Pull – Chapter 14

You can read previous chapters of Pull here.

This is the fourteenth and final chapter of my serial sci-fi romance Pull. It took me FOREVER to get this chapter up. I’m sorry about that, endings are so difficult! 

On Monday I’ll have a video up with some of my thoughts and reactions to publishing a story on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Until then, please like and subscribe! I’d love to hear your thoughts and criticisms on this chapter or on the story as a whole.

WARNING: This chapter contains explicit sexual content.

Silas eats, just like Violet told him. The soup makes him feel heavy and warm. He doesn’t realize he falls asleep, but Malachai is soon shaking his shoulder gently.

Silas sits up from where he’d been slumped against the couch. Blinking and looking around, he sees that River is sleeping peacefully on the couch. Violet is gone.

“Silas.” Malachai tightens his grip to mimic the stern tone of his voice. Silas looks up at him.

“I’m not trying to kick you out, but I’m a government official and can’t just have an exile laying on my couch. Important people come over here.”

Silas pushes himself to his feet, wincing at the stillness.

“Okay.” He mutters, turning back to River and brushing a hand over his forehead.

Malachai hesitates before speaking, “Will he be okay at your place? With the gang?”

Silas glances over his shoulder at Malachai. There is true concern in his expression.

“I think so. His coven won’t come looking for him. We’re powerful enough that people won’t try to touch him if he’s under my protection…hopefully.”

“Some in the gang won’t accept him.”

Silas shrugs. “Even if they don’t, even if others think about coming after him, I don’t think they’ll really try anything.”

“You did scare the crap out of all of us with…whatever happened.”

Cobalt appears slithering up Silas’ arm, as if called there by the memory of what had happened.

Silas is quiet for a moment, watching the snake’s movements.

“I’ll teleport us back to my house now. I think he’s strong enough.” Silas reaches out to lay a hand on Malachai’s shoulder. It feels odd, to touch him in such a companionable and kind way.

Malachai nods. “Okay. You owe me one.”

Silas gives a little smile before Malachai turns to leave. Then he kneels back down by the couch, running his hand down River’s cheek. He whispers his name. The witch’s eyes blink open and focus on him. They are bright and aware. He smiles weakly.

There are so many things they will need to talk about. Silas closes his eyes and winces when he imagines telling River about the other fiend he’d fucked. He can picture the hurt so clearly on River’s face.

“Silas?” River whispers.

Silas shoves all the thoughts aside and smiles down at him.

“Malachai has let us stay here longer than he should.”

River frowns. “I thought this was your house.”

Silas blinks, registering the fact that River had never been to his house before.

“This is Malachai’s new house, the one he got when he became a part of the government. We’re going back to my place, the gang house. You’ll be safe there. I’ll protect you.”

River nods and begins to move to get up. He winces, but he’s able to pull himself to his feet with help from Silas.

“Are you ready?” Silas asks, his arm tight across River’s back.

“I hope so.” River mumbles. “I’ve never done this before.”

Then the ground falls out under them, and they fall into safety.

Some of the gang members grumble behind Silas’ back, complaining about River. Silas isn’t deaf, he can hear what they say. They think River’s a spy, they all know about how he fucked his way into Silas’ confidence before, only to turn against them. Who’s to say it won’t happen again?

If they really paid attention, they’d probably realize that although River has been living there for weeks, they haven’t had sex yet. Haven’t kissed yet. Haven’t been anything more than…friends since River recovered.

Silas climbs tiredly up the stairs. It had been a rough night, trying to track down the men who’d beat up River. Tracking them down and making them pay has become his single mission since they had gotten back from Malachai’s house. Sure, there are still things to manage, drugs to sell, but he can do all that without his full concentration. He’s devoted all the energy he can to getting revenge. He’d spend the night out himself, chasing down what he’d thought would be the lead that would bring him to them. It had ended in disappointment.

When he pushes open the door to his room, River is standing at the window. Streetlights and moonlight paint colors over his face and pale hair.

The joy of having him there hasn’t worn off, even after almost a month. They haven’t even touched, but Silas can be patient. River’s slept in his bed every night, and he’s awoken next to the witch’s warm presence every morning. So far, that has been enough. More than enough, after thinking he’d never see River again.

Silas smiles and opens his mouth to say something to River. Then, River turns and Silas can see that tears run down his face. Silas’ stomach drops as he strides to River’s side, wrapping gentle fingers around his upper arm.

“River? What…what’s wrong?” Silas is wide-eyed with concern. River keeps his gaze fixed on the ground.

“What are we doing, Silas?” Silas has to lean even closer to hear River’s voice.

Silas stares with confusion into the top of River’s head, still bowed down to focus on the ground.

“What do you mean?” He asks

River sighs and pulls away. He finally picks his head up to look Silas in the eyes. “I mean that I betrayed you.”

           River looks at him with eyes that do not beg for pity. They do not speak of his conflict or his sorrow, only the fact that he is tired and sad.

“I really wanted to stand with you, and I understand now that I have should have. My loyalty to my mother didn’t get me anywhere.”

“You left.” Silas’ voice is quiet. He isn’t thinking about River siding against him. Yes, that happened, but he’s agonized over it plenty already. River chose his family. Silas wants to just admit that and get on.

“You left me.” Silas says again. “I let you inside my body and you left me.”

River crosses one arm over his chest, and lifts the other up to cover his pink lips. He’s quiet for so long that Silas thinks he might not speak.

“I said I regretted it. Maybe I did, then. Maybe I felt ashamed, when I was still so caught up in everything with my mother and my coven. Now I relive those moments with you over and over in my head, Silas.”

Silas blushes, unable to keep out the image of River flushed and twisted in the sheets, imagining the night they’d had together.

Silas closes his eyes and gathers his strength. He doesn’t want to say it now, but if he doesn’t he never will.

“I slept with someone else.” He barely articulates the words. He’s not even sure if River heard him. It releases some of the tight, guilty feeling in his chest regardless.

River does say anything, so Silas keeps talking. “I thought…” Wetness begins to run down his cheeks. His voice hitches as he tries to keep talking. “I thought I’d never see you again. I was just trying to…feel something.”

River moves forward and wraps Silas in his arms.

“I forgive you. It’s alright.” He whispers, his hand coming up to brush a tear off SIlas’ face. “It’s alright. I’m here now.”

SIlas leans into him, buries his face in the crook between his neck and shoulder. He shakes as he says again and again how sorry he is.

Silas still feels the hurt of what happened. In his chest he feels the pain of watching magic drain from his friends, waking up alone, seeing River and the High Priestess standing with Valiant. He is angry, still, but the type of anger that is really deep sorrow he simply is not ready to feel. As River holds him with a restrained desperation, he realizes that sorrow is not just his.

“I want to feel like I felt before.” River whispers into Silas’ ear. His warm breath tickles down Silas’ neck.

It’s all River needs to say. Silas’ mouth closes on his and they move against each other. The kiss is heartbreakingly familiar and achingly slow. They continue to be tentative with each other, Silas moving his hands lightly up River’s arms. When his lips brush over the soft flesh at the base of River’s throat, he lets out a soft moan which tickles Silas’ lips.

Silas’ eyebrows knit together as he crushes his mouth against River’s. His hands grab the witch’s waist and pull their bodies closer. Their kiss doubles in intensity as River reciprocates his enthusiasm, and all the aches in Silas’ chest cram together into a simple need.  Silas makes a small sound of surprise as River reaches for the hem of his shirt first. They part to pull it off, and River stays holding him by the shoulders, his eyes roaming Silas’ body followed by the soft touch of his hands. Silas breathes under his attentions, looking up at River with dark eyes. They reach for each other again, this time they do not break apart except for a brief moment to release River from his shirt. Skin on skin overwhelms him after so long convinced they will never see each other again. Silas leads him to the bed and climbs up onto it, laying on his back and looking up at River. The witch is sitting up, straddling him, gazing into him.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” He asks, his voice surprisingly young and innocent.

“Am I ready?” Silas couldn’t keep the bitterness out of his voice, “after all the guys I’ve let dig around inside me, you want to know if I’m ready?”

River flinches. “I just…it’s so fast. Isn’t this different from all those other times?”

Silas sits up and braces himself on his hands. His face is inches from River’s but he looks down, picking at a non-existent piece of thread, of course it’s different. It’s totally different. He’d given River his body but also something much more precious. Something harder to guard, something he’d never given away before.

“Make love to me.” He lifts his eyes from the bedspread to stare into River’s eyes. Captivated by the blue and brown of them. Their brief pause had stilled some of the energy between them. With those four words it is electric between them again and they are grabbing at each other. Silas’ hand is fisting in River’s soft hair. He leans back on the bed and pulls the witch on top of him.

Their bodies are flush together again, their lips roaming each other gently, tentatively. It all comes over them slowly. Silas’ mouth opens under River’s, and their tongues move wetly against each other. River grabs Silas behind the neck and pulls him close while Silas wraps his fingers around his biceps. He doesn’t mean to start rocking his pelvis against River’s, but once Silas notices he can’t stop. When they both have fumbled each other’s pants off Silas can feel his dick rubbing up against River’s, moving against the wonderful smoothness of his taut stomach. He begins whispering River’s name in moans and his warm breath tickles the hairs by River’s ears. He reaches his hand down and grabs them both in his fist, pumping. River gasps at the sensation. As Silas raises his speed, River’s moans become deeper in pitch. He releases a growl in the back of his throat before grabbing the hand Silas as wrapped around them and pinning it over his head.

