Welcome to this week's chapter of Vision Quest! In which we have some payback, some purpose, and a change of scenery.
Do so hope you enjoy. Thank you for reading!
Blaze woke up, and for a moment, he forgot who he was. Gone was history. Vanished were hurts, trials, miseries, deaths... His name eluded him. His location didn't matter. The day of the week was a petty detail.
There was only the sheer drapes fluttering over the silent air conditioner. Sunlight peeked through the crack in the heavy curtains, highlighting expensive wall paper and paintings of peaceful pastoral scenery. He could smell soap, food, and sleep-warmed sheets. He was sprawled on his side, naked, comfortable, warm, and lazy; more satisfied than he was sure he'd ever been.
A sigh, a rustle of covers, and a body pressed against Blaze from shoulders to ass. Electricity sparked between them, and Blaze sleepily moaned without bothering to check the noise. It was Arik behind him. Arik around him. Arik tracing his arm, rubbing his chest, stroking his belly, wrapping a hand around his...
"Oh," Blaze breathily whispered.
"Morning." Arik kissed behind Blaze's ear.
Blaze heard his own whimper, and he was at a loss to control the pump of his hips into Arik's hold on Blaze's hardening cock. He could barely keep his eyes open, so unwilling was he to come up from under the sea of tranquility. He gasped for the man sharing his bed. He arched. He clutched at the pillow, at a hip, on a thigh.
"Payback," Arik murmured. "I owe you. For earlier..."
"Mm?" Blaze couldn't remember, and Jesus-spirit-God-all, the sizzling esoteric tingles on his flesh felt too good to think. He tried, anyway, wanting to know what he'd done to earn this so he could do it over and over, and then it came back to him...
...four a.m., a sleeping Arik... beautiful... serene... and Blaze had gotten water, watched Arik on his back, the rise and fall of his chest... and couldn't resist climbing into bed and sliding down Arik's body. Couldn't stop himself from taking Arik into his mouth. And Arik had been entirely silent, holding Blaze. Arik had tossed, writhed, jerked, clenched, and hissed breath... He'd come, hard and fast. He'd rolled over. He'd tucked himself against Blaze, and they had gone back to sleep...
Two days. For two days, it'd been them in the hotel room. After the initial chat about Quests and Visions and Arik's potential gifts, they'd not spoken of any of it again. They'd eaten off room service trays. They'd left their sanctuary only to allow the maid to change the bedding and the towels. They'd gone to the indoor pool on the ground level and had swum in heated waters. They'd rented movies, charged them to the room, and to date, they'd not seen the ending of a single one of the films. They'd gotten lost in making out, in trying out ways to intensify the buzzing that crackled between them. They'd showered together, fallen asleep wrapped around one another... resting, recovering... existing.
"Ahn... ah..." Blaze gasped, rippling in Arik's hold.
"Can you?" Arik asked, because at some point after the millionth orgasm, it'd stopped being about performance and started being about pleasure. Arik seemed obsessed with it, actually: making Blaze feel good. Paying Blaze back, for whatever the hell it was he thought Blaze had done. Blaze didn't argue. Couldn't, in fact, argue most of the time, as his mouth was occupied in some way, shape, or form. And Arik was so damned hot and weirdly gentle, yet ferocious, and what man in his right mind would say no to that kind of affection?
Blaze nodded, because he could feel the burn building. His lower back, his ass, and his groin were already tightening. But it was... almost peaceful. Undemanding. Like the sensation was going to happen, was destined, and Blaze could simply ride it out and enjoy.
"Good," Arik whispered, and he licked Blaze's ear in precisely the way that made Blaze shiver. "I love seeing you get off."
Blaze bit his lip, snaked a hand back and up and into Arik's hair. He rocked, he called out, softly but audible, and soon it was cresting, rising -- inevitable -- and then spilling, overflowing... And Blaze opened his eyes, trying to catch his breath and eagerly sucking his own cum off Arik's hand when Arik held it up for Blaze to taste.
