Catch My Fall

Catch My Fall
by Morgana

Story Notes

Author’s Email: morganalebeau@yahoo.com

Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon

Pairing: Vaysh/Ashmael

Rating: R

Summary: Ashmael doesn’t take no for an answer and is determined to reclaim his former lover.

Disclaimer: Not mine. These characters belong to Storm Constantine. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: First attempt at writing Wraeththu stories.

Additional note: Imion pointed out to me that I missed addressing their wish to have a pearl. Well, somehow I never got the idea that they would obsess about that, and even if they did, it would happen *after* they rebuilt their relationship. So if it were to be addressed, that would happen in a sequel. So this is my interpretation of their reconciliation.

Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks!

All remaining mistakes are mine.

Catch My Fall

Loud noises shattered the nocturnal silence which had long descended down onto Vaysh’s chambers. The Har was awoken and sat upright in bed, feeling startled and alert. It was dark in his bedroom and he narrowed his eyes in order to see what had caused the abysmal clatter.

“Fuck!”

Vaysh’s eyes narrowed further. He *knew* that voice! He pushed back the covers, placed his feet on the floor, and managed to locate the intruder who had come in through the window. “You are losing your touch, Ashmael.” There was no reason to pretend that he didn’t know who had invaded his rooms. There was only one Har foolish enough to not take no for an answer and pursue him any way.

“I should have known you would put a damn statue beneath your window!” Feeling indignant because his entry hadn’t gone as smoothly as he had hoped, the blond Har pushed himself to his feet. He kicked the bronze statue – which possessed an uncanny resemblance to Pellaz – and fixed Vaysh with a glare.

Ashmael would never grow used to Vaysh’s dyed hair. Red was definitely not Vaysh’s color. Ashmael dusted himself off in an attempt to compose himself. The truth was that whenever he saw Vaysh, he felt unbalanced. After all, this was the Har he had once loved – still loved. And this was also the lover who had died in his arms.

“What are you doing here?” Vaysh felt grateful that he hadn’t bothered to undress before going to sleep. If he had, he would be sitting there naked with Ashmael staring at him.

“What do you think I am doing here?” Ashmael cocked his head, stood with his legs spread for balance, and gave Vaysh a cocky look. “How much longer did you plan on avoiding dealing with me? Did you really think I would sit back and watch you ruin our lives?” He ran his hand through his hair and tapped his foot impatiently. “Well?”

Vaysh wanted to smile, but he forced himself to glare at the other Har instead. This was why he had once fallen in love with Ashmael. Ashmael was direct, forward even, but always in a caring way. “Our lives were ruined a long time ago. There is nothing left of them but bits and pieces.”

Ashmael laughed. “Did you manage to convince yourself of that or did Thiede do that for you?” He vividly remembered the first time when he had run into his former lover – by accident. Pellaz hadn’t even known that Vaysh and he had been Chesna. Thiede had never bothered to tell the Tigron.

Goosebumps formed on Vaysh’s skin as Ashmael was bringing up Thiede. “You can’t change the past – let it be.”

But Ashmael shook his head. “I thought you knew me better than that.” He drew in a deep breath and advanced on the bed. He noticed the way Vaysh tried to radiate remoteness and disinterest, but it wasn’t working. Once he stood in front of the bed, he came to a stop.

Vaysh felt at a disadvantage seated on the bed and got to his feet. He gathered his robes closer to his form and glared defiantly at his former lover. “You are an intruder. I could have you arrested for breaking into my rooms.”

Ashmael wasn’t impressed. “The harder you push me away, the more eager I become to break down your defenses.”

Vaysh fought for control. The way Ashmael stood with his hands on his hips, his head cocked, and a smug expression in his eyes reminded him of the old days. During those early days, they had been lovers. No, they had been even more than that – they had been devoted lovers. “When will you finally realize that there is nothing left of what we had? The love we once shared is gone. I am not the one I used to be!”

Ashmael grinned diabolically. “You could have fooled me. I know that temper… You are about to throw a tantrum.”

“I am *not* about to throw a tantrum!” Vaysh practically shouted the words at Ashmael. “Damn you!” he said as he realized he was doing exactly what his former lover wanted him to do. “I am not your lover anymore!”

