7 – invitation

The knock at his door wakes Cole with enough of a start that he’s across his apartment before he thinks. Whoever it is, they knock again and Cole opens the door, annoyed enough that he doesn’t care that he’s only in his underwear. He was sleeping, and he’s about to say as much when he realizes who’s on the other side.

It would be more surprising if Cole hadn’t more or less told him where he lives, but only slightly. He’d mentioned it, yes, but he’d never thought that Bast would actually come.

He doesn’t seek Cole out, especially not himself.

He only begrudgingly tolerates Cole’s presence until he’s done with whatever he’s doing when Cole shows up unannounced – because that’s the only way to do it, really, other than the strange little pseudo-summoning used to set an appointment with him – and one of them starts tearing clothes off. Sometimes literally.

But here he is, in the flesh.

In the faintly-blue flesh, which means his control is slipping, and his smell is shot through with something sharp and sour that tastes like fear when it hits the back of Cole’s throat.

“Well, come in,” he says, stepping away from the door. “To what do I owe the pleasure this time?”

For a second, he starts to worry about whether or not Bast is going to judge the state of his apartment; he still hasn’t really quite moved in. He got a few shelves for his books, but that’s really it. His fucking mattress is even still on the floor.

But he’s supposed to be angry, after Bast fucked off again.

“What,” Bast says flatly, staring out the window instead of turning to give him a look, “you’re the only one allowed to appear without an invitation when he wants to get laid?”

Cole hums in acknowledgement and crosses the gap between them. He fits himself to Bast’s back, letting the smell of him flood his lungs even though it’s off. It’s still good. Still him.

“Sure,” he replies before he can get distracted. “But that’s not why you’re here.”

He spreads a hand over Bast’s chest to feel the beat of his heart. Not that it’s necessary – the frantic thump of it is so loud that he has to try to focus on anything else. But it’s slowing, slightly.

“Bast,” he says softly. Because he’s supposed to be angry, but really he’s just relieved.

He turns without pulling away, his forehead dropping to Cole’s shoulder. In the back of his mind, a quiet little voice questions what would happen if Bast lost control completely – if he’d be able to get away before horns pierced his flesh – but a much louder, more resolute one says it wouldn’t matter. That he wouldn’t even try. Not when Bast’s like this.

“He found me.” It’s barely more than a whisper, but it’s plenty for either of their ears.

“Who-” No. He wraps his other arm around Bast’s ribs, tight enough to crack were he anything normal. Anything more fragile.

He is, though, Cole thinks to himself. Not physically, maybe, but there was more than one way to damage someone.

“He’s here? He came through?”

Bast shakes his head. “I don’t know if they’ve found my house yet exactly, but they fucked up my door, and- I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

He’s still so quiet. So small.

Cole presses his lips to the side of his head. “Did they touch you?” he asks, because that’s safer than are you hurt? And the answer to Are you ok? is obviously a resounding no.

He shakes his head again, seeming to burrow closer in the process. Cole stands there for another moment before he turns them both and steers Bast toward the back of the apartment, where his bedroom and bathroom are.

“Shower?” he asks when they reach the far side.

Bast hesitates for a moment, then shakes his head, so Cole turns them into the bedroom.

When Cole pulls away, Bast seems to realize where they are and tenses visibly. “I-”

“Haven’t bought anywhere else to sit yet,” Cole says. “Tea? I think I have some, somewhere.”

Bast looks at him, his expression considering. He looks exhausted. Worn thin. “Yeah, if it’s not too much work.”

Cole shakes his head. “I’ll be back.”

It takes a few seconds for him to make his legs work. To force himself to leave Bast alone.

But he’d said it himself – he only came here because he didn’t have anywhere else to go. Not because he wanted to, or even because he wanted Cole’s help. He was just a place. The best of no options.

That’s fine. Cole knows how to be useful.

