on a Fire
Kimolijah looses a fairly embarrassing
little yawp of surprise as he’s flipped to his back and
pinned by every inch of Bas’s rather considerable weight.
“You’ve been slinging sex about all
bleeding night like you’re pitching horseshoes,” Bas growls,
“and now you’re going to tease me?”
Well, yes, all right, teasing had
rather been the plan, and Kimolijah wouldn’t say he’d been
“slinging sex”—and what an odd way to put that at any
rate; horseshoes?—but he might have been… well… lobbing
it a bit, and up until this very second, Bas had seemed happy
enough to go along with it. Bas is always happy to go
along with it. Well, not happy, really, since the teasing
is designed to make him pissy and twitchy, but Kimolijah rather
thinks the mind-blowing sex that always results serves to tame
Bas quite nicely for days afterwards. Or not tame him, as
it were. It’s just better when Bas is irritated, when
he’s driving into it like he’s trying to blot everything from
Kimolijah’s mind but himself—when he’s out to prove something.
And he always proves it damned definitively.
The second the silk goes around his wrist,
Kimolijah knows that this time, he has seriously miscalculated.
“We’ll just see about teasing, won’t we?”
Bas says, almost to himself, it seems, muttering something
through his teeth about “busy hands”, eyes dark and mouth set,
hands rough and almost cruel.
Before Kimolijah even really realizes
what’s happening, he’s got one wrist wound in Bas’s scarf,
jammed up against the spindles of the headboard.
And everything just sort of… shifts.
This isn’t teasing anymore, and it isn’t
any sort of game, and maybe that’s it, maybe that’s why
Kimolijah’s chest is suddenly constricted and why his stomach
has cramped up and gone cold. His gridTech bubbles in his veins,
blue sparks flittering at his fingertips and fizzing in his
palm. Defensive reflex; he can’t help it. It happens sometimes.
Even before his mind registers threat, it just happens.
He’s working on it.
There’s abruptly something close to
outrage pounding against his temples, he can’t help that either,
it’s there, anger, maybe, but it’s knocking relentlessly against
something even more sudden and thoroughly confusing, a flash of
erotic hunger that’s gone through Kimolijah’s groin and turned
him so hard it actually hurts. And that makes it all much
worse, more mystifying.
He’s not a prisoner anymore. He’s not
slowly dying, or wishing he was dying, and chipping away at
everything he thought he was out in some desert wasteland,
captive to a robber baron who’s stolen his life, his Tech, his
mind, everything about him. He’s not there anymore. Bas made
sure of that.
A bitter little shard of angerbetrayal
spikes through Kimolijah, something sharp and hot that he
doesn’t take the time to identify, but it almost feels like
adding vague insult to imagined injury: he’d hated that
stupid scarf, from the moment Bas had donned it. One of those
ugly, long-droopy-wide things, all pretension and artifice, and
Bas is neither of those things, so it kind of pisses Kimolijah
off. And from the moment Bas had mulishly insisted upon wearing
the awful thing to the Directorate’s reception—
You’re a Directorate Tracker. You’re
being promoted an entire grade. This makes you look like a
rookie who’s trying too hard.
Shut up, my mam gave it to me.
That doesn’t mean you have to wear it!
My mam gave it to me.
—Kimolijah had spent a ridiculous amount
of time all afternoon and evening thinking about how he was
going to find a way to burn it later. And to not only find
himself abruptly held down like this, but to find himself held
down by that bloody ugly scarf.
He has no idea what to do with the jumble
of visceral emotion rapidly hazing his vision red, so he directs
the anger at the scarf and at Bas, but something in him knows it
isn’t that simple. The clash of sudden and inexplicable burning
lust against something that feels like real and too-deep fear
sends his mind retreating, even as tumblers roll and click in
his head, unlocking something he doesn’t know if he wants to let
loose, forcing him into a place he’d been happy not to go five
Bas isn’t joking, Kimolijah can tell, he’s
dead serious, and the conflict in Kimolijah’s gut is making it
curl and clench, even as his free hand is curling and clenching
itself into a tight fist, filaments of gridstream turning to
sparks at the tips of his fingers.
Should he need it.
He won’t. He knows he won’t.
It doesn’t really help.
He can see the moment when realization
flashes through Bas’s mind, the moment when everything that’s
just flared hot and bright through Kimolijah hits him, and
Kimolijah wonders if it burns Bas, too, this scritch of
fearwant that blitzes his senses and makes it hard to
breathe. The dark, heavy lust in Bas’s eyes goes wavery and
chaotic, awareness flitting through a stormy blue-black haze,
and they both go still, breathless, the air suddenly far too
heavy for Kimolijah to suck in a good gulp of it, and weighted,
like there’s an anvil on his chest. He can hear the trepidation
in Bas’s ragged breathing, can see it in the asking-demanding in
Bas’s eyes, can feel it in the lurching slip-thud of his
own heart, and Kimolijah’s skin goes all clammy, like a wash of
cold oil is misting up from his pores.
Kimolijah bucks up, tries to pull himself
out of Bas’s hold, but Bas doesn’t move, doesn’t let go, and
somehow it goes right to Kimolijah’s groin, sends tingling heat
through him, and he almost hates Bas for it, for making him
feel it, for making him know it. The resistance is
instinctive and feral, something so fundamentally a part of
Kimolijah that he doesn’t even really think about it, can’t
really think about it, it won’t make definable shapes in his
mind, because if he thinks, he’ll have to remember,
and he won’t, he refuses. But the profound craving is no less
elemental, deep-seated and near-brutal, and that makes it all
somehow frighteningly mortifying.
Hold me, make me yours, prove it, just
for now, just for right now, it thrums through
Kimolijah’s blood, and he flinches away from it, and Trust
me, I won’t let go, and we can pretend it doesn’t mean anything
tomorrow answers him back in one small hint of a tear
trapped in the lashes at the corner of Bas’s eye.