“I beg to differ.” Ashmael’s grin turned downright evil. “You know… I have had time to think everything over and I have reached the conclusion that you – and Pellaz – are wrong. It isn’t too early for us to talk. If anything, we should have talked that day we first met in Pellaz’ rooms.”

“Ashmael, please…go away. Don’t do this.” Vaysh wanted nothing more than to throw himself into those strong arms, knowing they would hold him close and protect him, but he couldn’t. Thiede had changed that. “Don’t you understand? Thiede changed me. There’s nothing left of your lover!”

Ashmael still wasn’t impressed. “Let’s put that to the test, shall we?” He grabbed hold of Vaysh’s waist and forcefully pulled the Har toward him.

Vaysh struggled, but it was half-hearted. Deep down, he didn’t want to escape.

Sensing the surrender made Ashmael bold. It had been ages since he had shared breath with Vaysh and he attacked those lips with a vengeance.

Vaysh couldn’t fight him – didn’t want to fight him. He had been alone for a long time and not even Pellaz’ company had lessened the ache that had lingered inside his heart. Only Ashmael could do that. Sharing breath was intense. Since both were powerful Hara, sharing breath became so much more and, before he knew what he was doing, Vaysh greedily sucked up all the memories and feelings Ashmael was offering. He felt himself at Ashmael’s mercy and, when his former lover probed his mind, Vaysh didn’t resist. Instead, he offered his former lover all the horrid memories, the feelings of despair and his loneliness – the very things that had made him into the miserable creature that he was now. But then Ashmael’s feelings, or more precisely his love, washed over him, reminding him that he didn’t have to be alone.

“No!” Regaining his wits, Vaysh resolutely pushed Ashmael away.

Ashmael took the rejection with a smile. “You liked that.”

Vaysh felt furious. Ashmael was being Ashmael and driving him insane. “Go!”

“I don’t believe that you really want me to go, but I will comply – this once.” Ashmael peeked at the window, but decided that he didn’t want to exit that way. He walked over to the door and opened it. “We are not finished yet, Vaysh. This has only just begun.”

“Just go away!” Vaysh screamed the words, picked up a book, and flung it at Ashmael, but the General closed the door just in time and the book fell onto the floor with a dull ‘thud’. “Damn you! Why can’t you leave me alone?” His nerves got the better of him and, shaking like a leaf, he sat down on his bed.

***

Pellaz had heard the shouting and was already on his way to Vaysh’s rooms when he encountered an intruder in the corridor. Ashmael looked pleased and was grinning like a cat. “What are you doing here?”

Ashmael studied Pellaz and decided that the Tigron presented no danger to his plans. “What do you think I am doing here?”

Pellaz frowned. “Don’t play games with me.”

“What games?” Ashmael hummed softly and continued on his way down the corridor as if Pellaz hadn’t been present.

“You know what games I am referring to!” Oh great, now he was shouting after Ashmael too! “What did you do to Vaysh?” he asked, this time in a softer voice.

Ashmael turned his head and looked at the Tigron from over his shoulder. “Thiede took Vaysh away from me,” he said and then stopped walking. He pondered his situation, then turned around and walked back to where Pellaz was standing. “Vaysh died in my arms. Does that sound familiar to you?”

Pellaz grew pale. Yes, that sounded familiar to him.

“Now that I have found him, do you really think I am letting him get away again?”

“Ashmael, Vaysh has changed. You don’t know what he has been through. Leave him be.”

Ashmael shook his head. “No, you don’t have the right to say that. If Cal came to reclaim you, you would go to him. Don’t tell me to stop fighting for Vaysh.”

“It’s different for me, Ashmael. Thiede didn’t damage me. He damaged Vaysh.”

“That’s a lie! My Vaysh is still there – buried beneath that shell! If you and Thiede would stop telling Vaysh that he is broken then he would look inside and realize that there is still a lot of him left!”

Pellaz blinked. There were few Hara who dared to confront him as directly as Ashmael did. The General’s words made him think though. Could it be that Ashmael was right? He had taken aruna with Vaysh once, when the other Har had felt broken and, although it hadn’t compared to taking aruna with Cal, Vaysh had been far from dead during those intimate moments. Had he been wrong to keep Ashmael and Vaysh apart?

