Seel struggles with the concept of love and seems to be losing the battle, although not without a fight. Contains an explicit description of aruna between Seel and Swift. Thank you, Elfscribe, for the Beta. Any remaining failings are my own. (May be read as a sequel to my story “Fated Obsession,” but is intended to able to stand alone.)
Author’s Email: email@example.com
Web page: http://heartofoshun.livejournal.com/
Pairings: Seel/Swift, Cal/Swift (discussed only)
Overall Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 3,670
Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure
Disclaimer: The characters, plot, and setting all belong to Storm Constantine.
What Is This Thing Called Love
The thin grey walls of the tent rippled with the chill early-morning wind. A faint rosy glow shone through them, indicating that morning had indeed arrived. It did not matter to Seel. Nothing or no one could pry him out of that tent, out of Swift’s arms, until he was good and ready: not Thiede nor the entire Gelaming military force.
Neither har had bothered to dress when they had emerged earlier from their warren of fur coverings and silken sheets to partake of the food and drink that they found on a nearby table. Seel would have been satisfied with water or juice. Although, something alcoholic or even a cigarette would not have been unwelcome. Yet they had no more begun to revive from their ecstatic lethargy in the wake of those first two world-exploding arunas than Swift had shyly announced that he was starving.
“Can you believe this?” Swift giggled. “Muffins, toast, butter, cream, jam, tea. How do you think all of this got here?”
“I think they could have run a herd of elephants through here and we wouldn’t have noticed.”
Swift’s eyes crinkled in a heart-melting grin. “What would you like?”
“Tea would be fine.” Seel couldn’t take his eyes off Swift’s flushed cheeks and those dark eyes, still glittering but vulnerable and endearing. Swift stuck a finger in the pot of cream and sucked it clean. He scooped out another dripping dollop of cream and held his finger front of Seel’s face.
“Open your mouth,” he demanded, lowering his brow warningly until they both laughed.
Despite this and other proofs of Swift’s youth and ebullience, Seel would never again think of him as a harling. His control of their arunic experiences of the past night had forever put that issue to rest. And the image of Swift’s impressive ouana-lim flashed through his mind: warm coral and a dark coppery rose, its petals tipped and faintly veined with bronze. Yet when it came fully to life, it pulsed with metallic blue. His visualization of that lovely ouana-lim which had haunted him in the preceding weeks had been photographically perfect. Had Thiede sent him that image or had he chosen to pair the two of them based upon an ability to read their fantasies?
Not that it mattered anymore. They had produced the powerful Grissecon that Thiede had decreed and created a pearl as well. In the aftermath, Seel realized there was no returning to who he had been before. He couldn’t muster the energy to regret any of it either. It wasn’t only that he now hosted a pearl or what that would mean. Quite the contrary, he relished the feelings Swift wrung out of him and welcomed the renewed heat in his groin. His resurgence of desire must have reached Swift, who squirmed closer to him and burrowed his head in the crook between Seel’s neck and shoulder. Swift’s dark hair spilled chaotically over the pillow and onto Seel’s chest in the most alluring way. An indolent smile played about the corners of Swift’s mouth, while his half-closed eyelids fluttered open.
“Well, that’s finally over,” Swift said, his voice wooly with sleepiness.
The words jolted Seel out of his exaggeratedly romantic state.
“You sound relieved,” Seel said, lifting an eyebrow in challenge. “And I thought you were enjoying all this. In fact, I know you were.”
“Oh, yes. So much.” Swift smirked, utterly without repentance, his white teeth seductively biting his red, luscious lower lip. “Beyond my most outrageous imaginings of what it might be like. But once was for the Grissecon and then to produce our pearl.” His grin faded and eyes widened, turning his expression serious and worshipful. “What a miracle that is, Seel. I promise I will take such good care of you and him.” Swift placed his strong, long-fingered hand protectively over Seel’s abdomen and then chuckled softly. “But the entire time I had to concentrate on keeping Thiede’s instructions in mind. Everything else from now on will be entirely for us.”
Lifting Swift’s chin so their eyes met, Seel attempted to sound stern, but failed completely, hearing his voice turn husky with emotion. “So, you cheeky rascal, what makes you think there should be more of this? We fulfilled our duty.”
Swift laughed, disarmingly trusting and confident. He appeared every bit the model of flawless pure-born who Seel had often envisioned could overcome the weaknesses and failures of his own generation. Still glowing from the strong magic of their encounters, Swift looked as though he were coated with a fine layer of gold dust. The total absence of the doomed yearning and confusion that Seel had always seen in him before tugged at his heart with an exquisite ache.
Wide-awake again, Swift promptly straddled Seel, twisting a nipple and pulling on it in a gesture that coupled seductiveness with pride of possession. He let go, rubbing his smooth palm over the smarting nub, and grinned. “I wish you could see your face now. You’re shining like a god.”
