When Faraday opened his eyes again, he was in a cozy little room tucked in bed. He felt more alert. More...himself. His magic was replenishing itself, his power growing again. He stretched and groaned, his body feeling stiff and sore. He wanted Vasquez. Where was he?
If Joshua cared to listen, his bond with Alejandro would be rumbling with a mix of annoyance and relief. He'd been all but dragged to a bath by Sam, who had simply given him a pointed look, handed him a towel and a clean set of clothes, and left before Vasquez could say anything else.
A few minutes after Joshua awoke, Vasquez walked into their room, looking well-rested and wearing clean clothes. He'd bathed, and without all the blood, he looked totally human again. When he saw that Joshua was awake, he immediately perked up, love and affection warming both his smile and their soul bond.
"¡Cariño! How do you feel?"
Something skittish and restless settled in Faraday’s chest. He felt Vasquez’s emotions surge at him like a current. He wondered if he could... He reached out like he would with his magic, pushing joy and calm back up the current.
“I’m good Leannán. Better, anyway. Not quite at full strength, but I’m getting there.” Worry shot through him. “Did we lose anyone? Any of ours?”
Vasquez took off his hat and gun belt, setting them on the table. He kicked off his boots and lay on top of the covers next to Joshua, gently pulling his mate into his arms. He tucked Joshua's head under his chin, breathing in his scent. "Good. I'm glad." He murmured, stroking up and down Joshua's back.
"We nearly lost Goodnight, and Billy, and Jack. After I brought you here, I found Jack. His soul was hovering at the edge, not quite gone yet, so I pulled the arrows out and poured some of my blood in his wounds. I did the same for Goodnight and Billy. My blood healed their bodies and called their souls back to their bodies. They weren't truly dead yet, or they would have been beyond my reach." Vasquez sighed, closing his eyes for a moment and just breathing Joshua in.
"The whole town knows my secret now. Most are just grateful to be alive and don't care, so long as I remain human around them. Jack...I'm not so sure. Red already knew, but I'm not surprised. The rest seemed okay with it." Alejandro kissed Joshua's hair. "Your secret is safe, Cariño. They believe I revived you, just like the others." His mind brushed against Joshua's.
"My sweet Puck. I will protect your secrets with the utmost care. I swear this."
Faraday gasped slightly. That was new. “I trust you.” He responded in kind. It was strange, sharing himself like this. Fae were selfish creatures. When they gave, it was because they felt like it. Because it was fun somehow or benighted them in some way. But this...
Though he supposed, it did benefit him. He was getting something out of it. Love. Real love. For everything he gave, Vasquez gave back just the same. It would take some getting used to, but he could get used to it nonetheless. He clung to him, just happy to be in his arms. “I might need you to protect more than just my secrets.” He whispered aloud. “I’ve never been this drained before. Never exhausted myself this much. It’s coming back, but slowly. I’ve never been this vulnerable before.”
"I will protect you, Cariño, for the rest of my days, and all the ones beyond that." Alejandro murmured, smiling into Joshua's hair. "When I'm weak, I need to feed on hot, fresh blood. Do the fae need something to heal? I met a forest spirit once who made a burrow beneath the roots of a tree and slept there for six days while the tree's roots helped him regain his health."
“That sort of thing can actually help, but I hate small spaces. Don’t like feeling trapped. Mostly I need rest. And maybe...” He bit his lip. He could ask. Vasquez would give. But...
“If you wanted... you could...” He shifted, clinging to him tighter. “You could give me some of your strength. Your power. My magic can feed off it and use it to grow.” He sighed. “It’s a lot to ask. We could just go down to the creek. I can lay in the grass, put my feet in the water. Draw power from nature. That always works. I just need some help getting there, I’m a little too weak to walk on my own.”