And they’re in their dark heart, that
place they never talk about, never even acknowledge, but it
defines them—Them, KimolijahandBas—that place that only
exists when they’re inside each others’ skins. If they speak it,
if they even let themselves think it, it could end them, because
neither one of them can admit they want it, need it, burn
for it, not even to themselves, especially not to
themselves, and especially not to each other.
Yet here it is, threatening to make itself
something solid and real between them, and how will they ever
deny it if this goes wrong?
He can feel every fiber in the fabric
against his wrist, can see every thought that caroms through
Bas’s mind like it’s written in fiery ink on his dilated pupils:
Trust me, and I’ll make it good, and Let me,
and I promise.
Kimolijah wants to believe it, he really
does, that hard knot in his belly unfisting in the wash of
confused ravenous yearning that crashes over him through the
stillness and ringing silence like waves over a breakwater. And
the fact that he does want to believe it makes the humiliation
almost tangible, he can taste it, all sour-sweet and
bitter, because this isn’t a simple thing, it could mean
everything if it turns out to mean nothing, and what if it does?
What if that’s all it turns out to be: a moment of abandon that
ruins trust forever?
“Don’t,” Bas breathes, hands tightening,
eyes locked to Kimolijah’s, near-black with intensity and
wanting and purpose, and he dips down low, nearly blinding
Kimolijah to everything but the gravity and frankness of that
gaze. “I know.”
And there it is, right there. An eternity
of unfurling potential, of maybe, of what if?,
this wide, thick swath of possibility that fans out and
distends itself, curls through Kimolijah’s chest and just…
waits. Because yeah, Bas does know, even if Kimolijah likes to
pretend no one could, and maybe that’s all right, maybe it’s
even good, and maybe Kimolijah can stop it from being nothing if
he doesn’t make it everything.
Bas’s eyes change, go all fierce and
glittery, and he growls a little. “Stop,” he tells Kimolijah.
“You think too much, you always have,” and he ignores the deadly
current teasing at Kimolijah’s fingertips, like he knows.
And God, like it fucking obeys Bas and not Kimolijah, the
stream snuffs out beneath Bas’s hands, tingling up Kimolijah’s
wrists and following a phantom path of ink and scars that do
nothing more than remind Kimolijah of exactly what it is he’s
trying to forget.
Like he knows, like he’s trying to
obliterate the memory with nothing but his touch, Bas’s hands
tighten again at Kimolijah’s wrists, push them up towards the
headboard, and before Kimolijah can even make his mind consider
what all of it might really mean, Bas is kissing him. Not even
kissing him, really—devouring him, seducing his sanity
away from him with hot swipes and dips of the tongue, brutal
scrapes of teeth that somehow don’t hurt but flare fierce
craving through him and make his hips lift off the bed, and
push. Bas groans, the vibrations of it careening through
Kimolijah’s chest and dragging all through him. It’s as if
there’s this wide chasm inside Kimolijah, and he’s been
pretending it doesn’t exist for so long that it’s staggering his
mind to have it suddenly filled with all this astonishing
His hands are useless lumps, lying docile
while Bas works at the fabric, only curling in on themselves,
and Kimolijah wonders if it’s some kind of blind, ass-backward
lunatic instinct that makes him tense and wary, yet prevents him
from doing anything about it. He can get loose, for five more
seconds, before Bas completes that last knot Kimolijah can feel
weaving against his skin, he can get loose, and something in him
is screaming, Why aren’t you? What’s wrong with you? and
something else is throttling it into silence.
It’s this kiss, he thinks vaguely,
it’s making me insane, stealing my sense, and it is, sort
of, because his mind doesn’t seem to want to work properly, and
all he can seem to make himself do is groan into Bas’s mouth,
let him take whatever he wants, give him whatever he
wants, beg him to take it, and why has Bas never kissed him
like this before? It’s hot and all-encompassing, Bas’s mouth
somehow soft and cruel all at once, teeth nipping and tongue
swiping, as Bas’s hands start to move, begin the process of
stripping Kimolijah of every last bit of will.
There’s nothing soft or gentle about the
touch that scours down his arms, pausing now and then to knead
at a muscle, thumbs digging in and grinding tendon into bone,
and every time Bas deliberately—deliberately, the
bastard—traces a light fingertip over a swirl of black ink, it
makes Kimolijah arch up, stutter in a sharp breath. And then—and
then—like the horrible, horrible person he is, Bas lifts
himself away, mouth and hands the only things touching
Kimolijah, and it should be enough, it really should, what with
the thorough job of debauchery they’re doing, but Kimolijah
actually aches with wanting more. He wants the kiss to go
deeper until he chokes and has to breathe it, wants the hands to
dig in harder until they start peeling back skin, and every inch
of him that Bas isn’t touching is burning, stinging with
want and a tiny seed of rage at the frustration of it all. So he
keeps arching, stretching, but Bas is still stroking at biceps
and elbows and shoulders, ignoring Kimolijah’s muffled growls
and moaning pleas, and Kimolijah can’t do a bloody thing about
it because this kiss has made him completely unbalanced.
He can’t shake the feeling that he should
be abashed, that a mere strip of silk should not spark this
vicious lust, should not empty his mind so easily, and what does
this make of him, that he’s so willing to yield like this
after... everything? That he’s so willing to believe and
trust, when three years of captivity—slavery, just say it, a
slightly less ugly word doesn’t make it a less ugly thing—when
three years of slavery have given him every reason not
to? And yet one earnest look of significance, one deep,
mind-numbing kiss, a few skillful touches, and it’s abruptly
reduced to near-insignificance, nothing more than flame on a
fire—there, undeniable, but impossible to identify through the
The question winds through him, coils like
a spring and tenses his limbs, and something like a strangled
little moan lurks at the back of his throat, but he doesn’t let
it loose. Bas draws back, plots a line of nipping kisses from
Kimolijah’s jaw to his collarbone, tongue flicking and swiping,
and fingertips following, firm and almost too sensate, like he
has every intention of tracing every vein and muscle beneath
“Stop thinking,” Bas says again, almost a
snarl this time, right against Kimolijah’s throat, and it makes
Kimolijah feel ridiculously vulnerable, Bas’s teeth right up
against his jugular like that, but then Bas is sucking, too,
pushing his thigh into Kimolijah’s groin. And yes, fuck
yes, that’s a superb idea, a bloody brilliant idea,
because Kimolijah really can’t think anymore, anyway, not with
Bas’s mouth so hot and sure and demanding, blocking out
everything but the heat of it, and the nonsense whispers Bas is
breathing against Kimolijah’s skin, almost like chanting,
sending Kimolijah into a state that’s thick and enfolding and
Kimolijah closes his eyes, tips his head
back, and… Just. Stops. Thinking.
