Kiorl lay back on his bed and shivered. He wasn’t cold, but tension and desire wound tightly along his nerves. He couldn’t stop the uncontrollable shaking in his limbs. Lahja knelt on the thick furs next to him, and traced a single fingertip from the ball of his shoulder to his elbow, then down to his wrist. Kiorl swallowed nervously as Lahja repeated the action on the inside of his other arm. His tail twitched, but before he could lash it to his arm Lahja reached out and wrapped his long fingers around the furry prehensile length. Kiorl purred, he couldn’t help it, and pushed into the touch. His spine arched as Lahja stroked down his tail all the way to the tip. When Lahja grasped the tail again, the panther turned onto his side, and Lahja’s other hand came down to stroke his long hair and the back of his neck. Kiorl almost moaned.
He had wanted the kiss so much, and Lahja had been aghast at the light which had knocked Kiorl away and left him half blind on one side for the following half hour. When they’d arrived back at the house, Jahke had kissed everyone goodnight in his usual exuberant fashion before dragging both Sitka and Shindae upstairs with the sort of happy lust and fire drunk look Kiorl knew only too well. Lahja had kissed Jahke back. The sweetness of the little horned demon was too forceful not the react to, but there had been no hint of light or pain. Kiorl hated to admit, even in his own head, that he was jealous.
So here they were, sharing Kiorl’s bed. The panther had promised not to move, not to touch the fallen angel, and allow himself to be explored. It was wonderful, but it was torture. Kiorl had always been the lead partner in every single one of his sexual encounters, apart from when he’d been with Sathriel, and lying with Lahja tracing bold but careful lines down his flesh made him feel out of control, and not necessarily in a good way.
Lahja didn’t say anything as he pressed his fingertips against Kiorl’s shoulder blades, and the major demon took the instruction to roll onto his front. He was surprised when, a moment later, Lahja’s weight settled over his thighs. Lahja stroked down his spine eagerly, but Kiorl felt him hesitate as he reached the base of his tail.
“Is it wrong to want to touch you?” Lahja wondered aloud. Kiorl wasn’t sure if he was supposed to answer, but before he could formulate a reply, Lahja pulled a strong hand all the way down his tail. “Is it wrong to want to touch you, and to want to kiss Jahke as well? Zai says it’s not, it’s natural, but Tobias doesn’t agree so much.”
Lahja was silent for a while again as he continued to stroke Kiorl’s long tail. When he began to rub the sensitive hairs of the tip over his own chest, Kiorl growled into the pillow.
“I didn’t talk to them about it, but apparently I think too loudly. Empaths are kind of annoying like that, aren’t they?”
“Mmm….” Kiorl was sort of scared if he spoke he might break the spell Lahja was under. The pale demon hadn’t talked to him so honestly since their time in the pool, and then he’d been distracted by fear of drowning.
“I don’t know anything about sex… but your fur is really soft. I like being here with you.” Lahja ran his hands up either side of Kiorl’s spine, and Kiorl hissed in surprise as the fallen angel lay along his back; a warm and welcome weight. “Nassau says you love me, but I don’t even know what that means.”
Kiorl was about to curse his oldest friend’s ability to listen in on his thoughts, when the questioning tone in Lahja’s voice made him flick back both his ears.
What does it actually mean to be in love? His inner voice asked.
Jahke and Sitka are in love.
And Atoki and Vruu love each other, anyone can tell.
Put it into words, the voice urged, what does it mean?
Lahja’s lips found the back of his neck, and Kiorl almost melted under the softness of the kiss.
“Do you think we’ll find out?” Lahja whispered into his hair. “We have forever after all.”
“Would you like to?”
“Yes.” Lahja’s weight lifted from him slightly. “Turn over.”
Kiorl did as he was bid, and inhaled sharply as Lahja’s weight settled over him again. He couldn’t help but glance down at his own erection, previously wearing a hole in his mattress, and Lahja’s alongside him. He swallowed again, even though his throat was dry. The boy’s cock was built like the rest of him; smooth, pale, perfectly proportioned. Kiorl wondered what he tasted like.
