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Mesteno
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:53 pm    Post subject: Fault Lines Reply with quote

[OOC: Reader warnings for mature subject matter. Adapted from live play with Lexius' writer.]

October 27th, 2015


Days had passed.

It had taken days not only to recover, but also to begin sorting, dividing and securing all the items they'd confiscated from Jetrell's former home. Lexius had been busy transferring and interpreting what seemed like years’ worth of the demi-god’s research in the lab, and it would take weeks, at least, to make some sense of it all. Not too long ago, the Elf might have happily buried himself in that research without a thought for anything else.

Nowadays, other thoughts existed and crept in at the most unexpected moments.

He resisted contacting Mesteno too quickly after their last tumultuous encounter. He'd spent a solid twenty four hours half buried in a sand dune meditating to recoup his depleted resources after the battle with Jetrell, but even there his thoughts had been haunted by the ghosts and spectres of whip-thin man who's flavour he could still taste on his lips days later, no matter how much spiced coffee he drank.

It was more than that, however, that finally drove Lexius from his cave to seek out the Sadist.

There was a wealth of new knowledge to be contemplated and dissected, and Lexius found that, for the first time in a long time, he didn't want to do that alone. Not when there was such a sharp, eager mind a quick teleport away. It took him several hours to identify that nagging, persistent emotion for what it was. He missed Mesteno's voice, his ideas, his unique input...his presence, however dark and dangerous it might be.

Lexius appeared without warning on his front porch, the satchel at his side and the beads waggling with amusement at his thigh. They might have won a bet amongst themselves on just how long the Elf would be able to hold out. Or they might be amused with the simple fact Lexius hadn't taken the time to check if Mesteno was even there before he'd teleported.

There was no sign of him outside. The conspicuous smudge of a crushed cigarette stub on the decking drew the Elf’s eyes, an anomaly to turn over in his head. The necromancer didn’t smoke, and disapproved of the habit unashamedly.

There was music playing, Holst's 'Jupiter' in its majestic third minute, assisted acoustically by the morgue's solid surfaces. The door to that grim chamber yawned open, the cold spilling out into the kitchen.

Lexius descended the flight of stairs to the morgue cat-footed, passing through the starkly sterile environment and ever closer to the source of the music.

The small adjoining laboratory was where he found the necromancer, the staff he'd pilfered propped obtrusively in one corner. He was studying the soul jar carved from Terrell’s womb for details etched into the (well-scrubbed!) glass, and amidst the hum from the body lockers and the music, seemed quite unaware of his company.

The Elf paused again in the doorway to take his fill of the sight before he interrupted it.

Mesteno was perched on a stool with his back to the morgue, knees in a broad splay and elbows on the edge of the worktop as he gently manipulated the jar under high magnification. Caution had him handling it with sturdy looking gauntlet gloves, just in case there was any spontaneous shattering. He did not want his blood getting all over someone else's soul receptacle for obvious reasons. He'd bound his hair back in a half-tail, drawing it from his temples to keep it from his face without having to wrestle the whole lot into something tidier. It left the small, bone carved Alfar trophy he wore in his hair visible, vividly white against all the red.

He wore only ratty jeans and a simple black wife beater that did little to hide the ladder of rings along his spine, nor the butchery of runic work cut deliberately into the span of his shoulders, rudely interrupted by the exit wounds where the shotgun had torn his clavicle apart years ago.

Protective spells intended to keep any souls from straying from within the sphere he worked in were palpable, yet there was no outward indication of where they were.

Temptingly, there was also a neat little stack of scroll tubes on the worktop too, as of yet unopened.

It'd been some time since Lexius had seen that much of Mesteno's skin exposed, and while he might have felt the rings that laddered up the curve of the Sadist’s spine once or twice, he'd never truly had a chance to examine even this much of them, masked by the fall of hair and the thin cloth. He studied what he could of those and the scarring that spider webbed across the man's skin. He scrutinized Mesteno's posture as he bent over the jar he was analysing so carefully. He soaked in every single nuance of the picture presented, as if the Sadist might, perhaps, test him later on what he had seen.

But he had not entirely forgotten he’d come with a purpose, no matter how long he chose to look. The stack of scrolls tucked in one corner of the work bench reminded him conveniently.

"Mesteno." He murmured the man's name, carrying it with a thought closer to the man's ear rather than attempt to physically breach any barrier he might have set up or raise his voice over the sound of the music.

Engrossed as he'd been, Mesteno was startled from his study, and there was a musical, glassy clink as the soul jar clipped the lens above it. There was no sudden eruption of pieces though, the contact too light to cause any damage, and the alarm which pulled taut muscles into sharply delineated relief eased out of him on a sigh carrying a low, breathy obscenity.

He set the jar down before he turned about on the stool, a pair of safety goggles perched on the bridge of his nose which he pushed carelessly up his brow and into his hair. Lexius identified, he slid off the stool, barefoot as usual and tugging the gloves from his arms.

"Well you look a damn sight better'n you did before," he remarked, though his gaze did no more than sweep his face briefly.

Looking caused trouble.

He’d not forgotten the exquisite embarrassment of being left on his own front porch after their kiss, and neither of them had spoken a word about it since, even in the hours they’d been left alone to pillage Jetrell’s manor.

"I am well." Lexius informed him. It was his stock reply, of course, even when he was at his worst, because he was well. He was alive and breathing and in control of his mind, in command of his limbs, in possession of that spark of energy that allowed him life. Once, that had not been the case. Everything was 'well' when balanced against years spent with body, mind and the shattered remainder of his soul dissected from each other and stored in separate crystals.

"Come to exchange notes?” Mesteno asked. “Or y'know, hand over any interesting books you might have picked up." There had been one particular tome that ought to have been his from the start, a necromantic volume that Lexius had taken, perhaps purely because he knew he would want it.

Lexius studied the front view as he had the back, lips twitching faintly toward a smile for some reason or another that Mesteno would not see for the way his gaze slipped so easily away.

"Hand over?" He made that sound like a crime. "Negotiate, perhaps." His strangely colored gaze flicked toward the scrolls then across the room to where the staff innocuously lingered before his gaze settled back on the Sadist.

"You can't blame me for hoping," Mesteno replied unrepentantly, dropping the gloves on the worktop beside the notes he'd been making.

"May I come in?" Lexius asked politely.

Mesteno stepped aside, and made the sort of gracious, sweeping gesture universally accepted for a 'come in'. "You took enough out of that lab to keep you busy with study for months, Lexius," he reminded him, amused. "not t'mention your new specimens. What did I pick up amongst my meagre rewards you wanted so badly you're already here to 'negotiate' for it?"

Meagre was not really an appropriate word for it, but of course he was negotiating already, manipulating lazily by making it sound as if he thought he'd come out of it the worse of the pair.

Playing the gentleman, he nudged the stool the Elf's way with one foot, and contented himself with reclining against the worktop, arms folded and a lick of amusement playing about his mouth offsetting the stern, serious set of his brows. Bad acting as always. He couldn't play it serious, because he was quite frankly, too pleased to see him.

The beads chortled even before the Elf stepped into motion. No telling, though, which one of the two amused them more.

Rather than allow the distance between them to linger (as he should, Lexius knew), the Elf moved directly Mesteno's way and actually settled his ass lightly to the edge of the stool the man had nudged out, the heel of one of his boots hooked back along a lower rung to keep it from sliding away.

"I can blame you for whatever I like." He noted absently as he settled, gaze finally drifting to the soul jar. He saw it, of course, was scrutinizing the details, but the majority of his attention was with the necromancer and something inside him unknit just a fraction.

"Why Lexius, that was almost juvenile," Mesteno remarked. But he liked it. The small fact that things seemed comfortable between them was as pleasing as his presence.

The Elf paused, and it was a rather lengthy one, a silence in which he just breathed.

"You know that everything I learn I will share with you." He finally spoke up, looking back to the Sadist as his hand went to the satchel at his side. It was a truth, and yet a bargaining tactic of his own. Mesteno could not say he was hoarding the information away even if he'd taken things! "You know all my secrets." He added that without a trace of dismay over the fact, though it would not work in his favor when it came to the trading!

From the satchel he produced a roll of leather. Several samples in vials and dishes secured within the cushioned compartments inside. He didn't quite hand it over yet, though. They were bargaining. And Mesteno had information he wanted. "The remains of a cigarette are on your porch." A prompt, without a doubt.
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Mesteno
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

"I had an unexpected visitor a couple of days ago,” Mesteno admitted. “An old... friend or adversary, take your pick." They'd been as much one as the other. There was no sense that Mesteno was trying to conceal anything, but he offered no more than that yet, unsure how much was required of him. "I'll share my notes likewise, once I'm done,” he went on, “as I'm sure you'll return the star charts you larcenied right from under my nose." It wasn't even a word, but it was a deliberate choice.

There went Lexius’ lips again, tugging vaguely toward a smile at the corners which were marked by the sand coated drift of his hair. He was thick with the stuff today, but most of it remained clinging to his clothing, his skin. His amusement faded away a moment later. He always needed details.

"Was the meeting friendly...or adversarial?" he asked as he slid the roll onto the counter beside the soul jar. The items would keep. His own notes were rolled right up with the samples, most of which included various parts of the lizard creatures they'd encountered and the demi-god's remains. He had another, smaller wooden case which he produced next. In that were his findings and several specimens from Jetrell’s laboratory and the pathogen he'd been working on there. "Should I find the star chart, I'd certainly be willing to trade it for another." Not admitting outright to the theft.

Mesteno’s eyes slipped aside, from the roll to the hand leaving it there. He knew the texture of that skin well now, the roughness more like sand itself than callous. The play of too-prominent tendons tempted him sorely, made him inclined to reach across and find some excuse to brush some of the sand away. But no, he was being good. His arms remained wreathed.