He lets go of Silas’ wrist after getting the message across, planting a kiss on River’s neck before leaning over and grabbing something off the table next to the bed.

Silas moans his encouragement as River rubs his fingers over his entrance.

River’s finger presses into Silas, making the fiend’s back arch up off the bed. To have River inside him again, even if it is only this prelude, is so wonderfully familiar. He whispers River’s names against the pale skin below his ear as River pushes another finger in.

Silas braces his hands on River’s shoulders, notices that the witch is shaking. He moves his hand down between them to pull River’s fingers out from inside him.

“What is it? Did I do something wrong?” River’s eyes are wide with concern, the patch of blue standing out in the light of the room.

“No. No, you did nothing wrong.” Silas shushes, running his hands up into River’s blond hair. “But you’re trembling. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” River whispers, leaning forward to press his lips against Silas’ neck, his hands wandering downwards between them. Silas grabs his shoulder, stopping the movement of his hands and pushing him up so they look into each other’s eyes.

He says nothing, only searching River’s eyes. Finally River sighs, sitting back on his heels.

“Nothing is wrong. I’m just…nervous.”

Silas looks him over. “That’s all?”

River blinks and nods. “I know it’s embarrassing-”

He cuts off as Silas pushes him over onto his back, rolling himself on top. River’s breathing grows more uneven as Silas nips his neck, his chest, his belly, his hip bones, and finally closes his mouth over where River is fully erect. River moans, one hand burying itself in Silas’ hair, holding him without really controlling him in a way that was just the right amount of dominant.

River pulls his head back suddenly, reaching back over for the bottle of oil and pouring it over his fingers. Silas moves up so his thighs bracket River’s hips, and Silas gasps at the gentleness and love in River’s touch.

“Do you think you’re ready? I need…” River doesn’t finish his sentence, but his meaning is perfectly clear.

Silas nods wordlessly and reaches for the oil, coating his own hand before touching River, preparing the place where they will be joined.

Then Silas spreads his thighs apart. River’s hands reach up to grab his waist as their bodies finally meet. They moan in tandem as Silas moved slowly, bringing them fully together. River’s eyes are closed, his face screwed up with pleasure as he moves into Silas again and again. Silas pushes one hand into the short hair at the back of River’s neck, the other braced to support him, pressing their foreheads together. Their breath mingles in the small space between their lips. River moves his head down to press his lips against Silas’ neck as Silas leans back, pushing his hands into River’s chest. The change in angle feels good, and Silas growls low in his throat. River leans up to pepper kisses down his body, licking into the deep hollows of his collarbones. Silas puts his hands on River’s chest and pushes him back against the bed. His lips press against River’s ear and he begins to speak unevenly in Infernic, not quite sure what he’s saying and knowing only that he is in love, and after so many things that have happened it is a full-blown miracle that he is here right now, straddling River’s hips and with River’s arms reaching up to press into his back as he rocks down onto him again and again.

River’s fingers press into Silas’ back, and the fiend whispers praise in Infernic into River’s ear. He loves the pressure of River’s fingertips digging into his shoulder blades. He’s excited by the violent feeling of it. No matter how much this is powered by love and delight at River’s return, he is still a fiend. He communicates best through violence, and even the semi-rough grip of River’s hands is enough to amplify the feelings. He gives a whine and moves over River faster. Beneath him, the witch’s eyes are heavy-lidded with lust, his mouth open and red. His eyes are suddenly blown wide as his voice grows higher.

With a breathless cry that might be Silas’ name, River’s body tenses. Silas smiles at the look of him, totally lost in the feeling. He guides River’s hand to his cock, and finally gives himself up to the feeling.

Naked, next to each other, they both breathe fast and deep. They don’t touch each other for a moment, both enjoying the break from each other’s sweaty skin. It isn’t until that moment stretches out, becomes minutes, that Silas feels butterflies beginning to move in his stomach. Last time they had done this, River had slipped away, or tried to, in the middle of the night. Silas turns over towards River.

“Is this real this time?” He asks.

He watches River absorb those words, try to figure out from them what exactly is meant. It dawns on him all at once, and Silas sees it play across his face. His pale arms reach out for Silas as he whispers: “Yes. Yes.”

Silas reaches for him too, and they hold each other as the light in the room fades, and slowly sleep comes over them.

Silas wakes next to River. It feels different than all the other times they’d shared the bed. It feels like the first time. Angled afternoon light ffilters in through the windows. River is already awake and he smiles before reaching out a hand to lay on Silas’ cheek. They shift closer to each other, their legs tangling together underneath the blankets, coming back together after drifting apart during their sleep. Putting everything back together after all the wrongs. It’s fragile. More fragile than glass. It is full of intricacies and unknown territory that they might not be able to cross. This knowledge passes unspoken between them.

“Are you hungry?” River asks, his finger outlining Silas’ lips.

Silas reaches out and takes those fingers between his own, holding them so he can kiss them gently.

“Starving.”

Thanks so much for reading! If you’ve gotten to this point, I want to tell you how much I appreciate you and your dedication to stick with Silas, River, and I until the end.

Pull – Chapter 13

This chapter was oddly difficult for me to edit/rewrite. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it, so I would really appreciate it if you are able to comment and give feedback. 

You can read previous chapters here

“Damnit, Silas.” Malachai mutters, his face pressed into one hand. He’s standing in the kitchen of his new house, the one that was given to him as a head of the new government. Silas has just teleported there with River cradled in his arms.

Silas ignores Malachai’s comment and steps past him into the living room, grunting as he deposits River onto the plush couch as gently as he can.

Malachai steps into the living room, grabbing Silas’ upper arm and spinning him around. He might not be Silas’ boss anymore, but he still treats him like an underdog

“I’ve made a lot of exceptions for you, Silas. I followed you into your rebellion, I looked the other way when you snuck around with him,” he gestured angrily and River where he lay whimpering on the couch, “I’m not going to help you patch him up after he betrayed us and everything we were working for.”

“He needs a doctor.” Silas pulls himself out of Malachai’s grip and kneels by River’s side. “One of your new connections. A witch. A fiend won’t be able to heal him without hurting him more.” Silas looks over his shoulder to Malachai who stands with his brow furrowed and arms crossed.

River shivers.

“Do you have a blanket for him?” Silas asks quietly.

Malachai sighs and grumbles, but he steps out of the room and returns with a blanket and hands it to Silas. Silas places it over River and tucks it around him carefully. River takes a pained breath as Silas brushes against his ribs.

“Please.” Silas whispers, running a thumb over River’s cheek.

“He betrayed you.” Malachai’s voice is quieter now, the tone more questioning and less adamant.

Silas looks up at his former boss, who is staring down at River, pale-faced among the sheets.

“I know he betrayed us. But it was fiends who were beating him and who hurt him like this. We have an obligation to fix this. Our people did this.” Silas watches the decision play over Malachai’s face, sees how close he is to helping him.

“There’s something with his lung…one of his ribs…I don’t know if it will heal on its own. Our magic will hurt him if we try to help. We need a witch. Please, Malachai.”

The fiend stares down at Silas, closing his eyes and opening them slowly. He leaves the room without saying a word.

Silas lets his head fall against the couch. He can hear the labored sounds of River breathing. He has dreamt hundreds of times about how he and River might find each other again. He’d imagine himself out at a bar, and suddenly out of the corner of his eye he’d see River, and they would walk slowly towards one another through the crowd. Or he’d thought maybe they would pass each other on the street when they weren’t expecting it, and would turn towards each other and run into each other’s arms. He had imagined it so many times, how they would kiss again and make love again and he wouldn’t have to ask River why he had betrayed him.

He’d never imagined anything like this, though some part of him had always known how high the chances were. He reached up and squeezed River’s hand. Unwanted images of how River had looked when he first found him filled his mind. What if he hadn’t been there, in the right place at the right time? River would have suffered alone in that darkness. It had been his fault, too. He should have tried to keep tabs on River. He should have known that his family would kick him out eventually, or that he’d be an easy target for a fiend attack. Fiends recognize him and his mother and know they had turned against them and followed Valiant.

“Silas?”

Silas turns at the sound of the voice. It’s high-pitched and wavery. It’s not the kind of voice he’d like a healer to have. The healer is tall and willowy-thin, slimmer even than Silas for all his height. He has colorful rags bound around his pale hands. His light green eyes find River, and he frowns.

“What happened?” He asks, laying his hand gently on River’s forehead.

“I…I don’t know, exactly.” Silas whispers, sitting up and wiping the mist from his eyes. “I haven’t seen him since…a long time. I found him in this alley. A bunch of fiends were running away. I think they wailed on him and left him to die. I think he’s poisoned with their magic.”

The healer nods, glances at Malachai, and leans forward to lay his hands on River’s chest.

Silas’ hand darts out to stop him, clasping around a thin wrist.

“Who are you?” He asks, warily. He doesn’t know what kind of connections River’s mother has, what she could try to do to the son she’d outcasted.

“My name is Absalom.”

