, the slow building burn of the mark driving him to the edges of his self-restraint. Lightly—as much as he dared—Malachite rubbed against Rime, at home between Rime’s legs, pressed close to his body. How he wanted Rime, all of him. Forever. He would accept no less any longer, and he cried out lyrically when the bright, painful pleasure at his throat became nearly overwhelming.

Nothing less, Rime whispered into his mind. He took his mark just a bit further, knowing just how deeply Malachite wanted him to go. You have all of me, Mal… all of me… Each word was like a drop of refreshing dew, the purest of all Rime’s spirit poured into the simple words. He lingered for several heartbeats before he released the bruised skin, soothing the bite with tongue, lips, and the gentle huffing of his warm breath.

Malachite was almost limp above Rime, panting, his mind a muddled fog of love and desire. “I… fell so in love with you,” he whispered, resting his brow against Rime’s shoulder. “You… put your head in my lap… and I stroked your hair… and I fell in love…”

Rime trembled, and his eyes filled with unexpected tears. Malachite hadn’t told him when it’d happened, hadn’t said a single word about love until Rime had figured it out himself following the battle and wound that should have cost Malachite his life. “I can’t live… without you…” The scene of his nightmare seemed to flash back through his mind again, and his grip on Malachite tightened. “Please stay… forever…”

“I promise,” Malachite said, slowly sitting back onto his knees. He stared down at Rime, picking up the lube and flipping back the cap. “I swore forever to you, and that hasn’t changed. I love you as much now as I did then, before my wounding… before exile.” His slippery fingers carefully slid into Rime’s hole, smearing the slick fluid deep into his body. Malachite then brushed his fingers over Rime’s prostate, tormenting him sweetly.

Rime moaned, the words burning themselves into his soul. His eyes squeezed shut, his body twitching with every caress of Malachite’s fingers. His hands slid from Malachite’s shoulders and down his chest. His fingers rubbed small circles around Malachite’s nipples, pinching ever so slightly when the flesh pebbled. Malachite’s moan wound through him, and he squirmed against the pillow, lashes heavy. His breath hitched as Malachite continued to stroke him from within, the touch somehow more intimate than ever before. Every touch built upon the one before it, and he grew desperate, pinching Malachite’s nipples as a mewl worked its way out of him.

“I want to possess you,” Malachite said, sliding in a third finger. “I want to touch the very heart of your soul, Rime.”

“Yes,” Rime moaned, welcoming Malachite into his body and, more importantly, into his soul. “Please… deeper…” Though his hips pressed up into Malachite, it was clear he meant far more than the physical sense.

Malachite withdrew his fingers just as he reached out with his soul. Intangible fingers, magic as old as the world itself, ached to twine themselves with Rime’s. “As deep as possible.” He poured more of the clear fluid into his palm, and then stroked himself lazily, groaning.

Blue eyes watched Malachite through a haze of desire. Rime writhed, trembling with need. Rime could feel that magic reaching out to him, magic that wanted to bridge a gulf Rime had put between them. Centuries of calling himself bondmate all while he held himself back. For a brief moment, the scene seemed wonderfully surreal, and he shook his head. A smile lit up his face. “I need you, Mal…”

The words riled Malachite, brought gruff growl from him. “I need you,” he whispered, pressing himself to Rime’s hole. “Never shut me out, Rime, never again drive me away.” Malachite penetrated Rime in one exquisite, smooth thrust, joining their bodies just as his soul entwined itself with Rime’s. It was as complete an embrace as could be given, and Malachite whimpered against the sweet-smelling flesh of Rime’s throat.

Rime forgot to breathe. His arms encircled Malachite’s back, fingers twining in Malachite’s hair as Rime pulled Malachite as close as possible. Never again, he promised. Completely unguarded, with his thoughts flowing freely into Malachite’s mind, Rime marveled that he’d found his perfect complement. The very song of soul his was forever changed the day he was waylaid under the blooming boughs of Mag Mell by Queen Medb’s bard son. The refrain would never be the same again; he no longer sang alone.

