Hi again, there is an explanation of what did happen to Lin and Tsin on their mission in here as well as some fairly serious squick...I bracketed the offending section with xs top and bottom so any who wants to can skip it. I tried to edit it out and I just couldn't bring myself to do it, it fits in here to me...sick puppy that I am. I won't go into too detailed of a warning, you'll pick it up on the way to the xss.

If it offends anyone, I apologize...and again, thanks for the kind

Then and Now

Chapter 16

Faun dozed a little but couldn't really relax enough to drop into a deep sleep. It hadn't really bothered him too much when he was feeling so ill and worn but his hormones were in high gear now that Lin had made him stronger and healthier. And Lin was so temptingly close.

Faun resisted the urge to move any closer to Lin, he had to let Lin decide when he wanted to do anything physical. To push him now would be selfish. But Lin was moving slightly in his sleep, occasionally brushing a hand or leg across Fauns skin and it was enough to drive Faun to distraction.

Faun tried to think about the bonding, that was a good subject. Faun pondered ways to make sure Lin didn't regret this, ways he could make Lin happy. Ways he could show Lin how much he loved him.

He could learn to read and maybe go to school. Then they could read together, or discuss things that interested Lin. He could learn to cook a little, he could wake Lin every morning by very gently taking his warm,soft cock in his mouth and just hold it there until it began to...

Maybe he should just get up for a while. Get up and take a the time he got out Lin might be awake. Faun stumped off to the bathroom with a sigh.

Lin opened his eyes as soon as he heard the door shut. He waited a few minutes and then rose and ambled out to talk to Taz.

He found Taz and Tsin cozily talking on the couch. They looked up as he entered the room with the guilty air of those interrupted by the object of the conversation.

"Good afternoon. Sorry to interrupt a good gossip but I need to get Faun back. If you don't mind."

"No problem."

" Thanks for being so good to him. We both appreciate it."

"I didn't do much of anything. Just hung around, we talked some."

"Oh."

Taz grinned.

"Well, between bouts of hot, sweaty sex. You know how it is."

"Ah."

Taz broke into laughter and Tsin covered his head with his hands like a man ducking an explosion.

"I'm kidding, Lin. I offered once and he turned me down. Nice kid but no taste in men. I'll go get the damn dagger."

"I'll get some coffee."

Lin rummaged about in the kitchen and came back with a cup of coffee as well as a few other odds and ends. He poured over the collection of items as he drank the asked:

" What should we do to help?"

Lin looked uncomfortable.

"You might just be nearby with one of those ancestral swords. In case things get out of hand."

"You want to be more specific? I'll feel real bad if I stick a sword in Faun when he's just being vocal or something."

"Not Faun, me. And the specifics are that I need to be in my birth form for this to work. It is closer to my true nature and so, easier to access magic with. I just don't want to get carried away and hurt Faun. So if he starts screaming just take a slice out of me. That should get my attention."

"Umm, okay. You don't need us right in the same room, do you?"

"No, don't worry. I have no real exhibitionist leanings. Just be nearby if you would."

"No problem. What exactly will happen if this works?"

"Good question. No two bonds are exactly the same. I know in general what will happen, the details will become clear over time."

Taz returned and the transfer was redone. Lin finished his coffee and thanked them. Taz shrugged.

"De nada. Do you really want to do this right now?"

"Yes. Wish us luck."

"Always."

Lin ran into Faun halfway down the hall. Faun was draped in a towel, dripping and grinning like mad.

"Lin, I felt you come back!"

Faun threw his arms around Lin and spoke in short bursts, between kisses. Lin relaxed into Fauns arms slowly, eventually returning the kisses avidly and letting his hands slide over Fauns damp skin.

"Lin, I felt your warmth all around me again, I missed that so much! I could feel Taz when you were gone but not like this, not so strong and sweet. Will I still feel this after the bonding? Will it change?"

"I don't know for sure. Are you ready to find out?"

"Yes, I want that. It's just, I'm going to have a hard time focusing on anything when I need you so much. I don't want to mess anything up."

