(Rated Adult; you must be of
legal consenting age in your country of residence to read this
Author's Note: I wrote this
several years ago, shortly after finishing the Aisling
manuscript, because I never got to see what Wil and Dallin were
like together without the fate of the world hanging over their
heads. And I wanted to know. Silliness and sop ensued. So if you
prefer the Tough Guy and Snarly Man-boy, this one is not for
It was almost a… mystical thing, the exertion. Which sounded a
little ‘woo-woo’ and nudged his practiced practicality into a
bit of a knee-jerk ‘oh please’ but there it was. The push-pull
of muscle against bone; the stress of sinew over ligament, veins
swelling and popping beneath sweated skin gone winter-pale.
Dallin liked the physicality of labor, liked the way the
resultant weariness felt oddly clean and somehow more satisfying
than just about any other form of fatigue-as-aftermath.
There hadn’t been much left to do, in truth. Carver had helped
him run the pipes, adjusting the last of the fittings and
slathering joints with the sticky pine-resin paste he swore
would resist leaks through winter, though he—respectfully, but
very sternly, as few here dared to do toward Dallin—made sure to
point out that winter was hardly ideal for this type of work,
and he wouldn’t be responsible for any cracked or broken pipes.
“It’ll have to be re-done come spring,” Carver had said, all
laconic authority. “That’s if it lasts the winter. It
surely won’t last two.”
Dallin had merely smiled and thanked him sincerely; he didn’t
mention that Wil wouldn’t be here to enjoy it another winter,
anyway. He made it a careful habit not to mention that to
anyone, even Wil, though they all knew.
Dallin decided not to think about it now and took a look about
as he absently scrubbed the last of the thick mud from his hands
and onto his trousers. It would harden and cake, and he reminded
himself to fill himself a pail to soak them this time. He
already had one trouser statue to commemorate his inexperience
at actually creating something, and the scrapes where he’d had
to chip the stuff off his skin had been a study in
innocent-deception-for-the-good-of-the-surprise when Wil
had asked if Dallin had pissed off a squirrel or something. Wil
knew something was up—Dallin could tell just from the narrow
slant of the green eyes, the lift of a black eyebrow, the slight
twitch at the corner of his mouth—but Wil had let it go,
probably thinking to give Dallin enough rope so Wil could laugh
when Dallin hung himself. Wil had a unique sense of humor.
He’d managed to keep it through their stay here in Lind, thus
far, but Dallin could see it wearing thinner. He wasn’t sure Wil
would ever get used to people being nice to him ‘just because,’
didn’t think Wil would ever completely trust genuine
consideration and open respect without wondering what the one
offering it wanted.
Strangely, it was Woodrow who’d made Dallin see it plainly. He’d
understood it all along, but there’d been nothing against which
to compare it—no empirical evidence to prove the theory—until
Woodrow. Until Wil’s physical recovery was complete, and the Old
Ones’ tutoring had begun; Wil and Dallin had been drawn in
separate directions, coaxed apart when Dallin could tell Wil
really didn’t want to be. But what else was to be done?—they
didn’t have all the time in the world. Their winter in Lind was
to be no holiday. There was more for them to do, and they needed
to learn how to do it.
Quiet panic had set in for Wil. Dallin had seen the flailing
hidden beneath the snark, the hunt for Self and Place
in this world that belonged to the Aisling and not Wil.
Wil was still trying to figure out who he was, and Dallin was
still trying to decide if he should do anything about it, when
Woodrow had just sort of… happened.
There was some surprise for Dallin at the bond Wil and Woodrow
had apparently formed, but only because he hadn’t thought about
it ’til then; he’d been looking at it from a completely
different angle. Woodrow was one of the most ingenuous and
kindhearted people Dallin knew. It wasn’t that he couldn’t hide
his thoughts and motivations—it was that he didn’t even try. And
his thoughts and motivations were generally simple and
benevolent. There was nothing beneath it to read, so Wil didn’t
have to exhaust himself trying. Woodrow genuinely liked Wil, for
nothing other than the fact that Wil was Wil, and Wil genuinely
liked him back.
Dallin understood it, once he really thought about it, because
he had the same experience every day. It wasn’t that the people
of Lind didn’t like Wil for who he was, but the Aisling would
always be who he was to them. Dallin would always be the Shaman
to them, so everything they said to him, every action they took
in his sight, was ever colored with that same subliminal
expectation. Dallin had lived his whole life as something other
than what he was now, something relatively normal and
unremarkable; Wil had never had the chance.
He’d reveled in it with Woodrow. Corliss couldn’t help but
mother Wil, and though Dallin knew Wil enjoyed it—not that he’d
admit it—still, she’d accepted Wil because she was Dallin’s
friend. Same with Creighton. Minus the mothering part.
Dallin snorted. He stepped over and primed the pump before
opening the spigot.
Woodrow had left with the others before the snows moved from the
mountains to the valley, and Dallin had watched Wil wave goodbye
to the first real friend he’d ever made. It had been poignant
but gratifying, too. It was amazing, after all, that Wil had
managed to hang on to the courage to take the risk. Then again,
Dallin thought with another snort, this one a little grim, Wil
was all about risks.
