The Sun and the Moon
Sequel to Heartstrings
Author’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon
Main pairings: Velaxis/ Vaysh/Ashmael
Summary: Velaxis helps Vaysh and Ash get together again.
Disclaimer: Not mine. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters belong to Storm Constantine.
Warning: AU of course.
Spoiler warning: Set after book 6.
Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks sweeties!
All remaining mistakes are mine.
The Sun and the Moon
Vaysh didn’t want to wear the velvet robes which were colored in rich earth tones. It made him stand out and, even though the fabric kept him nice and warm on this cold winter day, wearing it made him feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately for Vaysh, Velaxis had been adamant that he wear it, so the redhead found himself cornered by several hara who were interested in getting to know him. It was the soft brown and red tones of his robes that gave him a warm and approachable appearance and several hara felt encouraged to engage him in conversation. Even Cedony had made an attempt to talk to him while the other har usually ignored him.
“Relax, you are doing fine.” Velaxis placed a hand at the small of Vaysh’s back and rubbed the skin through the fabric. “They like talking to you.” Velaxis was used to dealing with crowds and being charming and felt comfortable. Caeru seemed to have invited anyhar the Tigrina knew and a large number of them had turned up.
“Can’t we leave yet?” Vaysh glanced at the doorway hungrily. He didn’t like being swarmed by strangers. He felt out of place as he conversed with the members of the Hegemony, who treated him like they had been friends for years. The truth was that Vaysh had hardly ever talked to them away from work.
“Not yet. You don’t want to disappoint Rue, do you?” Velaxis caught Caeru’s gaze and smiled indulgently. He would make sure that Vaysh stayed a little longer. It would do his chesnari good to realize that things had changed and that hara wanted to befriend him.
“I don’t want to hurt Caeru’s feelings, but I want out, Vel.” Vaysh was doing his best to be polite when Dree walked up to him to congratulate him on having gained a chesnari. Vaysh cursed the fact that Caeru had told everyhar that Velaxis and he were chesna now. Why couldn’t the Tigrina haven’t kept quiet a little longer?
Vaysh’s patience was stretched to the limit when Ashmael entered the hall with a young har at his side that he had never seen before. The har must have been new to Immanion, so Ashmael was busy introducing his companion to the crowd. “I want to leave.”
Velaxis followed the direction of his chesnari’s gaze and straightened his shoulders upon catching sight of Ashmael and his unknown companion. “You faced him once before, Vaysh. You can do it again.”
Thankfully, Ashmael didn’t approach and the redhead prayed his former chesnari would leave him alone. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with Ashmael. “Please stay close, Vel. I don’t feel right.”
Velaxis nodded his head and slid his hand into Vaysh’s. “I am at your side.”
An hour later, Velaxis finally took pity on Vaysh. “Fine, we can leave. We stayed long enough.” They wouldn’t offend the Tigrina if they left now. They had to take their leave from the Triad though and he steered Vaysh toward the three hara. Fortunately for them, Pellaz, Cal, and Caeru had gathered in a corner so they only had to say farewell once. “Rue, I hope you don’t mind, but Vaysh is tired and I don’t want to exhaust him.”
Caeru smiled knowingly at Vaysh. “You shouldn’t tire yourself unnecessarily. Thank you for staying as long as you did. I can imagine you would have liked to leave earlier.” His gaze drifted off to Ashmael, who was whirling his companion across the dance floor.
Vaysh looked at Caeru gratefully. “I am sorry, but his presence affects me.” It would take him a while to get used to his new role as Velaxis’ chesnari since Ashmael had never before flaunted his conquests in his face like that.
“Go rest then,” Pellaz ordered and smiled. He rested his upper body against Cal’s and rubbed his cheek against his chesnari’s shoulder. At the same time, he reached for Rue’s hand and curled his fingers around the blond har’s wrist. “We will excuse you to our guests.”
Cal had been quite surprised to hear that Vaysh and Velaxis were chesna these days, but stayed quiet. He was content to watch Velaxis’ body language. He could easily tell that the other har was very protective of the redhead as Velaxis kept sending glares into Ashmael’s direction.
At the same moment, Darquiel advanced on Velaxis and pulled him into a hug. Velaxis hadn’t noticed Darq’s approach and tensed in the embrace, but then relaxed as he realized who was holding him. “Darq.” His former charge had been away for months, spending time with his chesnari.
“Zu,” Darq replied and grinned. “It’s good to see you again.” He then sought out Vaysh’s gaze. He didn’t know the redhead that well and hoped Velaxis had made the right decision when he had taken Vaysh as his chesnari. “I am glad you finally found someone. I never liked the idea of you being alone.”
Vaysh watched Darq hug Velaxis close and wondered about their odd relationship. Darq had always had a soft spot where Velaxis was concerned even when Cal had seemed to disapprove of the friendship. In a way, Darq had been Velaxis’ champion.
Velaxis gripped Darq’s arms and smiled warmly at him. “I am glad too. Vaysh is perfect as far as I am concerned. Do you know my chesnari yet?” If not, it would be his pleasure to introduce them.
“I have seen you around, Vaysh, but I don’t believe we were ever properly introduced.” Darq noticed the way the light in the gray eyes had changed. They radiated warmth instead of the chill and aloofness he had seen in them before.
Pellaz smiled and decided against getting involved in their conversation. He knew of his son’s fondness for Velaxis and surmised Darq would extend his friendship to Vaysh as well.
The redhead shyly nodded. “I know who you are and I am glad you returned home unharmed. For a long time we thought you lost.”
“But I am here now,” Darq replied since he didn’t want to linger on the past. “So, you caught Zu. I am impressed.”
Vaysh managed a smile. “Vel is very special to me.”
Velaxis blushed weakly at that and his fingers curled around Vaysh’s. It was a good thing that he had shared his history with his chesnari for Vaysh then knew why Darq called him Zu. “And Vaysh is very special to me too.” Before he knew it, he was staring adoringly into Vaysh’s eyes.
Amused, Darq cleared his throat and reminded them that they weren’t alone. Two pairs of guilty eyes looked apologetically at him and he smiled. “Are you going to retire for the night? Maybe you should, considering the looks you are giving each other.” He remembered how he had felt when he had been freshly in love. He hadn’t been able to get enough of his chesnari either.
“It would be best if we did.” The idea of retiring was very appealing to Velaxis. “Darq, Pell, Cal, Rue… Vaysh and I will see you again tomorrow.” The four hara nodded and smiled secretively at him as Velaxis quickly pulled Vaysh along, hoping his chesnari hadn’t seen Ashmael share breath with the unknown har on the dance floor. While Vaysh had let go of Ashmael, seeing his former chesnari becoming intimate with another har would make him feel uncomfortable.
Vaysh had been so focused on Darq however that he had forgotten about Ashmael. As Velaxis pulled him along, he was too busy running after his chesnari to notice the looks Ashmael was giving him.
Vaysh immediately went into the bathroom and splashed his face with water before setting to removing the kohl and rouge Velaxis had applied earlier. After that, he finger combed his hair and studied the golden strands mixed in with the red. Using one hand, he unbuttoned the robe and slid the fabric down until it pooled around his feet so he could step out of it. Still running his fingers through his hair, he entered the bedroom again and found Velaxis sipping sheh while leaning against the wall.
Velaxis’ mouth watered as he saw Vaysh looking naked and so carefree. “You changed so much,” he mumbled and placed his empty glass on the windowsill. “And I love the way you look…so seductive.”
The redhead hadn’t been aware of the fact that he looked seductive to his chesnari. He had been occupied with trying to remove some tangles from his hair. His hands stopped moving and he looked at Velaxis in surprise. “Seductive?”
“Oh so very enticing… I need to put my hands on you.” Velaxis walked over to Vaysh and slid his arms up his chesnari’s back so he could pull his love close. “You smell good too.”
Vaysh snorted. “I stink of Cal’s cigarettes. It is beyond me why he insists on smoking them all evening.” Velaxis on the other hand smelled of orchids. The silver-haired har had used orchid-scented oil to rub into his skin after they had bathed. Velaxis’ hooded gaze took him aback and he chuckled when his chesnari pressed him against the wall. The tiles were cold against his bare back and he shivered.
“I need to touch you, Vaysh. I need to feel you. You drive me mad.” Velaxis buried his face in the crook of Vaysh’s shoulder and licked the skin there. “Will you be soume for me?”
Shaking his head, Vaysh felt amused by then. “We just rooned this morning!”
“I don’t care. I want you again.” Velaxis had managed to undo the zipper of the jeans he was wearing and was busy wriggling out of them. The fabric ended up caught around his knees, but his ouana-lim was freed and vibrated with need. “Oh, Vaysh, please say yes.”
Vaysh didn’t know what Velaxis was up to and was surprised when his chesnari slipped his hands beneath his buttocks and lifted him. “Wrap yourself around me,” Velaxis instructed and guided Vaysh’s legs around his waist and his chesnari’s arms around his shoulders. “And hang on.”
The redhead trembled with expectancy when Velaxis easily entered him. The silver-haired har still supported him, but Vaysh needed more and slung his limbs around his chesnari’s frame. Not even Ashmael had been this adventurous during aruna and the new position made his head spin. Biting into Velaxis’ shoulder, he tried to hang on.
Eager to please his chesnari, Velaxis thrust slowly but deeply and easily activated one sikra after another until Vaysh was practically screaming in pleasure. “Oh yes…” Velaxis got off on Vaysh’s subdued screams and hardly felt the sharp teeth breaking his skin. Throwing back his head, he took Vaysh to the edge and then pushed his chesnari over, following suit as he tumbled in after Vaysh.
Vaysh’s world spun as Velaxis’ thoughts danced in his mind and his body exploded with lust. They shared their climax and Vaysh clung to Velaxis when his chesnari’s hands slipped away from beneath him, robbing him of his support. “Vel, I…” Afraid he was going to fall, he buried his fingers in his chesnari’s hair.
Velaxis quickly went down to his knees so Vaysh couldn’t slip away. Staring at Vaysh, he startled to chuckle. “You… You are the best thing that ever happened to me.” Hugging Vaysh tightly, he bathed in his chesnari’s essence, clearly sensing the love the redhead bore him.
