Summary: Aris makes it his quest to get through to Zia and convince him he loves him.
Warning: Alternate Universe.
Author’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web page: http://www.paranoid.nl/avalon
Disclaimer: Not mine. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters, belong to Storm Constantine. Spoilers for Terzah’s Sons!
Beta read by Patricia and DA, thanks sweeties! All remaining mistakes are mine.
“Can I talk to you?” Staying out of Zia’s mind was hard for Aris, who had wandered among Zia’s thoughts for some time. But he had taken Terzah’s advice to heart and was determined to talk to Zia instead of assuming that Zia’s thoughts revealed what the other young man really thought of him. Sometimes being a telepath worked against him and Aris had discovered that the hard way.
Zia looked up from where he was sitting. He had retreated into the boys’ bedroom, since he had been the only one present and had wanted to take a nap. Aris’ visit was a surprise and he didn’t know how to react to it. In the end, he nodded.
Zia’s pale blue eyes revealed nothing where the young man’s feelings were concerned and Aris felt handicapped since he couldn’t fall back on his telepathy. He seated himself on the floor next to Zia and sighed. The fact that Zia planned on leaving the family to dwell in an abandoned cabin high up in the mountains had shocked him. It had also made him realize that he didn’t want to lose Zia. He loved him and needed the other young man close, but would he be able to convince Zia of that?
Zia was a troubled youngster and except for Aris, only Terzah knew just how troubled. Terzah had seen the pain Zia had suffered in the young man’s disturbing dreams and Aris… Aris had experienced them first hand. He would never forget the trauma Gorin had inflicted on them. For Zia things had been even worse. Gorin had kept Zia chained to the bed and had used him for sex, all the time brainwashing Zia into making the young man believe that Gorin was doing those things out of love. As a result, Zia’s concept of love was twisted at best.
Cocking his head, Zia wondered about the sad expression on Aris’ face. “What’s wrong?” Aris was a friend, a very good friend, and it hurt to see Aris in such anguish. “Did something happen to one of the children?” Terzah, the har who had taken them in, had accumulated a large family over the years. Only Illan, Terzah’s and Zen’s harling was of their blood. The rest of the strays had been taken in throughout the years. Aris and Zia had been the latest additions to the family and Zia was grateful that Terzah had adopted them. He owed Terzah a lot. They both did.
Aris shook his head. “The other children are fine.” He raised his head and tentatively made eye contact with Zia. Since he no longer had his telepathy to guide him, he felt adrift. “Terzah told me that you’re leaving.”
Zia drew in a deep breath. He had hoped Aris wouldn’t have found out until he had left. That would have made things easier on the both of them. Looking at Aris, he realized just how much the other boy had changed during the last few years. Aris had turned into a fine man, something that was out of reach for him since he had been castrated as a child. Aris was a gifted telepath, loved by many, and on his way to becoming a man children would look up to. Aris’ future was bright, while Zia’s was gloomy. “I need to be alone for a while,” he said, telling Aris a half-lie.
“I don’t want you to go away.” Aris’ hand moved over the floor and he opened it. His palm faced upward and he prayed that Zia would place his hand in his. “Can’t you stay?”
Zia looked at the outstretched hand, but didn’t take it. He couldn’t encourage Aris in that way. “I don’t feel well,” he retorted, opting for another part of the truth. “You know that harish magic has always bothered me, but back then, it didn’t make me feel so ill. That changed after the bear attacked me. I sense Terzah’s magic all around me and it’s affecting me. I need to get away from it.”
Aris blinked when Zia mentioned the bear attack. Back then, he had almost lost Zia. The bear had attacked them and Zia had managed to kill the beast eventually, but had suffered grave injuries in the process. It had taken Zia a long time to recover from the attack and that had been just another time when Aris had faced losing Zia. “Let me come with you,” he pleaded and wiggled his fingers, hoping Zia would finally make contact. Zia had touched him in the past, which was quite unique since the abused young man usually shunned all physical contact. Not even Terzah could touch Zia without causing the young man distress.
“No!” Zia shook his head. “You need to stay and take care of the family.” It was a weak excuse and he wasn’t surprised when Aris countered his argument.
“That’s Terzah’s job. I don’t want to get into his way.” Terzah was protective of every member of his family and that character trait had saved their lives in the past. Looking at Zia, Aris smiled weakly. Although Zia and Terzah weren’t related, their appearances resembled each other. Like Terzah, Zia had long black hair that reached his waist and the palest eyes he had ever seen. They were even of the same height. A human who didn’t know about hara could have mistaken them for brothers. “Zia, I came here to talk.”
“Then talk.” Zia stared at Aris’ hand and a part of him craved taking hold of it and pulling it close to his chest, but another part shrunk away from such a gesture. He couldn’t encourage Aris that way. In the past, Aris had told him that he cared about him and Zia was afraid he was holding the young man back. Aris would be much better off without having to worry about him. “Say what you have to say.”
Aris drew in a deep breath and then raised his hand slowly. He reached for a strand of Zia’s hair and caressed it. Zia’s eyes widened and Aris felt sad, realizing the young man was about to bolt from the room. “Please stay.”
Zia nodded and allowed the touch. What was it that Aris wanted from him?
“I care about you. I told you so in the past,” Aris began his monologue. “But there’s more. I love you.”