It always surprises
him when it comes up, though he knows it probably shouldn't. It
isn't like he doesn't always know it somewhere within, even if
that somewhere is stuffed deep beneath the little bit of fear to
which he won't ever admit or even whatever nonsense thing they
happen to be bickering about this time. An odd thing, the
bickering, but it's a part of them—or Them, that unique
entity known as Liam-and-Aaron they have become—and Liam can't
say that it's exactly fun, but it's… interesting.
Interesting in the way he learns something brand-new about Aaron
every single time, even when he thinks he knows everything about
him. Interesting in the way, no matter how irate they are with
each other or how sharp the words become, there is always
something deep within that knows they'll come through, work
their way to the other side and be the better for it.
Interesting in the way Liam never doubts that all of it comes
from a well of something so deep between them, he sometimes
wonders how other people can muddle through life without it.
It's always there
beneath his skin, vibrating with a low hum, and it's stronger
when he's actually close to Aaron. Though he remembers one time,
when it had been months instead of weeks and they'd left
themselves in a place where Liam honestly hadn't been sure if
they could find their way back. Wary and volatile, both of them,
back then, before they'd come to where they are now, how
they are now. Before trust had replaced insecurity, before faith
and knowledge had replaced blind guesses and assumptions. Liam
remembers that time—when they’d nearly ended themselves before
they’d begun—not as a comfortable hum, but more a screech within
his head, throbbing behind his eyes, and that time… that time it
It almost hurts now,
too, but in a different way, and Liam lies back in the clover,
can almost feel and smell the tiny bursts of petals through the
thin linen of his shirt. Watches Aaron as Aaron watches Downing.
It sounds sort of grand and poetic—watches Downing—as
though Liam’s making of Aaron something he isn't, romanticising
him or some other such nonsense that would honestly rather make
him, Liam, into the girl in this relationship. He finds himself
grimacing and wrinkling his nose before he can banish that
thought well and good.
All right, so yes,
it's a little on the romantic side. Liam supposes it might have
a thing or two to do with the way the Sun hits Aaron's skin,
flares gold from bronze, and makes honeyed-amber of that hair
that he can never arse himself to keep a respectable length.
Liam teases him about that quite often but he thinks Aaron
probably knows that Liam secretly likes his hair long, likes to
twist his fingers through it, feel it wind about as though
reaching for him, pulling him in. Liam sometimes wonders if
that's why Aaron doesn't arse himself.
Anyway, it sounds
romantic, he'll grant that, but it doesn't make it any less
true: Aaron watches Downing and Liam watches Aaron do it. He
loves that look in Aaron's eye, that soft distant spark that
tells Liam that Aaron is probably thinking about whether the
wheat fields will yield enough to allow sales to neighboring
counties this year, or whether his projections were too
optimistic and the money for the new silos for the grange will
have to wait. Or perhaps he's pondering whether he should just
go ahead and buy those parcels that Dooley wants to sell the
county at a price higher than fair. But while Aaron knows that
the price is too high, he also knows the yield will pay for the
overage within a year or two, so he's having trouble deciding
whether to tell Dooley to go hang or to rather hang his own
pride and pay what's being asked.
Aaron may doubt that
he’ll make the right decision, but Liam doesn't. Aaron loves his
home, his land, and he knows it backwards and forwards.
Sometimes Liam even wonders if it speaks to Aaron; it wouldn't
surprise Liam in the least. Aaron is of it, at its very
core, and Liam would envy that if it weren't such a brilliant,
beautiful thing to see. Liam wants to reach out, touch Aaron's
skin, see if it vibrates with the beat of the land's heart,
wants to slip his fingers into that too-long hair and draw Aaron
in, kiss him, taste every single element from his tongue.
Or better yet, maybe
tackle him to the grass, press him down into the earth, slide
his mouth over the short-sharp gasps and deep-chested groans
that rumble from Aaron, bare that golden skin to Liam’s hands
and paint himself all over it with fingertips tracing invisible
sonnets over the tender swells of muscle. Write his secrets into
the soul of the one to whom they belong. And all right, maybe
it's silly and sappy, but that's the thing about a shared
secret: no one else knows it's there but the one with whom you
share it. Liam wants to share this, wants to make Aaron see how
beautiful he is. Slide his hands down and over muscled ribs,
feel the skin quiver beneath his palms, feel the rush of want
and need come from Aaron's body and surge into his own. Lick
salty sweat from the dip between his collarbones, feel himself
lifted with a slow arch of Aaron's back, and know that he
has caused this, he has turned Aaron's words to slurred
moans and distorted the graceful movements of long, strong limbs
to helpless grasping and stretching.
There is something
about the sight of Aaron lying in the grass, all tanned and
wide, golden skin laying contrast the white of his shirt, and
broad chest rising and falling faster the longer he lets his
smoked-ash gaze lock with Liam's own. Liam sometimes thinks
Aaron could drive him to climax just with that gaze alone, and
he thinks very seriously about telling Downing to go
hang, making Aaron turn that gaze to him, drenching
himself in it like a summer storm, and taking Aaron right here
and now and all for himself.
