Part 1 in the Fairy Tale Ending Series. Part 2 is High Hope.
Author’s Email: email@example.com
Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon
Summary: Velaxis sheds his old skin and grants Caeru a wish.
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.
“I am resigning from your service, Thiede. My work here is done.” Velaxis stood calmly in front of Thiede and stared him in the eye. “My days of servitude are over.”
Thiede still felt annoyed that he hadn’t realized just how special Velaxis was at an earlier stage. Not for the first time did he wonder if he had been masterfully manipulated by Velaxis. “It was all an act, wasn’t it?”
Velaxis saw no reason to pretend he didn’t understand. “I played my part, yes.”
“And you let me order you about because that served you best.”
Nodding his head, Velaxis sensed that Thiede was trying to draw some sort of explanation from him and indulged him. “Yes. I let you incept me, allowed you to ‘recruit’ me for your services, and did your bidding. For decades I whored for you, gathering information that would serve you, and at the same time, I had a chance to further my own plans. Playing the whore gave me a chance to be close to all of them and they never thought twice about answering my questions.”
Thiede blinked. It was rare for him to show surprise so openly, but he really felt puzzled. “How much of this was arranged?”
“By me? Everything. I knew I had a part to play in Darq’s life and I accepted my role. Pellaz still thinks it was you who hinted he should create Darq, but in reality it was my voice he heard in his head that day.” Velaxis gave Thiede a stern look. “Don’t think about extracting any revenge on me for being manipulated, Thiede. You will find me a dangerous opponent.”
That thought of revenge had briefly crossed Thiede’s mind, but he quickly realized how foolish that would be. “I never foresaw Darq coming into existence,” he said, curious on how Velaxis would answer him.
“The Krim Sri did however.” It would be more accurate however to say that *he* had foreseen Darq’s existence. He’d always had some clairvoyant abilities.
“Fortunately, everything turned out all right.” Thiede’s eyes didn’t leave Velaxis’ form. The long platinum hair was braided back, revealing strong facial features. The blue eyes glowed with knowledge, knowledge that had been kept from Thiede. “What are your plans now? Will you leave Phaonica?”
It was none of Thiede’s business, but Velaxis indulged him again. “I am not sure what I will do. This is the first time in ages that I am free to act as I will. I am shedding my old skin and must find a new place in this world. I have no idea what the future will bring, but I do know I no longer have to humor you or the members of the Hegemony.”
“Caeru will sorely miss you should you leave.” Thiede had noticed the friendship that had grown between the Tigrina and Velaxis.
“And I will miss him,” Velaxis admitted. “But his family has returned to him. He no longer needs me. He has Pellaz, Cal, Geb, and most importantly Darq.”
“I am not so sure that he no longer needs you, but I won’t stop you if you are set on leaving.” The members of the Hegemony might be in for a bit of a shock however when they found out that Velaxis’ services were no longer available. “I *did* always wonder why you never objected to me giving you to them. Your reputation became that of a whore.”
“It was what I wanted you to do. By giving me to them, I had free access to them.” Velaxis’ gaze hardened. “You don’t understand my abilities fully. That’s why you never realized I was one step ahead of you. Even you, Thiede, do not know the full potential of aruna.” He had gathered most of the information he had needed from the minds of the hara he had been taking aruna with. Especially Ashmael who had been a reliable source of information since both Thiede and Pellaz trusted him unconditionally.
Thiede slowly nodded his head. Darq had confided in him about that time when Velaxis had possessed Darzu and when the dehar, Aruhani, had appeared.
Velaxis realized the direction Thiede’s thoughts were taking and tightened his shields. Aruhani and he had a very special relationship…one Thiede should know nothing about. “I am leaving now,” he announced and headed for the doorway.
“But you *will* stay a little longer in Immanion? You intrigue me, Velaxis.” Thiede wanted to find out more about the exceptional har. He had never realized exactly *who* he had incepted back then. He had simply assumed he had been dealing with a human.
A sly grin appeared on Velaxis’ face, but Thiede couldn’t see it since Velaxis’ back was toward him. He was finally free to be himself again and the hara who knew him would be in for a few surprises.
The first thing Velaxis did upon his return to his rooms was to soak in the bathtub for over an hour. Knowing that he no longer owed anyhar anything made him relax and he closed his eyes, trying to catch glimpses of his future. The truth was that he didn’t know what he was going to do. Although he had said that Caeru wouldn’t miss him, he knew the opposite was true. Caeru and he had become very close over the years. Caeru was also someone he had never taken aruna with. The Tigrina had never stooped so low as to order him into his bed, unlike many other hara. Rue was special to him.
A knock on his door disrupted his peace and, irritated, he tried to ignore it, but the har then started to call out his name. Only a few days ago, he would have been bound to answer and comply with the wishes of the har who had summoned him, but that was no longer the case. From that moment on, he could choose the hara he wanted to take aruna with.
Velaxis left the tub, shrugged into a silk morning robe which was embroidered with cranes, and flung the door open, hopefully scaring the har who was on the other side of it. “What is it?”
Paran had been startled when the door had abruptly opened, but he quickly composed himself. “The general requires your services. Get dressed. He wants you now.”
The sly expression returned to Velaxis’ face and he relished in saying, “You can tell your general to find himself a new whore. I am retired.” And with that, he closed the door.
Paran stood there in shock. What had Velaxis said? Had the har really closed the door on him? Paran knocked again, harder this time. “Velaxis, this isn’t the time to play games! Get dressed!” But to his frustration the door remained closed and Paran had no other choice than to return to Ashmael empty-handed.
Ashmael blinked. “Velaxis refused to accompany you?” That was unheard of! He had thought that Velaxis had learned his place through the years!
