This year instead of normal valentines, I wrote a mini short story collection from my boys to their significant others. These first two stories are from Arch to Roin and Zeph to Jun.
Eden | Future Pathways
Far from civilization in the Northern Province, the Wildes are dense with sturdy hardwood trees and pines and the only trails on the land have been made by the wild game herds and their predators. Beyond even the tribal lands of the Hunters, where every star is visible in the skies above the thick canopy of branches and a network of small brooks and lakes laces the land with the quiet murmur of flowing water. In the pleasantness of high summer, it’s easy to live off the land, catching fish and hunting deer, digging for wild onions, and floating along the mirrored surface of the lakes. It’s an idyllic existence and easy enough to forget for a time the dangers that lie in the world beyond.
Fingers laced through tattooed counterparts, booted and bare feet moving at the same pace with not a trace of passage left behind, the grasses, gnarled tree roots, and patches of shrubbery are navigated with the ease of two who have dwelt their entire lives beneath towering branches. The forest is dense here, a thicket of close-set trunks requiring the ducking and twisting of tall, lithe frames to successfully pass through. This too is taken in stride and executed like an intricate dance with nature, flowing around each obstacle with ease and grace and never against. Nature is the lord of this land and respect is owed when they are but small creatures who dare to place their feet upon the soil.
Stooping to avoid several low-set limbs and carefully making their way up a rather steep incline, the air shimmers, at first appearing to be nothing more than the thick summer heat, but to those with the sensitivity, the air is in fact laced with magic. A faint smile passes over the Elkinphyr’s lips as he draws his companion to a halt, orange and silver eyes sliding over to meet blindfolded pale blue, questions skimming across the surface of the deep pools. The tattooed hand wrapped around his own squeezes gently, a squeeze that is more than the simple contraction of muscles. It’s security and an echo to those questions shining in dual-toned eyes, and above all, it’s trust. Trust that the Hunter willingly allowed himself to be lead into the heart of the woods without explanation or reassurance, and trust in the love they share, trust that is as solid and enduring as any of the ancient trees in this forest.
Putting off the silent questions of the one he loves for just another moment, Arch extends his will, the very air drawing back like the parting of a curtain, revealing a clearing on the other side of the incline upon which they stand. The open space is no more than four hundred or so feet across, a silvery brook glinting in the sun and the expanse of grass interrupted by a grouping of trees near the center. Hundreds of years old, each tree is a sentinel, branches lifted in honor to their massive companion. Crowned in leaves of gradient shades from off white to deep emerald green, the tree is the width of a house at the base and surely kin to the trees the Elkinphyr people held dear in the Eden of the past. A cabin is nestled in close to the trunk, smaller than the one in which they’d first met, and so similar in color to the bark of the tree that it almost blends in. A neatly planted garden sits to one side and on the other is a barn and shed for chickens and livestock.
[Is this what you have been slipping away for at night?] Roin finally unleashes one of those many questions Arch knows he’s been wanting to ask. A grin lights the Hunter’s face, and his fingers are still laced with Arch’s own.
Ah, so his secret midnight excursions are not so secret after all. It’s true that he’s been coming here to work on this surprise for the other man, disappearing in the deepest parts of night and then returning with the dawn. He would have skipped all that carefully planned stealth if he’d known the former slave was already aware of his disappearances. [Yes and no,] Arch replies with a small smile of his own. [I did build all that you see on the nights that I was away, but…] The trailing words are quiet, but teasing, and a new look of questioning flickers over Roin’s face. [This is only a decoy. It’s meant to deceive anyone who manages to break the outer wards that keep it screened from prying eyes.]
The shifter points up into the branches of the massive tree and another curtain of magic falls away, revealing a magnificent structure nestled high in the branches. In the Elkinphyr tradition it’s integrated into the tree itself, grown and shaped by magic in a seamless way that celebrates nature. Two terraced porches and large, spanning windows give spectacular views of the tree canopy, sunsets, and sunrises. This is what he’s truly been working on every night, aided in secret by Koel and Elyrrie.
Arch carefully slides his hand from Roin’s and instead slips his arm around the former slave’s waist, drawing him in close. [I thought maybe we could call it home…]
Angel Hunt | Streifen
Long fingers guide the corner of the paper to its matching side, midnight eyes narrowed in concentration as the final crease is made with care not to misalign the edges. Flipping the bit of paper over, the folds at the bottom are gently pulled out to form a diamond before an array of pen and highlighter launch an all out assault of stripes, dots, and other decoration, including a few silly looking hearts.
Sliding his fingers in between the creased edges, the blonde holds his hands out toward the teenager settled on the other side of the bed. A teenager completely oblivious to the arts and crafts project happening not two feet away. Snow-tinted bangs try in vain to obscure deep pink eyes, the dawn-tinted pools latched onto the algebra book spread open on the crimson quilt. Every so often the mechanical pencil held loosely between long fingers taps distractedly against a notebook page covered in neat and orderly equations, and a slight frown crosses full lips as a new problem is read and analyzed.
“Pick a color.”