He had talked to Ashmael after the General had run into Vaysh the first time and had discouraged him from making contact with the traumatized Har. Had that been a mistake?

Ashmael remained quiet when he managed to make Pellaz think everything over. “Put yourself in Vaysh’s place… Imagine yourself madly in love and then someone plunges a knife into your ribcage – aimed at the heart. Imagine dying in Cal’s arms, which shouldn’t be so hard, and being remade by Thiede. You are being told that you are a failure, maybe even a mistake… You adopt that line of thinking and then, all of a sudden, Cal is back, declaring he still loves you. What would you do, Pell?”

Pellaz nodded his head once. “You are right.” He had been wrong to keep the two apart. “What are your plans?”

“I am going to reclaim him. You should start looking for a new assistant, Tigron, because Vaysh is mine.” After uttering the words, Ashmael marched down the corridor, leaving Pellaz standing there feeling rather bewildered.

***

Pellaz entered Vaysh’s rooms and found the other Har sitting on the bed. Vaysh’s eyes were red-rimmed and a tear still clung to the eye lashes. The gray eyes had darkened and showed all the sorrow of the world. Seeing his friend miserable made Pellaz realize that he had been wrong. “You still love him,” he said as he seated himself next to Vaysh.

Vaysh’s first reaction was to deny it, but in the end, he bowed his head and nodded once. “I do.”

“Then why are you fighting him?” Pellaz wrapped an arm around his friend and pulled him close.

“I have nothing left to offer,” Vaysh whispered. He raised his arm and used his sleeve to dry his eyes. “Just look at me. I’m a ghost. I was beautiful once.”

Pellaz acted cautiously. “Maybe dying your hair red wasn’t your brightest idea.”

Vaysh actually chuckled. “You might be right there.” He raised his head and looked at Pellaz – so perfect, so pure, and so powerful. “You are everything I am not. I am Thiede’s failure and you are his success. I am broken on the inside, Pell. Surely you can see that?”

“It doesn’t matter what I see,” Pellaz answered. “What you need to ask yourself is what Ashmael sees.”

Vaysh stared at the floor. He couldn’t look at perfection any longer, not when he felt so shattered. “Ashmael…” A weak smile appeared on his face. “He never accepted no for an answer.”

“And he wants you back. Now what does that tell you?”

“That he is too stubborn for his own good.” Vaysh’s emotions and nerves had settled down and he felt a bit more balanced. “You have to keep him away, Pell. Make sure that he can’t get close to me again.”

“And why would I want to do that?” Pellaz frowned.

“He can do much better than me, Pell.” Vaysh managed a sad smile. “I could never be a good mate to him.”

But Pellaz disagreed, though he was smart enough not to voice his opinion. He had the power to play match maker, and by Aghama, he would!

***

During the next few days, Vaysh settled back in to his daily routine and denied that the incident with Ashmael had ever happened. His former lover became a memory again and Vaysh was convinced that Pellaz was doing his best to keep Ashmael at a distance.

But all that changed one day when he was unexpectedly summoned by the Tigron.

***

To his shock, Vaysh also found Ashmael present in Pellaz’ rooms. The General was looking out of the window. The sun gave the blond hair a golden glow and Ashmael’s stance told Vaysh that his former lover was ready to do battle, but with whom? He steeled himself for the confrontation which was about to come. He only hoped he still had Pellaz’ support.

“Ah, there you are! Vaysh, I need you!” Pellaz gestured for Vaysh to approach.

Vaysh cautiously approached. Outwardly, he appeared calm and in control, but on the inside he shook with apprehension. Ashmael, who had waited for Vaysh to approach, turned around and gave his former lover his most blinding smile. Vaysh’s reaction was instant: he began to tremble.

“I am glad you agreed to help me out,” Ashmael commented conspiratorially.

Vaysh blinked. “What?” Questioningly, he stared at Pellaz.

“Ashmael has need of a personal assistant and I suggested you.” Pellaz smiled fondly at the dumbstruck Vaysh. “You are the best and probably the only Har who can deal with Ashmael’s…mood swings.”

Ashmael arched an eyebrow. “I don’t have mood swings!”

“You have… Believe me, you *do* have mood swings,” Vaysh commented dryly.

“I am not going to argue with you about that.” Ashmael felt much too smug at the moment to bother with details. “Pellaz has agreed to lend you to me for the next few months. You will act as my personal assistant.”