"It began mildly adversarial. I'm not sure he was in his right mind to be perfectly honest. I gave him a warning to make sure he understood if he attacked me it'd go badly for him and after that behaved himself. As much as y'can hope for with someone like that."

Plainly Mesteno was whole though, the only injuries those he'd weathered from their little excursion to slay Jetrell. "My star chart had personal annotations," he drawled. "It'll be worthless without the associated terrestrial maps for the rifts and the scheduling tables. But I might be persuaded to allow copies... I suppose it depends on our negotiations."

Lexius left the items where he'd set them and settled his hands to his thighs. The beads still swayed lazily, hanging down beside the stool and staying silent as if not to draw attention to themselves since the pair were discussing the charts. Lexius resumed his study of Mesteno as he spoke.

"Define ‘someone like that’." Lexius knew The Sadist was holding out, which only meant whatever he was keeping back would not meet with the Elf's approval. "It sounds as if you might need to recover it to accurately predict and place your rifts." One missing chart could throw the whole thing off! "Which makes it rather valuable. I should think you would offer a due reward, such as copies, for the one who finds it." No more negotiations needed. He would help find this misplaced chart and receive copies! It sounded fair to the beads, at least. They gave a little snickering clatter against the leg of the stool.

"Consider Aiden's antics," Mesteno suggested. "Though you don't--," need to worry about that, he might have offered by way of reassurance. His guest had not been quite so direct despite his suggestiveness, but the necromancer wasn't about to rake over cold coals in search of a little heat. In the end the sentence remained unfinished though. Lexius had outright explained to him that he couldn't see a way beyond their differences, had confessed to having a friend with benefits he was able to find pleasure with. For all he knew, the Elf had gone to entertain this stranger when they'd parted ways, knowing he was safe from hands with cruel inclinations there. "Let's just say he doesn't have any lust spell *** to fire at me the way Aiden did."

He left it at that, and eyed the wooden case briefly, before shaking his head over the star charts. "I could just play Russian roulette with the rifts and end up in some Draeden's uterus because someone pilfered them," he countered.

Lexius frowned faintly. Mesteno would do that, too, he suspected! The sure, certain knowledge of it brought an abrupt laugh to the Elf's lips.

"You are incorrigible." He accused, payment for the juvenile comment and far more true! "I would leave you there were that to happen." His blue-violet eyes certainly gleamed a bit more brightly with the threat. "And, I avoid uteri of all types. There were rings in the coffer. And a book that may be of some small interest to you." The Elf went on blandly. It seemed he had set aside the issue of Mesteno's mysterious visitor.

Lexius’ laughter had sent the necromancer’s dark brows winging upward, because even now there was a certain rarity to them that he couldn't help but treasure. It won Lexius a smile of the unguarded variety, the bright, hard lines of his teeth very straight despite the way one corner of his mouth tended to hitch a little higher, everything vicious-sharp and deviant.

"S'quite the compliment." Incorrigible! "And yet I'm disappointed. All this vagrancy and you wouldn't want to see what it was like on the other side of something like that? Some explorer."

The curve of lips, the flash of teeth, the glittering in those predatory eyes, the entirety of the expression Mesteno wore in those few moments absolutely personified everything the Sadist was to the Elf; beautiful and dangerous, intelligent and brutal. Breath-taking. Lexius shifted his gaze away, but it could not be unseen.

The necromancer leaned towards him, past him innocently to tug the leather roll with the samples nearer so that he could get a look at them. He wasn't falling for that bland tone. "Rings? I'm guessing they weren't the purely decorative sort or y'wouldn't make mention of them... right? Or do you secretly deck y'self in gold and jewels when there's no one 'round to see you?" He eyed him as if trying to imagine it! "Tell me about this book."

Lexius managed to avoid releasing a growl of frustration he could feel bubbling in his throat. Everything tightened in him when the Sadist leaned his way. Everything stilled. What had they been discussing? Certainly not the scent of the man which he could get far more easily if he just leaned a little himself. He did so almost unconsciously. Almost. He did so in defiance of the larger part of him that demanded he not.

Metal and leather, hints of saddle soap, old blood and the damp of autumn earth from hours spent outdoors. Apple, strangely, and beneath it all something dark. The same way he tasted dark, without ever actually being able to put a finger on how it might be put to words.

Lexius’ gaze lidded as he took it all in, and clamped down on the internal urge to lean away. His gaze locked once again on the side of Mesteno's face, traced the path from jaw to ear, ear to throat and downward. So different, those smells, made more so by the underlying sense of darkness that brought to mind the things over which Mesteno had command. Shadows and death and pain. He found no more appeal in the latter than he did with women, but the first two intrigued. He knew he could not pick and choose in this case.

"What do you wish to know?" He might have been asking in response to the Sadist's final demand or he could be asking something else altogether.

"I want to know whether the book is what I think it is, and whether it's in the common tongue. Or Latin. Something I can read, basically. If it is, what'll you take for it?" Down to business then.

Lexius’ voice had dipped lower in tone and had collected a few grains of sand somewhere along the way for the subtle roughness that now infested it. "The book is what you think and readable. There was also a crook and a staff. There is much to them, though I have yet to determine what."

As for what he would take? Lexius bit his tongue on that answer and set about pouring himself a cup of water from that skin he carried into a small wooden cup.

"What do you wish to give?" He finally asked, on the heels of a slow drink that had cleared much of the grit from his voice.

The change in Lexius’ voice distracted Mesteno. It was his turn to observe as the Elf went about pouringr. Whatever he was searching for was hidden by the hair he felt a wretched impulse to resituate behind an elven ear. Maybe he'd just imagined the change though. He had to bite his tongue when the first thing to spring to mind was something lascivious but he did lean over again, this time to claim, even if only temporarily, the wooden case he'd brought out.

"Well there's the cloak, the staff, the scrolls over there and the soul jar. So far as I can see, the jar has nothing of value to it other than an opportunity to examine the containment method, which is something I can do already - just not without being alive to direct it see, so I'm curious to know how he set it to activate for his own. Plus it was in a uterus." Serious expression! Lexius did not like uteri. "I suppose I could spare a few scrolls." He was starting with a low offer, and knew the Elf wouldn’t take it.

Lexius gave a low snort of faux contempt. "The personal tome of an incredibly powerful necromancer and you offer a handful of scrolls?" He eyed them sidelong, briefly. Mesteno hadn't even touched them yet, had he? No, they'd be spread out and around if the man had gone through the stack. "Scrolls you cannot even assure me contain any valuable information at all." He added that educated guess as his gaze swung back to the Sadist.

It was all rote, really. He'd spent a large part of his existence haggling. He often did it more for the sake of the skill itself rather than any need to get a good deal. It was one of the few things he honestly enjoyed. And he did want to know what was in the scrolls. He needed to know what was in those scrolls. The disturbing thing was, though, despite the persistent nagging in his head otherwise, it wasn't all he really wanted. It wasn't all he wanted Mesteno to offer him. He forgot his drink to level a rather intent, almost challenging look at the man.

"Oh c'mon,” Mesteno shot back, “you know as well as I do he wouldn't have locked 'em up in that treasure room if they hadn't been worth something. In your own words, ‘he's a powerful necromancer’. Anything he kept is gonna be worth the study." But he knew full well that Lexius liked to haggle. Their first exchanges had been essentially business deals.

"I am no thief to need to cape. I am no mage to need the staff,” The Elf went on. “I am no swordsman to need the sword." He'd noticed the sword even if Mesteno had left it off the list! "And I would not touch the soul jar if you paid me." That might be a small exaggeration. "Make me a better offer, Mesteno."

Mesteno was left to blink owlishly at the Elf in a way that almost made him bark another laugh. Lexius mastered the urge lest his position deteriorate

"You're deliberately tormenting me," Mesteno accused him, jabbing a finger towards his chest, though not with any threat it might actually touch him.

Lexius flicked the fingers of his free hand, negligently dismissing Mesteno's first words. It served to also brush off the accusation in that pointing finger as well at the man's tone. The gesture was easy. Biting back a vague smile was more difficult.

"I don't have anything else from that place to offer,” Mesteno insisted. “You already got my agreement to come lie on your table, you've got my star charts - I'll give you copies of the accompanying documents" grousing there! "So unless you need a job doing, the promise of a future favour or hooking up with something illicit I can get you through the black market..."

Lexius was enjoying himself, more so than usual if only because it was Mesteno on the other end of the negotiation. He didn't show a speck of interest for any of the offers the man threw his way. "None of those things will serve." He assured with some measure of gravity, but then found himself snared in his own trap. He should have taken the offer of future favors!

His gaze suddenly narrowed in something akin to determination. "Offer me something...more personal." That subtle grit was back in his voice as his gaze skated its way down and back up the man's body.

It was the word 'personal' that immediately narrowed Mesteno’s eyes in suspicion. No, he wasn't mistaking the look, and that change in his voice he'd convinced himself hadn't been there earlier - even he wasn't that oblivious. But this wasn't invitation, he knew. There would be conditions. Don't mind the broad swollen pupils, the way he was having trouble not looking by this point.

"Lexius you are shameless," he told him quietly, and not with disapproval.

Something personal, in return for a book. The nature of such an exchange could be all too easily likened to whoring, not something he’d ever considered he might be subjected to again. Not something he wanted to ever be linked to his relationship with Lexius.

"Let me make something perfectly clear here. Whatever... personal offers I make to you, are likely to be benefitting me as much as you. If you just happen to offer me the book afterwards, I'm considering it a gift." About that he was adamant. "Tell me what you like, Lexius. And how you like it. So I don't have to go offering anything you deem inappropriate. Are we talking about me playing gentleman and taking you out somewhere here, or something more… base?"
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Mesteno
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

It was dangerous, playing this particular game. The time would come when he was on the other end of it, the Elf was certain. It'd been no easy thing turning the conversation this way. And of course it had set off an automatic clamouring inside his head, the muscles tightened across his frame. Lexius closed his eyes for a moment and to attempt to systematically shut down all those negative reactions.

