"I hunger for your sleek laugh,

your hands the color of a savage harvest,

hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,

I want to eat your skin like a whole almond."

Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XI

Owen retreats from me over the next few days. I can smell his fear, see the way he has trouble meeting my eyes. There is an energy to the air, a sharp snap of tension between us. Our bodies beg to join, to press and tangle as one. I long for forbidden release and the hot sticky smell of bodily pleasure, the earthy stink of sex—so close and yet time drags on for eternities without relief. My sweet boy seems to sag with the weight of his guilt, dark circles looming under his eyes, his face ashen and pretty in its sorrow. My poor little fool.

I chew my tongue and the insides of my cheeks until my mouth is full of the hot coppery tang of blood. It dribbles out of my mouth mixed with spittle as I sob into my pillow, the blankets pulled over my head. The ground shakes, the windows rattle. I moan and the earth moans with me, tectonic plates shifting as they whisper of catastrophe and love-sickness. I feel nauseous with dread. I do not want to hurt him. I do not want to hurt him. I am going to hurt him. I want to hurt him, to see his face twist with an expression that is something, anything other than this false, casual regard. I want so badly to prove how terrible I am.

"Is this really how you must conduct your afternoon?" Birdbrain asks me. "It's pitiful to watch."

"Go away," I snarl. My tongue is swollen in my mouth and my words sound soft and mushy.

He pecks lightly at the corner of my pillow. "I can't go away. The doors and windows are all locked and you're the only one home. Idiot."

I whimper and roll over. "Fuck off." Everything hurts. This existence is unbearable. Why was there ever something beautiful enough in this world to make me feel something? Why couldn't I have stayed a sleeping shadow, an empty echo of the past? I wish I could forget, or sleep the slumber of mountains. If I must dream, let me dream of Owen, let him be my ocean floor.

"Oh for crying out loud. Just take his body already. Why prolong the inevitable? And kill that stupid man, that Greg, so that I can eat out his eyes and tongue. Leave his skull in the garden to grin like a pumpkin."

"Owen would never forgive me," I say, turning again and staring up at the hairline crack in the yellowing corner of the ceiling. "He would hate me. His contempt would be immense. A black sea that I would drown in."

Birdbrain makes an irritated sound. "He's just a child. He will grow to understand and adore you as his lord."

I blow out the air from my lungs slowly, considering. "Perhaps." But I do not really believe this to be true. It occurs to me that Owen is not a creature to be tamed and made small. He is something wild and beautiful and brave, something I have no real right to break.

"Where is your boy now?"

"Mmm." I shrug. "Greg is picking him up from class…because of the weather." Thinking about Greg I suddenly feel overheated, a molten burning from within that singes my throat and nostrils. I taste sulfur and smoke.

"Gut the man. Take what you need from the boy. Surely you remember how to do such things by now? Why bother pretending not to be the monster we both know you to be?"

"I…" My heart is thudding in my chest. I hear another terrible rumbling from deep in the earth and dig my nails into my palms, bite down on a high pitched whine. The raw physical discomfort makes my body shiver, tears pricking the corners of my eyes. Birdbrain is delusional and I would be doubly so to listen to a thing he says. But if I don't do something soon I dread to think of what will become of us. I feel so destructive and yet so pathetically powerless at the same time. "I remember a lot of things," I say dully. "I am so tired of remembering."

"Then consider a little action instead, eh? Or at least haul your mopey ass up and open the window already."


They say when the library of Alexandria was burning a scholar escaped with a tome clutched in his hands. But when he turned and saw the sheer destruction, the heated blaze of so many priceless manuscripts consumed before his eyes, he threw his meager rescue back into the flames. How is my life so different? Why should I cling to so little good when there is so much bad? Shouldn't I just let it burn?

"Azi?" There is a knock on the frame of my open door and then Owen is in my room before I can respond, crossing the carpeting to sit on the edge of the bed. "How are you feeling?" he asks cautiously. "Greg says you've been in bed most of the day. Do you want me to bring you something to eat?"

"I'm fine," I say, rolling over to stare up at him. "Just tired. Can you let Birdbrain out? He's driving me insane."

