The Rainbow Door sat at the bottom of a hill, a gentle slope upward to a willow tree.
“There’s a cabin here we can use,” Minnow said, letting their hands go to head toward it. She had insisted on changing into a ‘date dress’, which looked suspiciously like a green tunic designed for someone much taller. “There aren’t any roads, which is weird, but in our case that’s a benefit. Right?” She turned around and realized that Leonas was staring at the willow tree. Karzarul, still in his Tauril form, was staring at the cabin. She stopped. “Is something wrong?”
“No,” Leonas said, pulling his eyes away from the tree. Karzarul hadn’t moved. Minnow turned around to look at the cabin. She’d found it years ago, this cozy little place so near to a Door and so far from everything else. She had wondered if she might have left it for herself. No one else had been using it, regardless. Though it was in most aspects standard, the main room and the front door were unusually large.
“Oh,” she said. “Is this somewhere important?” she asked Karzarul. “I hadn’t realized. I should have, with the Door. I didn’t think about it.”
“Let’s pick a different spot,” Leonas suggested when Karzarul didn’t respond.
“It’s…” Karzarul trailed off, did not say that it was fine. He still had not moved.
“Minnow,” Leonas said, taking her hand and pulling her back. He grabbed Karzarul’s hand, and let Minnow lead them back through the Door to somewhere else.
They came back out in a forest where the trees were big enough to fit a cabin inside, the air cool with a threat of rain. The trunks were all mossy, the ground carpeted in ferns and sorrel.
“Is this better?” Minnow asked.
“This is fine,” Karzarul said. She squeezed Leonas’ hand, and without thinking he passed it through, realizing much too late that Karzarul’s hand was massive and being squeezed back with equal force would be a problem. Karzarul’s thumb stroked the back of Leonas’ hand instead. When Leonas’ brain was working again, Minnow had already dragged the chain of them to her preferred spot.
“If we lay out a blanket here,” she said, letting Leonas go to gesture, “this will be a good picnic spot. Right?”
“Right,” Karzarul said, letting Leonas go. He dropped to the ground, sitting with his legs all curled, and did not move to help. Minnow dug through his saddlebags to find the blanket. Leonas waited at a distance, moving closer and then stopping.
“Are we pretending nothing happened?” Minnow asked.
“Nothing happened,” Karzarul said.
“Okay,” Minnow said, holding the blanket but not spreading it out yet. “Do you want alone time?”
She spread the blanket out on the ground next to him. “Is touching okay?” Karzarul thought about it. “Normal touching,” she added, unbuckling her belt to leave the Starsword on the blanket’s corner, “not being nice.”
“That’s fine,” Karzarul said.
She unhooked the picnic basket from his harness and sat down between his front hooves. “Come sit,” she instructed Leonas.
Leonas lowered himself warily to sit on the far side of the blanket. He worked his arms out of the straps of the Sunshield, setting it on a different corner of the blanket.
“It’s going to be hard to reach the basket from over there,” she pointed out, opening the basket and pulling out a wineskin.
“I’m not eating any leaves,” Leonas warned.
“I won’t make you eat leaves,” she said. Then she squinted at all the green around their blanket. “These are good leaves, though.”
“Are they spinach?” Leonas deadpanned.
“Kind of a spinach,” Minnow said. “Not the same kind.”
“Don’t eat ground leaves,” Leonas said.
“I might later,” Minnow said. “I won’t make you eat them.”
“You should eat some cheese.”
“Is it actually cheese,” Leonas asked, “or is it something you found that you’re calling cheese?”
“It’s regular cheese,” Minnow said. “There’s the soft moldy kind, and the crumbly moldy kind, and the goaty kind.”
“I’m not actually hungry.”
“You’re always hungry.” Minnow patted the blanket closer to her.
“No I’m not,” Leonas said. “I can wait.”
“Until you’re done.” He realized as he said it why it sounded absurd.
“If you want alone time, you can say,” Minnow said.
“I don’t want to get in the way,” he said, not looking at Karzarul.
“You can’t,” Minnow said. “That’s how boyfriends work.” Minnow tilted her head back to look up at Karzarul. “Right? We want him over here.”
“You’re our boyfriend,” Minnow said. “You can do boyfriend things.”
“Our?” Leonas repeated. Karzarul’s expression was much the same. Minnow looked between the two of them as best she could from her position, looking up and forward and up again.
“Are you not?” she asked.