Instead, he stays
where he is and just watches. It isn't his to impose upon this,
this communing of province and steward.
And that's when it
hits him, how very deeply Aaron has worked his way into Liam's
heart, how much Liam depends on him, counts on him… all right,
fine, he loves him, and if that's romantic then Liam will
be the girl on that one.
He loves him.
Liam loves Aaron.
And Liam's a big,
fat, romantic girl, and next he'll be carving their initials in
trees with a big ridiculous heart around them and nicking locks
of that hair that's far too long and wearing Aaron's shirts so
he can smell him even when he's not near…
All right, Liam had
actually done that last one the last time Aaron had been to
Antira. Liam's cheeks pink a little, and he dips his head to
hide it, even though he is thoroughly shaded by the tree beneath
which they lounge. Aaron doesn't know everything he thinks he
knows, but he does always seem to know when Liam's mind has
dipped into the gutter—or Aaron's trousers—or when Liam is
thinking about things that would make him blush fire if he were
forced to say them out loud. So, he does his best to concentrate
on calming his runaway libido and driving down the color he can
feel heating his cheeks. He almost lets loose with a bit of a
disgusted groan at himself but manages to close his teeth over
it and turn it into a sigh instead.
It’s that small noise
that makes Aaron peer down at Liam, catch him staring. Liam is
pretty sure he pinks some more but he hopes the tree is giving
enough shade that Aaron won't notice.
A small smile from
Aaron and a further softening of his gaze. "What’s got you so
flushed?" he asks Liam.
Liam puffs another
sigh… maybe more of a self-conscious groan. He supposes he could
say he's been thinking about how beautiful Aaron is and how he's
even more beautiful when he's deep in silent conversation with
the land he so loves. How Liam loves him, loves him, and
he misses him when they're not together. How sometimes the weeks
apart are just too much. And if it all makes of him a sappy girl
then so be it and bring on the petticoats.
But Liam only smiles
back, reaches out and slides his fingers into sun-gold curls. "I
was thinking that you're needing a haircut," is all he says.
Aaron grins a little,
smirks. "I love you, too," he retorts.
It always surprises
Aaron when Liam does something like this, impulsive and a little
bit reckless and oh, exciting because it's so daring,
right out in the relative-open as they are. But Aaron doesn't
complain, not even a small peep of protest, when Liam corners
him behind the beer tent, presses his back to the stacked kegs
and kisses him, deep and sound and thorough.
surprised, though, because all night, Liam has been wearing his
metaphorical Village Council hat, making the rounds of the
Faire, hailing friends and acquaintances and tenants, even
buying a drink for Kilenny once and snickering into Aaron's
shoulder when propriety forced the dolt to give him a nod and a
smile in thanks.
All of that and the
dancing, too. Aaron loves to watch Liam dance, even if Liam
insists that he's horrible at it (not true) and even if he
insists even more vehemently that he doesn't much care for it (so
not true). He is good at it and he bloody-well knows it.
He loves losing himself to it, as well, Aaron can tell; a person
doesn't get that graceful at something unless he loves to do it,
and Liam, to Aaron at least, is grace-personified most of the
time, but on the boards, he is something else and again to
watched him, all bloody night. He's probably been a little too
obvious about it, but he couldn't bring himself to tear his eyes
away, else he might miss those transitory moments when Liam's
eyes would flash over at him, fleet and almost-feral, with a
quick, sly grin, only to skid away again, focus on his
dance-partner. Aaron almost—almost, but not quite—felt
sorry for those various partners. He knows how easy it is to
fall in love with Liam. Knows what it’s like to have those eyes
trained on you, looking into you, like you're the only
person in the world, the only person who matters, as though
Liam’s been waiting all his life to hear the next thing to come
out of your mouth, even if it's something as trite and simple
as, 'You're looking well these days'.
Aaron will admit that
he's been a little bit jealous, watching those eyes fix on
someone other than him, watching the blushes rise and the smiles
widen and the eyes spark bright and mischievous. He envied those
dance-partners the scent of clean sweat and bayberry, envied
them that attentive gaze, envied them that sure grip of
long-fingered hands. He knows it's a bit childish—a bit girlish,
if he really thinks about it, which he doesn't—what with him
standing about and staring like a love-struck lass. Next thing
he knows, Aaron will be writing Liam's name in the dirt with a
stick, or making up horrible poetry, or leaving love-notes
hidden in desk drawers so that Liam will still think about him
when he's not about…
All right, so he'd
actually done that last, but he refuses to blush about it
because Liam said he'd loved finding it, and Aaron had received
quite the letter through the post as a reward—and made
the mistake of starting to read it while his solicitor was in
the room, and oh, didn't he get Liam back for that one
well and good—so he won't feel too silly and romantic over it.