“You look the same,” Seel admitted. “No doubt the effect will fade soon enough.”
“Don’t start pretending with me again. I’m crazy about you. I know you feel the same way. Don’t deny it, Gelaming. Kiss me. Share breath with me. Then try to tell me I’m wrong.”
Swift didn’t wait, but fastened his mouth upon Seel’s. Filling him with his breath, he hurled Seel back into that same rapture that had left him cracked wide open and exultant earlier. How much of this could a har tolerate before he simply imploded? If this was part of Thiede’s doing then perhaps he should thank him. Swift brought him back delicately–impressive skills for one of his age and caste level–and looked into his eyes, expectant and amused.
Although Seel had ceased being surprised at Swift’s sensitivity and control after the night’s encounters, he could not resist asking, “How long has it been since you went through Feybraiha?”
“Time is all muddled for me right now. About three years, I think.”
“Fuck,” Seel said. “You are incredible. It must be unique to pure-borns.”
“Maybe,” Swift said, drawing his eyebrows together in ingenuous seriousness. “Someone once told me that aruna is different with a second-generation har. My impression was that he meant better.”
“Please don’t tell me who said that. I’d rather not know,” Seel snapped. He had to endure this strange feeling that clamored to be called love and now there was jealousy as well. It was all happening too fast. Swift made everything hurtle wildly out-of-control, turned long-held certainties into doubts.
The smile that Swift gave him had the force of a thousand suns. “Seel, you’re the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, even when you are blushing, or especially when you are.”
“THE most beautiful?” Seel challenged.
Swift snorted, smirking like a mischievous harling. “Aha. You’ve given yourself away. Told me how much it does matter to you what I think. The answer is yes. To me, you are far more beautiful even than Cal, than the elegant Caeru, or your warrior-angel Ashmael. But don’t worry. I’m not such a fool as to push my luck. I won’t insist you tell me what you see when you look at me now. Someday you’ll tell me on your own. I love you, Seel.” Swift lifted his chin in defiance. “I’ll never stop telling you so.”
Seel wanted to grab him, jump on him, tease and coax his ouana-lim until that gorgeous, proud stalk blossomed and unfurled for him again. He considered perhaps that to get what he wanted, something approximating the truth of how Swift affected him might be necessary.
“I admit that you are frighteningly lovely to me. Still baffling and mysterious though. You are Wraeththu, Gelaming now by training, and yet you remain such a Varr.” Seel fought the urge to tell him how he feared he loved him, how he had utterly lost control of himself, how no har had ever affected him like this, how he would do nearly anything to please him, and, if he could not make him happy, he would never cease to regret it.
“Chrysm said that to me as well: ‘You are a Varr.’ His tone did not seem to reflect any disrespect. He said it when I told him I was in love with you.”
Seel rolled his eyes, but smiled nonetheless. “Ah, Swift. Nor do I intend any disrespect either. But you do bring out the worst in me.”
“Maybe I bring out the best in you. You really should consider that possibility.” Swift pushed himself up on an elbow, tracing Seel’s eyebrow with one finger, then stroking his chest, and leaning forward to bite and lick the delightfully abused nipple again. “I love looking at you. Touching you. More so now that the effect of the putiri buds is wearing off. It made the rest feel like a dream, a marvelous, incomparable dream, but still not quite real. But you are real aren’t you? Are we chesna now, Seel?” Swift bit his neck hard and moved his hand to Seel’s other nipple.
Seel uncontrollably arched his back. “Oh, yes, real,” he groaned, “and at the very least chesna.” He grabbed Swift and kissed him hard, plunging his tongue into his mouth, wanting to touch and taste all of him, to share breath while mauling those irresistibly bruised and tender lips. He took hold of Swift’s ouana-lim and stroked it.
“At least chesna? And what at most?” Swift’s voice had begun to crack, as his petals blossomed to reveal his vibrant coral shaft under Seel’s sure but careful pressure.
“Shhh. Just relax. Enjoy what I am doing.”
“Seel, Seel, oh, god, Seel,” Swift chanted.
Seel rolled Swift onto his back, bent over his ouana-lim, flicked the tips of the petals and teased the slit with his tongue, and sucked the glistening head of his erection into his mouth before encompassing the entire length.
“Wait. Wait,” Swift cried out, bucking up beneath him. “Please. I wanted to ask . . . oh, please. Be ouana for me, Seel. Stop. Please be ouana. I wanted to feel you inside of me so much last night and I couldn’t have it.”