Glancing up as the command interrupts the concentration on his school work, Jun stares for a long moment at the origami folded paper as though he’s never seen anything like it before. When he doesn’t move, Zephyr offers it up encouragingly, the colored triangles beckoning the other second year in a variety of neon highlighter. Slowly the mechanical pencil hesitatingly stretches out to tap the green section, and the Dark moves his fingers out, then in, then out, each motion accompanied by a letter until he spells out the word for green. Holding his hands out again, a set of stylized Korean number choices written in multi colored inks now present themselves to his boyfriend, and Jun is quicker to choose this time.
A new set of numbers appears once the previously chosen number is counted out, but this time when the other second year taps the end of his pencil on the symbol, the blonde pulls his fingers free of the paper and unfolds the triangle of paper. “Your fortune is,” he reads aloud,”’Zeph will hold your hand.’” Stretching his fingers out, he wraps them around Jun’s free hand and gently squeezes, smiling softly at the one he cares about so much. Deep pink eyes look down at their conjoined hands, a careful squeeze returned a moment later.
As much as he enjoys touching and just being near the other teen even in such a simple way, he slips his hand away, snagging the paper fortune teller and then refolding the triangle before once again presenting it to his boyfriend. The shift through the colors and numbers is much more rapidon the second go round, and the final triangle reveals a new fortune: Zeph will give you a hug. Without hesitation, the tall Selestarri reaches out and loops one long arm around Jun’s shoulders and pulls him close for a slightly awkward hug considering that they’re both lying on their stomachs on the bed. Burying his nose in snowy white hair, he inhales the scent of his classmate’s hair and savors the warmth of him pressed in so tightly. It’s a little startling sometimes when he thinks about how easily even such a small things like this could become addicting when it comes to Jun. He’s definitely hugged a lot of people over the years, but none of them have ever made him feel the way the white-haired teen does. Not even close.
The third fortune requires that the Dark kisses the other second year, which he happily does, a kiss that’s deep with just a hint of fire that instantly threatens to burst into an inferno. Not wanting to get derailed so soon, he pulls away before he’d truly like, and almost loses his resolve when he can see the tintings of disappointment in his boyfriend’s eyes. Maybe he should have thought a little more about how these fortunes would affect them when he was writing them out.
The fourth fortune insists that the blonde help Jun get more comfortable. With a grin, Zeph unfolds his tall frame from the mattress, extending one hand to help his classmate up as well, those pale cheeks already tinted heavily with scarlet. With gentle movements, he unknots the already loosened crimson tie and slips it from around Jun’s neck, dropping it to the floor. This is followed by the white dress shirt, each button slipped free to reveal the pink tee worn beneath, and then pushed over pale shoulders to join the tie in a puddle at their feet. Each motion is slow and drawn out, fingers lingering longer than they necessarily need to in order to accomplish their tasks.
The fortune complete and the grin still on full lips, the Selestarri wraps his arms around Jun’s waist and turns them both to sit on the bed with the shorter student in his lap. Retrieving the folded paper from the quilt, Zeph slips his fingers in and presents it yet again to his boyfriend. The fifth, sixth, and seventh, fortunes all require a much more hands on approach, promising more kissing and touching that have Jun’s pale skin flaming to a brilliant shade of red. Every time their mouths meet fire surges between them, greedily demanding more each time they’re forced to break for panted breaths of air. That alone is enough to get lost in completely, but Zeph’s hands are on the move as well, tracing out the lines and curves of his classmate’s back and chest, committing every inch to memory. He loves touching Jun almost as much as he loves kissing him, feeling the velvet soft skin beneath his fingers that had taunted him for all those months when he believed his feelings to be unrequited. God, not only that, but he loves the way Jun’s hot breath feels against his skin and the soft little noises that escape his throat every so often. He’s somewhat sure he will die if he never gets to experience this as often as possible. Like for real dead and not melodramatic teenage dead. It’s amazing, his boyfriend is amazing and with each passing second it gets harder and harder to even remember that there are more fortunes to read.
With an act of sheer will, the blonde slides his hands from beneath the pink tee and leans back just far enough to break their scorching kiss, both teenagers breathless and panting. Jun shifts to close the gap once again, but Zeph shakes his head, warring quite hard against himself when his body screams to give Jun what he obviously wants. “There’s one more fortune,” he says, holding up the fortune teller. “You have to have the full set.” The white-haired second year doesn’t seem so convinced, but he points to each of the triangles as they’re counted and presented, the last one reached quickly. Unfolding the paper, he reads, “‘Zeph will suck my co–’”
“Zeph!” His name is half gasped, half yelped, as a bright new flush of mortification infuses pale skin.
Leveling a rather predatory grin at his boyfriend, the Dark tosses the paper to the floor. “Well, if the fortune teller says it will happen, then who are we to stand in the way of the future?” Laughing, he wraps his arms around Jun’s waist and flips him down to the mattress in one fluid motion, long legs straddling either side of the other second year’s slim frame less than a heartbeat later…
[Roin and Jun belong to Nezumi. Arch and Zephyr belong to me.]