Azriel’s moan reverberated off the walls, making them flash blue-white as the privacy ward that Rhyshladlyn had thrown up engaged, swallowing the sound. Rhyshladlyn laughed low and throaty as he shifted his hips again, hands braced on the Anglëtinean’s shoulders, leaning down to mouth at the long column of throat that was bared to him when Azriel tossed his head back. Those long fingered hands that had held his face like it was spun glass and would shatter if he wasn’t careful gripped his hips tightly enough that Rhyshladlyn knew there would be bruises, sharp nails leaving red crescents as they dug in when the Qishir shifted just right, another rumbling moan echoing out from the male below him.
“I had forgotten how delicious you sounded,” Rhyshladlyn breathed into his ear, tongue swirling around the lobe before he took it between his teeth and tugged, making those hands drag up his sides, nails leaving welts in their wake. Rhyshladlyn arched his back, moaning long and broken when those fingers found the base of his wings and threaded skilled fingers among the downy feathers there.
“The same… could be said of… you, my Qishir,” Azriel managed to get out around breathy sounds that went straight to Rhyshladlyn’s groin, making him groan loudly at the way his body clenched around Azriel inside him, their hips moving faster against each other.
Rhyshladlyn looked down into those mismatched eyes, loving that they were brighter with his pleasure, shimmering like a pool of water lit from within, his accent thicker and lilting, a slow drawl that made each word sound like a song, as though he weren’t speaking Common but rather his native tongue. Hands sliding up from where they were gripping his shoulders, Rhyshladlyn sank his fingers into Azriel’s hair, twisted and pulled his head back as he rose up further, wings flaring straight out to either side in a clear display that screamed look at me not unlike what birds did when courting a mate. Leaning down he took the other’s mouth in a kiss that stole his breath like a punch to the chest. Azriel used the grip he had on the downy feathers at Rhyshladlyn’s back to pull him down to meet his hips as he rolled them upwards and Rhyshladlyn rewarded the action with a groan that sounded like thunder.
Pulling away from the kiss he pressed his forehead to Azriel’s and shuddered violently against him.
“Gods, Azriel,” he bit out, moans coming faster, arms wrapped around Azriel’s neck, fingers lodged in the finer hairs at the base of his neck, face buried where neck and shoulder met, his panting breath dancing hot across the sensitive skin there. He moaned loud and long, body stringing taut when Azriel gave a particularly strong thrust and responding tug to his wings, cursing harshly as his release hovered just out of reach.
“By Ckushayel, look at you,” Azriel groaned in his ear, tongue tracing the edge of it and Rhyshladlyn shook against him, body matching his pace and movements, moving in perfect sync. It thrilled him to know that the Anglëtinean was so lost that he was dropping the names of his gods. “You are… exquisite.”
Rhyshladlyn cursed again, body still tensed and trembling, so very close to tipping over the edge and into the oblivion of release. What threw him over was feeling Azriel’s wings reach out and slide along his own, the feathered top set cupping his wings as the leather bottom set swept under them and up around his back. With a scream of the other’s name, he threw his head back and felt as though the World exploded around him as he shook through his release, feeling Azriel chase him over the edge, his voice joined with his as he cried out Rhyshladlyn’s name like a prayer.
As the aftershocks slowly faded, Rhyshladlyn laid gentle nips to the skin of Azriel’s shoulder, every instinct screaming to give the Answer to the qahllyn Azriel had for him as a Qishir but he restrained himself, if only barely. It was one thing to admit he loved the Anglëtinean, to admit that if he ever Answered that Azriel would be his Companion, but it was another to actually follow through on the action, to risk losing him solely by virtue of completing a bond not even the gods themselves would mess with.
“You are thinking too hard,” Azriel muttered, hands soothing up and down his back, fingers careful to avoid the wing scars that marred the length of his back in intervals to either side of his spine, the skin twisted and bubbled even nearing on nine decades later.
“Apologies,” Rhyshladlyn replied, purring at the touch of his hands.
Azriel just hummed in response, nuzzling the top of his head, breath ruffling his hair as his hands continued to pet along his back.
“You can touch them, you know,” Rhyshladlyn said at length.
Azriel froze. “Are you…” he cleared his throat softly. “Are you certain?” Because of course Rhyshladlyn didn’t have to elaborate on what he meant. It was almost frightening how well Azriel could read him sometimes.
“Yes, Az, I’m sure.”
Still the Anglëtinean hesitated and Rhyshladlyn chuckled, soft and sweet. “Azriel, I wouldn’t have told you you could if I didn’t absolutely trust you.”