He shook his head and decided not to think about that, either.
The Old Ones thought about it enough for everyone. They’d rather
swooped in on Wil’s free time, once Woodrow wasn’t filling it
anymore, wasn’t keeping Wil busy and content while Dallin
learned to use his magic and prepared for when they would be the
ones venturing out of Lind. Dallin had already learned to be the
Guardian; he was learning now to be the Shaman. Teaching, as Wil
had insisted; updating defensive tactics; training Weardas,
as his father had done. It was good, exhausting work, too, but
there was a taint beneath it, the knowledge that he was doing it
for a reason, the awareness that they needed it because he
wouldn’t be about to see to it later.
Dallin preferred this. Building something with his own hands.
Handing a gift to someone who’d received gifts so rarely he
almost didn’t know how to accept them when he did. Anticipating
the look on Wil’s face when Dallin presented it to him.
He’d been surprised, when he’d first noticed Wil’s
not-quite-aversion to the bathhouse in the common. Surprised,
because it was rather luxurious for Lind—perpetual hot water,
and attendants, and soaps and soft bath sheets—and Wil did like
his baths. Wil liked a bath as much as he liked sex, and Wil
really liked sex.
There’d been no problem at all, when they’d stayed at the Temple
for those first few weeks, and before Corliss had decided she’d
been away from her brood and her job for too long. It was smart
to strike off before winter moved down from the mountain and
into the valleys; neither Wil nor Dallin could negate it. They’d
only watched the blue and brown fade into the distance as
Corliss dragged her small contingent back to Putnam.
They’d been presented with the house immediately thereafter. And
they’d both been more than ready to leave the kind-but-cloying
atmosphere of the Temple.
Only a small house in Lind-proper, but quite luxurious by Lind’s
measure. Rough and rustic by general standards, and downright
archaic by Putnam’s, but for Lind, it was pretty much royal
treatment. It was nice, it was comfortable—it was private.
They could speak to each other without lowering their voices;
they could lounge in a pile of limbs for hours and not feel
decadent; they could make as much damned noise as they wanted
to, and bloody hell, but Dallin loved the noises Wil
made. Plus, Dallin could have all his weapons where he could get
at them quickly if he wanted to. Dallin was pleased, Dallin was
grateful, Dallin couldn’t have asked for more, under the
Wil hadn’t said anything—had, in fact, seemed quite content with
it all—and Dallin had bivouacked in worse conditions, so it
hadn’t occurred to him for at least a week or more. Not until he
noticed Wil opting for a quick wash from a basin in the bedroom
more often than not, instead of venturing down to the common
baths at least once every two days—sometimes daily—as he’d done
before Woodrow had left.
Something was off with Wil. And Dallin was not at all pleased
that he had no idea what it was.
“They… stare,” Wil had told him. They were lying in bed, the
fire stoked high, and Wil scrunched down into the furs, almost
wedged between the mattress and Dallin’s left side to absorb his
body-heat, as well. Wil’s fingers were idly toying with the
springy hairs on Dallin’s chest, his steady, even breaths like a
warm little bellows ghosting over Dallin’s ribs. “They try to be
polite by not ‘disturbing’ me with talk, but I can feel them
staring, and they all stop talking when I walk in. It’s… I just
don’t like it. Woodrow just sort of… well, he was company. I
didn’t notice it as much when he was there.” Wil shrugged.
“Anyway, it’s fucking freezing here. It takes me a bloody
half-hour to get undressed, which makes them all stare even
Dallin had not snorted at that mental picture—unpeeling
Wil from layer-after-layer-after-layer had become one of
Dallin’s favorite pastimes. He’d sighed, though. He’d had a very
long day, and he knew Wil had, too. He was too tired for this,
he should never have brought it up now, but he couldn’t help it.
He’d watched Wil shiver over the damned basin again this
morning, and all day—through the drills and the practice
maneuvers and the tactical tutorials—he couldn’t get the picture
out of his head. Wondering at it, and unable to figure out why
he couldn’t let it go. And now, with Wil warm against him and
Dallin fully aware of how much he liked Wil warm against
him, how much he’d grown to need it, he couldn’t sleep.
Something was wrong, Wil was unhappy—Dallin should be able to
fix it. Wasn’t that what he was for?
Plumbing was a luxury in Lind, a somewhat decadent afterthought.
A small outbuilding housed an acceptable privy behind the little
house, but a bathroom was unheard of, a private bath
Maybe Dallin was concentrating on the wrong things. Maybe he
should have been just as worried about dragging the world into
Lind as he was about dragging Lind into the world. Maybe
plumbing was just as important as… as reading, or learning
Wil had, in his own words, ‘frozen his arse off’ for three
winters, while he’d been on the run; he shouldn’t have to do it
again, now that he wasn’t. A bath without enduring awed stares
wasn’t too much to ask—not for the Aisling, and certainly not
for Wil. Wil should have everything he wanted. Wil should be
coddled and spoiled and petted and indulged, and what the hell
kind of Guardian was Dallin, if he couldn’t even—?