“He said that he has retired and that you should find yourself a new whore.” Paran’s features contorted as he delivered Velaxis’ message. He flinched as Ashmael’s eyes darkened. General Aldebaran was one har he didn’t want for an enemy and he pitied the fool – in this case Velaxis – who would feel the brunt of Ashmael’s anger.
“Someone needs to be reminded of his place,” Ashmael snarled and marched toward the doorway. And he was the perfect har to do that.
Velaxis slid into the bathtub again and cursed Paran for disturbing his thoughts. He placed a pillow between the rim of the bathtub and his head and enjoyed the peace and quiet. He was intelligent enough to know it wouldn’t last long. Ashmael wouldn’t accept a no for an answer and was probably already on his way over to his rooms. Velaxis however was looking forward to putting him in his place. He had been wanting to do so for a very long time.
Ashmael didn’t bother with knocking and simply pushed the door open. Sounds from the bathroom informed him where he would find Velaxis and he marched in there. Velaxis was relaxing in the bathtub, which was full of foam. Jasmine filled the air and Ashmael shook his head in bewilderment. “What do you think you are doing? I summoned you!”
Velaxis didn’t open his eyes yet. Instead he replied, “Stuff it. I don’t remember giving you permission to enter my rooms.”
Ashmael’s eyes widened. Had Velaxis really told him to ‘stuff it’ just now? What had gotten into the har? “I forbid you to talk to me in that manner and did you forget what you are? You are to service me when I call for you!”
Velaxis lazily opened his eyes and growled. “Those days are over. I suggest you leave now. You will regret it if I have to leave my bathtub.”
Ashmael didn’t take the warning very seriously however. “I will drag you out of there if you don’t start drying yourself off and getting dressed!” Velaxis’ blue eyes glowed dangerously, but Ashmael didn’t notice the warning. “And I mean now, Velaxis…”
“Listen very carefully, Ashmael Aldebaran. I told Paran and I am telling you now. I am no longer at your service. Now leave me alone. I wish to enjoy my bath.” His eyes flashed with a final warning.
Heading over to the tub, Ashmael prepared himself to drag Velaxis forcefully from it when something slammed into his mind and froze him in his tracks, unable to even move his little finger. Shocked, he stared at Velaxis, who was purring and caressing the foam that floated atop the water surface.
“I warned you and you didn’t listen. Now you must suffer the consequences.” He would keep Ashmael in that state until he had finished his bath. Hopefully doing so would get the message across to Ashmael to stop bothering him. Velaxis was very much aware of the fact that he had to set an example so the other members of the Hegemony knew that they couldn’t turn to him anymore.
Rage bubbled inside Ashmael and he wanted to lash out at Velaxis, but since he couldn’t move, he was forced to watch the other har as he washed his hair and then left the tub. Velaxis reached for a towel, wrapped his hair in it, and then started to dry himself off. How much longer would Velaxis keep him in this state? And how in Aghama’s name was it possible that Velaxis had this hold on him? Velaxis had never shown this ability before!
Velaxis dressed in a light-blue kimono and then advanced on Ashmael. He could tell that the other har was seething and grinned. “I hope you learned your lesson. Leave me alone or you will find out the other ways that I can use to restrain you.”
Ashmael felt life slowly return to his fingertips and toes and flexed them. “How did you do that?” he asked once he was capable of speech again.
“It is just one of my many hidden talents. Now kindly leave my rooms, tiahaar.” Velaxis probed Ashmael’s mind undetected by the other har and, once he was certain that Ashmael wasn’t going to attack him, turned around and picked up the brush from the vanity. “And please spread the word that I am retired.”
“I don’t understand any of this,” Ashmael muttered while still flexing his fingers. “How did you do that? I never realized you had such powers.” Why had Velaxis never used them to his advantage before? “Does Thiede know that you are ‘retired’?” He still remembered the day Thiede had introduced him to Velaxis before suggesting that Ashmael take aruna with the other har. Ashmael had accepted and had quickly caught on. After that, Velaxis had slept his way through the Hegemony. Ashmael couldn’t help but wonder why Velaxis had allowed them to use him given these powers. Velaxis could have easily dealt with them.
“Thiede knows – not that it matters. Tell them that if any of them tries to ‘summon’ me into their beds, they will regret it. And that is the last thing I am going to say regarding this matter. Leave now.”
Ashmael started to turn from Velaxis, but then halted and cocked his head, studying the har who was brushing his pale hair. For one moment, he wondered why he had never seen the truth before. “Who are you?” Velaxis smiled and Ashmael saw the reflection of it in the mirror. It was a mysterious smile and suddenly he shivered. Who was Velaxis? And how had he managed to fool him?
Velaxis wasn’t inclined to answer Ashmael though and simply gestured for him to leave, which the other har did reluctantly. The question which Ashmael had put to him had unnerved him, even though it hadn’t shown. He hadn’t wanted Ashmael to know that the question had upset him.
Once he was alone, he looked into the mirror. “Who am I?” he asked his reflection. “What have I become?” During the last few years he had been forced to act a certain way and that burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He could never go back to being ‘Zu’, he knew that, but who was Velaxis? Who was the har staring back at him from the mirror?
“He did what?” Cedony stared at Ashmael in bewilderment.
“He really said that?” Chrysm couldn’t believe Velaxis had actually resigned from Thiede’s service. It was unheard of!
“You probably just misunderstood.” Tharmifex fixed Ashmael with a stare.
Eyra, head of the Listeners, was strangely silent for a moment. He had picked up on something in the ethers, but at the time, he hadn’t known what to make of it.
Dree found it hard to believe that Velaxis was no longer ‘theirs’. The fair-haired har had always been at their disposal. Glave frowned and looked at Ashmael. “Did he really say those things?”