“What coven are you with?” Silas asks, still gripping his wrist firmly,

“I’m not a part of any coven. Many witches never were, even before the conflict with Valiant and Valor. It’s not a healer’s place to take sides.”

Silas glances between Absalom and Malachai.

“Is he trustworthy?” He asks in Infernic.

Malachai, not the type to lie in any circumstance, shrugs.

“I think so.” He replies in the same language.

Absalom looks between the two of them before fixing his pale green eyes on Silas. “If you fear some harm may come to him, it will not be from me. I judge noone, no matter the crimes they’ve committed. The more you stall, the more he fades.”

Silas let go of his wrist, jerking away. “He didn’t commit any crimes.” He says quietly, watching Absalom rub his wrist lightly before reaching out his hands to touch River’s torso. He closes his eyes and frowns in concentration as his hands sweep over River’s still form.

Then he opens his eyes, blinking them several times as if he’d just woken up from a fight.

“He has several broken ribs. One of them has punctured his lung.” Absalom sighs.

“Can you heal him?” Silas asks, his voice weak with fear as he thinks about what Absalom had said, how extensive that damage really is.

“Yes.” Absalom responds. “I’ve definitely seen worse. I can fix it…” He hesitates, and Silas blinks, desperate to hear what is weighing on the healer’s mind.

“He’s been exposed to a lot of demonic magic.”

Silas’ heart sinks. “Can’t you cleanse it or something?’

Absalom frowned at him. “It’s already in his system. There’s no way to get rid of it.”

Silas bares his teeth, Cobalt slithering out from the underside of his wrist. The snake slithers around Silas’ arm and raises its head to hiss at Absalom.

“I don’t want excuses. You’re going to heal him.”

“Silas.” Malachai hisses.

Silas bites his lip, feeling tears well up in his eyes again.. He doesn’t want things to be this complicated. He just wants River.

“You can intimidate me all you want.” Absalom says coldly. “It won’t change anything.”

“Fine.” Silas says quietly, still channeling his sadness into anger, backing away a few steps as Cobalt curls around his shoulders.

Absalom takes a deep inhale and places his hands on River’s body. He begins to whisper an incantation, and Silas can feel the overwhelming sensation of divine magic filling the room.

River takes a quick, pained inhale as Absalom’s hands move over him. Silas almost stops him, but River’s face relaxes as he takes a deep shuddering breath.

Time seems to stretch on and on, sweat building slowly on Absalom’s brow as he works. Then, he steps back and shakily takes a seat in another chair, leaning back into it. He’s quiet for a long time, breathing deeply.

“Well?” Silas demands.

Absalom’s prominent jawline flexes. Silas feels an absurd burst of rage. Is Absalom really feeling frustrated with his impatience, when the man he loves is laying there dying?

“I did what I can.” The healer sighs. “Now we just need to wait.” His eyes flutter closed.

River begins coughing harshly, taking wheezing breaths in between. He’s awake now, barely, his pale cheeks flushed with fever. His brown and blue eyes slide over Silas’ face, glazed and far away. He moves his mouth, trying to speak, but his voice when it comes out is dry and breathy. Silas hushes him, summons a cup of water, helps him sit up and drink it. River watches him for a while longer, and falls asleep again, their hands cradling each other’s.

“Call another healer.”

Absalom’s eyes narrow and flicker to Malachai.

“I don’t like his tone.” The healer says cooly. “Is he implying I can’t do my job.”

“I said, call another healer.” Silas growls. “Don’t forget who you’re talking to. I brought down Valiant, I saved all of you. You owe me this, at least. Call someone else, I want a second opinion.”

Absalom purses his lips but does not complain, he stands and moves to leave the room.

“Wait.” Silas locks his eyes with Absalom’s light green ones. “It can’t be anyone associated with the coven of Ama.

Absalom frowns. “Isn’t he the High Priestess’ son?”

Silas signs. “Yes, but they won’t help him. He was excommunicated from his coven. None of them will help him.”

Absalom raises his eyebrows slightly but nodded.

 

Silas watches River sleep as Absalom calls another healer. He counts his breaths, worried each one will be shorter than the last, and holds his hand.

Time seems to drag on forever, watching this person whom he had far too little time with waste away. Malachai leans against the far wall, watching them.

Eventually, after an eternity has passed, he hears high heels click on the floor as someone walks into the room.

Silas looks over his shoulder to see the figure standing behind him. She has high cheekbones and dark eyes.

“I’m Sonya.” The witch says. The late hour has not made her look rumpled at all, her dark hair falls glossily around her pretty face. She’s wearing a tight dress and black high heels.

Silas doesn’t miss the way Malachai’s gaze lingers on her.

“Who wants to fuck a dink now?” Silas snaps at Malachai in Infernic.

Malachai sneers and Sonya flashes ugly looks at the both of them

“Sonya.” Silas repeats, snapping back to reality. “River, he needs help but I…”

“What he’s trying to say,” Absalom steps around his companion into the room, “Is that I’ve already done everything I can to help River, but he doesn’t think it’s enough.”

“He certainly doesn’t look healed.” Sonya says bluntly, looking down into River’s flushed face.

Absalom flinches at the comment before continuing. “He was attacked by fiends. He’s been poisoned by their magic.”

Sonya lets her hands hover over River’s body, closing her eyes. When she speaks, Silas expects an incantation, but she addresses Absalom instead.

“You did good work. You healed his wound well. I don’t know if there’s anything else I can do.”

“What?” Silas means to yell but his voice comes out weak as all his breath leaves him. “But he…he’s so weak.”

Sonya looked at Silas, eyes soft with pity. The softness of it looked foreign on the sharp features of the witch’s face.

“Healing the wound helped. His body will only have to fight on one front. I can try a few things but there’s no knowing if they will help at all.”

Silas says nothing, simply joins Malachai slumping against the far wall.

Sonya lays her hands on River and begins to speak a spell, totally different from the one the other healer had spoken. The sense of divine magic fills the room, even more potently than when Absalom had been working. Cobalt is coiled over his shoulders, his head raised so it is next to Silas’ ear, watching Sonya. The familiar opens its mouth, showing small sharp fangs the color of blood as he hisses.

Stop it. Silas tells Valor. She’s healing River. Yet he feels his own face twisting into a frown in response to the feeling of the magic. It makes him feel like pins are sticking him all over. Malachai swears and ducks out of the room. Silas makes himself stay and watch them, to be sure they aren’t doing anything to harm River.

Eventually, Sonya takes a deep breath and draws her hands back. She reaches them up to rub at her eyes.

“I’ve done everything I can. Now you’ll just have to wait.”

“What?” Silas raises his voice. “Don’t you know if it worked or not.”

Sonya looks at him and shakes her head. “I tried some more experimental magic, tried to find the demonic poison in him and neutralize it. We won’t know if it worked until we see how he reacts. Have Malachai inform me how well he recovers. It will help me in my research.”

Silas almost protests Absalom and Sonya leaving. Instead, he simply kneels back down besides the couch. His eyes are fixed on River and the ashen quality of his face. His breathing now is even, and some invisible trace of pain and tension has left his body. Silas wonders if he actually is better or if he’s just hopefully imagining that the magic helped.

Eventually, he sinks into fitful and uncomfortable sleep, slumped against the couch.

 

The next day, River burns with fever and mutters nonsense. Silas presses cool cloths to his forehead. Once, he seems to recognize Silas, and he asks for water.

That night, he is silent. His fever stops and he grows icy cold. Silas only knows how magic poisoning works in fiends, not witches, but he knows enough to see this is a bad sign. Unable to bear the silence and the weak, shallow sound of  River’s breath, he begins to talk constantly, spewing a stream of stories to block out the silence. Mostly, he talks about them.

“You know, from the moment I saw you I wanted you.” He whispers, “I would be romantic and say it wasn’t just physical, but it was. Very quickly though, within just that first day I spent with you, I wanted to know more about you. There’s something about you…River, it’s something I can’t escape. It’s like a pull towards you, that I’ve felt since I met you.”

River flutters his eyes open and looks at Silas. Silas smiles, overjoyed and honestly surprised to see River looking up at him. His eyes still look glazed and far away, but he recognizes Silas. He opens his mouth, but only a dry creaking sound comes out. Silas summons more water, helps him sit up and drink it. He gulps it down and whispers for more, but Silas knows even water can be harsh on a sick stomach, and holds him back

“Silas…” His voice is quiet and thin, “how am I…how are you…” he frowns and draws a hand up to rub at furrowed brows. “I feel like shit.”

“Do you remember anything?” Silas asks. River’s frown deepens and he shakes his head.

His eyes, his beautiful two-toned eyes, flutter.

“I’m sleepy.” He whispers.

Silas shushes him and helps him lay back down.

 

When River wakes up again, there is color in his cheeks. Silas doesn’t think he’s ever felt relief and hope as absolutely as he does this moment. He talks some, drinks more water, starts to ask Silas about what happened. Silas gives him gentle, cryptic answers. He doesn’t want to talk too much about it until River is better.

“Silas?” Violet’s voice is quiet.

Silas turns and, without really thinking about it, crosses the room to wrap her in his arms.

“Watch out.” She says gently, pulling away. He notices then that she has a bowl of soup in one hand.