“Boyfriend is not a transitive property,” Leonas said.
“Right,” Karzarul said despite not knowing what that meant.
“I don’t know what that means,” Minnow said. “I thought you talked about it and you like each other.”
“It’s more complicated than that,” Leonas said.
Minnow narrowed her eyes as she considered what this might mean. “… sexually?” she asked. “You said boyfriends don’t have to have sex. Unless you want to have sex.”
“Oh!” she said, eyes widening. “You’ve only been with girls. Right? I don’t know if any of the girls had dicks.”
Leonas became a flustered shade of bright. “The vetting process didn’t always—that’s beside the point.” He rubbed at his nose. “There’s a commitment implied,” he mumbled.
Minnow held out her right hand and pointed with her left to the eight-pointed star.
“… that’s different,” Leonas said.
Karzarul tousled Minnow’s hair. “Let him be,” he said gently. She harrumphed, pouting as she pulled a small wheel of hard white cheese from the basket and tore off a piece with her fingers. She offered the rest of the wheel to Karzarul, holding it up above her head. He accepted and had to debate whether to eat the entire thing in one bite or nibble at it.
Leonas stood and sat down stiffly beside Minnow, his back to Karzarul’s lower ribcage. Minnow’s cheese consumption became immediately less sulky. “What would you like?” Minnow asked.
“Is there bread?” Leonas said. “I don’t know if this is actually supposed to be lunch.”
“You can have lunch without bread,” Minnow said. “We do have some, though.” She offered Leonas a small roll with a hard crust.
“Cheese isn’t lunch,” Leonas said, gingerly taking it from her.
“There’s apples,” she added, “and more raspberries. There’s a little jar of jam in here, I don’t know what kind.” Karzarul had brought the basket, but she suspected Violet had packed it. She didn’t know who’d actually made the contents. “There’s a lot of lunch things.”
Leonas was eating by tearing tiny pieces off the roll she’d given him. “Those are snacks,” he said. “And dessert.”
Minnow blinked. “Which of those things do you think is dessert?” she asked slowly.
Leonas stopped tearing at his bread. “There’s. They’re sweet. Fruits and things.”
“And the cheese?” she asked.
“It’s… that’s not a meal, on its own,” he said. “I’ve told you before, you need to eat real food.”
“Like bread,” she half-asked.
“Or rice,” he said. “Or potatoes.” He resumed eating.
“They taste like that because they have less sunlight in them,” he said. “Too much is bad for you, you need dimmer things to absorb it.” He finally finished the last of his small roll.
“Hm,” Minnow said. “You should have a drink.” While he was busy with the wineskin, she looked up at Karzarul. Karzarul made a face to indicate that he also had no idea what the fuck Leonas was talking about. Minnow nodded, satisfied by this confirmation of her suspicions.
“What am I drinking?” Leonas asked after a single sip.
“Dandelion wine,” Minnow said, retrieving another roll.
Leonas narrowed his eyes at the skin. “What did I just say about leaves.”
“It’s petals,” she said, “and honey.” She was assembling a crude sandwich out of goat cheese and jam.
“I’m going to be fine with this,” he said, “but only because I’ve heard of this before and it’s alcohol.”
“Here,” she said, handing him the sandwich.
“That’s too much,” he protested.
“No it isn’t,” she said. “Don’t believe people who say you can have too much sunlight.”
Leonas opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again. He took the sandwich.
“I eat lots of things that aren’t bland,” Minnow added, popping a raspberry in her mouth, “and I’m fine.”
“The rules don’t apply to you,” Leonas muttered, trying to figure out the best way to politely eat a round sandwich.
“You should get down here,” Minnow said to Karzarul. He went fuzzy around the edges, and the moonlight of him moved as he shifted into a Howler. He sat on the blanket, tail wagging. Leonas looked at the bags left on the ground, holding all the things that had been in the saddlebags on Karzarul’s harness.
“You said you couldn’t change things after you made them,” Leonas said, a hint of accusation.
“I can’t,” Karzarul said.
“Shouldn’t your mouth still move?” Leonas wondered under his breath.
“I unmade them and then made them again.”
“They still have things in them,” Leonas pointed out.
“I was fast.”
The fur rose on Karzarul’s ruff.
“Not you,” Leonas said. “It doesn’t make any sense, is what I mean.”
“You’re overthinking it,” Minnow said. “Just bite the sandwich.”