He digs through a box that is sitting on the kitchen counter and finds a box of teabags. Boils water – because he does have an electric kettle, he’s not a complete savage – and pours it into two mugs.

Despite the fact that he knows that there’s no food here, he looks. There’s beer in the fridge, akavit in the freezer, and jack shit else. Coffee, but he’s pretty sure that won’t help anyone right now. He opens the freezer again and stares at the bottle before closing the door. No. If they found Bast once, who knows how quickly they’ll do it again. After all, he got better and better at it without magic. So he just takes the tea. He can order something later, if Bast wants-

At first glance, his room is empty. No sign of struggle, just. Nothing.

Nothing except for a small ball under his covers. He’s torn between smiling and sighing, so he ends up doing an awkward mix of both as he crosses the room and sets the mugs down on the floor beside the mattress.

“Can I come in?”

“It’s your bed. If we’re calling it that.”

“Spoiled brat,” he says, before he can stop himself.

But from beneath the blanket, he thinks he hears Bast breathe a weak laugh. This time, Cole actually smiles. He expects to have to drag Bast out of his ball, but he fits himself to Cole’s side almost immediately; it claws at something in his chest – some dangerous, vulnerable place that he’s struggling more and more to protect.

He pushes a hand into Bast’s hair and kisses his forehead. “D’you want it now or when it’s cold?”

“Fuck you,” Bast grumbles. “I never mean to let it get cold, I just-”

Cole fights the laugh, but he’s sure Bast can still feel it. He huffs, and a moment later he pulls away and sits up, taking the blanket with him.

He’s all the way blue again now, apparently having given up on maintaining any appearance of normalcy. It’s strange, seeing him here. Having him sitting up against his bedroom wall, his skin bright against the white of the wall he sits against.

Cole forces back a smile and pushes himself upright. He picks up a mug and passes it to Bast before moving to sit beside him.

Bast takes a small sip and frowns, his brows furrowing. He takes another and the furrow deepens, making it even more difficult to resist the urge to laugh.

“This is tea?”

“‘S what the box said,” Cole replies, taking a sip to hide the way the corners of his mouth quirk up. He shouldn’t be smiling. This isn’t a smiling occasion.

Bast gives him a skeptical glance, takes one final sip, then cups the mug in both hands and sets it in his lap.

“You don’t have to drink it,” he says, reaching for the mug. It is pretty bad. Far worse than what Bast makes, he knows.

He pulls the mug away, tail appearing out of nowhere to catch Cole’s wrist before he can take the tea. “No, it’s mine.”

Cole does smile, now. It’s too soft to be safe, but still better than a laugh. He takes another sip of his own and scowls; it really is bad – probably why there’s still tea in the box. No telling when he bought it, although why he packed it is a mystery.

Giving up, he puts the mug back on the floor and threads Bast’s tail between his fingers. It’s very nearly as warm as the ceramic, but there’s no competition between the two.

Bast breaks the easy silence first. “You can go back to sleep if you want. You don’t have to- I mean, that’s… what you were doing, I’m assuming?”

He nods and lets the spadelike tip of Bast’s tail catch between his fingers, tracing the edge with his thumb. “But I can stay up. It’s ok.”

This gets him another frown. “You should sleep, though. I almost didn’t come because I didn’t want to-” he pauses, clearly considering.

“If you say impose, I’ll- well, I don’t know. Something. And I’m not going back to sleep while you stay up and stress yourself out more. I may be a dick, but I’d like to think I’m not that bad.”

Finally, the corners of Bast’s mouth curl up a little. “I could probably take a nap, if I won’t be in the-“

Cole cuts him off with a hand over his mouth, which Bast promptly licks. “Gross, you don’t know where my hand’s been,” he says, wiping it on the blanket.

“Probably your junk,” Bast replies with a shrug. “Not like it’s anywhere I haven’t put my mouth.”

He huffs a laugh. “Where the fuck did you pick up ‘junk’?”

Bast shrugs again. “You do realize I talk to people who aren’t you.”

