9 – intensification (pt 2)

Cole sucks in another harsh breath, digging his fingers into the cool moss beside the wall.

There isn’t any hint of magic in the air, so wherever Bast is, he can’t be feeling much better, although Cole hopes, desperately, that he’s at least physically fine.

He, on the other hand, is absolutely fucking drained. Literally. Needs to eat something more than he ever has in his life.

Except there’s no one and nothing nearby, at least not that he can smell. He can’t smell much beyond the scent of his own borrowed blood and the smoky bite of demonic remains, though.

He slumps further against the wall, eyes closed, trying to catch his breath and gather the motivation needed to go fuck up some poor farmer’s flock. Motivation. As if that’s all he needs this time. If he could manage it, Cole would almost laugh at the whole situation.

Bast’s familiar scent cuts through the rest, drawing closer, but Cole still doesn’t open his eyes. It’s too much work.

He doesn’t do anything until Bast’s weight drops down into his lap and his head onto Cole’s shoulder and then he doesn’t think he’s ever opened them faster. Doesn’t think his fangs have ever dropped faster, either.

“Sweetheart, you can’t- I can’t, right now-” he manages, his hands fisted in the ground like that could somehow stop him.

Bast’s lips are soft and warm – so warm – on his neck. Despite himself, despite the fact that he needs Bast to move right now, Cole finds himself raising his chin to give him better access.

“Sure you can,” Bast murmurs, his mouth ghosting over what would be the pulse point in Cole’s throat if he had one. Exactly where he’d-

“It’s what you need, and I can’t get us out of here right now but I can do this. All you have to do is-” he nips the skin gently, knowing full and well the effect it has even under normal circumstances.

Cole whines and shifts under Bast’s weight. His hands move of their own accord, fingers clenching in Bast’s pants instead. It takes all of his self control not to move more than that. To only open his mouth to say, “We don’t know what will happen-”

Bast sits up, both eyes alight in their own ways and his horns long enough now that they’ve started to curve over the top of his head. “Look around, Cole. The sun’s fucking up, and I don’t have any magic. Zero. None. Options are I maybe die or you definitely do. And I-” he swallows, his throat bobbing prettily. “If you hadn’t been here today, I would be dead anyways. So let me do this, please.”

His hands are moving again; apparently he’s made a decision, as much as he hates it. Cole’s eyes catch on the sun – not quite overhead, but well on its way. Even if he drains Bast to the brink, he’ll be pushing it.

There’s nothing for miles.

Just the ruins of an old cottage, but he might be able to make it – to stick it out in the shadows until the sun goes down.

He cups Bast’s face in his hands and kisses him like it’s the first time. The last. The only one that matters.

Bast’s forehead is hot against his own, his horns practically molten. And definitely bigger, Cole thinks absently. Or maybe he just has never let them out all the way.

“Do it,” Bast says, voice rough. “Do it and we’re even.”

Tilting Bast’s chin, Cole presses another, much softer kiss to his throat. He can feel the almost frantic beat of Bast’s pulse under his lips. The hot ebb and flow of blood. And then his mouth’s full of it.

Every muscle in Bast’s body goes taut; his back arches and his fingers sink into Cole’s hair and the moan he lets out would be obscene, except Cole can’t tell if it’s actually pained and he can’t stop- he can’t stop. His other arm wraps around Bast’s waist, holding him in place. He swallows, nose and mouth flooded with the smell. The taste. And gods, it’s unlike anything he’s ever had before. Better than any drug, even better than his first drop of blood after he’d been turned.

The desperate, clawing feeling subsides in the same moment that Bast slumps against him. Dead weight.

But he still breathes. He’s still warm under Cole’s palms, and his heart still beats, if more slowly.

Not yet. He still needs more, if he’s going to make it out of here. He drags his tongue over the vein, coaxing more out. Like he’s desperate for another hit. That’s what he feels like, really. Like he’s on something. On something and getting off at the same time.

He never wants it to end.