"Oh yeah, I already did. Gave him some cheese and peanuts first." He takes my hand, thumb running over the knuckles, his touch soft and warm. I just want to kiss him, taste him from the inside out. "There's been a lot of tremors today. My professors are kind of going crazy about it." His voice is quietly miserable, soaked in guilt and tension.

I give him a rueful smile, my lips cracked and dry so that the expression stings. "Please extend my deepest apologies."

"Look," he's staring at my fingers now and not my face. "I told Greg about what happened."

I pull my hand back without thinking, my eyes going wide with shock. "You what? Why ?"

Owen's pale face is flushing red and he looks indignant. "Well technically it was cheating, Azi and I felt like it was important to tell him the truth. We don't keep secrets. But anyway, we talked a bunch about it and he's not mad."

I lick my lips, breath quickening. "So then you told him that you are mine?"

He has the gall to roll eyes at that. "No, of course not."

"Well that is the truth." I hate how petulant I sound. "So that makes you a liar ."

"No it doesn't." He sounds stern, but also calm, like he thinks he's being patient with me. "I don't belong to anybody. I don't...it's not like that."

I feel the beginnings of my mind unraveling, the threads of my reality slowly coming loose and flapping in the winds outside. "I should leave," I say. My pretty, daft boy. I love him even as he destroys me. "We should stay very far apart from each other."

Owen shakes his head. "Nobody is asking you to leave. I don't want you to leave. Greg doesn't want you to leave. I think you should stay here with us."

"When you said the other day that I have a choice—this is it. Leaving is the only choice that is left to me, sweetness. Maybe, maybe if I remove myself from your presence, this power will dissipate, and I can forget again. You can't have it both ways."

"Can't have what both ways?" Greg is leaning in the doorway. He catches my eye and I flinch. "How are you feeling? Should we make an appointment at the clinic?"

I snarl. "I think this issue is a little outside of their area of expertise, Greg ."

"Mmm." He gives me an appraising look I don't appreciate. "Dinner is ready."

"Alright." I'm pouting. It's pathetic, but I can't stop.

He nods. "Cool. I made salmon."

I slap the mattress with my palm. "I just find it really infuriating that you two could think about eating fucking salmon at a time like this." I watch Owen and Greg exchange a glance. I hate them emphatically in this moment.

"I picked up a nice chardonnay at Berkeley Bowl," Greg says in reply to my outburst. "Come have a glass of wine and we can talk."

"Talk?" I spit. "Why would I want to talk?"

"Because," Greg says, "Owen wants to talk and who among us says no to him?"

"Come on," Owen coaxes, "for me, please?" I go reluctantly to my feet, let him lace his fingers with mine and guide us into the kitchen, his hand warm, a radiant flame against my skin. Rain batters the sliding glass door in sheets and lighting cracks in the sky. Greg stands at the counter and uncorks the wine, pouring the sunlight colored liquid into a glass that he offers to me. I hold it, tilt the wine to my lips as he pours one for Owen and then himself. It tastes of rich soil and sunlight, the hints of sugars not eaten up by the fermentation—pear, apple, butterscotch.

"You seem exhausted, Azi," Greg's voice is so calm and deep, like the last rolling dissipation of thunder, like the end of a wave crashing on the rock. It's cathartic and I am momentarily mesmerized by it.

"Yes," I agree. "It is the weight of despair, it grinds a soul down, into dust eventually." Owen, pulls himself up to sit on the countertop, watching us speculatively.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Greg says. "I think I'd like to try to help you."

I shake my head, take a step back. "You can't," I croak out. "No one can."

"Hmm." He swirls the wine in his glass and takes a sip. "I've always liked this label. We should go to the winery." He glances at the window, a look of soft amusement on his lips. "Sometime when the weather is better, I think. We could take a nice picnic."

"I can't stand this," I snap, angry, "what do I care about fucking picnics right now? Do you think this banal conversation offers me some sort of comfort at a time like this?"

"Alright," Greg nods, but instead of backing off, he moves forward, taking my glass and setting it on the counter. Then he's crowding me against the wall in a few decisive steps. I blink at him, bewildered, my heart thudding in my chest. "Owen tells me we have a dragon problem?"

"Yeah no shit," I agree, annoyed, eyes narrowing. He smells of gasoline and wood polish, the ginger he chopped for the salmon and an undercurrent of the citrus oil in the grease cutter he uses to wash his hands.

