Hey everyone! For my special gift on the first day of Yule, enjoy this early release of the next chapter of Pull! Eleven more days to go, so get ready for even more gifts!
You can read previous chapters here
It has been days since Silas saw River, but the memory of kissing him still burns brightly in his mind. Tonight, in particular, the memories are particularly clear. He cannot sleep. He tosses and turns, the sheets wrapping around his ankles like bonds. River haunts his mind, the kiss they shared setting a fire under his skin. He cannot stop feeling River’s cheeks under his hands and their mouths moving together. He feels again his body pressing against River’s, and the way River had reached down to hold his waist. In his mind, River does not push him away. In his mind, River reaches down to take the hem of Silas’ shirt in his fingertips. He pulls it off, exposing Silas’ body. River grabs his ass and lifts him, Silas wrapping his legs around him. River sets him down gently on the bed and then leans over him, their hands running over each other’s bodies. In his mind, the rest of their clothes are removed impossibly easily, and they shift so that they both lie fully pressed against each other.
Where he lies alone under the covers, Silas moves his hand down, under the waistband of his underwear. He wraps a hand around the part of himself that is most affected by his imaginings of River’s body. He is already hard, and he groans at the attentions of his hand. With his eyes closed it is easier to imagine that it is River’s hand that wraps around him, soft but strong. River’s blonde hair tickles him as he presses his pink lips against Silas’ neck. River’s hand part Silas’ thighs, and then that hand presses into him. It isn’t enough, and Silas aches for his fantasies to be real as his own hand draws him close to the edge. He relives the feeling of River’s lips against his and of River’s half-naked body pressed against him. The heat in him pools and finally spills as he falls over the edge, in his mind feeling River pressed against him, moaning and whispering his name.
Silas lays on the bed for a moment, recovering. He is in love. He realizes it with a jolt like running through a forest only to find himself hurtling over the edge of a cliff. He barely knows River, yet he is in love with him. He knows it with the stark surety of one who has never been in love before. Slowly, he pulls his boxers off and uses them to clean up the stickiness on his stomach. He lays there for a moment with them in his hand, thinking of how River had rejected him and pushed him away. In a moment of frustration, he tosses them into the corner of the room. He lays naked on his bed. His nerves still buzz like electricity running through him. He’s thinking of what Leena had said to him a few days ago, after he had gone to see River. He curls up under the blankets, trying to forget about the danger and war that swirls around them and especially the fact that Malachai is unwilling to do anything about it. He stares out the window, which is really a square hole in the wall without any glass. A year ago, Malachai got angry at him and punched all the glass out. They never replaced it, but Silas has gotten used to the city air blowing in and the street sounds which lull him to sleep. The moon is bright tonight, and when he shifts in the bed he can see the full crescent shape of it appear in his window.
Somewhere out there the secs are scheming and planning on how to take down the witches. What will happen if they succeed? Will they kill all the witches, or let them survive and rule over them? Silas curls up tighter, putting his hands on either side of his head. A knot forms in his stomach as he worries for River. What will happen to him? He thinks of Violet, Jack, Cole, Malachai, all the other fiends he knows. What will happen to them when the fiends win? The stomach in his knot tightens as he worries for his own safety. He can’t even pretend he doesn’t really fear his own death most.
He runs his hands over his face and up into his hair. Even if the gangs do unite, the bonds between them will be weak and superficial. The fiends will each need to be motivated and convinced they really do gain something from working together.
He takes in the room around him: the empty bottles of liquor on the dresser, the few clothes he owns haphazardly thrown into open drawers or bundled on the floor. Even in such a messy state, the room is sparse. He only ever comes in here to sleep. He isn’t like Jack, who seems to love the silence of being in his room alone. When Silas isn’t working, he’s out clubbing. It’s only recently, as his mind has been full of River, that he has spent time sitting in this room, realizing how barren it is. He does not care about the things scattered about this space that feels empty without River in it. He sits up suddenly, naked now that he’d discarded his boxers, as a realization hits him. He does not want to live in a world divided between witches and fiends. His whole life until this moment, he’d never really questioned the way the world is. He’d simply thought that the fiends and witches are by nature opposites and adversaries. He wonders if there was ever really a time when the fiends and witches got along. Some part of the witches must know that the divine and the demonic have to coexist.
He will not live in this world, where the witches run everything and the secs and fiends live in chaos, attempting to obtain the scraps that the witches leave behind. It can not continue like this. Witches get hurt too, by people of their own kind who think they are superior to others. He’d seen it in River’s eyes whenever he’d mentioned his mother or the rules of his coven.How many others out there share his opinion, favoring working for peace instead of war? Is it really possible to achieve?