“I’m not even hungry.”
“You’re always hungry.”
“I don’t know why you keep saying that,” Leonas said. “I’d know if I was hungry.”
“No,” Minnow said. “You think you’re tired and mad all the time for no reason.”
Leonas narrowed his eyes at the sandwich.
Minnow looked in the picnic basket. “Would it be offensive if I threw an apple like a ball?” she asked.
“No,” Karzarul said, tail wagging.
She pulled out the apple and tossed it overhand. Karzarul jumped up and caught it as it flew over his head, immediately bringing it back to her. She looked it over when he dropped it into her hand, the small holes where only the tips of his longest fangs had sunk through the apple’s skin. She threw it again, harder and faster so he had to chase it before snatching it out of the air. She made a game of seeing how far she could throw it without hitting a tree, aiming higher to see how high Karzarul could jump to catch it.
The answer was ‘very high’.
Finally when he brought it back she examined all the little pinprick holes in the skin of the otherwise intact apple. Then she took a bite.
“Gross,” Leonas said immediately. He’d finished his sandwich while no one was looking. She continued chewing. “Don’t eat it, it was in his mouth.”
Minnow swallowed. “I’ve also been in his mouth.”
Leonas huffed with a faint glow. “That’s—not when he looks like that.”
“It’s the same mouth,” Minnow said. “He doesn’t have bits of squirrel in his teeth.” She took another bite of the apple, then gave the rest to Karzarul. He chomped it down in only a few bites.
“That you know of,” Leonas said. Karzarul barked. “I am aware you do not have squirrel in your teeth.”
Minnow pulled out another small wheel of cheese, tearing off a piece and handing it to Leonas. Leonas took and ate it without complaint. “It’s good, right?” she asked.
“I never said it wasn’t good,” Leonas said.
Minnow wiggled closer. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I’ve eaten a lot of cheese.”
Minnow frowned. “I didn’t think this through,” she said, tapping her chin with a knuckle. “I should have picked sexier foods. Cheese and dicks are a bad association.”
Leonas snorted, then covered the lower half of his face with his hand. Minnow pouted as she took a drink from the wineskin, floral and sweet and making her feel warmer.
“Am I bad at this?” she asked Leonas.
“That’s not a verb,” Leonas said. “You’re fine. This is good.” He patted her knee.
“You don’t seem seduced,” she said.
“I don’t like being seduced,” he said.
“That wasn’t the right word,” she said. “I thought…” She sighed and rested her face in her hands. “I thought it would be cuter. Or more fun for you? That you would be able to relax.”
“Dates aren’t relaxing for me.”
“This isn’t that kind of a date, though,” she said. “We’re outside, and you can do whatever you want.”
Leonas shrugged. “I can recite you poetry, if you’d like.”
“You do that?” she asked. “On dates?”
“You don’t like it, though.”
“It’s the done thing.”
Minnow sighed again. “I’ll need to think about it more, before next time,” she decided. “Things that feel like a real date to me, but not to you. I thought this would be different enough.”
“Because we’re outside?” he asked.
“Because it’s me.” She rubbed her nose.
“You’re you,” he agreed, turning to put his right hand on her thigh, run his fingers over the back of her neck and kiss her hair. “That’s an important difference.”
“I can’t tell if you’re doing this because it’s the done thing,” she said.
“Shut up,” Leonas said, and she relaxed.
“Would it be better if you had a book?” she asked.
Leonas considered it seriously. “Yes.”
“We’ll bring books next time,” she decided, as he tilted her head back to kiss her throat. “You can read while I play with Ari.”
“I’d like that,” Leonas said.
“Do they have to be your own poems,” Karzarul asked, “or is it okay to use someone else’s?” He had not yet changed forms, was still a Howler as he observed the proceedings.
“Someone else’s,” Leonas said. “I’m not a poet.”
“Do you have to memorize them?” Karzarul asked. Leonas raised his head so that Minnow could straighten up enough to look forward again.
“Are you going to recite poetry?” Minnow asked.
“I could,” Karzarul said. “If that wouldn’t make it the bad kind of date.” He was trying to figure out the relevant details of a touchy subject using nothing but context clues. He liked the idea of Minnow having a desire that Leonas would not fulfill. Not could not, but would not, a space where Karzarul could fit himself. Reading from a book of poems would be simple enough if the poems themselves were not the problem.