And he’s sure Bast is probably just talking about clients, but the words slide between his ribs like a knife.

“I mean,” he continues, “mostly they talk and I just sort of pay attention. Well, sometimes I just pretend. After all, I’m generally more interested in whatever they brought me than whatever they’re saying, but sometimes it’s neat. Learning about what goes on in the world and all that.”

“You don’t go out much, do you?”

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Bast frown. It’s unfairly pretty. “I can barely manage to keep up appearances for an hour or two to go grocery shopping. Not exactly worth the expense to do it to go mucking about with humans.”

Something in it makes Cole smile, and he fails entirely at tamping his response down when Bast uses his tail to drag Cole’s hand into his own.

“Do you?” he asks, hooking his pointer finger around Cole’s pinkie.

“Not frequently. Not at all since-”

Since the portals started popping up all over the fucking map. Since he started sending demons through to find Bast.

The silence hangs heavy between them. Or rather, around them, since they’re touching from shoulder to ankle where they sit. Bast releases his mug with his other hand and sends it gently sailing to the floor with a gentle wave of his fingers.

“Sorry it wasn’t up to your standards.”

Bast smiles, the corners of his mouth quirking up just slightly. Maybe that’s what makes Cole release Bast’s tail entirely in order to thread their fingers together. They both freeze immediately after; this isn’t something they’ve done before. Isn’t something they do. It might not be something Bast has ever done outside of sex, Cole thinks to himself. He certainly hasn’t, since-

He clears his throat and asks, “D’you want something to eat? I can order something, or go pick something up. I don’t exactly have anything here.”

The weight of Bast’s attention is almost tangible as he turns his head to look at Cole. There’s something appraising in his gaze, once Cole finally makes himself meet it.

“No,” he replies softly. “Honestly I don’t think I could eat right now even if I wanted to.”

“Ok,” Cole says. He doesn’t know what else to say. Doesn’t know what to do in this situation at all.

“Ok,” Bast agrees easily. He doesn’t let go of Cole’s hand, and his tail settles over Cole’s thigh almost like he’s prepared to try to catch him with it should Cole try to go anywhere. “You should sleep.”

“Not unless you’re going to.”


“Wait, really?”

Bast barks a wet laugh. “What, you think I’ve been sleeping well?”

No, he doesn’t say. “I don’t have any fancy pajamas for you,” he says instead.

In response, he gets a shrug that very much seems to say not like I wear clothes when we sleep together anyways.

Cole is at least wearing underwear – he hadn’t bothered to find more when he opened the door – and that’s what Bast strips to before lying down. They tangle together easily. Like this is something they do. He can’t help it when he kisses Bast; it takes all of Cole’s self-restraint to do it slowly enough that he could easily stop it – to hold this strange feeling at bay, now that he knows Bast is alive – and then all the rest to not chase more. Their foreheads rest against each other after so they form parentheses on his mattress, the air between them growing warm and humid.

“Þorkil,” he says. Because it’s easier than I missed you or I’m glad you’re here.


“That is – was? – my name. Before it was just Cole.”

Bast pulls him closer and yawns, the tips of fangs peeking out past his lips. “What bastardization of spelling and pronunciation made that happen?” he asks.

Because of course he hits the nail on the head in one somehow.

“Quite the guess.”

“Mm. I have to be good for something.”

Cole hums a noncommittal response, his brows furrowing at the hint of a thought. “Should take you to Vegas.”

“I think that’s cheating?”

And there it is. He rolls them so he’s on top of Bast, one hand pinning him against the mattress. “So you are in my fucking head,” he growls, not bothering to make it sound like anything other than an accusation.

“Not- I don’t mean to. And it’s not in your head, exactly. More I just- I don’t know, get impressions of things. Usually without even meaning to. I told you, I don’t know how to be a normal fucking person. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be able to do or not.”

“Well, stop it. As much as you can. At least around me. Fucking hate that shit.”