It does, though. Eventually – far, far too soon – even when he sucks, it draws nothing but a faint whimper from Bast.

Bast, fuck.

Cole forces his fangs back and swipes over the puncture marks with his tongue. Already, he can feel them starting to close which means- should mean- please-

Carefully, so carefully, he sits Bast up with one hand still on his face and the other on his ribs.

“Bast,” he whispers, his own head swimming so excessively that it’s a struggle to focus on his face. The constellations of his freckles seem to drift on his pale skin. And gods, he’s so pale he’s barely even blue anymore. It reminds Cole of the first few times, when he was still trying to pass as human.

But even then, he was so full of life. Of magic. And now he’s just-

“Bastian, look at me,” he says. Doesn’t plead – and his voice certainly doesn’t break.

His eyelids flutter open, just slightly, then close again.

“Bast, please-

He giggles. The absolute demon giggles before opening his eyes again halfway.

“Would you say something?” Cole shouts, before he can stop himself. “Are you ok? Did I-” go too far?

Bast lifts one hand from where it had dropped to rest on Cole’s shoulder and brushes the corner of his jaw. “Oh I’m fine. More than. I think the phrase the kids use is ‘high as a fucking kite’?”

He giggles again and lets his forehead drop to rest against Cole’s. Presses, like it takes more for him to feel it.

“Are you serious right now?”

Bast hums an acknowledgement and tilts his chin to kiss Cole’s cheek. “I mean, still no magic. And I don’t think my legs work. Definitely can’t drive-“

“You can’t fucking drive anyways.”

He feels Bast’s smile on his skin. “You could just say you’re worried about me, you know. And then I could say now you know how I felt when I saw you sitting here. When you looked dead. But the difference is that I’m more than fine now. Other than the- you know, unintended after effects which I am definitely not complaining about.”

Cole’s arms tighten around him, pulling him closer, and Bast gasps.

“I think I know where all of the remaining blood in my body is, if you want some more,” he says, sounding faintly hysterical. “But more importantly, how are you?”

He maneuvers Bast upright again and meets his eyes as much as possible. “Seriously?”

Bast smiles at him. Laughs that same inhuman, starry giggle.

Cole kisses him. He has to. It’s meant to be gentle, but then relief turns to something more desperate and Bast seems to rouse himself enough to fist one hand in Cole’s hair and the other in his shirt.

One of them groans; he’s not sure who, not that it really matters. There’s no one to hear them. No one around at all.

He adjust his grip on Bast then moves, laying him down on the soft, green ground before kissing him again. His mouth, first, then both cheeks. His eyelids. The tip of his nose and his sharp little chin. Both corners of his jaw and the soft patch of skin beyond.

He has his teeth on Bast’s earlobe when he says, “Don’t tease. It’s not nice.”

Cole returns to his mouth and licks his way inside. “You don’t seem that upset,” he murmurs against Bast’s lips.

“How would I be? You’re alive. I’m alive. And he’s-“


“Gone,” Bast echoes before fitting their mouths together once more. Again, the kiss heats quickly. Bast’s hands sneak under Cole’s shirt and Cole’s into the back of his pants seeking skin, contact, confirmation that they’re both alive. That they’re ok.

It’s Bast who moves first, canting his hips up with a breathy moan that has Cole humming his agreement into Bast’s mouth. He reaches back to pull his shirt over his head, unable to fight his grin at the look of need on Bast’s face.

“Something you like, sweetheart?”

He hisses a curse, then says, “How are you real? How is this something I-“

Cole drops down to kiss him again – a soft, simple thing. “You’re sure you’re ok?” he asks, searching Bast’s eyes for any hint of a lie.

“I’m fantastic. Well. I could be better. We could both be naked and in bed, but-“

Breathing a laugh, Cole makes quick work of Bast’s buttons, his hands smoothing over the warm planes of muscle once he’s done.

“Definitely better.”