“What?” Wil huffed, voice rumbling low with near-sleep,
but piqued with impatience, too. He’d been drifting off when
Dallin had started off on this little mental puzzle, Dallin
could tell just by the uneven pulse of his caresses, and now he
hovered on the verge in-between, apparently feeling Dallin’s
unease, waiting for him to unclench a little so they could both
Dallin rolled his eyes at himself and set his jaw. Wil would
have an answer, now that it had occurred to him there was one to
be had, and there was no sense in pretending Dallin could get
around it. Not that he wanted to, but he still didn’t know
exactly what the question was in the first place, so how was he
supposed to know how to pose it? He took a page from Wil and
just came right out with it:
“I was just, um…” Well, tried to. “I hadn’t realized you were…
well, it hadn’t occurred to me to wonder until just recently,
and you know, not that it wouldn’t be your… that is to say, you
shouldn’t have to… well, I don’t want you to feel like
you have to— Ow, fuck!”
Dallin jerked across the mattress, and away from the
damned-strong fingers that had just pinched and twisted his
right nipple. Still swearing, he pressed a hand to his chest,
hiked himself up on his elbow, and glared. “What the hell was
“You were babbling.” Wil was still burrowed like a tick in the
furs, blinking up at Dallin with an innocent look of harmless
concern that Dallin knew he wasn’t really trying to pull off,
because he was letting the smirk curl rather obviously. “You
never babble, so I thought you must’ve been dreaming.” Wil’s
eyebrows went up, eyes wide. “Aren’t you supposed to pinch a
person to wake them up?”
“You’re supposed to pinch yourself,” Dallin growled,
still rubbing at his chest, scowling now, because ow, fuck.
He supposed he was lucky Wil hadn’t gone for the stones.
“Oh.” Wil yawned and somehow managed to stretch and tunnel down
deeper into the furs while he did it. “Sorry.”
Yeah, he looked real sorry. The smug little prick.
“You were saying?”
Dallin narrowed his eyes, opened his mouth and… frowned.
Apparently, he hadn’t been saying much of anything before the
pain had chased away the dull stupidity that had been driving
his mouth. Probably just as well. With a dubious shake of his
head, Dallin flopped back down on the bed and sighed.
“Nothing,” he said. “Doesn’t matter.”
Well, it did, but Dallin hadn’t quite figured out what the hell
was bothering him yet, and the babbling hadn’t exactly helped
move things along.
“It did a moment ago.” Wil shoved in close again, fitted himself
to the angles and curves of Dallin’s body and went about
absently fluffing the rest of the nest about them both.
Dallin’s arm went automatically around Wil’s back to draw him in
tight. “A moment ago I still had both nipples,” he groused.
“Aww.” Dallin could hear the grin in Wil’s voice, could feel it
against his pectoral as Wil fidgeted until his mouth was
hovering just above Dallin’s chest, hot breath skimming over the
lingering heat from the sting of the pinch. “I only torture you
because I care.” Long fingers roved beneath the furs, stirring
arousal Dallin couldn’t have helped if he’d wanted to. “Kiss it
Wil paused, waited until Dallin answered, “The least you could
do,” trying to pout fetchingly and probably not quite getting
there. A flash of white teeth in the half-light of the fire was
the first part of Wil’s answer; a gentle kiss to Dallin’s nipple
was the second. Small, warm shudders rippled through Dallin,
fuzzing his brain just a little. He opened his mouth to sigh,
maybe groan, maybe tell Wil, Yeah, that, do that, gah,
tongue, I like the tongue, but what actually puffed out was,
“It isn’t that bad, is it?”
It took a second for Dallin to realize what he’d said, what he’d
asked, and another to wonder what the hell he’d actually meant.
And why he’d said it now, because Dallin had really liked
the direction things had been headed a second ago. There’d been
tongue, for pity’s sake—maybe it had melted his brain.
“I mean… it’s… I know you don’t like the cold, but… I want you
to… I mean, I don’t want you to…”
What the fuck? He was babbling again. And he didn’t even know
what the hell he was trying to…
Shit. Maybe he did.
He left it hanging, because he was pretty sure now what he was
trying not to ask, and why he was trying not to ask it.
Wil’s head had come up; Dallin could feel those eyes on him,
staring, probably bemused. Maybe there was a smirk there, too,
because Wil’s sense of humor was not only unusual, but fairly
wicked. In pretty much every sense.
A gentle brush of fingers up the center of Dallin’s sternum,
then: “I want to be here.” Wil’s voice was soft and low,
sincere. If there really was a smirk there, Dallin could hear no
evidence of it. “You’re here, so I want to be here. I wouldn’t
want to be anywhere else. You’re stuck with me, Guardian—even if
Lind is the coldest place in the whole fucking world—so
suck it up and stop worrying.”
was where the unease had been coming from.
What if we find out we don’t even really like each other?
Wil had asked the question once, in a moment of high emotion and
low confidence. Dallin had given it the barest thought, because
it wasn’t an issue for him—he’d liked Wil right off, even back
when he wasn’t supposed to. And love, as both concept and
fact, had been out there and acknowledged between them before it
had ever actually become a question. Dallin hadn’t realized
until Wil handed him reassurance to a question he didn’t even
know he was asking that perhaps his own confidence wasn’t what
it should be. Wil was Home for Dallin, wherever he
happened to be; that Wil would willingly give that back to him
was… something for which he had no words. Something humbling.
