...in which Blaze talks and Arik attempts to listen.
I'd say more, but honestly, I'm too interested in what else Arik will bring to the proverbial table.
Tag, Henley. You are SO it.
Blaze settled with his legs spread to either side of Arik's. The pajama pants' fabric was soft against Blaze's bare skin, and Arik's hoodie was delicious to squeeze; plush cushion over the hard body beneath it.
Meeting Arik's eyes, Blaze grasped both of Arik's hands and put them on his legs on the outside of the towel. The skin-to-skin buzzing was too much of a distraction if Blaze was going to tell his story with a lick of cohesion and remember to leave out the parts that might be too much for Arik to handle at this phase of the game. Arik was learning more than most, and he was processing faster than many who'd had longer to do so, but the truth was both Blaze's weapon and biggest bargaining chip. He had to use it wisely in either capacity.
"Okay," Arik whispered, squeezing Blaze's hips.
Blaze wasn't sure if that was permission to start, encouragement to get to it, or in response to Blaze not wanting Arik's hands on him. Blaze unhooked the towel, exposing cock and balls, and he smiled with Arik's soft intake of breath. Two could play the distraction card, after all.
"Want to know more about me, hmm?" Blaze asked.
"That was the deal," Arik answered.
Blaze nodded. He fiddled with the toggles that could tighten Arik's hood. "I was born in a village in România. Romania. I'm not sure I could tell you where it was, exactly, even if I had a map. I know it was a long three-days walk to Bucharest, and I know I only made that journey once, and it was after I'd grown into this body, not the body I had when I was a boy."
"You don't have a hint of an accent," Arik said. "Except when you actually, you know, want to. I guess?"
"I've spent a lot of time outside my country. So much time that it's not really 'my' country anymore."
"I really don't see how that's... You must be one of those men who looks, what, ten years younger than they are?"
Blaze just smiled, tilted his pelvis, and Arik glanced south. He licked his lips. "Are you a citizen, here, then?" Arik asked.
Blaze cocked a brow. "This isn't twenty questions, Arik, unless you want me to answer you only in yes or no."
"Sorry." Arik seemed sheepish. "I'm sorry. Go on."
"Okay. Let's see. I had a big family. Lots of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles." Blaze read the question Arik wanted to ask, and he gave the real answer: "They're all dead."
"I'm sorry," Arik said, clearly stunned.
Blaze shrugged. "It happens to all of us. But when I was little and everyone lived outside the graveyards, my family taught me things. Animal magic. Curses. Hexes. Potions." Blaze laughed. "I don't remember most of it, truth be told. And most of it wasn't magic at all. It was legend, and it was the shit we used to make money from the people who didn't know what was real and what was fake.
"Though, sometimes..." Blaze closed his eyes. "There was a girl, once, who was possessed. Laugh if you want, but I saw her do things no mortal could do on his or her own. Things no mortal would want to do on her own. And there was a man, another time, who had been stricken with a love curse. He would only care for those who would break his heart the worst, and it would be love that would kill him, in the end."
"Jesus," Arik muttered. "No wonder he wanted rid of that."
Blaze gave a little laugh and studied Arik's chin. It was a strong chin. "He didn't come to us to remove the curse," Blaze said quietly. "He came to us to speed it along. He was tired of living under it, and he wanted to find the lover who would kill him."
"Mmhm." Blaze regarded Arik, trying to ascertain the man's mood and comfort level. Blaze suspected that as long as he stayed in the past and in the theoretical and kept the current and the all-too-real to a minimum, his information wouldn't overload Arik beyond the breaking point. "It was my granmamere doing most of the teaching, and my mother and aunts, too, some. I saw them have visions, like I told you at the bar, and seeing them fall prey to their own helped me when I started to see things, too."
"Did it start when you were little?" Arik asked in a murmuring rush, and his eyes were full of the intense longing to find a fellow soldier in the war against madness.
"No. They came upon me... more suddenly and later in life."