Ashmael raised his feet and rested them on the table. He nodded and looked at the other hara. It was another hour before Pellaz, Caeru, and Cal would join them for that day’s meeting and he had used the time to inform the Hegemony about Velaxis. He understood their surprise since he had felt it himself when Velaxis had told him. Well, Velaxis hadn’t just *told* him though. Velaxis had actually *shown* him that he was no longer available. “He did and I believe him.”
Tharmifex shook his head. “I shall talk to Thiede. I can’t believe he would condone this behavior.”
Ashmael shrugged. “You can try, but I believed Velaxis when he said that Thiede knew about it and had given him his consent.”
“We should take this matter to the Tigrons,” Cedony remarked, disappointed that Velaxis would no longer be of service to them. Velaxis had been a convenient means to quick and uncomplicated aruna.
Cal sensed some underlying discomfort when they entered the Hegalion, but pretended to not notice it. He preferred for them to come to him with their problems. He seated himself to Pellaz’ right while Caeru took his seat on the Tigron’s left. Thiede, who had chosen to accompany them, leaned heavily against Pellaz’ chair and watched the members of the Hegemony. Originally Cal had thought the meeting would be over quickly, but wasn’t so sure anymore. What could there possibly be to discuss now that they had peace?
“Tiahaara, there is a matter we would like to discuss with you.” Tharmifex, as chancellor, took the initiative.
“What matter?” Pellaz asked and frowned. Like Cal, he had been under the impression that all problems had been resolved.
“Disturbing information has reached me,” Tharmifex stated dramatically. “It appears that Velaxis has resigned from your services.” He eyed Thiede as he spoke. “That can’t be true. You gave him to us.”
The hair at the back of Cal’s neck stood rigid. He had heard the rumors before that Velaxis was used as a whore and that the har had actually been *gifted* to the members of the Hegemony by Thiede. It was a matter he had wanted to address for a long time, but something else had always come up. “I never quite agreed with the way you used Velaxis,” he commented and then shifted his gaze from Tharmifex to Thiede. “What possessed you to do such a thing?”
Thiede shrugged. “I had my reasons.” At the time, he had told Velaxis to keep an eye on the members of the Hegemony and pry information from them, but only now realized that Velaxis had only done that because it had served him too.
Caeru wasn’t quite sure what to make of the situation. He knew that Velaxis was nothing but a whore in their eyes and that Tharmifex and the rest despised the har, but Velaxis had always been a good friend to him. He respected Velaxis and had more than once wished that Velaxis would stick up for himself and tell them to go to hell whenever they had sent for his ‘services’. “Is it true?” Caeru asked Thiede. “Did you let him go?”
Thiede shrugged again. “Velaxis is free to do as he pleases.”
“Then it is about time, considering all the things he did for Darq throughout the years.” Cal glared at Thiede. He was still angry with the other har for enslaving Velaxis in such a humiliating way. Cal had worked as a kanene – a whore – for a short time and knew how demanding and taxing certain customers were. “If you hadn’t let him go, I would have told you to do it now and you would have complied.” Cal was prepared to defend Velaxis’ rights.
Pellaz lifted a hand and everyhar grew silent, even Thiede. “Each har belongs to himself. There is no matter to discuss. Velaxis should never have been yours.” But he had closed his eyes and had looked the other way during the time because he hadn’t liked the pale-haired har. “Velaxis owes no one.” But the Tigrons and Tigrina of Immanion owed Velaxis for protecting and teaching Darquiel. “Leave him alone or you will answer to us.”
Caeru smiled, pleased that Pellaz had included Cal and him in that speech. It was the three of them now. Velaxis might not know it, but he had found protectors in the Tigrons and the Tigrina, who would defend Velaxis’ rights.
“We need to discuss Velaxis,” Pellaz said once the four of them were alone. Thiede, Caeru, Cal, and Pellaz had retreated into the apartments the Tigrons and the Tigrina shared. The three leaders lived together these days.
Pellaz and Velaxis had never been friends, but Cal and Darq had strongly urged him to take action where the har was concerned. “If Tharmifex hadn’t brought it up, I would have. You can’t continue to use Velaxis that way. Darq was upset when he realized just what kind of work you had ordered Velaxis to do.” Pellaz slowly paced the room and looked thoughtfully at his old friend. “Thiede, what you did was wrong.”
Thiede shrugged. “I did what had to be done.” He hated admitting that he hadn’t known Velaxis’ true identity back then. “He had to be present at your court so he could watch the three of you.”
Pellaz bowed his head and was momentarily lost in thought, which gave Cal a chance to ask Thiede a question. “How could you not know that Velaxis was different? Didn’t you sense anything?”
“When I had incepted him I thought he was human. He looked human. I didn’t even know that the Krim Sri existed at that point!” Thiede knew he had been lax. It was the first time ever that someone had used him to such a degree. He was angry with himself.
“Can it be that you met your match in Velaxis?” Caeru asked sweetly. He could get away with saying things like that because Thiede had always favored him. Thiede’s sole reaction was a heartfelt growl. “I will take that as a yes.” It pleased him that Velaxis was *more* than he had always seemed. “I wonder about his secrets though.”
“I know something about him, but not enough,” Cal answered. “I doubt even Darq knows the true extent of Velaxis’ powers or his complete history.” That didn’t take away that he still wanted to be Velaxis’ champion in this matter. During the time that they had brought Darq to Phaonica, he had learned to appreciate Velaxis’ talents and personality. Velaxis was a har to Cal’s liking, even if Pellaz disliked the har. “It is a good thing that you let Velaxis go. Darq would have been mad if he had found out that you were still making him take aruna with the members of the Hegemony.”
“He resigned this morning,” Thiede replied. “And I didn’t stop him. I let him go.”
