This is Issue #47 of DeathWatch, Book II: tentatively called Heart Of Ilona, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find DeathWatch, the first in the series, or start from the beginning of Book II!
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Jet woke into the memory of lips against his collar bone. He glanced down and watched Kieron’s hand slide over his skin, down over his stomach, his hips. Gentle fingers toyed at the waistband of his shorts, growing slowly more daring.
Kieron shifted, lifting himself up on one forearm so he could kiss Jet’s skin more ardently, following the line of his collarbone to his sternum. He glanced up at Jet through a too-long, messy fringe, and grinned breathlessly. His hand slid lower, and he bowed his head to kiss Jet’s chest again.
Jet began to tense, his breath growing shallow, growing faster, and he reached down to brush Kieron’s hair from his eyes. “You need a haircut,” he said absently.
Kieron paused, his breath warm against Jet’s skin. He glanced up, meeting Jet’s eyes, and said, “Focus, Harrington. Where is my hand?” And with that, he dragged his hand purposefully against the fabric, letting it slide against Jet’s skin. “What am I doing right now? You want to talk about my haircut?”
Jet’s breath caught. His eyes widened, but then he laughed aloud, blushing, and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just — I like to see your eyes.”
It was Kieron’s turn to blush; he reached a hand up and raked his hair back from his face, then reached to touch Jet’s cheek. Sky blue eyes watched Jet with familiar adoration, a look Jet had never realized for what it was, but then took for granted he’d never lose. Kieron leaned in and kissed Jet soundly, pressed himself close, laid against his best friend hip to hip, eager for the warmth between them. He then held himself up on his forearm again, looking down at Jet, saying quietly, “Is this better?”
The electric feel of pressure against his hips, of seeing Kieron so close, ran like a tangle of blue fire up Jet’s spine and crackled like warm lightning, flooding his senses. Jet opened his mouth to speak, to say the words that should have come so easily–
I love you
–but before he could say anything, Kieron bowed his head and pressed his mouth to Jet’s.
“Mmnph,” was Jet’s answer, as Kieron’s hand returned, and shifted lower. Jet broke the kiss to take a ragged breath, but his love bit down against his lip hard enough that it hurt. Enough that he tasted blood. He pulled back, panting, frowning, shifting — and was suddenly face to face with Immanis.
“Salve iterum, amor meus,” Immanis whispered.
“That hurt,” Jet whispered, laughing, somehow forgetting Kieron in an instant. “You–“
Immanis’s leaned in to kiss Jet again, and all Jet could taste was blood and aetheris; it flooded his mouth. He tried to breathe, but the taste of copper and lightning drowned him. As the bottom dropped out of his dream, he rushed down, falling beneath the surface of a storm of redblack and silverblue. He thought of Kieron’s face, when he stood up to Hoyt.
The body fights.
It fights for air.
It fights to live.
His body did; he lashed out, kicking, flailing, and came awake in his bed, bathed in sunlight, his gaze focusing on the sleeping face of Secta. Though he’d tried desperately to save himself in his dream, he had not moved in his sleep — his famulo remained undisturbed. Jet watched the younger man for awhile, watched him simply lay there, Secta’s expression peaceful, serene.
His heart thundered in his chest as he watched Secta, and wondered what it was his famulo dreamed of, wondered if it was fair or wretched of him to find comfort in the arms of his servant, with his first love lost and his second so recently dead.
“I’m so sorry,” Jet whispered, leaning to kiss Secta’s forehead. “Paenitent mei, Sectamea.”
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“What are you doing out here, caro?” Lucida wondered, taking Jet by the hands and kissing his cheek. “I am more than pleased to see you, but I had thought you were… Busy?” She smiled up at him with a knowing expression.
Jet blushed, looking away.
“Jet,” Lucida said, reaching up to cup his cheeks. She turned his face to hers, made him look at the dark of her eyes. “My Black Stone, my caro, look at me,” she purred. “Why are you always so troubled? Why is your heart so heavy?”
“It’s just that–“
Before Jet could finish, a runner burst into the room, gasping. “Guardian! Exosus Aecus is dead!”
Lucida looked to Jet with shock, then back to the runner. “How?” she wondered. “An attack?”
“He was discovered locked inside his office,” the man gasped. “There is.. evidence he had… He had taken his own life, your Majesty.”
Jet nodded, gesturing for the runner to go find respite. He turned, looking to Lucida, who looked shaken. “Meabella?” he wondered, pulling her into his arms, cradling her close. “Is this fear on your face?”
“Not fear, no. Surprise, my black stone,” Lucida said, frowning slightly. “Immanis had Exosus to dinner more than once; he was powerful, but despised. I do not believe for a moment that he would have killed himself.”
“His wife. Should we pay our respects to the family so quickly? Offer our sympathies?” Jet asked. He lamented, only for a single sliver of a moment, not having Gemma here to offer alternate suggestions. She was brilliant, regardless of how manipulative and unscrupulous she had been.
Lucida seemed to be thinking the same thing; her expression grew shrouded with worry. She pursed her lips and said, “Yes. We will send ahead a messenger announcing our desire to offer support and sympathy. He will bring back a time the family will receive us.”
“This is crap timing,” Jet said bluntly, chewing on his lower lip.
Brows shot up. Lucida looked up at Jet, and laughed aloud, saying, “I forget, sometimes, that you were born of the Westlanders.”
Jet hid the ache he felt, smiling almost ruefully as he said, “Sometimes, so do I.”
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