He moves on to Bast’s pants, dragging them down just far enough to be out of the way before he switches his attention to his own. Growling a complaint, he somehow manages to get one boot off and pull a leg free of his jeans.

When he looks at Bast again, Cole finds him staring up at him with something like awe on his face. He’s still humanly pale, but impossibly beautiful all the same.

He ducks to kiss Bast, wrapping his fingers around his cock at the same time. “Did you already-?” he starts to ask.

Bast laughs and says, “As soon as you bit me.”

“Gods,” Cole breathes. He licks his way back into Bast’s mouth like it holds the secret to life, needing it far too much to tease.

“Can’t even tell you how it felt.”

“If it’s anything like it was for me, you don’t have to.”

Bast groans and kisses him again. His hips keep canting up into empty space, seeking friction he can’t quite reach. “Shouldn’t you be getting out of the sun?”

“In a minute, but right now I’m a bit busy.” He smiles against Bast’s lips and lines them up. The angular tip slides inside with ease, but Cole only drops an inch or two before he pulls away again. It drags a frustrated sound from Bast’s throat and a responding laugh from his own. He drops down again, further this time. Then again.

Bast moans, loudly, once he’s fully sheathed inside of Cole. He drags Cole down for a kiss, hungry and desperate as ever.

And gods, how had Cole ever thought he’d walk away from this? How had he thought he could?

He hadn’t. Couldn’t. It would have killed him, maybe for real this time.

They part for air, more for Bast’s sake than for his, but Bast doesn’t let him up. Just holds him there, perfectly still but for the rise and fall of their chests.

“I don’t know what I would’ve done if-“

“Don’t start on that, sweetheart. We’re not out of the woods yet.” Cole shifts slightly, adjusting to the warm weight of him inside.

In response, Bast’s eyes shut and his mouth drops open around a silent moan. “I’m just saying that I didn’t ever expect to get… this.”

And then his eyes open again and Cole is caught, breathless.

Bast tilts his chin and kisses Cole softly. “I love you,” he says quietly. His hips rock slowly, seemingly of their own accord – each roll punctuating Bast’s words. “And I don’t know what that means for me, or us, or anything, but I do know that I can’t risk something else like this- something worse and having to know that I never said it.”

Exhaling slowly, Cole closes his eyes and lets his forehead drop to rest against Bast’s. The sun is uncomfortably warm on his skin, but the last thing on his mind is moving. At least not away.

I love you, he’d said.

“Are you… going to say anything?” Bast asks once the silence has stretched far longer than intended. He’s gone still, Cole realizes.

“Like what, Bast?” He sits up enough that he can meet Bast’s eyes. It was one thing to think it. To feel it. To know it.

It was another entirely to hear it said out loud, especially after something like this. When they’re this close, and Cole doesn’t have anything to hide behind.

He swallows and takes a breath.

“We have already shown our arms stronger than anyone who may want to destroy us, and we have already both lived enough lifetimes that the usual words no longer even seem to have meaning. But yes, Bastian, I would say and swear it on Aesir and Vanir, first known in the north. Frigga and Odín, Thorr and Loki, Freya and Feryrm, Balder and Nanna, Disir and Alfar, and ask for their blessings, should they even listen anymore. It is your eyes I would smile into every morning and to you I would pledge my living and my dying, each equally in your care. I would be a shield for your back, and have you for mine. I would give you all that is mine to give, so long as we both should want it. That is my vow to you.” He’s panting by the end of it, but no part of him wants to take the words back. Cole can’t think of a time he’s meant something more, especially not in the past millennium.

Oh,” Bast whispers, his expression making it clear that he recognizes the words for what they are.

“Oh,” Cole echoes, smiling a little bit helplessly. He lets his forehead drop to Bast’s again, their noses brushing as he leans in.

Bast arches up to meet him. His arms tighten around Cole as their mouths meet, his hips shifting to push him even deeper. “That’s- huh.”


“Hold on.”