Pellaz’ dark gaze followed Ashmael through the room until the blond har shared breath with his younger lover. The Tigron could easily tell that something was off with Ashmael. For some reason, the fair har was trying to appear unfazed and drunk on lust. Pellaz however sensed no lust pouring off of his friend. “It’s an act,” Pellaz explained when Cal sent him a probing look. “Ashmael’s pretending.”
Cal focused his attention on Ashmael as well and tended to agree. “But why?” Pellaz had told him about the confrontation in the corridor and he knew that Vaysh had broken away from Ashmael and their past.
“Maybe he finally realized what a fool he is for letting Vaysh go.” Pellaz was of two minds about this. He didn’t think Ashmael was right for Vaysh, but at the same time he had always hoped the two hara would get together again. It was a hopelessly romantic notion which reflected his own history with Cal.
“I don’t believe Velaxis will let Vaysh slip through his fingers.” Cal shifted his gaze from Ashmael to Pellaz and sighed deeply. “I could never have let you go like Ashmael did with Vaysh. I had to have you back.” Placing his hands on Pellaz’ shoulders, he tried to massage away the tension that lingered there. “This is affecting you,” he realized in surprise.
“Can you blame me? For years I looked at Vaysh and saw myself and then I realized how fortunate I was that you came after me.” Pellaz leaned heavily against Cal and relished having his chesnari’s arms around him to pull him close.
“Don’t worry about them,” Cal advised. “Vaysh has Velaxis now and Ashmael needs some time to deal with that fact. He will get over it.”
But Pellaz wasn’t so sure of that. He had a feeling that Ashmael still loved Vaysh.
The next days passed by without any noticeable events. Ashmael returned to his duties and Velaxis moved into Vaysh’s rooms. Each day, he carried some items in there and brightened up the rooms with his personal belongings. Vaysh had finally accepted that his life had changed and welcomed Velaxis to each aspect of his life. They were quickly becoming inseparable and Velaxis’ company and love caused Vaysh to bloom.
One evening, Rue invited them to dinner and Velaxis accepted on Vaysh’s behalf. Vaysh wasn’t too pleased when he found out, but resigned himself to his fate and let Velaxis fuss over him as he dressed for the evening. He had never paid much attention to his appearance, but ever since Velaxis had become his chesnari, he found that he enjoyed picking out clothes that he knew would please the other har.
Velaxis guided Vaysh over to the table and watched the redhead sit down. Vaysh looked positively radiant these days and Velaxis found it hard not to claim his chesnari’s lips and share breath. But the Tigrina and Tigrons were close and he was forced to behave himself…unfortunately.
Pellaz made sure the conversation continued to flow and smiled in pleasure at Vaysh whenever his confidant blushed because he had just received a compliment. Seeing Vaysh so alive warmed his heart. “I miss your presence, Vaysh. When are you going to return to your duties and join me at my side?”
“Once I am ready to let him go,” Velaxis answered instead in amusement. “I plan to hog him a little longer.”
Vaysh grew impossibly flustered and fumbled with the tablecloth. “I didn’t think you needed me anymore, Pell.”
Pellaz blinked in surprise. “What makes you think that? I will always need you!” He was truly shocked to learn that his friend felt like he had deserted him. “I am sorry if I neglected you!” He had been too happy having Cal, Rue, and Darq in his life again.
“I understand,” Vaysh replied slowly. “I don’t want to leave Vel’s side either.”
Rue smiled and nodded. For a long time he had worried about his dear friend and had thought that Velaxis might remain alone for the rest of his life. “Then enjoy your time together,” he said and placed his hand on Velaxis’ arm. “Savor it.”
“Join me in a few minutes…” Velaxis excused himself toward the end of dinner and pressed a kiss onto Vaysh’s hair. “I want to surprise you,” he added and wiggled an eyebrow. “Give me ten.” Vaysh grew flustered and Velaxis quickly disappeared into the rooms he shared with the redhead.
“What was that about?” Vaysh wondered aloud absentmindedly. Blinking, he tried to make sense of Velaxis’ request. In the end, he raised his gaze and realized that the three other hara were grinning at him. Rue was even giving him naughty looks which left little to the imagination.
“I believe you will end up being a very lucky har tonight.” Rue leaned back into the comfort of his chair and sipped his sheh. “You might be in for a romantic surprise.”
Vaysh hid behind his long hair and fumbled with the table cloth. Since he had nohar else to confide in, he whispered, “He’s insatiable.”
Cal laughed warmly and looked at Vaysh sympathetically when the redhead glared at him. “Young love is like that.”
“Old love too,” Pellaz retorted smugly. “You are insatiable at times.”
“Only because you are,” Cal replied and gave his chesnari a wink.
Rue merely sighed and shook his head. He knew *both* of them were insatiable where aruna was concerned. “Vel is like that, Vaysh. I thought you would enjoy the experience.”
“I do, it’s only… It’s so strange. I went without aruna for…a long time,” Vaysh explained when he felt Cal and Rue’s probing gazes. “I need to get used to…”
“Being rooned all the time?” Cal grinned. “I believe Vel had enough time. Why don’t you find out what he is up to?” He raised a hand and gestured at the doorway.
Vaysh pushed himself to his feet and carefully made his way over to the door. A part of him wanted to find out what Velaxis was up to, but another part felt a bit nervous and scared of the unknown.
Velaxis had done his best to create a romantic atmosphere in Vaysh’s bedroom. He had moved the comforter from the bed onto the floor and had made a comfortable nest out of it along with the rug and some pillows. Around the nest he had placed a large number of scented candles after having extinguished the rest of the lamps, allowing the candles to let their light ghost over the walls and ceiling. Velaxis had changed into one of Vaysh’s morning robes that was a deep red. He had tied his long hair back into a pony tail so it wouldn’t get in the way when he rooned his chesnari.
Waiting for his chesnari to enter, he hid himself in the shadows of the room.
Shivers traveled down Vaysh’s spine when he saw the circle of candles on the floor. He quickly closed his eyes, but the damage had already been done. The sight had reminded him of a similar situation that he had been in over thirty years ago. Back then, there had been candles set up in a circle and hara restraining him. He had fought and knocked over some of the candles and the hot wax had burned him. “No,” he whimpered and dropped to his knees. “No!” he screamed and stared in horror at the candles. “Never again!”
Stunned by his chesnari’s reaction, Velaxis hesitated for a moment. The last thing he had expected to happen was that Vaysh would flashback to what Thiede had done to him three decades ago and cursed himself for unintentionally causing the flashback.
“NO!” As he remembered the greedy hands on him, Vaysh screamed and pulled at his hair. Thiede’s hara had kept him down while the powerful har had forced himself on Vaysh. The pain seemed to vibrate in each sinew of his body and the blood in his veins went cold.
The moment Velaxis moved forward to comfort his distraught chesnari, the door opened and Pellaz stormed inside. The Tigron’s features were contorted as he sunk to his knees next to Vaysh. Curling his arms around Vaysh, Pellaz pulled him close and rocked him. “What did you do?” Pellaz hissed as he caught sight of Velaxis.
“I only wanted to… The candles seemed a good idea… A little bit of romance,” Velaxis stuttered to explain his actions. Slowly, he went to his knees in front of the two hara and tried to catch Vaysh’s gaze. “What happened?”
Pellaz shivered as he stared at the circle of candles. “It was like that when Thiede…” Unable to finish, he gave Velaxis a meaningful look. Cal had once had a similar idea to Velaxis’ and had placed candles through their bedroom, but Pellaz had simply walked away. Cal had had to coax him into telling why he had gone so pale and quiet. Pellaz too had flashbacked to that day when Thiede had forced him.
Realizing his mistake, Velaxis grew angry with himself. “I am so stupid! I should have known!”
But Pellaz berated him. “You couldn’t know. Cal didn’t know either. But now you know and you can keep in mind that some things will make Vaysh uncomfortable.”
“I should have known…should have asked…” But he hadn’t. He had just wanted to create a romantic atmosphere. “Can I hold him?” He desperately wanted to make amends and comfort his chesnari.
“Let me hold him a moment longer.” Pellaz wasn’t just soothing Vaysh physically. He was also reaching out to his friend and soothing away the ripples of terror that zigzagged through Vaysh’s mind.
Vaysh clung to Pellaz and trembled with relief when his friend reached out to him to help him relax. He had fought his trauma for a long time successfully, but his past had caught up with him. “I am sorry, Vel,” he mumbled and peered sadly at his chesnari. Since he had recovered from his shock, he tried to reach out to Velaxis. “I am sorry that I reacted like that. You only wanted to make me feel good and I… I freaked out on you.”
Pellaz gestured for Velaxis to move closer and then eased Vaysh into the silver-haired har’s arms. Velaxis hugged Vaysh close and continued to rock him like Pellaz had. “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t think. I should have known…” But Vaysh raised his right hand and placed a finger against his lips, silencing him.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Vaysh stated, not wanting Velaxis to feel guilty.
“It’s not your fault either,” Pellaz added as he stroked Vaysh’s hair. His gaze shifted to Velaxis and he said, “I will extinguish the candles. Why don’t you move him to the bed?”
Velaxis nodded and simply lifted Vaysh in his arms when the redhead seemed to lack the strength to rise unaided. “I can walk,” Vaysh whispered against Velaxis’ chest.
“Let me carry you, please…”
Vaysh nodded and closed his eyes as he relished the fact that his chesnari was so eager to take care of him. He felt mentally drained and curled up on the bed the moment his body made contact with it. Velaxis lay down next to him and a moment later protective arms and legs wrapped around him. Closing his eyes, he dozed, but didn’t fall asleep. He needed to feel Velaxis close.
Velaxis watched Pellaz extinguish the candles and noticed the minute tremors that shook the Tigron’s hand. He realized that Pellaz and Vaysh’s experiences with Thiede had been very similar. Once Pellaz put the candles away, the Tigron sought out Velaxis’ gaze and the silver-haired har looked back thoughtfully. “Thank you,” Velaxis mouthed soundlessly. Pellaz nodded his head and then left Vaysh’s room, giving them their privacy.
Rue was asleep when Pellaz returned to their bed, but Cal was watching him alertly. When he had felt Vaysh’s distress, Pellaz had leapt out of bed to check on his friend while telling Cal to stay put. “What happened?” Cal asked when Pellaz pressed close to him.