"Don't worry, you won't. Bonding is done through a form of sex magic."

"Sex magic?"

"Ritual sex. Don't look so startled, sex has always been used that way. By humans as well as other races. Come into the bedroom and I 'll explain a bit and then set things up."

Lin walked Faun into the bedroom and pushed the furniture to the edges of the room. Then he led Faun to the middle of the cleared space and sat him took the towel away from Faun and ran his hands over Fauns shoulders and down his arms to take both his hands.

"Faun, I'm going to have to ask you to do something for me. For this to work I need to take my other form, my birth form is what it's usually called."

Faun tipped his head to one side, thinking this through.

"You're going to do this ritual in cat form?"

"Yes. Can you deal with that? I mean, we'll need to mate like that."

Faun winced slightly, remembering the scene in the glade, the mating that had created Lin.

"It's going to hurt a lot, isn't it?"

Lin toyed with Fauns fingers as he answered.

"I'll try not to let it hurt too much. But I don't know how much I can do about it. Can you trust me enough for this?"

Faun nodded.

"Good. Now just relax here and I'll finish getting things set up. I may seem to zone out on you a bit now, don't worry. Just stay still and quiet, I will join you here in a few minutes. Okay?"

"Yes."

Faun tried to get comfortable on the floor while he watched Lin move silently about the room, setting up candles and pouring what appeared to be salt in a circle on the floor. Lin paused after a bit and slipped off his clothes, laying them on the bed before coming back to the outside of the circle. He had brought a dagger with him and Faun eyed it with some trepidation. He hoped more blood wasn't going to be needed for this.

Lin looked other worldly as he made some cuts in the air with the dagger and came into the circle. He turned his back to Faun and made some kind of complicated looking gestures with the dagger and then used it to slice across his right hand. Faun bit his lip and watched as Lins hair began to move in the sudden warm breeze that came from everywhere and nowhere.

Lin began to walk along the inside of the circle, letting drops of blood spill into the salt. As he went the candles along the circles edge burst into flame and Faun gasped. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself but found himself getting more and more aroused as he watched Lin move gracefully around him, chanting in a low voice.

Lin moved to the center of the circle to face Faun and knelt down in front of him. He drew Faun to his feet and began touching him gently, running the pads of his fingers lightly over his skin. Faun shivered. It felt so good he didn't know how long he could stand it. Lin let his claws extend a little bit, not drawing blood but gently scratching over Fauns sensitized skin in slow, spiral patterns. Faun was reduced to clenching his hands into fists to stay still. Lin circled him, touching him everywhere in the same slow,hypnotic manner. Faun began to feel strange, almost as though he were dreaming. Time seemed to stretch and contract in odd ways and the awareness of the room, the outside world in general, dropped away. His eyesight became odd too. He saw things in a kind of double image, he could almost make out the shapes of trees superimposed on the familiar walls and feel the cool tickling of grass under his feet.

But above this all he could feel his need for Lin becoming overwhelming. He bit his lips as Lin drew away from him, watching him with hungry eyes. It was difficult not to lunge after him, draw him back. But Lin made a gesture to him that he interpreted as a sign to stay put so he forced himself to stand motionless as Lin circled behind him again.

Lin put his hands on Fauns shoulders and pressed down and Faun sank to his knees. Lin stayed close enough that Faun could feel the heat of his body as Lin alternated running fingers and claws over Fauns chest and thighs. His touch was getting hard to endure without response and Faun moaned. He let his head fall back as Lin began concentrating his touch between Fauns legs.

Lin began rubbing his face against Fauns neck, his shoulders. It felt to Faun vaguely like the way the kittens rubbed against him sometimes and the thought made him smile. Lin continued this action, rubbing his face down the sides of Fauns back, his hair tickling against Fauns touch became lighter, softer for a second and then heavier, his hair felt odd, shorter and even softer. Faun realized in a distant way that Lin had changed and tensed a bit. Lin reacted to the tension, making a soft, rumbling noise in his throat that made Faun whimper a little.

