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A Third Of The Stars In Heaven
Reign of Fire
1050 words
April 2007
Adult content: explicit sex, concepts
Summary: Under the dead light of early morning, he cracks the skin of ice in the water jug with his fingers, too numb to feel the sting.

Under the dead light of early morning, he cracks the skin of ice in the water jug with his fingers, too numb to feel the sting.

Streaks of new, pink scar tissue decorate the first three fingers of his right hand, and older silver whorls paint the backs of them. Hairless, but for a few dark strays. Beneath the knuckle of his left ring finger. One wrist furred, the other too smooth. He pours water into a basin, dips and swirls his hands beneath the water, and they are the color and shape of fish, shining scales, pink, mythical creatures.

Jared snorts awake, turns over and watches him. Silently; he is too still, too vigilant.

Quinn sometimes has memories of before; ones that steal into him like sickness, quiet and unnamed. He had been a serious child, even before the dragons came. But there is a boy laughing, running, being chased in his memories and he knows that must have been him. A shadow of real freedom, of real happiness, passes heavily over him, and is gone.

He has never seen Jared laugh.

The water stills, shows him the face of a man. A face half-hidden with dark beard; tight, thin skin skimming the shape of his skull just beneath; eyes too bright, burning from within, seeming to suffuse his face and the natural mirror beneath with the color of winter sea.

He closes his eyes; splashes the freezing water on his face and wipes at it with the hem of his filthy shirt. Jared stares, blinking, at the exposed white of his belly. His face still without expression in the colorless halflight, but his mouth parted. Showing Quinn the glint of teeth, saliva on his tongue.

Quinn lowers his shirt and turns away, terrified of the lack of shame he feels. Has felt. Of Jared’s uncomplicated need, and his own, more raveled one.

“You have to stop,” Quinn says, to the wall, to the blank sky in his bare window. “Coming to me.”

“I know.” Jared’s voice no longer breaks when he says it.

Quinn stands with his back to him. It’s a measure of trust he shows only a very few. Jared. Creedy. He bends to feel at the shirt hanging on the sill. It’s still damp from its wash yesterday, still smelling faintly of him. It is worn gray, and covered in a thin layer of gray ash. He pulls at the shirt on his back, tugging it over his head and arms; and shivers, forces his way into the new one.

“You should start looking at finding a girl.”

“I know,” Jared says, and his voice is deeper, harsher. Quinn turns back, and watches Jared tug on his cock under the covers. “Evie’s started bleeding.” He closes his eyes and flares his nostrils. “I do think of it, sometimes,” he says weakly, distant.

“Well think of it harder.”

Jared’s mouth quirks, and his hand moves faster, finding a pattern and rhythm. Quinn doesn’t look away. He tells himself he could, if he wanted.

Jared breathes in, a hungry, choking, air-devouring gasp. The jerking of his elbow is pulling the blanket lower onto his chest, and Quinn is pulled toward him. His chest too tight, his throat constricted, heartbeat trapped in the hollow. There is not enough space in him for what he won’t feel.

He kneels at the edge of his own bed. “Here,” he whispers. Burrows a hand beneath the blankets to find him. “Here, here,” he intones like a prayer. “Let me.”

Jared nods and lets himself go; grabs Quinn’s wrist, his strong and lean fingers bruising him, down to the bone. Quinn strokes, firm and even, confidence and knowledge born from habit. Feeling the velvety soft sheath of skin travel over the heated shaft; feeling it breathe and jerk in his hand like a living thing, an animal apart from this quiet, severe boy in his bed.

Jared’s mouth opens wider, to let out near-silent whimpers, barest puffs of air, and Quinn slips a thumb into that wet, inviting mouth. Jared bites down, hard enough to mark, but not to break the skin. He rolls his tongue over the pad of Quinn’s thumb, sucks it deep inside. Spit gathering in the seal between his lips and Quinn’s hand, his cheeks caving inwards with each deep pull. Quinn strokes the inside of his cheek, the slick roof of his mouth, and Jared comes; his cry muffled. His ejaculate is so warm on his fingers and wrist; but it will fast turn cold, like everything else. Quinn slips his thumb from the boy’s mouth, and Jared’s panting is loud in their silence. His eyelids fluttering. Mouth swollen wet and red.

He wants.

That mouth. To take him. That tongue, that same sweet suckling on him, on his cock. But Quinn never asks, and Jared never offers.

He pulls his hand from under the covers, playfully touches a slicked finger to Jared’s nose, and then hastily wipes off onto the bedclothes.

He stands, unsteady. Hard. It’s deliciously hard, it’s painfully hard, that life asserts itself even after so much has been taken away. Quinn turns away before he allows himself to take more than he’s been given. Later, in a stolen moment of privacy, he will take himself in hand. Tongue roving over fingers, trying to find the lost taste of him.

“Get out,” he says, not unkindly, and Jared is up and out of his bed, efficiently, no wasted movement. “Tell Creedy I’ll be down in a minute.” Already, his breath is too fast, a harsh whisper in his lungs.

Jared nods, slinks carefully through his door, and Quinn listens for his bare, quiet feet on the landing and down the stairs.

He is quick. Someone will come for him, soon. Will come asking, needing, or wanting. And he will give, because he can. Because he knows what it’s like to have no one. The room is still thick with the biting, damp, boy smell of Jared, and he is quick, and he is empty, and he spills into his own hand, and he thinks of no one.

He stares out his window at the ashen sky, from horizon to horizon one endless gray. Watches the tiny particles of ash land on his sill. Every so often, one will catch the light, and shine bright silver. But only for a moment, and then it is quickly gone.

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