Mesteno's words filtered in and he looked his way with lids kept narrowed over his blue-violet gaze. He finally let something of a smile curl at his mouth again, head canted just a touch to one side.

A gift, was it? Did Mesteno really believe he would get as much from the exchange, wrapped in his conditions, as he would without them? It seemed a preposterous notion, but the Elf didn't challenge it. Instead, he answered the question.

"Something more base."

His fingers had been itching to touch since before he'd walked into the room, the distant echo of a want that was smothered under the rest of his reactions but refused to die. "I do not like pain for its own sake, Mesteno, but I have always enjoyed the struggle and I do not mind leaving or wearing bruises or even broken skin. But such violence, at this time, may well lead to an inappropriate reaction on my part." He didn't, couldn't, risk doing something so terrible it would put even a sliver of fear in the man. It was a thing that preyed on his mind even now, when he could ponder it dispassionately. "I need your patience and your willingness to allow me to...savor. I cannot start the way we did before. It is too much."

Pessimism owned a corner of Mesteno’s mind, and assured him in stoic, persuasive tones that entertaining any of the 'base' ideas parading across his sexually deviant mind was foolish.

The Elf would vanish again.

He was setting himself up for the very disappointment Lexius had promised him only days before.

But it couldn't erase the stirrings of desire, hearing the Elf speak the way he did. He picked up on words like struggle, bruises, broken skin, and wondered whether those bestial urges he had would be content with small beginnings. It was quite possible that he'd been spoiled by the extremes Evander had welcomed, and by Samiel's willingness before him to explore boundaries most would have considered sinister. Lexius was far older than both though, and the necromancer wasn't about to question his tastes. He considered it all quietly, wondered whether it was even emotionally responsible to engage in things carnal at this point.

Desire won out. It'd already done things to the sharp features of his face, the levelled eyes gone hungry, salacious, a mouth well made for vulgar things.

"All right, Lexius." How intimate he sounded, sotto voce - the music had stopped, reached its end. Appropriate. "Consider my offer to be anything, tame or perverse. I won't try to break you. Just don't run from me once we get started. That's all I ask."

Lexius wondered at that, that he could stir desire in the man even without the promise of violence as accompaniment. He didn't expect it would last much beyond this one time. Lifting his cup as the Sadist laid out his own condition, he drank away the last of the water then set it carefully aside to the counter beside him next to the box and the roll of leather.

"Very well." He agreed quietly as he unstrung the so-silent beads from his belt and pooled them around the cup. Rather than initiate anything just yet, though, the Elf asked another question.

"Do you require that, Mesteno, to find your pleasure? The breaking of another." His gaze was still mostly obscured by the way he'd narrowed his eyelids, but there was a sharpness to his regard now. "Were you to have full freedom, what is it that you like and how?"

No doubt the necromancer was a wanton wretch, his impulses easily inspired by the right words, formed by the right mouth. Perhaps there was a scrap of incubus blood in him, to be so hungry for it, and yet he'd turned down the advances of his visitor and Aiden both, the former of whom would all too likely have submitted uncomplaining to his perversions. Instead it was the Elf who seemed to hold sway over his desires, conditions or not. Lust was a curious thing.

Lexius' questions were difficult things to answer. He felt, somehow, that a few wrong words might put a stop to things before they began, and yet it wasn't in his nature to be dishonest.

"It's not a necessity," he murmured, and though he itched to initiate in some way, this was the Elf's show now. Anything, he'd promised, and so he'd have to lead. "In fact I'd go so far as to say a lover who stubbornly refuses to break and weathers everything I dole out, invites it..."

Was even better? Talking about it made him restless. His hands were tight around the edges of the worktop to either side of his hips, fingers white knuckled.

"Struggle is welcome. I like to fight for it. Earn it. Punish once I have it, especially if there's still struggle. But I would never desire a lover to endure it just to please me if they hated it. There's some pleasure in that, too, making the release harder than a man’s ever known even when he's hurting. I like that, the confusion, to see them when they're gathering their wits afterward and aren't quite sure how it happened, how they still got off on it."

He was watching the Elf so closely as he spoke that it was plain he was expectant - whether he thought the serenity would fail for revulsion, or desire was uncertain though.

"Don't worry, Lexius. I won't be disappointed if I don't get to split you open like overripe fruit." He smiled. Just a faint twitch of one.

----------------------------------------------

In the messy aftermath, it hadn’t taken Mesteno long to start pulling his clothes back into order. They were face to face again finally, and old apprehensions, the aversion to having too much skin on display had already begun to set in.

Lexius didn’t attempt to stop him. Instead he was fastening laces, belt. The ache behind his eyes kept his typically smooth brow furrowed. Indulging this way had cost him, though he’d expected it. The flaw that had come with his rebirth had never ceased to plague him.

Each watched the other, not out of wariness, but to get a better look now that they weren’t so indecently occupied.

"I would like to see you fully naked." Lexius blurted. That really hadn't been what he'd intended to say. He cut it off before he got more explicit. The edge in that rough tone spoke enough about the reality of the desire. It wasn't something he'd just said to reassure.

"You've seen more of my skin than I have of yours," Mesteno reminded him.

Perhaps back when he’d been lying naked on the table, horrified by the sudden absence of his clothes, Lexius had only been examining him in a clinical fashion, but it didn't change the fact he'd had nothing but a bit of muslin to avoid indecency.

The remains of his shirt were hanging uselessly, the fabric torn. He shrugged loose of them. Perhaps a small concession to the Elf’s clumsily confessed desire.

The patchwork of burns and bullet holes, surgical scarring and metal Lexius had willingly pricked his fingers on. Ugly and expansive. He let him look. Let him see the faults in his hide, pulled taut over the whip lean physique, but said nothing. Aside from, "Maybe if you negotiate well next time, you'll see all of it."

The Elf wanted to investigate it more closely. He wanted to touch every one of those scars and holes where Mesteno's flesh was shiny and jagged, hollowed and ridged. He wanted to bite that tattooed bird right across its inky chest and drag his teeth across its wings. Lexius jerked his gaze back to Mesteno's face and took a carefully measured breath.

"So I have." Lexius admitted at a murmur. He did not offer to strip and tie up the score even if it had looked, for just a moment, as if Mesteno wanted to reach out and touch him. That dark, animal need that was now curled up, mostly sated, behind the shattered bars of its cage stirred in approval of the notion.

Other parts of him, disagreed.

No walls were erected, but he kept the distance between them. "Do I need to negotiate?"

This hadn't been about the book. Mesteno had made that clear. At least, the Elf thought so. Now he thought perhaps he'd been wrong. The idea was... disconcerting. It drew a frown to his lips and had him looking away.

Mesteno picked up on the miscommunication fast enough, and he padded closer as Lexius stooped to collect an abandoned vial of oil from the floor.

When he straightened up, Lexius found a scant few inches between them and a slim, tawny hand lifting to slide against his cheek, heel of palm tucked along his jawline. He barely kept himself from leaning into it no matter the repercussions.

"Next time,” the necromancer told him, “I mean t'have you. I know you don't want me to, you find the idea... off-putting." The same way Mesteno did about nudity, though only because of personal misgivings. "Think about it though. And maybe I'll man the *** up and let you get me all the way out of my clothes." His tone was warm, intimate but thereafter he slipped past him to head back out of the morgue, his stride stubbornly denying that there had been anything questionable afoot. "You can borrow whatever you want," he called back over his shoulder, with a nod toward the pile of scrolls.

He'd never intended to keep them all, anyway. If he discovered there were three of each, he intended to make sure copies were evenly distributed between the Elf, Pharlen and himself.

Lexius watched the Sadist as he spoke, somewhat still, listening as the man laid out his intention in that particular tone. What a dichotomy of feelings that stirred up! His jaw tightened beneath, but his gaze latched on his mouth. He didn't get a chance to do anything (foolish or not!), though, because Mesteno stepped away, stepped past him, and headed for the stairs. That might have been a muttered curse given in Drow. There was no telling what expression might now be on the Elf's face, but his gaze bored into the metal and the flesh of his spine until he was completely gone. Lexius didn't say a word.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

October 30th, 2015

Have you been hiding from me, Lexius?


Another absence of days. This time it was Mesteno who’d broken the silence, crouching in the subterranean tunnels that ran warped beneath the Temple of Summanus. In the cup of his palm, the illumination from one of Lexius’ crystals flared, catching the underside of his jaw, the southern slopes of his cheekbones – nightmare lighting that did nothing to soften the severity of his features.

He was alone. He appreciated the silence, even if all the conversing he meant to do would be from one mind to another, with that small crystal relay as their go-between.

No. Came Lexius’ answer, and he might have left it at that, though he chose not to. I needed the sands for a time. Honest, if not always forthright.

I knew you'd go, Mesteno confided, without any self-satisfaction. It was a simple statement, one which excused rather than sounding resigned. It hurt you, what we did. He was speaking of that dissonance Lexius felt. Unavoidable. I wanted to know that you were all right, that's all. Do you need more time?

Time will not heal this. The Elf confessed.

Time had had its chance and he was done wallowing in its ineffective embrace and false hopes.

Lexius' reply was difficult for the necromancer process. If time wouldn't heal it, would the dissonance always be there? Would it continue to punish the Elf for walking a path not encoded into his rebirth? It was not pleasant to think on, and Mesteno sat staring down at the luminous shard of crystal without replying for a time.