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Lin pushed forward against Faun and Faun dropped to all fours. Something warm and large nudged his legs further apart and he complied, letting his upper body sink to the floor. He kept his eyes closed, focusing on how good Lin was making him feel. He started when he felt something warm and wet move down his spine and gasped as his legs were shoved even wider, his hips nudged higher. The rough, wet touch moved over his opening, and then around between his legs, impossibly swiping the length of him from behind and drawing a harsh gasp from him.

This brought a sound like soft thunder from Lin and he did it again and again, drawing back occasionally to press the tip of his tongue against Fauns opening. Faun pressed his legs as far apart as he could and when that wasn't enough reached back, opening himself to Lin with his hands.

"Please, need you so bad! Lin, please!"

Soft warmth covered his back and then he could feel Lin pressing hard against him, stretching him. Faun whimpered as Lin began to enter him, he felt something akin to static electricity covering his body like a second skin and when he slit his eyes he could see a faint glow in the had no attention to spare for this though as Lin continued to inch his way into his body. Faun was breathing in harsh pants, trying to adjust and he couldn't help crying out softly. It hurt but it wasn't the harsh, sharp pain he had known before, when one of his abusers had forced his body to accept something too large, too hard. This danced on the edge of pleasure/pain, not letting him fall either way yet. It went on for what seemed a long time, Faun couldn't believe he wasn't being torn apart but there was no scent of blood, no tearing pain. Just the incredible heat filling him. He felt something warm near his face and opened his eyes to focus on one huge paw. He watched in amazement as the claws retracted and extended rhythmically. He moved his arms forward, putting his hands over the paw, letting his fingers sink into the soft fur. He let his eyes close again and Lin began to move inside him, still slow but building in speed and force, pushing him into mindless need, pleasure that burned him inside and out and drove him close to screaming. He dug his fingers into the paw he was holding as though it would anchor him to sanity, to safety.

Then there was another sensation overwhelming him, a maddening tickling/scratching inside him that made his try to press back, push harder against the source of the torment. The heat inside him was building, pulsing and he could feel the jolting pleasure as the sweet spot inside him was stroked again and again. Lin stilled suddenly and a shudder ran through him, then Faun felt the hot wash of his lovers seed loosed in him as though he were filled with liquid fire.

Faun felt Lin slide out of him and sobbed, he was still so hard, so hungry. He let his hips sink to the floor and fought tears. He felt the paw move under his hands, lifting them. He let it go and rolled to his side, curling up against the pain of his need.

He felt Lin shoving at his back and then his hands and finally batting gently at his head. He forced his eyes open and saw Lin in full for the first time. He was very like his father, sleek and supple looking, his form surrounded by a blue glow of power. His eyes were still the same though, in all but size. It steadied Faun to see that. This was still his Lin .

He reached out to let his hand trail through the soft fur along Lins neck and Lin shut his eyes. Then he turned his back on Faun, leaving Faun saddened and puzzled. It wasn't until Lin had backed up, shoving his hind quarters insistently against Faun, that Faun began to understand what he wanted.

Faun rose to his knees, letting his hands slide over Lins flanks, trying to figure out how to complete this. Lin gracefully slid his tail to one side and pressed his hips further down, forcing his legs to angle out from his body. It looked painful to Faun but he was too excited to spare Lin any sympathy at the moment.

He knew he was awkward, fumbling roughly and in haste at the unfamiliar body before him. He finally managed to find his way, entering the hot closeness with a wavering cry of pleasure. Lin pressed back a little, encouraging him to continue. It felt blindingly good, Faun had no room for thought or wonder or shame as he moved hard and fast inside Lin, drawing strange, semi-musical cries from Lin and soft echoes of the same type that filled the room. He came in rush of pleasure, letting his body collapse on top of Lin afterward. He felt too exhausted to do more than pat his hands over his lovers side in silent thanks before he fell asleep.

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He was hazily aware of small forms climbing over him and Lin, the sound of the kittens chirping excitedly to each other followed him into sleep.

Taz came back to the living room and gave Tsin a smile.