For an instant, Blaze felt safe, and he hugged Arik's arm to his chest, willing the moment to last.
"I have a surprise for you," Arik announced, nuzzling Blaze's neck and planting little kisses along the tendon.
Blaze arched an eyebrow over his shoulder at Arik. "I know it may not seem like it, but my dick does have limits."
Arik laughed and kissed Blaze. He tasted like sex-flavored toothpaste. "I'll believe it when I run into them."
"But I actually had something else in mind." Arik slid off the bed, snagging a pair of pants out of a chair, and Blaze sat up. The room was clean, Arik's bag was packed, and Arik was putting on clothes almost as fast as he could take them off, when properly motivated.
"We going somewhere?" Blaze asked, rubbing his eyes and stumbling out of bed.
"We are!" Arik grinned, so proud of himself that he was bursting at the seams.
Blaze snorted. "Okay, okay," he muttered, good-naturedly. He went to the bathroom, hurried through his business, and snagged all the tiny bottles of shampoo, mouthwash, lotion, and conditioner that were left. He got the bodywash and the bars of soap, too, and was prepared to explain to Arik that, yes, he was a mooch, but at least he was a clean mooch.
When Blaze came out of the bathroom, however, Arik was dumping an entire basket of freebies into his own bag. "Oh." A blush rose on Arik's cheeks when he was caught in the act. "I, ah, had them bring up some extra? In case you... I just thought I'd..." The blush darkened.
"Cool. Thanks." Blaze hurried to his own bag, unzipping it and shoving his prizes inside. His blood felt thick in his veins, and too warm, like he might burst out of his own skin. He was in a dream he couldn't shake. And such a small gesture shouldn't have meant so much, but it did. Arik was sweet. Entirely too sweet for the likes of--
Blaze paused in the act of pulling out a rolled t-shirt and similarly packed pair of shorts. "Yeah," he said. "Fine. Why?"
Arik hesitated. "Nothing I just--good God." He peered into Blaze's bag. "Are those clothes? How did you pack that much into... You really do know magic."
Blaze chuckled. His bag was divided into compartments, his clothing rolled into tight knots and flat layers and the rest of his possessions stowed away in the most economical way possible. "Well, it's sort of my house, I guess. I keep it in order."
"It's your what?"
"It's all I own. This is everything, so..." Blaze trailed off, fighting anxiety and melancholy tooth and nail. He thought how pitiful it must seem to Arik, his existence. How fleeting. And Blaze wanted to tell Arik that his life had been anything but short. Old habits stilled the words, killed them in his throat, because it was too soon to tell Arik that kind of truth. And Blaze had to slay the desire to stay in this hotel, wrapped up in Arik. He needed to destroy that kind of sentiment, because it'd be too damned easy for the happiness to remind Arik of all he'd lost and all he craved and how amazing it'd be if Blaze could mend and have even a portion of peace with Arik.
Ridiculous. Stupid. Impossible.
"Hey..." Arik rubbed Blaze's arm.
Blaze shook himself and, subsequently, Arik's hold. "Where we headed?" he asked.
"Just another place to stay that might be a little quieter. Always wanted to go there, but never had the chance or... Someone to take with me, so. Yeah."
Blaze nodded, yanked on his shorts, shirt, and shoes, and zipped up his bag. "Okay, then. Lead on."
Arik lingered, studying Blaze with intensity that Blaze answered with an easy, practiced smile, and Arik lead them out of the room, muttering to himself. At least the man was learning not to keep every thought in his own head.
Checkout and the walk to the car were a blur. The weather was bright, tranquil, and pleasantly warm, the leather seat of the car was perfectly cushioned, and Blaze turned on the heater under his ass. Before they'd even made it onto the Interstate, Blaze was dozing, and when he woke up, Arik was humming along to the Rolling Stones on satellite radio. They were out of the city, well out of it, by the looks of the sandy, scrubby surroundings.
"We're headed to the water," Blaze said, sitting up and trying to stretch kinks out of his spine.