“How would you like it if Karzarul recited poetry?” Minnow asked Leonas. Leonas blinked, brow slightly furrowed.
“Fine,” he decided, though not decisively, a faint air of confusion around the concept. Minnow’s sudden sharp grin didn’t help matters.
“We’ll find a book of poetry later,” Minnow said. She picked up the picnic basket to set it at the edge of the blanket, closing the lid. “Was there anything else you wanted to do,” she asked, “or am I playing with Karzarul again?”
“I’m assuming you mean ‘playing with his dick’,” Leonas said. Minnow covered her face with a mortified sound. “What? That can’t be where the line is.”
“I wasn’t ready!” Minnow protested, still covering her face. “We hadn’t worked up to that part yet!”
It occurred to Leonas that he had spent the better part of a decade unable to say anything explicitly sexual to his sort-of girlfriend. He felt sure he must have, at some point. He knew for a fact she’d said her own share of filth the day before. He looked at Karzarul, who was still a Howler, which was somehow feeling less weird the longer he stayed that way. “Does she do this to you?”
“If I’m not already touching her,” Karzarul said, “she curls up like a hedgehog.”
“Words are different,” she said. “Some words, sometimes.” She lowered her hands. “Don’t make fun.”
“I’m not,” Leonas said. “Does it happen if I remind you that I watched Karzarul tongue-fuck you yesterday?”
“No,” Minnow said with a frown. “That’s just facts.”
“Sit on my face,” he said instead, and she choked, knees pressed together and rising to her chest as she covered her face with her hands again. “Hey,” he said, touching her hair. She uncovered her face and uncurled toward him. “You want my face between your legs?” he asked, pressing his hand to her cheek.
“Yeah,” she sighed, nuzzling at his hand.
“That is fascinating,” Leonas said.
“Is that good?” Minnow asked.
“You’re always good,” Leonas said. He kissed her, and she hummed happily.
“Are we experimenting?” she asked.
“No,” Leonas said. “I’m deciding if I want to fuck you.” He was being deliberately crude, in part to see what she’d do. But it also felt important to establish that he was capable of it. That he was not a childish thing demanding euphemisms.
“I hope you do.” She pressed a kiss to the heel of his hand.
“I know,” he said.
“I can leave,” Karzarul said, laying on the far side of the blanket. “If this is still too distracting.”
“No,” Leonas said, though he continued looking at Minnow. He slid a hand between her thighs, up underneath her skirt.
“Would another form be better?” Karzarul asked.
Leonas imagined Karzarul watching him, the way Leonas had watched them. His horns, his hair, his cheekbones. “No,” Leonas said. It was the same, but it was different, unfair and he knew it. Leonas rubbed his palm between Minnow’s legs so that she’d grind against him, kissed her harder and tried not to think about being watched. He took his hand away after long enough that she’d whine about it, pulling her hair to kiss her throat and sink his fingers into her breast.
He’d missed touching her. He’d missed the way she let him touch her. He’d missed the way she played along when he asked her to do weird shit.
Leonas pulled back, gratified when she stayed still and let him look at her. Her dishevelment still mild, her eyes wide and wanting.
“There was… something,” he admitted. “I wouldn’t mind testing.”
“Yeah?” she asked.
“With magic,” he added. Minnow looked interested. “Trying to hold you.”
“Yeah,” she said, a little bounce to her thighs. “Test it, I wanna try it.”
Leonas had to get up to retrieve the Sunshield first, setting it closer so that he could channel through it still. He didn’t need to be in direct contact, he’d discovered. Only close enough to filter the light through, in a manner of speaking. It wasn’t how most instruments worked, but most magic didn’t work the way his did, either. His eyes glowed as ribbons of sunlight wrapped around her, binding her arms to her body. She made a sound of interest before making an attempt to resist them. She frowned.
“No,” she said immediately, shaking her head. “I don’t like it. Take it off.”
They dissolved as the sunlight left Leonas’ eyes, and Minnow breathed a sigh of relief. He touched her face again to check that she was okay. “What didn’t you like about it?”
“It didn’t give,” she said, slightly sullen. “I don’t know if I could get out.”
“I wouldn’t trap you,” Leonas said. “I’d let you out as soon as you asked.”
“I know,” she said. “It’s—it makes it different from playing, is all.”
“Okay,” he said, running a hand over her hair. “I won’t do that again.”
“I feel bad,” she sighed. “You wanted to try something new, with your magic.”