"Seems like all's quiet on the western front."

Tsin shook his head slowly.

"Absolutely unbelievable."

"But sweet never the less."

"I meant you, not them. I don't believe you spied on them at a time like this."

"I didn't spy-I just let the kittens into their room. I obviously had to open the door to do that. If I happened to glance into the room that's hardly spying."

"You were there a good ten minutes! That's a bit more than a glance."

Taz shrugged.

"Call it what you will, I'm just glad things seem good between them. Weird but good."

"Mmm."

"Maybe you missed that comment. I'll phrase it another way, isn't it great that things are good between them?"

"Yeah, sorry. I was just thinking."

"If it's about my manifold charms you'll be forgiven."

Tsin smiled.

"Well, that goes without saying."

"That you'll be forgiven or that you're thinking of my charms? The former can go without saying if you wish, the latter, never."

Tsin pulled Taz down to sit beside him.

"In addition to thinking of your many good points I was thinking about Lin."

"You're approaching thin ice here. Do try to save yourself."

"I wasn't thinking of him like that,. I was more thinking about him and Faun."

"You never did tell me what happened on your mission of revenge. Does this tie in at all?"

"Yes. I think so. How much do you know about Lin?"

"More than I did last week. Faun tends to speak first and think later. I admit I took advantage of that habit. Why do you ask?"

"I was wondering if you knew what he does for a living?"

Taz looked a little uncomfortable and Tsin asked again.

"Do you?"

More silence and Tsin tried another approach.

"He's a murderer. You knew that, didn't you."

"Yeah, but I wouldn't call it that. He hardly goes about killing innocents at random or anything. And he seems to be on the road to retirement. Faun was instrumental in that decision, by the way. He seems to have some slight moral sense."

"Good. I always wondered about Lins' job. He hardly seemed like a business man."

"Is that what he told you? That he was a business man?"

Tsin laughed.

"He told me he was in risk a consulting basis."

"Not too far off then."

"Guess not. Anyway, I got a glimpse of that side of him along with other sides in the past few days. An enlightening but not very soothing experience."

"Tell me."

"We got to Janets and he told me to follow his lead. I did, I figured he knew more about questioning someone than I did. He scared the hell out of her, and me."

"You two played good cop/bad cop?"

"More like good cop/ nightmare serial killer psychopath. I wasn't sure how much acting was going on either. He was more than a little pissed off. I've heard the term 'oozing menace', but I've never actually seen it demonstrated."

"Is she okay?"

"If you discount the fact that she'll be sleeping with the lights on if she sleeps at all, yes. He didn't get too physical, he didn't have to. He terrorized the poor girl though."

"Forgive me if I fail to fake much sympathy for her. She caused a hell of a lot of trouble and pain for people I care about."

"I know. She seems to have been innocent of evil intent though. She was set up to bring trouble to them. She feels awful about it."

"She should. Who set her up?"

"Meg. Apparently Meg cultivated her acquaintance and rather swept her off her feet. You know how seductive the sidhe can be."

"Meg's true blood? I imagine someone from Lins past? Faun had a theory about an ex girlfriend or some such thing."

"Close. She and Lin were engaged, one of those silly arranged things."

"From what I got out of Faun, to say it went south is too kind."

"Lin wasn't too forthcoming about the circumstances but he did intimate that things weren't good between them. He seemed sad about the whole thing."

"He cared for her?"

"He never said that outright. He did say a couple of things that led me to believe he may have. He also seemed to have been hurt pretty badly by her. I didn't delve too deeply into that, he was upset enough at the time."

"Go on, you got that information and then what?"

"Apparently Meg had it set up that if and when Lin got to Janet all hell would break loose. Which it did. She had considerable power and resources."

"Magical?"

"Mainly. She managed to set up a portal to faerie. All kinds of nasties came charging out after us. I hate to think what any bystanders saw."

"I wondered about that, saw it on the news but it was pretty vague. I guess the few people who saw it only got a glimpse of something dark and frightening appearing out of a sudden fog."