Wil had been willing to die for Dallin. He’d intended to. He’d
believed all his life that Dallin was meant to kill him, and
yet, when it came to it, he’d stepped willingly in front of the
bullet meant for Dallin. Dallin’s hand went automatically to the
scar on Wil’s shoulder, but he stopped it before Wil noticed.
Dallin had decided right then—with Wil lying in the bed beside
him with his furs and his fire, looking at Dallin like
that—what he was going to do about Wil’s little
was a nice, thick bank of evergreens behind the house, and the
well wasn’t too far from it. Wil never even ventured outside if
he didn’t absolutely have to, and Dallin doubted he even knew
what the back of the house actually looked like. If Dallin was
careful to only work on it while Wil was with the Old Ones—maybe
even get Hunter to drag him about for a while, if Dallin needed
extra time—Dallin figured it wouldn’t be too hard to keep the
whole thing under wraps. With the admittedly very little Dallin
knew about building things in general, he was aware that
building things in the winter was both ill-advised and
appallingly difficult, but… well, bugger that. It was for Wil.
Dallin would drag every builder in Lind out into neck-deep snow
if he had to, and he’d lay down some serious money that none of
them would complain.
Another kiss to his nipple then a long lick drained any
remaining disquiet from Dallin’s nerves and strengthened his new
resolve; the gentle scrape of teeth and a soft almost-purr
turned it into instant lust. “All better?” Wil hummed against
Dallin’s skin, a cheeky smile in the dark—Dallin could hear
it—as Wil drew back some and feigned retreat.
Not acceptable, so Dallin made his mouth curl down and his
eyebrows draw together in a scowl. “Absolutely not,” he growled,
slipped his fingers through Wil’s silky hair and molded his hand
to the curve of Wil’s skull. Gave him a little shove. “Still
Wil gave Dallin a shove back, but it was with his hips, and so
much more effective. “Sissy,” he murmured, gently mocking, as he
added a bit of a grind. Bloody hell, only Wil could go from
almost sweetly reassuring to come-and-get-the-sex in ten
seconds flat. Dallin was going to die at the height of orgasm
one day, and fuck if there wouldn’t be a great big ridiculous
grin on his face when he did it.
“Sissy who could kick your arse,” Dallin managed, almost a
groan, but fuck, he couldn’t help it when Wil did things
like that. “Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you don’t move
very fast when you’ve got sixteen shirts on under—”
“Perhaps I wasn’t clear,” Wil cut in, dipping down again, hot
breath sweeping Dallin’s throat. “Sex. Now. Talking is not
conducive to sex.”
“It is when you do it,” Dallin told him. “The things that come
out your— ah, gah, do that again.”
“Shh,” Wil hissed then did it again—some twirly thing
with his fingertips to the hollow of Dallin’s hip—and seemed to
simultaneously sprout another few hands while he was at it.
Dallin lost track of all of them right around the time Wil
sucked Dallin’s abused nipple into his mouth and made it all
better. Made the throb sharper and the ache not something that
ached but didn’t hurt, a sweet-hot anguish of
exquisite torture. Dallin forgot about unease and insecurity. He
forgot about layers and layers of clothes and mountains of furs,
and the knowledge that Wil would never tell Dallin he resented
the necessity of either, even if he did.
For all that Wil was constantly griping about the cold, his skin
was always warm. Right now, he was all heat and winding limbs as
he made himself another nest—furs above and Dallin below—and
pressed his hips down ’til Dallin obligingly gasped. A groan
Dallin couldn’t help and didn’t want to puffed loose from his
throat, and he pulled his knees up, fitting Wil against him even
more snugly as Wil’s mouth worked up Dallin’s breastbone to his
throat. Sharp teeth nipped lightly, just enough to stir a bit of
a twitch, before Wil swiped his tongue in a long stripe,
transforming the sensation from sharp to silky before brushing
his lips over Dallin’s mouth.
The kiss was sex defined. Wil could be a wanton thing when he
wanted to be. Lust incarnate, Desire made flesh. A yawning
necessity that moved like a contagion from Wil’s mouth and
right down Dallin’s backbone, made him a mess of nerves and
reactions, its heart thrumming out mindless want. The
languid drag of Wil’s body over his turned Dallin’s bones to
“Fuck, I love how you feel,” Wil breathed, moist heat
against Dallin’s cheek, handshandshands all over him, tracing
muscle and sinew, and sending slippery little shocks thumping
along Dallin’s nerves.
“Yeah?” Dallin ran his hands over ribs and spine, swept them
inward and up over ridged torso and chest. “Wouldn’t it be
better if you could feel more of me?” He pushed his hips up,
just in case Wil didn’t get the hint.
Right. As if.