“I figured both of you could use something to eat.”

Silas glanced back at River, who was smiling faintly at them.

“I’m not sure if he’s strong enough.” He whispered.

Violet shrugged. “It’s mostly for you. He can start with a little bit and see how it makes him feel.”

Silas nods and takes the soup from Violet, setting it on the floor by the couch. Violet kneels down next to him as he gently helps River sit up.  

“Do you want to try some soup?” Silas asks River.

River frowns. “Maybe a little bit.”

River manages a few spoonfuls between bits of conversation with Violet.

“You have a dedicated caretaker here, River. I’ve known Silas a long time, and even I would never have suspected this. Malachai told me he hasn’t left your side for three days.” She chuckles, “He thought he’d have to bring him a bottle so he could piss without leaving your bedside.”

River smiles shyly and looks up at Silas. Violet and Silas chat quietly, mostly about other members of the gang, as River drifts slowly back to sleep.

Silas holds the bowl in both hands and sips from it slowly, turning to face Violet.

“I’ve never seen you like this.” Her gaze is fixed on River.

“Like what?”

She shrugs. “I guess I mean…caring? I don’t know. It doesn’t really surprise me but it’s like…before this part of you was always hiding behind the surface. Love does that to you, I suppose.”

Silas frowns, staring down at the soup. “I thought you agreed with everyone else. I thought you wanted me to move on, stop loving him.”

Violet reaches for his hand. “I want you to do what makes you happy, Silas. That’s all any of us want for you. If you’re sure you can trust him…”

“His family kicked him out.” Silas stares at River’s peaceful expression. “They found out about he and I, somehow. They think it’s forbidden to love the same sex.” He sighs and rubs his eyebrows.

“I don’t think Ama’s Coven would be dumb enough to try anything, not with the rest of the world united against them the way they are right now. Even if they did, River wouldn’t side with them. Not again.”

Violet’s eyes flickered over him.

“Eat.” She said.

Pull – Chapter 12

Happy Friday! Here’s chapter 12 of my story Pull. Only two chapters left after this!

You can read previous chapters here

Warning: This chapter contains explicit sexual content.

It doesn’t take them long to get back to the gang house. His gang’s house, now. Silas ignores the catcalls and inappropriate comments from some of his underlings, mostly new faces since he’d taken Malachai’s place. Once he closes the door behind him and they’re in the privacy of his room, the best room in the house, he shoves the fiend up against the door. A low growl escapes Silas’ throat as they kiss each other violently, furiously. There’s the feel of fabric sliding over skin and then their bare chests are pressing together. The fiend’s mouth moves over Silas’ sensitive skin, alternating between sweet and biting. Silas lets out a deep whine and grabs the other’s shoulders, pushing him so he stumbles back and falls onto the bed. He pushes up onto his elbows and grins. His face is so foreign, so unlike what Silas’ lust-filled brain had been hoping and perhaps even expecting to see. He blinks against the image of River’s eyes, the perfect arch of his brows when he’d felt it. The fiend on the bed falters just slightly in his smile, noticing the blank look in Silas’ eyes.

Silas pulls his pants off and climbs over him onto the bed. The fiend wraps his hand around Silas’ cock and they moan open-mouthed into the space between them.  His fingers are quick and almost numb as he pulls off the fiend’s clothes, makes them naked together. The fiend is quick and rough and hungry, rutting his body up against Silas’. Silas closes his eyes and arches into it, seeking mindless numbness.

He needs to forget the hollowness he feels with Valor so unresponsive.

He needs to forget how River had looked at him like he held the world between his legs.

He needs to forget the dead look in the eyes of the ghosts Valiant had made.

He pushes himself away from the fiend then, climbing off the bed and to the side of the room. His head spins still from what he’d had at the bar but he picks up a bottle of scotch from the dresser, one which he should not have, and takes a long deep drink from it. As he drinks with one hand he uses the other to fumble around on the dresser until he finds the vial of oil he keeps there. He half-falls back onto the bed, kissing his way up the fiend’s body and pressing the oil into his hand. He feels himself roughly pushed over onto his stomach, fingers press into his thighs and pull them apart. The fiend takes time pressing with his fingers first. He goes slowly in a way that contradicts all their previous fire and makes Silas snarl with impatience. He knows he should be thankful that the fiend is taking his time, it’s better than the alternative in the long run.

Silas pushes his face into the mattress as finally, finally, the fiend presses into him. He gives himself over to it, lets the feeling of it distract him from the aching in his chest that yearns for River. He whines for the fiend to go faster, and he obeys. He fills Silas again and again, his body pressing into Silas’, his forehead resting on the back of his neck.

Soon the fiend’s breathing grows even more uneven and his thrusts become increasingly erratic. His moans grow high and frantic as he tenses, his whole body arched above Silas’. He feels the fiend above him jerk and fill him, and finally Silas is overcome by the feeling, and he loses himself to the blissful moments of ignorance and ecstasy.

 

The next morning Silas wakes up, surprised to find that the fiend is still there, and had not made a quick and easy exit at some point during the night. He rises from the bed and struggles to locate his boxers. After finding them hanging over a lamp on his dresser, he pulls them on and yanks the curtains open. The fiend grumbles at the sunlight that comes streaming in the windows, turning towards Silas and squinting. He mumbles something incoherent and sits up. He takes a few moments to blink into the sunlight before he seems to have put all the pieces of his memory together. He gives a wicked grin and asks why Silas is so far away, reaching out a hand.

In a matter of minutes, he has Silas bent over the bed. He’s grabbing Silas’ long hair and pulling it back, making his neck curve forward almost painfully. Silas grunts with each thrust into him. When the fiend finishes, he leans forward and bites Silas’ ear. Silas lets out a surprised cry, but finishes as the fiend gnaws on him. When he’s finished, he lets out hot, intense pants on Silas’ neck, collapsing on top of him until his breathing slows. Then he pushes himself up, dresses, and leaves without saying anything. Exhausted, Silas sinks to his knees without pushing away from the bed, dragging himself down until his head rests against the edge of the blanket.

 

He wakes up at some point,  blinking as he tries to register the fact that he’d fallen asleep. He remembers kneeling against the edge of his bed, but he must have somehow climbed back onto it because he’s sprawled out in a tangle of sheets. He’s still naked. He pulls the sheets up the cover him fully, suddenly getting the feeling of eyes watching him.

He squints to protect himself from the light coming in the window. Had he opened the curtains?

He runs his fingers through the knots in his long dark hair as a sleep clears from his brain and thoughts begin to solidify. First he notices that he’s much less hungover than he should be. In fact, he doesn’t feel hungover at all. He’s not upset about that by any means but it certainly doesn’t seem normal. Then he starts getting shards of memory which float in and out of his mind’s eye just out of his grasp. He’d dreamt something important. He closes his eyes and lays back down as he tries to think through all the dream fragments.

He sees Valor’s face clearly behind his closed eyes. Yes, he’d dreamt Valor had stood, facing him, hands outstretched. His eyes flutter open instinctively as he reacts to how real it feels. The air feels different. Like when Valiant had come, but full and welcoming rather than heavy and oppressive.

He stands slowly, fighting the primal desire to simply bury himself under the blankets where the light won’t get in. He turns slowly, taking in the room, unable to shake the feeling that someone is watching him.

“Valor?” He whispers, afraid to voice the hope that he feels creeping into his mind.

The room around him is empty and silent. A jolt of previously nonexistent anger bursts through him.

“Dammit, why have you left me? You give me the chance to see you, to talk to you, and then you just leave? You’re a part of me. You can’t…you can’t do that!” Silas spits, anger taking away his ability to voice his thoughts coherently.

The air still feels full and welcoming, and he hates it. He hates that it feels this way when it’s such a lie. When he can still feel Valor like a rock inside him…

And he realizes he can’t.

It’s not that he can’t feel Valor there, he can. It’s just that he doesn’t feel…dead anymore. The feeling is so familiar, the sensation he’d had for years inside him, that it hadn’t registered at first.

There is a sudden shift inside him. It feels like his stomach drops out of his body and his heart jumps into his throat. For a moment he is acutely disoriented and the world around him swims. Where is he? Then it fades out, and he realizes that there is a winding pressure around his left forearm. He looks down and there is a blue snake wrapped around his arm. Its body is thin, its head like an arrow with two glowing eyes staring out at him. Their light is a familiar dark red. Red like Valiant. The dark humor of that is achingly familiar.

“Valor” He whispers.

The snake flicks it tongue out from between its cobalt scales, tasting his skin as it begins to uncoil and work its way up his arm.’

Silas sits cross-legged on the bed, watching the snake at it slithers over his arms and shoulders in serpentine motions. It’s not exactly a conversation, like he’d had with Valor before, but he can feel a sort of curiosity coming off of the familiar as it explores him. He’s certain that Valor gave the snake to him to satisfy the need he’d developed for communication between them.

He hears a knock on the door, and is so fixated by the snake that he doesn’t respond.

“Come on, Silas.” Violet shouts from outside the door as she continues to bang on it. “I saw that hottie leaving this morning. You went out, you got fucked, and now it’s time to get out of bed and really move on with your life.”

Silas looks at the door, barely registering her words. Absently he calls for her to come in, forgetting the fact that he’s sitting on his bed entirely naked.