"We had a fight with these, well, these things are all I can describe them as. And as we fought the fog enveloped us and we were whisked over the border. It was pretty slick actually."

"What happened then? Lin said you were pretty awesome in a fight. I didn't know you went in for that kind of thing."

Tsin shrugged and looked away.

"I don't really. I have the swords from my family and I had only fought in practice bouts before this. Lin was being kind about my abilities."

"He sounded sincere. You must have done well."

"I got better as we went along. I had no idea it would be so grisly for some reason. The first time I hit something and got my sword stuck in the bones I got sick. Lin had to show me how to get the damn things loose. He was nice about it though. I guess the sound was the worst, the sound of a blade slicing into flesh is just indescribable. I wasn't prepared for that."

"I gather you rallied quickly though."

"I didn't have much choice. We ended up in Megs little pocket dimension. Filled with all manner of creepy stuff and traps of various kinds. She had an evil mind."

"But you got through all that and got to her?"

"Not exactly. She had a seemingly endless supply of troops. Lin decided that letting them capture us and take us to her would save a lot of time and aggravation."

"Sounds a bit risky to me. Apparently it worked though."

"Yeah, Lin was worried about the risk too. Not for himself, but for me. He wanted to send me back here and go on alone."

"I'm glad you stuck it out. He might not have made it back otherwise."

"I got the feeling he didn't plan on coming back."

"I was afraid of that. I was so glad you went with him, when I wasn't being furious that you went with him."

"It's nice you were worried for me."

"Don't gloat, it's unbecoming. Continue the story."

Tsin paused for a moment, thinking things over and Taz gave him a fairly gentle punch in the arm.

"I'll get some coffee for us and you, start talking!"

Tsin nodded.

"The coffee would be nice. I'm sorry for the long pauses, things got a little fuzzy for me in places. By the time Lin had negotiated a deal with the baddies to get us to Meg I was in pretty rough shape. I was kind of in and out of consciousness for a while."

Taz brought in coffee and sat back down with Tsin.

"I have a feeling that isn't the only hold up with your tale."

"What do you mean?"

"You're wasting time trying to decide what to tell me and what to leave out. Why?"

Tsin looked away from him.

"It gets a little more gruesome at this point. I guess I was trying to think of how best to put it without going into unnecessary nastiness."

Taz sipped some coffee and eyed Tsin over the top of the looked more serious than usual.

"I can't say I'm going to like hearing about it if you got treated badly but I do want to know what you can stand to tell me."

"It wasn't me, or at least not much. Lin managed to get some healing for me and a kind of conditional safe conduct as well. So I wasn't exactly an honored guest but they weren't brutal with me either."

"I take it that didn't apply to Lins treatment?"

"No. He promised not to fight with them if I wasn't harmed."

Tsin shut his eyes and leaned back. Taz took his hand and Tsin looked at him.

"I've led a pretty sheltered life in most respects. I wasn't prepared for how terrible people can be to each other. I have read a lot of history and such but it isn't the same thing as seeing treated Lin badly, to say the least. When we got to Megs stronghold things got worse. She seemed to want to degrade him as much as possible. And with him offering no resistance...I couldn't stand it. I don't know how he could."

"And you feel guilty, even though it wasn't your fault."

"If he hadn't had to worry about me it might have gone differently."

"Yeah, he might be dead. I know it must have been rough but at least you're both here and in good shape. And he wouldn't have done such a thing if he didn't think it necessary. So try to accept it and not feel bad. It's over now anyway and it won't happen again."

"I sure hope not. I never want to go through anything like that again. The unseelie have some seriously twisted ways."

"I've heard. But the seelie on a vengeance kick are no picnic either. Any of the sidhe in a bad mood are best avoided."

"I agree. I've read a lot of folk lore pertaining to the idea of revenge among the sidhe, I have no plans to piss them off, either court. Is your mother seelie?"

"She was until she married my father. But her family wasn't of such standing that she was at court often in any case. She avoided the whole political scene, she is a very sensible woman in my opinion."