Seel had not expected his request. He had even wondered briefly a few times over the past weeks if yearning for the Varrish prince as soume as well as ouana would become a problem. The frenzy of wanting a touch, any touch, had driven it from his mind. Desire sent another rush of heat over Seel’s body and the blood rushing into his ouana-lim, while his heart pounded against his rib cage. Seel slid his hand between Swift legs and found his soume-lam open, contracting at his touch, and slippery wet. He gently probed with one finger, finding the first sikra and stroking, before inserting another.
In the soft glow of the candles, which flickered each time Swift pressed upward against his fingers, Seel watched mesmerized as his partner’s body simultaneously flushed and broke out in goosebumps. Swift, shuddering and desperate, pushed himself up from the bed on both hands, found Seel’s mouth, and began wetly kissing and sucking at his willing lips. All the while, Seel did not relent in his quest to locate and stimulate each sikra he could reach.
“Nghn,” Swift grunted, “Oh, shit.”
“So sweet, so eager. You do want this, don’t you?”
“Want it.” Swift panted and twisted upon his fingers. “More.” Beads of perspiration broke out on his upper lip. “Thought if I ever had you . . . you would be ouana. At least at first. Please, Seel, don’t tease.”
“But you are so hard also. Seems a shame to waste that.” He moved his hand up and down Swift’s ouana-lim. “Have you ever been ouana and soume at the same time, Swift?”
“No. Yes. Sort of . . . show me what you mean,” Swift stuttered. He took Seel’s face in his hands, captured his eyes, and held them, the way he had done their first time, during the Grissecon. Only this was different. Swift did not need compliance, only to show Seel his desire. “Oh, god, Seel! I have to feel your -lim inside of me. I don’t need any fancy tricks.”
As soon as Seel had answered, “Oh, no, sweetheart. It’s not like that at all,” he recognized his lie, knew that it was exactly like that. He wanted to give Swift something spectacular, something over-the-top, something that no other har had given him. Seel became aware once more of his feelings of possessiveness, jealousy, envy, love, all the emotions he had schooled himself to repress. He was so tempted just to tell Swift what he wanted to hear. Swift touched his mind with a gentle but delving thoroughness.
“You are better for me than anyone else. I’m all yours, Seel. I’ve told you that a hundred times already.” Swift said. “But don’t worry. I’m adaptable. Whatever you want you can have. Remember what you said last night? We have time enough for everything.” He grasped Seel’s hypersensitive and leaking shaft and guided it towards him.
“Swift, you’re too good to me. Too patient with me.” Seel released Swift’s ouana-lim, lifting himself up on one arm, making it easier for Swift to look down at him.
“Fuck, Seel! I barely got a good look last night. Yours is large for your size, isn’t it?” Swift asked, breathless. “Not that I have a lot of basis for comparison. Sooo beautiful too,” he crooned. “Like all the rest of you.”
Completely drawn in and entranced by Swift’s artless enthusiasm, Seel couldn’t leave his delectable mouth alone and kissed and shared breathe with him until they both felt faint. Finally looking down and noticing that Swift’s ouana-lim had retracted completely, Seel laughed at himself. For all his apparent naïveté, Swift had a way of obtaining exactly what he wanted from him.
Swift grabbed Seel’s arm and yanked his fingers from his soume-lam, none too gently. “Do it,” he insisted, his voice hoarse. He raised his backside completely off the bed and angled his soume-lam against Seel, trying his best to impale himself upon him but unable gain any leverage.
Seel decided to maintain some ascendancy and grabbed Swift, first by the hips and then by the back of his thighs, pushing him flat upon the bed and angling his soume-lam upwards. Slowly, deliberately, he entered him inch by inch. Swift thrashed wildly, grunting and pleading, “More,” and “Harder.” Seel thought gratefully, that although he might be slight and slim, he was strong and well muscled.
When Swift finally stopped struggling and gave himself up entirely, Seel flooded his mind with his passion, need, and complete acceptance, and love, if that was what the younger har was determined to call it. Even then Swift did not let go quietly. He tried to come back time and time again, and Seel almost lost himself in his enveloping waters each time. But he managed to hold on. If Swift wanted to be soume and feel him as ouana, he would give him that fully, or drain every last drop of his powers trying. At last, when Swift was sobbing and begging for release, Seel released the serpent’s tongue concealed in his ouana-lim and let it sting, sharply, long, and hard. Swift, screaming, arched his back so strongly off the bed that he lifted them both. Seel wondered if his shriek could be heard throughout all of Imbrilim.
They both relaxed, limp and sweat-drenched, with Swift still babbling into his ear in the most adorable manner imaginable. “Seel, Seel, Seel. What did you do? You’re magnificent. Oh, Seel.”
“That was amazing. You are amazing. There was an old human expression, ‘topping from the bottom.’ That is you when you are soume, Swift. I always thought I was rather good at being an active soume, but you are something else altogether,” Seel said chuckling.