“Ok, I’m sorry. I promise I didn’t mean to- Cole, please,” he says, his voice cracking.

Cole meets his eyes, the blue and the red-on-black alike. The fight leaves him all at once. Flushed out by the genuine desperation he finds. He closes his eyes and lets his forehead drop to Bast’s. “Just… try not to, please?”

He feels Bast’s weak nod. “I really don’t mean to. I don’t even quite know how or why it happens.”

“Think it must be a celestial thing. Because fae can’t do it. Don’t think demons can either.”

“They can’t,” Bast confirms. And then, “Why?”


“Why would you tell me that? Why me, knowing any part of what I am?”

Cole shrugs. “I don’t know. I wanted someone- you to know, I guess.” He doesn’t say in case.

Nonetheless, Bast pulls him closer.

“Bast,” he says, tone warning.


“What did we just talk about?”

“Wha- I didn’t!”

He grumbles quietly but relaxes into the solid warmth of him. Lets his lungs fill with Bast’s scent.

“I really do try,” Bast says softly. So softly it tugs painfully at something in his chest.

“I know,” Cole replies, tucking his face against Bast’s throat. “I do too.”

Bast breathes a sigh, but it doesn’t sound tense or angry. If anything, it seems like he relaxes a bit more. “Þorkil, huh?” he asks, his accent curling absurdly pleasantly around it.

“Mm. Tóki is- well, was, the short form.”

He feels the stretch of Bast’s smile on his skin; he’s so warm everywhere they touch. “It suits you.”

“Which one?”


Cole hums vaguely. “I think that version of me died a long time ago. Maybe not when I did, exactly, but long enough ago that it’s no longer relevant.”

Nodding, Bast fits his fingers to the spaces between Cole’s ribs. Deliberately. Like he’s thinking something.

“Mahbed,” he finally says.

One of Cole’s eyebrows arches of its own accord. “Sorry?”

He breathes a laugh. “My surname. Or at least, my mother’s. Demons don’t… have much use for them, I suppose.”

“Bastian Mahbed,” Cole says, letting the syllables roll off of his tongue to test how they sound all together.

“Þorkil Sørensen,” Bast breathes, almost like a prayer.

His way is much better.



Cole kisses him and ignores the way something wrenches in his chest. He’ll be fine a little while longer.

When he wakes up, Bast is still there. Still warm and soft and comfortable.

Next time – because Bast is going to leave him again, he knows – he’ll have to burn everything he owns and maybe himself with it. He’s sure even the metal will smell like Bast after having him here.

Cole turns onto his other side to face him, mapping the golden constellations littered over his cheeks.

His breathing shifts as he wakes up, the smile spreading across his face before he even opens his eyes. “Thought you were supposed to be sleeping.”

“I was. And then I woke up. Felt something poking me.”

Bast’s eyebrows furrow in momentary confusion. He even peeks under the covers, only realizing when Cole lets out a little huff at the impact of horn on skin. “Oh. Shit. Sorry, I-“

Humming a dismissal, Cole wraps his fingers around one to tilt Bast’s head back up.

“I told you I haven’t been sleeping well. And well, that was before I went-” He exhales shakily and allows Cole to drag him closer. His horns retract into his forehead with a faint whisper of magic and then he’s burrowing under Cole’s chin.

“I’d say we don’t have to talk about it now, but I suspect we probably do.”

Bast nods.

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

He shrugs. “Yes and no. I was sort of… hoping to find it spelled out, I guess, and I didn’t. But I did find- I’m not the only one. His only experiment.”

“Bast, you’re not an-“

“Oh but I am. Very literally. He’s got a whole level full of different… things like me. Well not exactly. Most of them are entirely un-fuckable-“

Cole can’t help but snort, and feels the answering puff of Bast’s laugh on his skin.

