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.

Starfighter: Eclipse Let’s Play

Howdy everyone! Normally on Mondays I post either a review or a reading from a book. Since I reviewed Starfighter most recently, normally I would do a reading. However, since Starfighter is a webcomic, doing a “reading” from it didn’t really seem applicable. Thankfully, there is a game available for me to do a let’s play! You can tell watching this that my technology skills aren’t very good…but I sure had a lot of fun!

Keep reading and keep loving!

20-Word Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!

There’s a pretty good chance the final chapter of Pull will be up this weekend. I’ve had a very hard time polishing it, so there’s a possibility it could be delayed longer. I’m really trying to get it out there though so I can start working on something new for all of you!

Today’s “20-Word Wednesday” is one of the shortest I’ve done! If you don’t follow me on Twitter already, check out @KMorrighan. I participate in a few different weekly writing events on Twitter and I would love to hear what you think about my writing and my process.

Touch me gently, lover. I am forbidden fruit, which tastes the sweetest and bruises most easily.

 

Disney’s “First Openly Gay Character”

Today my mother and sister took me out to see Beauty and the Beast. It’s not my usual type of movie, but going out beats sitting in front of the keyboard staring at the textual wall that is the final chapter of Pull (which you can read here). I actually ended up loving the film, and would highly recommend it! However, the main reason I wanted to see it was my interest in the conflict surrounding LeFou.

The amount of articles that came out about Disney’s new “gay character” LeFou after the film was released completely overwhelmed me. Many articles sang its praises while many others deplored such a “immoral” act in a children’s tale. None of them, however, mentioned exactly what LeFou did to make him so irrefutably homosexual.

I was beyond disappointed when I saw the film and realized what exactly made LeFou’s sexuality so important: nothing The amount of controversy that arose out of the topic is humorous to me now, when I realize that it is founded on essentially nothing.

In my opinion, the only evidence that LeFou is gay is some possible subtext, effeminate behavior (which, although stereotypical, is no real evidence of his sexuality at all), and about two seconds of him dancing with another man at the end of the film. I probably wouldn’t have even thought of LeFou’s sexuality at all if such a big deal wasn’t being made out of it. Sure, with the right lens, LeFou’s hero-worship of Gaston could be seen as a crush. I wouldn’t put it past that though.

Heading into the film, I was expecting some extra song about LeFou pining after Gaston or a scene where he openly admits to another character that he has romantic feelings for his friend. In my opinion, an honest conversation would have been a much more positive portrayal (mostly because it would have been an actual portrayal of homosexuality).

Sure, it’s better than nothing, but I still don’t see what all the hubbub was about. It may be a long way from the gay romances we’re used to on this blog, but I would still highly recommend Beauty and the Beast!

 

Starfighter Review!

Hey everyone! I traveled a lot this weekend so my weekly review is a day late. It actually works out to be perfect timing. When I recorded a few days ago I didn’t realize that the new chapter of Starfighter would be out so soon, but it turns out it’s coming out today (AH!). Be sure to watch this review if you would like to know if you’ll be interested in the webcomic!

Starfighter is a gay sci-fi romance webcomic by HamletMachine that features fantastic art and a wonderfully crafted story.

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.