“Not if you don’t like it,” he said.
“I could try it,” Karzarul suggested. He was not a Howler, now. He was an Impyr, fully dressed and immaculate, standing still at a distance. He was trying to sound casual, arms crossed, contemplating the horizon. “If you wanted,” he shrugged.
His tail swished behind him, curling in alternating directions.
Leonas stared at him. “Are you… asking?”
Karzarul acquired a faint glow as he continued not looking directly at him. “I’m curious,” he said, which still wasn’t an admission.
Leonas’ eyes glowed again, and ribbons of light wrapped around Karzarul’s body from his shoulders to his elbows. Karzarul’s breath caught, rolling his shoulders. “Oh.”
“Well?” Leonas asked.
“I can’t—” Karzarul’s brow furrowed. “I can’t change,” he said, with a touch of confusion. Leonas dismissed the spell, and Karzarul shifted to a Howler and then back. “That’s. Never happened before.”
“That’s another no, then,” Leonas said.
“I didn’t say that,” Karzarul said, too quickly. He tried to walk it back. “It was weird,” he said, rubbing his neck. “That’s all.”
Light wrapped around his wrists, pulled them down and together before climbing up to his elbows, wrapped all the way around his torso until it reached his shoulders. Karzarul’s eyes widened with a brief thrill of breathless panic before he processed what was happening. It was easier once they looked more like ribbons again, less like light radiating out of him. His pulse continued to race.
“Yes or no?” Leonas asked crisply.
Karzarul let out a shaky breath as he kept testing the limits of the restraint, trying to pull at them or change his form. He could understand now why Minnow wouldn’t like it. There was something uniquely terrifying about being, for the first time, not strong enough to move. He remembered losing battles, remembered dying, but he couldn’t ever remember being locked to a single physical form with restricted movement. His voice kept catching when he tried to speak. “Yeah,” he managed.
“Yeah?” Leonas stood, Minnow moving to sit cross-legged. His eyes were still glowing, twin suns, and Karzarul realized they’d be doing that as long as he was bound. Leonas stayed at enough of a distance to look Karzarul over. He held his palms together in front of his mouth, tilting his head, looking thoughtful as a critic. Karzarul shivered, something about that gaze sparking down his spine.
“Cluttered,” Leonas decided, a quick gesture of his fingers reconfiguring all those ribbons into one thick band around Karzarul’s wrists and another around his chest. And a third, heavy around his neck, hot as blood, a thread of light connecting it to his wrists. Before Karzarul could respond, Leonas pointed downward, and the weight of sunlight yanked him down until his knees hit the ground. The foliage underneath the blanket did not much break his fall.
“Fuck.” Karzarul’s arms strained, biting his tongue to try and restrain any more sounds. The tuft at the end of his tail dragged along the ground as it lashed behind him, with occasional thumps. Leonas stepped closer, and the thread connecting Karzarul’s wrists to his neck shortened, pulled his hands higher. Leonas looked downward, and Karzarul followed his gaze.
Karzarul was hard as a rock, his tentacles writhing against his skirt. When he looked back up, Leonas had a wide smile, devastatingly dazzling. Karzarul ducked his head into his own shoulder as if he could hide, something in his chest constricting. The state of him was bad enough, getting that hard that quickly. Worse was whatever that smile had done to him, like wanting or hoping but marred by the vague sense that it was at his expense.
Leonas wrapped a hand around one of his horns, tugged at it to bring his face back around so that he could press a kiss to his mouth. “You’re supposed to like it,” he whispered against his lips. “You look so fucking good like this, I can’t stand it.” Karzarul’s ribs unwound and let him breathe. Leonas ran Karzarul’s hair over his shoulder, pulled loose the ribbon at the end, and starting unweaving the braid. The bells tied into Karzarul’s hair rang as he worked. “Do you know what these sound like?” Leonas asked.
Karzarul thought back. “A low-rent dancing girl?” he suggested.
“Dying,” Leonas said matter-of-factly. “I used to hear them, sometimes.”
“Oh.” Karzarul wondered if he ought to make them disappear to save time, realized he couldn’t.
Leonas raked out the last of the braid, let Karzarul’s hair fall over his shoulders, still ringing when he moved. “I’ve decided I’m going to fix that,” Leonas said briskly, hands under Karzarul’s jaw to tilt his face upward. “I’m going to make them sound like fucking you.”