Bas gives a little mmm of approval,
like he knows, and that’s somehow comforting, helps the springs
to uncoil a bit and knock down the tensile humming in
Kimolijah’s chest a few notches. He concentrates on the heat of
Bas’s mouth, how he can tell when Bas takes a breath because
that heat disappears for a millisecond, makes Kimolijah’s skin
prickle with the loss of the intensity, and then ripple hot with
Bas’s hands travel down the sides of
Kimolijah’s ribs, palms flat and fingers splayed, like he
doesn’t want to miss touching anything, thumbs hooked around and
sweeping over chest then ribcage then belly, stopping just short
and only grazing the dark thatch beneath Kimolijah’s navel, even
when Kimolijah rocks his hips up in subdued demand. Kimolijah
swears he can feel the whorls on Bas’s fingertips as they slide
across the small of his back, dig in just a little bit, just
enough to make Kimolijah gasp in a juddering breath, before
moving on to sweep his torso, all laggard and leisurely, like
Bas has got all the time in the world and Kimolijah isn’t in the
process of vibrating right out of his skin. The slow sweeping
anticipation of it fizzes through Kimolijah’s chest then screws
in and tightens when there’s no reward, only Bas’s hands
gripping snug to Kimolijah’s hips for a quick second before
traveling down his thighs.
And all the while, Bas’s mouth moves over
him, tongue swiping hot stripes over Kimolijah’s collarbones,
stopping to investigate the dip between them before taking a
teasing bite just above Kimolijah’s left nipple. Kimolijah
arches up, he can’t help it, lets a little gasp loose from his
throat, and almost snarls when Bas only chuckles a little, then
slides his tongue in a wide circle, never touching the nipple,
flaring the want in Kimolijah’s belly and chest into something
hard and humming.
Hands curving slow and light along the
insides of Kimolijah’s thighs, Bas’s mouth dips down lower,
pauses at the narrow valley of Kimolijah’s breastbone, drops
kisses like a small storm of moths as his fingertips trail and
tease at the crease where Kimolijah’s thighs meet his groin. A
hot gust of breath billows over Kimolijah’s erection, so close
Kimolijah can feel the moisture from Bas’s mouth settling over
him, all prickly and sanity-stealing, and Kimolijah sucks in a
harsh breath, hips lifting all on their own, but all he gets is
a raspy little chuckle from Bas and broad hands over his
hipbones, pushing him down. Bas’s touch keeps going from hard
and ruthless to soft and teasing, and the disparity of it is
snatching at Kimolijah’s sense, making him coil and contort
himself, trying to anticipate which touch is coming next and
where and when, and why won’t Bas just touch
Kimolijah groans frustration, pushes up
again, but Bas grips the thick muscles of Kimolijah’s thighs,
presses him down, and stops moving. And then he draws away.
Nonononono, don’t go, don’t leave me
here like this, Kimolijah can almost hear the warbling
half-tones of it, and it’s stupid, it’s bloody absurd, but he
only just keeps it locked behind his teeth. To go from
near-overwhelming sensation to all this nothing is almost
more than he can take, and he clenches his jaw, tries to calm
himself before he starts begging Bas to touch him, just touch
him, damn it, why won’t Bas touch—
“D’you want to stop?”
Kimolijah’s mind stutters. His eyes snap
open and narrow at Bas; Bas only looks back steadily from
beneath his tangled fringe, firelight snatching gold from brown
and sparking it into honeyed-sienna. Bas is propped up on his
elbows now, hands flat to the mattress to either side of
Kimolijah’s ribs, knees snugged to either side of Kimolijah’s
Kimolijah hadn’t even really thought that
he could stop—wasn’t that the whole point of the
scarf?—and some part of him wants to snarl and snap at Bas for
giving him the option, because what is he supposed to do with
it? Yes, I want to stop feeling the amazing things your mouth
and your hands can do to me before I even find out how much more
amazing it can be, or No, this makes me too raw and
powerless and I don’t know how much more I can take before I
lose something important.
But here it is, here’s that control he’d
thought defines him, and it’s being put back into his hands—his
bound hands, his useless hands—and there’s got to be something
profound in there somewhere, some weighty metaphor Kimolijah’s
just too goddamned muddled right now to suss.
Kimolijah locks his gaze with Bas’s, tries
to look deep and right into his heart, and everything goes still
again. Kimolijah can feel the sweat sliding down his temples,
can feel it sheening his whole body, sticking his shoulders to
the soft linen of the pillowcase. He can hear the slow flicker
of the fire, smell the sooty-gray scent of it, watch the echoed
dance of the flames in the shadows slide-slicking over Bas’s
chest. And he’s just so amazingly lovely, that Kimolijah
almost can’t believe he’s here, with him, and
looking at him with that broad question in his eyes, turning
this night into something almost too significant.
This was supposed to be another rollicking
shag, a night of growled laughter and tumbling about on
sweat-damp sheets after a day of patent innuendo in a place
where Bas could do nothing but fume quietly until Kimolijah
finally got him home and in bed. And now look what it’s become.
Something big and full of implications Kimolijah’s not sure
they’re ready to define.
“You’re thinking again,” Bas says softly.