“That is a very valid point,” was the reply before those hands resumed petting his skin as though he hadn’t stopped, continuing to bask in the residual afterglow of their coupling, shifting to become more comfortable where he sat on the shelf, Rhyshladlyn straddling his lap. Neither had any real want to move, too comfortable wrapped up in each other.
After long minutes, just as Rhyshladlyn was going to ask if he was ever going to touch his scars, the first tentative touch brushed across his lowest set of scars, just above the curve of his buttocks and Rhyshladlyn whimpered, body convulsing under Azriel’s touch, body clenching around where the other male was still joined with him and he heard Azriel’s responding, involuntary moan. I didn’t see this coming.
*That makes three of us,* Nhulynolyn said, sounding out of breath and Rhyshladlyn heard Shadiranamen make a distant noise of agreement.
That tentative touch became bolder with each sweeping stroke up and down his back, a pause following each new touch to make sure he was still okay with this, like Azriel had forgotten that Rhyshladlyn had survived the removal of three sets of his wings at the age of eight, alone, without the aid of Healers. But it wasn’t that Azriel thought he was weak, just that he didn’t want to hurt him and it made Rhyshladlyn smile against his skin and lay a lingering kiss at the junction of his neck and shoulder, fingers idly shifting through the curls that spilled down around the other’s shoulders.
Soon Azriel had pressed his entire hand to each of those lower scars, body shifting almost restlessly against Rhyshladlyn’s and the Qishir let out an appreciative sound.
“Have you spoken to a Healer to see if they could make them less prominent?” Azriel asked, sounding only a little breathy, fingers shifting up his back to touch the second set of scars, these worse than the ones below them as Rhyshladlyn had begun fighting in earnest by the time Anislanzir had made it to that pair.
“Yes,” Rhyshladlyn replied, another whimper escaping his throat as Azriel gently trailed his nails across the twisted, knotted tissue. “But they would–mmm–have to cut the scar tissue off and it goes deep into the muscles of my back. Doing so would risk–oh fuck–killing me and it isn’t worth it given that I hide them with a glamour. You’re the only one to see them besides my siblings, Relyt, Azhuri, and obviously their creator.”
A growl greeted his last words and Rhyshladlyn could barely hide the smile it elicited.
“I am honored that you would let me see them,” Azriel replied, carefully not speaking on the subject of why those scars even existed. It was still a touchy subject even if the idea of someone else touching them didn’t bother him as much anymore. Granted, that was probably because it was Azriel touching them, talking about them and not anyone else. And given the way the Anglëtinean’s body was responding to Rhyshladlyn’s unconscious sounds of enjoyment, he didn’t find the scars themselves detestable but rather the reason why they were there. And gods help him if that didn’t make Rhyshladlyn love the male even more.
“If you say so,” Rhyshladlyn said, voice breathy round the edges, body beginning to roll against him absently, responding to the stimulation of the other male still buried inside him and the hands on his hyper-sensitive scars. Gods, I didn’t see them being erogenous zones, he thought bemusedly.
Though it really shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the wings of the few winged races were highly sensitive to begin with so it stood to reason that the scars that were left in their wake would be just as sensitive. Though Rhyshladlyn suspected it had less to do with that theory and more because it was, once again, Azriel touching him there, fingers still gentle even if they were no longer tentative as they explored the mutilated skin.
“I do. It speaks volumes of your trust in me that I’m allowed to see them let alone touch them,” Azriel said at length.
Azriel’s head ducked down to pepper kisses along his jaw, nose nudging at at his chin. Rhyshladlyn tilted his head back to give the Anglëtinean access to his throat only to startle when those lips pressed against his own with an urgent passion, an odd counterbalance to the way their bodies were slowly thrusting against each other, the way choked back moans and rumbled groans had begun to thicken the air between and around them.
When they parted Rhyshladlyn smiled down at him, face hurting with the force of it, riding the high of the emotions that tumbled around inside him, movements slow and measured as he rocked against Azriel who seemed content to match his pace, in no more of a rush than Rhyshladlyn was.
“Thank you,” Azriel whispered round a moan when Rhyshladlyn’s body clenched when Azriel’s nails raked with almost enough pressure to hurt along his scars from the top set to the bottom, his lips sealing against his throat, sucking the tender flesh just under his chin where it sloped down into his neck.
“Didn’t realize you wo–oh gods–uld enjoy them this much,” Rhyshladlyn moaned out, arching into the touch, body torn between wanting to press into Azriel’s hands on his back, his mouth on his throat, and his body where it filled him.