Vaysh shook his head. “I refuse. I answer to no one but Thiede.”

“And to Pellaz… Didn’t Thiede say so himself?” Ashmael asked wickedly.

Vaysh shot Pellaz a venomous look. “Traitor.”

Pellaz merely shrugged his shoulders. “Pack your belongings, Vaysh. Ashmael and you will leave within the hour.”

Vaysh held his head high when he walked back to the doorway. He shot Pellaz – his so-called friend! – a glare and then slammed the door behind him.

“That went well,” Ashmael commented dryly. “At least this time he didn’t throw anything at me.”

Pellaz chuckled, but then sobered. “Be careful, Ashmael. This might be your only chance.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. Once my mind is set on something, I will succeed. And Pellaz, Vaysh is mine. He has just forgotten about that.”

***

Vaysh looked like a ghost riding next to him. Ashmael didn’t comment on the other Har’s distressed state, thinking it best to give Vaysh time to adjust to the new situation. Therefore, when Vaysh spoke, it took him aback.

“Pell tricked me. I thought I could trust him. I am such a fool.”

Ashmael’s features contorted. “Vaysh, he didn’t betray you. He only has your best interest in mind.”

Vaysh shook his head. His expression had grown blank and his movements were slow – almost lifeless. Pale, trembling, and feeling exhausted, he felt more dead than alive. “I don’t want to do this.” Ashmael was taking him home – to the home they had shared for years before he had been murdered and remade. Ghosts of happier times awaited him there.

Ashmael moistened his lips and then decided to feed Vaysh another bit of information. “You will be staying in our old rooms.”

Vaysh swallowed hard. “The same bed?”

Ashmael nodded, since he had understood. “Yes, we will sleep in our old bed.”

Vaysh’s eyes, suddenly full of emotion, sought out Ashmael’s. “Do you enjoy hurting me?”

Ashmael had had enough. He grabbed hold of the reins of Vaysh’s Sedu and, once Vaysh was no longer moving, he curled an arm around his former lover and pulled him onto the saddle with him. Vaysh didn’t fight, just let it happen, so Ashmael made certain his former lover rested comfortably against him before telling his Sedu to start walking again. “I want to take away your pain, Vaysh. Don’t you understand that I love you and want you back?”

Vaysh sighed. “Why can’t you accept that there is nothing left to reclaim?”

“Oh, I doubt that. I doubt that very much.” Running his fingers through the dyed hair, Ashmael swept the strands aside until he had bared the nape of Vaysh’s neck to him. Leaning in closer, he pressed his lips there and sucked.

Vaysh quivered. Ashmael hadn’t forgotten that his neck was one of his most sensitive areas. For one moment, he indulged himself and allowed himself to remember how happy they had once been. He still loved Ashmael – he had never stopped doing so, but he was also convinced that his former lover deserved better than the empty shell he was now.

Ashmael felt encouraged as Vaysh allowed the caress. “I want you to remember,” he whispered into Vaysh’s ear. “I want you to remember our love and how happy we were before Thiede ruined our lives. We have another chance, love…don’t throw it away.”

“How can you still call me that?” Vaysh turned his head and probed Ashmael’s eyes.

“Because it’s the truth – I never stopped loving you.” Ashmael smiled warmly. “And I see in your eyes that you never stopped loving me. Vaysh, ask yourself if you are going to allow Thiede to wreck what is left of your life. You have the power to turn it all around by letting me love you. What do you have to lose? Stop fighting me!”

Vaysh didn’t have the answer to those questions because he had never allowed himself to think about a possible recovery. He had accepted that he had become barren, burned out, useless to Thiede, and now Ashmael was there telling him he wanted him back. What was he supposed to do?

“Nothing,” Ashmael murmured as he caught an echo of his former lover’s thoughts. “Let me do the work.” He kissed the nape of Vaysh’s neck again and this time, the other Har leaned back against him, accepting the caress. Ashmael laughed loudly and pressed a kiss on the hair, even though it sported such an atrocious color. “I will help you heal, Vaysh. Your days of exile are over.”

Oh, Vaysh really wanted to believe that. He was just afraid to do so.