“-but they’re all attempts. And there was one. Clearly wolf, at least in part. Cole, I can’t begin to fathom what he might have done to her. I mean one of her eyes was purple. Like full on, wrong pupil shape and everything, as if he’d had it ripped from a celestial and shoved it in her. Not that it seemed to have worked, but-“

“What do you mean?”

“Oh. She was blind. At least in the one eye, although she also… I don’t know, but it felt like she looked right at me. And she said something about having a brother, so clearly he has more, here on earth.”



Cole presses his lips to the top of Bast’s head, his mind moving too quickly and in too many directions.

“I wouldn’t have found anything if not for Zhalleos, who’s probably dead. It was all too far below. Places I never dated go. Never wanted to go. I still wish I hadn’t had to, really.”

“I know,” Cole murmurs, sighing into his hair. His lungs fill with the very same smell he’s spent countless months trying to immunize himself against. Gods, he really wasn’t ever going to be able to go outside again. Certainly not going to be taking any casual jaunts into the Irish countryside any time soon. “But we know he’s coming now.”

Bast nods.

“And you don’t-” have to do this alone, Cole thinks. “I’ve dealt with a good few demons in my time. You’re not the only one who can handle this.”

“Cole, this is an army.”

“I’ve dealt with a few of those too.”

“How? By luring them into bed?”

“Hey! I’ll have you know I have a multitude of talents.”

Muffling a laugh against Cole’s throat, Bast says, “That was never in question.”

With an annoyed sigh, Cole pulls away and rolls off of the mattress and to his feet. He crosses to a large, heavy chest. The only other box he can say with full certainty that he knows its location and contents. A few flicks of his fingers have the locks popping open, and then he flips the solid lid.

He hears Bast’s feet on the floor, slinking up behind him.

“Oh,” he breathes, “that’s certainly um. Can I?”

“I have no idea what it’ll do to you, but help yourself.”

Bast bends over and runs a fingertip lightly over the engraved head of an axe. “It knows you,” he whispers, almost like he didn’t mean to say it out loud at all.

“Well I should hope so. I made it.”

Tail trailing up the back of Cole’s thigh, Bast straightens and looks at him, his expression considering.


He shakes his head slightly.

“Did you fucking do it again?”

“Not- sort of, but I told you I can’t really control it. Especially not with things. I did ask first,” Bast points out.

Sighing, Cole says, “You did, yes.”

“So you can’t be mad.”

Cole snags him by the waist. “Sure I can. I’m fifteen hundred years old. I can be mad when I want.”

“Not quite yet, you’re not.” He grins wryly, clearly knowing far too much.

“Traitor,” Cole grumbles at the axe before shutting the chest once more.

When he looks back up, Bast’s expression is strange and inscrutable.


“Are you actually mad?”

“No, I guess not. I don’t like it though.”

He nods, then says, “I meant about- I’m sorry. I just… had to. I won’t let him ruin this, too. Destroy an entire world.”

Sighing, Cole brings his other hand to Bast’s chin. It makes Bast’s breathing catch and his eyelids flutter closed. “You went because you wanted to know about yourself.”

Bast’s eyes open again, something sharp in them.

“Tell me I’m wrong.”

“You’re not, but they’re one and the same. If I know what I am – what I can do and why he made me – then I can stop him. You don’t make a weapon for something you can do yourself.”

Something in his words makes Cole breathe a humorless laugh. “You know, for someone who spends as much time in books and apparently in other people’s fucking heads as you do, there’s an awful lot you don’t know.”

“Then enlighten me,” Bast snarls. It’s angry, yes, but Cole catches the edge of fear in it, too.

Like that first time. Or rather, the last first time.

So he does the same thing he did then and kisses him. And again, there’s that same startled hesitation that makes Cole second guess right before Bast takes to it like a match to gasoline.

They make it back to the bed in a tangled mess of limbs, stepping out of underwear as they go. Bast’s teeth find his throat, worrying at the skin enough to leave marks; Cole doesn’t care, though. Need be, he could probably just ask Bast to get rid of them.