He knows he’s making a rushed decision, but it doesn’t feel rushed at all. On the surface, he wants to do what he’s about to do because he wants to fight for peace. The truth, however, is that there are many reasons why he feels he must do this. He stands, hunts around on his desk, and finds a piece of crumpled paper. He hastily smooths it out and makes a few hurried motions in the air. A translucent feather quill, outlined in lines of blue energy, appears in his hand. He quickly scrawls something on the paper before throwing the quill behind him, where it vanishes.
He dresses in the cleanest clothes he can find and shoves his other belongings in a bag. He shrugs on his leather jacket and uses a burst of magic to blow the door open. His boots fall heavy on the floor as he stomps down the hallway. He shoves the door to Malachai’s room open without warning.
A woman with an afro of dark, loose curls is sitting on Malachai’s lap. They are kissing passionately, Malachai’s hand up her shirt and squeezing her breast. With a muffled noise of surprise they break apart. The woman’s eyes are clear and intelligent. She looks mildly amused, but Malachai is furious.
“What are you doing?” Malachai demands, pushing the woman off him and rising from the bed.
“I’m leaving.” Silas holds his ground in the doorway. He hopes he doesn’t sound as nervous as he feels. Buzzy, shaky energy moves through his whole body.
“What?” Malachai is flabbergasted, so shocked that all the anger seems to drop out of him. As Silas responds, however, the anger slowly returns.
“I’m leaving your gang, Malachai.” The words burn in Silas’ throat. They are so hard for him to say. It’s too late now. As soon as he’s made the decision he’s worried that he’s made a mistake.
Malachai comes at Silas quickly, moving to punch Silas in the jaw. Silas deflects the punch with magic, but misses a second one that Malachai aims at his side. It is the same place where a bruise from when Malachai had shoved him into the wall a few days ago has just healed. Now it seems like it’ll be bruised again.
“Fine, Silas. You leave and go fuck your little dink. Abandon all the protection I give you. Whatever you’re planning, it won’t work. You’ll figure that out, and you’ll be back.” Malachai’s face twists as he looks Silas up and down before turning and falling back on the bed, grabbing his woman and pulling her on top of him. Silas takes a steadying breath, turning in the doorway and stamping down the hall without closing the door. He hears Malachai swear loudly and colorfully before slamming the door shut.
When Silas is halfway down the stairs he hears Violet’s voice.
“What is going on?” She asks, her voice thick with sleep and her eyes bleary.
Silas turns around on the stairs to look up at her. He opens his mouth to tell her he’s leaving, but can’t find the words. He simply stares at her until he sees understanding dawn on her tired face. His eyes flicker away from her as he turns back down the stairs and slowly makes his way down them.
He slips out of the front door into the night air and stands outside. He clutches the bag filled with his few possessions to his chest and leans against the side of the building, the feeling that Malachai was correct already beginning to creep over him. He chases away the doubtful thoughts with a deep breath and takes a few steps out towards the sidewalk. With a jolt, he realizes he no longer has to go someplace secret to portal. He doesn’t have to worry about having Malachai’s permission anymore. The feeling is freeing, and he takes an odd pleasure out of calling up the demon so that he can open the portal.
He lands in his normal spot outside of the coven, taking it in with new eyes. He sees witches standing outside the front door, the ivy growing up the wall he had snuck along in order to get in the back door. Coming here, sneaking in to see River, had started so much in his life.
“What are you doing, Silas?” The voice behind him is quiet.
Silas spins, shocked that he hadn’t heard River coming.
“I can use magic too, remember?” River smiles at Silas’ reaction, “I cast a spell to hide myself. We’ve added some defenses to the coven.”
Silas smiles. “I’m glad the spirit message worked. I’ve never tried it with a witch before, and I was worried you wouldn’t get my message.”
“Silas, what is it you want? In your message you just said that you would need to see me. I really cannot afford to be out here for very long. They’ll find me out.”
Silas takes a step forward, running his hand gently over River’s cheek down the smooth skin of his neck and down his arm. He interlaced their fingers, even though River’s are slack and unresponding. He does see the witch’s mouth twitch in a small smile.
“Mostly, I wanted to see you.” Silas takes a step closer and smiles. The lighting is dim, but he thinks he can see the deepening color of River’s pale cheeks blushing. “I need reassurance, and strength.”
River chuckles softly. “I don’t think I’m the strong one between the two of us, Silas.”
Silas frowns, taking his other hand and cradling River’s cheek. “You are strong River. You’ve come here to see me, for one thing.”
River closes his eye, leaning into Silas’ hand for just a moment before pulling away. He pulls his hand out of Silas’ grip and takes a step back.
“SIlas,” he asks, “What is going on?”
“I left Malachai’s gang.” Silas whispers.
River takes a sharp intake of breath. “What? Why? Where are you going to stay?”