“Good. It was about time.” Caeru leaned back into the comfort of his chair and smiled happily. Their sons and highhar had returned to them and everything was peaceful for a change. Thiede was *retired* and Cal, Pellaz, and Caeru had finally come to terms with their living arrangement. The three of them were as good as chesna, which pleased Caeru immensely.
“I have the feeling we haven’t seen everything yet where Velaxis is concerned,” Cal murmured. “We might get to see a side of him we never saw before.”
That evening, Caeru went to his private apartment in the hope that Velaxis would visit him there. Hopefully Velaxis felt the same need as he did. Caeru wasn’t let down. Later that evening, Velaxis knocked on his door and Caeru opened it in person instead of sending a servant to answer it. “I’d hoped you would visit tonight. I would like to talk to you.”
“I thought you might.” Velaxis entered the room and headed for the two chairs set close to the window. Caeru and he had spent many evenings there just drinking sheh and talking.
The first thing Caeru noticed was the way Velaxis had dressed. He had become used to seeing the other har in flowing Gelaming robes, but Velaxis’ attire had changed. Dressed in tight, black jeans and a grey shirt, Velaxis looked like he was part of a rock band and not as a har who used to be Thiede’s right hand. “Going somewhere?”
Velaxis grinned as he poured sheh into their glasses before seating himself. Raising one hand, he offered Caeru the other glass. “I feel like going out tonight. Want to accompany me?”
Caeru sipped the sheh and sat down. “That is a very tempting offer. What if I accept?” He eyed Velaxis’ eagerly.
“Then we will go out together tonight,” Velaxis replied and nodded once. “But before we go out you want to ask me some questions… I can tell.”
Caeru smiled. “I never managed to conceal things from you. Who are you, Vel?”
“It is a long story, Rue. Let’s say I wasn’t human when Thiede incepted me and that I am gifted with special telepathic powers.”
“Is Velaxis your real name?”
Velaxis’ features briefly contorted. “It is the name I chose to go by. Darq also knows me as Zu, but that name is part of my past and I no longer use it. I am comfortable going by Velaxis.”
“I am grateful that you took care of Darq when we couldn’t.” Caeru placed the glass aside and took one of Velaxis’ hands in his. “That means a lot to me.”
Velaxis’ eyes started to swim with emotion. “Darq is important to me and so are you, Rue.”
Caeru swallowed hard and then asked, “Why did we never take aruna, Vel?” At first, he had wanted to add, ‘I know you took aruna with all members of the Hegemony because Thiede told you so. Why not me?’ But he didn’t say them. He wanted to know though.
Velaxis had caught the thought and gave Caeru a look full of understanding. “Because I care about you, Rue. I didn’t want us to take aruna because it was something I had to do. I am grateful you never required my services as the rest of the Hegemony did.”
Caeru perked up at hearing that. “Does that mean you would consider taking aruna with me for the ‘right’ reasons then?”
A sweet smile surfaced on Velaxis’ lips. “Would you like that? Do you want to take aruna with me, Rue?”
“One day, yes…for the right reasons…because I care about you.” Caeru suddenly had a hard time finding the right words. He had always wanted to take aruna with Velaxis just once. Velaxis cupped his cheek in the palm of his hand and he leaned into the touch.
“We will take aruna, Rue. I promise you that, but let me set the time and place.” He’d always had feelings for the Tigrina and wanted to make this good for Rue. “Trust me.”
“I always did, Vel, although… I never knew why.”
“We are kindred spirits, Rue. I was always drawn to you too.”
“Will you share breath with me? I want to know you, Vel.” Caeru eyed Velaxis hungrily.
Velaxis however knew that if they shared breath now, things would get out of hand. “Not yet, my sweet Rue. Later. Let’s go out first and enjoy ourselves. I have been locked up for too long. Show me the clubs tonight.” He wriggled his fingers free of Caeru’s hold and caressed the back of the Tigrina’s hand. “I don’t care if we go incognito or dressed up. I just want out and I wanted to spend time with you.”
Caeru wanted to give in to Velaxis, but how would Cal and Pellaz react to hearing he had left in Velaxis’ company? Cal would probably be okay with it, but what about Pellaz?
“Why don’t you ask them in mind touch? I don’t mind. I am glad that the three of you are so close.” Velaxis smiled, raised Caeru’s hand, and pressed a kiss onto the palm.
Caeru nodded his head once. Velaxis’ suggestion made sense and he reached out to the Tigrons, who had retired onto the balcony after they had eaten dinner. He told them about his visitor and of Velaxis’ request to hit the nightclubs with him that night. Pellaz reacted with surprise, but Cal seemed to have expected for something like this to happen.
/Go and enjoy yourself, Rue. You don’t need our permission./ Cal was a bit puzzled as to why the Tigrina was seeking their approval. /You answer to nohar and that includes us./
Pellaz had a better understanding of the way Caeru’s thoughts worked however. /Cal is right. Enjoy yourself and don’t feel guilty. It was clear that this was going to happen. I am surprised that you didn’t see it coming./ He reclined against Cal’s chest and closed his eyes. /We don’t begrudge you a night of passion. Cal and I will make our own magic tonight./
Caeru felt relieved and smiled. /Thanks./ He didn’t know what he had expected them to say.
“And? Did they give their consent?” Velaxis knew about the complicated relationship between the Tigrina and the two Tigrons.
Caeru nodded once. “They are very understanding.” He smiled at the other blond har. “I owe you a lot. Your advice served me well in the past. If it hadn’t been for you, I would never have tried to befriend Cal and the three of us would never have grown close again.”