“I want to kiss you.” Lahja frowned, a tiny set of furrows between his pale brows. “Don’t move.”
“OK,” Kiorl breathed.
Lahja stroked his ear, and he flinched.
“Don’t move,” Lahja reminded him sternly.
The young demon stroked soft fingertips down his face, brushing his fur the wrong way before smoothing the short hairs along his muzzle. He touched the rubbery curves of Kiorl’s nose, then hooked his thumb between his lips and opened his mouth. It was the same gesture Kiorl had used on the human boy he’d broken, and Lahja’s gaze was full of a mix of lust and power the panther recognised. When the angel bent to kiss him, Kiorl willed himself not to move. Lahja’s lips were soft and warm. His tongue pushing into Kiorl’s mouth was firm and insistent. He licked Kiorl’s fangs, pushed against his tongue, and wound his fingers into Kiorl’s yard long hair and scratched at the back of his neck. Kiorl purred. Lahja made an echo of a growl back at him, and Kiorl felt like he was being forced back into the bed by the strength of Lahja’s kiss. He was panting when they parted.
“Mmmm….” Lahja sat back with a broad, self-satisfied smile. “Tasty.” His hand rested firmly over Kiorl’s heart. “So fast… mine too.”
Lahja nodded, and Kiorl reached out a hand and pressed against Lahja’s chest. His heart was racing just the same as Kiorl’s was, and the panther smiled.
“We have the same eyes,” Kiorl told him.
“Jahke says I kiss like you.”
“Would that be so bad?”
“No.” Lahja smiled at him, then bent and laid his head on Kiorl’s chest. “Can I sleep here with you?”
“Yes please.” Kiorl found himself stroking Lahja’s silky soft hair. “I can’t promise I ain’t gonna try and grope you in your sleep though.”
“Hmmm….” The angel propped his chin on Kiorl’s chest for a moment and stared at him with a curious sort of expression. “Maybe I’d like that.”
“Wonders never cease.” Kiorl raised a hand to fade the light, but Lahja stopped him.
“I’ll do it.”
The angel had to sit up, his lips pressed in concentration. He made a complicated shape with his fingers. The glyph he drew in the air was correct, and the lights dimmed softly into blackness.
In the dark, Lahja snuggled up to him again, and Kiorl kissed the boy gently. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so frustrated and so happy all at the same time. When Lahja’s hand grasped him in the dark, Kiorl gasped.
“Very nice,” Lahja echoed back to him.
“Just stay really still.”
Kiorl lay back on the bed, fisted his fingers into the furs below, and tried his very best to do what Lahja wanted. The pale demon’s touch was so sweet and so softly curious. Every time they kissed, Kiorl felt himself slipping away from his self-control.
It was perfect.
Nassau was holding Court in the round chamber, his favourite room in the palace, where the ceiling reflected the sky of Mattias’s homeland. It was a good morning. The Prince heard a petition from a minor elemental demon who had recruited a very pretty willowy woman from Upstairs, and the Asina brothers had finally buried the hatchet by reaching an agreement with their mate to share him. No one could really believe it had taken them so long to see the obvious. But all that paled into insignificance when Kiorl arrived with Lahja on his arm, though perhaps it was the other way around. It was hard to tell. The black panther and the pale boy who shared the same eyes entered like equals, both smiling broadly, and made their way to the dais where Nassau lounged.
“Morning Nassau.” Kiorl’s grin and the forward set of his ears gave his emotions away; he radiated smug happiness.
“Morning.” Nassau arched an eyebrow at his old friend, and then glanced at Lahja. The pale demon looked subtly different, somehow larger, and Nassau’s stormy eyes narrowed as he worked out what had changed. “You’re a real demon now….”
Lahja giggled and took the seat Nassau offered him as his throne broadened and twisted to make room for his visitors.
“It went rather well, yes.”
“Rather well?” Kiorl echoed in disbelief. He settled next to the fallen angel and wrapped his arm over Lahja’s shoulders. The boy reached up to wind his fingers into Kiorl’s own, bringing him closer with a tug. “That was the most beautiful damn soul-taking I’ve ever seen.”
“High praise indeed,” Nassau smiled. “Show me?”