“Velaxis put out candles,” Pellaz explained, knowing that Cal would know why that had upset Vaysh.
Cal’s features contorted briefly. “I made that mistake too. Damn Thiede for…”
Pellaz silenced Cal with a kiss. “Don’t speak his name while we are in bed please.” He didn’t want Thiede’s ghost to haunt his dreams.
“I am sorry.” Cal hugged Pellaz close and pressed a kiss onto the dark crown. “I love you…” he whispered and held Pellaz close. Not for the first time did he wish he had been there for Pellaz when Thiede had gotten his hands on him. The powerful har had manipulated them all masterfully!
Ashmael still felt unfulfilled after rooning his newest conquest. Crimson was a young and motivated har and had joined Ashmael’s forces a few days ago. Ashmael had immediately noticed him because he bore some resemblance to Vaysh. The blond hair, although clipped short, reminded him of the color Vaysh’s hair had possessed before Thiede had taken him. The gray eyes that had appeared beneath the blond hair had further reminded him of his former chesnari and Ashmael had taken the young har under his wing.
Crimson had just gone through his feybraiha and had been eager for aruna with him because Ashmael was in charge of Immanion’s forces. Ashmael had used that to his advantage, ruthlessly squelching any guilt he had felt about using Crimson that way. He had hoped that he would feel sated afterwards, but he still felt discontented. Although his lust had been slaked, he still ached emotionally. There was only one har who could quench his thirst and that was Vaysh. But Vaysh had made it very clear that Ashmael was no longer welcome. Ashmael had let Vaysh slip through his fingers like quicksand and he cursed himself for his cowardice.
Abandoning the sleeping har in his bed, Ashmael shrugged into a morning robe and made his way over to the window. Leaning against the wall, he stared outside. He sought out the windows that belonged to Vaysh’s apartment, knowing damn well that his former chesnari wasn’t alone. Velaxis had moved into the redhead’s rooms, obviously staking his claim.
Too late…he was too late. He had realized the truth too late that he still wanted Vaysh and still cared for him. But it was too late now. He had to forget about Vaysh.
Velaxis looked at his chesnari in worry when he caught Vaysh staring out the window dressed only in a thin nightshirt. Although there was a fire in the fireplace blazing away, a cold draft managed to blow inside through the cracks in the wooden window frame. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Velaxis carefully wrapped his arms around Vaysh and noticed the tremors that coursed through the redhead’s body. “Is it because of…” He let his voice fade, knowing Vaysh would understand. Was it because of the flashback the candles had brought on?
Vaysh pressed closer to Velaxis and curled his fingers around the other har’s wrists. Resting the back of his head against Velaxis’ shoulder, his eyelids started to close. He felt safe with Velaxis, but the other har was right: the memories were still close to the surface. Looking over his shoulder, he looked at Velaxis guiltily. “I have been thinking about Ash ever since…” Flashing back had reminded him that Thiede had wrecked two lives that day and not just one. “I feel disloyal to you by doing so.”
Velaxis looked at Vaysh in understanding and smiled reassuringly. “Vaysh, I am old and I have seen a lot. I would have been surprised if you could have done away with Ashmael that easily. I understand why he is on your mind. It’s only normal.”
“Is it?” Vaysh couldn’t help but look hopefully at Velaxis. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings. You don’t deserve that.”
Moving until he stood in front of his chesnari, Velaxis rested his brow against Vaysh’s. “You have been through an ordeal and you never had the chance to work through your pain. I am not going to hold that against you. Have some faith in me, Vaysh.” Velaxis realized that it was up to him to help Vaysh find his way. “Do you want to talk to Ashmael again?” Vaysh’s gaze showed that his chesnari was seriously considering the question even though the redhead was already shaking his head. “I don’t feel threatened, Vaysh. I understand that you need to come clean with Ashmael.”
“I can’t believe that you don’t mind me thinking about Ash all the time!”
Velaxis smiled warmly and ran his fingers through Vaysh’s hair. “I am much older than you are, Vaysh. I was already old when Thiede got his hands on me. I have witnessed many things and that helped me mature. I love you, Vaysh and we will do whatever is necessary to lay your ghosts to rest. Please don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with me. You might not realize it, but Ashmael will always be a part of you. What the two of you had and what then happened to you created a connection and I am aware of that. I will support you in whatever way I can.”
Sighing in relief, Vaysh wrapped himself around the silver-haired har as he cried softly. “Thank you. I was worried that I might hurt your feelings and offend you. I don’t want to lose you.”
Hugging Vaysh close, Velaxis rubbed his love’s back soothingly. “I love you and will support you no matter what. Please don’t be afraid to offend me.” Vaysh’s tremors lessened slowly, but didn’t go away completely. “I am there for you, Vaysh. You aren’t alone.”
Velaxis’ words slowly penetrated Vaysh’s mind and he began to relax. “I love you so much, Vel. Please don’t ever leave me. It took me so long to find you!”
Nodding, Velaxis stroked Vaysh’s hair. “You can’t chase me away that easily. We will do what is right for you.” Even if that meant allowing Ashmael into their life.
“Are the two of you ready to join us?” Since the door was open, Pellaz entered Vaysh’s apartments to check on his friend. “We can’t be late for today’s meeting.” His friend had been late the other day and had to make up for it.
Vaysh shrugged and looked at Velaxis. It was beyond him as to why Pellaz insisted the two of them attend the meetings of the Hegemony any longer. With all of the threats dealt with, they were tedious at best. “You don’t need us.” But Velaxis and he had readied themselves for that day’s meeting and were ready to go.
“I want you there, Vaysh. You are still my advisor and confidant. I will always need you.” The words earned Pellaz a secretively pleased smile from Vaysh. A look at Velaxis showed that the silver-haired har was also ready to go, dressed in all black.
Velaxis took hold of Vaysh’s hand and fell into step with his chesnari as Pellaz walked toward the doorway. “It won’t take long. There’s little to discuss.” But that didn’t seem to settle Vaysh’s nerves. “What is it?”
“Ash will be there.” Ashmael, whom Vaysh feared he would stare at again. Velaxis had said that he understood that Vaysh needed to gain closure where Ashmael was concerned, but he was still worried on how his behavior would affect their relationship. Shivers traveled down his spine. “Will Thiede be there as well?” he asked Pellaz. He wasn’t certain he could deal with the powerful har at the moment.
Pellaz shook his head. “I asked him not to attend.” He didn’t think that confronting Thiede at the moment would help Vaysh. It would only aggravate his friend’s emotional state.
Cal and Caeru were already seated at the large table as Pellaz took his place at the head before gesturing for Vaysh and Velaxis to stand behind his chair. Vaysh felt nervous and cornered as he tried hard not to stare at Ashmael. The blond har looked displeased as a large frown contorted his features. Velaxis squeezed Vaysh’s hand and, feeling ashamed, Vaysh was reminded of his chesnari’s presence.
Ashmael couldn’t take his eyes off of Vaysh. The usually pale and haggard-looking har had greatly improved since Velaxis had become chesna with the redhead. The realization that it could have been him helping Vaysh recover hurt. Vaysh should have given him that tongue-lashing decades ago.
He noted how much Vaysh’s appearance had improved. The face was no longer hollow and pale and even Vaysh’s form was filling out. The only thing Ashmael wasn’t pleased with was the haunted look in the gray eyes. Something had happened since the last time they had seen each other that had greatly affected his former chesnari. A look at Velaxis showed Ashmael that the silver-haired har was feeling very protective with Vaysh’s hand tightly locked inside his. Ashmael couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to put that look in Vaysh’s eyes.
/Why is he staring at me?/ Against all odds, Vaysh had managed to direct his gaze at the other members of the Hegemony instead at Ashmael. But his former chesnari wasn’t doing the same. Ashmael was staring intently at him.
/Maybe your confrontation made him think and he is trying to figure out where he stands where you are concerned? He still has feelings for you, that much is obvious./
Velaxis’ reply confused Vaysh. /Ash no longer has any feelings for me!/
Velaxis shot a look full of reprimand at Vaysh. /He does. His feelings might have been buried deep, but your confrontation reminded him that they are still there./
/But that’s awkward! I am chesna with you now!/ Vaysh flinched involuntarily. Why did he have to find himself in such a problematic situation? He loved Velaxis and the silver-haired har was the best thing that had happened to him in over thirty years, but at the same time, he cared for Ashmael as well. In a way, he felt unfaithful to them both.
/Don’t feel guilty,/ Velaxis sent in mind touch. /You didn’t cause these problems. Thiede did./ Velaxis knew it would take time and a lot of convincing on his part to make Vaysh believe that he wasn’t going to run because Vaysh needed to come clean with Ashmael. On the contrary, Velaxis had already made plans to make sure Vaysh and Ashmael talked – really talked.
“You are brooding,” Cal remarked while Pellaz and he walked back to their apartment. Caeru had stayed behind to make some last moment changes for a feast the Tigrina was organizing.
“It is Vaysh…and Ashmael.” Pellaz felt troubled. “Normally it is Vaysh staring at Ashmael, but now the situation has reversed. Did you notice the way Ashmael stared at Vaysh?”
Cal nodded. “I did. The matter isn’t resolved yet.”
“Did you really think that that confrontation would settle matters between them?” Worried, Pellaz sighed deeply. “That was only the beginning. They ignored each for three decades and they can’t do that anymore. They have to interact now.”
Cal nodded again. “They have to talk and not just yell at each other in anger.” He raised an eyebrow and inquired, “Do you want to get involved?”
Pellaz shook his head. “Not yet. I have the feeling Velaxis will take charge and guide Vaysh.”
Cal considered the matter and realized that Vaysh and Ashmael needed to sort out the mess Thiede had created.
“Vel, I am sorry.” Vaysh turned around and sat cross-legged. They were naked from having bathed and after that Velaxis had offered to give Vaysh a relaxing massage. Vaysh had accepted and the touches had helped him calm down, but he still felt guilty for thinking of Ashmael so much.