“Oh.” It knocked the air right out of him in a long and shuddering breath, halfway to a groan.
“Give me your full title,” Leonas said.
Karzarul swallowed, struggling for coherence, the glow of Leonas’ eyes fixed on him. “King of All Monsters,” he said finally, “Moonlight Monster King Karzarul.” It didn’t work as well, said all at once. King Monster, Monster King.
“Big scary monster,” Leonas said, pushing two fingers into his mouth, “with big scary monster fangs, and a big scary monster cock.” Karzarul made a small sound, sucking on Leonas’ fingers. Leonas leaned closer, his voice low. “Can’t stop a weak little human from fucking his face.”
Karzarul did groan, then, his whole body shuddering and his hips rolling. His knees would have buckled if he weren’t already on them.
Leonas touched his forehead to Karzarul’s. “I’m going to use you like you’re nothing but a pretty face,” he said, “and you’re going to like it so much that when I’m done you’re going to thank me.” Karzarul moaned. “If I feel teeth, I stop, and you have to watch while I fuck Minnow instead. Who I am well aware has been masturbating the entire time I’ve had my back to her.”
Minnow pulled her hand out from between her thighs and pretended it hadn’t been there.
“Is that clear?” Leonas asked.
“Mmph,” Karzarul said, because he still had fingers in his mouth.
“Let me hear you say yes,” Leonas said.
Karzarul’s brow furrowed, unable to think clearly. “Yes,” he said, projecting his voice out from his chest. Leonas pulled his fingers out of Karzarul’s mouth, standing and taking a startled step backward, pressing a hand over his sternum.
“Fuck,” he said, alarmed, his eyes and his witchmarks both flaring brighter. Then he started to laugh a little. “You can—that’s how you can always talk, your voice doesn’t actually—okay.” Leonas tried to collect himself. “Sorry, I didn’t expect that.”
“I was supposed to do something else,” Karzarul said, not quite a question.
Still sitting cross-legged on the ground behind Leonas, Minnow stuck two fingers in her mouth. “‘esh,” she said, trying to speak with her mouth full.
“Oh, that’s much hotter than what I did,” Karzarul said, staring at her. “I’ve done that, why did I think—?”
“You’re not here to think,” Leonas said, raking his fingers through the hair between Karzarul’s horns, a boot between his knees. Karzarul’s attention immediately snapped back to Leonas. For the first time he saw the bulge of Leonas’ cock against his trousers, wondered how long it had been like that.
“Right,” Karzarul said, dazed.
“Open,” Leonas ordered, but Karzarul hesitated, wetting his lips. He thought of Minnow, her mouth open wide and her tongue hanging out. It wouldn’t look the same on him, on a monster’s mouth. He settled on what he felt would be an aesthetically pleasing amount, big enough to let him fit. “Tch.” Leonas grabbed one of Karzarul’s horns, used his other hand to unbutton his trousers. Karzarul noticed a slight tremble in his hand. “Like you mean it,” Leonas said. “Like you want to eat me alive.”
Karzarul opened his mouth wide against his better judgement, tongue nearly touching the sunlight collar around his neck.
“That’s better,” Leonas said as he pulled his cock free. He stroked it, already slick with pre-cum. “I’m here to fuck a monster, remember?” Karzarul’s eyes fluttered shut with a moan of satisfaction as Leonas’ cock slid over his tongue, pushed it back into his mouth and pressed against his throat. “Fuck, that’s good.” He grabbed Karzarul’s other horn, held them both, and started to thrust.
Karzarul focused on keeping his teeth out of the way, the friction on his lips enough to make his hips rock. The tentacles around his cock stroked him, but it wasn’t the same as someone else’s touch, wasn’t even the same as his own hand. Karzarul’s nose pressed into Leonas’ pelvis, balls against his chin as Leonas thrust hard enough to make the bells in Karzarul’s hair ring.
“That’s what I want,” Leonas said hoarsely. “That right there, that’s the sound of the Monster King sucking cock like a good boy.”
Karzarul’s muffled groan was loud, a full-body shudder that thumped his tail against the ground as his back arched, trying to thrust against his own thigh for any kind of friction.
“Look at me,” Leonas said, tilting Karzarul’s horns back. Karzarul opened his eyes, looked up at Leonas’ face while he continued to thrust into his mouth. “You my good boy?” Karzarul made a muffled sound in the affirmative. “What a terrible monster you are,” Leonas said with mock scorn. “You’re supposed to try to kill me, but you’d rather get fucked.” Karzarul made another sound of agreement.