“The only thing that causes me pain is that Darq was taken away from you like that. That wasn’t supposed to happen.” To a great degree, Velaxis felt responsible for the pain Caeru had suffered when the pearl had been cut from his body. “I would have stopped Diablo if I had known he would attack you. I blame myself for that.”
The expression in the blue eyes revealed just how sorry Velaxis was and Caeru smiled ruefully. “That is in the past and we must look toward the future now.” Holding Velaxis’ hands in his, he realized that something connected them on a very deep level. Maybe taking aruna would heal the hurt they shared. “I want to dress up tonight.” Caeru decided.
Velaxis happily nodded his head. “I am not stopping you.”
“Are you going to watch then?” Caeru batted his eyelashes at Velaxis.
“If you are not going to stop me, I will.” Velaxis leaned back into the comfort of his chair and sipped his sheh. “I like to watch,” he added seductively.
It was easy to see why Velaxis had been so wanted by the members of the Hegemony. When he wanted to, he oozed sensuality and could drive every har crazy with desire. Not even Caeru was blind to that and he wondered what role Velaxis would assume during aruna – during *their* aruna.
“Get dressed,” Velaxis whispered conspiratorially. “And you might find out the answer to that question later…once we return from visiting the clubs.”
That was enough incentive for Caeru to get moving. He let go of Velaxis’ hand, rose from his chair, and headed into the bathroom, curious to find out if the blond har was going to follow him.
Reading Caeru’s thoughts, Velaxis waited a moment and then walked over to the bathroom where he leaned against the doorway. Caeru had removed the robes he had been wearing and was naked. “You are a beauty, Rue – still.” He knew the self-doubt that haunted the Tigrina at times.
Caeru swallowed nervously. “Ever since the attack I am only half the har I used to be.” His fingers traced the scar that disfigured his abdomen. Darq’s pearl had been cut out of him there. “If Pell were to meet with me today for the first time, he wouldn’t even notice me.” A miserable light shone from his eyes.
“But I *would* notice you, Rue,” Velaxis murmured and leaned in closer. He hadn’t wanted to share breath just yet, afraid as he was that things would spin out of control, but he felt that he had no choice at this point. “I would notice you anywhere – any time.”
Velaxis’ words soothed Rue and suddenly he didn’t feel so vulnerable anymore. He turned to get dressed and wasn’t expecting Velaxis to reach for him. Suddenly he was pulled close against the other har’s chest and soft lips descended onto his. It was just a kiss at first – but what a kiss! – and after a few seconds Velaxis shared breath with him.
Velaxis carefully selected the images which he wanted to share with Caeru. In the end, he opted for showing Caeru images of Darq growing up and starting on his journey. Once Caeru relaxed in his embrace, he fed the Tigrina his emotions, showing Caeru his desire, respect, and affection where the other har was concerned.
Caeru was breathless by the time Velaxis deserted his lips. A last image floated into his mind and seeing it made him blush as it depicted the two of them locked in aruna. “Thank you for sharing that with me. The memories you showed me concerning Darq are precious to me.”
“What about the image I sent you about us taking aruna?” Velaxis asked wickedly. “Did that please you?” He cocked his head and dragged the tip of his tongue along Caeru’s top lip. It was up to him to seduce Caeru. Caeru shivered against him and it would have been easy to abandon their plans and take aruna right there and then. But Velaxis refused to give in just yet. “Get dressed, my lovely.” He released Caeru and returned to his chair in the other room to down the rest of his drink.
Caeru trembled with desire and surprise when he was suddenly released. He had been convinced that Velaxis would want to take aruna with him, but then Velaxis had left the bathroom. The other har was full of surprises. Making haste, Caeru dressed and applied some make-up. He styled his hair, checked his appearance in the mirror, and stepped into the other room again. “Will this do?” He had dressed provocatively on purpose to draw a reaction from Velaxis.
Velaxis licked his lips, fully aware of the effect it would have on Caeru and the Tigrina didn’t disappoint him as Caeru blushed. “Very nice indeed.” Caeru had dressed in tight leather pants that were all black with studs on the sides and a black fishnet shirt that left little to the imagination. Black leather boots and kohl-lined eyes completed the outfit. “Oh, yeah, that’s perfect for tonight.” Unable to resist temptation, he made his way over to Caeru and raised a hand to flick a pert nipple that peeked through the fishnet material. “Very sensual.”
Moaning under the touch, Caeru thrust his lower body against Velaxis. He threw back his head and his long, blond hair danced against the small of his back. “What are you doing to me?” he whispered and quivered when Velaxis pinched his nipple.
“Getting you hot and bothered,” Velaxis hinted wickedly. Then he stopped his teasing and pulled Caeru along. “Show me the clubs, Rue. Tonight I want to drink, dance, and party.”
The nightclub they ended up at was called ‘Damnation Angels’ and had a reputation for being busy and loud. It was an insiders club and only visited by hara who really loved music and was a diverse establishment offering a home to musicians and music lovers alike. It wasn’t surprising that it was Rue’s favorite club to hang out although he couldn’t remember the last time he had visited. The last few months had been hectic and exhausting.
Lighting a cigarette, Caeru felt like he was slowly coming alive again. He blew the smoke into the neon lit air and tapped his foot to the beat. He still missed being able to perform, but it was hardly appropriate for the Tigrina to take to the stage. Sipping his sheh, Caeru was surprised to see Velaxis move onto the dance floor, which was still rather empty at this early hour.
Velaxis’ cat-like movements appealed to Caeru and, when the other har raised an arm to gesture him closer, he extinguished his cigarette and walked over to him. Snake-like, Velaxis’ arms curled around his waist and the blue eyes held Rue captive. There was nothing he could do but move his hips the same way Velaxis did. Velaxis had always struck him as a strict advisor, someone who didn’t know how to enjoy himself, but Caeru changed his mind when he saw the other har lick his lips sinfully. A ripple of lust coursed through him and he pressed tighter against Velaxis.