Azriel purred against his shoulder, the sound vibrating down his chest and making him shiver at the feeling, hands gripping tighter where they were still threaded in Azriel’s hair.
“Not so much that I enjoy touching them,” Azriel said, voice deep and thrumming with his power as it danced slowly and sweetly around them, playing tag with Rhyshladlyn’s own. “More that I am enjoying the significance of being allowed to and your reactions to me touching them. Though… if you’re responding this way to my hands on them,” his head came up and those shining mismatched eyes seemed to stare right through into his Self, lips parting in a smile that was equal parts mischief and delight, his elongated canines showing easily, one hand wrapping long, thin fingers around Rhyshladlyn’s sex and giving it a slow tug from base to tip, “I wonder how you’d respond to my mouth on them.”
Rhyshladlyn’s release hit him without warning, head thrown back as he roared Azriel’s name, his privacy wards singing with the effort it took for them to keep the sound contained. He felt Azriel’s guttural groan all the way down to his bones as he followed right behind him, face buried in Rhyshladlyn’s neck, nails digging into his wing scars as they both shook as they rode out the last pulses together.
When he could breathe again, Rhyshladlyn laughed throatily, unable to help it. “Well that was certainly unexpected.”
Azriel just mumbled unintelligibly in response making Rhyshladlyn laugh again, harder this time as he slowly, carefully climbed off him, smiling fondly at the sound of protest the other made, hands trying to keep him where he was. But he was far more boneless post release than Rhyshladlyn and so he remained unsuccessful. Walking to the center of the pool, Rhyshladlyn ducked under the water to rinse the sweat from his face and clean his wings before resurfacing to find Azriel looking at him with a satiated, soft expression that made his heart skip a beat and his stomach flutter.
“You are breathtaking,” Azriel said and Rhyshladlyn blushed, looking down to try and hide it.
“How can I possibly be breathtaking, Azriel?” He asked, eyes riveted on the water and the way it played over his fingers where he held them splayed just below its surface. “I’m scarred and Marked and it’s only by the Will of the gods that I’m able to function.”
Feeling the water shift and displace around him he looked up to find Azriel standing before him, face kind and open and so much more vulnerable than Rhyshladlyn had ever seen it. “I told you, tra’teeweh-sw, I do not care that you are scarred and broken; you are beautiful to me, especially because of the scars you bear because it means you survived, you are strong, and I can stand beside you as an equal on the battle field rather than worry about whether I have to protect you or not.” Azriel’s hands came up to cup his jaw, palms resting hot against his neck, thumbs brushing across his cheeks. “So please, do not hide from me, Rhys, you have no reason to. I will not hurt you.”
“I know,” he said on a sigh, lifting his hands to press his palms against the other’s chest, fingers splayed against the skin there, marveling at how even though Azriel’s skin had that bronzed tone to it that the races that were born and bred in the light of the sun it still managed to look pale in comparison to Rhyshladlyn’s own. “I just don’t… why me, Azriel?” He asked, shocking himself with the question. He hadn’t meant to ask it.
Well, shit. Can’t take that back now.
Azriel laughed, the sound sweet for all that it still startled Rhyshladlyn. Of all the responses to his question, that wasn’t the one he thought he’d hear first.
“You are worth it,” was the simple reply as though that was answer enough and while Rhyshladlyn raised his eyebrows at it, he didn’t argue. Azriel was from one of those races that was incapable of lying, it was as though it had been written straight into their genetic code as well as their magickal signatures so that when he spoke it was always the Truth.
“I believe you,” he replied before wrapping his arms around the other’s waist and stepping close to press his ear against the broad chest his hands had been against moments before. He took comfort in the strength of the heartbeat below his ear, in the way his wings wrapped around them both like a shield. Standing there like that with Azriel, so at ease and right, it was almost easy to forget what lay in wait for them outside that chamber, back in reality. But right then, Rhyshladlyn didn’t care about anything else.
So of course his wards naturally had to let out a chirping note and ruin the moment. Rhyshladlyn sighed heavily.
“What is it?” Azriel asked, sounding concerned. Rhyshladlyn shook his head as he flapped a hand flippantly.
“Just Relyt coming to check on my wings as he said he would,” Rhyshladlyn responded, dispelling the wards that had given them privacy but had also kept anyone from entering without requesting permission to do so. Just before the last of the wards dissipated, they trilled out a warning but it was too late to throw them back up as the doors were already opening. Relyt looked apologetic as he strode in, slate eyes flashing as though in warning before the person who stood behind him spoke up and Rhyshladlyn felt as though the floor had given way below him.