The imperfect resurrection that had plagued Lexius like faulty coding in a computer program wasn’t something they could simply re-write. According to its parameters, the Elf desired Koyan. No one else would do. Trying to deny it would cripple the system and cause unknown damage. It was still nothing short of miraculous that he’d had the strength of will to touch, to kiss, to make that base demand.

In the end, the Elf brought Mesteno to the desert, snatching him from the bowels of the Temple and to the quiet of his home. It wasn’t until they were settled some time later, drinking spiced coffee amidst scattered cushions and talking about anything and everything else that made demands of their time, that their words cycled back to the barrier to their intimacy.

Lexius was watching Mesteno too closely. Sat near as they were, physical contact was an inevitability, and he’d dropped a hand to cover one of the other man’s ankles no matter that it made his eyes tighten at the corner.

Mesteno recognised it, and came to the immediate conclusion there was more of that dissonance at work.

"When we were... ***." For lack of pleasanter words - he couldn't have just said 'having sex'. "And you were in my head. It seemed like there was a lot of uncomfortable, maybe even painful stuff goin' on up here." He indicated with a finger against his own temple. "Will that always happen?"

Mesteno’s boot and pant leg kept the physical contact from being direct and Lexius wasn't trying to move either to let his fingers brush across skin no matter the urge that prompted him to do just that. If he could resist the craving to taste Mesteno’s mouth again (one far, far stronger!), then he knew he could master the temptation to touch any more than he was currently. He kept the hold light, but rested the full weight of his hand where it was and didn't move it.

Lexius drank from his coffee as he formulated his reply.

"I believe it will." He admitted. Too honest, perhaps. Mesteno deserved that, at least. "Until I find the source and... correct it. You were not wrong, in some of the things you said. I can feel, independent of what is dictated. But given what I truly feel does not match, there is a certain dissonance in it." He paused a moment, levelling a long, long look at the man. "I do not regret what we did. Not for a moment." He wanted that to be clear.

Mesteno appreciated honesty, but that didn't mean he hadn't hoped for a different answer. To think that it would be there if they shared a repeat performance, or made a habit of it, made him resent the fact he'd no power to change it.

"Give it time. You may think otherwise before long," he chuckled, though he was only half joking. He suspected most of the men he'd taken to bed would rather erase their experiences for one reason or another. "Given how long you've lived with it, and never come across any way to fix it, I know it's not gonna change anytime soon. I won't be offended if you'd rather I didn't make any advances. I felt it. It was... unpleasant."

His foot was retreating from against Lexius' calf despite that squeeze at his ankle.

Lexius tightened his fingers again, this time with purpose. The way the Elf narrowed his had more to do with his resolve than any pain it might induce. He was cursing the fact Mesteno had felt any of that internal battle, but given the multiple ways he'd been twisting his Will that evening, it couldn't be helped that some of it would have leaked through.

"I've become far too complacent in some things. Things that I find I no longer wish to tolerate within myself." Mesteno had provided the proper motivation, but the Elf knew he needed to fix his problem no matter how things played out between them. It was a weakness, a place of imbalance that persisted and prevented him from having full command of himself. It was a type of unwelcome bondage he could not allow to continue. "And as I said before, I believe it is you who will be the one that thinks otherwise. But until then, allow me this."

He pulled Mesteno's leg back into place.

"If there's anything you need me to do to help you, anything I can do, tell me,” Mesteno insisted. “I know it may sound self-serving, but I didn't realise until I felt it just what it costs you to touch someone. So anything, even if it’s just a second pair of eyes lookin' over texts for an answer to the problem in case you missed somethin'."

Lexius' continued assertions that he thought Mesteno would end up disappointed in him, only left him smiling. It wasn't wry this time, nor wicked-deviant. Just a keen flash of white behind the steam and the lip of the mug.

"How about we agree to quit assumin' the other is gonna find reasons to regret things? I'm pessimistic by nature, but I'd rather not be 'bout this. We'll just enjoy it while it's happenin' and deal with things as they come."

Lexius let his touch drift down (mostly unconscious) to drag along the spot where he knew that flesh had been carved. He seemed to know precisely where it lay and traced out the pattern of it. He gave a nod of agreement for Mesteno's offer of aid and hummed a thoughtful note of sound low in his chest.

Leaning in against the table, he drew his other hand along Mesteno's thigh toward his knee and hooked it up to slide his own leg beneath as he turned his gaze to examine some shadowed spot on the cave wall behind them. He finally asked what he should have from the beginning.

"And what if Evander should come back, cleansed of his obsession and wishing to have you again?"

Perhaps it was unfair, that question, given how recently the pair had parted and the circumstances of the split. Perhaps it suggested more intent from the Elf than expunging some curse of his own with Mesteno's help. That twist of possession was still inside him, but Lexius wasn't certain he could blame it all on that instinct. Not when he missed the man's presence during his days of absence. Not when just establishing a mental connection brought him such ease. Not when it came to giving something he had given no other.

Mesteno had been expecting continued assurance that physical relations of the kind he desired were unwanted, not the subject of Evander, something so wildly tangential that he was left sat wide-eyed and dumbfounded.

Instead of the composed mind of moments before, Lexius' mental connection to him was met with a clamour, a storm of thoughts and feelings unpleasant to weather.

He was angry. He was indignant. He was stung and he was raw.

Some of that was undoubtedly aimed at Evander, but a portion was attributed solely to what Lexius had asked him. All of it stormed under a silence, a stillness like the unrippled surface of a millpond. After what felt like a small forever, Mesteno managed to compose his thoughts enough to send something deliberately along that mental link. A memory, if the Elf chose to watch, no more than a few seconds long.

A sedate approach to a familiar porch, with familiar dogs demanding attention. A familiar line of miniature sculptures on a railing, and then, right in the middle of the porch decking, a bottle of Stolichnaya.

Underneath it a note. Blatant hesitation before it was collected, and then cautious fingers unfolding it to reveal a few simple words. If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all of my life. An annotation attributed the words to Oscar Wilde, though the first half of the sentence had been crossed out.

The memory ended there, and Mesteno sat back, leaning his weight into the elbow he had propped on the table, the fingers of his other hand impatiently sweeping the hair back from his brow.

"I wasn't particularly coherent when I explained what happened with Evander." He told the Elf slowly. "He hasn't gone anywhere, Lexius. He would come back if I asked him to. She - the woman, has always been there, always a sore point, she'll never be exorcised. I did a ***... fantastic job of ignoring her for years." He spoke almost as if she were still alive, rather than slain, but given the weight of the impression she'd left, it was difficult not to feel that way. "There would be mentions, comparisons, him defending her actions and denying things I'd outright proof of. And I tolerated it all, because they'd been together longer than I've been alive. He'd do something, and accuse me before I'd even reacted, of being about to react the way she'd always done to implicate him as guilty. Game playing. Manipulation. I'll give him his due, he suffered for that bitch, she conditioned him to be that way, but still there was... he wouldn't hear me speak her name. He'd lash out. And then when I asked for the map from you, he was immediately furious, insinuating I'd lingering feelings for Samiel."

He let slip a short, ugly laugh. There was no humour in it.

"In every future prophesised for them, she was there, an intended, no matter the outcome good or bad. They were linked intrinsically, they were meant to be... and I won't be anyone's solace. I won't be a substitute. I will never be to him what she was."

He was utterly convinced of that, and it was telling in the way his hand trembled furiously before it clamped to the edge of the table. He'd barely finished speaking when he was struck by the ridiculousness of what he'd done in getting involved with the Elf. That small reassurance he'd requested of him that he wouldn't accept Koyan back should the man come asking, telling him that all would be well - he was repeating mistakes.

The need for Koyan was there in every fault line in Lexius' reincarnation, and there was no way Lexius knew of to fix it. He'd stepped back into precisely the same role he'd been with Evander - or so he seemed to assume in that moment.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued…]

Lexius bore the storm he'd created in Mesteno's thoughts without a flinch, and he focused solely on the quiet, still surface the man presented in the wake of the question. He reflected back patient serenity, calm acceptance of the parts of those emotions that belonged to him, but there was a certain tension tightening the line of his shoulders and sharpening the harsh angles of his face.

His eyes had lidded somewhat when Mesteno projected the memory of the note, the only outward sign of how he processed it in the renewed grind of his jaw, the quick jump of a tendon beneath his teeth. He needed another root, but he didn't reach for one.

In truth, Mesteno had said nothing Lexius hadn't already worked out on his own. He knew Evander was still local. He knew Mesteno's issue was the man's obsession. He could feel Mesteno's certainty it would never fade. But he'd lived too long in RhyDin, too long period, to be so sure of that himself. The note only added to the problem. What the Sadist had said there at the end was a position he could see himself filling, as well. The solace, the substitute, the filler....the thing to be conquered. He felt that same thing mirrored back as Mesteno wound down and reacted without thinking at all.

Lexius rapped his knuckles hard enough against the stone table that it would likely leave a bruise and tightened his grip on Mesteno's knee a little painfully (given their tendency to be creaky!) as if it physically jerk them both from that vicious reflection they were suddenly sharing.

It sufficed to command Mesteno’s attention beautifully. The clamour of doubts subsided sullenly even if a bubble of pessimism remained that refused to be squashed.

"Enough." The Elf’s voice was crisp, cutting, a slice through the tumult of the moment. Too harsh. He took a breath and eased his grip, dulled his tone. "I understand." A calmer assurance. "Now understand me. You wish from me a thing I have given no other. Something I have had others covet merely so they could know or say that they had had me. Something I find, to my own surprise, that I might finally be inclined to give."

Even setting aside from the flaw that made everything more difficult, letting Mesteno have him in that fashion would have been difficult. Adding in the layers of complexity from the Sadist's situation only made it that much more tangled.