Violet throws the door open. Silas doesn’t look up, watching the snake slither up his arm and dart its tongue out to taste the skin of his face. He sees out of the corner of her eye as she freezes up with shock at the sight of him.

“Silas, is that…?”

Silas nods enthusiastically and looks up at her, opening his mouth to begin explaining.

She holds a hand up to stop him. “No. First, pants. Then tell me. I like you, Silas, but not that much.”

Silas half smiles and pulls on a pair of boxers, moving carefully to avoid disturbing the snake. It slithers quickly around his arm to avoid falling as he moves.

Then, he tells her everything, just as he remembers it.

 

So things return. Maybe not entirely back to how they were, but better than before in many ways. Cobalt, as Silas has named his familiar, helps him interpret Valor’s moods by giving them physical representation. There are fights in the streets between secs and fiends. Whenever the witches show themselves in public, which they do rarely, they get insults and bricks hurled at them. The government holds together albeit tenuously. Malachai and the other leaders had been so focused on simply getting things up and running, trying to get things to simply function that they haven’t been able to deal with the various crimes on the streets. Silas knows it’s all so close to falling apart, so fragile that he might have to soon implement the skills he’d gained as a leader and step in once again. Everything is chaos yet it still is closer to peace and equality than they’d ever been before.

Yet among it all there are still his daily duties as the head of the gang. Malachai’s gang was one of the most powerful before, sheerly through the power and reputation Malachai had built. Now, with Silas as the leader and his renown on top of everything Malachai had made, the gang finds itself with huge amounts of power and twice as much responsibility. Truthfully it all just boils down to a lot of work for Silas. Of course, it has its perks too. At night he goes out and gets fucked, though not as often as he once did. They recognize his face and feel his power. He always has the top choice of the guys in the bar, and when he takes them home they fuck him with all they have, driven by a hope and a need to become his favorite. But always afterward he is quiet and detached as he asks them to leave. Often, after, thoughts of River keep him from sleep, and he wanders out into the streets to find peace.

He stands now in the crisp night air, his hair moving in the breeze, his body still feeling flushed and empty. He misses River. Always he hopes that this will be the time he moves on and always he ends up feeling this emptiness more acutely. He puts his hand over his face and sinks down to his knees in the middle of the empty street. The night is silent around him.

It is a long time before Cobalt unwinds himself from around his arm and slithers up to curl himself around Silas’s shoulders. Valor is frustrated. Silas knows. Valor likes the fucking and the power. He hates these times after when the sadness hits Silas full force. Silas knows, as well, that he will only make things worse for himself if he sits here in misery like this. So he stands and walks through the beat-up city, fuming with anger, wishing that he’d never met River, or that things could have been broken off cleanly, or that the witches had never betrayed them. Wishing things had been different. He kicks a half-shattered bottle down from the dingy sidewalk into the street. A form wrapped in blankets, turned in towards the wall of the building, stirs but did not wake.

“Still the same disgusting city.” Silas mutters angrily. Cobalt tightens around his arm almost painfully. His anger is strong, fueled mostly by the vague sadness that has accompanied him since River rejected and betrayed him. He’s angry, and Valor loves the strength of that emotion almost as much as he hates Silas’ sadness. He moves within Silas, feeding off the anger and trying to absorb as much as possible. Silas prefers the anger too, it’s cleaner and easier than the sadness. He digs his hands into his pockets, clenching and unclenching them as he walks with the anger boiling inside of him.

He hears a sharp yell, and he jerks his head up. Standing just a few feet before him in the street is a ghost, thankfully one he doesn’t recognize, his empty eyes sunken deep into his skull, seeming a husk of a man with his magic so obviously absent.

Silas opens his mouth either to yell at him to shut up or to offer help, he would never be sure because the shouting happens again. Its higher and more shrill this time, escalating into a full-blown scream.

The ghost isn’t the one shouting. The sound is echoing from some place further off, from the narrow space between two of the buildings. Silas feels a sudden pull on his heart, and he is plunged into icy fear. He dashes off towards the source of the scream, doing his best to pinpoint where it had come from in the now eerie silence.

A group of fiends sprints out from an alleyway. They pass Silas as they run, and one of them turns to him with a savage grin. His eyes are fiery and wild as if he expects Silas will appreciate whatever they’ve just done.

Silas feels the ice in himself grow colder, as if Valor knows what is happening even while he is not so sure himself. He takes off to where the fiends had come from, turning into the alleyway. He slows down and places his hand on the wall for balance as he takes in what he sees.

River.

River is laying on the ground curled in on himself. One of his pale hands covers his stomach while the other is buried in his hair. Silas can see blood oozing out from under his hand into his golden locks.

River groans and rolls over, his two-toned eyes focusing dazedly as he blinks.

“Silas?” His voice is quiet and broken.

Silas half-runs half-stumbles to him and falls to his knees.

“Silas…I…” River whispers, his voice hoarse.

Silas shakes his head. “It can wait. Whatever you have to say, I promise I’ll listen later. Right now I have to focus on getting you better.”

River stares up at him as Silas’ eyes move over his body. Healing is not his strong suit. But as bad as they beat River, the wounds don’t look fatal. Of course, there could be any amount of damage on the inside.

Cobalt glides over his arm, seeming to disappear into the soft skin on the underside of his wrist. The place where he disappears glows with a blue light.

Silas takes a deep inhale, closing his eyes and opening them again slowly. His magic is strong, and has been stronger since he’d gotten his familiar, but if River has broken bones or bleeding on the inside, he might not be able to fix all of it.

Plus, his magic would likely harm River more than it would help him. Filling a divine magician full of demonic magic would probably do much more harm than good.

“I’m going to teleport you home…to your coven.” Silas’ heart contracts as he says the words. “Then…then we’ll find someone to heal you.”

River shakes his head feebly, his two-toned eyes growing wider.

Silas grinds his jaw. “River, please. We can’t treat you the way your own people can. Demonic magic will only harm you.

River shakes his head again. “They know…about me. About…us. I can’t…go back” He winces around the words.

Silas blinks. How had they found out? They must kicked him out. That must be why he had been out on the streets. His own family had sent him out to roam the streets, when they have been so dangerous for witches lately?

The thought makes River angry. He lets Valor loose, tinging his vision blue as the demon rises in him just enough to make him stronger. Gingerly, he picks River up and cradles his body against him. He wants to crush River’s face to his own chest and kiss his hair. But there is not time for that and River is too weak.

He opens the portal and steps into it, falling into the nothingness, clutching River against him.

Pull – Chapter 9

Pull – Chapter 9

Enjoy chapter nine of Pull. The next eBook (chapters 5-9) will be out very soon! You can learn more about the first volume (chapters 1-4) here. You can read previous chapters of the story here

Silas spends a day without getting out of bed. He can smell River on the blankets. He moves in and out of sleep like a swimmer bobbing above and under the waves. He has visions of Valiant laughing, pointing a finger at River and making him collapse to the ground. Silas wakes from this nightmares with a gasp and remembers the terrifying reality of everything. He curls back up into a ball and places his hands over his ears.

Maybe he can block out the knowledge that he had let all his friends lose their magic. It had been his idea to get them together. He had thought they could make a difference. In the end he had just gotten them something worse than death.

Maybe he can block out the fact that River had simply walked away from everything they’d done together.

He curls around himself tighter, aware of the cold floor beneath the blankets and the smell of sex that faintly lingers there. He begs for sleep to escape his thoughts, but fears the visions he will see.

“Silas.” The voice shocks him, he shot up, half expecting Valiant to be smirking down at him. It isn’t Valiant, the shape is much more familiar. He blinks and rubs his eyes, looking up from where he sits.

“Violet?” He realizes when he speaks that his voice is paper-thin. He sounds like an old man.

“Lucifer’s balls, Silas, you look like shit.”

Silas looks down at himself, almost expecting to see the effects of the last few days on his clothing. No, that’s not where the evidence lies. Violet can doubtless see the grief in his face.

“I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried to help but…”

Violet placed her hands on his shoulders. “Stop it, Silas. This isn’t like you. You must know that it isn’t your fault. Valiant did this, not you.”

“It might as well be my fault. I’ve failed.” The brilliance of Valiant’s plan dawns on him anew. “Of course…he planned all this.”

Violet frowns at him.

“Valiant knew what taking away the fiends’ demons would do. He wants to take control, and to do that he needs to create chaos. The war somehow makes him stronger. He didn’t only target us to eliminate us as a threat to the war, he also knew that the witches will see it as a sign that peace is somehow detrimental.”

“They’ll think peace is bad somehow?”

Silas buries his head in his hands. “It’s what Valiant wants them to think. The witches will take it as a divine sign that there is supposed to be war.” He looks over at Violet. Her lips are pressed into a thin line.

“That suspicion would be frighteningly close to the truth.” She sighs, looking around the emptiness of the warehouse. “Silas, you can’t stay here. Come back to Malachai’s gang.”

Silas shakes his head. “He won’t let me. There’s no way he’ll let me come back.”

Violet slaps him hard across the face once, and then again with the back of the same hand. The gesture surprises Silas, not due to the violence of it, but because it is so much like something a fiend would do with another fiend in their gang. Violence is a part of fiends, and indicates an affection between them that surprises him.