"I would give you the moon if you asked for it, Cariño, but this is much more easily done." Vasquez laughed quietly. "Take what you need, my love. If it becomes too much, I'll stop you." He pulled back just enough to look into Joshua's brilliantly green eyes. "I have just one request, mi amor: say my name again, please? I...I haven't heard it in so long, and when you say it, it just feels so...indescribably wonderful. Maybe it's because you're my mate. I'm not sure. I'll need to search my memory for the particulars. I just...when we're alone, call me by my true name."
He smiled and leaned up. A bargain. Now, that, he could work with. “Thank you Kamazotz.”
He kissed him slow and deep, pulling that dark and ancient power up by the roots and into himself. He was careful. He wouldn’t take too much, or take anything that wouldn’t grow back in no time. It was strong and heady, like smoke and soil. He trembled slightly at the overwhelming intoxication of it. His magic consumed it, roaring to life inside of him. It wasn’t just the power it was responding to: it was the person behind it. They were made for each other. Life and death. Blood soaked earth and revel fires. Over a thousand years guiding and pushing them towards each other. They had a millennia behind them and an eternity ahead, and Puck could taste it all. Feel it all. The energy of love, and raw power, and open potential. The world was at their feet. He was giddy with it. He shifted up and straddled him properly, taking his face in his hands and kissing him for all he was worth. He pushed out with his mind, trying to show him. Trying to make him understand.
This is what it meant to share your soul with a fae. Pure joy and delight. Excitement and adventure. And they would share it all.
Kamazotz was a creature of the night. Alejandro Vasquez was a man of the earth. Both beings were his true nature, just different parts of it. His eyes fell shut as his lover kissed him, savoring the taste of life and fresh, green grass that made Puck who he was. In that moment, they were opposites in perfect balance. He could feel the joy, the elation, the boundless freedom in his lover's soul. It lit the dark, ancient places within his own, illuminating the gentler thoughts and emotions he had kept hidden for a millennia. He let Puck see it all, all that he was, all that he had done. All that he would do for the other half of his soul. As they kissed, a quiet, faint memory dislodged itself from his mind, floating to the surface:
It was his mother, standing before the remains of the pyre that had killed his father. That day, he had seen his mother begin her fall into madness, now that half of her soul had been torn from her. She had turned to him, kneeling down to hold her son, still small and so ignorant of the world. "When you find your mate, my son, think of this moment. Protect your mate with all of your might. Savor every moment. Regret nothing. And though I may become cold and hollow from this, I will never regret loving your father. Never." And yes, she became cold and cruel and mad during the following decades, but he never once heard her curse the bond between mates. Not once.
Faraday gasped loudly and broke the kiss, still holding Vasquez’s face in his hands. He stared at him with wide eyes. “I’m sorry.” He choked out. He didn’t know what else to say. He pressed their foreheads together.
“I’ll never leave you!” He proclaimed loudly across the bond. “Forever.” He kissed him again, gentle this time, but with all the same passion. “I love you, Kamazotz.”
"I love you, Puck." Alejandro whispered into Joshua's mind. He smiled softly up at his lover, raising a hand to caress the redhead's cheek. "My wild fae. You will be the morning storm, and I'll be the silent night." Then he blinked slowly, the world swimming before him. "Puck...Cariño...what...damnit...I think...you took...too much..." He felt woozy and faint.
“Hey hey hey. Stay with me.” He let his magic seep back into his mate. It was strange, balancing this back and forth. And then he felt it, this weary hunger crawling along the bond. Oh. Okay, then. “Alright, Leannán, I’ve got you. Here you go” He pulled him close and pressed his mate’s face to his neck. “Take what you need, mo gra.” He echoed Vasquez’s words from earlier.
The offer of blood was not one that Alejandro could ignore, and with a soft growl, he rolled them over, pinning Joshua to the bed as he sank his fangs into pale skin. Joshua's blood tasted like thick honey, sweet and perfect. It didn't take much for Vasquez to feel the world right itself again; it seemed that fae blood was more potent than human blood. After only a few mouthfuls, he sealed the wounds, kissing Joshua's pulse. He felt normal again, and he could sense that Joshua was well on his way to recovery.