"Do you understand, Mesteno, you have more of me right now than any has ever held? And despite the flaws and the incompatibilities and the absolute insanity of every part of the situation, I...want to give more. I have spent weeks doubting that conviction, doubting the very fact I can have feeling independent of what seems to be embedded into me. It is...daunting to find that not only can I, but that they can run this way given everything that has come before."

He snapped his jaw shut. He wasn't making enough coherent sense. He needed to think more before he spoke.

Mesteno was temporarily struck mute, uncertain what to say. He'd accepted Lexius' desire only to have things one way in bed, even understood his reasoning, but he'd foolishly supposed that perhaps there might have been a slip, an exception in his past where he'd made allowances. Perhaps for one of those men he kept portraits of in the hallway.

It was the confession that he had more of him just then than anyone had before that drew the necromancer’s hand to the one on his knee, and pressed it there despite the bruises he would sure he'd have the next time he looked.

"I understand." Quietly. Intently. "I know what it must cost you to even consider it. So be sure. Be absolutely sure. My wants shouldn't factor into it. This shouldn't be about making a sacrifice on my behalf. So if you want to, I'd welcome it. I'd do everything I could to make sure it wasn't something you regretted."

Even, one might assume, staying his teeth and ignoring those brute urges he had to break anything which surrendered to his vicious hands.

"And know there's no rush,” Mesteno went on. “Whatever you give me, whenever you're inclined to, will be enough."

Lexius had decided the situation was insane.

There were definite incompatibilities, and they were both quite flawed in their own ways. It was ridiculous, had been from the very beginning, to pursue anything more than a distant friendship, to indulge whatever foolish feelings either of them felt. Lexius had always been terrible at managing his own emotions and it seemed he'd grown no better at it. Ignoring them, suppressing them, was the smarter path. That was something he'd become quite skilled it. Yet when Mesteno reached to cover his hand (and the dissonance vibrated sharply behind his eyes) the Elf did not pull away as he knew he aught. Instead, the Elf gave a low, harsh chuckle.

"Your want is inextricably linked." A somewhat wry admission, that. "As with so many of the things I have already given, I would consider it for no other." He was studying Mesteno's face all over again. Even that thread he’d wrapped into the man's mind squirmed.

What was it about this particular man that had drawn him out of decades of self-enforced solitude and deliberate remoteness? He knew the reason he had begun, the logic behind why he'd first started talking to the Sadist in the first place, but that in no way touched upon his need to continue.

"I will be certain." He finally murmured, more collected despite the fact he could not find an answer written in Mesteno's skin or tucked away in a secret fold of his mind (not that he'd pierced that deeply!). "Your patience is..." unanticipated, amazing, incomprehensible, "...appreciated." He chose the mild word, of course.

The Elf did love his understatements.

[End]
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Heavily adapted from live play with Lexius.]


November 6th, 2015

Lexius had been unconscious for nearly two full days.

The November cold swept through the cabin, riffling the fur of the throws heaped across his supine frame and painting exposed timbers white with rime.

Mesteno had done what he could, nailing tarp up over the jagged edges of his window frames and sweeping the debris of the shattered panes away from the path of unsuspecting canine paws. In the kitchen, the cracked liquor bottles had emptied themselves in sticky lakes over counter and floor, and an abandoned, stainless steel bowl full of murky, blood-tinged water sat forgotten in the sink beside blotchy gauze and tweezers tacky from probing.

He was accustomed to insignificant pains. He appreciated their echoes as he moved, the small reminders (reassurances?) that what had happened wasn’t some bizarre thing dreamt up.

While the Elf lay oblivious, a few inches off the floor on the sagging mattress, the necromancer had cleaned him, sometimes simply sat with him in silence, but most often searched for signs that the alarming thinness might be subsiding. Better to watch paint dry, for all the change he saw. He examined the sandalwood string of beads, more often found swaying from Lexius’ belt, and now wrapped with undeniable purpose around one limb, snug enough to leave an impression behind when at last they slid loose.

Mesteno found their presence a strange comfort. They’d a tendency to simply be present wherever he settled, be it draped over a book or swinging loosely over his porch railing as he gathered up the sorry remains of the cheap, plastic garden chairs that had stood out there, vine choked for years.

He suspected whatever entity kept watch of them through those beads, it knew something of his thoughts. Whenever they strayed into self-castigation, their sandy rattle served to distract. He was not unaware that this sound was in his head, and not actually physically created.

He considered the entire mess his fault of course.

Lexius had warned him that things might not end well, and yet he’d felt compelled to try.

“I have begun looking into the matter of resolving the problem.” The Elf had admitted to him as they sat speaking of his error-riddled rebirth. “At this point, the only viable option I have found would be to try again with a new body and more carefully prepared crystals set to cleanse any taint."

It was not an idea Mesteno had been enamoured with.

"That's a terrible idea," he’d told him bluntly. "Far too risky, and even if you did manage to resurrect yourself in new flesh, there's still a high potential that you'd come out with new flaws on top of some of your old ones. You’ll just have to think of another way." His tone had been nothing short of adamant. "Maybe Pharlen might know of some method to do it without you having to die all over again. Besides, don't you think you've changed flesh often enough by now?"

Lexius' smile had flickered to life at the rigid denial, a little wryness tainting the expression. The mention of Pharlen, though, had killed any amusement right off. It was he who’d shaken his head then.

"I've identified what I did wrong previously and would not repeat the mistake. But I am not inclined as I once was to take the other risks associated with trying that route." Not too terribly long before, it hadn't mattered to him if he died. Not too terribly long ago, he'd even entertained ideas about it that Mesteno would not have found comforting. Knowing that, he hadn't bothered to mention them. Instead, he spoke of the Time Lord.

"While I have known Pharlen since the beginning of time," and it had been only a mild exaggeration, "and would trust her with much, her particular brand of chaos is not something I would ever easily risk." Not now. Not with this. Suddenly, how he came out of the whole endeavour had become very important indeed.

Having seen Pharlen’s handiwork up close, Mesteno hadn’t been able to deny the potential for grisly error, and had agreed to let Lexius pursue other routes. Dangerous, but pleasing to know that he was determined to try and resolve the dissonance. Physical intimacy had enough complications as it was, without there being encoded inhibiting factors to overcome too.

But Lexius had managed, to a point, and it had made the necromancer bold.

His hand had slid a few inches along Lexius thigh as he’d asked, "I wanna put my hands on you, get you out of your clothes. You feelin' brave enough to let me?"

"That may end badly." Lexius had advised in a low, intent tone. But he hadn't said no.

And now this.

Mesteno had been too incautious. He hadn’t paid heed to things in his eagerness. The distraction of blood, the struggle beneath him, and the sure knowledge of the pleasure he caused that seemed fit to engulf the disharmony entirely. He’d been too busy with his hands and his teeth to consider that Lexius had been indulging in the root – drugging himself against the worst of the jarring dissonance. In no fit state, really, to warn him when too much was really too much.

The mental tie between their minds had collapsed.

The dogs had begun baying as the cabin’s walls began to groan.

The violent, psionic eruption of energy had only come in the aftermath, with both of them already spent. It had been force enough to send the necromancer flying, threads of his hair still caught between the Elf's fingers, and lying dazed where he’d struck the wooden trunk at the opposite side of the room, he’d watched as Lexius’ abilities had gone haywire, summoning the ghosts of past events, twisting the Elf’s body into shapes unnatural. The mattress had torn under a hand gone clawed, and the ceiling had begun to drip with something thick and translucent, spilling across the floor, the bed, Lexius himself as he lay curled on his side, victim of the havoc in his head.

Mesteno had been struggling upright, heart thundering in his chest as his eyes chased the chaos of the present and the nightmares of the past he’d hoped to forget. His first impulse had been to help, and yet a single word had cut past the Elf’s bestial snarls that he could understand.

Leave.

It was entirely predictable of his contrariness that he’d decided instead that he would try and drag Lexius from the cabin with him, where outside they might be safer, but he hadn’t counted on another variable complicating matters. His own passenger, furious at the threat, roiling under his skin in its eagerness to be unleashed. He couldn’t risk coming a step closer, not if he wished for both of them to survive the mess.

Mesteno called the darkness to him a moment before every window in the cabin had come apart, exploding outward to litter the yard. The liquor bottles had shattered, even the cabinet doors down in the morgue had been reduced to glittering splinters.

The shadows had spat the necromancer out, stark naked at the treeline, just in time to see the last shards settling, flung hard as thrown knives. He’d heard the startled yelps of one the dogs – too clearly pained to be anything else – and then with an edge of hysteria in his voice, commanded them to him as he bolted headlong in the direction from which the sound had come.

He’d been half-way there, the dark shapes of the dogs visible rounding the corner of the cabin when his legs had suddenly buckled, landing him on his knees on a lawn as much glass as grass. The invasion had been vicious enough to make him want to claw the grey matter out from under his skull, to uproot every stray thought that it preyed upon, and that had been the end of any self-control.

Lexius’ assault had been matched by something every inch as deadly, the primordial hunger Mesteno harboured shaking loose its restraints to reach out metaphysically and attempt to swallow the fragmented soul imperfectly reborn in the Elf’s flesh. It liked the taste of him. It had been too long starved.

Mesteno could do nothing to stop it. His hands spasmed where they clutched at his temples, and a thin stream of blood trickled from one nostril as he strained against the attack. His body was too human. Too frail.

Later he wouldn’t recall the demand he’d made of Lexius’ guardian, the entity that watched over him through those simple, sandalwood beads. It had complied though, to protect its favoured son, prising apart the jaws of the necromancer’s energy, unwinding the serpents of Lexius’ mental assault, and putting an end to their war.