"We are." Arik's grin was irritatingly smug.
"How long have I been out?"
Blaze rubbed his face. He was starting to wonder if all those times he thought he'd been getting good rest were all a sham. He couldn't remember being this tired or this relaxed, and that worried him for a multitude of reasons. It never paid to get comfortable. "Why are we changing locales?"
"Because I wanted to treat you. And me, I guess."
Arik's profile was smooth and easy. There was no pinch of features, no circles under his eyes, no worry lines drawing down his mouth. "Okay," Blaze said, seizing the element of surprise. "Did you have a Vision?"
"No," Arik said, frowning at Blaze.
"Have you had one since the goat incident?"
"No." Arik's hands flexed on the wheel. "Why are we talking about--"
"What are we doing, Arik?"
"We're going to a resort, Blaze," Arik answered, mimicking Blaze's tone. Blaze hoped to hell he didn't sound that annoying, but he probably did. "It's a nice place that I've known about for years. Always wanted to go, never had the chance, figured I'd take this one. We've got to get to a ferry, park in a long-term lot, cross the water, and get to Alana Island. A car'll pick us up there and take us to the hotel. It's on an underdeveloped part of the shoreline, surrounded by oaks and wild horses, and what is up with you today?"
"You heard me." Arik kept glancing Blaze's way, and he turned off the radio. "Did you have a Vision?"
"No." Blaze crossed his arms. "Not had one since..."
"Since I envisioned you fucking me right before I blew you that day we went to play mini golf."
Arik hummed, hands slipping around the steering wheel until his wrists rested on his knees. "Were you bent over in front of me? Letting me hold your arms behind you?"
Blaze's cock had no business stirring, but it did, and a jolt of warmth zinged down his spine, the echoes rippling through him. "Yeah. How did you know?"
"Had the same one. Or, well, for me it was more like a dream."
"You seem awfully calm about sharing dreams for a guy who hates the mystical."
"Oh, I hate the mystical, all right."
Arik shrugged. "Right now, it just supports my theory, which is nice, for a change."
"Theory?" Panic sprang up and rattled Blaze's heart. He couldn't have said why. "What theory?"
"Of why we're together and what this 'Quest' of yours is all about."
"Oh, think you've got it figured, do you?" Blaze's palms were sweating.
"Let's hear it."
"Well, you were the one who said it first, really. The whole, 'here for you' bit?"
"It's a line I've used a lot, Arik," Blaze said. Normally Blaze would never remind a target that there had been others before him and would be more after him. Blaze didn't know why he was trying to scramble for emotional ground and distance, useless as it was inside the confines of a Quest, but scrambling he was, and he had to fight the urge to jump out of the car.
"I'm sure you have," Arik said, and he was sympathetic, not territorial, which was a little creepy. "You've had to do all kinds of things for the fucking Universe, and maybe it's time somebody else used that line on you."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I think I'm here for you, Blaze. You're here to help me not panic over my mystical shit, resolve it or whatever, but I'm here to use what I've got for or with or on..." Arik laughed. "I don't know, whatever. You. I'm here for you."
"Arik, that doesn't make any sense."
"Sure it does."
"How do you figure?"
Arik gave Blaze a scathing look. "I didn't get to where I am in this world by being lazy, Blaze. Give me a little credit for thinking our situation over and figuring out a direction, would you?"
"Okay," Blaze said, slowly. "Tell me what you've been thinking."
"I think you were born to a poor, weird family with weirder powers. I think somewhere around puberty, your gift kicked in, and it sent you all over the world on a bunch of wild goose chases that helped out everybody but you. I still don't know how you've done so much so young, but I figure you've been doing nothing but these Quest things since you were a teenager. And I think it's utter shit that you get hurt if you don't fulfill these Visions of yours, and whether that's psychosomatic due to your familial training, I'm not sure, but I believe you when you say it happens. Mostly because that's what my Visions have been about."
"How so?" Blaze asked. He was dizzy. Arik was hitting too close to home on too many points entirely too casually. Blaze hooked a hand onto the oh-shit handle over the car window.