"I agree. Anyway, Meg had us tossed into the stereotypical dungeon cell. Dark, dank, etc, etc. The guards were a real treat as must be some central casting place where you can hire these guys. Or maybe they're cloned or something. I can't imagine how anyone could grow into something that vile and sadistic, let alone a whole staff."

Taz grimaced.

"I'm afraid I can imagine it all too well. Give most people a little power and they abuse it every time."

"I guess I just don't like to believe the worst of people. In any case, the worst was applicable here. And Meg was delighting in the whole scene. I find it hard to imagine Lin and her having anything in a long time ago she was different. Or he was."

"Probably both."

"Well, she certainly got into the role of villain with great gusto. She came to the cell and directed things for a while. As well as giving the requisite gloating speeches. There must be schools for that sort of thing. She seemed to leap to the conclusion that Faun was dead."

"That appears to have been her goal. Why she didn't just kill him herself instead of going for the long convoluted plot is beyond me."

"Because that wouldn't have caused Lin as much pain. Her plan would have just about destroyed him if it had succeeded. She assumed Lin would have gone into some kind of frenzy and killed Faun while he was helpless. And even if Faun switched the potions, she expected Lin to go through some major pain and kill Faun when the potions wore off. Either way, she would win and Lin would kill someone he loved. ."

"Did she mention why she wanted this? I mean, 'hell hath no fury' and so on but this is excessive even for the sidhe."

"Lin killed most of her friends and family. He explained his reason later and I can't say it was totally unjustified. It had to do with a political plot, Meg must have been born plotting."

"Everybody needs a hobby. So she had been waiting to crush him ever since?"

"More or less. Why he didn't kill her at the time is beyond me."

"He does seem to have a sentimental streak. Or was it meant to be cruel, kill everyone she loves and leave her alone to grieve."

"I don't know, she assumed it was had kept an eye on him ever since while she built up her power base. She had managed to do quite well in that regard, she set up her own little kingdom in a pocket dimension and dedicated herself to revenge."

"How pathetic."

"Yes. it was. Anyway, we spent some time there, I don't know how long. I wish there were a way to measure the time distortion between fey and human lands. In any case, long enough for them to do a hell of a job on Lin. He finally fell apart, or appeared to. He said later that it was ploy to get her to lower her guard and it must have been, at least in part. But I don't know how much was real and how much was faked."

"I can't imagine him admitting that any of it was real. I gather she fell for it?"

"Eventually, when she was convinced she had broken him entirely. She was going to keep him, a kind of toy to torment for fun. I was pretty shaken, I had no idea if they would let me go or keep me there. And I couldn't think of anything I could do for Lin but try and kill him. And I wasn't sure how to go about that. Luckily I didn't have a chance to try before he made his move."

"Which was?"

"I don't know for sure, they had been spending a lot of time in her private chambers and leaving me to hang out in the kitchen with the servants. I was still watched constantly but I was pretty helpless, I couldn't get out of the place without help and I had no idea how to get back home. So I was trying to get some of the more resentful servants interested in a was chancy to speak much to them, I didn't know who to trust."

"So Lin was serving in her chambers and you were preaching to the proletariat in the kitchens. And then?"

"And then I heard some shouting and I ran to investigate along with everyone else. Lin was in the main hall, naked, which was about the norm, and covered in gore, which was a bit out of place. There were a bunch of dead guards littering the area, in more pieces than I'm comfortable thinking about. Lin had taken some of their weapons and was looking rather madly about and scaring the hell out of everyone around. And hissing ,of all things. My heart was in my throat while I approached him, I wasn't at all sure he was in his right mind."

"I can imagine. Was he?"

"I think so. He recognized me and didn't attack me. He spoke quite calmly, explaining that he was about done here and had anyone hurt me while he was busy. I said no and he seemed almost let he had me guard his back while he washed up and stole some clothes to wear. Along with a shit load of other stuff. He cleaned out her chambers, which is how I knew she was dead. She was spread around in a pretty wide area too. He just ignored this until I got up the nerve to mention it and he explained that he had changed and killed her. I didn't know he could change shape and apparently she didn't either. He cut through her and her guards in pretty short order that way. So I expected us to head out at a dead run but he hung around. He had contacted his family at some point and his aunt arrived. She surveyed the scene and he gave her a short version of the facts and gave the place into her hands. I don't envy the clean up crew."