Arik frowned. "So, you were born in Romania, grew up, had to walk to Bucharest. Don't they have cars? Trains? Why did you... Could you not afford... And they're all dead? How? And you had to get here. And that would be... How did you get here?"
Blaze clucked his tongue. "You really don’t listen to instructions, do you?"
Blaze laughed, finding Arik a little too adorable in his earnestness. Blaze lifted one of Arik's palms, touched it to Blaze's chest, and shuddered when the tingling sparked. He kissed the ends of Arik's fingers and put Arik's hand down on his leg again. "Funny you should ask, actually, how I got here. See, when I began to see things, Visions, I began to get clues and direction for how my... How my life was supposed to go. Where I was supposed to be and who I was supposed to meet. That sort of thing. People who needed my help in some way, large or small. And so... I would dream, which is normally how I have my visions, though some of them happen upon touch. Especially if I'm touching the person I've been dreaming about."
"So you just... go where the dreams tell you to go?" Arik asked, more than slightly horrified.
"Yeah. I do."
"But... so... Do you pick and choose? I mean... What if your dreams tell you to go to... God, I don't know... Russia? Or something. And you're in Montana? How do you get there?"
Blaze ticked the answers on his fingers. "I don't pick or choose. I obey every one of the visions. If I'm in Montana and have to get to Russia, I figure out a way. Though, to date, that particular combination hasn't happened. London to here, however. That I've done. Recently, even."
Realization dawned across Arik's expressive face. "You were in London before you came here?"
"How did you get here?"
"Cargo boat. Less paperwork than planes, these days, and usually I can earn my way."
Arik was the picture of distraught. "You crossed the Atlantic on a boat?"
"Wasn't the first time."
"That must have taken weeks!"
"It took a while, it's true."
"But how do you know... I mean, how did you get the right timing? Isn't that... but..."
Blaze leaned forward, and kissed Arik's bewildered lips. "Hush," he said, gently, and Arik swallowed. "The visions give me time to begin the Quest. They tell me useful things. They've come to be my friends, over the years, as opposed to my... enemy. And yes, all the time I was sailing across the cold sea, I dreamed of you. Working, sleeping... crying, once. But also jerking off. That was really nice."
"You're kidding?" Arik spluttered.
"Nope." Blaze grinned. "Knew I'd like your cock long before I got to see it in person."
Arik blushed, and it was cute enough to slay demons. Blaze got lost in the kissing, holding, grinding for a long moment, but Arik pushed him away. "Wait, wait." Arik caught his breath, and Blaze obeyed the plea. For the moment, anyway.
"I can believe that you've had a lot of life in your... thirty...five... years?" Arik's voice was high with disbelief in his own words.
"I've been busy, it's true," Blaze agreed.
Arik squinted at Blaze but seemed satisfied for the moment. "But I still don't get the Quests. Why do you follow these Visions? Don't they scare you? Don't you... sometimes, don't you despise them? How can you let them just... rule you without going out of your mind?"
Again, Blaze answered in order. "I do them because if I don't, there are consequences."
"Like feeling as though I'm dying." Blaze shuddered, suddenly cold. He remembered the first time he'd been defiant. It hadn't entirely cured him of his misguided willpower, but it had put a dink in it the size of a giant's fist. "It's pain... a lot of pain. Everywhere. And then the blood starts."
"Ears. Nose. Lungs." Blaze sighed. "Guts. Cock. You name it. I sort of... start to break down on the inside. Or, well, that's how it feels."
Arik hugged Blaze around the waist, protectively, and Blaze adored the man for the sentiment. "What do the doctors say?"
Blaze had to work to school his expression out of a smile. Because of course, Arik would speak of doctors. That's what people in this day and time did when they were ill. They sought the nearest medical facility. It'd been a shaman who had confirmed the affliction Blaze already knew he had, and the same man had told him that Blaze had best be obedient to the Visions, else they suffer him slow over years and years and make Blaze wish he could die fast.
"There's nothing wrong with me," Blaze answered. "And there's nothing to be done for a disease that doesn't exist."
Arik was quiet for a short while, thinking. "So you have to follow the Visions, then?"