Cole frowns at him in confusion, uncertain if the instruction was meant literally, or-

The world around him twists and distorts in on itself, and then they drop a fraction of an inch onto Bast’s bed.

“Do you still feel ok?” Bast asks, like he’d done something minor, rather than transporting them part way across a country while buried inside of Cole.

Cole just looks at him.

“What? It’s a real question. I’m not sure how, but-” he breaks off with a ragged gasp as Cole rolls his hips. “Ok. Ok, just- can we talk about it after, please?”

“Fine. Much later,” Cole growls.

“Deal,” Bast says, grinning.

Whether it’s the best sex of his life is irrelevant. For one, he’s been alive too long and has never kept much track. But secondly, and arguably more importantly, it’s never been like this.

By the time they collapse into a sweaty, exhausted heap on the bed, Bast is blue again. His arms and tail are both wrapped firmly around Cole, and he’s got his face tucked up under Cole’s chin.

Bast still has flecks of demon blood here and there, as well as two tiny marks on his throat that still haven’t gone away, and Cole is sure his entire back has to look like a burnt piece of toast.

“It does,” Bast mumbles sleepily.

“No, bad,” Cole says, but he can’t manage any real force behind it. Besides, what does he even have to hide now? He feels the curve of Bast’s smile and his own face echoes it.

“Not what you thought you’d do today?”

Cole hums an acknowledgement. “Depending on which part you meant, not something I planned on doing at all.”

Bast starts to pull away, but Cole holds him tight.

“But I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”

He settles, slightly, his fingertips warm as they trace the edges of a tattoo on Cole’s chest. “Good. Me neither.”

Cole threads their fingers together, bringing Bast’s knuckles to his lips. “Good,” he agrees. Better than anything he’s thought to hope for since the day he was turned.

They doze. Each time one of them wakes, it’s to find the other before falling asleep again. Sometime late in the afternoon, Bast declares that he can feel it again and that he’s taking a bath.

Exhaling a laugh, Cole follows him out of bed and into the bathroom.

“Hmm.” Bast frowns at him, then says, “Turn around?”

Confused, Cole does. He looks down at himself as he spins in a slow circle, only then remembering the mess of cuts, scrapes, and bite marks that litter his body. “Oh right. They’ll um. They’ll heal eventually. It’s fine.”

Bast makes another discontented humming noise and steps closer. “Hope you weren’t planning on getting any more tonight. Also don’t let me drown in the bath,” he says.

Before Cole can question it, he feels the rush of magic. He turns just in time to catch Bast, who sways concerningly before sagging against him.

“Better?” he mumbles.

He stretches slightly, testing. “Yes, actually. Much. But you still didn’t have to-“

“‘M fine. ‘st tired.”

“Yes, very convincing.” Cole sighs and picks him up, careful as he steps into the bath. He lets out an involuntary, pleased noise at the warmth, sinking into the water slightly before he remembers Bast’s earlier comment and hoists him up higher.

Bast laughs lazily and lets his head tip to rest on Cole’s shoulder. “Can we talk about it now?” he asks, eyes still closed.

“Think we have a few other higher priorities. Pretty sure you need food and water, for one.”

That gets him an annoyed grumble.

“It can wait.”

“Not like I’m eating in here. Dunno if there’s even food here anymore. Didn’t exactly look around much.”

This time, it’s Cole who breathes a laugh. He tucks his face against Bast’s hair, the familiar smell of him laced through with demon ash and sex.

“Yeah I need to actually-” Bast straightens slightly, his eyes opening. “Hm. Is there some like, known protocol for bathing with another person? Fucking in the bath I could probably manage at any other time, but um-“

Cole laughs, for real this time, and pulls him back in to kiss his temple. “Not really. Think it’s always a bit weird. Showers are a lot easier on that front.”

“Probably, but that throws off the whole house.”

“Really? You’re arguing for aesthetic reasons?”

“No, plumbing ones. What, you think I’ve got running water out here?”

He frowns and blinks. “Wait, but then where does-“

“I mean, it comes from somewhere but it gets here by magic.”