"His aunt? What is she like?"

Tsin gave Taz a long look.

"Regal. She picked her way through the carnage as though she were stepping over flowers in a field. Scary woman all in all. She and Lin spoke for a time and then she sent us here."

"Spoke about what?"

"They were speaking high elvish and at a distance. "

"And you didn't eavesdrop? What am I going to do with you?"

"Anything you like. And yes, I did eavesdrop. I'm just not all that good with archaic languages. I did pick up, if I got it right, that some scandal he was involved in before he left had been cleared up and he was free to stay. It wasn't all too clear to me in what capacity he was being invited to return. In any case, he turned her down, rather politely and we left. End of story, more or less."

"I think it is just possible that I know less now than when you started. Maybe you could go into the more of the more or less?"

Tsin laughed.

"I'll try. When we got back to the city we stopped briefly at Lins, mainly to let him get some normal clothes and stash some loot. He was pretty generous with it by the way.I felt a little funny taking it but he insisted so I had to take some."

"Anything nice?"

"Some really beautiful jewelry and some loose gems. I got a pair of earrings I thought you might like."

"That's so sweet! I love presents!"

"Lin mentioned that you might. I'll dig them up later. Anyway, while we were getting ready to head over here we talked a bit. He isn't exactly a 'let's share all our feelings' kind of guy but he did open up a little."

"If he starts suggesting group hugs I'm leaving town."

"I don't think you have to worry. But he did actually try to answer some concerns I voiced."

"What concerns?"

"Well, going though what he did with Faun and then being tortured by Meg and her minions and all that, it seemed a bit steep to try to bond with Faun right away."

"He was already considering it before he got here?"

"He said that if what Janet said was true, and he doubted it, he would have no choice. I kind of pushed him on that, I mean, he did have a choice. I pointed out that after Fauns behavior it wouldn't be that out of line to just back out of the whole relationship."

"I don't believe you could say a thing like that! That's harsh!"

"I know, I just had such a vivid sense of how much Lin had suffered that I couldn't let him feel forced to be with someone who might hurt him more. He just looked at me like I was crazy. He said he had promised to take care of Faun and he had to keep his promise."

"I think that's rather sweet."

"I think that giving that much of yourself to someone who has lied to you and brutally abused you is a bit beyond reason. I mean, how could Lin even think of being intimate with Faun at this point? And I wasn't suggesting he kill him or anything. It was Fauns natural life span that was coming to an end. I pointed out that people die all the time, it's not a rare occurrence."

Taz looked at him in bewilderment for a second and then totally cracked up. Tsin rolled his eyes and said:

"I know, I know, stupid comment. Lins' reaction was about the same. I don't think I've ever seen him laugh like that. He actually slid down the wall to the floor he was laughing so hard. It took him a few minutes to pull himself together and point out that he had noticed that people tended to do that. After he was calmer he said he needed to be with Faun now. I think he was afraid that if he shied away now he would never be able to be with him again, sexually speaking. Maybe it's the theory of the horse that threw you or something."

"If you've seen Faun naked you know how apt that metaphor is."

"When did you see Faun naked?"

"Oh,now and then. He isn't much for clothes."

"And he's , umm, well endowed?"

"You could say that."

"Oh."

Taz leaned against Tsin and patted his cheek.

"Don't feel bad, I love you for your mind."

"You brat! See if you ever get anywhere near my endowments again!"

"But I like your endowments. I can prove it if you like?"

"I'll think about it."

"I bet you will, you dog. Come here, I'll help you think."

Faun woke and stretched, he felt wonderful. In fact, he felt better than he could remember ever feeling. He stretched again and sat up, no stiffness, no nagging aches and pains. He felt fizzy, as if his blood were champagne.