Velaxis shook his head. “Vaysh, don’t torment yourself like this. It is not necessary.” He moved onto Vaysh’s lap and wrapped his long legs around his chesnari’s waist. “I love you. That should make you feel safe.” He started to nibble on Vaysh’s earlobe and his hand stole toward his chesnari’s groin. “Do you need a way to show your feelings for me?” he hinted naughtily.
Vaysh’s expression cleared and the negative emotions faded for the moment. Velaxis was warm and willing and he leaned in closer to share breath with his chesnari. Keeping his mind wide open, he allowed Velaxis to view his every thought and emotion. “I want to show you…”
“I know how much you love me, Vaysh. I see that in your mind.” Velaxis curled his fingers around Vaysh’s ouana-lim and grinned wickedly. “Be ouana for me.”
Vaysh’s breath caught. It still amazed him that Velaxis wanted him to play that part. When he had been chesna with Ashmael, the blond har had never expressed that wish. Quivers traveled up his spine and his nipples hardened when Velaxis rubbed the nubs with his thumbs. “I want you too,” he whispered and leaned in to lick at the juncture of Velaxis’ neck and shoulder.
“Put your hands on me, Vaysh. Don’t feel shy. I want you to touch me.” One of Velaxis’ goals was to help Vaysh free his passion. “I don’t want you subdued.”
“It’s new,” Vaysh replied as the tip of his tongue left a wet trail down Velaxis’ chest. “This was never required of me before.”
Velaxis had long turned soume and raised himself so he could take in the sparkling ouana-lim. Lowering himself abruptly he took Vaysh completely by surprise and pleasure burst within his chesnari’s mind.
“Oh…” Vaysh’s eyes had widened in surprise when Velaxis had literally thrust himself onto the stem. “You don’t believe in taking your time, do you?”
“Not this time.” Rotating his hips, Velaxis groaned as the shaft rubbed against the sensitive walls of his soume-lam. “You feel so good inside me, Vaysh. Why don’t you start to move?” Sneakily, he fed Vaysh images of the way he wanted his chesnari to act.
Vaysh panted hard and clenched his eyes shut as various suggestive images invaded his mind before opening them again to stare at his love. “Do you really want that?” Velaxis’ answer was to lick his bottom lip enticingly and it drove Vaysh insane that his chesnari could undo him with a simple gesture like that. “I want that for you, but I am not sure I can.”
“No buts,” Velaxis whispered and playfully bit into Vaysh’s earlobe. “You know what I want and I know you can give it to me, so why don’t you?” He knew he had to go slow and act carefully, but he knew that Vaysh was ready to take the next step. “Please,” he added, hoping it would convince the redhead to proceed.
Vaysh looked at the silver-haired har long and thoughtfully and fought his own private battle. Never before had he been called upon to be the active, even dominating partner. “I want you to be happy,” he whispered tremulously as he slowly lowered Velaxis onto his back. The pleased look in the silver eyes encouraged him to continue and he flexed his hips, thrusting forward and claiming his chesnari in a new way.
“Harder,” Velaxis ground out in-between pants. “You can do much better than that.” He wanted Vaysh to experience this so the redhead could find out if he liked being ouana. Vaysh had always been the passive and submissive har during aruna, both with Ashmael and so far with him too, but Velaxis wanted to change that. Pouring more of his desire and images of them rooning with Vaysh being more brutal into his chesnari’s mind, Velaxis guided Vaysh. He yelped in delight when the redhead’s thrusts deepened. “Oh yes…” Reaching for Vaysh, he wrapped his arms around his chesnari’s neck and pulled him close so he could share breath with him.
Feeling drunk on Velaxis’ lust and approval, Vaysh continued to claim his lover in a way that was altogether new to him but pleasurable as well. Once Velaxis’ breath dripped into his mouth and burned him with its heat, Vaysh lost control and slipped into orgasm.
Tumbling into the sea of Velaxis’ pleasure, Vaysh felt like he was about to drown, but then his chesnari breathed air into his lungs and kept him from fainting. Dropping onto Velaxis like a dead weight, Vaysh closed his eyes and let bliss take him.
Velaxis let go and followed a moment later. Tightening his soume-lam around Vaysh’s ouana-lim, he tried to milk the last droplets of aren from his chesnari. “I loved it,” he whispered into his chesnari’s ear. “You were great.”
“Don’t… I know I am lacking.” Vaysh rubbed his cheek against Velaxis’ chest. “I liked it though. Maybe I will get better in time?”
The older har was determined to not give into Vaysh’s feelings of inferiority. “You were great and don’t you dare think otherwise! You know how much I liked it! You are still in my head! You know I am not faking and that I am being honest!”
The thing was that Vaysh knew Velaxis had enjoyed himself. And Vaysh had also seen Velaxis’ delight at Vaysh being the dominant partner in this exchange. The hard thing was in believing he had pleased Velaxis. With Ashmael he had never had a chance to be ouana. It had never been required from him, but now he found that Velaxis liked seeing him in that role. That definitely would be taking some getting used to.
Ashmael had to bide his time before he got a chance to talk to Velaxis in private. Most of the time, Vaysh was close and Ashmael thought it best to approach Velaxis first. Vaysh’s reaction would be volatile at best and Ashmael hoped Velaxis would be more reasonable and maybe understand his motives for approaching him. The more Ashmael had thought about it, the better it had seemed to talk to Velaxis first.
Velaxis had noticed Ashmael sneaking about, but had ignored the blond har, especially when Vaysh had been close. But since his chesnari was out for a walk with Pellaz, he felt the time was right to address Ashmael.
Straightening his shoulders, Ashmael looked Velaxis in the eye. He was glad they were the only hara in the room for he didn’t want any onlookers. What he was going to discuss with Velaxis was private. “Can I talk to you?”
Velaxis nodded his head. “I need to talk to you too.”
Ashmael felt encouraged since Velaxis was willing to talk to him. “About Vaysh?”
“Of course.” Velaxis sat down on the windowsill and brushed his silver hair behind his ear after a lock broke free and obscured his view. “I am glad that you want to discuss him. I believe it is something that needs to be done.”
The General realized that he had an ally in Velaxis. That was more than he had dared to hope. “I don’t want to do this behind his back, but I felt it was best if I talked to you first. Otherwise, Vaysh and I might get too emotional.”
“I agree.” Ashmael’s insight pleased Velaxis. “What happened in that corridor should have happened thirty years ago. After that, you could have moved on.”
“But that didn’t happen. I am glad it happened the other day though.” Ashmael pulled up a chair and straddled it. “Is he still angry with me?”
Velaxis shrugged. “I don’t believe he is angry with you exactly. He is angry with Thiede, disappointed in you, and hurt because of everything that has happened.”
Ashmael bowed his head in defeat. “He has every right to be disappointed in me.” He drew in a deep breath and muttered, “My, this is awkward…talking to you about Vaysh.”
“I want what is best for Vaysh,” Velaxis replied and studied Ashmael in detail. “You still have feelings for him.” Ashmael flinched, but Velaxis didn’t react.
“I do. I always did, but for a long time I fought that realization. Now it is too late. He has you now.” Ashmael gathered his courage and looked Velaxis in the eye. “It is odd to think of you in a different way.”
“To you I was Thiede’s whore to be used as you saw fit. I had my own hidden agenda though.” Velaxis felt comfortable with his past. “I did what I had to do and played my part.”
Ashmael had the grace to blush. “I never gave any of it a second thought.”
Velaxis smiled. “You have changed then because you are considering the matter now.”
“Vaysh kicking my ass helped.” Ashmael shifted nervously on his chair. “Do you think he will ever agree to talk to me again? And with that, I mean, discuss our past. I don’t think we are finished yet.” He hoped Velaxis wasn’t planning on keeping them apart. “I can only speak for myself, but I need to talk to him at least one final time.”
“I am not certain one more conversation will give the both of you the closure you need, but it is a start. I will discuss this with Vaysh and if necessary I will convince him to talk to you.” Velaxis didn’t think Vaysh needed much convincing though. Vaysh wasn’t through with Ashmael either.
Velaxis found Vaysh curled up on the bed, reading a book. Books were rare. Most of them hadn’t survived the raids that humans and, later on, hara had set upon various villages. Pellaz however had a respectable library and, since Vaysh was fond of reading, the redhead sometimes burrowed a book. “What are you reading?” Velaxis decided on some small talk before addressing Ashmael’s request would be best.
“Something I found in Pell’s library. It is about magic, an evil wizard, and a hero of course. Stories like that always have a happy ending.” Vaysh marked the page he was on and closed the book. Sensing that Velaxis wanted to talk, he waited for the other har to make the first move.
The older har sat down on the bed and Vaysh moved until his head rested on Velaxis’ lap. Smiling, Velaxis stroked the red hair and looked lovingly into the gray eyes. “Yours has a happy ending too. You have me, don’t you?” Vaysh nodded and Velaxis braced himself for his revelation. He didn’t know how Vaysh was going to react. “I talked to Ashmael just now.”
Vaysh tensed and his eyes widened. “I hope he didn’t insult you.”
Velaxis quickly shook his head. “No, we had a very civilized conversation. Don’t worry.”
“What did he want?” Vaysh elbowed himself upright and stared Velaxis in the eye. “Did he threaten you?”
“No, he just wanted to know if you are still angry with him.” Velaxis chose his words carefully as he sensed Vaysh’s needs even when the redhead wasn’t aware of them. “I told him you were mostly disappointed with him. Did I get that right?”
Vaysh thought it over and then nodded. “I am angry with Thiede… Not that much with Ash. You are right…I am mostly disappointed in him.” Vaysh gazed at his love shyly. “What else did he say?”
“He wants to know if you are willing to talk to him. Not now,” Velaxis quickly answered as he saw Vaysh’s mounting distress. “When you are ready.” He saw the hint of hope and joy in Vaysh’s eyes, but then his chesnari crushed the emotions and his expression became blank again. It pained Velaxis to see Vaysh deny himself like that. Why couldn’t Vaysh accept Ashmael in their lives when he could?
“What’s left to say? I told him that we are finished.” Vaysh knew he was lying, but didn’t want Velaxis to think that he still wanted anything to do with Ashmael. He was chesna with Velaxis now and that meant keeping Ashmael at a great distance.