It had been an effort to pick himself up again afterwards, to gain compliance from a body fatigued and punctured, a cut on his scalp from the scrape of his own nails, his upper lip sticky with blood. There had been no pause to pick the glass from the soles of his feet as he limped back through the cabin, and with nothing short of terror at what he might find, opened the door to the bedroom where he’d left the Elf. He did not think it had been his mind playing tricks, though perhaps something illusory, when his last glimpse of Lexius had seemed like something warped and scaled.

Lexius lay quiet, still, surrounded by ripped bedding on the torn mattress. All that remained of the chaos was a strange, silvery dust where the ectoplasm had dried to nothing, Mesteno’s few belongings overturned.

The beads were where he’d expected to find them, wrapped snug about their thin, naked Elf.

It wasn’t quite what he’d hoped for when he’d asked Lexius to spend the night.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued. Thanks to Gem for letting us use a faux-Gem in this scene!]


Mesteno was out on his porch, and Lexius still dead to the world when it happened.

Perhaps it was just the weariness stealing over him after too long spent awake playing sentinel, but when Lexius’ sandalwood beads appeared, brushing between his fingers, the contact brought with it a compelling lethargy. Not even autumn’s enervating, incessant buzz could keep the will behind those innocuous spheres from claiming him.

The dream they ushered him into took place seamlessly within the world he’d moments before drifted off in. Still out on his frostbitten porch, only now with a visitor.

Gem was as beautiful and buxom as ever, with the exact same smile and shade of hidden worry in her amethyst colored eyes. Her hair might have shone a little too silver, her skin might have gleamed with some inner moonlight glow, but her voice sounded just like her voice, if whispered gently on the wind rather than coming directly from her lips.

"Mesteno?"

His head snapped up sharply. No amount of lucid dreaming had prepared him to recognise the faults in this one.

"Cara mea," he managed to murmur to the question she made of his name. "Be careful, mind your feet." He rose clumsily to meet her and make sure her approach stayed safe. Days later and he still kept finding glass from the broken windows.

"You're the one that should be minding." Gem chided Mesteno gently, but knowingly, as she lithely stepped onto the porch to come stand near him. She stretched out one hand and touched his chest, head canting back and up to meet his gaze directly with her own. Her eyes were pure jewels of color. She was, in that moment, far more stunning than even any Elf had a right to be. "You have a secret." She whispered. As if Mesteno only had one! Perhaps in this case, it was only one that mattered.

Smiling impishly, she stepped back and away from him and held out her hand before he could question her declaration. "Let me show you."

"You know the worst of mine," he reminded her, "and you've a hundred years on me to have piled up more."

He wasn't denying it of course, only pointing out that it was mildly hypocritical, even if he knew by that impish smile that she wasn't really chiding him. He did reach for the hand she offered him, but it was his intent to bring her to a stop there on the porch, rather than let her lead him from it. He didn't want Lexius to wake alone and think that he'd left him there. It might imply blame, and he wasn't sure he'd the skill to reassure him otherwise.

"Nunc non est tempus, mi amice," he told her, the Latin slipping out unchecked. He corrected though, grimacing for the error. He tried again. "Now is not a good time. I need to stay here - you can't tell me?"

Why Gem should look somewhat pleased that Mesteno balked rather than obliging her was a mystery, but she did. Perhaps it was just the sunny disposition she chose to show the world, a ray of brightness that swallowed all the darkness inside it. Her smile curled all the more deeply as her tiny fingers closed tightly around his own.

"Oh, chev," she murmured, sly and knowing, "you have no idea." As if she somehow knew more than the 'most' Mesteno had cited.

He frowned, finally accepting that there was something amiss, something more than just an addled mind. His hand went limp in her small one as he tried to get a fix on what it was.

She gave it tiny tug, so small it wouldn't even strain his fingers much less sway him from where he stood, as her glittering, amethyst eyes grew large with something akin to wonder.

"You have to see...” to see...see. Her words echoed for no discernible reason.

"Gem, something's wrong--," he began, barely even registering the strangeness of her words, and then all too fast he was falling forwards, thought he must be collapsing, and his heart seemed to lurch up into his throat.

Gem's eyes seemed to be expanding alarmingly. Or maybe he was growing smaller? Her tug pulled him on and, within moments, he'd fallen into the swollen pupils of her eyes and was left floating alone in a void of absolute blackness.

Mesteno had no form. He was consciousness itself without substance, awareness without body. He wanted to reach out, to find something solid, but he seemed to lack the limbs to do it. It was as if he were a dream voyeur, had the same strange lack of physical limits he'd experienced when attempting astral projection, only he was fully aware it wasn't him that'd compelled himself from his body.

"Gem?" He thought her name, rather than saying it, for he was lacking lips and tongue, but even the thought was a tentative whisper.

The blackness that surrounded him was absolute, unsettling and complete. This was not the Umbral plane he travelled, solid ground under his feet.

Instead he was one with the darkness. He was the darkness. Until he wasn't.

There, just ahead, a million miles away, something like light flickered briefly before the eyes he did not have, and he felt an echo of it flickering wildly inside of himself somewhere...before it exploded (he exploded) into countless pieces.

Had the Elf been awake and with him, he might have offered some mild commiseration. Perhaps even a quiet reassurance. Mesteno was suddenly walking a road that Lexius had been no more prepared to tread when he'd found it.

This time, though, that path had gone looking for someone, rather than waiting to be discovered as it had been by the Elf.

Mesteno, who'd once been nothing but awareness, was now everything at all at once. He was trillions of worlds being born in an instant. He was the light from countless stars and all the darkness that stretched between them. He was the matter of every planet, every moon, every comet and asteroid. He was the infinite energy of life itself and the endless finality of death. He was the thing from which all other things had sprung. He was existence. He was time. He was all.

He was going to crack, adrift in that endlessness. And then, quite suddenly, before the immensity of it could collapse his mind, he was nothing more than the mind of a man once more.

"Do you see?" Asked a voice (a million voices) from all around him.

The words offered a much-needed anchor, and despite the insanity of the multitude from which it seemed to come, he recognised them. He’d heard them before in a battle he’d been little more than a hapless bystander to.

There ahead of him, pouring forth from the beginning, he watched the universe and all within it being born, expanding, growing and changing as life begat life and coiled toward death only to be born anew. Each iteration was a little different, a little changed, a little...less, yet somehow more.

Too much, too much! he insisted, unsure why his mind might suddenly be exposed to it all unless the sheer unending enormity was supposed to send him bat-*** crazy.

If only he'd had eyes to close against it, he would have. He was have happily traded places with the unconscious Elf if it had brought him restive oblivion, but there was no escape, and so he faced it with all his usual bright curiosity torn and twisted into dread. He felt too large, his limits amorphous and intangible, and had never realised until then what a comfort it was being confined and small.

No man should see this, he replied, and had he been possessed of teeth, it would no doubt have been grated out between them. But that resentment was a good thing. He was feeling something other than fear, and so he latched to that, too. Why did you bring me here? he asked.

There. No tremor to his thoughts. Stubborn. He was gathering himself, petulant even now.

Not so many generations from the start, stretched between and coiled around the filaments of light (of life, of power) was a peculiar darkness that thrummed a note of perfect harmony to match the Sadist's soul. He recognised it intimately. He had no chance to strain towards it before it was gone again, and the missed opportunity left him feeling bereft. His essence went skating along those strands of energy that stretched far and wide through his universe.

Somewhere amidst the streaming strands of light he coursed along as if he were on a wild amusement ride, Gem's body resolved into being to float before him. She was made from stardust and power and wore the same impish smile on her lips as she reached out and patted the cheek Mesteno did not possess.

"You're right." She agreed, infinitely amused. "It really was made for a woman's eyes." Laughter broke the vision of her apart, but the sound of it lingered on in a wooden rattle somewhere inside his straining mind.

He understood now, that Gem had been plucked from his mind for the very purpose of calming him, luring him into the damned ride he was a helpless passenger to. It was just like some limitless power, that Divinity who’d claimed Lexius, to play with a man's head like that.

Knowing that it wasn't her, he offered no response to her amusement, and certainly not to her commentary about it being made for a woman to see. He was far too stubborn to offer a retort to a statement like that.

Mesteno travelled the light for a small eternity, touching down briefly on word after world, place after place, as he went. Here twin suns burned in an emerald sky where the light sank into the murky grey water of a swamp. There the light impacted the jagged peak of a mountain covered in strange blue moss that writhed and wiggled beneath a singular sun. Onward, to another place where the highway of energy Mesteno rode inexplicably reached into the miles deep bottom of a canyon. It gleamed on the floor of an ocean full of purple water and thrashing sea life. It shimmered in the centre of a long dead city gone to eons of ruin. It pulsed from the depths of an Amazonian-like forest. It glinted in the frozen ice of a racing comet. It winked like a shard of metal buried in the face of a meteor. It was on every world, in every place, and Mesteno seemed to visit them all.

With his earlier fear shed, with his pride so prickled, he observed it all with intent. He might not like it, this being dragged about, ragdoll-esque, but he'd be damned if he was going to waste the opportunity to see things that so few must. He'd rallied, and so had his curiosity, and in places there were things he saw things he suspected he'd seen before, but they were gone too quickly, and there was so much more he wanted to pause and see in more detail, his mind uncomprehending, or awed.

Finally, somewhere amidst hopelessly tangled skeins of power, Mesteno was set down on his last world, put back in his body in a most inhospitable environment.

Sand surrounded him, creeping onto his skin as if it was alive while a brutal (but familiar) sun beat down from the sky overhead.

Now he felt heavy, weighed down, and it took him a moment to realise he had his body back, even if it was just the lie of a body in his head. He shuddered, a vicious thing that rattled along his spine, and he slipped down to his knees, bunching himself as if to take root there with his fingers buried in the very sand which seemed to creep into his skin.

