Turn for me just a smidge…turn…perfect. Essenin sipped their tea to hide the sigh of admiration as he occupied the window seat and watched Davitts split wood in the courtyard below. They had a spectacular view of Davitt’s back muscles as he swung and split a log in one sure stroke.
“Has he taken his shirt off?”
Zie’s voice came in a hoarse whisper from the bed and Essenin’s heart twinged. They’d tried so hard to let him sleep since the nightmares had been bad. All of them had nightmares. Zie’s were particularly distressing. At least his speech had regained its normal cadence and he was able to sit up on his own again. Small steps.
“Oh, yes. He most certainly has. Those glistening shoulders.”
Essenin turned in time to witness Zie’s plaintive sigh and they took pity. They put down their tea, strode to the bed to gather Zie up in their arms, and carried him to the window seat where they could admire Davs together. Zie’s injured eye was covered by a blue scarf to protect it from the light. Perhaps it might heal, though the selak healer who came in the afternoons was less optimistic about the eye than she was Zie’s already twitching left arm. But his uncovered eye devoured the sight of Davs splitting logs.
“He, ah, does that so well.” Zie swallowed audibly and his soft sleep pants didn’t hide the growing bulge at all.
“Mmm.” Essenin sipped their retrieved tea. “The axe is his accessory of choice, after all.”
They sighed in tandem longing as Davs stacked up the wood, as promised to the innkeeper to help defray the cost of three rooms, and head to the bathhouse. The three of them shared, of course, but Rolli had his own little convalescent room under the eaves where he was all too pleased to be fussed over by the innkeeper’s son and daughter, and Ke had a room down the hall.
That Davs might have been doing extra work out of guilt? Well, no one was unkind enough to mention it.
When Davs emerged from the bathhouse wrapped only in a sheet, drops still fell from his water-dark hair, and it made Essenin oddly pleased somehow that they’d undone all the braids and washed their own hair that morning. Washing the last of the Shadows from them, perhaps.
Essenin turned to Zie and caught the moment of miserable yearning before he shut his expression down. Oh no, we can’t have that. And we should’ve talked about it before now.
“Davs told you before not to think it,” Essenin said gently. “And here you are, still thinking it.”
“What is it I am supposed to be thinking?” The sardonic drawl wasn’t quite back yet, but the ghost of it colored Zie’s words.
“That we don’t want you anymore. Won’t desire you anymore.”
Zie was silent for almost too long, staring out the window at nothing. “You’re both so beautiful and I am broken. How could you still love and desire something so broken?”
“You’re changed, love.” Essenin took both his hands, the one that could hold back and the one that couldn’t. “You made a hero’s choice and in return, you got all that comes with those sorts of choices. But changed isn’t broken, and how can we look on the consequences of a hero’s choice and not love you more?”
“Don’t make me cry.” Zie sniffled and wiped at his good eye with his sleeve. “Not with Davs coming up the stairs.”
Ah, yes. Now Essenin heard those beloved footsteps, too. There had been absolutely no change in Zie’s excellent hearing. They both turned as Davs came into the room and shut the door behind him.
“What?” Davs gaze darted from one to the other. “I’ll comb my hair. Promise.”
The words got away from Essenin. “Zie thinks we can’t love him anymore.”
“I see.” Davs dropped the bath sheet and Zie’s eyes widened as he came to one knee in front of them both. “Because you did something heroic and you think we’ll feel inferior?”
Zie squirmed. “No…I…”
“Oh, well, then it must be because you were wounded during these heroic actions and believe we feel too guilty for not preventing that?” Davs put his hand on Zie’s knee and looked up into his face, his earnest gaze unpinned with a definite smolder. “No? Not that either?”
“Don’t make fun, Davs. Please,” Zie choked out.
“I’m not. Sweetheart, I’m not.” Davs set his head in Zie’s lap with a sigh. “I do feel guilty that I couldn’t help you. That’s just how I’m made. But it’s not as if Ess has never been injured. It’s not as if I haven’t sat by their bedside wondering if they’d wake, if they’d be able to walk or pull a bow again. It’s never, ever made me love them less.”
The wounded, strangled sound that came from Zie had them both lunging for him, and they ended up a mess of limbs and tears on the carpet. Ever the protector, Davs had managed to be mostly on the bottom, though, with Zie draped across his chest. Apologies, reassurances, and soft words of comforting nonsense all melded together in tender counterpoint.
Zie’s lips found Essenin’s even as Davs tugged at laces swearing softly at being the only one naked. Contorting themself so as not to hurt anyone, Essenin disentangled quickly to shuck their own clothes, leaving Davs to help more gently with Zie’s.
He stopped with a hand on the drawstring of Zie’s pants. “Only if you want this.”
Another one of those sounds escaped Zie. “I do. Want. But I can’t…I can’t…”
Now completely naked, eager erection on full display, Essenin lay on the carpet on their side facing their loves. “I do appreciate your bossy assertiveness in the bedroom. Usually. But just now, just for today, you don’t have to do anything but feel.”
Davs sat up and moved Zie between his thighs, becoming a chair to support him. “And tell us if anything doesn’t feel good.”
For a moment, Essenin simply lay with their head propped on their hand, drinking in the lovely view—Zie’s dark hair spread along Davs’ chest, his pale skin setting off Davs’ sand-copper. That lasted only until Essenin couldn’t stand the anticipation of touching any longer and they reached out to stroke Zie’s left thigh.