Velaxis placed his hands on either side of Vaysh’s head and looked him in the eye. “You shouldn’t lie to yourself, Vaysh. Not because of me. You won’t hurt me that way, but what pains me is to see you deny yourself. My love for you is strong and stretches far. Don’t be afraid that you will lose me.”
“But you are all I have,” Vaysh whispered in a tiny voice.
Pulling Vaysh close, Velaxis hugged him. /Vaysh, you won’t lose me. I will always be there for you even if you ever decided to take aruna with Ashmael again./ He knew that statement would upset Vaysh, but he had to say it. He had to get it out into the open.
Vaysh froze in his arms and Velaxis involuntarily held his breath. Stunned, Vaysh lifted his gaze and looked at Velaxis in utter shock. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Because you still have feelings for him and he feels deeply about you.”
“But…I thought we were chesna! Don’t you want me anymore?” Vaysh’s eyes filled with tears.
“No, it is not like that!” Velaxis rubbed Vaysh’s back and hoped he would find the right words to explain. “I am not possessive, Vaysh. I love you and I understand your needs – your secret desires – because I also live in your head. I know things you keep hidden from yourself.” Velaxis brushed Vaysh’s lips with his. “Ashmael and you both need to heal and I am content to play my part in that. I don’t feel left out or shunned. I am not jealous. I am not offended because you never got the chance to sort things out with Ashmael, which is not your fault. Have some faith in me.”
Vaysh couldn’t believe the things he was hearing. “Do you really think I want aruna with Ashmael?”
“I believe it is one possibility for the two of you to get some closure.” Velaxis considered the har in front of him and realized that the best solution for Vaysh at this point was if the three of them could become lovers…maybe even chesna.
“Ashmael?” Velaxis found the blond har in a corner of the hall. They had met for that day’s council and Velaxis had stayed behind, hoping to have a word with Ashmael in private after the others had left. When Ashmael looked at him, Velaxis cringed. It seemed that circles had appeared beneath the other har’s eyes overnight. Ashmael looked troubled. “I carry a message from Vaysh.”
Ashmael pushed himself to his feet. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion and he even felt light-headed. A lot depended on Vaysh’s decision. Was the redhead going to give him a chance to sort out matters? “I will abide by whatever decision he has made.”
Velaxis nodded once. “I know you will.” Guilt was written all over Ashmael’s face. Since the blond har had realized he had been wrong in the past, he was suffering because of it. Velaxis however didn’t think it was just Ashmael’s fault. It was Thiede’s foremost. “Vaysh wants to talk to you too. He asks if you will join us after dinner this evening.”
“Today?” Ashmael gulped, suddenly panicking. He had hoped to get some time to mentally prepare himself for facing Vaysh.
“Yes, this evening…” Velaxis smirked in amusement, but then sobered. He made his way over to Ashmael and placed a hand on the other har’s shoulder. Ashmael’s expression showed surprise at the touch. “I want you to know something.”
Ashmael swallowed hard as he expected to be reprimanded, maybe even threatened since it was obvious that Velaxis had Vaysh’s best interest in mind. He would have tried to protect Vaysh too if the redhead was his chesnari.
“I want you to know that I understand that the two of you need to sort out matters. I love Vaysh and I love him enough to encourage him to do as he pleases where you are concerned. The two of you are connected…I accept that.” Ashmael stared at him, gaping. “Thiede ripped the two of you apart, but the bond remained in place nonetheless. It is normal that you need to heal before you can move on.”
“What are you trying to tell me?” Bewildered, Ashmael tried to make sense of what Velaxis was saying.
“I am saying that if Vaysh and you need to get close for a while, I will allow that. I am not going to keep the two of you apart as long as you include me in your relationship. I won’t allow you to shut me out.” Velaxis grinned when he saw the shock in Ashmael’s blue eyes. It was the last thing Ashmael had expected to hear.
“Closer? Vaysh and I won’t get close again.” Ashmael swallowed hard when Velaxis winked at him. “I don’t understand how you can be so…welcoming of my presence in your life. You are chesna with Vaysh!” He would have sold his soul to become chesna with Vaysh again, but he was too late.
Velaxis smiled secretively at Ashmael. “I love Vaysh and I want what is best for him. If you love him too, you want the same.”
Ashmael lowered his gaze, feeling ashamed. “I love him still.” There was no use in lying to Velaxis. He had the feeling the other har would see through his lies effortlessly.
“I know you do, Ash,” Velaxis replied before tipping the blond har’s head upward with a fingertip. “And I know Vaysh loves you back,” he added once Ashmael met his gaze. “And that is why we will both do what is best for the har we love. Vaysh must come first, Ash.”
Ashmael nodded once. “You are right, of course. I just didn’t expect you to say something like that.”
For one moment Velaxis’ expression hardened, but then it softened again. “You still have a lot to learn, Ashmael. Let’s hope you will allow Vaysh to teach you.”
“You *will* stay close, won’t you?” Sounding insecure and nervous, Vaysh sought out his chesnari’s gaze. Velaxis’ approach to the situation unnerved him. He just couldn’t understand why Velaxis was so eager to let Ashmael become a part of their lives.
Velaxis looked at Vaysh thoughtfully. It hurt to see the doubt written all over the redhead’s face. Although Vaysh had become more emotionally balanced since they had become chesna, Velaxis was still very much aware of the fact that his chesnari lacked self confidence. He hoped that meeting with Ashmael would help Vaysh sort himself out. “I will be in the next room. You should talk to Ashmael in private.” Vaysh’s eyes widened in alarm and Velaxis quickly claimed his chesnari’s hand. “Have some faith in yourself!”
Vaysh bowed his head and, feeling miserable, stared at the floor. Faith was exactly what he lacked.
Feeling nervous, Ashmael knocked on the door to Vaysh’s rooms. He didn’t know if Velaxis planned on attending their conversation and in a way, he hoped the silver-haired har would give them some privacy. What he had to say was for Vaysh’s ears only, but he also realized that Velaxis was in charge.
The door opened and Ashmael was stunned to see a pale-looking Vaysh stand before him. Vaysh looked equally nervous and was wringing his hands. “Vaysh…” Ashmael whispered his former chesnari’s name with longing.
“Please come inside.” Vaysh stepped aside so Ashmael could enter. He kept his gaze down, still uncomfortable with facing Ashmael.
Ashmael entered the room and instantly noticed the warm atmosphere that lingered there. It was obvious that Velaxis and Vaysh had created a cocoon of love and that left a bad taste in his mouth since he knew it could have been him living in Vaysh’s rooms.
Vaysh closed the door and quickly walked over to the couch. He came to a stop behind it and placed his hands on the furniture. He needed a barrier between Ashmael and him.
“I brought you this to say I am sorry.” Ashmael raised his hand and offered Vaysh his peace offering.
Forced to raise his gaze, Vaysh’s breath caught. Ashmael was holding a beautiful orchid that was purple, pink, and white. With trembling hands he accepted the flower and handled it delicately, not wanting to bruise it. “You always gave me orchids when you were sorry.” Vaysh peeked at Ashmael and was stunned to see tears swimming in the blue eyes.
“I want to apologize for the way I acted,” Ashmael answered and held Vaysh’s gaze. “For the last three decades,” he added to clarify matters. “I am a stupid bastard.”
A smile uncurled on Vaysh’s face. He couldn’t help himself and wanted to reach out to Ashmael. Oh, Velaxis was right. He still cared about Ashmael and always would. “I am not sure I can forgive you yet.”
Ashmael did his best to maintain eye contact with the redhead. “I am not asking you to forgive me yet. I know I have to make amends first. I am just so sorry that I was so dumb…” Ashmael sought for the right words. “Vaysh, I wish you had kicked my ass three decades ago.”
Vaysh’s expression hardened. “Don’t blame this on me.” He started to crumble the delicate flower in his hand.
Immediately, Ashmael raised his hand in appeasement. “I didn’t mean it like that!” Ashmael took charge and approached the redhead. Vaysh’s expression however remained hard. “I take full responsibility for what happened. I kept you at arm’s length and I was downright arrogant and conceited. I am sorry about that too.”
The flower in Vaysh’s hand was saved at the last moment. Vaysh searched Ashmael’s eyes and realized his former chesnari was sincere. “Do you mean it?”
Ashmael nodded. “I do. I am sorry, Vaysh. I am also sorry that it took me so long to realize the truth.”
Vaysh placed the orchid on a nearby table and tilted his head. “Where does that leave us, Ash?”
“Hopefully at the beginning of a friendship?” Ashmael looked hopefully at Vaysh and then gathered his courage. “I still care for you.”
Blushing, Vaysh quickly looked away. “It is too late for that. I am chesna with Vel now.” He wasn’t going to think about what Velaxis had said in that he would allow Vaysh to take Ashmael as a lover. That wasn’t going to happen. He planned on being faithful to Velaxis.
“I know it is too late,” Ashmael answered dejectedly. “But I still had to come here and apologize. I need you to know that I am finally facing our past.”
/I wish you had faced it thirty years ago./ Vaysh hadn’t wanted to broadcast that thought. But a moment later, he realized that both Velaxis and Ashmael had received that particular sentiment. Therefore, he wasn’t really surprised when Velaxis appeared in the doorway.
“I heard that,” Velaxis commented as he made his way over to his chesnari.
“Me too,” Ashmael whispered, uncertain on if he should admit to that. Maybe Vaysh hadn’t wanted to share that thought with him. Instead of looking at Vaysh, he sought out Velaxis’ eyes.
“Why don’t you sit down, Ashmael?” Velaxis curled an arm around Vaysh’s waist and made his chesnari sit down on the couch.
Ashmael complied and sat down on the other end of the couch. He accepted the glass of sheh that Velaxis offered to him and downed it in one go.
Velaxis felt somewhat bemused as he watched them fight their feelings. It was so obvious that they still cared about each other. Why didn’t they just give in? “Would you like to join us for dinner tomorrow evening, Ashmael?”
Ashmael gulped as his wide eyes sought out Velaxis’. He couldn’t help asking, “Why are you doing this?”
Velaxis merely smiled mysteriously. “Come to dinner tomorrow and you might find out.”
Ashmael couldn’t find it in his heart to decline the offer. “I will be there.”