Still, though, he knows full well that if some evil soul—or his
sister—ever slipped him a truth potion and asked him which of
them is the girl in this relationship, Aaron would be forced to
answer that it is in fact Aaron himself, and sod off and what of
So, all right, he's
in love and he has to admit that he lets the romance run away
with him now and then, but he won't feel too awfully daft about
it. And even though Liam has been busy with his
Village-Councilman-visits-the-Faire business this evening and
paying attention to almost everyone but Aaron but for those
slick, quick glances, Aaron only feels a little jealous. All
right, quite a lot jealous, because… well, because he is Aaron,
after all. But he he’d known that when all is said and done
tonight, when the band has packed up and the lamps have been
doused, he'd have that gaze all to himself and every smile would
be meant for him and him alone. So, he’d merely hovered about
the fringes, watched and waited.
It was worse—or maybe
better, he's not sure—when the sun went down and the moon rose
in its place, streaming silver down into the grass like
pearled-mist, blurring into the soft light of colored lamps and
turning it all into something magic and ethereal. Somehow Liam
belongs there as no one else does, in that place between
gold and silver, day and night, sun and moon. Aaron, more than
once, found his eyes seeking out those dancing feet, making sure
they touched the earth every now and again, making sure they
There had been a
time, not too long ago, when Aaron had thought he might never
have this again, when there were no smiles just for him and
there had been no one to make sure Liam didn’t let the dance
sway him to wander off into starlight. Aaron thinks he might be
better off if he tried to forget that time, put it behind him
and keep only the lessons of it. Yet, somehow, the pain of it
fails to taint the relief of knowing that it's done and
long-past, that time, and so Aaron thinks that keeping it ever
with him is perhaps not such a bad thing. Not when the
remembering makes times like this all the more sweet in the
living of them. And so he’d watched Liam tonight because he
could, because it's his right. Because he knew that Liam
knew he was watching, and those quick-flash smiles would keep
coming, so long as Aaron didn’t look away.
Moon and stars had
dripped down to touch Liam, firelight kept him anchored,
earthbound. Aaron watched the music take Liam in, swaddle him in
downbeats and two-steps and triple-times. Long legs gamboled
over rough boards, leading with a grace that was more beautiful
for its unconscious elegance, even when it was accompanied by a
cheeky grin. Moonlight turned dark hair jet, like silvered
raven's wings, and firelight streaked it sooty caramel-claret;
Aaron had been fascinated by how each blended so seamlessly—at
once paled and rouged flushed, damp cheeks, flared sparks in
that gaze only half-tamed then cooled Liam’s eyes to languid
pools of starlit water.
Oh, but Aaron has
loved watching Liam all night, has loved those times when Liam
would extract himself from the floor, seek Aaron out, quaff a
cold ale with him and smile just for him, just for Aaron, turn
those eyes on him and poof! just like that, Aaron's knees
But this he
loves even more, this sly, mischievous grin stretched over
Liam's face and plastered over Aaron's own mouth, and this
tongue swiping wide, hot stripes over his throat, and these
hands, wandering to places they should not be wandering when
there are at least ten merrymakers on the other side of the thin
canvas of the beer tent. String and flute paint gold behind
Aaron's eyes, coil warm about his chest, as Liam's voice, thick
with lust, murmurs to him slow, makes a song of words seeping
hot into Aaron's skin:
"Bloody hell," Liam
pants, slides his hand firm to the unfurling heat in Aaron's
trousers, nips and tugs at Aaron's earlobe, "need you now,
now, when will this bloody thing end?"
Aaron might melt if
he's not very careful to keep his head, let Liam press him right
into the kegs and have his way with him, hard and fast and
noisy, and too sodding bad about those partiers in the tent. He
almost thinks that Liam will, if Aaron doesn't get himself
together very quickly and while it's certainly not without its
attraction, Aaron doesn't fancy sharing anything about Liam
right now, not even a glance of smooth skin silvered by
moonlight. So Aaron takes hold of Liam's busy hands, slides his
own hands over Liam's wrists and guides his arms behind his
back. Liam groans, low and gruff, launches a new assault on
Aaron's throat with teeth and tongue, grinds himself against
manages to grate into the crook of Liam's neck, "It can be done
right now. You're the Councilman, you know, and they all know
their way home. Let's go."
Another nip to
Aaron's ear then a searing kiss laid rough to his mouth. Liam
pulls back, flashes a smoking glance to Aaron's eyes before
letting it drift back to Aaron's mouth. He smiles, cunning and a
little bit wild.
A slow shake of his
head and: "Oh, I do love you so," he says, voice hoarse and
almost bloody dripping with sex.
Aaron smiles back,
tightens his grip on Liam's wrists and hauls him flush against
himself, the movement rough and almost-shocking to his nerves.
And he could tell Liam how he loves to hear it, how he's still
not quite got used to saying it out loud, how it still gives him
a bit of a thrill in his belly and turns his grins stupid when
he's not paying attention. How it makes him feel so bloody
lucky that he sometimes has to stop himself from asking
someone to pinch him to make sure he's awake, and if that
isn't more than a little girly, he doesn't know what is.
Instead he only
broadens his grin, rolls his hips and lets himself smirk at
Liam's low groan.
know," is all he says.