Velaxis wasn’t surprised to see Caeru react as he was. Caeru was a sensual creature and the whole setting appealed to him. It was part of the reason why he had wanted them to go clubbing for it made Caeru relax. Grinding their lower bodies together, Velaxis slid a hand into the blond hair and guided Caeru’s head closer to his so they could share breath again.
He fed Caeru erotic images of taking aruna in the back room and Rue reacted against him, becoming needy and soume. That would do for now, but Velaxis would desire something else from Caeru later. “I want you,” he whispered and pulled Caeru with him.
There were several rooms in the back which were reserved for hara who wanted to take aruna there. He had visited them often in the past, but back then, it hadn’t been his choice to take aruna. But with Caeru things were going to be different.
Feeling breathless, Caeru stared at Velaxis in disbelief. “You want to take aruna here?”
“Why not? It is different.” Velaxis continued to pull Caeru along. “When was the last time you took aruna outside of the palace?” He opened the door to an empty room and pulled Caeru inside. After quickly closing the door behind him, he leaned against it and pulled Caeru close.
“You’re something else.” Caeru closed his eyes and trembled when Velaxis’ hands found their way beneath the fishnet shirt. They moved down his spine and slipped into his leather pants so they could cup his buttocks.
Velaxis savored the sight of Caeru reacting to his caresses so wantonly. He had told Caeru that they had much in common and that was true. Both of them had been forced to take on the soume aspect of their race and forsake being ouana. Velaxis wanted to change that for them both. Moving his hands to Caeru’s front, he unzipped the pants and pushed them down the slender hips.
Caeru assisted Velaxis as they rid the Tigrina of his clothes and then moved toward the back of the room where a divan stood. Velaxis’ eyes sparkled in the darkness and Caeru was eager to get the other har out of his clothes too. Reclining onto the couch, he reached for Velaxis and pulled him on top of him. The rough fabric of the jeans moved against his thigh and sent a delicious sensation through his body.
Velaxis watched Caeru quiver with need and unbuttoned his shirt. He wanted them skin against skin. Latching onto Caeru’s lips, Velaxis kissed him deeply before releasing a hint of breath into the Tigrina’s mouth. With his right hand he unbuttoned his jeans and with his left he explored the moist folds of Caeru’s soume-lam.
Arching his back, Caeru bit his bottom lip when Velaxis’ fingers explored that intimate part of him. Velaxis looked like a silver angel of lust and Caeru buried his fingers in the pale hair. “I want you too,” he whispered in a raw voice.
Smiling, Velaxis nodded. “Give me a moment to rid myself of my jeans.” He got to his feet and stepped out of his jeans, but then took a moment to take in Caeru’s gratuitous display of lust. The Tigrina had parted his legs and pinched one of his nipples until the nub hardened further. “Such a lovely vision.” Velaxis returned to Caeru’s side and knelt between the parted legs.
Caeru’s breath caught and fully expected Velaxis to enter him, but the other har surprised him by leaning in closer to lick his soume-lam. That dexterous tongue was trying to find his center and Caeru clawed at the fabric beneath him. Velaxis’ hair caressed his inner thighs and the diabolical tongue was pressing deeper inside. Caeru’s head lolled from the left to the right and he started to push down and thrust in want.
Velaxis grinned and licked his way down Caeru’s inner thigh. Caeru surged beneath him and his eyes had clouded with lust. “I always wanted it to be like this, Rue.”
Caeru nodded lazily and watched Velaxis with expectation. “Will you grant me release?”
“Soon.” Velaxis ran his fingers down Caeru’s chest and then licked up the sternum, rolling two hard nipples between his fingertips. “Are you ready then?”
Caeru had started to pant softly and looked at Velaxis needingly. “Can’t you feel how ready I am?”
Velaxis nodded as Caeru’s soume-lam quivered around the finger he had pressed inside. He buried his face against Caeru’s throat then suckled the skin there. Caeru jerked beneath him and Velaxis grinned. “Of all the dehara, I prefer to sacrifice to Aruhani the most, don’t you agree?”
Caeru, senseless with unfulfilled need, nodded. “Please… Vel…”
“I am his high priest, Rue. I know things nohar else does. Do you wish to sample my powers?” Velaxis fixed the Tigrina with a patient look. “I will do this for you – only for you.”
Caeru had no idea what Velaxis was talking about. He just wanted release. “Vel, I need you.”
Velaxis shifted between Caeru’s parted legs and pushed his hands beneath the Tigrina’s buttocks. “You have no idea, do you?”
Caeru *had* no idea what Velaxis was talking about. He just felt this overwhelming need and it burned him. He needed Velaxis to deliver him from it. He gasped when he finally caught sight of Velaxis’ ouana-lim, which shone a blackish-blue. He had never seen those colors in an ouana-lim before and tried to touch it, but Velaxis was quicker and sheathed himself in one smooth thrust.
Throwing back his head, Caeru screamed and buried his fingernails in Velaxis’ back. Velaxis’ hands moved from Caeru’s buttocks to his knees and encouraged the Tigrina to wrap his long legs around his waist.
Velaxis leaned in closer and shared breath with Caeru. He saw the surprise in the Tigrina’s eyes and smiled. “I told you…” he whispered mysteriously. “Aruhani is an unyielding, but rewarding dehar.” Velaxis wrapped his arms around Caeru and started to move.
Caeru couldn’t remember ever taking aruna that had felt this intense before. Even with Pellaz he hadn’t felt like this. Velaxis kept him teetering on the edge for a lengthy time and, each time he threatened to topple over, his angel of lust pulled him back. The pressure inside him continued to build until he felt ready to explode. And then the strangest thing happened. It felt as if his body was rearranging himself from the inside. The feeling made him yelp helplessly. Although the sensation was pleasant and caused a trail of fire in his center, he didn’t know what to make of it.