"Before I met you, I was seeing red everywhere. And then the goat melting. And even that poor kid in the oil barrel. They all melted or liquidated or... And you said that when you don't do your thing, that's what happens, right?"
"I start to bleed out, Arik, I'm not sure--"
"That's okay. You don't have to be sure. I am."
Blaze didn't know what was worse. Arik being so wrong or Blaze dying for him to be right. "Okay, benefit of the doubt, then," Blaze said. "How do you see this going? What's the endgame?"
Arik's smile was sad, and he stared at the road ahead. "Don't worry," he said softly. "I get how these things go, and I'm not entertaining fantasies that we'll be together forever or anything so juvenile." Arik's chuckle seemed a bit forced. "I guess I'll be happy to have you for as long as it takes to get you rested up and recovered. And who knows? Maybe we're supposed to be friends, right? I'm the guy you come to in between journeys or something. For some R and R?"
"It's all right. It's not like my life is really conducive to a relationship, Blaze. I work all the time. I've got a life. Sort of." Arik laughed, and again, it was strained. "It's just... sometimes that life might involve, you know..." Arik glanced at Blaze and licked his lips. "You."
Blaze sat in dumbfounded shock for a solid minute. "Arik, that's sweet."
"And I love that you're... That you're the kind of person who would believe... or who would want..."
"Spare me, all right?" Arik put the car into park, and Blaze glanced around, startled to find them in a lot near a pier. There was a ferry at the dock. Blaze squinted and saw it was named, Good Fortune. Blaze wanted to weep, and he'd not wept in too many years to contemplate.
"We're here." Arik yanked Blaze into a quick peck on the lips. "Get your bag, and let's go."
Numbly, Blaze got out of the car and followed Arik through the steps that would get them onto the ferry headed for Alana Island. It was cooler near the water, and Blaze shivered, trying not to let Arik see him do it.
Arik. What the hell was Blaze going to do about the guy? He loved that Arik was so sure-footed with purpose. Arik oozed confidence as he confirmed their passage, handed over luggage, and explained that Blaze would carry the bag strapped across Blaze's back. He could even see the logic, spotty due to partial information and too much hope as it was. Some of what Arik said did make sense. Blaze did melt when he didn't obey, but it had to be more complicated than that. It had to be for a cause more centered on Arik than Blaze, because this wretched life was Blaze's to live so long as... Well. So long as the Universe saw fit to punish him. So long as there were still people who would remember what Blaze had done.
Blaze found a solitary spot on the ferry's railing to lean, to set down his bag, and to watch the land slide away behind them, and Arik trotted off to buy them some snacks. There was only one other couple aboard, an elderly man and woman who smiled kindly at Blaze, the poor fools. Blaze ran his hands through his hair, tugging at the roots, still thinking of what he could do about his situation. He knew from experience that when this much Vision information was exchanged between himself and his target this fast, then the Quest was likely to be whirlwind. And Blaze had to keep up the pace. He had to get to the heart of the matter, and fast, else he start to cough up blood and get nosebleeds and worse as the Universe tapped its foot and mashed up his insides in the process. He had to get Arik on track and thinking about how the Visions concerned Arik, not Blaze.
Blaze bent over and put his chin on the icy railing. Well, what about the connection thing? The spark? Arik likely thought that was more proof of their joined destinies, and Blaze had lied when Arik had asked if it had ever been so strong between Blaze and someone else. And Blaze had lied because he knew what had happened to the last person with whom Blaze had felt such a pull.
The man had died horribly, slowly, and while begging for his mother, right in front of Blaze, who'd been powerless to stop it. Blaze shook off that nightmare, happy, for once, that it was so old and stale that the hurt was rusty and easy to bury, because it was used to getting shoved into a box, and it couldn't put up much of a fight.
And, then again, maybe Arik did have a point. The spark had definitely linked Blaze's destiny with the dead man, forevermore. Maybe there was something more there to explore with Arik.