It startles him a little. Kimolijah thinks
it’s odd, because Bas should be smiling or smirking when he says
that, but he’s not. He’s only looking and waiting.
It’s like a bright-white flare of
coherency inside a storm of chaos. Kimolijah hadn’t known ten
seconds ago what his answer was going to be, but he knows now.
Maybe there are things they can’t speak, but not everything has
to be defined, not everything should be defined, and
Kimolijah decides this is one of those things.
Bas’s gaze is somber and expectant, but
there is no judgment inside it and no hint of what he wants
Kimolijah’s answer to be. Kimolijah really does believe that Bas
will accept his answer, whatever it is, and that belief is like
all of the tumblers in all of the locks inside him turning all
Bas’s expression hasn’t changed, and his
voice is just as steady and patient.
Kimolijah can’t help noticing how defined
Bas’s body looks in the wavering light, how the silky shifts of
muscle beneath his skin chisel strength across his chest and
down his shoulders and arms. Kimolijah wants to touch them,
trace the shadows in their dips and rises, taste the contrast as
they flex, tighten and ripple, then relax. For a second or two,
the need is high and bright, making his mouth water and heat
pool in his belly. If he wasn’t tied to the bed, he thinks he
might just wrench himself up and eat Bas alive, rip him apart
just to get down to the core of him.
He only shakes his head, says, “Kiss me.”
Bas leans down, his thigh almostalmostalmost
brushing against Kimolijah’s erection, and the heat baking off
Bas’s skin nearly shakes Kimolijah to the bone. “Say it,” Bas
Kimolijah almost doesn’t know what Bas
wants him to say, but he opens his mouth and, “I don’t want to
stop,” comes out of it, and that must have been the right thing,
because Bas does kiss him, deep and hard and possessive, and it
drags so far down inside him that Kimolijah thinks he might
actually die if it stops.
Bas groans, low and needy, and he shifts,
wood and ticking whining and squeaking beneath his weight, and
somehow the sounds they’re making—low moans and heavy breaths
and the sticky susurrus of skin-on-skin—are so bloody full of
sex that it’s a brand new assault all by itself, slicking
over Kimolijah’s skin and making him twist and writhe. And Bas
is barely even touching him.
God, Kimolijah really really wants
to sink his fingers into Bas’s hair, hold on and not let him
move away, drag him down on top of himself and just keep
pushpushpushing, grinding his pelvis into Bas’s hip until
this excruciating want buzzing in his chest is finally
sated. He wants Bas to keep kissing him like this,
sucking his soul out, making him dizzy and euphoric, almost
disembodied, and that’s all right, even the vertigo is all
right, because Kimolijah doesn’t mind being lost in this, in the
heat of Bas’s mouth, the desire coming off him in waves and
washing all over Kimolijah, spiking need up through Kimolijah’s
chest like he’s breathing it.
But Bas draws back, and Kimolijah almost
cries, he really does, he almost lets a few tears squeeze
out from the corners of his closed eyes; not only because the
loss is close to devastating, but maybe tears will make Bas take
pity on him and let him have some more, just a little more,
And then Bas’s hand is between Kimolijah’s
legs, slick and warm with oil, and how did Kimolijah not hear
Bas opening the drawer, how did he not notice the sharp smell of
rosemary, how did he not—?
“Oh, bleeding— gah, Bas!”
is all Kimolijah manages as Bas’s hands start working inside
him, and Kimolijah arches up off the bed as Bas twists
his fingers. It’s like an explosion inside him, crushing
through his chest and all up his backbone, spiraling out and out
until every inch of him is tingling with it. Effervescent heat
sluices all through him, jinks him about, until Bas has to grip
Kimolijah’s hip and shove him back down.
Kimolijah has some vague notion that he’s
leaking obscenities, spilling them out like steam from a kettle,
but it’s all garbled and breathless and even he can’t
understand it, so he concentrates on more important things. Like
how he’s going to shatter and fall apart pretty soon, if Bas
doesn’t stop teasing and fuck him. Like how Bas’s hand is making
his insides pool all hot and liquid, like lightning is
splintering up his spine and melting him from the inside-out.
Like how his erection feels tight and heavy, like he just might
come any second, and Bas hasn’t even touched him yet, has
made it a bloody point not to touch him. Like how Bas’s
teeth and tongue, all hot and slick and finally on
Kimolijah’s nipple, are making Kimolijah nearly lose his mind,
making him wild and near-feral so that Bas has to actually lay a
leg across Kimolijah’s knees to keep him from bucking himself
right off the bed.
Like how this overwhelming feeling of
abandoned lust is exactly what had terrified him so when that
silk had slid up against his wrist, and yet the yammering voice
of the fear has transmuted into the wandering, mumbled curses
falling from Kimolijah’s own mouth.
Because right now, Bas could ask of
Kimolijah anything, ask him to stand on his head and quack like
a duck, and if it would get Bas to just fuck him,
pleasepleaseplease God, fuck him already, Kimolijah
would, he’d do it, he’d do it gladly and not care that he was
handing over every bit of the control he’d lost along with three
long horrible years of his life—the same control he’d been
clinging to with an almost pathological desperation since he’d
got it back. Bas could make him beg, and Kimolijah would,
he knows he would, and it isn’t like Kimolijah hasn’t
begged for it before, but not like this, not when it means
something, not when the potential for losing… something
is almost a live thing, breath and bone.
But Bas won’t, and maybe that’s why this
is all right, maybe that’s why the silk of the scarf isn’t
burning and stripping Kimolijah’s skin raw, maybe that’s why
Kimolijah feels open and exposed, but not as afraid as he thinks
he might. Bas won’t, and they both know that right now,
Kimolijah would let him, but Bas won’t, because cursing
and writhing and sweating—that’s not all this is.
This is more, this is everything, and
Kimolijah almost can’t even remember why he’d been so afraid it
might be nothing.
Bas twists his wrist again, judders his
hand a little, and the jarring shock of sensation rolls a thick
shout from Kimolijah’s throat, shatters all through him in tiny,
pinpoint explosions of frothy, blissful agony beneath his skin.