“Mm. Good thing I did the water first.”

Cole lets out an amused huff and says, “I guess so. Did you do the sheets too?”

“Fuck. No, but I do have another set.”


“Wait, do you not?” Bast asks, sounding horrified by the possibility.

It forces another laugh out of him, then another as he realizes how strange the whole thing is.

“Ok look, if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. I can probably find a way to undo it since I doubt that’s what you meant, but-“

“Wait, what are you going on about now?”

“Earlier! In the field, with the- and you said- Cole, you bound yourself to me. And there’s always ways out of these contracts, if the right parties are willing. Trust me, I didn’t expect it either, so it’s really alright. We can work something out-“


“I just. I still mean what I said, but there’s a lot of ground between that and-“


Bast stops and sucks in a breath, looking at him.

“I have no fucking clue what you’re upset about, but I mean the entirety of what I said. I’ve never felt more alive than I do with you. Never wanted anyone more, especially not once I got to know them. And I don’t have any fucking idea how to do… this the right way, but. I want you, if you’ll have me.”

He wants to kiss the soft, awed express off of Bast’s stupid blue face, but he can’t. Not until he knows things are ok.

“It’s a bit more than that. Apparently some part of my blood recognized it as like. A contract. It’s why I could- why didn’t you tell me that you had magic before?”

“Was eons ago. Haven’t had it for longer than I did. I can still feel it, but I just sort of… forgot, I guess.”

Bast exhales a disbelieving little sigh. “Well, apparently I can use that now. And it’s- I mean you know how these things work, and I know how you feel about other people having that sort of hold over-“

“I don’t care.”


“Love, you could’ve invoked any of that at any time in the past year and whatever, but you never did. Not even when I was hunting you and you thought I was working for your father. I know, and I don’t care. Not if it means taking back any part of what I said earlier.”

Bast’s tail wraps around his knee loosely, almost like he has to tether himself to something. “Yeah,” he mutters, “that’s a pretty- shit, sorry.”

Breathing another quiet laugh, Cole pulls him in again and kisses his jaw. “That part’s still fucking weird and will not hold up in court or arguments.”

It gets him a crooked little grin. “In bed though, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Cole agrees, twining their fingers together.

“You’re sure?” Bast asks quietly. He’s not asking about the sex, or even the weird psychic shit, Cole knows.

Cole brings Bast’s knuckles to his mouth and kisses them. “Blood of my blood, bone of my bone, I give ye my body that we two might be one. I give ye my spirit til our life shall be done.”

He feels Bast’s breath hitch and the shift of his body as he turns to catch Cole’s mouth with his own.

Tá mo chroí istigh ionat,” Bast whispers into the space between them once they part. “And it’s a good thing you haven’t changed your mind because I have no idea how to get that out,” he says, running a finger over Cole’s chest.

Looking down, Cole sees a new mark on his skin – a strange, circular design that has hints of things he almost recognizes but is decidedly, entirely incomprehensible.

“That part,” Bast says, tracing a section of it, “is the symbol of my father’s house.” He frowns. “I suppose mine, as well. The rest of it though- well, all demons have their own mm, sigil, I suppose? Although I’ve never seen mine until now. Odd, because this part looks celestial.”

“And this bit looks fae.”

Bast hums in agreement and spreads his hand over it. “Let’s figure out this whole washing thing and go back to bed?”

He nods, but kisses Bast again before reaching for the soap.

Somehow, Cole feels lighter than he has in centuries.

After he’s bathed, fed, made tea, and slept through most of the following day, Bast leaves. Not for long, he promises, although he can still see the hesitation on Cole’s face. But he can’t take them both right now; for all that he won’t make a deal of it to Cole, it’ll be all he can manage to get there and back on his own. He’d wait another day or two, if he weren’t worried that Cole’s bloody axes wouldn’t be there still.