“Azriel?” Azhuri gasped out, orange-amber eyes wide. She looked like she always did: impeccably dressed, demure, posture perfect and Rhyshladlyn wanted nothing more than to see the woman who had birthed him disheveled and screaming. Because it was hard to forget Anislanzir cooing in his ear that he’d get his answers either from Rhyshladlyn himself or from Azhuri; that regardless one of them always gave up their secrets.
“Lady Azhuri,” Azriel replied, voice clipped, wings tightening around Rhyshladlyn for half a second before they retreated, allowing him free movement.
Turning to face the entrance fully, Rhyshladlyn raised a dubious eyebrow. “Where the fuck have you been, Azhuri?” He bit out, watching with growing suspicion as the Lady Queen fidgeted, eyes darting from side to side, over him and Azriel, at Relyt, then started the whole circuit over again. “Well,” he barked, taking a step forward, face twisting with a snarl, “answer me. Where have you–”
Before he could even finish his question, Azhuri spun on her heel and took off at a run. Rhyshladlyn growled out a curse, the sound ricocheting off the walls and he blinked forward, crossing the distance between the pool and the doors in the time it took one’s heart to beat. Not caring that he was naked and still only at two thirds of his full strength and without any weapons whatsoever, he took chase after Azhuri, that growl running out ahead of him, making the walls of the hallway shake ominously as he ignored the shocked calls of Relyt and Azriel from behind him. Azhuri was fast and had Rhyshladlyn been encumbered by clothing and his usual cache of weapons, she may have actually gotten away but as it was, she was running in full skirts and he was bare as the day he came screaming from her womb.
Just as he was within arm’s reach of her he blinked in front of her, laughing she tried to stop in time to avoid him only to fail miserably when his hand flew out, fingers wrapping around her throat. He blinked again, bringing them back to the Healing Chamber, his eyes glowing brightly enough to light up the entire room, the doors flung shut and locked with a thought, effectively trapping him, Azriel, Relyt, and Azhuri in the room as he threw up wards and Shields along every surface of the room, not taking a single chance. With a sound that was unearthly and full of rage, he slammed her against a wall, hand still pressed to her delicate throat as she kicked out at him and clawed at his arm but he didn’t care.
“What in the names of the gods aplenty did you tell Anislanzir, you traitorous bitch!” he screamed inches from her face, his voice holding enough power that it split the skin along her cheekbones just enough for blood to trickle down towards her chin, the waters of the pools that filled up the chamber beginning to bubble and froth as his power danced errantly about the room.
All she did was gasp and writhe in his grip, eyes starting to lose focus as her need for air grew only to be denied.
He pulled her off the wall, let up on his grip only enough for her to breathe and slammed her back against it with enough force for her to stop struggling and stare at him with wide eyes and slackened jaw, her fear palpable.
“I will not ask you again, woman,” he growled, voice low and full of the promise of violence and much nastier things, echoing with subvocal harmonics that made even his own bones ache.
“I-I don’t know-know what you’re talking about, my son,” Azhuri stammered out, hands still on his torn and bleeding forearm but not actively trying to get him to release her, merely holding on.
“I am not your son,” Rhyshladlyn bellowed, those subvocal harmonics twisting around each word.
As he spoke, wind began to swirl around his feet as his power rose closer and closer to the surface, the waters of the pools audibly boiling around them, adding a shimmer of heat across the floor even as the temperature dropped around them. Only this time it wasn’t just as a Sinner Demon-Ancient mix, or even as a Greywalker, that he spoke with his power backing him. No, this time it was as a Qishir who had finally had enough of being manipulated and lied to and left to suffer alone for it. “Don’t you dare call me that ever again; I denounced you,” he ground out past bared teeth, ignoring the way Relyt and Azriel gasped in surprise behind him. “Now I know you have been telling him things, secrets that I have bled for, been beaten and broken and raped to protect, you insolent whore, and I want to know every last thing you have ever told him. Or so help me, by the Scythe, Scales, and Hourglass, I will see you made unrecognizable to even your own children.”
If Rhyshladlyn thought it had felt like the floor had disappeared from beneath him when he saw her in the doorway? It was nothing compared to how he felt as he listened to her words when she finally found her voice and began to tell him everything.
Because the longer she spoke, the more he realized that until that exact moment, he had never known the true meaning of the word betrayal.