***

Vaysh felt like he was walking in a dream when he entered the rooms which he had once shared with Ashmael. The other Har was already removing his gloves, cloak, and boots, so Vaysh was left standing in the center of the room, taking it all in. His gaze came to rest on the big, luxurious bed. He still remembered how proud Ashmael had been when he’d had that bed placed in their rooms. They had spent many pleasurable hours in that bed, taking aruna.

The rooms were full of memories of him laughing, running, teasing Ashmael, and of them taking aruna. The memories assailed him and he crumbled under their attack. He collapsed onto his knees and wrapped his arms around his waist. Rocking hard, he remained there, staring at the floor and letting the tears flow down his cheeks.

But he wasn’t alone for long. Ashmael hurried over to his side, buried him in a hug, and rocked him. Vaysh felt confused and, at the same time, his thoughts were awfully clear. This was where he wanted to be – in Ashmael’s arms savoring his love. “I never wanted you to do this!”

“Bringing you here? Reclaiming you? Loving you again?” Ashmael tucked Vaysh’s head beneath his chin and continued to rock him. “Ever since that first day I have been thinking of doing this. Of bringing you here and reclaiming you. Each night that I spent in our bed alone was filled with memories and dreams and they all featured you. Vaysh, you and I belong together.” Ashmael was thrilled that Vaysh had finally broken down for it meant that his former lover’s defenses were down as well.

Ashmael cupped Vaysh’s face in the palm of his hand and lifted the precious face. “I want to carry you over to our bed and remind you of the love we share, but it is still too early to do that, isn’t that? You are not ready yet for that.”

Vaysh gave Ashmael a shaky nod. “It is all happening so fast.”

But Ashmael could tell that he had won the first fight in the battle to reclaim Vaysh’s soul. Vaysh had stopped fighting him. “I love you,” he said firmly. “I love you.”

Vaysh smiled through his tears. “Ashmael…” He raised a shaky hand and let his fingers tangle in the blond hair. When he had fallen for Ashmael all that time ago it had been because of the other Har’s charm, his quick wit, directness, and courage. All those qualities were still there. “You are my angel; you know that, don’t you? My fallen, bad-mouthed, too stubborn for his own good, angel.”

Ashmael trembled and sighed deeply. Vaysh had loved calling him that when they had still been together – before the murder. “You will heal, Vaysh. I command it.”

“Oh, and I forgot to throw in arrogant!” This time, Vaysh’s smile was genuine and free of self-doubt.

“Yes, I am arrogant, but I have a good reason… I am always right… I can afford to be arrogant.” Ashmael placed his hands on either side of Vaysh’s head and guided his lips to Vaysh’s. Sharing breath again, Ashmael reached out and enfolded Vaysh’s crippled mind in his warmth, tending to it, nursing it back to health. It was only the first step, but at least they *had* taken that very important first step!

***

Ashmael’s manipulations – always for Vaysh’s good, of course – were subtle. Vaysh was served his favorite foods, found new clothes in his closet, and slept in their bed with Ashmael spooned closely behind him. They didn’t take aruna together – not yet. Ashmael was right in that it was too early for them to take that step. But Vaysh would find roses on his pillow when he woke up and Ashmael would touch him the entire day. At first, Vaysh found it hard to accept these expressions of Ashmael’s love, but in the end, it became easier.

One day, Ashmael came to stand behind him when he was looking out of the window.

Ashmael had planned everything carefully and would carry his plan out step by step. First, he rested his head on Vaysh’s shoulder and blew strands of red hair out of his face. “Vaysh?”

Vaysh involuntarily leaned back to soak up Ashmael’s body warmth and love. “Yes?” He had grown calmer the last few days. He had been there for one month already and was beginning to find his place again. Ashmael made it so easy. It wasn’t that his former lover pretended nothing had ever happened and that nothing had changed. No, Ashmael gave him all the freedom he needed and allowed him to make his own decisions, for which Vaysh was grateful. It had given him his chance to build a life there. A life that was centered around Ashmael – like it had been in the past. “What do you want?” He even smiled; he had learned to read Ashmael’s moods again and he knew what it felt like when Ashmael wanted something from him.

“Would you consider removing that awful dye from your hair?” Ashmael held his breath. He didn’t know how Vaysh was going to react to his request.