He doesn’t want to, though. Doesn’t want him to stop. He’d let Bast mark him permanently, if-

Cole lets out a ragged groan at the press of Bast’s fingertips. They’re mysteriously – magically – wet. So good and not enough all at once. And like this, Bast can reach everything at once and Cole can’t breathe around it.

“Wait,” Cole manages, gasping. Because no. Not this time.

Immediately, Bast freezes, each hard breath hot on Cole’s skin. He shifts and Bast pulls his hand away, wiping his fingers on Cole’s sheets. “You’re mad.”

“Well now I fuckin’ am.”

“I didn’t- I don’t have to do anything special to know that. I was just… hoping by the time I was done you wouldn’t be anymore.”

Cole fights the urge to laugh. It probably would have worked, if history was anything to go by, but that’s the whole problem. He can’t keep-

Every time he lets this happen, it gets worse. The more time he spends around Bast, the more dangerous everything becomes. The less effective every wall he’s spent centuries constructing grows.

A good fuck as stress relief is fine. And he’s even ok with liking whoever it is providing said distraction – the wolves were proof enough of that, as well as that he’s perfectly capable of maintaining that distinction. But this is… more stress. Not less.

“Yeah well,” he says, “fine. You’re right. I’m angry. You threw me out and ghosted me for months, then did it again via a fucking note while I was still asleep in your fucking bed. So yes. I’m a little angry and I think I’m allowed.”

The stricken expression on Bast’s face hurts, almost enough that Cole wants to take it all back. To say it’s not a big deal, to forget about it. But he can’t.

“I’m sorry,” Bast says. “I um- I should go. I didn’t think- Well I did, but I always do it wrong and I- it doesn’t matter.”

Yes it does, Cole thinks, but he can’t open his mouth and say it. Everything about you matters. That’s the problem.

“I’m sorry. I never meant to cause you trouble, but I did. That’s all that matters. So I’ll um. I’ll just go. I can figure out… something. Always have.”

There’s a quiet rush of magic and then he’s fully dressed again. He stands, giving Cole a rueful look over his shoulder.

“Wait,” Cole says, before he can disappear again. “You can… stay. Here. If he is coming and you are supposed to be some sort of nuclear weapon of the demon apocalypse, I’d rather keep you where I can see you and out of his hands until I can find a way to stop him. Because like you said, this is my world and I’m not in a hurry to have it overrun with demons. I may be old, but I still have plenty of things to do.”

Bast breathes the faintest hint of a laugh, watching him like he’s expecting a but.

“But I can’t pretend I’m not angry. I should have made things clearer probably, and that’s my fault, but I’m not really good at defining boundaries in relationships. I just sort of steer clear of them entirely, since they all just die eventually anyways. So for that, I guess I also owe you an apology, but I think I might need to um. Focus. On preventing the end of the world, for now.” It makes him feel far too naked – too exposed – saying the words out loud, and in a way that has nothing to do with the fact that he’s literally sitting nude on his bed.

Exhaling a strained sigh, Bast shoves a hand in his hair. “Yeah, that. That makes sense.”

Cole nods and pointedly ignores the way it feels like something in his chest has been carved out. It’ll stop, eventually. Vampires may heal slowly, but he will, given time. He just has to make sure he lives that long.

“You mentioned something about there being food somewhere near here?” Bast asks, scratching the back of a calf with his opposite foot.

Something about it is so normal – so genuine and awkward and human – that Cole can’t help the laugh that claws free. “Yeah, I guess we do probably have some errands to run. Think you can put your person face on for a bit?”

Bast bites his bottom lip and nods. “Think so.”

He stands and stretches, feeling the way Bast’s eyes still wander over him and pointedly ignoring it. “I can probably make it a bit easier. I’ll just have to do some digging.”