"Sorry to scare you like that, Cariño." He apologized, rolling onto his side so he could look at his mate. "How do you feel now?"
Joshua grinned and snuggled closer to him. “Better. Much better. Everything is...so much.” He kissed him. “Everything is so much more. I can feel you. I can feel everything. You’re part of me. In my head. Under my skin. Tangled up in my magic.” He ducked his head and mouthed at Vasquez’s neck. “I can taste you. I don’t even recognize half of what I’m sensing. You’re like nothing I’ve ever had before. This. All of this. It’s all so new.” He nipped at his jaw. “I like new. New is exciting.”
Alejandro laughed, the sound carrying a faint hint of Joshua's ethereal giggling. "There's the Puck I know and love!" He grinned, letting Joshua explore as he pleased. "I feel things I never knew existed. I never knew that joy could be so intense, or that my body was only half-full, and now that your soul is bound to mine, I feel....complete. This is all so strange..." His smile softened. "I waited a thousand years for you. Anything you want to know, just ask me. We have time."
“I already know you.” He breathed, kissing his way back down, shoving the shirt aside to bite at his collarbones. “The rest is details.” He licked the hollow of his throat, groaning. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done to me? My people are bound to nothing and no one. We are freedom personified. You have captured nature itself and caged it in your heart.” He lifted his head and stared into his eyes. “And I’m happy to let you keep me. Because then I get to have you. This is unprecedented, Kamazotz.”
Kamazotz had been a hard, cold, and brutal man for centuries. He'd had no need for gentler emotions. He'd almost forgotten how to have them, but now? Now this thrice-damned fae had sauntered into his soul and laid claim to it. His smile was soft, and dark, bloody tears gathered in his eyes.
"Mi amor, I would never put you in a cage. My heart is your home, not your prison. If leaving me made you happy, I would let you go in an instant...although I hope you never desire to." He brought Joshua up for a kiss. "My people were kings, bound by ancient laws and rituals. We are death personified. We are the inevitable, the slow march of fate. We feel the burden of the years, and we lose ourselves in blood and destruction. We are wild, yes, but we always tread on the precipice of despair. You have taken death and freed it of its burdens."
“From life and growth, come death and decay, which bring new life.” Puck recited. Who said that to him? His mother? His brother? “Death is part of life. It doesn’t have to be bound by despair.” He kissed him again. “I am life, and you are death, and we are one.” He held him close, clinging to him, tangling their legs together.
"Puck, mi amor...make love to me." He begged. "Make me yours. Claim my body." Kamazotz rested their foreheads together. "Bind me to you in every way you can. I'll swear any oath. Please...please, my love...take me..." He didn't know what possessed him to be so desperate, but he let the need take over.
Faraday nodded and began pulling at their clothes. He pulled open the drawer of the bedside table and shuffled around for anything that would...ah! Hair grease. That would work. He stripped them both and pushed Vasquez onto his back. He made room for himself between his legs and let himself take in the sight of his lover sprawled out before him. His mate. His soulmate. He slicked his fingers and bent down to kiss him deeply as he slid one inside of him. The world began to shift around him. He could feel the air change. Something crackling in the back of his mind, deep in his gut, as he stretched his lover.
After the death of his father, Alejandro's mother had rarely spoken to her son about soulbonds. What little he knew, he learned from the elders, but their minds had begun to fray from overindulgence in coca leaves and blood sacrifices. He had no idea how a bond solidified, but perhaps this was it. He'd claimed Joshua, and now Joshua must claim him. Another memory flickered across his mind:
"Your minds will become one. What your mate feels, so will you. You will speak without words, mind to mind. Their blood will soothe all of your wounds. They will be your reason to live. Once you join, you will never desire another."