"I do," Blaze confirmed. He inched closer, tucking a strand of hair behind Arik's ear. "And they do scare me. Used to piss me off. I used to be drunk or high or half dead most of the time, trying to get away from them, but..." Blaze shrugged. "Didn't matter in the end. They found me. And I figured out the way to stay sane is to savor the good Quests."
A flutter of a smile danced across Arik's mouth. "Am I one of the good ones?"
"I hope so," Blaze replied.
Arik hummed and deliberately placed his hands on Blaze's bare knees. The sizzle and pop-crackle rose between the points of contact. "Does that... mark me as good?" Arik asked.
"Rare," Blaze answered, leaning forward as Arik's hands traveled higher. "Marks you as rare."
"So this isn't between you and all the Quest people? This... spark connection thing?"
Blaze shook his head, forearms resting on Arik's shoulders and fingers digging into the couch cushion.
"Has it happened before? This..." Arik rubbed Blaze's hipbones with his thumbs, fingers tickling the sides of Blaze's ass, and the current frizzled.
Blaze did it because he didn't want to explain. He did it because he wanted Arik to keep asking questions about the two of them, here and now, that had answers that would help Arik out and not to ask things that would lead them backward along the shady path of Blaze's longer-than-normal history. Blaze didn't want to tell Arik precisely why the Visions came upon him. How he knew. Why he'd been more than merely angry. Why his family was all dead. Blaze didn't want Arik to start to think about what happened when the Quests were done. How long the Quests took. What would become of them when it was over.
But more than any of that, Blaze did it because he'd not had the chance to think about the only other time he'd felt this kind of electricity between himself and another. He'd not had a spare moment to put it all together, and he didn't want to slow down and get the chance. He lived every day not thinking about how it all began. That was the real truth behind staying sane. Bury the past deep and ignore it when it came to the surface, even if it arose in a new lover's touch. In a soft caress. In a warm kiss. In the simple link of two peoples' hands.
He'd done it a thousand times before, make the target feel as though they were a lone reed in the waters of Blaze's life. And he did it again because, for once, he really didn't want Arik or this Quest to hurry up, to finish, or to stop. "No," Blaze lied, the word taking shape even as Blaze rationalized that it was, at least, a partial truth. "Never been... exactly... like this." He bent his neck to kiss the shell of Arik's ear.
"What has it been like?" Arik murmured, stroking the planes of Blaze's naked back. "What do you do on the Quests?"
Blaze kissed Arik's throat. "I do... whatever's required... and some, I guess... of what I want. When I'm lucky."
Heated hands guided Blaze to raise himself higher, and a slick, wet mouth kissed his collar bone, chest, nipple. Blaze rubbed his cheek against Arik's hair. "What do you want, now?" Arik asked, hot breath blowing across damp skin.
"Mm..." Blaze caught Arik's chin, tipped it up, and he kissed Arik, only once and chastely. "To eat the food before it gets cold."
Blaze squirmed off Arik's lap before Arik could get hold of him again, and Blaze laughed when Arik threw a pillow at him. "Don't worry," Blaze said, grinning and uncovering the food. "I'm too hungry to bother putting on clothes first."
Arik wrapped arms around Blaze from behind, growling in Blaze's ear. "Damn right you won't." Arik squeezed Blaze's ass. "Lucky I don't let it get cold and make a meal out of you."
Blaze reached for a small dish cover, removed it, and swiped his finger through a dollop of whipped cream adorning a piece of pie. He swiped the cream across his bottom lip and down the top of his dick. "Who says I can't have my pie and have you eat me, too?"
The laughter transformed Arik's face. The worry lines vanished, the frustration melted, and his eyes were infused with shining, playful desire. "Oh. Now you're talking." Arik licked the cream off of Blaze's mouth.
"Nice start," Blaze mumbled. "What else you got?"
"Mmhm." Arik pulled Blaze flush against him, and Blaze sighed into the kiss that most certainly did satisfy some of his hunger... of another sort.
To be continued...
Until next time!
Tune in next week for more.
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