This shouldn’t feel so new, but it’s like nothing Bas has ever
done to him before, like he’s invented some new torturous
maneuver designed specifically to drive Kimolijah out of his
mind, fingers curling and twisting in a way that’s driving
Kimolijah to a state just short of delirium, and jerking
reactions out of him that he didn’t even know he had in him.
It’s this spectacular, white… thing, there just aren’t
any words, and it blazes all through him, makes him coil and
scream, and why has Bas never done this before either?
Some miniscule part of Kimolijah’s mind
that still insists on clinging to lucidity marks the manifest
unfairness of having lived all these years without even knowing
this kind of ecstasy existed, but the rest of him is busy
babbling yesyesyes and trying to twist his body into any
shape that might get him more. He tries to lift his hips,
tries to rock a little, but every time he moves, Bas stops, goes
still, and the frustration is like a sentient thing, crouching
on Kimolijah’s chest, heavy enough to make him growl and snarl
He has a sudden and searing sense of just
exactly how much power he’s handed over to Bas, how much
control, and he could reach for it back, could bark a command
and Bas would follow it, Kimolijah knows that. Somehow
Kimolijah doesn’t want it, and that would have seemed anathema
just an hour ago, but the thought of wresting that control back
now almost makes Kimolijah sob, and even that doesn’t embarrass
It feels like he’s been hard for hours,
tied to this bed and writhing forever, strokes of pleasure
burning through him until he thinks he might go insane. And
every time he thinks it can’t possibly get better, he can’t
possibly feel any more, it does and he does, and Bas
takes him a little further into mind-numbing bliss.
Body and mind coil and warp into new
contortions that bend the concepts of reality, stretch the
fabric of his Self, but none of it seems important now somehow,
because Kimolijah doesn’t think he’s ever felt so blazingly
alive as he does inside this moment. There’s this
incredible, ironic freedom in all of this, and he thinks
he might be laughing, something a little crazed and euphoric,
but his mind won’t fix and latch on to any one thing for more
than a fleeting second, so he’s not really sure, and that’s not
He’s somehow managed to push off Bas’s
hold on his legs, lifted his knees, and he has no idea when that
happened, but there they are, and Kimolijah digs his heels down
into the mattress, rocks down onto Bas’s hand.
“Please,” Kimolijah whispers, and his
voice sounds strange, hoarse and broken, so he must have been
screaming, and Huh, isn’t that funny? but he’s not
really surprised and he really doesn’t care. “Please,” he says
again, “want you, please.”
Bas draws in a long breath, leans down.
“Soon,” he says against Kimolijah’s lips.
“Bas,” Kimolijah groans—whines,
begs—right into Bas’s mouth, and the needy, plaintive tone
of it should be pathetic, but it isn’t, because Bas breathes it
in, gives a little twist-jerk of his hand, and only slides the
fingers of his other hand into Kimolijah’s hair when Kimolijah
does it again. “Now, please now,” and it tapers off into
breathless, garbled mutters when Bas’s thumb slide-scrapes over
“Beautiful,” is all Bas whispers, voice
calm and low, and in direct contrast to the filthy things his
hands are doing to Kimolijah’s sanity.
And this, this right here, this is
it, this is what love is: knowing that you’d give anything, do
anything, be anything, and you’d regret it later, but being sure
that it won’t be asked of you anyway, so it’s all right, it’s
all right to want, to take, to give, to know.
Kimolijah’s heart beats behind his ribs
like it’s trying to claw its way through. Skittering sensation
on him, in him, way down deep inside, and it feels so amazingly
good it actually bloody hurts, but not like pain, not
like a discord of nerve-endings battering against one another.
It’s a burn that could eat him up, could push him right to the
end of himself, could send him rocketing to the ends of his own
borders, a lunatic laugh caught blunt in his throat while he
explodes into nothing. And the scariest part about it is that he
just might smash through that end-barrier himself, with his own
hands, batter and bloody them, if it means he can go on feeling
this blinding rush of almost and ohfuckyes and
one more push, help me, take me, keep me, don’t let go.
But he doesn’t have to, because Bas is
over him now, drawing his hand away, and Kimolijah would protest
because the loss is almost painful, it really is, but Bas
is pulling at Kimolijah’s leg, sliding it up and over his
shoulder, so Kimolijah just shuts up and goes still, because he
doesn’t want to do or say anything that will make Bas stop what
he’s doing. He watches with rapt attention as Bas drops more oil
into his palm, almost shatters into a million little pieces when
Bas’s eyes close and his head falls back and his mouth opens, as
he smears a hand over himself, pumps and slides it once, twice,
and stutters out a little groan.
Kimolijah realizes the whimpery little
noises in his ears are coming from his own mouth, and he clamps
it tight. Bas is gorgeous, just bloody gorgeous, all
broad with his pale skin glistening with sweat, biceps flexing
and catching at shadows as he moves his hand on himself.
Kimolijah wants to touch him, he really wants his hands just for
a moment, just so he can touch Bas, his fingers nearly
burn with it. For the first time, Kimolijah seriously considers
asking Bas to let him loose, just so he can sate the prickling,
itchy want in his fingertips, satisfy at least one desire
right now, touch everything he’s been denied and fill
himself up with it. Instead, he slides his foot over Bas’s calf
just to remind him he’s here and waiting, waiting,
waiting, please don’t make me wait any more, it’s burning me
to look at you and I’m bloody dying here!
Bas peers down, locks his gaze to
Kimolijah’s, smiles something soft and lovely at him. Kimolijah
wants to bite that smile from off Bas’s lips, wants to gnaw away
Bas’s calm, make him feel just as out of control as Kimolijah
does, just because it’s so bloody fucking good that he
wants Bas to feel it, too. And then Bas is taking hold of
himself with one hand, gripping Kimolijah’s hip hard enough to
hurt with the other, and guiding himself in. And Kimolijah
forgets what control is.