Silas can’t help a little smile. River always has so many questions, and he is always so blunt about them.
“I know the secs have only threatened the witches so far, but I don’t think my people are safe either. There are others who agree with me. If they destroy your people, they will come after us next. I’m certain of it” Silas keeps his gaze with River even. “Division between the witches, fiends, and seculars simply isn’t the way to handle this. It will only breed more violence. We must learn to work together. Malachai doesn’t agree with me. He wants to just sit back and let it all happen. I can’t work under him anymore.”
“Work together.” River says, without emotion. His face his impossible to read in the darkness of the night and the shadow of the building. “You mean bring down the monopoly the witches hold.”
“RIver.” Silas reaches again for his hand, but River pulls his away. “You know I’m right. Your people hold all the wealth and all the power. Even if you avoid war now, you cannot hold it back eternally.”
“You have to understand, Silas. The changes you want to make will make things better for your people, and perhaps eliminate the threat the secs may pose to you, but making us equal means dragging my people down.” River speaks through clenched teeth in the darkness. Silas blinks back shock. He had expected River to agree with him and go along with his plan. He hadn’t expected people to stand up for the people who had oppressed him, even if they are his own people.
“Do you really think the secs will go along with this idea?” River continues, “They are poised to start a war. They want violence.”
“They want equality. To be honest, my people do too.” Silas notes the edge in his own tone. He is beginning to feel angry. He can’t help it.
River shakes his head. “It won’t turn out the way you want. Trust me Silas, it won’t.”
Silas feels the demon open up inside of him, spurred to anger by River’s stubborn refusal of what he wants. “Well, River, to be honest it isn’t your choice. I’m going to gather together the fiends who will stand with me, and we will order a meeting between the leader of the rebel secs and as many of the High Priestesses of each coven as we can.”
“How exactly do you think you’ll get the High Priestesses to agree to this meeting?”
Silas purses his lips. “Well, that was supposed to be your job. I was hoping you would talk to your mother, and get her to convince the others.”
River laughs, the sound harsh and loud in the dark stillness of the early morning air. It sounds nothing like him and his sweet gentleness, foreign passing from his lips. Silas moves closer to the witch, expecting him to pull away. When he doesn’t, he reaches out a hand and strokes River’s cheek. Once again he expects the witch to retreat but he does not. Brown eyes, one with a mark of blue, drift until they meet Silas’. The fiend relishes in their intensity for a moment, all the feelings River seeks to hide behind his harsh words clear in his eyes.
“Don’t you want to fight against the witches?” Silas whispers, “The same ones who hold you back from so much?”
“They don’t make the rules.” River’s voice is uncertain and quiet, “The gods make the rules, and they enforce them.”
The light fabric of River’s shirt moves under Silas’ hand as he tightens his grip on the witch’s upper arm.
“The gods wouldn’t make sure a cruel rule. They would let us be together. If this world was united, we could be together. Freely. The gods make each one of us, even the fiends before the demons take us, and if they truly hated us the way we are, they wouldn’t have made us that way.”
It is clear in River’s eyes that this is not the first time he has thought of this possibility. “You believe in the gods?” He asks.
“Of course. How could demons exist without their opposite?”
River’s lips look very soft in the darkness. They are standing very close together in the dark, and Silas can feel the warmth of River’s skin under his hands. Without really meaning to, he moves in to kiss River. They part for a moment, and Silas exhales against River’s mouth before River reaches for him again, pulling them closer together. The kisses grow long and amorous. Silas can feel the deepening of River’s breaths mimicking his own.
River pulls away, and his expression reminds Silas of his clients who had finally paid off their debt and freed themselves from being hunted.
“You don’t understand.” River says quietly. “It’s so complicated for me. They have told me these things my whole life, and I cannot unlearn them.”
“So help me bring them down.” Silas says, moving closer to River once again to close the space he’d created between them.
River looks away, hesitation clear in the posture of his body.
“Alright.” He says finally, “I will talk to my mother. But I don’t think she’ll be convinced, and I definitely don’t think she’ll be able to convince any of the others.”
Silas smiles, unable to help it. “Thank you River. Tell her that this is a chance to save your people. The secs don’t have magic, but there are twice as many of them as there are of you, and there are fiends who would rather support the secs in their mission than face their wrath. Together they can defeat you, easily.”
River nods. “Where will you go, now that you’ve left Malachai’s gang?”
Silas shrugs. “I don’t know. Fiends don’t do very well alone. We aren’t solitary beings. My best hope is to find others like me, who believe the same thing I do and will work for peace.” An image of Leena flashes in his mind.
“Well, good luck.” River’s brows arch upwards as he looks Silas over. His eyes linger over Silas’ mouth for a moment, but they do not kiss again before the witch turns and vanishes into the darkness.