“Why?” Vaysh rested his head against Ashmael’s shoulder and closed his eyes. It didn’t matter how long his happiness would last – he would never forget this moment in time. It was perfect. Ashmael was there, holding him, loving him.

“Because its color is hideous!”

Ashmael’s directness no longer aggravated Vaysh, but it made him smile instead. “Do you want me to dye it black?” He asked that question on purpose, knowing it would annoy Ashmael.

“No! I want you to dye it blond again!” Ashmael realized he had been played and teasingly licked Vaysh’s throat. It thrilled him that Vaysh accepted his licks these days. Vaysh had stopped flinching and pulling away. Vaysh had also stopped questioning his love. The healing Har had finally accepted that he was loved.

“Would that please you? If I went blond again?” Vaysh turned in the embrace until he was face to face with Ashmael. The other Har still took his breath away and it wasn’t just Ashmael’s looks – it was also the blinding strength that shone from behind the blue eyes. “I love you,” he whispered, voicing his feelings.

Ashmael crushed Vaysh to him and showered the smiling face with kisses. “Finally!”

Ashmael’s passionate reaction made Vaysh smile even brighter. “You were never going to give up, were you? You would have pursued me for the rest of your life, if that had been necessary.”

“Yes, you are right.” Ashmael caressed Vaysh’s face and his heart missed a beat when the other Har leaned into the touch.

“I never stood a chance,” Vaysh added with some of his old playfulness.

“You are right again. I knew you were smart.” Ashmael buried his fingers in Vaysh’s dyed hair. “I hate this red color.”

“I will dye it back.”

“Because you want that and are ready to do so?” Ashmael wanted Vaysh to do so for the right reasons and not just to please him.

“Yes, the time is right.” Vaysh moistened his lips and then addressed Ashmael. “You convinced me that our love still has a chance and… I want to make it work, but Ashmael… I *have* changed.”

“I love you still,” Ashmael whispered, feeling entranced since Vaysh was finally acknowledging their love. Leaning in closer, he touched his lips to Vaysh’s. Little by little, Vaysh was recovering and their love was flourishing.

***

“Vaysh? Are you ready to entertain a guest?” Ashmael had snuck up on Vaysh, trying to take his lover by surprise, but Vaysh had long noticed him and didn’t appear startled.

“That depends on the identity of our guest.” Vaysh looked up from the book he had been reading and took in the warm glow that surrounded his lover’s form. Ashmael stood in the center of the room and the sun cast her rays through the window. He loved Ashmael so much that he felt like he was about to burst because he was still unable to express himself physically. But it wouldn’t be long before he would be ready to take aruna with Ashmael. It was only a matter of days and they both knew it.

“Pellaz will be visiting with us.” Ashmael watched Vaysh closely for a reaction. His lover had been at his side again for three months and the changes were remarkable. Gone were the gaunt appearance, the pale complexion, and that awful red hair. Vaysh’s hair had regained its warm dark-blond color and danced against the Har’s shoulders. “You…” Overcome with emotions, Ashmael went down on his heels and rested his head on Vaysh’s knees.

“I don’t know you this emotional,” Vaysh whispered in a worried voice. He stroked the fair hair and frowned, growing more concerned.

“I watched you die…” Ashmael said unexpectedly and a sob fled his throat. “I held you in my arms when you died…” Another sob echoed through the room and Ashmael curled his hands around Vaysh’s knees. “Don’t you ever do that to me again! Don’t you ever die on me again!”

“I didn’t have a say in what happened, love.” Vaysh bowed forward and placed a kiss on Ashmael’s hair. “Let it out,” he advised. Ashmael was always the strong one, but beneath the rough exterior, he always hid his emotions. “There’s no shame in crying. I cried… I cried so many times because I lost you.”

In the end, they cried together and in doing so healed most of their hurt.

***

Pellaz could hardly believe Vaysh had undergone such a drastic transformation. Vaysh barely resembled the red-haired, traumatized Har that had left his palace four months ago. The gray eyes twinkled while the hair was once more blond and possessed a healthy shimmer. Vaysh had even attained a tan because Ashmael had started to take him out riding. Pellaz’ heart swelled with happiness for his friends. The two of them were holding hands.

“Welcome to our home,” Ashmael said. “We are honored to have you.” Ashmael had to let go of Vaysh’s hand in order to bestow a hug on the Tigron.