A lazy little chuckle and another flash of teeth. Long limbs,
corded now with packed muscle, ventured out from beneath the
mountain of furs as Wil reached for the little clay jar on the
bedside cupboard. Dallin couldn’t do anything but touch as Wil
stretched over him—everything, everywhere—sating his own need
for more contact while driving Wil’s arousal deeper, stronger,
pulling it out from beneath his skin ’til Wil almost dropped the
Wil swore then snorted. “I think,” he said, teasing, as he
dislodged Dallin’s hand from its grip on his arse, “and I have
no ulterior motives whatsoever in saying this,” pushed the
little pot into Dallin’s hand as he striped another long lick up
Dallin’s throat, “that you are in serious need of a thorough
Dallin managed a grin as he pawed the lid off the pot. “Serious
“Mm,” Wil hummed, hand snaking down between them, taking them
both in a grip that made Dallin’s eyes cross. “Very
Yes, it was all feeling very serious right now, with Wil’s hand
pumping steadily, and his body arching back so Dallin got a
rather inspiring view of how the firelight moved over the
definition of muscles in Wil’s chest and arm as he moved, and if
he didn’t stop that very soon, the ‘thorough shagging’ was going
to be slightly less than thorough. Dallin snapped hold of Wil’s
wrist, stopped it. Dallin’s hands were greedy, wanting to
continue their wandering, but he made his grip firm as he pushed
Wil up so he was kneeling upright across Dallin’s torso and
peering down with a rather evil little glint in his eye. Bloody
damn, that… that look.
“Well, I’m certainly serious about sex,” Dallin drooled—drawled,
Wil grinned. “And surprisingly alliterative.”
Dallin had to think about that for a second; his brain was
already going to mush. It didn’t really help when it finally
clicked. Oh, yeah—he was so smooth. He should know better than
to try witty banter with the master when the master was
currently using his body to turn Dallin into a compliant mess of
raw need. Dallin managed to choke back a gasp when Wil slid his
hands from Dallin’s shoulders to his thighs, but only just. It
was the look in Wil’s eyes, the honest want, the sincere
craving, and the wicked little spark that promised all manner of
Bloody damn, the things Wil did to him. Dallin set the little
pot to the side and got his fingers good and slicked. He was
quite proud of himself that he managed a small smirk as he
pushed two into Wil’s body and watched him close his eyes, head
dropping back and torso stretching out as he shuddered and tried
not to gasp. Proud of himself because what Dallin really wanted
to do was stare and babble words of worship as he watched Wil
sink into sensation, but managed to stem the sop in favor of the
This was almost as good as the fucking, watching Wil curl into
pleasure, watching his body move, lengthening and extending as
he coiled himself into different shapes that glazed his eyes and
pulled animal groans from deep in his chest. He didn’t wait for
Dallin to give him what he wanted—he took it and with no
hesitation. It left Dallin’s other hand free to roam as it
pleased, scrubbing lightly over muscle and bone first, then
tweaking nipples, just for payback. A teasing brush to Wil’s
erection that made Wil groan some more, panting, as the heavy
muscles of his thighs flexed, and his teeth clenched as he drove
himself down, hands clamping tight to Dallin’s shoulders.
“Going to do anything with that?” Wil snapped.
Oh, yeah. Eventually. Right now, Dallin just kept smirking, ran
a fingertip, feather-light, from base to tip, watching Wil’s
eyes narrow down to slits, watching Wil’s lip pull up in a
half-snarl as the hearth fire popped and flared with wordless
“Showoff,” Dallin said.
Wil always tried for patience, but never quite got there—it was
one of the best things about him. He swiveled his hips, tried to
push his erection into Dallin’s palm, and when Dallin didn’t
cooperate, did it again, the flames nearly shooting out past the
fire-screen this time
“Better watch that.” Dallin could tell that his grin was a bit
evil, because Wil was glaring now, a light sheen of sweat
coating his body as he kept moving on Dallin’s hand, like he
couldn’t make himself stop. “As your Guardian, I feel it my duty
to caution control at all times.”
“If only you could use your powers for good,” Wil snarked,
“instead of evil, sex-teasing stuff.” He lunged for the little
pot and had hold of Dallin’s erection in a slippery grip before
Dallin could come up with a suitable retort. And when Wil
growled, “Fine then, if you’re not going to fuck me, I’ll do it
my-damn-self,” Dallin gave up on even speaking. Because
yeah—filthy, filthy mouth. Guh. It just… really did things to
Dallin’s gasp and twitch had Wil grinning again, which was fine,
because good things always happened when Wil looked like that.
And since Wil was busy slicking Dallin up then guiding himself
down, Dallin would say this was clearly one of those times.
Bloody hell, he really didn’t have to do anything at all, if he
didn’t want to, just lie there and let Wil fuck himself with the
convenient aid of Dallin’s body. Then again, not doing anything
was just not an option—not with Wil looking like that, all sleek
and long and bendy, arching his back and reaching behind him to
grip Dallin’s upthrust knees as he sank himself down. Heat and
pleasure fizzed all through Dallin with the smallest little jerk
of Wil’s hips. And when Wil began to rock—quick and sharp, just
like Wil—fingers digging into Dallin’s kneecaps, head thrown
back, and low, rolling groans winding from his throat, Dallin
couldn’t just lie there, even if he’d wanted to. Couldn’t.