He arches, screams, the leg
dangling over Bas’s shoulder locking up so that Kimolijah’s heel
is grinding into the thick muscle beneath Bas’s shoulder blade,
the other curling up tight to Bas’s ribs, digging in and trying
to draw him in deeper, harder. Kimolijah’s hands are splayed,
knuckles brushing against the smooth wood of the spindles, and
his head is arched back so far he can see the veins in his arms
standing out as he strains against the silk holding him down. He
doesn’t need to see it; he can feel it, so he closes his
eyes, concentrates on sensation.
Bas is hard and hot inside him, grinding
in slow at an angle that whites Kimolijah’s mind, scrapes
spangling pressure all through him with each minute shift of
Bas’s hips. Bas’s hand, fingers hot and palm filmed a little
with sweat, drags down Kimolijah’s thigh, almost scalds him,
sweeps a stuttering light touch over Kimolijah’s erection, and
Kimolijah almost comes out of his skin, frothy spangles of
blistering intensity sparking all over him and thumping down
deep into his belly. It’s the first time Bas has actually
touched him, and it threatens to send Kimolijah over the edge,
just that quick.
“All right?” Bas asks, voice low and
heavy, like he’s got gravel in his throat.
And Kimolijah has to think about it, has
to really concentrate to make sense of it, because what kind of
stupid fucking question is that, anyway? Is he all
right? No, he’s not all right, he’s about to bloody die
of sex, for God’s sake, and he grinds his teeth as he
realizes Bas has gone still and is actually waiting for an
Kimolijah’s emotions are stretched out and
bowed, joined and blurred together in the middle, and he can’t
tell which is which; fear, lust, anger, love—it all feels the
same, fearlustangerlove—and it makes his heart thud and
his blood pulse hot through his veins until it reaches his brain
and scour-scalds his mind. He is a great, jittering mass of
feeling, of raw nerve-endings, like his skin can’t even
contain him and hold him together anymore, he’s just a big
puddle of sensation, and that’s all right, good even, hot and
good, but there’s still something cold and oily beneath it all,
and he doesn’t know what it is.
Kimolijah tries to catch his breath, locks
his jaw, because he thinks if he tries to speak, a stream of
insult and invective is likely to spill out his mouth, if
anything he says is even intelligible, and he really doubts
that’s the answer Bas is looking for. Kimolijah calms the
gulping that’s not really helping him breathe anyway, tames it
down to a semisteady in-and-out. And he nods.
“Say it,” Bas tells him.
And this time Kimolijah’s pissed, he’s
really bloody pissed, because Bas has driven him to a
state that’s as close to senseless as he’d ever imagined he
could be, and now he wants coherent conversation?
Kimolijah clenches his hands into fists, squeezes his legs as
together as they can get until one knee is digging into the side
of Bas’s neck and the other is grinding into his ribs so hard
that Bas chuffs out a sharp little gasp.
Kimolijah narrows his eyes, sends a few
sparks shooting from his fingers and up the wall behind the bed,
and he’s not entirely sure it’s just for show. Slowly and
clearly, he says, “If you leave me here like this for much
longer, I will fry you to a slimy little puddle of slag, and
when I tell the Directorate what happened, they will shake my
hand and commend me to the Prime Minister, and the whole of
Knapston will throw me a parade.” He lifts his head, lets his
mouth pull into a bit of a snarl, and growls, “Don’t. Stop.”
Bas’s eyes go dark, narrow, and his jaw
sets. A small, buzzing assault of nerves slicks through
Kimolijah at that look, and he lets his head drop back,
swallows, because he has no idea what he’s just let himself in
for; he’s not the one in control, after all.
A small, evil little smile, and Bas does
something twisty and wicked with his hips, makes Kimolijah
scream so loud his throat almost locks up.
“A ‘yes’ would’ve done,” Bas slurs.
Kimolijah doesn’t really hear it, what
with his blood slamming against his eardrums as it is, thudding
through his head and chest, as Bas drives into him so hard
Kimolijah has to lock his arms, grip the headboard to keep
himself from being rammed right through it. It’s fierce and
rough and driving, and it winds everything inside Kimolijah into
a thrumming, fiery coil.
And all right, good, yes, this is good,
and maybe Bas handed Kimolijah back that tiny bit of control
just when Kimolijah was about to lose it completely, or maybe it
was just an accident, but it doesn’t matter, because Kimolijah
has himself back now, and he can have that at the same time he
has this. It somehow puts the world right, makes this
into the everything he’d suspected, instead of the nothing he’d
It’s like some great weight has been
lifted from Kimolijah’s chest, and relief swamps him so he can
breathe again. He can feel everything—the sheets clinging
to his back and scraping lightly at his skin as Bas drives him
up towards the headboard and then pulls him back down; the
maddening little breeze over his erection that Bas stirs as he
slams his body into Kimolijah’s; the stretch and burn of
strained muscle in his arms and shoulders; and for the first
time, Kimolijah lets himself feel—really feel—the
slick-rough bristle of the silk around his wrists. Maybe he’d
been afraid to let himself accept the sensation before, he
doesn’t know, but now he revels in it, lets Bas enwind his whole
body in a corporeal bond, as silken as the scarf itself, for all
that it’s coarse and almost-harsh.
He relaxes a little, lets go of the
headboard, tug-twists his wrists, and he has no idea if he’s
trying to get loose or making sure he can’t, and the uncertainty
of just that one thing is like a burst of warmth in his chest,
chitters white noise through his head, sideswipes him and sends
a slurry of buzzing animal want all through him.
“Fuck, yes,” Bas breathes, low and
shaky, and Kimolijah opens his eyes, tries to focus, sees Bas’s
eyes locked to the movement of Kimolijah’s own wrists, watches
them flare and widen with each curl of fingers, each pull and
twist and quiver. And God, the half-drunk look in Bas’s
eyes, like Kimolijah himself is some sort of opiate and Bas
can’t help it, can’t help but want him, want him with everything
in him and with a ferocity that might be exhilarating or
terrifying, it can go either way, and there’s an astounding
brilliance in knowing that it won’t.