“Silas. You have nowhere else to go. Come back to Malachai’s.”

Silas lets her pull him up and help him outside of the warehouse. He blinks into the sunlight outside, blinded by its intensity. He notices Violet looking at the wall of the warehouse, and cranes his neck to follow her gaze. Hauntingly familiar words are written on the wall in what he hopes is red paint: Kill the witches, topple the gods.

Violet grabs ahold of Silas’ upper arm and the ground disappears from under them as they vanish through her portal.

 

“Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.” Malachai’s beefy arms are crossed over his chest. He stands on the other side of the living room from Silas feels oddly vulnerable since Violet had declared this situation “their problem” and marched up the stairs to her room. The demon in him doesn’t like being made to feel submissive to Malachai and his inferior demon. Serving under him in the gang had been a willing submission, done because he knew Malachai to be a better leader than him. Intimidation, however, made the demon feel its power was being ignored.

Silas’ temper is worn thin from the stress of all that has happened.

“Yes, Malachai. I failed. I know it, you know, the whole fucking world knows it.”

The corners of Malachai’s mouth pull up slightly, making his whole face tight with smugness.

“Yet you came crawling back here, instead of running to your dink friend?”

“Don’t call him that.” Silas says steadily.

Malachai sniggers and shakes his head. He opens his mouth to retaliate but is interrupted by a knocking on the door. He locks eyes with Silas and jerks his chin towards the door. The command is subtle, but says many things. On one level, it asks him to perform a simple task. Yet, the simple ask of Malachai giving Silas a command indicates that Malachai is his leader. He might have been giving him a tough time, but he had never really intended to turn Silas away. Silas holds eye contact with Malachai for a moment before turning to open the door. The demon in him settles in, like a dog may shake itself off to eliminate evidence of its own raised hackles.

The fiend standing on the doorstep is pale and nervous. He’s older than Silas by several years. It must have started raining soon after Violet and Silas arrived, because he is dripping wet.

“Are you…Silas?” He asks, his uncertainty clearly augmented by the power of SIlas’ demon.

Silas crosses his arms, though they look far less strong than Malachai’s had in the same posture only moments before.

“Who’s asking?”

“Jahan. My name is Jahan. Leena was…is my niece.”

Silas feels the breath whoosh out of him. This had never occurred to him. He had never thought that the families of those who had been affected would come to him. Was this man seeking answers? Would Silas be able to give them? He opens the door wider and gestures for Jahan to enter. Once inside, he looks nervously at Malachai.

“I want to help.” He looks back to Silas. “I know others who lost loved ones to Valiant’s attack.”

Lost. Silas notices his use of the word, as if they had died. In most ways, they had.

“Help?” Silas says blankly.

“Aren’t you going to try to fight him?”

 

The warehouse is old and empty, one of many skeletons of a building left standing in the center of the city. It strikes Silas, as he stands besides Malachai among all the rubble, that he walked by this building so many times. From the outside, the rubble and death of this building is easy to ignore with all the lights and movement of the city. From the inside he can think only of what is about to happen here. He stands with Malachai and other gang leaders who decided to fight with them, other fiends gathered behind them. It isn’t their whole force; they have half as many again waiting at a safe house to portal in when called by one of the gang leaders. Silas can feel the tension from the rest of the group. Even with the reinforcements waiting to portal in, there are less of them than they’d hoped. While horror over Valiant’s actions had turned more to their side and encouraged them to fight,but it had scared twice as many away.

“There aren’t enough of us.” Silas mutters, his quiet voice echoey and louder than he’d meant it to be in the concrete walls of the warehouse.

“He took away my son’s magic.” One of the gang leaders says, turning to stare at Silas. “I would never be able to look myself in the mirror again if I didn’t stand here and fight against him.”

Silas stares at the woman who spoke, searching for some way to reply, to somehow try and say that he feels her pain and sorrow. As he searches for words there is a noise from the back of the warehouse. The others all turn rapidly, and Silas feels his heart jump into his throat, his knees growing weak and shaky. He doesn’t turn towards the source of the sound, afraid to see Valiant moving towards him in the darkness. The sound of his voice still haunts Silas’ mind, like the vision of his friends, pale and empty of magic and life.

“What are you doing here?” He hears Malachai ask, and finally turns, frowning. A group of secs is moving towards them. There’s less of them than he’d seen before, but their leader is walking bravely ahead of them. She is tall and full-figured, her bright red hair only accentuating the sense of power lent to her by her stature.

“We aren’t here for you. You worked with our enemies.” She snarls.

“Josa.” Silas whispers. He regains from his shock quickly to reply to what she said. He wants to try to tell her that they’d been trying to create peace, that they’d hoped they could stop the war before full-out war between the secs and witches erupted. Before he can think of how to phrase this, Josa speaks more angry words.

“We’re here to fight Valiant. He took advantage of our rebellion. That demon used our discontent and our fight for equality to feed his need for power.” The crowd of fiends stands between Silas and her, but he can see her red hair fiery around her face with her eyes blazing. The secs around her are passionate and strong. Silas looks at them, suddenly very glad to see them on his side, even if they are here for themselves. He sees Malachai watching them suspiciously out of the corner of his eye as they take a place besides them in the warehouse, peering into the darkness.

Silas doubles over suddenly, clenching his teeth as pain twists through his insides. It isn’t like a stomach ache or a cramp. It is more deeply seated than that. The female boss to his left grabs his shoulder as he doubles over, helping him support himself.

“My d-demon.” Silas manages to grind out through his teeth. It feels like his soul is being torn apart. He lets out a hoarse yell that echos through the empty warehouse, radiating in the silence and bouncing off the concrete walls.

“Your demon?” the boss asks, her face wan and open with horror. It’s happening. Valiant has been waiting for the perfect moment to strip Silas of his demon and his magic, and he chose now when everyone is watching. He is making Silas into an example. Just as he bears down, gnashing his teeth together to hold in another scream, the pain vanishes. He collapses to his hands and knees, gasping for breath. He is weak, his muscles shaking with the normally minimal effort it takes to keep himself upright. He holds his left hand out in front of himself, using magic to summon a little flame in his palm. Once he sees it he slumps to the floor, mumbling words of thanks over and over, his forehead coming to rest on the grimy floor of the warehouse.

Hands grip his shoulders, pulling him upright. He hears people whispering, telling each other about what they saw, the fact that somehow he still has his magic.

His powers may still be intact, but something in him feels different. As he gets to his feet, he looks over to see Malachai staring straight ahead into the darkness. Silas follows his gaze but sees nothing.

“What?” Silas asks, his voice heavy with exhaustion.

“My demon.” Malachai whispers, “It’s never felt like this.”

Silas frowns at his boss. “Is it pain?” He asks, though he can guess by Malachai’s relatively unphased appearance that it cannot be pain like he had experienced.

Malachai shakes his head. The fiends around them are watching him, and Silas can sense from their expressions that they are experiencing the same thing. Silas’ heart beats in his throat. What are they all feeling that he is not?

“I know my demon.” Silas turns as he hears the voice behind him.

“We all know our demons. We spend our whole lives with them connected to our own souls. It’s the most intimate bond a person can have.” Silas responds, feeling oddly petty.

The man who spoke is entirely unfamiliar to him, some talkative fiend from one of the lesser gangs.

“I’ve never felt my demon feel like this before. It’s been angry, hungry, sometimes even happy. But this…feels like I swallowed a beehive. All the inside parts of me are shivering and shaking. I don’t know what it is, Silas.”

Silas notices that all the fiends are watching him. He realizes that they all know his name. For the first time ever, it hits him just how much these people rely on him. They trust him more than those who had followed him before, because they know the severity of the risks. He tries to process this knowledge, and find something inspirational to say, but he is too late.

He hears a series of soft sounds. Feet hitting the floor. He looks straight ahead and sees witches teleporting in. They glow with divine power. Silas is blinking, trying to understand what is happening when River’s mother appears towards the front of the crowd, taking a place of an obvious leader. Her eyes fix on Silas and she gives a satisfied smirk. Another figure descends next to her, achingly familiar. Silas sees blonde curly hair and pale skin but he does not believe it. Not until the figure lifts it head to look across the distance at him, piercing him with beautiful eyes. One is pure brown while the other has a half-ring of brilliant blue. River appears at the head of the crowd next to his mother. Both wear billowy robes of sheer gold which only barely conceal their nakedness. Silas’ eyes flicker over the sight of River’s body, the distance between them seeming to stretch for miles after how close they had been that one night. River’s mother stares at them from across the field, her eyes moving with measured dismissal over the secs and fiends alike. There are more fiends and secs combined than there are witches. It’s immediately obvious. Silas doesn’t understand why she is so confident.

Then he feels it. The heaviness in the air. He looks around him, but nobody here has felt Valiant’s presence before. Even Violet, standing slightly behind him, must have no idea what the feeling mean.

Lean-legged and trim-waisted, with blood-colored hair. Valiant smiles, his human-looking teeth masking the fangs that Silas knows hides beneath them. He tosses his hair once he has fully materialized, letting out a sigh of release. Silas’ heart leaps into his throat, the vision of Valiant bringing back his memories of watching his friends lose their magic. Then it occurs to him that River is standing right behind Valiant. In a split second his mind has already conjured up the image of Valiant turning and killing River, or stripping his magic away. But why are they there? Why is River there? Why are the witches standing by Valiant?