Familiar. Good.

He remembered what it was to breathe, to feel the heat on his skin, and everything he'd experienced out there, in that vast melting pot of creation, began to seem so surreal he wondered if he hadn't imagined being there.

He’d barely had a minute to collect himself before a russet colored jackal stood before him, tongue lolling from an open mouth as if it were laughing at him.

"No rest for the wicked." The jackal's jaws hadn't moved, but it was clear that the animal spoke the words.

Mesteno had tracked the jackal's approach with a suspicious squint, but aware now that this manifestation of his body was just a mental creation, he wasn't concerned about any harm it might do him. Nor was he surprised to hear that voice coming from its unmoving jaws. Better to hear it from an animal, than from the faux-Gem.

"You have a low opinion of me," he groused.

It came lunging at him, teeth flashing, to drive him up out of the sands and get him moving despite the oppressive heat.

"Pay attention!" The jackal advised in a familiar voice as it bounded away after the initial attack, trotting easily along the edge of a sloping dune. It left no paw prints behind and moved at a brisk pace.

Around him, the sea of red-gold sand dunes went on forever, with no clear visual markers with which to mark his location. He could be anywhere. But on the horizon, far ahead of their current location, there was a smudge of darkness that suggested mountains, maybe cliffs, the fanciful might mistake for the wings of some giant beast erupting out of the ground. The jackal was headed toward them unerringly when its body went over the peak of a dune and vanished.

What else was he to do but pursue? He wasn't going to sit there in the sand for the rest of his life, and he had this notion that might very well happen if he didn't play along.

"I liked you better when you were beads," he told the voice-in-a-jackal.
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Mesteno
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

Mesteno had no trouble keeping up.

It felt good to stretch his legs and remind himself of normal human travel, of weight and a speed which did not fling him helplessly from world to comet to stars. The heat didn't matter. He was accustomed to it thanks to both Sam and Lexius, and the salt flats that had surrounded the place of his birth.

"What's that ahead?" he asked, noting the smudge on the horizon, even his sharp eyes failing to make out its true form just yet.

He received no answer until he was striding up to the side of the dune when the jackal had disappeared. If the Sadist took the time to look, he'd be standing on the edge of that dune. It sloped away into a deep bowl of open space. No oasis down there. Not even a rock. Just a clear patch of bare ground, dull brown, with a jagged tear its centre that left him frowning in consternation. There was no logical reason that the sands hadn't covered this patch of ground, pouring into the hole and obscuring the spot from discovery. But there it was, nonetheless, perhaps just a fabrication of the dream.

There came a familiar voice spoke from behind him.

"You're not wicked?" Asked Ivanya, a pale giant who had no business being in the desert heat. He was the last person Mesteno would have expected the entity to pluck from his mind, and yet there he was, smiling his wolf's smile barely a step behind. "I am."

Mesteno barely had time to start forming a retort when the vision reached out, and shoved him unceremoniously over the edge and down the slope. The air left his chest in a grunt, balance absconding with words as he slid, the sand hissing after him. No matter how hard he tried to brace himself, there was no purchase. To his credit, he did not yell out, but his teeth were clenched viciously as the tear in the ground yawned wide to devour him whole.

It was not a sheer drop. Instead a tunnel delivered him into the cool of a subterranean world, the descent deep and his inevitable landing jarring. His knees throbbed from the impact, and he stood bent over with his hands curled over them and his teeth bared in a grimace.

"What're you trying to prove?" he snarled into the darkness.

It was not a true darkness though. A weak light was emanating from somewhere ahead, illuminating the cavern he’d been delivered to. As for the tunnel behind him, a resigned backward glance proved it had vanished as he suspected. Now he was trapped.

At the cavern’s centre, and roughly circular stood a well, made of sandstone bricks. The rim of it was waist high and the bricks were wide enough across the top to allow Lan to stand on them without falling.

The youth looked magnificent with his steel grey hair and wide smile that somehow suggested too many teeth behind his curved lips. Dressed in the desert style with the head wrapping pushed back and the veil dangling down across his chest, he balanced on the edge of the well with his hands on his hips and his multi-coloured eyes swirling ceaselessly as he watched Mesteno.

"Are you strong enough?" The youth asked him challengingly.

The young man’s presence didn't fit the pattern. Mesteno had met the youth once, hardly enough to consider him significant. Even Lexius had only spoken of him when prodded to. The necromancer couldn't imagine why he'd be there, since he wasn't someone he was closely acquainted with as the others had been.

"How can I answer that if you don't tell me what it is I need to be strong enough to accomplish?" he asked, moving closer. He felt a strange impulse to push the youth into the well. Everything in this non-reality was pushing him about after all!

The light was coming from below where Lan stood, below and behind him, from within the well. Whatever was within that circle of sandstone brick, it glowed with a gentle light, rippled with a deceptively mild motion, burned with the power of creation itself. It was the place where that conduit Mesteno had ridden touched upon this particular world.

Mesteno recognised his surroundings all at once.

This was where he’d been sent when he’d touched the Obelisk out in the Grey Wastes, trying to saved Aiden and Ares. He'd thought to stay and let the Wastes consume him, that terrible apathy that had engulfed him surpassed by the horror of all that he'd been shown in its vicious visions. It only served to darken his expression when he realised. He knew it had been the beads talking to him, but had never really registered what the well represented, nor spoken of this particular part to Lexius, who might at least have been able to explain it.

Above Mesteno, Lan spread his arms wide and laughed, his body transforming abruptly from a lean and solid youth into the massive shape of a steel coloured dragon hunching over the top of the well, its wings fanned out to each side to brush against the cavern walls. Only the eyes remained the same, every colour in existence churning within their depths. The creatures craned its frilled neck about and stretched it snout toward Mesteno's chest.

"Are you strong enough to devour the dragon?" A million voices whispered the question as the dragon breathed its hot breath against Mesteno's face.

The necromancer backed, unwilling to be under the dragon’s belly or its wings, and taking himself neatly within reach of the snout which stretched towards his chest. The heat of its breath reddened his skin, and his hair fluttered fitfully around his face, but there was no retreat. Instead he looked back towards the well it crouched on, as if he'd decided that was the voices' origin.

"It wouldn't be the first time," he murmured. This was not Lexius' dragon. He knew it had been a red, an almost-ancient evil. The steel hued, overgrown lizard dwarfing him now was not what the Elf harboured. "But how am I to do it without taking what's yours?"

They'd called Lexius that, laid their claim as surely as a dog lifting its leg against a tree.

"They're too enmeshed, too complex. I couldn't forgive myself if I harmed him instead of helping him."

Was it steel coloured? The Sadist's thoughts seemed to have changed that. In a wave of motion, the scales from its nostrils on back shifted in hue from grey to red. Only its eyes remained the same, though Mesteno could only see the one canted his way for the proximity of the beast's head. In the whirling colour of that single, massive eye, a vision played out in still frame flashes for the Sadist to watch.

The endless stretch of sand dunes. The winged mountains. The gaping hole in the earth. Mesteno and the Elf together before the well, the beads strung between them. The endlessly swirling waters of light and dark energy within the well itself that shifted and shuddered to take on that particular yin yang shape which was then ripped asunder.

The dragon touched the tip of its nose against Mesteno's chest, its massive head filling the entirety of his vision, and with the contact came the burn. Mesteno's flesh charred and smoked even as the creature spoke.

"Keep quiet, little dragon, and eat well." And then the great beast opened its maw and closed its jaws over him with a snap, spitting him back out of the dream and into wakefulness with an ache in his chest and the scent of burned skin in his nostrils.

Mesteno's trip to dreamland had taken no more than an hour, though it felt as if he'd lost a few years during the journey.

He returned with a souvenir burned into his chest, not so different than the tattoos that decorated Lexius' skin, though this was etched into skin by the heat of a divine touch rather than done in ink. The symbol was distinctive with its wavy line cutting through the centre of the circle, one side darker than the other. Despite the smell of charred flesh, it was strangely painless and quickly fading into one more scar amidst the collection, a spot that would be smooth and just a little bit warm compared to the rest of his body.

The beads slithered away as he woke, out of his lap to disappear from the porch.

Lexius remained unconscious and unmoving through it all, still wrapped beneath the salvaged furs on the necromancer’s wrecked mattress. He remained that way for several more hours, with the beads taking up a new wrap around his arm as the sun sank away into darkness and Rhy’Din’s twin moons made their climb through the night sky. About the time their silvery, pale light was beating at the barrier Mesteno had erected across the open window frame of the bedroom, Lexius finally stirred.

The transition to wakefulness was abrupt. One moment he was laying there motionless, the next his eyes slit open and his breathing stuttered, stilled, then drew long and deep. He blinked once, muscles tightening when he realized he was not in the desert and that he was decidedly naked. His memory was foggy, mind struggling to catch up with body, but he didn't lash out immediately. Instead, still tense, he assessed both himself and the situation in silence as bit and pieces of what happened came filtering back into his awareness slowly.

The Elf was not alone. Perhaps three feet from where he lay, the pale shape of Kalari was tucked into a pair of abandoned jeans left carelessly crumpled on the floor. Her eyes seemed strangely lambent, despite the fact that light in the bedroom was minimal. The November winds were rippling the edges of the stretched span of tarp, creeping in around the gaps, and it was cool enough that a warm chest full of breath might cloud the air. Other than these small oddities, and the mess that the mattress and throws had become, the bedroom looked unharmed. All that had been toppled or strewn was set to rights, and the trunk which had been teleported from its usual spot beside the closet had made a return.

Lexius’ gaze caught on Kalari's pale form nestled into the jeans and held there as he processed the conditions of his external world and his internal landscape.