In the end, it’s a pretty successful attempt. He finds Bast a hat, gloves, and a scarf that leave him largely covered. That he’s also adorable is irrelevant. It gets them through multiple stores and back to his apartment which is all that’s important.

“I think Nealon’s dead,” Bast says from a perch on Cole’s counter, once they’re back and Cole is preheating the oven.

Bast’s examining his new phone intently as he says it, so Cole feels less bad about replying, “Who the fuck is Nealon?”

Bast looks at him. “He was my… intermediary, I suppose. The frontman for my work.”

“Mate, just make a website like everyone else. You have the whole fucking internet right there,” he says, nodding at the phone. His own was silenced and charging in the bedroom; it had vibrated nonstop with messages for a good minute when he’d set it up, so he’d put it down and walked away. He can’t deal with that right now too.

“I don’t… really know what that is. Or how any of this works.”

“Right. Forgot you’re a fucking luddite.” Cole rolls his eyes and crosses to stand beside Bast. He tries not to breathe as he says, “Ok so tap that one right there. Yeah, then there. Then you literally type in like. A word. A question. Eventually you can deal with like, full navigation and whatever but- yeah now hit that.”

He watches Bast’s pupils expand as the screen fills with search results, his pulse quickening at the prospect of that much potential information at his fingertips.

“It’s mostly a human thing so you’ll probably still want books for a lot of stuff. Gods know it’s why I’ve kept mine, but-“

“Wait, really? Where?” Bast asks, his full attention turned away from the screen and onto Cole like a spotlight.

Before he can stop himself, Cole takes a breath. He can’t deal with this. He can’t. So he nods for Bast to follow him and picks up the knife he’d left lying around for whenever he got around to unpacking.

“Most of those. Don’t think I have to tell you to be careful. Lot of them don’t even exist anywhere else anymore.”

Again, he watches the expand-and-contract of Bast’s pupils. Listens to the excited catch of his breathing.

And then he turns and goes back into the kitchen to deal with the very difficult and involved task of making frozen pizza, leaving Bast alone with his personal library.

He’d never thought he’d be praying for a demon invasion to come sooner, but when it was the only thing that would get him through this? Well. He could handle demons.

All but the one in his living room, who he can’t seem to live with or without.

“Huh,” Cole more or less grunts, because yes, that had been an oversight in his plan.

“I could maybe make one, but I’m worried anything too big might draw his attention.”

“Yeah, no don’t do that.” He takes a breath. Another mistake that fills his nose and lungs with that same smell. He wants to shove his whole face in it. To drag Bast back into his bed and finish what they’d started hours before.

Outside, the sky is beginning to brighten.

“I mean I can stay up. It’s fine. You sleep, it’s your bed. I’m the imposition,” Bast argues. Or tries to, his words trailing into a yawn that betrays him.

“Uh huh. It’s fine, come on.”

Bast gives him a disbelieving look.

“Here, hang on and I can probably even find you something to wear. It won’t be silk or whatever, but-” He digs into a box and pulls out a soft, well-worn t-shirt. “Should do. Not like we’re that far apart in size.”

“Perks of being a runt, I suppose,” Bast replies, taking the shirt from him with a small smile. “And um. Thanks.”

Cole doesn’t trust himself to speak, so he just nods and hopes Bast isn’t listening in on what goes on in his head. That he won’t get the impressions of his own traitorous thoughts.

He changes and gets into bed, closing his eyes so he doesn’t have to watch Bast strip. The quiet flick of the light is followed by the dip of the mattress as Bast settles in beside him, maintaining a careful distance that’s entirely new.

After a couple moments’ deliberation, Cole gives in to temptation and wraps both arms around him, dragging Bast into his chest.

“Is this… strictly necessary?” Bast asks, his voice tight.

“Mhmm. Told you I’m not letting you out of my sight and this is the only way I can almost trust you not to slip out again while I’m asleep.”

Bast makes a little hmphing sound, then settles against him comfortably.

When Cole wakes up, he’s still there.

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