He took hold of Wil’s hips, risked a snarl and snap as he
stilled him, dense-wired muscle straining under his hands. Wil
quivered with tension and want, the need to move-snap-thrust
radiating from his skin and up Dallin’s arms, down to his gut,
blooming there like a spill of hot oil. He lifted Wil by his
hipbones at the same time that he drew himself back, pushed into
the mattress, then snapped up and dropped Wil down. Wil’s yell
shot right through Dallin’s chest, spiked the pleasure, so he
did it all again.
It was an effort to pry Wil’s hands from their grip on Dallin’s
knees and wedge them beneath his own as he lifted again, thrust
up hard, but Dallin was rather motivated. He did it again, this
time trying to listen and suss the things that Wil was saying,
because Dallin was sure it was dirty, whatever it was, but it
was too mangled and rough to get through the buzzing in his own
head. Rocking, writhing—fuck, Wil was writhing, he looked so
bloody good when he did that—building the rhythm too quickly as
Wil curled his legs so he could drive up with his knees and
wrestle back some control. Dallin only twitched a grin, changed
the angle and took that control away again.
Wil arched back again, open and gorgeously uninhibited, his hair
brushing over Dallin’s knees. He kept trying to fidget his hands
free from Dallin’s, muttering breathlessly at the ceiling.
Dallin couldn’t take his eyes away from the smooth curve of
Wil’s throat, the shift of firelight over his chest and arms,
until Dallin made out his own name amidst the garble, some
choice curses, then: “Damn it, Dallin, just… touch me, fuck,
It wasn’t a question of whether to obey or not—Wil wanted it, so
Wil should have it. It was a question, though, of what Wil
wanted as opposed to what he’d settle for, and Wil shouldn’t
settle for anything.
“Not yet,” Dallin panted, close, so close, “just wait,
“Dalllllliiiiiin…” A whine this time.
Any other time, Dallin would have snorted; now he only groaned,
orgasm building in sharp waves in his groin, swarming through
him. “Wait, Wil, I promise—”
“Hate you,” Wil groaned, no heat in it, just half-wild and
impatient want grinding through everything about him—in the way
his hands kept trying to worm out from under Dallin’s, the way
his teeth clenched and his expression hovered somewhere between
mind-blowing pleasure and an extremity of pain, the way he
snapped his hips against Dallin’s grip in startling little jerks
that dragged Dallin’s climax from him in a blinding flash of
ecstasy that whited him out.
He shouted, he knew he did, he could tell because his throat was
aching, and he heard Wil snap something sharp and breathless at
him, but Dallin’s body and mind were clenched too tight in the
grip of climax to stop or wonder what Wil had said, though he
could certainly guess. It had sounded pretty desperate, and a
desperate Wil was a rather bossy Wil. Dallin almost couldn’t
move, the pleasure was so intense, but he’d promised, and damn
it, Wil should have what he wanted. Still shaking, skin
tingling, Dallin sat up, dragged Wil off him, pulled him in and
swallowed him down.
A throaty, ragged yelp wheezed out from Wil’s chest, and his
whole body extended, nearly bending himself backwards over
Dallin’s arm as his hands scrabbled at Dallin’s shoulders,
slipped in sweat and so went for his hair instead. Fuck,
Dallin loved him, the smell of him, the feel of him, the weight
of him on Dallin’s tongue—he barely got a taste before Wil was
arching back impossibly, stretching his body against Dallin’s
hands, shouting out, and spilling down Dallin’s throat.
Dallin wished he could get it up again, because it wasn’t
enough—it never was. Hopeless heat pooled again in his groin,
but his body just sort of twitched in resignation, as he licked
and teased until Wil smacked the back of his head to make him
“Fuck,” Wil breathed, pulled back with a hiss and slumped
himself heavily over Dallin’s shoulder so he was almost hanging
upside-down. A floppy mess of quivering muscle over loose bone.
And since his arse was right there, Dallin sort of had to
bite it—he wouldn’t respect himself if he didn’t; only a small
nip, just enough to make Wil twitch and yip, which he did
obligingly, then: “D’you know how much money you could make with
that mouth?” he slurred into Dallin’s back. “They’d line up for
miles. We’d be bloody kings.”
Wil’s version of romantic pillow-talk. So ingenuous. So
Dallin blinked, eyebrows rising. “That…” He paused, trying very
hard not to let the grin leak out into his tone. “Did you really
just say that?”
“Um…” Apparently, Wil had to think about it for a minute, then:
“I think so?”
“And did you mean to say it out loud?”
“Dunno,” Wil mumbled, “m’ mind seems to have gone blank. Maybe
melted. Your fault.”
Dallin laughed, dumped Wil over on his head and buried him under
the furs then dove in after him.
Oh, yeah. Loved him. Wanted to give him everything, anything he
wanted. Even the things he’d never ask for.