So he goes. He manages to land not far from where they’d left – from where he’d found Cole, from where they’d-

Bast bites his lip, fighting back the swell of conflicting emotions at being here. He can still feel the impressions of where they’d been, like ghostly flashes of memory playing before his eyes. Of all things to come of this…

Shaking his head in disbelief, Bast picks up the axes and the assortment of clothing still littered on the ground, folding them over his arm. Then, he takes a breath and goes to siphon magic out of the air to take himself home and finds none.

No power from the outer realms left. Still no fae magic back in the air.

He reaches further, grasping for the familiar strings, until he… trips, so to speak, over something wholly unfamiliar.

Why didn’t you tell me that you had magic before?

Bast takes another breath, probing at the strange feeling. It’s a sluggish, heavy thing that’s almost oily, slipping away when he tries to pull at it like he’s used to.

Closing his eyes, Bast lets his awareness drift far into the distance until he finds the comfortable little void that is Cole.

“Sorry in advance if this does anything weird,” he mutters aloud. And then he reaches through Cole, to pull the magic into himself.

It’s uncomfortable. Leaves him feeling sort of like he did the first time he ate something called a Hot Pocket – not quite meant for his system, but technically consumable. He takes another moment to probe at it some more, testing.


He opens his eyes and sets the axes on the ground again between his feet, focusing on the clothes. “No real loss if these don’t make it back.”

They vanish. Bast follows them to what feels like his house if viewed through an oil slick, then shrugs.

His fingers curl around the haft of each axe. A part of him more or less keeps the door held open, maintaining a route to follow.

“Please work,” he whispers.

The universe curls in on itself, twisting and folding around him like a heavy blanket, then spits him out on the other side.

Bast opens his eyes to see his house, and a very concerned Cole standing on the step. “Um, I got them?” he says, holding out the axes.

Huffing a laugh, Cole crosses the space between them, takes the axes from Bast’s hands, drops them, and kisses him.

“I wasn’t gone that long, was I?”

“A bit,” Cole mumbles against his lips. “Also it started raining clothes so I was slightly concerned.”

With a laugh of his own, Bast kisses him again. While he was gone, Cole had apparently raided his wardrobe and is in one of his shirts – sleeves rolled to his elbows and entirely unbuttoned – and a pair of his pants that were exceptionally, deliciously tight in the back. “I had to get creative,” he says when they part again.

“Yeah well, now we get to go hunting for my shit all over again. Think you dropped it all over the entire county, and I swear if my sunglasses are broken-“

“I’ll fix them,” he says, mock exasperated. “Come on, let’s find your terrible jacket since I’m assuming that’s where they are?”

Cole hums an acknowledgement and twines their fingers together. “Your shirt and my boots landed close. On the roof actually. The boots fell off. Shirt didn’t.”

Shrugging, he tugs Cole into the shadows of the trees. He fights the urge to suggest that Cole go back inside. To remind him that the sun’s still up. It isn’t difficult – it’s not like he wants Cole to be anywhere else. And it seems mutual, which is strange and just so, so good.

They find Cole’s jeans hanging from a tree limb, and his jacket – tragically unscathed – in the field on the other side of the little forest.

“Can call it a wash on the shirt and socks, I suppose,” Cole says, draping the jacket over his arm.

“Back, then?”

“Mhm.” He doesn’t move, though. His attention is focused on the sinking sun, bathing him in gold.

Unable to stop himself and unwilling to conjure a reason to, Bast slips under Cole’s other arm.

He makes a vague, pleased sound and turns to press his lips to Bast’s cheekbone.

“What?” Bast asks, already shifting to fit himself closer. He fights to keep from knowing the answer. The problem is that for all Cole tries not to, he wears everything just below the surface where Bast can hardly ignore it.

Cole tugs him closer still, the tip of his nose brushing against the curve of Bast’s ear, making him shiver.

What?” he asks again, the frustration of trying not to know almost worse than not knowing.

“Angsty little shit,” Cole says, right into his ear.