“Vel, why *are* you doing this? You avoided answering Ashmael.” Vaysh was on his side and studied Velaxis as his chesnari slipped between the covers as well. Ashmael hadn’t stayed long, but Velaxis had remarked that ‘It was a start’, although Vaysh wasn’t sure what Velaxis had wanted to follow.
Velaxis tucked the blanket around them and shivered when Vaysh pressed his cold feet against his legs. He pulled the redhead closer and used his own body heat to warm his chesnari. “Why not? A similar arrangement works for Rue, Pellaz, and Cal as well. Why wouldn’t it work for us too?” Vaysh shot him a look of utter bewilderment. “What?”
“Vel! You… That’s not… No!” Lacking the right words, Vaysh settled for shaking his head firmly.
Velaxis smiled however and rubbed Vaysh’s back. “Think about it, Vaysh. You love Ash still and he returns your feelings. And I… I love you enough to encourage this.”
“No, Vel!” Furiously, Vaysh banged a fist against Velaxis’ chest. The silver-haired har didn’t flinch though. “We are in this together! You and I! Ash is…”
Velaxis interrupted his chesnari. “Who are you trying to fool? Yourself? Ashmael? Vaysh, be honest with yourself!” Velaxis spoke quietly but insistently. “If I accept this, then why can’t you?” To his surprise, Vaysh suddenly started to sob. “Hey, don’t cry!” Velaxis quickly wrapped his arms around his chesnari and pulled him close. “Stop fighting yourself, Vaysh. You need Ashmael to heal otherwise you will never be rid of this hole in your heart.”
“I feel like I am betraying you,” Vaysh admitted in-between sobs. He couldn’t lie to Velaxis and didn’t have to anyway since his chesnari knew the truth. “You are right…I still care for him deeply.”
A brilliant smile broke out onto Velaxis’ face. “Then enjoy the fact that you can now spend time with Ashmael…and me,” he responded cheekily.
“But what about you?” Vaysh frowned deeply. “Three is an odd number.”
“I am confident we can work something out. Vaysh, this doesn’t have to last forever. There is a good chance that once you get Ashmael out of your system you can really let go. This might be just a phase you are going through.”
“And what if it is not a phase? What if this is permanent?” Vaysh couldn’t understand why Velaxis wasn’t worried about this development!
“Then we will find a solution.” Velaxis brushed Vaysh’s lips with his own. He would have loved to instigate aruna, but could tell his chesnari was too pre-occupied to enjoy it. “Don’t worry about it.” He tucked Vaysh against him and pressed a kiss onto the red hair. “Sleep now, my love.”
Velaxis’ voice was mesmerizing and put Vaysh quickly to sleep. Velaxis however remained awake a little longer, enjoying holding Vaysh in his sleep.
At Pellaz’ request, Vaysh and Velaxis joined the Triad for breakfast. Vaysh thought he knew why they were being invited, but wasn’t going to address the matter himself. Let Pellaz ask him if the Tigron couldn’t contain his curiosity. Although Vaysh hadn’t expected to be hungry, he ate with a relish and endured Pellaz’ probing gaze. In the end, the Tigron sighed deeply and Vaysh instinctively knew his friend was going to speak. Rue and Cal, who were seated opposite Velaxis, were casting him sly looks.
“We noticed that Ashmael visited with you yesterday,” Pellaz announced, unable to restrain his curiosity any longer. “We also noticed that there was no yelling. Did the meeting go well?”
Vaysh put down his knife. He was about to tell Pellaz that it was none of his business why Ashmael had visited, but Velaxis stopped him with a hand on his wrist. “I thought it wise that Vaysh and Ashmael talked. They have a lot of unfinished business,” Velaxis explained before Vaysh could reply.
Pellaz nodded once and waited for Vaysh to meet his gaze. When the redhead did, Pellaz’ eyes filled with understanding. “Velaxis is right. You need to discuss matters with Ashmael.”
Cal, who had been quiet up until then, addressed Velaxis. “I know where you intend to take this.”
Velaxis inclined his head. “Do you?”
The blond Tigron felt Pellaz’ gaze upon him and he took hold of his chesnari’s hand before reaching for Caeru’s and squeezing the Tigrina’s fingers as well. “You intend to follow our example.”
“If necessary,” Velaxis admitted and earned curious glances from both Rue and Pellaz.
“You…” Rue frowned. “Is that a good idea? It took the three of us a long time to make this arrangement work.”
Velaxis shrugged. “I know it will work, but only if nohar meddles.” He focused that statement to Pellaz specifically with the knowledge that the Tigron had Vaysh’s best interest in mind and would be inclined to get involved. “Everyhar should stay out of this.”
Vaysh swallowed hard. “Vel, maybe you should listen to Caeru. He knows…” But Velaxis cut him short.
“Our situation is different, Vaysh. Just allow for it to happen.”
Vaysh lowered his gaze and mumbled, “I am not sure I can.”
Vaysh didn’t know that Velaxis was watching him when he caressed the orchid’s petals. Whatever doubts Velaxis had had faded upon seeing the yearning in Vaysh’s eyes. The redhead lifted the orchid and inhaled its sweet fragrance. Velaxis felt relieved as he realized that he had made the right decision to invite Ashmael for dinner that evening. This was something Vaysh had to do even though he didn’t realize it. “You are thinking of him,” Velaxis whispered into Vaysh’s ear as he enfolded his chesnari in an embrace from behind. “And that’s good.”
The redhead trembled in the embrace. “Make me understand? Make me understand why you believe this is supposed to happen?” Vaysh turned his head so he could look at Velaxis from over his shoulder.
In answer, Velaxis sought out Vaysh’s lips and kissed his chesnari. Deepening it until it became sharing breath, he shared his feelings and thoughts with the redhead in a way which words couldn’t convey. After a bit, he released Vaysh and eyed his love closely to see if his chesnari now understood why this had to be done.
Vaysh gazed into Velaxis’ eyes in awe. “I don’t deserve you.” Sharing breath had shown him the depth of Velaxis’ love for him. “You shouldn’t have to do this for me.”
“But I want to,” Velaxis replied, ending the discussion for good. “This is supposed to happen and so it shall.”
Velaxis’ fingers moved through Vaysh’s hair and removed the last tangles. Dressed in warm red colors, Vaysh looked radiant and, if they hadn’t been expecting Ashmael to join them, Velaxis would have rooned his love at that moment. “You are definitely handsome.” To his delight, Vaysh blushed. “You need to get used to receiving compliments.”
“It’s been over thirty years since I received them regularly.” Back then it had been Ashmael complimenting him. “Vel?” Sliding his fingers into the silver mane, he looked at his chesnari thoughtfully. “What do you want to happen tonight?” He had the feeling Velaxis’ plans went further than just having dinner.
Velaxis shook his head though. “I have no plans. We will just see what happens.”
Vaysh found that hard to believe nevertheless.
It was difficult to say who was more nervous that evening, Vaysh or Ashmael. Both hara did their best to avoid eye contact, but then would seek out each other’s eyes the next moment. Velaxis watched them play their games and let them. The courtship rituals would take a while and Vaysh deserved to take his time after waiting for thirty years.
During dinner, Velaxis steered their conversation in the desired direction. “How did the two of you meet, Ashmael?” Vaysh immediately looked away only to probe Ashmael’s eyes a moment later.
Ashmael sipped his sheh and leaned back into the comfort of his chair. “I was a street rat. I was incepted when I was fifteen and roamed the streets after that. I had no home, my old man had thrown me out, and I had no idea what to expect from the future. The har who had incepted me had moved on, leaving me behind and alone.”
Vaysh closed his eyes as he remembered that time and sighed deeply. “It was a cold night when I ran into him. I had an apartment on the outskirts of town and was on my way home when I saw him on the curb. He was trying to stay warm by hiding beneath a layer of blankets and newspapers. It’s amazing. This happened forty years ago and I still remember the feel of rain against my skin.”
“Hara were still considered freaks back then. At best, humans avoided us and at the worst they hunted us down,” Ashmael continued. “Humans still were in charge of the major cities. And I was homeless.”
“It was his eyes which drew me in and before I knew it, I had invited him to come home with me so he could shower and get some dry clothes.” Vaysh added while looking into Ashmael’s blue gaze.
“It was magic,” Ashmael whispered. A distant look appeared in his eyes. “He extended his hand to pull me to my feet and I took it. It happened at that very moment. I was lost when I touched him.”
Smiling, Velaxis watched how Ashmael reached for Vaysh’s hand and curled his fingers around it. This was what he had hoped would happen when he had inquired. They were remembering how they fell in love.
“I didn’t know he was a har at first,” Vaysh continued, having grown flustered with Ashmael rubbing his fingers. “I made him get out of his wet clothes and take that shower. When he emerged again I realized he was different.”
“I was har and Vaysh was still human.” Ashmael shrugged apologetically. “You can probably imagine what happened next.”
Velaxis had no trouble drawing the right conclusions. “You incepted him.”
Ashmael blushed and then bowed his head. “It was messy. I had never incepted a human before and I was terrified that I was going to kill him. I was immensely relieved when the changes started to take place, showing that Vaysh was becoming a har.”
“We shared aruna afterwards,” Vaysh mumbled barely audible. “The bed was messy and dirty with old blood which had gotten spilled when Ashmael had incepted me, but we didn’t care. Being able to roon together was worth all the pain I had gone through prior.”
Velaxis poured some more sheh into Ashmael’s glass. Although he had lived it all in Vaysh’s mind, he wanted them to tell him for it would strengthen their memories. “What happened next?”
“Humans began to realize that we presented a threat and started to hunt down the hara in the big cities. We were still a minority at that point, so Vaysh and I had to run.” It sounded dreadful, but at the time they had been happy together. “We wandered about, but never entered the major cities. Instead we sought out the villages and found the number of hara had increased dramatically there. Once we found a place to our liking, we decided to settle down.”
The catch to Ashmael’s voice showed that the blond har was reliving his past. “And then Thiede happened?”
“A little after that,” Ashmael managed when he found that Vaysh couldn’t say it. The redhead was as pale as a ghost and his hands shook. “A group of humans descended onto the village. They seemed determined to kill every har they found. Now, I realize it was Thiede directing their actions. I didn’t know that at the time.”