"It seems to make him cry a lot."

"He cries because someday I will gut you," I say cruelly between my teeth. "Someday I will spill your entrails across the floor and put your head on a pike."

Owen makes a sound of distressed objection, but Greg just raises an eyebrow at that. "You will? Before or after you finish weeding the garden? Making dinner with us? Setting the table? Maybe after your crossword puzzle is done?"

I hiss at him, furious. "You mock me at your own peril, Greg . You have no fucking clue what you keep under your roof, the sheer monstrosity of it."

He smiles sadly. "Oh Azi, do you really want to be slayed? That's what Owen keeps telling me. That's why he's upset. He's so worried about you. He thinks it means you want to die, but I don't agree." He takes each of my wrists in a large, calloused hand, encircling and lifting them above my head, pressing my arms hard against the wall until my eyes close and my body begins to shake, a tremor of fire running up my spine. He leans in close to my ear. "I have an alternative theory."

"I…I am worse than worms," I whisper, trembling like a frightened child, my insides feel smoky and smelted, a battlefield long destroyed. "You should make me leave," I beg, tears pricking the corners of my eyes.

"Oh honey, why don't we get you in the shower?" Greg's voice is warm and gentle. "It's been awhile and you'll feel so much better once you're clean."

Owen hops off the counter and approaches, footsteps soft on the hardwood floor. "What do you think, Zee? What would you like to do? I can feel you hurting in my head. It's like a buzz in the back of my thoughts, like the worst hangover I've ever had. I know some of this is my fault. Can we try to help you?" Greg lets go and my arms drop to my sides, too heavy, my body so weak I have to lean on the wall for support. I nod, defeated.

"Please," I sob, openly weeping. "My treasure, please . I don't know how to fight this any longer."

"Okay, okay," Owen makes a comforting sound, putting an arm around my waist and leading me down the hall. I lean into him more than I should, my head swimming, the storm raging on outside. We end up in the master bathroom. It's large, with both a claw foot tub and a tiled shower, green hued and full of potted plants. Greg wordlessly starts the water in the shower as Owen pulls the worn shirt off over my head, hands finding the elastic band of my pajamas pants, fingers slipping beneath to run along bare skin. He smiles at me, so beautiful and sweet, my brilliant creature, my treasure . "Okay if I take these off?"

I nod, lift one foot, then the other in assistance, feel the cool air on my bare skin, my clothes now on the floor, in this bathroom, with these two men who are lovers. To my sudden surprise Greg sinks teeth into the ball of my shoulder, a sharp, shocking pain that makes me gasp and shudder. "Easy Azi," he says wetly against my skin, hands petting down my sides in soothing strokes. "Easy. I've got you."

I lick my bottom lip, all my need to take and dominate and hurt twining itself around this new sensation, the way the hunger turns inward, rampant and demanding appeasement. "I could rip you apart," I say, voice a breathy whine, eyes screwing shut, even as Owen is undressing in front of me. "I could…"

"Shh." Greg kisses the bite mark, my neck, the shell of my ear. His voice is soft, its usual friendly tone. "Azi, if you need to surrender to something why not surrender to this instead? Just give in for a little bit."

I shiver and make a low sound of distress as Greg steers me under the warm spray of the shower, my mind half gone, exhausted and sore and heartsick. "Don't hurt me," I find myself saying, a primal fear working it's way into something like panic. "Please don't hurt me." I have to leave, I have to get out of this situation before something terrible happens…

"Shh. You're safe. It's okay," Owen's voice is so achingly gentle as he cups my face, thumbs pressing behind my ears, a steady, welcome pressure. He leans in, lips warm and soft and yielding, urging my mouth open, his tongue slick and hot against mine. My chapped lip splits and I taste the coppery tang of my own blood pass between us. Owen hums, tonguing the wound curiously, making my gut lurch, arousal eclipsing my fear. I whine, doubly overwhelmed when I feel Greg at my back, a wall of firm heat as he pours shampoo into his palm and massages it into my hair, fingernails scratching lightly across my scalp. He works the soap in thoroughly, methodical in his care, an unhurried touch that sends waves of sensation down my body.