He’s not sure if it’s from the sun, a leftover effect of his own blood, or just a trick of his mind, but Cole feels warmer. Not warm, and certainly not anywhere near a regular human, but neutral, almost.

“Just… thinking,” he says.

“Oh, well if that’s all,” Bast replies, unable to keep from rolling his eyes. He nips the edge of Cole’s jaw. Historically that’s always provoked some sort of response. Gotten him closer to an answer.

Before he can do it again, Cole pulls back just far enough to kiss him, hungry and soft all at once. Bast can’t hold it back then – it’s like he’s jerked under by a current of some swell of feeling from Cole, although he still can’t quite put a name to it. Either way, he’s helpless against all of it. He lets himself be dragged along.

“You’re being weird,” he says when Cole eventually releases him slightly.

“I’m fourteen hundred something fucking years old. I think I’m allowed to be weird sometimes.” He presses his forehead against Bast’s, like he can’t quite stand to put space between them until he’s done wrestling with whatever this is.

“Well yeah. I mean, you always are. But this is different. Like you’ve suddenly gone and developed emotional depth or something.”’

Cole breathes a laugh and drops the gentlest, lightest of kisses to the tip of Bast’s nose. “Only for you.”

It’s like something slots into place as he says it, the inscrutable tangle unknotting into something comprehensible. “That what’s got you all worked up?”

“You cheating again?”

“I’m asking. Would I be asking if I already knew?”

Now Cole does draw back for the sole purpose of giving him a skeptical look.

“What? You said you don’t like it so I’m trying not to!”

“Because you’re so concerned with others when it makes the difference between you getting to know something and not,” Cole replies, not unkindly. Knowingly, but not unkindly.

“Only for you,” Bast echoes, because it’s true.

Cole kisses him again, but this time there’s nothing soft or tender in it. It’s consuming, and Bast knows what that feels like now. Craves it, for all that he’s not quite sure he could stand it again so soon after the last time. The thought makes him moan into Cole’s mouth, though, which seems to be the desired effect.

He hears the quiet sound of clothing hitting the ground and then he has both of Cole’s hands on him, cool and steady and-

Bastian Mahbed,” a strange voice says, almost in his head.

His whole body jerks as he’s shoved behind Cole, one hand still firm on his hip.


“Bast, what the fuck is this?” Cole asks in a low growl.

“I don’t know.”

Would it help if I said ‘be not afraid’?” the being asks.

Frowning, Bast drops all of the walls he has between him and the excess of awareness in the world. Only then can he make out the being clearly. “It’s- you’re a-” he starts, his mind spinning too quickly to form coherent sentences.

The being laughs, the sound like echoing glass in his mind. “I have been sent to retrieve you. We have many questions.”

“You’re not taking him anywhere,” Cole says.

Are you the hostage of this creature? the celestial asks, directly within his mind this time.

Bast recoils; so that’s why Cole hates it so much. “Hardly. The contract is quite bilateral, if you’d like to see it.”

Contract?” the celestial echoes, its head tilting to the side in a strangely familiar manner. It turns its focus to Cole. “If the abomination cooperates, there will be no need to harm him. He will be safe with us.”

“Wow, yeah, calling him a fucking abomination makes me feel way better. You’re not taking him anywhere, especially not without me.”

But that is what he is; he is the unnatural combination of our kind and the vile creatures of the outside.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. Now either fuck off or we can find out what it takes to kill one of your kind.”

“If I have caused offense, I apologize. Please know, however, that any attempt at violence will be dealt with swiftly. Do not make this more difficult than it need be.”

“You’re. Not. Taking. Him.”

You cannot stop-

“You heard him. Either he comes too, or I’m not going,” Bast says, meeting the beings eyes. Or at least, the vicinity of – he can’t quite make out what may be eyes, or exactly how many there are.

There’s an odd, uncomfortable vibrating hum, and then it says, “Very well.”

Bast doesn’t have a chance to ask for clarification before it feels as if his entire being is sheared apart and everything goes dark.

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