“One of them had a gun,” Vaysh continued after he had regained his voice. He didn’t want Ashmael to have to do this alone. “He fired at us and hit me in the head. I died instantly. I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye.” His eyes filled with tears that streamed down his face. “I didn’t want to leave him behind.”
Velaxis stayed quiet and barely resisted the urge to thrust Vaysh into Ashmael’s arms. Hopefully the two of them would reach for the other.
“I went insane after that. I killed three humans with my bare hands and then used the gun that had killed Vaysh to finish off another two.” Ashmael’s voice was cold and distant. Vaysh looked up sharply at that tone and shifted on his chair. He wanted to reach out to Ashmael, but it would be inappropriate as far as he was concerned.
Sensing Ashmael’s distress, Velaxis caught Vaysh’s gaze and nodded his head firmly. /Comfort him,/ he sent in mind touch. /What are you waiting for?/
“Vaysh, I am sorry! I thought I was stronger!” Ashmael crumbled and burst into tears. Feeling ashamed for breaking down in front of the other two hara, Ashmael jumped from his chair and moved to leave the room, but then Vaysh suddenly wrapped his fingers around his wrist. “Let go!”
“No.” Where Ashmael was emotional and unbalanced, Vaysh was calm and comforting. “You are staying.”
Velaxis sighed in relief as he watched Vaysh reach for Ashmael and pull him into an embrace. He had hoped that would happen. Staying put and silent, he didn’t get involved and waited for the storm to pass.
Ashmael clung to Vaysh and rocked him hard as the blond har sobbed. “I am sorry, Vaysh… I am so sorry! I should have protected you that day and… Look at me now! What use am I to you?”
“Hush,” Vaysh whispered and rocked Ashmael in turn. “You never had the chance to do this. Let go.” Velaxis had been there for him when the emotional storm had taken him and Vaysh wanted to do the same for Ashmael. Velaxis’ gaze met his and Vaysh saw approval in his chesnari’s silver eyes.
Calming down took Ashmael almost ten minutes, but Vaysh didn’t mind since he loved holding Ashmael. “Feeling better?”
Ashmael wiped at his face and then nodded once. “How come you didn’t…?” He couldn’t say ‘break down’ for that would mean voicing his failure to contain himself.
“He already broke down,” Velaxis replied having surmised that the time had come to get involved. “A few times actually.”
Vaysh nodded. “Vel helped me through it.”
“Thank you for being there for him,” Ashmael stated to Velaxis and only then did he grow aware of the position he was in. Vaysh was pressed close and holding him tight and Ashmael’s head was pressed against Vaysh’s chest, where he could feel Vaysh’s chest rise and fall. “Vaysh, I don’t think…” He was about to ask Vaysh to create some distance between them when Velaxis suddenly fingered a lock of his hair. The unexpected gesture made Ashmael look up in surprise.
“We should move this to the couch or the bed.” Velaxis rose from his chair and gestured for them to join him.
Ashmael blinked. “What? But why?”
Ignoring Ashmael’s question, Velaxis stretched out on his side on the bed and patted the space next to him. Amused, he noticed the equally dazed looks which Vaysh and Ashmael were giving him. “Come here.”
Vaysh, trusting Velaxis unconditionally, pulled the blond har along. Ashmael complied since he didn’t want to forcefully free himself of the redhead’s hold. “This is folly,” Ashmael murmured when Vaysh stretched out on his back and pulled him down. He ended up on his side, watching Velaxis and Vaysh.
“I beg to differ,” Velaxis retorted as he draped a hand possessively across Vaysh’s abdominal area. “This will start the healing process.” Winking at Ashmael, he asked, “What’s the problem? Don’t you like holding Vaysh? I do.”
Ashmael was at a loss for words and stared at Velaxis. Some of the other har’s words returned to him and he realized that Velaxis had been serious when he had proposed the three of them become lovers. “I don’t deserve this,” he said even while pressing closer to Vaysh.
“Funny. That’s the same thing Vaysh said.” Velaxis extended his embrace to include Ashmael as well and his fingers dug into the fabric of Ashmael’s shirt. “I am comfortable. Let’s stay this way.”
Vaysh, being caught in the middle, liked the idea. When he turned his head to the left, he saw Velaxis’ face and when he looked to the right, Ashmael stared back at him. Maybe Velaxis’ plan for them to become lovers or even chesna wasn’t as absurd as it had appeared at first.
The instinctive knowledge that he was being watched woke Ashmael. Opening his eyes, he felt disorientated since he wasn’t in his own bed. He blinked upon seeing red hair moving slightly in front of him and then remembered what had happened the other night. He had suffered a breakdown and Velaxis had moved them to the bed. The red strands belonged to Vaysh and the eyes watching him were Velaxis’. Since Vaysh was still asleep and Ashmael was loath to awaken him, he whispered to the silver-haired har. “This is *not* a good idea.”
“And why is that?” Velaxis’ fingers snuck into Ashmael’s blond hair and tugged at the strands, forcing Ashmael to focus on him when the other har became distracted by Vaysh’s presence. “Talk to me, Ash.”
“It is weird,” Ashmael explained, flinching. “It has been over thirty years since I last woke up with Vaysh in my arms and finding you in bed with us makes it even more awkward.”
“Oh, I don’t plan on staying for the action,” Velaxis hinted wickedly. “I am only waiting for Vaysh to wake up so I can give you to him.”
Ashmael was about to ask the other har what he meant when Vaysh opened his eyes and stared at him. The expression in the gray eyes was one of dazed surprise. “Hello there,” Ashmael said lamely, lacking the right words to convey his feelings.
Vaysh froze upon finding Ashmael so close to him. Vaysh had shifted during the night and rested on his side now, facing Ashmael. At the same time, he felt Velaxis pressed close behind him. “Vel, what did you do?”
“Nothing. I hope Ash and you are going to do something though,” Velaxis whispered into Vaysh’s ear. “But first…” Velaxis raised himself, leaned in closer, and claimed Ashmael’s lips. The other har tensed, but then the lips opened and emotions started to flow between them. Velaxis had had aruna with Ashmael in the past so the two har weren’t exactly strangers. But back then, Velaxis’ reasons for aruna with Ashmael had been different. They had been driven by Thiede’s orders and his own hidden agenda.
Vaysh couldn’t believe his own eyes. Velaxis and Ashmael were sharing breath above him and both hara seemed to be enjoying it. Where did that leave him? Just when the situation was starting to make him feel discomfited, Velaxis stopped and looked him in the eyes. “He is yours, Vaysh.” Velaxis cupped Ashmael’s cheek in the palm of his hand and then tilted the other har’s head. “Share breath. It’s time.” The look Vaysh gave him was almost comical if it hadn’t it been for the fear lurking in the gray eyes. “Kiss Vaysh, Ash.”
Ashmael obeyed without giving it a second thought. Velaxis’ request rang like an order in his mind and there was no way he could disobey. He felt entranced when he finally tasted Vaysh after all those years and, unable to control himself, he rolled Vaysh onto his back so he could blanket the other har’s body with his. Deepening the kiss, he tentatively shared breath with the redhead.
Vaysh felt like he was living a fantasy. A very odd fantasy at that since Velaxis was running his fingers through his red hair and kissing the back of his neck. The sensation almost overwhelmed him and had Velaxis not stopped his caresses, Vaysh would have panicked, but the kisses and caresses stopped and Velaxis was suddenly gone.
Standing next to the bed, Velaxis grinned smugly. This should have happened thirty years ago and whatever the outcome of them taking aruna would be, he would accept it. He made his way over to the doorway and then looked over his shoulder. Vaysh looked like he was about to panic and Velaxis reached out in mind touch, soothing his chesnari’s worries. /Roon him and find out if you still love him. If you do, we will work toward an arrangement we are all comfortable with./ In his mind, he sensed that Vaysh was about to argue so Velaxis quickly left the room. He wasn’t going to discuss the matter with Vaysh. For once the redhead had to let his heart rule him instead of his head.
Vaysh couldn’t believe that Velaxis had actually deserted him! His chesnari had shut down any discussion which might have followed and had simply left the room, leaving him and Ashmael alone.
Ashmael stopped sharing breath to study the gray eyes. The emotions coming from Vaysh lapped at him like a giant wave and he didn’t really know what to make of them. “Are you afraid of me? Do you want me to leave?” Although hearing Vaysh say yes would hurt, he would do so.
“I am not afraid of you,” Vaysh whispered, blushing fiercely. “Damn it, I knew he planned on doing something like this! I don’t understand him!”
“I think I do,” Ashmael responded softly. He placed his hands on either side of Vaysh’s head and raised himself slightly, taking his weight off of the lithe har. “It took me some time to get into his head though. He loves you, Vaysh and therefore he wants what is best for you.”
“Aruna with you will help me?” Vaysh shook his head. “Vel is mad.”
“No, he is probably the only sane one out of the three of us.” Stroking Vaysh’s hair, Ashmael gave his former chesnari a look full of longing. “What do you want, Vaysh? Do you want to take aruna?” He wanted Vaysh to have a choice.
Vaysh’s blush deepened. “I do… And damn Vel for knowing that.” He closed his eyes, feeling embarrassed. “I love both of you.”
“I still love you, Vaysh. I am not sure where I stand where Velaxis is concerned, but if you are a package deal I will do my best to please both of you.” Velaxis was right, Ashmael realized. Vaysh’s needs came first. “I missed you so much.” Leaning in closer, he kissed first one eyelid and then the other. Rubbing his nose against Vaysh’s, he watched in awe as the eyes opened again and stared at him with love. “I am grateful for this second chance even though I don’t deserve it.”
“You have Vel to thank for that.” Reaching out with a hand that trembled, Vaysh brushed back a blond lock that had tumbled in front of Ashmael’s face. The texture felt familiar beneath his fingertips and Vaysh’s eyes started to swim. “I want you too, Ash, but I am worried about Vel.”
“Don’t be,” Ashmael said as he realized the way it was going to be. “The three of us will work out.” Lowering himself onto Vaysh’s body without putting much weight on the redhead, he claimed the other har’s lips and shared breath with him again. This time, both their minds were wide open and Ashmael witnessed many painful memories featuring Thiede. /That’s in the past now. Velaxis and I will look out for you./ Thiede wasn’t going to hurt Vaysh ever again.