Valiant.

“Hello, brother.” He smiles at Silas. Silas feels his demon coiling in on itself inside him, trying to disappear. It hurts, and he finds himself unable to resist bending in on himself as well.

“Brother?” Malachai asks, his eyes turning to Silas, filled with anger and fear.

“I don’t know what he’s-” Silas is cut off by the sound of screaming. He looks over to see one of the fiends grabbing at his chest, his screams turning into gurgles as he falls to his knees.

Valiant closes his eyes and inhales deeply. When he opens his eyes again they are full of savage energy.

“You took his magic!” A fiend from back in the crowd screams, bent over the still form of his friend. Silas turns around to stare at Violet, who is pale-faced with her hand over her mouth.

Valiant smiles. “You cower in that human body, brother. You are horrified by my actions. Yes, A soul without magic, demonic or divine, is empty. He runs his eyes slowly over the secs. The anger emanating from them is palpable. “Did you really think I was cruel enough to consume my own brethren without reason? You forget how much energy it takes to create my form here. I take from my people because I need. And because you seem to need a little motivation, brother.”

He smiles as Silas, who is still transfixed by the sight of Valiant and River standing behind them. What Valiant has said, as shocking as it is, hits Silas through a curtain of confusion. Valiant’s smile fades and he turns around, following Silas gaze.

He turns back to face the fiends, a smug look on his face. He raises an eyebrow. “Is there something between you two that I am not aware of?” River’s pale skin flushes scarlet.

“Oh boy. You always know how to pick the innocent ones, brother!” Valiant chuckles, turning back again to look at River. “Won’t mommy be disappointed when she learns who your lover boy really is.”

Silas is frozen, watching as River turns an even deeper shade of red. His mother’s eyes fix on him in shock, but only briefly. She quickly hides her feelings and returns to staring straight ahead.

Valiant sighs and takes several slow steps, inching closer to Silas and the gathered group of fiends and secs.

“Odd, isn’t it? How much can be hidden beneath the surface of a person that you’ll never know about.” He stops only a few feet from Silas. He can feel the demon inside him frantically scrambling to hide, but they are bound and the demon cannot leave him.

“What do you want with me?” Silas grinds out, his teeth clenched around pain.

Valiant laughs eerily pure and child-like. “You? Absolutely nothing. But that demon inside you is my brother.” Valiant changes then, black leathery wings sprouting from his back, a thin tail flicking at the air behind him.

“That’s impossible.” Silas whispers. “The demon inside me isn’t powerful enough to-”

Valiant’s face twists into sudden rage, and a burst of energy launches Silas backwards.

Some of the other fiends move to prepare for a center-attack, tension running all through the group.

“Oh please, as if any of you could hurt me. I don’t want to hurt more of my people, but if any of you come between me and my brother, I will strip you of your magic to make myself stronger. Or I will simply kill you. Whatever is easiest.”
Silas is in pain, and confused about what is happening, and frustrated by Valiant’s lack of answers. So when Valiant turns to him and calls him brother, Silas lets out a yell of frustration.

“I have no brothers!” He yells. To his surprise, Valiant is not angry. He smirks. “You fiends are a mystery to me. How can you spend your lives with demons and know so little about them? The demon in you, Silas, is my brother. Like me, he’s Lucifer’s son, but unlike me he is obviously weak to live so subserviently for so long. Please brother, we have urgent family business to discuss and I have a world to take over. Just come out and talk to me already.”

Comment or email me your thoughts, criticisms, or questions. What do you think will happen next?

Pull – Chapter 6

Pull – Chapter 6

Happy New Year! As my final installment in my 12 Days of Yule series, enjoy chapter 6 of Pull.  Just a reminder that you can now buy the eBook of the first four chapters!

It had been surprisingly easy to gather together fiends interested in peace. Silas had started with Leena, convincing her to leave her gang and join him. He knew she’d have to listen to him, due to the dominance of his demon (superior even to her gang leader, as he’d guessed) that he had never quite understood. After that, they’d used her connections to seek out others who would be willing to team up with the witches. They’d gotten themselves a warehouse in an abandoned corner of the city. There aren’t a lot of them, but more fiends show up almost every day to join.

It’s been two weeks that they’ve been here, as he hasn’t heard anything from River about his mother or any of the other High Priestesses. He’s starting to get anxious. The secs have gotten even more violent. Two more covens have been bombed, and witches who dared to wander outside the covens are killed almost every day. Silas barely sleeps, and when he does he’s haunted by images of River’s lifeless form. He wakes up sweating and shaking then clutching his knees to his chest. He just wants to hear from River. He just wants to be sure he’s alright.

“You’re worrying about him again, aren’t you?” Leena looks at him sidelong. He hadn’t told her he is in love, but she isn’t stupid. They’d barely known each other before, but two weeks of nearly constant contact has made them pretty close. It isn’t hard to figure out he likes guys, and apparently it isn’t very hard to figure out what all his pining and nervous tension is about. Of course, she doesn’t know that the man Silas is in love with is a witch, must less the son of an important coven’s High Priestess. At least, he hopes she doesn’t know.

“Silas?”

Silas realizes he’s been staring out the dirty glass of the window at nothing. He blinks and looks over at Leena.

“Yes. I’m worried about him.” Silas notices the bite in his tone, but doesn’t apologize or make an attempt to remedy it.

“Listen, I’ve seen how much this is eating at you. Normally, I would just tell you to get over it but this feels more serious than that. You aren’t yourself. Maybe we could send some scouts out to look for him, whoever he is, and find out if he’s alright. It could be a good way to train some of the newer ones before we ask them to find out anything…”

She cut herself off before she could finish her sentence, but Silas had guessed on what she had been about to say: anything important.

Silas ignores the implication of the unspoken words, knowing she would not have meant to seem like she didn’t care about Silas’ love interest.

Silas sighs. It’s a tempting thought, to think of someone sneaking out to check on River. He’d thought about going out himself. He’d practically had to tie himself down every night to keep himself from going out and searching for River himself.

He loves River, but he is dedicated to this cause. Too dedicated to risk it by getting himself killed searching for River. Fiends can really only join this group because Silas’ demon is dominant to so many of their leaders’. If he was to die, they’d end up wandering back to their old gangs, and any attempts for reunion would be futile.

“We can’t send anyone after him.” Silas whispers, turning away. Leena calls his name and follows after him, but he’s already walking off.

He stops short. The edges of the warehouses are crowded with fiends, sitting on the blankets they sleep on, chatting with each other and whatever else. In the center of the room, staring at Silas, is a familiar fiend. The one with long blood-red hair and red eyes that stand out dramatically against his dark skin.

Silas freezes and stares at the fiend. He glances around at the others, but they don’t seem to notice him. He smiles wickedly at Silas. A thick feeling of magic, heavier than anything he’d felt before, settles over the air.

“What are you doing here?” Silas calls across the warehouse angrily. The demon in him moves frenetically. It isn’t exactly pushing for control, but it is frantic inside him. Many of the fiends in the warehouse turn to stare at him, still blind to the other fiend. The fiend pulls his long dark red hair over one shoulder, running pale slender fingers through it. Then he leans down into the ear of one of the fiends, Silas thinks his name is Euan, and whispers something. His bright red eyes flicker to Silas and when he finds him staring he gives a sly smile. His pink tongue darts out and licks Euan’s ear. His eyes on Silas’ are suggestively dark and blood floods Silas’ face. Then the red-haired fiend smiles, turns, and vanishes.

The atmosphere of magic dissipates, and everything in the warehouse changes very quickly. Euan’s expression turns to one of anger and he begins yelling at the fiend he’d been talking to a few minutes earlier. Silas doesn’t catch what he says, but the argument spreads like wildfire and soon everyone is fighting. Leena even grabs his upper arm, spins him around, and begins yelling some babble about how sad and pathetic he is and how he needs to either man up or leave. Just as he’s registered that something here is wrong and that the blood-haired fiend caused it, he feels the demon surge up in him. It is stronger than he’s ever felt before; too sudden and forceful for him to control. It speaks through him in a way it never has before, its voice tearing out of his throat.

“ENOUGH!” The voice is deeper than Silas’ own and echoes through the room.

The fighting stops all at once, and the fiends all blink at look around at each other with confusion clear on their faces. The demon rushes out of Silas to some place deep inside of him, leaving him drained. His knees buckle and he falls to the floor. He looks around at all the other fiends, knowing that his own confusion and fear mimics that so easy to see in the others.

 

It is another sleepless night for Silas. Nightmares of the fiend with blood-red hair had been added to his visions of River’s death since he had appeared a few days ago. He sits awake, leaning against the wall and watching the front door to the warehouse. He starts when the door slides open. They have watchers posted outside. How had someone gotten past without raising the alarm? A blonde figure slips in and slides the door closed silently. Silas relaxes back again. He’s fallen asleep, and he’s dreaming. It’s happened before. He watches River as he approaches, glancing furtively around him. When River reaches him he falls to his knees and wraps his arms around the fiend. Silas jolts when he feels River’s warmth and the strength of his arms.