A soft moan escaped his lips as he wrapped his arms around Joshua's shoulders, relaxing himself so Joshua could stretch him properly. The smell of the air before a thunderstorm filled the room.
Kamazotz’s power was calling out to his. The lines that still separated them were beginning to blur. Faraday removed his fingers and hitched Vasquez’s legs up over his hips. Lining himself up, he stared into his eyes, his own glowing bright green as he smiled with too many sharp teeth, feral and wanting, but oh so full of pure awe and affection and joy.
“I love you.” He told him, steady and firm, as though laying down a decree of absolute divine truth. He slid into him and he could feel the energy around them vibrate. He kissed him deep and slow, moving carefully but with all the intensity that the moment demanded. When he was fully seated inside of him, he paused and let himself feel...everything. He could feel everything.
Overwhelming pleasure burned like a warm, comforting fire just underneath Kamazotz's skin. After a millennia spent in the shadows, even during the daylight, it felt like he was taking his first true steps into the warm embrace of the sunlight. His people would not burn in the sun like other vampires would, but the warmth of the distant star was usually beyond their reach. Now that his mate was inside of him, for the first time in his life, Alejandro felt the sunshine on his skin, the gentle heat making him feel alive.
"I love you." He answered back, solemn and earnest, his gaze never leaving Joshua's. "You've given me the sun..." He whispered, awestruck and adoring. "Is this what it's like? To feel the light warming your skin? I feel...like I can hear the earth and the sky calling to me. Is that your power?"
Joshua laughed and nodded, his hips moving in a slow and steady pace. “I can feel the shadows. The darkness. It’s so beautiful in a way I never noticed before. Safe and comforting.” He kissed his cheek. “Just like you.” He closed his eyes and let the energy between them hum around him. “We’re connected.” He whispered. “I barely tell where you end and begin and more.”
"...I didn't know how lonely I was until I met you, Cariño." Alejandro whispered back. "Wherever you go, I'll go." His hand slipped down to tease one of Joshua's nipples. It felt good to make love like this, slowly and unhurried, like they had all the time in the world...because they did.
"There's an old legend...that when man was first created, he had two heads, four arms, and four legs. He was complete, and the gods, in their anger and jealousy, split man in two, leaving us to forever search for our missing half." He smiled softly. "It's good to see you again, mi amor." His hips rolled up to meet Joshua's thrusts.
Faraday laughed incredulously. “My people are solitary and selfish. My parents don’t even like each other. But I...” He pressed his face to Vasquez’s neck. “I always hated being alone.” He kissed the stubbled skin beneath his lips. “I think I was looking for you.”
"My people were once treated like gods. It might sound amazing, but it was lonely too. Now, I'm one of the last, and I think I'm the only one this far north." Vas sighed in pleasure, gasping when Joshua hit his sweet spot. "I'm glad you found me." He laughed quietly.
"'Oh, good! We got a Mexican!'" He giggled, doing a fair imitation of Joshua's drawl.
“I found my Mexican!” Faraday giggled wildly, his true voice echoing through the air. He bit down on Vasquez’s neck gently and playfully with his real teeth. Not breaking the skin, just poking and scraping enough to show he could.
"You can bite me, guero." Vasquez purred, grinning at the thrill of danger. "I'd like it. There are only two ways to kill a man like me, and tearing up my throat is not one of them." He squeezed down around Joshua's cock, licking his lips.
Faraday groaned and rolled his hips hard. He could smell Vasquez’s blood. It was like it was calling to him. He had never felt like this before. “Want you to bite me, too.” He gasped.
He pressed a soft kiss to the side of his neck, before biting down. Blood poured into his mouth. It tasted like death and smoke and things he couldn’t recognize. The flavor of Kamazotz’s homeland. As delicious and intoxicating as the man himself.
Alejandro grinned, his eyes going black as his fangs dropped. He bit down hard into Joshua's neck, moaning as Puck's sweet, rich blood hit his tongue. It was overwhelming. He felt like a circuit had been connected, the circle complete, one flowing into the other and back again, forever.