The conviction that echoed in that statement undid Vaysh, who greedily sucked on Ashmael’s bottom lip as if trying to suck the life essence out of the other har. Both of them knew that this aruna was going to be a fierce experience and both hara mentally prepared themselves for the reunion they had awaited for so long.
/I will be gentle,/ Ashmael told Vaysh in mind touch. One hand stole beneath Vaysh’s robes and touched bare skin. /I want you so much./
Vaysh felt the same way, but he also felt nervous. This was Ash he was going to roon. At one time, he had thought that they were two halves of the same soul. He allowed Ashmael to do away with the blanket and then with the clothes they were wearing. When Ashmael lowered himself onto Vaysh again, all of their barriers were gone and they were skin-on-skin.
“Hold me,” Ashmael whispered as he buried his face in the crook of Vaysh’s shoulder. “Hold me tight.” Vaysh wasn’t the only har who felt lost in sensations.
Wrapping his arms around Ashmael’s shoulders, Vaysh pulled him close. Their lips locked in sharing breath and Vaysh became soume when Ashmael’s hand moved lower to touch him intimately.
“I can’t believe…we are doing this…after all this time…” Ashmael panted softly and closed his eyes at finding Vaysh ready for him. “I want this to last.” He slid his arms beneath Vaysh’s back and pulled him close. At the same time, his ouana-lim slid into Vaysh’s soume-lam and both hara cried out with pleasure.
Vaysh fought the urge to close his eyes to focus on the pleasure sliding through him, preferring to maintain eye contact with Ashmael at all times. He had to know it was Ashmael taking aruna with him. He had to see the love in those blue eyes. In a way, it was like their first time together again. “Ash…” Ashmael thrust for the first time and Vaysh called out the other har’s name in bliss. This was familiar. This felt so good.
Their arms and legs entangled, their lips locked once more, and even the strands of their hair seemed to reach out so they could twine. Ashmael blanketed Vaysh’s body and his body weight came to rest on the lithe har, pressing the redhead into the mattress. Ashmael made their aruna last just as he had hoped and for several minutes they soared on wings of lust and love before they started to dive back to the earth. They clung to each other and Vaysh started to move his hips, anticipating and reacting to Ashmael’s thrusts.
Such passion couldn’t last forever though and suddenly they plunged into the deep toward orgasm. They shared their climax and shook as the bond that had connected them for fifty years sprang back to life and glowed golden.
Resting his head against Vaysh’s chest, Ashmael panted hard and tried to get his breathing back under control again. A fine layer of sweat had formed on their bodies and they shivered, suddenly feeling cold. The fire in the fireplace had gone out during the night and Ashmael quickly reached for the blanket to cover them. Stretching out on his side next to Vaysh, he pulled the redhead into his arms. “I love you,” he whispered and tucked Vaysh’s head beneath his chin. “I always will.”
Vaysh, feeling pleasantly drained, nodded against Ashmael’s chest and closed his eyes. Within seconds, he was fast asleep again.
Seeing Velaxis standing in the doorway made Caeru look up in surprise. He had just stepped into the pool to soak until he turned into a prune and hadn’t expected any company since Pellaz and Cal were sleeping in. “What are you doing here?”
Velaxis shrugged out of his robes and let them fall to the floor before stepping out of them. Wading into the water, he relaxed and rested the back of his head against the pillowed rim. “They are rooning and I want them to have some privacy. I will return when they have finished.”
Caeru’s eyes narrowed. “Did they throw you out? They have no right to do that, you know. Vaysh and you are chesna!”
Velaxis opened his eyes, having closed them in bliss from the hot water. “Vaysh and Ashmael are chesna too.”
“I can’t understand that you accept this!” Feeling angry, Caeru poured a large amount of lavender oil into the water.
“Maybe it is the Krim Sri in me,” Velaxis replied and shrugged. “I am not possessive of Vaysh, you see. Vaysh isn’t some property I own. Vaysh is his own har. I don’t need to ‘own’ him in order to feel good about myself or our relationship. I am my own har too.” Caeru looked at him in confusion and Velaxis smiled. “Giving Vaysh less than he needs would be cruel and I want him to be happy. Rue, he suffered for over thirty years for something Thiede did. Surely, *you* understand the position Vaysh is in?”
“Me? Why would I?” Caeru frowned.
“Like you, Vaysh was forced to lead a life that wasn’t truly his. You were bound in blood to Pellaz. Maybe you wanted that on a subconscious level, but I doubt the way Thiede carried it out was to your liking.” Caeru nodded briskly and Velaxis continued. “Vaysh was killed, clothed with flesh again, and forced to leave Ashmael behind. Vaysh had no choice either. Ashmael and he were brutally separated and when Vaysh found Ashmael again, there was no way the two of them could be together because of Ashmael’s stubbornness. You faced the same problem. You love Pell, but he wouldn’t love you back.”
Caeru was beginning to see where Velaxis was going with this. “I accepted Cal in my life because he helped Pellaz see that he still loved me. Is it the same with the three of you?” Caeru’s frown deepened and then he added, “You played Cal’s part in all this.”
“In a way. I helped Vaysh and Ashmael see that they still had feelings for each other and, like you, I am willing to accept Ashmael into our lives if that means Vaysh is happy. He deserves that.” Velaxis started to wash his hair and then rinsed it. “I will go back in a few minutes. I don’t want Vaysh to talk himself into feeling guilty for what has happened with Ashmael.”
Caeru finally understood Velaxis’ motive and plan. “You want the three of you to become chesna?”
“If Ashmael and I become chesna, that is a bonus, but it is not strictly necessary. Vaysh loves us both and Ashmael and I understand that Vaysh needs both of us. We will make this work.” Velaxis rose from the water, took hold of a towel, and dried his skin. Everything he had told Caeru was the truth, but there was more. In his heart, Velaxis would always remain a somewhat solitary creature and, by allowing Vaysh and Ashmael to be together, he could maintain some of his freedom. The arrangement was perfect for all three of them.
Ashmael wanted to growl, but forced himself to stay quiet upon Velaxis’ return. He couldn’t help being protective of Vaysh even though the har joining them was the redhead’s chesnari. Ashmael frowned. If Velaxis was Vaysh’s chesnari…what did that make him? An occasional lover at best?
“You are broadcasting your thoughts,” Velaxis commented as he sat down on the side of the bed. “I am surprised that you don’t see the truth yourself. Don’t you know that Vaysh and you never stopped being chesna? Did you never wonder why you found no new chesnari?”
Ashmael swallowed hard. “Maybe in my heart I knew…but I never let myself actually become aware of it. So where does that leave us?”
Velaxis turned until he faced Ashmael and sat cross-legged on the bed. “That leaves us sharing our chesnari. I am sure we can work this out.”
Pushing himself upright, Ashmael knelt on the bed. His hands roamed Vaysh’s hair and he fingered a golden strand. “I mean where does that leave *us*, Vel?” He had taken aruna with Velaxis in the past because aruna with the silver-haired har had been easy and available, but that had changed once Velaxis had quit Thiede’s service.
“I can see us becoming lovers in time… We don’t need to become chesna, Ashmael. Vaysh is the binding factor here. Our relationship comes second.”
“So how do want to make this work?” Ashmael drew in a deep breath.
Velaxis grinned like a cat. “What happened to being spontaneous? Do you have to plan everything, Ashmael?”
“This situation frightens me,” Ashmael admitted in a moment of complete honesty. “I love Vaysh and at the same time, he loves you too.”
“Vaysh needs us both.” Velaxis rested his hand on top of Ashmael’s and linked their fingers. “We can make this work.” Leaning in closer, Velaxis shared breath with a dazed Ashmael. In his mind, he painted a picture showing Ashmael how he envisioned their future. By the time they stopped sharing breath, Velaxis’ vision lived in Ashmael’s mind as well.
Ashmael nodded. “You are right. We will make this work…for Vaysh.”
“Yes, for Vaysh.” Velaxis caressed Ashmael’s face and then looked at Vaysh, who had begun to wake. “You had to exhaust him, didn’t you, Ash?” Velaxis quipped in amusement.
“I couldn’t help it,” Ashmael replied guiltily. “Aruna with Vaysh felt so good.”
It took a dazed Vaysh a moment to understand what had happened and that they were discussing him. Ashmael’s love for him shone golden in the har’s mind and Vaysh reached out for him, caressing the blond hair. “You are my sun,” he whispered, overcome with emotion.
Ashmael, with a bemused look at Velaxis, gracefully accepted the compliment. “And you are my sky, Vaysh. Without you, I am nothing.”
Smiling, Velaxis waited for Vaysh to look at him. He could already sense the focus of Vaysh’s thoughts shifting. Vaysh’s gaze focused on him and he gave his chesnari an encouraging nod, sensing the redhead was going to speak again.
“And you are my moon, Vel.” Vaysh reverently touched strands of Velaxis’ silver hair. “I need both of you.” He could finally admit his needs to himself.
“The sky would be empty without the moon and the sun in it.” Velaxis pressed a soothing kiss onto Vaysh’s brow. “You have us, my love. Both of us.”
Vaysh reached for them and pulled both hara close to his chest. Holding them, he laughed excitedly. “I am a lucky har.”
Ashmael and Velaxis had just enough maneuvering space for them to look at each other. Since Vaysh had accepted the truth and was giving them a chance, their future unfolded in their mind’s eye. “We are all lucky,” Velaxis agreed eventually. “This will work.”
At Velaxis’ words, Ashmael nodded and Vaysh drew in a deep breath. Ashmael rested his head against Vaysh’s shoulder and, as he made himself comfortable in Vaysh’s embrace, he pulled Velaxis close as well. At peace with the world, he closed his eyes, deeply inhaled Vaysh’s familiar scent, and smiled contentedly.
“It is already working,” Velaxis murmured as he completed the embrace by pressing close to Vaysh and holding Ashmael as well. Painting a picture in their minds, he whispered, /It’s dawn. The moon’s image has weakened in the blue sky, but it is still there, even though the sun takes up residence during the day./
Vaysh liked that mental picture and purred contentedly. Accepting Velaxis’ words as the truth, he realized he was always going to have his sun and moon with him. The sky was home to them both.