"Okay," Greg says when he's done, "lean back and rinse." He wraps one large arm around my torso, pulling me back and flush against his chest, rough fingers moving carefully through the thick dark strands that plaster themselves to my skin. Greg's mouth finds my throat, sucking a hard, stinging mark as Owen kisses across my chest, hands splayed on my hips.

"Azi," Owen murmurs. "Please don't be mad at me."

It is like a knife in my heart. "I could never," I say. "I'm so sorry I yelled at you, sweetness. I'm not mad." I pull him against me, wrap arms around his back and he tucks his head beneath my chin, nude, wet, slick, mine . The power that thrums between us curls in my stomach, a hungry, hard anticipation. I let out a shuddering breath, feel a soapy cloth drawn across my skin, down my back, the cleft of my ass, the back of my legs. A moment later and I am turned, the same careful cleaning done to my chest, my groin, my thighs. Owen rubs his cheek on my shoulder blade as Greg finishes washing the last of the soap from my skin. "Sometimes being around you feels like I'm dreaming," he says, wonder in his voice. "Like it can't be real and we're all about to wake up."

Afterwards, Greg finds me a robe and makes me sit on a stool while he towel dries my hair, palming leave-in conditioner into it before submitting me to brush and blow dryer. Owen puts on loose pajama pants and sits cross legged on the floor beside me, head resting on my thigh, eyes half lidded as I stroke fingers across his skin, touch each freckle I can reach.

When Greg's finishes, he runs his fingers smoothly through my locks, humming in satisfaction. "Okay, Azi," he lets it fall like a heavy curtain against my neck. "Why don't you go lay down on the bed now," he says, unplugging the blow dryer and putting it away. It is not said unkindly, but it also isn't entirely a request. I shiver, biting the inside of my cheek nervously. "It's okay, we'll be there in a moment."

The master bedroom has a sturdy four poster bed and an eclectic array of overstuffed furniture, most of the flat surfaces piled with books. It's dark—dark wood and darkly colored fabrics, the subdued tones emphasized by a large window framing a stormy sky. I gaze around the room still in shock from the events of the last hour, sitting dazed and unsure on the bed. This is where Owen sleeps, I think, running my hand across the thick, soft fabric of the comforter, where he sleeps with Greg . I want to bury myself in the fabric and scent my treasure here, his body where it touched these blankets, sweat and tears and saliva—maybe scent both of them, the leftover traces of past couplings, their nice young bodies flushed with passion. I lower my face down into the bedding, eyes closed as I breath in deeply, panting, thinking of Owen kissing me so enthusiastically in the shower, the confusing vertigo of Greg's hands moving across my body, his teeth. I make a snuffling sound, fingers clawing into the blankets, tonguing the corner of my mouth, the sharp taste of blood still there.

"Hey," Owen says. I feel the dip of the mattress as he sits beside me. I lift my head and blink at him. I should have sharp clarity by now—for having taken so much more from him today—the worst of me should be raging through my veins, a rising omen of death and destruction, mounting itself for a new campaign of domination. Instead, I feel befuddled, sleepy and docile, a dull ache in my skin from Greg's attentions and the taste of Owen pleasantly on my tongue.

"I feel strange."

"Coming from you, I'm not sure how to take that." Owen opens his arms, coaxing me forward and I let my head fall in his lap, humming with pleasure when he plays with my hair. "Tell me something about being a dragon."

I sigh, blinking sleepily. "I miss the power, the fire and the blood. I miss the taste of people's fear, the smell of it. Why did I wake with only the hunger? Why does this part outlive all the others?" Owen makes a soft sound and then he is leaning over and kissing me again, slow and sweet. I shiver, let one hand come up to cup the soft curve of his cheek. What a fool I am to lament my own losses when I am allowed to have all this, that a creature as lovely as Owen would yield this to me. I let my tongue slip between his lips with undemanding gentleness, an easy affection I didn't know was possible between us.

"Well that's a pretty picture." Greg is leaning in the doorway watching us, still just a towel wrapped around his waist. I flinch, moving backwards, apprehension flaring in my gut.

"It's alright," Owen says, reaching to draw me back. "Azi, no one wants to hurt you."

"Honey, what's wrong?" Greg asks, head tilted. "What's going on? Tell me."