"Vith." Softly muttered, that curse. Enough memory had returned to prompt it. Or maybe it was a response to his awareness of the beads which were tightening around his arm beneath the furs.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

The Elf didn't linger over pushing himself out of the bed, but he did pause long enough to reach and stroke a thumb over his watch-cat's furred head. She permitted it with her usual wintery appraisal, restrained a swiping paw, and watched as he pulled on the pants Mesteno had folded beside the mattress for when he woke. The room only swayed a little bit, but Lexius’ stomach certainly had a thing or two to say about his extended nap, as did his physical form. He ignored it all, setting his jaw and heading for the bedroom door with carefully controlled steps and the trousers only barely clinging to his hips. He needed to see Mesteno, because he didn't quite trust himself yet to reach out with a mental thread to find the man.

After his unexpected trip, Mesteno had come around feeling all the more exhausted, his head full of things he might have thought for a fever dream if not for the lingering smell of burnt flesh and the brand he'd found, discreetly placed amongst the scars on his chest.

He was furious, but it had been ephemeral. There was not enough energy in him to sustain that kind of rage, and he'd made his way into the leaf strewn living room, deciding to put quill to paper simply to record what memories he could while they were still vivid, spider scrawl penmanship beside bold bullet points; things seen, things spoken, what had been suggested...

That part troubled him more than anything.

So it was when Lexius woke, Mesteno was not there to offer reassurances. He was sat on the bare floorboards not far from the hearth in his living room, where he'd actually taken the time to start a fire.

Instead of the argent moonlight, there was a ruddy gleam to the sparse contents of the room, and shadows danced like sooty devils as the breeze swept in and made the flames lick wildly upwards, brittle leaves cast about like fragile pinwheels. After the windows had shattered, Mesteno had relocated his notes, and the books he kept in there room down to the morgue where they'd be safe from the elements, and it made the space seem more barren than ever. The warmth was a small pleasure though; he could almost imagine it was just camping, with the view out into the woods.

Out in the living room, a tiny little pygmy owl winged silently into place in the empty frame of a window, chirping quietly as he landed.

Despite the muted roar of the flames, the owl's chirp was enough to bring Mesteno's eyes up off his work to observe the little herald with a somnolent blink. The owls didn't generally come anywhere near him unless Lexius was around, so his head canted toward the hallway behind him expectantly, the quill abandoned to smudge ink on a half-written page.

He'd spent so long waiting, and now that there was a chance Lexius might be awake, he found himself anxiety bitten. The worst of a multitude of scenarios he'd conjured up over the past forty-eight hours came squabbling for attention at the forefront of his thoughts; What if he decided he didn't want anything to do with him anymore because of the risk? What if he'd been mentally damaged by the war they'd waged?

What if?

Lexius senses were particularly sharp in those moments, as if the physical and mental ordeal had left them scraped to raw acuteness rather than smothering them to dullness. He could smell Mesteno on his skin despite the careful washing the man had given him while he lay unconscious, could scent the wood burning in the other room. He could hear the crackle of the fire (such an out of place noise in his limited experience with the man) and the softer scratching of the quill, the quiet call of the owl. He could taste autumn on the brisk air and, beneath that, the Sadist's flavour and something like ash. He could feel the grains of the wood beneath his bare feet and against his palm as he touched the hallway wall to keep himself steady. What he couldn't sense was Mesteno's mind and that was already making him just a little bit crazy.

Mesteno might have laughed if he realized how precisely his own thoughts were being mirrored by a typically more rational elven mind. But, really, what was so irrational about the Sadist deciding all of this was far, far too much trouble to go through? And if he hadn't been damaged yet, why would he want to chance becoming so at some point in the future? Mesteno had yet to show any true fear of him, but this incident was bound to breed a certain level of caution, if nothing else. As it should. Lexius was not looking forward to bearing witness to it.

He paused at the exit of the hall, one hand still on the wall there, when he spotted the Sadist situated before that fire he’d smelled. Plainly he’d dressed to combat the chill in lamb’s wool, leather and jeans, hair loose to provide an extra layer over shoulders, neck and back. The fire picked out the threads of colour in it violently, left it burnished whilst gave a ruddy faience to his reflective eyes where the light edged around the sharp cheekbone and angular jaw on one side.

His chin was up tilted so he could get a better view of the newly woken Elf, but there was no sign of alarm upon seeing him, and no hostility that suggested he wanted him gone sooner, rather than later. Lexius' grip tightened on the wall as he finally met Mesteno's gaze directly.

"You are well?" His voice was rough with disuse and dryness, but the tone was as intent as his gaze. It didn't seem he would relax until he had the answer.

Mesteno’s first impulse had been to reach up towards him, perhaps stretch far enough to catch him by the wrist and draw him down to sit, but good sense intercepted action before it could begin. Touching him now that he was awake felt like something he should wait for an invitation for, the extent of his instability still uncertain. The absence of the mental link was proving a true inconvenience.

"I'm well," he replied, chin dipping a faint nod. "Better for seein' you up and about again. I wasn't sure how long to leave you passed out before goin' t'get help."

Lexius' eyes narrowed into fine slits, as if he didn't quite believe the man completely. Mesteno would say he was well even if he was actively bleeding! He gripped the wall just a little bit more strongly to stave off the urge to reach out and pull off the man's clothing so he could have a look for himself! Never mind the renewed, more insistent temptation to wind thought to thought and inspect the Sadist's mind with his own. To simply feel that connection, if nothing else

"You need a drink," Mesteno told him, the dryness of throat all too obvious. "Sit, I'll get you some water, or get the water heatin' for your coffee if you want it." He was already snapping the notebook he'd been writing in closed, leaving the quill sandwiched amongst its pages to play bookmark.

"No." The denial was swift and, perhaps, a little bit harsh. Lexius heard it and took a breath to smooth out his next words. Mesteno did not deserve more harshness, especially when it seemed he wasn't harbouring any ill will for what had happened.

Pessimism danced a 'told you so' throughout Mesteno’s unmonitored thoughts, and though he attempted to school his features into serenity, it wasn't happening. Worse yet, Lexius had turned his gaze away, and he mistook it for displeasure.

He set the notebook down, and rose with as much dignity as he could muster under the circumstances. "That's fine. I left all your things together," he managed evenly.

"I need to return to the desert." Lexius spoke a bit more smoothly now, gaze shifting back to Mesteno and the fire.

All that hair, the gleam of his eyes. Too many damn clothes. And his mind, which might as well be a million miles away. It was better he go back. He could remain here, but it would slow his recovery. He'd been unconscious as long as he had been because he was here, not there. And despite Mesteno's equanimity, he was probably ready for the Elf to be gone. Yet...

"Come with me?" He hadn't meant to ask, to presume upon the Sadist even more, but the words just up and marched themselves right on out of his mouth without his permission. He didn't try to take them back, but that subtle bit of relaxation was gone as he braced himself for the refusal.

The subtle displeasure thinning the necromancer’s mouth seemed to soften, the severity of tight drawn brows smoothing. Now he was plain confused, and the tension he saw in Lexius' stance did nothing to enlighten him. They were back to the awkwardness of mixed signals, and he wasn't sure if joining him then was the wisest choice to make.

Mesteno had never made such bold claims as to consider himself wise though, and he nodded, agreeing despite all the good reasons not to. None of them stacked up well against 'don't care, want to go'.

"Sure, s'probably warmer than here. Let me bank the fire so I at least got something to put the new windows in." Rather than leaving the fire untended and return to a burnt out shell of a cabin, he meant!

Lexius wanted to relax again, give in to the near giddying sense of relief that coiled somewhere across the back of his brain. Mesteno had, against all good sense, agreed! But there was clear displeasure in the Sadist's expression, even if it was fading. Confusion begat confusion. It kept the Elf pinned in place, fingers still tightly curled around the edge of the wall as if the wood might ease the itch in his palms and fingertips.

He knew he should not be carefully gathering his aching Will and stretching the more-than-sore muscles of his mind. He absolutely should not be thinking about reaching mentally for the Sadist right then and damn the consequences. That's what had gotten them in trouble in the first place, his own ability to ignore the consequences. Another look flicked over the room reminded him of that and dashed cold water onto the idea of doing anything mental. But he could talk, at least. Speak deliberately.

"Mesteno." He said it like he was tasting every syllable of the man's name, with a certain grave undertone that infested the sincerity of what he said next. "I wish to touch you," in so many ways! "But I am not certain it is welcome. Or advisable. I apologize... for what happened." There. He did relax a little then. It was said out loud and plain. Lexius straightened from his lean against the wall. "I will get my things."

Mesteno had moved to crouch by the fire, moving the remaining logs further apart and using the ash to smother the flames, adopting the shadows in place of any fireside tools, their added chill and manifest solidity helping to further extinguish heat and light. The room cooled rapidly after that, and the warm, rosy ambience was replaced by the same, milky light by which they'd got themselves into trouble two nights before. He wasn't so fixated on his task that he didn't hear the Elf though. In fact that grave tone with which he spoke his name gripped him as if by the nape, assured he turned his eyes back to him as the embers faded. He was convinced he was going to hear something he wouldn't like.

The necromancer wasn't prone to owlish blinking, but for Lexius' confession he wasn't lacking in obvious reaction. His chin sank low, and he lifted a hand to plaster wide-splayed fingers across brow and eyes. He shook his head, the ends of his hair swaying heavily.

"I thought--," a solitary shake of shoulders, coupled with a sound that probably passed for relief and soft laughter together. "Your touch is welcome, Lexius. Can't comment on advisable, but that won't stop me being glad of it. Now quit makin' me think the worst. You got me all tied up in knots." And he wasn't going to explain what he meant by that!

"As you say." The Elf replied. There was a breath of amusement in those words, more self-directed then aimed outward, then Lexius moved down the hall back the way he'd come.
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