Faraday moaned loudly, his hips moving faster. Everything in the world narrowed down to this. Them. Together. Everything pulled and connected and settled exactly as it should be. This was harmony. This was pleasure. This was peace. This was joy. This was love.
Vasquez let out a soft growl, not truly feeding from his mate, just savoring his lover's taste and the feeling of their bond. Something in him gentled when he was with Joshua, his walls tumbling down, his ferocity abandoned in favor of softer passions. He could feel the whirlwind that was his mate's soul slow down just a bit, his cold heart melting, his selfishness giving way to consideration, if only for Kamaztoz. There was a word for it, he just knew it. It was on the tip of his tongue...
Tamed. They had tamed each other. He shared this revelation with his mate in his mind, until the thought was overridden by the need to come. Alejandro was hurtling towards the edge, but he held himself back, only wanting to fall when Puck was there with him.
Faraday shuddered. The very idea of domestication should’ve terrified him to his core, but he was unafraid. Alejandro would never trap him. Never lock him away. They gentled and tamed each other, but only for each other. They would run wild together. The world was theirs. Both worlds. He would show him the fairy realm. Reality was at their fingertips. He could feel the want and need rise within himself and his lover.
“Now.” He growled against his neck. “Come with me.” As he felt himself surrender, he pushed it all through the bond, consuming Alejandro to pull him apart with him.
Kamazotz had been born undead. He had never felt what it was like for true life to course through his veins. Now he knew. With a soft, broken cry of Joshua's real name, he came, falling over the edge into the ever-welcoming ecstasy. He felt Puck's pleasure mingle with his own, and he sent that same elation back to his mate. Someday, he would return to the land of his ancestors with his mate. He would show the fae the ruins of their palaces and temples, the hidden springs deep beneath the ground, the worn stones where the sacrifices were once made. He would show him the graves of his mother and father, where the grass would never grow again. There was nothing he wouldn't share with his mate.
Faraday felt the world spin and shift back into place. Reality settling into something more stable and human. Panting against Vasquez’s neck, he grinned. “Can we just stay like this for...about a year or so?”
"Make it five years, and I'll say yes." Alejandro laughed, the sound human once again. "But alas, we're expected at dinner if you're awake. Billy and Goodnight especially wanted to see you."
Faraday pulled out and rolled over onto his back next to him. “Seriously? Why? Don’t they hate me? I’ve been fucking with Goodnight since we got here!”
"They don't. Even if they did, you sacrificed yourself for us all. Goodnight and Billy died covering you when they realized what you were doing." Alejandro rolled onto his side, leaning on his lower arm as he looked down at his mate. "Jack is a hypocritical bigot. Sam is willing to sacrifice men for a cause not his own. Red...Red is just grumpy." He laughed. "None of us are perfect, Cariño. Come down and see them, please?"
Joshua smirked. “I like Red. That was a good trick he pulled on us. I was proud.” He pushed himself up and wiped himself down with a nearby cloth before gathering his clothes. “There’s something off about those two. You notice that? Not just how Goodnight is so twitchy, but...” He sighed. “It’s like before with you. I’m seeing something and not seeing what I’m seeing. Obviously, it isn’t bothering me like it did with you, so I haven’t given it much thought. You think they’re like us?”
"Inhuman? Sí, I think so. I'm not sure what they are, though. Never met whatever they are before." Vasquez shrugged. He stretched languidly before getting off the bed. He cleaned himself off and began getting dressed as well. "Are you completely healed, mi amor, or do you need help getting downstairs?"
Faraday waved him off, doing up his last button. “I’m fine now, no need to fuss.” He found his hat and set it to rights on his head, gave Vasquez a quick peck on the lips, and headed out the door. “Keep up, Leannán!” He called back.
"I love you, Cariño." Alejandro thought fondly, making sure his lover heard it as he followed him down the stairs.