Bas flicks a look at Kimolijah, something
sharp with little razor-teeth, and Bas smiles a bit, a small,
wicked thing, and he drags his fingertips over the bunched
muscles of Kimolijah’s forearms, skitters them over the slippery
silk of the scarf, and the gasp it draws from Kimolijah makes
Bas’s smile curl at the corners, deepen into something murky and
intense. Bas’s eyes nearly glaze over, only just bright enough
still to gleam dark in the tossing shadows from the fire. A
hard, jolting snap of Bas’s hips, and Kimolijah’s whole body
arches, a shock of fizzy euphoria arcing out from Bas’s body and
into Kimolijah’s like live gridstream, sparking through from the
dense core of him and exploding through his chest in a hungry,
Bas’s hand drags down Kimolijah’s arm,
over his chest, and even though Kimolijah knows it’s coming, has
been waiting for it for what seems years, he still can’t
help but jolt and nearly choke on a gasp when Bas finally lays
that hand to him. The touch is firm and hot, and still a little
oil-slick; Kimolijah feels like it’s enfolding the whole of him,
gripping him together so he doesn’t fly apart.
It feels like Kimolijah’s been hard
forever, like he’s been so close to the edge of orgasm for so
long he’s forgotten how to let himself fall over it. Spiraling
pressure builds up and up, flares through his limbs, pushes
behind his eyes so they burn and sting, and he almost feels like
weeping. Right there, and almost but not quite,
and it’s like he’s hanging over a chasm by his fingertips, his
own weight dragging on his body and stretching him out, tight
and taut, and if he just lets go, lets himself drop, and why
can’t he just let go?
He’s vaguely aware of Bas’s free hand
tracing up and over his arm, sliding towards his hand, and yes,
maybe that’s it, maybe if Bas just touches the silk, burns it
into Kimolijah’s skin, Kimolijah will be able to fall and this
cruel-sweet ache will coalesce into euphoria before he
can lose what’s left of his mind. But Bas doesn’t touch it—he
skims right over it, twines his fingers with Kimolijah’s
instead, holds on tight.
“C’mon, love,” he pants. “Do it, let go, I
want to feel it.”
And that’s it, that’s just it,
that’s all Kimolijah can take, it all goes splintery and wobbly,
and Kimolijah lets go of everything with a throat-ripping
scream. He doesn’t hear it, he doesn’t hear anything but the
rush of blood pounding through his head. He only feels,
so much sensation he really thinks he might die of the overload.
And he doesn’t care. Bas is still driving into him, still
scraping bliss up Kimolijah’s spine, dragging him through
ecstasy like it’s a whole new world and he means to show
Kimolijah every last acre of it before he lets him die of
rapture. It’s wild and it’s sharp, a raw nerve-ending swaddled
in acute pleasure, and Kimolijah writhes, bends and twists,
arches so hard he vaguely feels the knobs of his spine popping
and cracking in protest before his body locks into an arced bow,
every nerve awake and hot, and blinding white light pounding
behind his eyes.
He can’t move, but it doesn’t disturb him
like he would have thought it would; his body feels all
fizzy-warm, every inch of him aware and wallowing in sensation,
shuddering and twitching as something deep within him listens to
Bas groaning release, feels the last jerky thrusts of his body
against Kimolijah’s, and Kimolijah thinks he smiles. There’s an
odd kind of peace in the frothy stillness inside Kimolijah’s
head, where the hour is none and nothing else exists in the
world but the two of them.
Kimolijah’s mind has gone blank,
everything has gone blank, narrowed down to a pinpoint of warm
nothingness, and that’s all right, too, because it’s not a scary
nothing; it’s too full of everything to be scary. It could be
hours that he floats in this luxurious serene sort of limbo, but
he thinks it’s probably only minutes or even seconds, and the
next thing he’s aware of is Bas collapsed atop him, panting like
a bellows and shaking. Kimolijah wishes he could stroke him,
soothe him, run a caress up and down his back; even as he gives
his arms a shaky, experimental little tug, he’s surprised to
find them lying limp at his sides. He lifts them up, vaguely
feeling a slow-sloughing burn work its way from his forearms
down to his shoulders and curling around over his back, but
that’s for later. He blinks and squints, then stares dumbly at
his right arm for a moment, the scarf still wound about loosely
and dangling from his wrist, but no longer attached to the
“Whenna niss—?” Kimolijah realizes he’s
mumbling and shuts his mouth, absurdly amused that he’s lost the
power of speech. When did this happen? was what he’d
meant to ask, but decides he doesn’t really need to know.
“Mm?” Bas hums back.
Kimolijah only smiles a little and doesn’t
try to repeat the question; it’s really not important.
Bas takes a long, dragging breath, slowly
props himself up on his elbows and peers down at Kimolijah.
Kimolijah can’t read Bas’s expression, which is odd—he can
usually tell what Bas is thinking just by the sort of smile or
frown he’s wearing—but something inexplicable winds through
Kimolijah’s gut, lays a tiny shrill of unease over him.
Don’t make me remember, don’t make what
just happened into nothing, and don’t say it’s everything, don’t
say it out loud, don’t say it at all, just let it be…
Bas reaches over, takes up Kimolijah’s
left hand, draws it close and inspects his wrist. Kimolijah’s
eyes are still a little crossed and blurry, and lighting a lamp
was rather low on the priority list when they’d stumbled into
the room, so he can’t really see what Bas is looking at, but
he’s got a pretty good idea.
Don’t, don’t, please don’t…
But Bas only lays a light, feathery kiss
to Kimolijah’s wrist, gently thumbs at the whorls of black ink
bisected by scars that aren’t old enough yet. Kimolijah can tell
the skin is raw and abraded by the small flare of heat from the
contact, but he’s paying too much wary attention to what Bas is
doing for it to really register. Kimolijah’s holding his breath,
tense, and he doesn’t know what he’s expecting, fearing, but it
never comes; Bas simply lays Kimolijah’s hand back down to the
sheets, draws back up onto his knees and gently prods
“Turn over, I’ll rub your shoulders.”
