This is Issue #82 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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It was his turn to laugh, glancing away, sighing. “I’m — I’m missing an arm. I have these wings. I got no idea how they’re maintained, how to make sure they don’t just become broken machines attached to me by bolts and wires and scars.”
She reached to slide her hand over his skin again, over the seam where his body was made of flesh, and then made of metal. “This is a part of you now, like every other scar. Like every tattoo,” she said. She leaned to kiss him, there, along the line that divided him, and when he flinched and looked away, she reached up and touched his cheek, turning his face back to hers.
She looked up at his eyes and held his gaze as she kissed him there again, as she rubbed her cheek against him, catlike, unafraid, no trace of disgust on her features. She accepted him, reveled in him, and he began to relax, finally, hope and joy waking up in his eyes.
He watched her touch him, watched her lift his hand to touch her.
After long moments of contact, of kissing, she slowly pulled back, her eyes glassy. She still held his hand, pressed it to her skin. “Now,” she sighed. “D’you want to tell me what won’t let you sleep?”
“D’you want me to?”
She nodded as she moved the palm up over her ribs, and used his hand to cup her breast, sliding the fingers over her skin, up over her collar, up to her jaw. She kissed his palm, his fingertips, ran her tongue against the edge of one copper nail and then slid his hand back down against her body.
“I want to know all of you, Einin. Every piece,” she says softly. “I know you’re not, but I’m the kind who pushes. I don’t want you to take forever to come to me,” she murmurs, letting the metallic fingertips of his hand slide over her belly, letting him explore her with that touch. She pulled the hand back down over her breasts, her ribs, her belly, then move lower.
“When I died,” Nathan said, watching Jules. “When I died, most of what I remember was being cold. It was cold, and dark, and I wasn’t me anymore, and I was losing the memory of who I was. I was alone, and I was afraid,” he whispered.
Leaning into him, she spread her legs and pulled his hand between her thighs. He cupped her there, and his other arm swung around behind her, pulling her close, so he could cover her mouth with his.
“Don’t stop.” Her mouth moved against his, and he folded her against his body, fingers grown slick between them. “Tell me.”
“I lost something of myself.” His heart pounded against his chest; she pressed herself close to him, and could feel it, thundering against hers. “Not just my arm,” he clarified. “Something else. Something important.” He fell silent, and they caught their breath from kisses, as her hands sought to peel him out of the rest of his clothes.
Familiar scars and lines mapped him; she sought old routes to well-remembered pleasures, and finally laid him back to the bed. She watched his wings fan out beneath him, an aura of glittering feathers surrounding them on the bed. She traced pathways that made his hips lift, his skin flush, his toes curl. “Keep talking, love,” she whispered. “I’m listening.” Finally, she took him into her mouth, her hands on his hips, the riot of her red curls spilling over his belly and thighs.
His voice caught as he reached down and toyed with her hair. “I wasn’t me. For awhile, before I remembered, I was someone else. I wasn’t me, and I would’ve lost you forever. I would’ve–ahh–“
Jules lifted her head, smirking. “Keep going.”
“Mercy,” Nate breathed, watching her, his eyes gone wide, his pupils blown.
“Keep. Going.” She curled a hand around him and moved slowly, almost painfully so. She put her mouth on him again, her breath hot against his thighs.
“I can’t think,” he said, the words tumbling out in a rush. “I ca–”
She pulled back to crawl up his body, to spread her legs and straddle him, one hand still around him, guiding him against her. She held his gaze as she moved with him, slowly, with painstaking care. “What are you afraid of?”
He watched as she shifted to straddle him, both of his hands held her hips as she slid against him. His heart raced in his chest, and he whispered, “I don’t–“
“Tell me,” she urged.
“What if this is all there is?” He stared up at her, his eyes wide, his body tense.
“And what if it is?” Her fierce eyes hushed him, glittering. She kissed him, moved with deliberate desire, and his heart stopped racing with fear. Instead it thundered with the quickening, rolling motion of her hips, leaving his heart humming, his spine electric. “What if it is, Einin? What if this is all there is?”
The look on Nathan’s face shifted; his brow relaxed, and then furrowed into focus, instead of worry, and his full lips broadened into a wide, lazy smile. “Just this?”
“Just this,” Jules purred, her eyes half-lidded as she sighed, relaxing into their rhythm.
Nathan closed his eyes for a moment, lost with her, biting his lower lip, forgetting his fear, forgetting mortality, forgetting worry. They were going to die. They were all going to die. But no sooner or later than they were ever going to; there was no reason to shy from it, or rail against its inevitability. Not when there was so much else to enjoy in the world. Not when there was Jules.
You came back to me, Jules thought, watching him, reveling in the way he surrendered.
He saw the dreamy look on her face, and pulled her down, leaning up to catch her mouth in a hungry kiss. “If this is all there is? Just this? This,” he breathed against her lips, laughing, letting go, “Oh, this, love, will do just fine.”
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