Suddenly, Velaxis, who seemed to tower over him, changed. His hair became alive and danced around the har’s head, while his eyes became like stars in a dark sky and the pulsing ouana-lim that was buried deep inside him impaled him with frightening intensity. It was too much for Caeru and he trembled against Velaxis, who reacted by sharing breath with him. The strange sensation continued and, helpless to stop it, Caeru simply accepted what was happening.
Velaxis sensed the readiness in Caeru’s mind and released the power they had build during aruna. He guided the power into that part of the Tigrina’s body which had been damaged during the fateful attack years ago and then let go.
The bite that brought Caeru release was sharp and stung more than it normally did. At the moment of his climax, Velaxis became somehar else. Caeru saw an angel moving above him with silver hair and eyes that shone like dark sapphire. “Vel!” he screamed and then tumbled toward the earth again, feeling like Lucifer cast out of heaven. He couldn’t stop falling and clung to Velaxis for support.
Velaxis instantly soothed Caeru and stroked the Tigrina’s brow. He had achieved what he had set out to do and collapsed atop of Caeru. The two hara clung to each other, trying to rebuild their strength and calm their sped up breathing.
“What…happened…just now?” Caeru had never experienced aruna like that before. He knew that something had happened, but what?
“I told you… I am his high priest. Aruhani has always been with me. He is the one who has guided me all these centuries. He told me that I had to play a part in Darq’s life and he showed me what to do when the time came.” Velaxis felt it was only fair that Caeru knew the truth about him. “Thiede never used me, Rue. I used him.”
Caeru tried to understand what Velaxis was telling him. “But what about all the years that you whored for him?” He wrapped Velaxis up in an embrace and guided the pale head against his shoulder. It touched him deeply that Velaxis was confiding in him. Velaxis smiled against his shoulder and Caeru felt the other har tremble with laughter.
“Don’t you understand, Rue? Aruna is a part of me and it served me well. I drew power and knowledge each time they invited me into their bed. I used them. It wasn’t the other way around.” Velaxis stopped laughing and rubbed his cheek against Caeru’s shoulder.
Caeru blinked at hearing Velaxis purr. “You are not quite the har I thought you were. I like you even better this way.”
“Good.” Velaxis grinned and hugged Caeru close. He planned on resting for another hour and then they would head back to the palace for round two.
Caeru still felt dazed as they left the club two hours later. He had enjoyed holding Velaxis in his arms and mentally replayed them taking aruna again and again. It was a memory he would cherish forever.
As they made their way back to the palace, Caeru peeked at Velaxis as he walked beside him. The things Velaxis had told him still roamed about his head. Velaxis had been using Thiede and the members of the Hegemony as he had seen fit and none of them had suspected what was going on.
Velaxis took Caeru’s hand in his and stroked the knuckles with his thumb. “I hope you are going to invite me in for a night cap,” he commented and batted his eyelashes at the Tigrina.
“Of course.” Caeru squeezed Velaxis’ hand and they made their way back to his rooms in silence.
Caeru didn’t know exactly why he felt nervous when Velaxis entered his rooms. They had just taken aruna rather passionately and things should be more comfortable between them, but it wasn’t. Instead, Caeru felt alert and cautious. Suddenly, Velaxis embraced him from behind and nuzzled his neck. “Why do I feel this isn’t over yet?”
“Because it isn’t.” Velaxis moved in front of Caeru and smiled secretively. “Your bed seems comfortable,” he whispered and pulled the Tigrina along to his scented lair of gold and purple. He didn’t release Caeru’s hand when he lay down and pulled the other har on top of him. “Share breath with me.”
Helpless to stop himself, Caeru did and almost drowned in the sea of liquid silver that instantly surrounded him. He questioningly looked at Velaxis, who was busy removing the fishnet shirt once more. “Are we going to take aruna again then?”
Velaxis pushed the flimsy fabric down Caeru’s shoulders and growled. “Of course… What did you think?” His hands moved further down and unzipped Caeru’s leather pants.
Caeru closed his eyes and hoped he had enough strength left to go another round. His eyes opened with a start when he realized just what Velaxis’ fingers were doing. They were trying to bring his ouana-lim alive and he swallowed hard in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?” Velaxis sighed contentedly. “I have wanted to do this all evening.” But he had needed to put Caeru’s mind at ease first and that had been easier to do while the Tigrina was soume.
Caeru suddenly found himself in an embrace and Velaxis rolled him onto his back. His mouth went dry at seeing the predatory expression in those blue eyes. Suddenly he wondered what Velaxis was up to.
Velaxis merely grinned and slid off the bed so he could kneel on the floor. Running his hands over Caeru’s naked torso, he closely watched the other har’s reaction to his caresses. Only when Caeru’s ouana-lim shone blue and green did he lean in closer and bestow a lick onto the stem.
Feeling stunned, Caeru stared at the ceiling. Velaxis somehow lifted his legs and rested them on the silver haired har’s shoulders and pulled him close. The things that Velaxis’ lips and tongue did to his ouana-lim soon had Caeru panting. In the early days right after his inception and before he had met Pellaz, he had been ouana at times, but none of the hara he had taken aruna with back then had ever done this for him. Deft fingers joined a teasing tongue into manipulating his ouana-lim to open and shine even brighter. He was ready to take aruna, but Velaxis was still fully clothed.