“What is it with you and blindfolds?” Wil griped, one hand
locked to Dallin’s elbow hard enough to bruise even through his
coat, and the other flailing out in front of him. “Is this some
weird control quirk you should have warned me about months
Dallin just had to snort. “Yeah, I know, like your quirks
couldn’t take my quirks out behind the woodshed and kick their
“I don’t have quirks,” Wil retorted, managing to somehow look
haughty and superior, even though the nose he’d stuck up in the
air was half-covered by one of Dallin’s handkerchiefs serving as
a makeshift blindfold. “I have preferences. You’re the
one who always has to—”
“Hey, no peeking!” Dallin slapped his hand over Wil’s face for
good measure, ignoring the muffled cursing as he dragged Wil
into a bit of a stumble that couldn’t be helped and through the
door so he could shut it. He’d spent the entire morning stoking
the coals and making sure they were just right while Wil had
been with Thorne, and one good cold gust through the door could
“All right, all right, get off me,” Wil snapped, swatting blind
at Dallin’s hands when he felt even ground beneath his boots.
The swatting rather lost its effect, though, what with the thick
mittens—it was like getting butted by a pair of small, fluffy
sheep. “I wasn’t peeking, I was—”
“Trying to peek.”
“I was not! I was…” Wil paused, head cocking to the side. He
sniffed. “Where are we?”
“Well, practically speaking, we’re in our backyard.”
Wil’s head tilted a little more. “We have a backyard?”
Dallin snorted. He leaned in and pulled Wil’s mittens from his
hands; they went immediately to the blindfold but paused. “Not
yet,” Dallin warned. “And yeah, we have a backyard. And down the
hillock a bit on the eastern side, there’s a small stable and
paddock, so we can move Miri and Sunny from the Temple’s stables
when it warms up some.” It was kind of nice, not having to worry
about everyday care and feeding of the horses, and especially
since Dallin knew he’d be doing it by himself—Wil preferred to
dig in like a tick beside a fire to cleaning stalls. Then again,
didn’t everyone? Still, he also knew Wil had a visit with ‘the
girls’ every time his business with the Old Ones took him to the
Temple, so Dallin figured Wil would rather have them here.
“Does it ever warm up some here?” Wil’s head was tilting
back again, trying to get a look down his nose beneath the
Dallin didn’t scold him this time. “Well, you’re warm now,
“For all I know, it’s because you have me dangling over a
fire-pit, ready to roast me,” Wil retorted. “And how is it that
the backyard I didn’t know we had is somehow warm, and you’re
only telling me now? It’s warmer here than it is in the house.
Two and a half weeks I’ve been freezing my arse off, and—” His
hands once again went up to the blindfold. “Can I take this off
The tone made it more of a demand than a question; Dallin was
sorely tempted to tease some more, but there was a fine line
between Wil being patiently indulgent and Wil stewing up for a
skin-stripping snark. Dallin had another look around, trying to
see it how Wil might see it when the blindfold came off. He
puffed a somewhat rueful sigh. Well, it would have to do.
“Yes, you can take it off now.”
Wil had the handkerchief off before Dallin had even finished
granting permission. Long fingers swept unconsciously through
dark hair, pushing the mop of fringe out of Wil’s eyes for only
a second before it stubbornly flopped back again. It was getting
longer; Dallin hoped Wil would let it. He loved Wil’s hair,
thick but baby-fine and silky, sliding through his fingers like—
Dallin cleared his throat and shook himself a little. He waited
until Wil blinked a few times, adjusting his eyes to the light.
“We couldn’t make it out of stone,” he told Wil, half-apology,
half-explanation. “Byldan said the mortar would never set with
the cold and the snow and all. Anyway, that would’ve taken more
like a month than a week, so we sort of made-do.”
“You…” Wil’s eyebrows had gone up. “You built this?”
“Well, sort of.” Dallin shrugged, flicking another assessing
glance about. Not the best example of craftsmanship he’d ever
seen, but circumstance had not been his friend in this venture.
“I’m not exactly a builder, so I rather commandeered a few who
“It’s a bathhouse,” Wil said, a little redundantly, since his
eyes were nailed to the oversized tub stood over the thin bed of
coals in the center.
“More of a bath-shed, I think,” said Dallin. Actually,
more like four walls slapped up around a fire-pit and a tub,
though it had truly been a bitch-and-a-half to level out the
frozen ground and smooth it down into a pseudo-floor. “And it’s
not going to hold the heat like it should, though if we’re
careful and attentive, we should be able to set the coals
smoldering and fill the tub in the morning so the bath will be
ready, say… after suppertime. And look.” Dallin hustled over to
the head of the tub and laid a hand to the pump’s primer. “No
filling buckets or coppers. You just pump water in, set the
coals smoldering, and wait for the water to heat.” When Wil
didn’t say anything, just stared blankly, Dallin rushed on, “And
no emptying, either. You just take this hose-sluice-thing, set
one end in the tub and the other in the gutter out the door—”
More like a rough-dug ditch, but they were making-do here. “—and
let it drain by itself.”
Well, Carver had said it might need some suction to get it
going, but Dallin saw no need to point that out just yet.
Despite the mental picture the instruction had evoked when
Carver had said it, the more Dallin looked around now, the more
he realized how truly shabby the little place looked. A far cry
from the common bathhouse, certainly. This was more-or-less a
tub set in the backyard with walls around it. Wood walls with
too-thick splotches of resin Dallin hadn’t thought to sand off,
tin-roofed and anchored in bare ground, with a jagged vent in
the center of the ceiling, because it had taken Dallin almost a
dozen tries to get the grip of the metal saw right. He hadn’t
even thought to set another pit up for steam or hang hooks for
And Wil was just staring. “How did I not know this was
here?” he asked.