I make a guttural sound, the kind that comes from wounded animals, from certain kinds of hopelessness. I want to curl into a ball, fold into myself until I finally disappear. "I don't know" I shake my head desperately. "I…why don't you hate me?"

Greg crosses the room, sitting on the bed beside Owen. He studies me, considering, smiles sadly. "That's the funny thing, Azi. I don't really believe in hating people for what they are, for the things about them that they can't help." I think of the feeling of his teeth on my skin, the way the pain triggered something deep inside me, awakened a different kind of longing—firm, guiding hands, the sting of his mouth on tender skin.

"You want me to surrender to you ." I stare at Greg, his handsome face, his still damp chocolate brown curls. I should be angrier about this, but instead I'm just confused.

He laughs congenially and I feel dizzy at the liquid warmth that pours through me. "Oh babe, only if you want to."

I lick my lip, eyes darting between them. "I'm in love with Owen."

He lets out a breathy huff. "Oh yeah, totally. Me too. I think we very much have that in common."

"Oh." I move closer to them, scooting on my hands and knees, heart thudding rabbit-like in my chest. Owen takes my hand, laces our fingers together, smiling reassuringly.

"You're so stressed out," Greg hums sympathetically, big hands reaching forward to kneed my shoulders, spider walking fingers up the tight line of my neck. I lean into the touch, let my eyes slide shut, my lungs expanding more deeply with each inhale. "That's it. That's really good." I make a whine in the back of my throat. I'm shaking again. "Hey, honey, it's okay. Do you just want me to take over for a little bit? I know you love Owen, but I think I might have something you need too."

I nod, exhausted and surprisingly grateful. I find there is very little he could offer me that I wouldn't agree to at this point, that I wouldn't accept, pain or pleasure or both in equal measure. I have done monstrous things in my time. I have tried to cage my own foul urges to my great despair. It seems only fitting to be the instrument of someone else's desire for a change, to hide from myself for a little while in this way. "Show me."

I feel fingers on the belt of my robe, the fabric parted and pushed from my shoulders. "Come here, you sweet thing." Greg pulls me close, hand cupping the back of my head as he eats at my mouth, runs teeth across my jawline, nipping until I gasp, my fingers flexing in involuntary spasms. I place tentative hands on his chest, my breath quickening as he sucks the bite mark he made on my shoulder, the pain delicious in its intensity.

I can hear my blood thud in my ears, feel Owen nearby, his attention on us a constant inferno, catching every nerve in flames. Greg pushes me down onto the mattress and kisses me again, smiling when my body goes loose and compliant. He shifts over me, taking one dark nipple in his teeth and then the other, sharp and greedy, only satisfied when my voice becomes reedy and strained, my breath a broken, ragged thing. I'm at the precipice of something and then I am falling into the darkness, lost beyond recovery.

"Turn over, on your belly," he says, carefully maneuvering me to lay on my stomach. "I want to fuck you while Owen watches." My eyes go wide, breath catching between my teeth, but he doesn't hesitate in his intentions, fingers tracing my lower back in soothing circles before moving down to explore between my cheeks, touching my hole with a firm pressure.

He returns with slick fingers, massaging in, pushing back and forth with a single finger, a strange sensation that I don't hate, but twists me up with apprehension all the same. "Relax and let me in, babe." I ride the fear, embracing it as he adds a second finger, my mind going blank for a while. I'm vaguely aware of more slickness, a deeper stretch. It isn't an unkindness to hurry through this, the cacophony of centuries of dialogue rattling in my head isn't a gift. When he pushes in with a cock, the pain of it is welcome. A palate cleanser, even. I take it with a deep breath, a series of tight sounds escaping from within me. When the pace starts up I grit my teeth, roll back into it at first, but it's a lot, straining me mentally almost immediately. When the real fuck comes I start come apart.