“I’m not dreaming?” Whispering, Silas presses his face into River’s neck, wrapping his arms around the witch and pulling him close. The hug is awkward with them both sitting, but they cling to each other for a long moment before pulling apart.

“You’re not dreaming.” River breathes. “I’m here.”

Silas raises a hand softly to cup River’s cheek. “You’re alive.”

River’s cheek moves as he smiles under his hand. “Yes. I can take care of myself, Silas.” He glances around shyly and pulls Silas’ hand from his cheek. Silas notices that some of the other fiends have woken up and are staring at them in confusion. They must be able to tell he is a witch from the feel of his presence.

“This is River. He is our ally. He is helping me get his fellow witches to join us and work for peace.”

Some of the fiends looked concerned, but none of them say anything. Silas stands and pulls River to his feet, leading him to a small room in the back of the warehouse. He shuts the door behind them. When he turns back to River, the witch is giggling uncontrollably.

“What?” Silas’ voice is quieter than it might have been, his eyes fixed on the laughing smile on River’s face.

River opens his eyes, his smile softening but still visible.

“You know what they’ll think we’re doing in here.”

Silas blushes and turns away. River has always been blunt, but the sudden implication that something like that between them is not only imaginable but possible shocks him. He mumbles something nonsensical, takes a moment to gather himself, and turns back to face River.

“You talked to your mother.” There’s no other reason he would have come here.

River sighs and nods. “Yes. I did.”

Silence stretches on.

“And?” Silas takes a step closer.

River shrugs. “I don’t know. She was…oddly noncommittal. I don’t understand how she kept dodging an answer about something so big.”

Silas’ disappointment must be obvious, because River hastens to get the rest of his words out.

“But I did manage to talk to some witches from other covens, and they talked to their High Priestesses. They want to meet with you. It hasn’t been much time, so there aren’t many of them, but-”

“That’s amazing!” Silas starts forward and wraps River into a tight embrace. River doesn’t respond at first, shock making his body tense. Just as he moves to put his arms around Silas’ narrow frame, Silas pulls back with his hands on the witch’s shoulders.

“When?” His dark eyes are bright.

“Two nights from now, in what they’ve decided is a neutral location.” He pauses, looking down at Silas softly. “I’m so proud of you, Silas. I can’t believe everything you’ve done. You’ve already brought so many people together.”

Silas smiles up at him. “None of it would have happened without you, River.”

 

River remembers his own expression, staring up into River’s face when he’d come to the fiend’s hideout. His face had been soft then, and he had felt his own eyes filled with the look of adoration. The demon in him had barely been noticeable, as if it was somehow as relieved as he was to see River safe. Now, the demon rages in him, spurred on by his own anger and desire for change. His slender eyes burn with the desire for revolution as he and River face the assembled crowd. River keeps glancing over at him like he is a stranger.

The crowd is split clearly between fiends and witches. They whisper to themselves about fear and doubts and cast distrusting looks at the opposite side. Surprisingly, when he steps forward to speak, the chattering of the assembled crowd of fiends and witches dies off almost immediately. Silas isn’t sure what to do with the sudden influx of attention, all those eyes trained on him at once, and he finds he has to try to speak more than once, no matter how passionate he is.

“We are here today to discuss peace.” He finally begins, waiting for the crowd to erupt into angry comments. When they remain silent, he continues. “Each person here is, of their respective people, one of the few who actually cares about creating equality and peace. We know that there are many who would rather have war. Some of my fellow fiends believe that we are better off alone. But you,” he turns to his people and extends his arms out towards them, “and I know that the best long-term solution is harmony.”

A heavy feeling settles over the air, and Silas stomach drops.

“No.” He whispers to himself, but there is nothing he can do. Almost directly in front of him, between the separated groups of fiends and witches, stands the red-haired fiend. He gives a little wave and smiles up at Silas. With a feminine flourish, he snaps his thin fingers. Everyone else in the room seems to be oblivious to his presence, as they had been the first time, and they stare at Silas as if he is still speaking. Bright red eyes shift their gaze from Silas to River, grazing the witch’s body up and down in a way that makes Silas furious. Before he can react, the fiend turns and vanishes.

“Harmony?” One of the witches, a tall woman with short black hair, shouts shrilly. Silas blinks, taken totally aback by her cry. Yes. “Harmony” had been the last thing he said before the red fiend had appeared.

The witch continues her shouting. “Where was peace when you let the secs bomb the covens and kill my sisters?”

“You always say your people are better than we are. Why couldn’t you protect yourselves?” A random fiend shouts out from the crowd.

There are two many angry responses to that for Silas to decipher each one individually. Feeling River tense next to him, he looks over and sees the witch open his mouth to add his own shout to the crowd’s. Silas puts a hand on his arm, fear rising in him to see River succumb to the fear-mongering the red-haired fiend had caused. He remembers with a flash of rage the way his bright red eyes had lingered over River’s body.

River looks at him like he has just woken up from a dream, his eyes wide with confusion. The look of anger is gone from his face, and his two-toned eyes wander over the room as he tries to make sense of what is happening. The fiends and witches are arguing hotly, the space that had divided them in the room shrinking as they advance towards each other aggressively.

River steps forward hurriedly as the secs and witches began to fling insults at each other.

“I know-” He begins, much too quietly, and is cut off by the continued yelling of the crowd.

“Peace, people, and listen to me-” He tries again, but the shouting is loud, and his beautiful voice is lost in all the anger and fear.

Silas is just about to intervene when River raises his hands in a fluid motion, and everyone in the gathered crowd is knocked down by the force of his magic. Silas sees River’s hands shaking slightly as he lowers them. He has grown noticeably paler and his lips are pressed tightly together. Silas is shocked and impressed by the strength of River’s magic, but the toll it had taken on him is clear.

Silas tears his eyes away from River to see that the crowd, while distracted by being knocked to the floor, is still overpowered by anger. Silas remembers how the demon had surged up in him before, when the red fiend had appeared in the warehouse, He pulls the demon up again, summoning its power as he shouts out for them to stop. It doesn’t feel quite as strong as it had last time, but it works just the same. The fiends and witches all stop, turning their focus back to Silas and River. They look at each other, each of them clearly trying to make some sense of what they just saw, but not knowing any way to really do so.

“Our two peoples have never been friends. Or, if we were it was so long ago that none of us can remember it. Why haven’t we ever tried to change that? We’ve always understood that we can be stronger together than we are apart, we just never had a reason to unite until now. Maybe it sounds ridiculous. The secs have no magic, but they’re stronger than we give them credit for. If we don’t unite against them, we won’t survive. Sure, maybe we’d win this battle, but one day in the future there would be another that we would all lose.” Silas looks over them warily, his breath slightly quickened from the fervor of his monologue.

Surprisingly, River steps up besides him and addresses the crowd. “Trust me, I was wary when Silas first approached me. But the truth is, uniting against the secs is a smart move. If we keep going as we are now, our race will not survive.”

 

An hour or so later, after a great deal of discussion, Silas and River are left alone in the warehouse. Silas smiles and puts a hand on River’s shoulder, earning a small smile in reply.

“So, what now?” River asks as his gaze falls over the empty warehouse.

Silas turns to regard the spacious room alongside him. River slips an arm around Silas’ shoulders, leaning on the fiend’s smaller frame. He is still weak from the huge bout of magic he had used earlier. Silas purses his lips, glancing over at River. The witch’s blond hair shines in shafts of moonlight. He looks beautifully ethereal. Silas’ eyes stay fixed on him for many moments, until River feels the gaze on him and turns to meet his eyes.

“River…” Silas starts, then cuts off. How could he possibly bring up what he’s seen without sounding insane? He can trust River. “Did you see anybody…appear today?”

The confusion on River’s face indicates that he has no idea what Silas is saying.

The fiend sighs and shakes his head. “It sounds crazy, but…today, and a few weeks ago, I’ve seen this fiend with blood-red hair. It doesn’t seem like anybody else can see him. He just appears and brings this heavy feeling of magic with him. When he leaves, everything seems to dissolve into chaos.”

“Is that what happened today?” River asks, “Before the fight broke out?” He rests his head on Silas’ shoulder.

For a few rapid heartbeats, Silas is distracted by the warmth of the witch’s head on his shoulder. When he finds his voice, he replies.

“Yes. He was here. This time and last time, the effects of his magic didn’t…dissipate until I said something. Well, more like my demon said something.”

River jerks and moves away from him. The demon in Silas relishes  in the space between his body and the witch’s divinity, but Silas stings with the sudden emptiness alongside him.

“Sorry…” River apologizes weakly, vaguely gesturing in Silas’ direction.

“I-I didn’t see any fiend.” He says after a few moments. “But the demon inside you is different than other fiends’, right? Maybe that’s why you can see it while others can’t, and maybe why your demon can stop it. When you touched my arm, it broke some sort of trance. I realized something was wrong. Before that it was like I was in a dream.”

Silas knows how wounded he looks, watching River where he stands much too far away from him. What the witch had said was probably right, and Silas can only guess that answer was just so simple that he overlooked it.

“I’m sure you’re right, River. But…what do I do?”

Comment or email at krmorrighan@gmail.com with your thoughts!

Pull – Chapter 5

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.