Kimolijah didn’t realize it was possible
to feel so many emotions within such a short span of time, but
it seems like he’s felt everything it’s possible to feel over
the past however-long-it’s-been, and yet here’s a new one. He’s
not sure what this one is; he thinks it feels a little like
gratitude, and he has this odd impulse to thank Bas, but he
thinks that might somehow be insulting, so he keeps it in. His
mouth is twitching, and he thinks it wants to smile, but if he
lets his eyes crinkle, they might start to leak, so he keeps
that in, too. He doesn’t really know what to do with himself, so
he only does what Bas has asked and turns over.
It’s wonderful, Bas’s broad hands on him,
stroking peace back into Kimolijah’s skin, and drawing serenity
up with careful fingers. Just lovely, there’s no better word for
it, and Kimolijah relaxes into the soothing touches, lets Bas
manipulate strained muscles and coiled tendons from arms to
shoulders and on down Kimolijah’s back. It almost seems more
intimate than what they’ve just done, the quiet wrapping itself
inside him, stilling everything that threatened chaos and taking
it down to a low, melodic hum behind his eyes.
It’s times like these that Kimolijah
really and truly understands how much he loves Bas, and that
usually scares him so badly that he only looks at it for a
second or two before pushing it into his back-brain. Right now,
he takes it out, peers at it closely, and decides it’s worth
savoring, even if this is the only time he’ll let himself do
“Are you going to want a bath?” Bas asks;
his voice is soft but awake and clear.
Kimolijah almost growls. Because he’s
so bloody exhausted he doesn’t know if he’ll ever move again.
“Mmrph,” he replies. Let Bas make of it
what he will; Kimolijah will go along with it, whatever it is.
Bas snorts a little. “Well, since you
always want a bath, I’ll take that as a yes.”
And that’s just… it’s just right,
so quietly right that Kimolijah squeezes his eyes shut
tight, sucks in a shaky breath, and what is all this,
anyway? When did he become this raw disarray of emotional
“Not yet,” Kimolijah whispers, “don’t go
yet,” and he doesn’t even care that he’s apparently not done
with the needy begging thing yet.
Bas only stretches out alongside him,
slides a knee over Kimolijah’s thighs and keeps one hand moving
up and down Kimolijah’s spine. “Later,” Bas agrees. “I’ll put
some coppers up and get you something for your throat, shall I?
Sounds a little sore.”
That makes Kimolijah smile, small and
wobbly, because that’s right, too, Bas mother-henning, and a
little piece of Kimolijah’s world clicks back into place. His
throat is sore and just as sensitive as everything else
seems to be, and it keeps accumulating these mystifying lumps
that Kimolijah has to swallow down or breathe around, and both
are getting more and more difficult. For all that tonight has
been astonishing and revelatory, he’ll be just as happy when
it’s over and he can tuck his emotions back inside where they
belong, instead of having them dripping out of him like this and
him not able to stop the flow.
Kimolijah takes a deep breath that’s a
little more steady than the last had been, ventures, “I see my
nefarious scheme is working, then,” and sighs a little when it
comes out slightly mumbled and slurred, but clear enough.
Bas’s hand pauses for a moment. Kimolijah
can’t see him, can’t see anything but the insides of his
eyelids, but he knows Bas’s eyebrows have gone up and one corner
of his mouth is quirked.
“And which scheme is that? There are so
many, after all.”
Kimolijah stretches, rolls his shoulders
beneath Bas’s hand; Bas takes the hint and resumes kneading at
them. “The one where I get you to shag me witless and then
coddle me until I can move and think again.”
“Ah,” Bas says. “And did this scheme
entail tea or port for your throat?”
“Um…” Kimolijah frowns. “That’s… sort of
an odd choice, isn’t it?” He grunts a bit when Bas’s hand cups
the entirety of his right shoulder blade and digs into the
“When I was a boy,” Bas tells him, “Mam
always insisted that tea with honey and lemon and a touch of
freesia would cure anything from a runny nose to the loss of a
Kimolijah smiles, relieved that it doesn’t
feel so shaky anymore. “’S nice,” he mumbles.
“But Gran used to sneak me a glass of port
after Mam had gone off. Told me that even if it didn’t cure
whatever was ailing me, at least it would make me feel like it
Kimolijah chuckles at that one. “And did
“Oh, yes,” Bas answers, the smile plain in
his voice. “I was—what?—five or so, I imagine, when Gran started
sotting me with the stuff, and it always did go straight to my
“Still does,” Kimolijah observes wryly.
“Fuck off,” Bas retorts, easy and amused.
“Anyway, I never was quite sure which did the job, the tea or
the port, so you’ll have to tell me which.” He burrows in a
little tighter, mouth resting warm against Kimolijah’s shoulder.
“When I get up, that is. Which is not right now.”
Pillow talk. That’s all.
No are you all right? No did it
remind you? No are you over it, finally, can you live
now, can you be a whole person, can you forget, should you?
Kimolijah is so relieved that they are
decidedly Not Talking About It that he feels a
sudden and irresistible urge to let Bas know how grateful he is.
With some effort, Kimolijah turns his head, lays a kiss to Bas’s
hair before sinking like a stone back into the pillows; it’s
perhaps a smallish token, but it’s all he can manage right now.
Bas’s hand sweeps over to Kimolijah’s arm, gives it a light
squeeze in acknowledgement before sliding down to stroke firmly
over ribcage then backbone.
“You decide,” Kimolijah eventually
answers, exhaustion thickening his tongue, spiraling behind his
eyes and pulling heavily at his body. Sleep is rolling right
over him and he doesn’t have the inclination to resist it at the
moment, so he just sighs out a long breath, smiles a little. “I
trust you,” he slurs into the pillow, then gives in and dozes.