Because, really, what kind of man met someone with Blaze's tales to tell, had horrific Visions, and still came out on the other side, not even a week later, thinking that all of it had to mean he, Arik, the man in question, was destined to help the crazy guy who had so disrupted his life?
Blaze stood up. A man who'd been hurt would think that way. A man who'd been taught that he had to serve the insanity in his life, not rise above it, get over it, move beyond it. And one time wouldn't be enough, wouldn't be a pattern. Blaze already hated Arik's father, knew there was definitely more in that deep, dark well to excavate, but there had to be someone else.
Blaze's contemplation was cut short by Arik wrapping around him from behind. That earned them disapproving looks from the other people on the boat, but Arik didn't seem to notice in the least.
"Where's the snack, man?" Blaze asked.
"Didn't get that far." Arik buried his nose in Blaze's hair, holding on a little too tightly.
"Hey." Blaze rubbed Arik's wrist. "What's up?"
"Nothing." Arik took a shaky breath. "Something."
"Saw it again."
"The melting thing."
"Shit." Blaze tried to turn, but Arik wouldn't let him. "Where? Who?" Blaze asked.
"The vendor guy. Same story. Eyeballs fell out, everything melted to a gore puddle." Arik shuddered. "And he reached for me."
"Shit," Blaze repeated, but gently. He crossed his arms over Arik's.
"Arik, it's going to be--"
"But I think--"
Arik's sigh was a gush of hot air. "Just shut up and let me hold you, okay?" Arik swallowed. "No talking. No questions. Just holding." Quieter: "Please?"
Blaze fell silent, and he closed his eyes when Arik's lips brushed his pulse. It was comfort, not enticement, but Blaze's blood didn't seem to know that. The wind and the cold spray of the sea helped, and Blaze started to shiver, again.
"Man, I want a fire," Blaze said after long, long moments of the two of them entwined at the railing.
"This place has fireplaces. Real wood burning ones and the works."
"I think you'll like it."
Blaze waited until the initial panic and need had subsided enough that Arik stood straight and tall behind Blaze, still hugging him. "Arik?"
"Who was the last guy?"
"What do you mean?"
"Boyfriend, you know? There's had to be somebody. You're too you for there not to have been."
Arik chuckled, and it almost hid the tension Blaze felt in Arik's body. Almost. "There was someone. Long time ago."
"Well what?" Arik asked, deliberately obtuse.
Blaze elbowed him. "What happened?"
"I don't know," Arik said, and Blaze could hear Arik working not to be the kind of defensive he got when asked about himself. "We were together. It didn't work out. It ended badly. That's it."
"That's it?" Blaze repeated, but made it a question.
Arik grumbled, inarticulate. "Yeah."
"Oh come on."
"What about you?" Arik asked, defiant, now.
Blaze smiled at the lapping water and the approaching land. Sandy dunes spotted with tall grass crested in gently rolling hills beyond the dock. He could see a limo awaiting their arrival, along with a few other cars. There were trees and a seaside road, twisting along the water's edge heading toward a distant cluster of civilization.
"There was a boy," Blaze said, barely louder than the wind. "We were together. It didn't work out. It ended very badly. I wish that was it."
The ferry's horn sounded, and made them both jump. The engine chugged to a stop, and the boat rocked as it maneuvered into place against the dock. Silently, Arik and Blaze held onto one another until the passenger gangplank was in position. They were invited to disembark, and Arik lead the way. He picked up his bag, took Blaze's hand, and together they walked up damp stairs to the gravel lot where the limo waited. It was a long, dull grey thing, but the driver was young, tall, and blond. He smiled at them.
"Welcome to Alana Island, gentleman," the driver said, graciously sweeping a bow and bending to get Arik's bag. "Home of the best upscale shopping experiences, finest dining, most exuberant nightlife, and, of course, our destination," he smiled, and it felt like someone stamped the seal of Blaze's fate.
"The Fireward Hotel and Resort."
To be continued...
Until next time!
Tune in next week for more.