I sob into the mattress, great wracking breaths as Greg trails kisses down the back of my neck, making soothing, hushing sounds against my skin. His hips continue to move at a unforgiving pace, the slap of skin against skin filling the room, a relentless assault as he pushes into the core of me, forces me open in ways I've never felt before. Heat and pain rise up and attempt to peak into something unbearable only to shatter on the crest of relentless arousal, on the tight knot of need that keeps building within me. "It's okay," he says, brushing my hair back. "Turn your head for me, beautiful. Turn so I can see your face." Fingers paint in the tears on my wet cheek, press the salt taste between my lips. "You're okay—just a little bit more—you're doing so well." I gasp, moaning helplessness around Greg's fingers as he slams all the way in, making hard circles until his cock feels impossible huge, until I feel raw and split apart. I whimper, reduced to something soft and vulnerable, submitting to the burn deep in my gut, the body draped over mine. He uses his knees to spread my thighs wider, hands bruising on my hips as he increases his speed, the brutality of it making white sparks flair behind my eyes. I keen, muscles impossibly tense, lost in this miserable pleasure/pain that seems to short circuit my thoughts, a relentless pounding that snatches up and drags a release from me, a sensation that starts in my groin and radiates outward as I gasp for air. Greg comes with a sharp cry, chasing on the heels of my own orgasm. I feel him pulse inside me, grinding savagely, the wet sting of his seed as he pulls out.

I turn my face back into the pillows, overwhelmed. I can't stop crying, a rush of swampy, festering emotions pour out of me like the cleaning out of an infected wound. It just comes and comes and comes, suddenly unhindered by any logic or reason—the anger and the hunger, the shame and the incredible, unbearable loneliness. "Azi?" I hear Owen voice, can feel his fingers in my hair, his bare chest pressed against my back. "Are you okay?" I nod, my mind a swirling mess, a small hiccuping creature that trembles at the touch of a boy. "You should drink some water."

"Alright," my voice sounds terrible, ancient and sandpapery.

Greg gets up, coming back with a pint glass of cold water. He kisses my forehead, wipes my face carefully with a warm washcloth. I sit up a little bit to drink, swallowing slowly, trying to calm the stuttering of my breath, taking deep lungfuls of air until my heart rate begins to drop. Eventually, Owen puts the water glass on the bedside table, tugging a blanket up over us and pulling me against him. I close my eyes, let myself drift on the smell of him, on the feeling of his body draped around mine. I'm tired and achy, but there is also a quiet to my mind that I cannot remember having before.

"I want to make you come again," Greg says softly, his voice gravely and deep, "would you like that?" I sniffle and lift my head enough to look at him, at the steady hungry gaze he's applying to Owen and I as he sits next to us on the bed. "Let Owen fuck you and I'll make you come while he's taking his turn."

My mouth falls open in a silent shock, my stomach lurching as the words hit my psyche like tsunami. Taking his turn …I'm already wrecked beyond recognition, already a sobbing, sniveling mess. What further devastation does he intend to wrought on me? "Treasure?" My voice sounds so small to my ears, cracked open and raw. Needy .

"Only if you want to," Owen says, mouthing down my spine, breath warm on my skin. His hand pets my hip. "Have you let someone love you like that before? Was Greg your first?" He reaches down, finger trailing in the wet mess between my legs, massaging at my sore rim. "Did you like it?"

"Owen," I whisper his name, vision blurred by tears, floating outside of my usual wrath and possessiveness into a place I've never been before.

He presses a finger to my mouth, wetting it before returning to my hole, sucking my earlobe as he slides the digit in, pushing deeper, then drawing it out before sliding back in again. "Damn. You're so hot," he murmurs, smiling against my shoulder. "Greg is kinda big, huh?" He kisses my neck, letting out an amused sound. "Honestly, crying is not an unreasonable response at all . You should have seen me the first time I tried to get it in and I was on top for Christ sake. You doing okay with this? Too sore?"

"No, it's good. I—I like it." I try to imagine what it might feel like to take more, the sensation of my beloved inside my body, submitting to him in the way Greg has just taught me I am capable of doing. "Okay," I nod in acceptance, closing my eyes. "I want you, sweetheart."

"I knew you could handle a little more." Greg chuckles, pulling back the blankets and rolling me fully onto my side. "Come on, honey. It's okay. We've got you." He slides down the mattress to settle his head between my legs, bending one knee, pulling my thigh up and open to balance across his shoulder as his mouth finds my cock, licking a wet stripe up the shaft.

Like this I feel exposed, spread open so that Owen can easily slick up his cock and run the blunt head slowly over my tender, abused hole. I make a distressed noise, a whine deep in my throat and Owen puts a careful palm on my back. "Do you want me to stop?"