The rhythm Malachite set was painfully slow. He would pull out until only the very tip of his cock remained, spreading Rime’s tight muscles, and then pause. Several kisses later, Malachite pushed back into Rime’s clutching body, groaning into Rime’s open mouth. The thoughts unconsciously shared were more arousing than their physical coupling, the closeness breathtaking. Memories flitted in and out of Malachite’s mind with each thrust: their first tryst in the music tent on Lughnasadh; bringing Rime to climax with his mouth without thought of reciprocation; the pain of having to dole out tortures Rime demanded of him when all he wished for was tenderness; sobbing his love out to a rushing waterfall as Rime, under the water, swallowed him whole; death, cold and lonely, devoid of music, of color, of the one who made his heart beat and his soul sing.

Though every nerve was alight with pleasure, Rime’s mind was overrun by the memories Malachite shared. He’d never known of Malachite’s burning desire for the ordinary; at least, that’s what he’d told himself. The truth was, he’d seen the signs, he’d simply chosen to misread them. He’d refused to compromise. In the beginning, and so many years since, Rime had unwittingly disregarded Malachite’s intrinsic needs. The knowledge brought bittersweet tears to his eyes.

Malachite’s memories made Rime feel all the more vulnerable; they made his love for Malachite sharpen until he thought it would pierce him in thousands of tiny pinpricks. A single moment stood out from the others as his mind raced. Rime had ensured the treaty between Ráth Cruachan and Tír na Sorcha had been signed, and, with Malachite poised to leave, he’d asked Malachite to stay, for no reason other than his own desire to have him close. Though seemingly small, it had been that moment in which Rime knew he wanted Malachite to stay with him… indefinitely. Even now, after nearly eight hundred years, the sentiment was the same. He wanted Malachite close; he needed Malachite close. Heart aching, he clung to his bondmate as they moved in tandem.

I couldn’t have told you the truth then, Malachite’s mind whispered into Rime’s. You would have cast me aside, fled Tír na Sorcha. Foresight had made Rime’s request all the more poignant to him. Malachite had known his own death loomed like black clouds. He’d woken Rime in the dead of night, taken him as sweetly as Rime had ever allowed. He’d told Rime to remember that moment, remember it when Whirlwind told him that, with his dying breath, he was sorry. Malachite threw his head back as he delved deeper into Rime’s body, their souls’ songs merging into one harmonious chord. I wanted to experience as much of you as I could before I died, Rime, and that would’ve been denied me if I’d confessed myself at the waterfall.

I was a fool! Rime sobbed, pressing his face against Malachite’s shoulder. I’m a fool still… but I love you. By the gods, I love you, Mal. He pulled Malachite into a kiss, passionate and tender, his tongue sliding perfectly against Malachite’s.

Muscles began to strain from prolonged use, their lovemaking having devoured almost an hour’s time. Malachite refused to cease kissing Rime, hanging onto their merged spirits while his body repeatedly breached Rime’s. Death had almost stolen him from Rime, and when he’d been given the choice, he’d chosen life. He’d chosen Rime. The beautiful, icy-eyed minstrel who had lived since the beginning… whose voice could bring him to such heights of pleasure or depths of despair. The choice had been the simplest of his entire existence, and never had he regretted it.

Malachite’s breath trembled between kisses, a shiver running the length of his spine, his sac so tight. “Rime,” he moaned, the mark on his throat burning when he spoke Rime’s name. He was terribly close… all he could see was a waterfall made gold in the dying light of day, its music clear, carried on the cool breeze to his ears. “Rime.”

“Malachite…” came the whispered response, drenched in joy and need. Rime’s body tightened as his entire being was swept up by the crescendo of the music that rang in his ears and danced on the tip of his tongue. With a sudden cry, he gave voice to his ecstasy, shattering all remaining barriers between himself and Malachite as Song overtook him in frightening clarity. The Song that held all of Creation together, that bound their very souls together. He could hear it all, from the smallest chord to the World Harmony itself. It was there for them… all for them.

Rime’s pleasure pulled Malachite along, and his climax consuming him as he heard the World Harmony, too. Malachite’s eyes remained open and unseeing as his mind was overtaken by the melting of icy walls. He gasped, so immersed in Rime’s spirit, he wondered where he stopped and Rime began. Gold entwined perfectly with sapphire, and honeyed-dawn broke through the frozen landscape of the bond they shared. It was the most beautiful feeling Malachite had ever felt, like a great symphony finally given the ending notes to complete itself. His body spent itself within Rime, and his soul knitted itself completely with Rime’s. When that blinding moment of absolute belonging passed, and the consummation of their songs thrummed contentedly, Malachite looked down at Rime, seeing him as if for the first time.