“Um, well, it wasn’t.” Dallin shrugged. “We just kind of threw
it together while you were busy with Thorne.”
Wil blinked. “You built this.”
Dallin wasn’t quite sure how to interpret the tone of that
one—accusation? disbelief? disappointment?—so he merely nodded.
“It’s only about fifty paces from the house,” he put in lamely.
“And it’s private, so you won’t have to worry about anyone
staring at you, and… and… well…”
Wil was silent again, staring about, green gaze taking in
everything slowly. “Twenty-three,” he finally said softly and
peered up at Dallin, his mouth twitching a tentative half-smile.
“Twenty-three paces,” he clarified. “I was counting.”
Dallin almost sighed relief. He should have known. Wil’s earlier
comment had been less, ‘You built this,’ and more, ‘You
built this for me’. Dallin was going to have to make a
habit of giving Wil gifts more often, just so he could get used
to the nuances. The surprise—no, shock—at the realization, the
over-bright glimmer of the green eyes, the way Wil couldn’t seem
to decide if he should smile or not, the confusion, the Why
would you do that?
Because he really didn’t know. And Dallin didn’t think he ever
“You… built this,” Wil repeated, slowly, like he was tasting the
words, trying to get a feel for them. “You built a bathhouse.”
Honesty made Dallin add, “Carver tapped the pump into the well
and laid the piping, and Byldan actually framed the beams and
everything. I only really did the walls.” He shrugged again. “I
know it’s a bit shabby, but I’ve never really built anything
before, and I wanted to make sure it—”
“You put up the walls?” Wil cut in, his gaze less dazed now, and
Dallin grinned. There was a definite glint to Wil’s eye that
Dallin had got to know and love right away, because there was
never any question what Wil meant by it, and it always meant
something good. Dallin leaned back against the wall and let his
grin go cocky. He nodded.
“Which ones?” Wil wanted to know, voice going a touch lower as
he shucked his scarf and bulky coat.
Dallin crossed his arms over his chest and jerked his head over
Wil stepped around the tub, laid one hand to the wall to
Dallin’s left while the other set to work on the buttons of his
thick, fuzzy jumper. “This one?” All of them, actually, but
Dallin figured that was hardly Wil’s point. Dallin just nodded
then sucked in a sharp breath when Wil tilted in, ran the tip of
his cold nose up Dallin’s throat and gave him a quick lick
beneath the chin. “So, are you going to fuck me up against the
wall that you built for me with your own hands?”
Dallin had never really had the whole clichéd knee-melting
experience before he’d met Wil, but now he was rather glad he
was already leaning up against the wall. A wall that he’d
built, now that he thought about it, and as much as he really,
really, really liked Wil’s idea, Dallin thought perhaps
fucking up against it was not the wisest thing in the world. He
knew very well, after all, exactly how many nails he’d bent, and
how many times Byldan had oh-so-politely instructed him to
remove and replace various boards because he’d cocked them up
when he’d hung them the first three times.
He watched Wil set to work on the top layer of the… it looked
like four or five—of the four or five shirts he was wearing.
Dallin tipped his mouth in a bit of a smirk and flicked a glance
over at the tub. “I carried the tub from the wagon by myself.”
Not by choice, but still.
Wil paused, expression going sly as he peered from Dallin to the
tub and back to Dallin again. “Looks pretty big.”
And bloody heavy, too.
“I bet you say that to all the lads,” Dallin retorted.
Wil grinned and sauntered back a few paces, still working on
buttons. “Not all the lads can back it up.”
Which was probably as close to a mushy admission—You’re the
only one—as Wil would ever let slip. Not because he didn’t
mean it, but because he was a smart-arse and wouldn’t give
Dallin the satisfaction. Even though he more-or-less ‘said’ it
in various ways every day. And oh yeah, it was more than enough.
Satisfaction—in every way imaginable—had rather taken on new
definition for Dallin since Wil had come into his life.
“Are you going to let me thank you properly, or not?” Wil wanted
to know, almost getting down to skin now, and really—was he
honestly expecting an intelligent answer?
Dallin was going to have to come up with one anyway. Because
this was important.
“No,” Dallin managed, and kept his voice soft. He smiled a
little at the way Wil’s eyebrows snapped up, and his head
tilted, momentary confusion. “I’m going to thank you.”
Slowly, Dallin pushed himself away from the wall and stalked
over toward Wil, watching Wil’s eyebrows climb higher. He laid
his hands to Wil’s shoulders, let them slide down over
strap-muscled arms before pushing the last shirt back and off
Wil’s shoulders. Palms warming against perpetually hot skin,
Dallin leaned in and laid a gentle kiss to Wil’s temple.
“And you’re going to shut up and let me.”
Because Wil should have everything he wanted. Even if had no
idea he wanted it. And even if he’d never understand why someone
just might want to give it to him.
for whipping the grammar into shape. Or at least trying to.)