He looked down at Lin, who had changed shape in his sleep. He looked peaceful but thinner than he should. Faun wondered just how bad his time away had been. He didn't want to pry but he felt a surge of worry about Lin, he had gone through too much in too short a time. Faun slid to his feet and crept out of the room, grabbing a robe on the way. He could fix something to eat and some coffee and then wake Lin up for a quiet meal.

Taz and Tsin were in the living room, cuddling on the couch when Faun walked in. They both sat up and looked hard at him. He felt a little abashed at the intensity of their interest but he smiled and headed for the kitchen. Taz followed and tapped him on the shoulder.

"I take it all went well?"

"Yes, I think so. I feel great!"

"Good. I'm glad. Is Lin okay?"

"He's still asleep. I thought I could get some food for him. He's way too thin."

"He always seems a bit on the ethereal side to me. A few good meals wouldn't do him any harm."

As he spoke Taz continued staring at Faun. Faun finally had to ask:

"Do I look okay?"

"Yeah, you look fine! Your eyes are a bit different but aside from that you look the same."

"My eyes?"

"Did you notice that it's dark in here? No lights?"

"Umm, no, not really. I wasn't thinking. Dark?"

It seemed a bit dusky but it didn't seem dark. Faun spun around and took off to the bathroom. He crept up on the mirror as though he didn't want to frighten it. What he saw made him start. His eyes were the same brown they always were but the pupils were now slit like Lins. He checked his ears but they seemed to have remained normal. He switched on the light and watched the slits narrow. He grinned, looking for evidence of fangs but none appeared. No claws sprang from his finger tips when he flexed them either. Apart from the eyes he looked just the same as usual.

A voice from the doorway took him by surprise.

"Are you okay?"

Faun turned to Lin with a smile, he was leaning against the door frame, watching Faun with interest.

"I'm fine."

Lin gestured towards Fauns eyes.

"I hope you don't mind. The signs of a bond vary from pair to pair, I didn't know what would happen."

"I kind of like them. It could have been the ears."

Lin laughed and twitched the mentioned appendages.

" I'll have you know I have very elegant ears. Any other changes?"

Faun leaned back against the sink and grinned.

"Perhaps you should help me check everything out?"

Lin stepped closer and undid the sash of the robe. He pulled it open a little bit,looked down and gave a horrified gasp.

"It's gone!"

Faun looked down in horror and Lin stepped back.

"Just kidding."

Faun glared at the unrepentant elf.

"And I was just going out to slave over a hot stove for you."

"Really? How sweet of you. I'll help, than we can cut the slaving by a half. It'll be more like toiling. Have you seen the kittens?"

"They were sleeping with us. Are they okay?"

Lin spoke in a slightly raised tone.

"Someone, who should have known better, let them wander into a circle filled with magic. They're okay but they aren't quite, well, quite the same."

Faun scurried off to check on them and Lin followed. Taz and Tsin hurried in from the living room, Taz explaining as he came.

"I assumed that someone who knew better had broken the circle and dispersed any excess magic before he fell asleep!"

Faun was in the bedroom before the others and his laughter brought the quarrel to an abrupt end. The others entered the bedroom and saw the kittens wheeling and diving near the ceiling. Small but distinct bat like wings were keeping them aloft. Faun seemed as delighted as the kittens at this development.

He turned to Lin and hugged him.

Taz grinned.

"See, Faun likes them. They're unique. You could breed them and make a fortune."

"I'll keep the suggestion in mind."

Tsin took Tazs hand.

"I hate to tell you, they're both male. They may be magical but I doubt that offspring are a possibility."

Faun squeezed Lin a little tighter and shrugged.

"They might have fun trying though. And besides, anything's possible."

Lin rested his head on Fauns knobby shoulder.

"You really believe that don't you? Maybe you can teach me that as well as the mysteries of the flesh. My majors this year could be lust and optimism."

"If nothing else, we'll have fun trying."

"That I can believe with no effort at all."

End of Part One.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who stuck with this -or slogged through it, whichever is more applicable. Part two is well under way and I'll be posting it here soon. I hope you enjoyed it, and again, many