Quiet sobs were all Rime could manage as he collapsed beneath Malachite, raw and yet whole, stripped to his core and remade anew. His bond to Malachite seemed to blaze in streams of gilded music, tangible in the way their hearts kept tempo with one another. Only this time, unlike all times before, they didn’t seem to separate into individual beats again, but remained in flawless tandem. No fear remained. They were bondmates. Rime trembled, his limbs heavy as they clung to Malachite, unwilling or unable to let him go.

Malachite kissed wet cheeks and soothed with rough fingertips. “I love you,” he whispered like a mantra. “I’ll never leave, Rime, I swear. Never again. Never will I go still and silent. Death will never have me. How can they when you do? My Soulsong is your Soulsong, and ever will they be entwined. Eternity, Rime… eternity.” He remained inside Rime, basking in the physical closeness and the emotional intimacy, reluctant to part, afraid this moment would be taken from him as if it had all been some cruel joke.

Rime’s heart melted completely at the vows, true promises that would never be broken. Tempering his joy was Malachite’s fear, however. It filled him as if his own, and he had to swallow a few times before words could pass between his dry lips. “I love you, Malachite, and I shall for all time. Never would I lie to you in such a way. I swear it.”

“I…” Malachite closed his eyes, unable to meet Rime’s gaze. “I can’t go back to how we were, Rime. I can’t be like that again. Not after tasting this with you. Not after knowing you.”

“You won’t have to. We’ll never go back.”

Gray eyes met pale blue. “You’ve never desired such constant closeness,” he breathed, his softening cock slipping from the wetness of Rime’s hole.

“I desire it now, with you, forever,” Rime said whispered, brushing a wavy strand of red-tinged hair away from Malachites’s gaze. He’d been afraid of commitment for so long, but now the fear had been removed. His place was beside Malachite, be it in Annwn or exiled in Daear. It didn’t matter, not anymore.

Malachite eased himself from atop Rime, pulling Rime off the pillow and against his body. He laced their fingers together, rubbing the palm of Rime’s hand with his thumb. “I’ve wanted this since I woke from that coma,” he murmured.

Rime winced at the memory; the anguish and uncertainty he’d felt knowing Death could’ve claimed Malachite at any moment. It had been unbearable. He squeezed Malachite’s hand and gazed at him solemnly. “You deserved to have it then, and all the moments since.”

Looking away from Rime, Malachite sighed as he remembered that place between life and death. “He gave me a choice. I… I remember there being so much pain, and then… nothing.” His voice was soft, almost breathless as he relived that moment. “It was cold… so cold… and he stood in front of an enormous throne made of bone. I didn’t need to ask him where I was. I was dead.” He licked his lips, shaking his head slightly. “He told me no, I wasn’t. Not yet. I had a choice to make.” A shuddering breath left him. “‘Choose,’ he said. ‘Life, and all the disappointments and guilt you currently endure as well as all that is yet to come, or me, where there is silence and redemption, healing and freedom.’ It was so tempting, Rime… that silence. So tempting. The cold didn’t matter so much any longer, and that silence… like a tomb. I knew if I remained, I would find the forgiveness I’d never find if I returned.”

Rime’s heart ached, his eyes filling with tears. Malachite had never described the experience that had sent him into Death’s realm and back again. It had been clear Malachite had died for a moment. A question burned within Rime, and though he knew Malachite heard it in his mind, he still gave it voice. “Why? After all I’d put you through, why did you come back?”

A serene smile graced Malachite lips. “Because I loved you. I told him to send me back. ‘There will be pain,’ he said. ‘I know,’ I replied. ‘Even if he won’t love me, I love him, and I can’t leave him. Who will understand his music if I’m not there?’ Death smiled, I think… as close to a smile as he can come. ”Tis a good choice, Sin, son of Medb.’ He let me go. I woke briefly, with a dozen healers surrounding me, my wounds reopened, and you calling my name… and when I heard your voice, just before I slipped back into the darkness, I knew I’d chosen correctly.”

Rime’s response immediate and vehement: he buried himself in Malachite’s arms with a strangled sob. Malachite had chosen him. Over the peace of death he’d longed for the majority of his life, Malachite had chosen him. Time lost its meaning as he sobbed in his Malachite’s arms, no words profound enough to express his love and gratitude. There were no words, only the music of their Soulsongs, and it was enough.

TBC…

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