Lahja held out his free hand to the Prince of hell and smiled.
“Took you long enough,” Kiorl joked.
“Patience is a virtue, Ki.” Lahja replied.
“Yeah, an’ you know all about my lack of those.”
Lahja laughed, said something Nassau didn’t catch, and their voices drifted out of focus as he looked at Lahja’s memories. When Kiorl’s tail snuck around his ankle, Nassau found himself watching the scene from two sides. Both perspectives were coloured by a love he recognised well.
Lahja, beautiful and angelic, was sitting in a church pew under the watchful eyes of a preacher as he passed. It was familiar, but the memory didn’t play out like so many others. The pale demon visiting upon the human again and again, talking, his expression earnest as Kiorl watched from the shadows, insubstantial and dangerous.
Then the preacher was exalting to his congregation, raising hands and voices in praise and worship. Nassau saw the seed of madness Lahja had planted as it began to bloom in the minds of those who revelled in the glory they thought belonged to their God. He watched as the congregation grew and grew with each visit. Each time the vines of insanity twisted around another, as more and more souls were held under the sway Lahja had exerted.
And then the fallen angel was there. Kiorl stood by the alter, unseen by human eyes. His were fixed upon the boy who stood upon the lectern. Heaven’s light made him glow resplendent, and behind him, made of brightness encased in crystal, spread his wings. He was in every way the image an angel, the bringer of the Word, and at his command the madness was complete. Nassau watched as every member of the congregation went willingly to their deaths, and Kiorl simply stood holding a reliquary big as a vase and collected the multitude of souls which poured forth.
“I still can’t believe you convinced him suicide was the only way to get into heaven,” Kiorl said softly to the boy.
“He wanted to believe.” Lahja’s voice was low and soft, and Nassau felt he almost shouldn’t be listening. “When the desire is already there, the rest is easy.”
“You taught me that, Ki.”
“Oh yeah.” Nassau opened his eyes in time to see his old friend smile warmly, but his eyes only sparkled for Lahja. “So I did. Did I say anything else interesting?”
Lahja leant close to the panther and cupped a hand around his conical ear as he whispered. Nassau could have heard him, could have listened in automatically, but he shut the walls around his mind sharply. It wasn’t for him to snoop on all of their secrets, and while Kiorl was used to his Prince wafting in and out of his mind, Nassau couldn’t bring himself to eavesdrop on Lahja when the young demon trusted him so.
When they finally both looked back at him, Nassau smiled.
“That was beautifully done. Most certainly the best first collection I have ever had the joy to witness.”
“Thirty seven people, Nas. Thirty seven! Most of us don’t pull that many in a whole year!”
“Well, it’s not like it will keep working week after week,” Lahja commented. “Have to have some time off between converting the masses.” The fallen angel shot his demon partner a look which spoke volumes. “So what do demons do with their time off, Ki?”
“Oh, I can think of a few things.”
“Please excuse us Nassau.” Lahja stood, turned, smiled, and inclined his head respectfully. “I need to go whup this guy into shape in the pool.”
“You’re gonna beat me?” Kiorl jumped up with a cocky smile, and as soon as he was on his feet, Lahja’s fingers twined with his own. “This I gotta see.”
“Winner gets to pick the bed.”
“Why? Yours is softer by far.”
“Ha!” The two demons, so well matched, continued their conversation as they crossed the parlour towards the door. Neither of them looked back at Nassau watching. “You’re gonna shred the drapes with your claws, and then where will we be?”
Nassau smiled as his throne flowed back into a more natural shape, and laid his hands along the arm rests as he watched his oldest friend and his lover depart. As well as he knew Kiorl, he wouldn’t have liked to say which of them was in charge of any aspect of the relationship. He was happy for the blue-eyed panther. Just as the door swung shut behind them, Nassau saw the shimmer of Lahja’s wings in the space behind him, and he grinned.
He could give them to the boy, a gift of power and beauty, but remembering Lahja’s voice, his smile, and the way he’d left the room holding tight to Kiorl’s hand, Nassau figured the boy wouldn’t miss the wings. He had gifts enough to last eternity already.