Velaxis realized the same thing and quickly rendered that. He got to his feet, removed his clothes, and towered over Caeru. Standing next to the bed, he looked at Caeru, who lay with parted legs and a pulsing ouana-lim. “Aruhani chose well when he picked you to host Darq’s pearl. He knew what he was doing when he guided Pellaz onto your path.” He crawled onto the bed on all fours next to Caeru and remained like that, cocking his head at Caeru. “What are you waiting for, Rue?”
It took Caeru a moment to understand what Velaxis had just said. But the fact that Velaxis was soume and had attained this particular position spelled everything out to Caeru once he got over his initial shock. “You want me to be ouana?”
“That’s the way it is, Rue. We are both soume and ouana. Aruhani made us like that.” Velaxis rested his forearms on the mattress and placed his head onto them. “Don’t make me wait, Rue.”
Tremors shook Caeru’s body as he knelt behind Velaxis and placed his hands around the narrow waist. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“You had better believe it.” Velaxis closed his eyes and focused his powers. “Now, Rue…”
Swallowing convulsively, Caeru squeezed the taunt buttocks in front of him and then drew in a deep breath. Velaxis wanted this and it wouldn’t do if he disappointed the other har. He slid slowly inside, savoring each second of the experience and then rested his upper body against Velaxis’ back. The moment he entered Velaxis, his perception of the world started to change. They no longer were in the Tigrina’s apartment, but adrift on a sea that shone silver. “What’s happening?”
“I am soume…that’s what’s happening,” Velaxis replied and grinned. “Swim in my essence, Rue… Don’t hold back.” He knew precisely what he was doing.
The sensation of being ouana for Velaxis quickly overwhelmed Caeru. He tried to make it as good for Velaxis as he could, but he had so seldom been ouana that he was afraid he wasn’t very good at it. There was this incredible feeling of being lost – and found. Velaxis’ body had become the ocean and Caeru was desperately trying to stay afloat. He knew that the moment he went down, he would lose control and they would be lost to ecstasy. Like Velaxis had done before, Caeru wanted to make the experience last.
Thrusting into the willing body in front of him, Caeru wrapped his arms around Velaxis’ upper body and held on tight. His eyes rolled back in their sockets and Caeru lost his fight to stay afloat. A wave crashed against him and he drowned in it. Reaching for a life line, a tendril of his ouana-lim connected with Velaxis’ center and bit hard.
Velaxis closed his eyes in bliss and collapsed onto the bed, taking Caeru down with him. A moment later, the sea started to calm down, allowing Caeru to float a few seconds longer, but orgasm had taken the Tigrina and he was already on his way down from it.
Only a few minutes later after both hara had caught their breath did Caeru realize that he was pressing Velaxis into the mattress. He rolled off of the other har’s trembling body and stretched out on his side. Quickly, he pulled Velaxis close. He felt strange, but in a good way. He felt whole, something he hadn’t felt in years.
“Don’t say anything,” Velaxis murmured and placed a finger against Caeru’s lips when the Tigrina tried to speak. “We don’t need words at the moment.”
In a way, that was true, but Caeru wanted answers none the less. Something had happened when they had taken aruna…something very profound, but he had no idea what it was and he needed Velaxis to tell him.
Velaxis stretched like a cat and rose from the bed. Sometime during the night, Caeru had succumbed to fatigue and had fallen asleep. Leaning in closer, he pressed a kiss onto the Tigrina’s brow.
“I trust you are not trying to sneak out on me, Vel. That would disappoint me.” Caeru opened his eyes and studied Velaxis closely. “I feel different and want to know why.”
Velaxis seated himself on the side of the bed and stroked Caeru’s hair. “You should be able to find the answer to that question inside yourself, Rue.”
Caeru elbowed himself to a sitting position and then crossed his legs. “What do you mean?”
“Search yourself, Rue. Go to your core and find out. You don’t need me to tell you what has happened.” Velaxis placed a hand on Rue’s knee. “Just try it. I will help if you can’t figure it out.”
Closing his eyes, Caeru descended to his core, which shone golden. It hadn’t possessed such radiance in a long time. Caeru blinked a few times in disbelief and then looked Velaxis in the eye. “This can’t be. Sheeva said that the damage couldn’t be repaired and that I would be barren for the rest of my life.”
“As I said, there are certain rewards to serving Aruhani.” Velaxis eyed Caeru closely. “It was partly my fault that you ended up barren. Aruhani granted me my request to heal you. Aruna is so much more powerful than you know, Rue.”
Caeru found it hard to grasp the truth. “Do you mean it? Did you heal me? I can host pearls again?”
“Yes, you can if you want to. Or you can father a pearl. I repaid my debt to you, but even without it, I would have given this to you. Healing and aruna go hand in hand, my fair Tigrina. I pray you will accept this gift.”
Caeru still felt dazed, but he was coherent enough to nod. “I would be a fool to reject it.”
“Good, for I can’t undo the change.” Velaxis freed himself of Caeru’s arms and rose from the bed. “I have to be on my way now.”
“Where are you going? You are not leaving, are you?”
“I honestly don’t know, Rue…” Velaxis picked up his clothes and dressed. “I need to sort out some things before I can make any decisions. I need time. Things changed for me. I need to reinvent myself again.”
“If you ever need me, I will be there for you.” Caeru gently touched Velaxis’ mind and tried to show the other har just how much he cared for him. “Please don’t leave Phaonica.”
Velaxis merely inclined his head. “I will think about it.” He headed for the doorway and stepped into the corridor. Once he had closed the door behind him, he bowed his head and searched deep within himself. He loved Caeru – he was finally ready to admit that to himself. The sad thing was that they could never be. Caeru belonged with Cal and Pellaz and Velaxis realized that. /I will treasure what happened last night forever, Rue… Thank you for this gift./ Velaxis walked down the corridor and wondered if Caeru would ever guess the truth.