“Could you…? Ess? The other side, perhaps?” Zie whispered, his purple eye three shades darker with desire.
“You see? Still bossy.” Essenin grinned and scooted around to the right side and laid their head on Davs’ knee where they could reach all the immediately important things. “Davs, maybe nudge back just a bit so I can get my hand…”
Davs let out a satisfying, rumbling moan as Essenin closed their fingers around his cock where it lay trapped between his belly and Zie’s back. The mingled scents of freshly washed Davs and recently woken Zie were intoxicating from this angle, all musk and soap and the enticing spice of Zie’s arousal.
“Curl closer, Ess.” Davs patted their ass to underscore his demand. “You’re too far away.”
While this puzzled Essenin at first since Davs’ reach was more than adequate, they soon understood when Davs took Zie’s hand and wrapped them both around Essenin’s prick. And oh, that felt good, larger fingers cradling smaller ones caressing up and down in leisurely strokes.
But they couldn’t just lie there drinking in the attention. This was about Zie. Essenin hitched a shoulder back and found the perfect position to lick up the underside of Zie’s cock. Even though the hands on them were distracting, only made deliciously worse when Davs tangled strong fingers in their hair, Essenin fought to concentrate on what their own hands and mouth, stroking Davs and taking Zie down to the base, swallowing around him until he swore and moaned.
Zie’s desperate squirming speared right to Essenin’s core and when he cried out and thrust hard into Essenin’s throat, they struggled to swallow, dribbles of spend leaking from their lips as they groaned around Zie’s cock and came seconds after.
Not wanting to be left out, Davs shoved his hand, now coated with Essenin’s orgasm, between himself and Zie and wrapped it around Essenin’s, squeezing harder and encouraging them to stroke faster, until he was huffing like a bellows and buried his face in the crook of Zie’s shoulder to muffle his bellow of release.
They all ended up in a panting, boneless pile again when Davs collapsed onto the carpet and Essenin couldn’t help a little laugh.
“Sorry, love. We got you all dirty again.”
“Mmm. Small price to pay.” Davs lifted his head far enough to kiss Zie’s temple. “There. You could. You did. It was glorious, as always.”
Zie growled and nipped at him with his sharp teeth, which most likely meant, yes, yes, you were right, now shut up. Wisely, Davs shut up.
They lay on the rug in sun-soaked indolence until Zie said, “I have to go home.”
Essenin rolled off and sat up. “Very soon. Though I thought you’d want to train with Ke first. But when you’re ready, we’ll find a ship and go back. My family’s going to start wondering what happened to us.”
“Ess. I think our Zie means that he had to go back to his home.” Davs readjusted them so Zie could recline comfortably in his lap again. “Yes?”
Zie gave them a slow nod. “I need to go home. To…face things. To see if the bard was right. To face judgment if there are those left to pronounce it.”
“They won’t…” Essenin trailed off and swallowed hard before they could continue. “They won’t execute you, will they?”
One of Zie’s eyebrows clambered up his forehead. “Ah, no. Sylvas believe that someone who has done terrible wrong should live with that knowledge and be shamed for it. There are other possibilities besides execution.”
“Oh.” Essenin took both Zie’s hands. “But—”
“Ess, stop,” Davs spoke gently, but there was steel behind the words. “If this is what Zie has to do to be whole, we support him. And we go with him.”
“You would do that?” Zie’s uncovered eye misted. “Stand with me?”
“At the very least, we’re witnesses, right?” Essenin leaned in to plant a kiss on Zie’s lips. “And we wouldn’t desert you now, of all times.”
No one mentioned Zie’s tears as they held each other tight. Apparently, adventuring wasn’t done with them quite yet.
The sea breeze revived Zie considerably after what he considered the excessive warmth of the interior. He sat in a cart by the gangplank of the ship they would take home, waiting for Essenin and Davs to say their goodbyes to Rolli. Ke had not come to see them off and he was a little surprised by how much that stung.
“It was good to see you again,” Rolli was saying as he embraced Ess hard. “I suppose you won’t be back any time soon.”
Essenin squinted at him. “You could come to Pellienport, you know. You don’t have to wait for us to have another job out this way.”
“Maybe if I ever find myself with funds again, I’ll take you up on it.” Rolli offered Davs a hand, the one with the unbroken wrist. “Davitts, take care of them. It was good to see you, too. In spite of all the everything.”
Davs frowned and pulled Rolli into a huge hug. “Sorry about all the everything. And the wrist. Goddesses. I hope you can play again soon.”
“That will happen eventually.” Rolli pulled back with a grin. “I’ve found a handsome blacksmith in town who would like sewa lessons. That should keep me for a bit.”
It looked like Ess has something arch to say to that, but they were interrupted by a hail from down the dock. Ke strode toward them with a pack slung over one shoulder.
“Well, youngsters, are we about ready?”
Zie stared at her, trying to find something intelligent to say, but all he managed was, “You’re coming?”
“Of course I’m coming.” Ke snorted and gazed up at the ship. “Now that I’ve begun teaching you, I can’t let you run about the world without guidance. How irresponsible.”
With final hugs for Rolli, Davs scooped Zie out of the cart and they all made their way onboard.
Home. I’m going home. Those weren’t words Zie ever thought he would consider again, and the ache in his chest was part longing and part anxiety for what awaited. But it was still a good thing. The only thing. And with what seemed undeserved goddess blessings, he wasn’t doing it alone.
Angel writes (mostly) Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around queer heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head, she has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.