“I’ve never been afraid of my soume side. That is a part of it all, right?” Swift asked defensively. “Is that bad?”
”No. Not bad. Not bad at all.” Seel hated himself when his next words tumbled out, “Was it Cal who taught you that?”
Swift didn’t blink, apparently unaware of how uneasy Seel might have felt at asking that. “No. I don’t believe so. I think I always felt that way. Perhaps it could have been a reaction to my father or a respect for Cobweb’s power. It is true that Cal embraced his soume side as well. An aggressive soume, I suppose you would say.” Swift laughed and shook his head at the thought. “No delicate little breeder that one. He could terrify anyhar, except maybe Cobweb, with one of those looks of his. And Cal was my first. I suppose that counts for something. Surely some influence there, even if unconsciously absorbed on my part. I asked for Cal, you know. I almost didn’t have the courage. My father was in love with him and not the type to share gladly. But he trusted my choice. I respected him for that.”
Seel’s curiosity overcame his better judgment. “What was Cal like as a first time?”
“You surely know. Cal told me he was your first.”
“He told you that?” Seel was appalled, if not surprised, that he had been the subject of Cal’s bedroom gossip. “Not the same at all. He was the first person I made love with as a human youngster. There is really no comparison. But I could have done far worse, I guess.”
“Well, I think I was right to pick Cal. I knew nothing about caste or any of that at the time; but I must have had some instinct of good judgment. I didn’t know what it was, but there was just something about Cal.” Swift grinned and shrugged when he said it, showing what Seel thought was a great deal more equanimity than he had ever had relating to Cal, even long before everything that happened with Pell or the murder of Orien.
“So, what was Cal like as a first time?”
“He was perfect, of course.”
Seel couldn’t hold back a snort at that. “Not a little on the rough side?”
“Are you kidding?” Swift scoffed. “He was like an angel of light. All sweetness and gentleness, passionate but tender, joy in the physical, with plenty of the spiritual and mystical mixed with honest affection for good measure. He made me feel beautiful and desirable.”
“Of course. I’m letting my own bias cloud my perceptions. He must have been like that with Pell also.”
“Oh, I’m quite sure that Pellaz received better from him. At least Pellaz didn’t have to listen to him moan and cry afterwards about his lost true love like I did. Here I was barely more than a harling and I was forced to try to comfort and reassure him.” Swift chuckled and shook his head. “I got his darkness along with the good part. But the good part was wonderful.”
Seel wondered, not for first time, how Cal could behave the way he did, do the things he did, and still retain the loyalty of decent hara. “Well, the whining and indulgent self-pity sound a lot more like the Cal I knew.”
“The rough stuff you mentioned came later. Even then, it was two-sided. He worked out his bitterness and I indulged my post-feybraiha rebelliousness and resentment. Yet he always made sure I enjoyed it. And afterwards, he would hold me until I fell asleep, like a hostling warming his pearl. He has compassion in him, even at his worst.”
It was clear to Seel that, although they might never see eye to eye on Cal, Swift was not pining after him in any case and that relieved him.
“Could you do something for me, Swift?”
“Stop me when I want to talk about Cal. It’s not good for me.”
“I will. I’m sorry, Seel. He’s hurt a lot of hara.” Swift wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close, throwing a leg over him in instinctive protectiveness, sharing breath with him, filling his mind with love, golden light, and clear, cool, clean air, along with hope and strength.
“Swift, I love . . .” he cut himself short. “I love holding you like this,” he whispered. He realized that he was unconscionably besotted, knew he was casting aside every Wraeththu principle by succumbing to the unsavory human throwback that was this thing called love.
Seel admitted to himself that he indeed loved Swift. He could not think of another thing to call this compulsion, adoration, the wish to make Swift happy, joy in producing a pearl with him, and, worst of all, the overwhelming need to call him “mine.” The Varrs admitted to love, but every reasonable har who knew anything about them claimed they lived like humans, and brutal ones at that. Cal loved, Pellaz loved, Vaysh and Ashmael had loved, and look at where it had got all of them, Seel thought. At very least he would keep it to himself and not voice it aloud to this young har for whom he ought to provide a better example. He feared he did not hide it very well and was certain that it was obvious how he took covert pleasure in hearing Swift stubbornly voice it.
Swift laughed. “You are such a fraud. Don’t you ever weary of your own bullshit?” The smile in his voice was devastating as was the upward lilt of it, conveying the ultimate confidence of one who knows he speaks from a position of power. “I love you too, Seel.”
“Get off of me. On your back and spread your legs. You like to be rooned? I am going to roon that smirk off your face, roon you until you can’t run that mouth of yours for a few hours at least.”
“Oh, yes, my love,” Swift sighed.