"No." I shake my head frantically. "Keep going." I imagine him biting into his bottom lip, that sweet look of worried concentration on his angelic face as he pushes in, the stretched muscles giving way to the steady pressure of insistent entry. Greg chooses this moment to take my flagging erection all the way into the hot confines of his mouth, licking and sucking as I am fully breached. Owen is slim and long, the slide smooth, even as my well used inner walls ache and burn. The sting of it mixes with the hot intensity of Greg's throat, compounding one another. Owen makes a little sound of pleasure, soft against my ear and I'm undone, a spiral of pure feeling, gasping and sobbing at the sensations being elicited from my body, of taking and being taken all at once.

Owen rolls his hips in a slow, unhurried pace, hands tracing across my shoulder, my ribs, my chest as Greg's tongue swirls around the head of my cock, making an obscene slurping sound. My love, my sweetness—he is so very, very good to me. My heart melts with how perfect it is, how easy and untainted, at the settled calm that takes over my core, at the capacity I have to enjoy this. My breath comes in labored gasps, each enteral stroke drawing out a secret pleasure. My lips part and my head falls back against Owen's shoulder. This is so different from what I did with Greg. That had been a conquest, a ground out gratification, hard and uncompromising. This is as slow and relentless as the tide, a warm tension that builds upon itself. Owen comes with a sigh against my neck, then stays inside, rocking gently as Greg sucks me to my own completion, my body shaking with intense pleasure, voice cracking in the quiet room.

Afterwards, I let them coax me into a hot bath, the heat helping with the worst of the ache in my lower half. I smile when Owen brings me my wine. "Thank you, dear heart."

He smiles back. "Greg's reheating dinner. It should be ready in a little bit."

"Hmm." I sip my wine. "He seems to have everything well managed doesn't he?"

Owen looks amused. "He really does, doesn't he?" He sits on the floor beside me, looking thoughtful. "I hope you know you belong with us. No more of this talk about leaving, okay?"

"I'm still a monster," I remind him. "Nothing about that has changed. I still have the capacity to think terrible things, to do terrible things."

"I know." He beams at me. "But you're our monster, Azi. And that's the important part."


Owen Byrne wakes in the predawn light, briefly looking at the two men asleep in his bed, both beautiful in their own way—one of dark complexion and high cheekbones, a smoky eyed creature from a fairytale. The other is handsome and unvarnished, his stubble and soft curls giving him an unkempt softness of which Owen has grown exceptionally fond. He yawns, pulling on pajamas and shuffling out to the kitchen. He stretches, feeling a soreness in his muscles that makes him smile. The sky is a clear slate blue, the storm from the days before spent and dissipated. He starts the coffee pot percolating before hunting around for a pack of smokes and lighter, stepping into Greg's too big gardening clogs and coat before venturing onto the back porch. He has the cig perched on his lip, lighting up, when he hears the sound of wings, the flush of air against his face as Birdbrain lands on the railing in front of him, his body a mass of inky feathers.

"Good morning," he says politely, drawing a deep drag and exhaling smoke from between his lips. "I'll get you something to eat in a second."

"This calmness makes me uneasy," Birdbrain says. "Mind you I appreciate a break from the elements, but unless that dragon sunk it in last night, he's going lame. That useless Fuck."

Owen blinks, studying the bird in disbelief, taking another drag before answering. "Oh. So you're a real big asshole, huh? Azi wasn't even kidding."

"Ah! Young master! You can understand?"

"I do." He thinks of Sigurd after slaying Fafnir. He thinks of kissing Azi, the bitter, strange taste of his split lip.

Birdbrain makes a cry of excitement. "Wonderful. Wonderful. Please let me tell you how being the treasure of a dragon can lead to a kingdom of carnage and destruction. Let me tell you about the empire of blood from which you could reign…."

Owen shrugs, watching the rising sun color the horizon. "Nah, that's okay," he says. "I think we're good with way things are."


A/N:Happy New Year! It only took me about a decade to finish this short story, but here it is! I am currently publishing more over on AO3, especially the story The Dog of War and I would love for you to come say hi. It is so much easier to chat and replay to people's comments there, so I'd love to hear from you.