“Thank you for the warm welcome,” Pellaz answered and his smiling eyes sought out Vaysh’s face. “I barely recognized you!” Taking a step toward Vaysh, he wrapped his arms around him and hugged him close.

Vaysh returned the hug and savored the moment. He had lots to be thankful for and should let Pellaz know that he had forgiven him for his meddling. “And I am happy to see you.”

***

After dinner, the three of them went for a walk in the gardens. Pellaz deeply inhaled the sweet fragrance of the roses which stood in full bloom and his gaze shifted from the flowers to Vaysh. “You look happy, my friend.”

“I am happy,” Vaysh admitted readily. “I have healed…thanks to Ashmael’s patience, love, and dedication.”

“He fought me at first, but then he realized I was destined to win all along, so he surrendered.” Ashmael made it sound like he had achieved a victory on the battlefield and, in a way, winning back Vaysh had been the most grueling battle he had ever fought. “We won,” he said while rubbing Vaysh’s fingers between his. “And Thiede lost.”

Pellaz cocked his head. “And what will the future hold for the two of you? Do I still have a personal assistant?” Pellaz asked, giving them a wink.

“I am afraid you will have to look for new one. Vaysh is taken. He is mine,” Ashmael replied possessively.

“It helps that I want to be his,” Vaysh quipped and smiled at Pellaz. He drew in a deep breath, sobering, and said, “I was wrong when I called you a traitor. I am sorry I ever said that. You were being a true friend instead. It only took me a while to understand and accept that.”

Pellaz returned Vaysh’s smile. “I knew you would come around, my friend.” Pellaz cupped Vaysh’s cheek in the palm of his hand and rubbed the facial skin with his thumb. “And I forgive you. I wish you happiness, Vaysh. You suffered enough at Thiede’s hands.” His gaze left Vaysh’s face and settled on Ashmael’s. “Make him happy… Hurt him and…” He left the threat unfinished.

“I will make him happy,” Ashmael promised and pressed a kiss onto his lover’s fair hair. “And I will never let him go again.”

***

“Vaysh?” Ashmael rolled onto his stomach and looked at his lover’s face, which was relaxed in blissful sleep. Pellaz had left a few hours ago and they had their home to themselves again.

Vaysh opened first one eye, and then the other. “Yes?” Since he was waking up, he shifted onto his side so he could better see Ashmael’s face. He recognized the expression in the mischievous eyes and his heart sped up, realizing that *that* moment had finally come. Raising a hand, he placed it on Ashmael’s hip and rubbed the skin there. They had once been completely at ease with their bodies, had known where to touch, and how to create the greatest arunic pleasure, but did they still remember those touches? “Now?”

Ashmael nodded and moved atop of his lover. “Now.” He nuzzled Vaysh’s throat and then moved his lips close to his lover’s ear. “Receive me, my love.”

Vaysh quivered with excitement and his body was already going through the changes necessary to receive his lover in that way. Ashmael had always represented the male aspect in their relationship and Vaysh eagerly accepted his passive role. “I want this too.” He had missed this so much!

Ashmael took his time making Vaysh his and when his ouana-lim finally penetrated his lover’s body they felt connected in a way they had never experienced before. They moved slowly, sensually, drawing aruna out, but in the end, they had to let go. While sharing breath, their essences mingled and they truly felt one.

Ashmael smiled as he looked into his lover’s eyes, which glowed with bliss and satiation. “I want you to know that I would never have given up on you. I would have pursued you until the very end. I would have died trying to convince you that we belong together.”

“I am glad that you never gave up.” Vaysh curled an arm around Ashmael’s waist and savored the sensation of his lover pressing him into the mattress. “You are right, you know. We won.”

“Our love won.” Ashmael lifted his head and rested his chin on Vaysh’s chest. “It was our destiny to overcome the problems we had. I only had to make you see that.”

“And you did,” Vaysh whispered the words against Ashmael’s lips. “I never stopped loving you… I never will.”

Ashmael rested his head back onto Vaysh’s chest and began to doze off with his lust having been satiated.

“My fallen, arrogant, and smug angel… But you are entitled to be like that… I love you just the way you are.”

Ashmael smiled as he dozed off. Vaysh finally understood.

The End

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