Leonas pulled out abruptly, catching his breath. “Minnow,” he said, turning his head.
She pretended to have been keeping her hands on her knees. “Yes?”
“Come sit on your boyfriend’s dick for me,” he said, moving to vacate the space between Karzarul’s knees.
Minnow scrambled up to join them. “Our boyfriend,” she suggested, which brought Leonas up short.
“You know what I meant,” he snapped rather than agree, and she giggled. She bent to move Karzarul’s skirt out of the way, giving his cock an affectionate stroke.
“You’re a wonderful monster,” Minnow assured him. She turned around to kneel between his legs with her dress up around her waist, angling herself to back onto him. The thread binding Karzarul’s wrists to his neck disappeared, the band turning to cuffs with a thread between them. He threw his bound arms over her head to trap her against him. She made a sound of happy surprise, a gasp that turned into a cry when he pulled her down onto his cock. His tentacles guided the way, held her open and let gravity help him sink deeper.
Leonas put himself at an angle to both of them, one leg in front of Minnow and the other beside Karzarul. He set his hand on Minnow’s head to turn it just-so, and she opened her mouth as a reflex, let him thrust between her lips. He pulled out, held one of Karzarul’s horns to angle his head. Karzarul got the idea, opening his mouth and letting Leonas thrust into him again.
“Fuck.” Leonas pulled back out, trembling. Minnow wiggled against Karzarul’s grip, bending out from under his arms so that she could grab Leonas’ leg. She clung to him, bent forward, and without warning bit Leonas’ thigh. “Hey!” Leonas grabbed her by the hair. “Cut that shit out.”
She laughed her dangerous laugh, the low one that meant someone was in danger. “I’m helping,” she teased, with a glint in her eye. “You didn’t want to finish yet.”
He didn’t, but he wasn’t going to encourage that kind of behavior from her. He pushed her back into Karzarul. “Keep a better grip on your girlfriend.”
“Our girlfriend,” Karzarul corrected, even as he threw his arms over her again, squeezed her tight against his chest and thrust hard upward. Minnow cried out as she bounced, distracted immediately from mischief.
“When she’s biting me, she’s your girlfriend,” Leonas said, watching her move with the force of Karzarul’s thrusts. Something about the aesthetics of it was getting to him. Karzarul still wearing his bells and rings and ribbons and all his perfect clothes, pristine white gloves. Fucking Minnow like he deserved the chains, and her in her dress like he’d caught her in it. Minnow looking as dark next to Karzarul as she looked pale next to Leonas.
“What about when she’s biting me?” Karzarul asked.
“Still your girlfriend,” Leonas said, “because you like it.”
“Open your fucking mouth,” Leonas snapped, grabbing Karzarul’s horn again. Karzarul obliged, and Leonas grabbed his second horn, thrust hard enough to make his bells ring again. Minnow cried out as Karzarul thrust into her in turn, the same pace. “Be a good boy and bring her here, she knows what I want.” Minnow opened her mouth without needing to be asked. Karzarul put one arm around both her shoulders, his other hand on the back of her head to hold her closer to Leonas. She ran the wide flat of her tongue over the soft skin of his balls, lapping at him eagerly. Leonas pivoted from thrusting to moving Karzarul’s head, one hand on a horn and the other on the back of his head, making his head bob.
“Growl,” Leonas said suddenly, “I want to hear you growl at me, Karzarul, Karzarul—” Karzarul growled, let it rumble up through his chest and into his mouth, angry and animal. Leonas thrust hard, held Karzarul’s head down with a spasm that nearly doubled him over. His cock twitched in Karzarul’s mouth, pumping heat into his throat. Leonas pulled out halfway before he was done, watched Karzarul take it on his already-white tongue.
“Kiss her for me,” Leonas said breathlessly, pulling away on the brink of collapse. Karzarul bent his head to catch Minnow’s upturned mouth with his, and she hummed as he kissed her. As soon as Karzarul had pulled away Leonas was kneeling beside him, touching his face, barely any space between them. “What do we say?”
Karzarul hesitated as he searched his memory for the significance of the phrase. Minnow recognized the problem as soon as Leonas spoke, leaned her head back against Karzarul’s shoulder. “When someone gives us something we want,” she said, in the fluting sing-song voice she only used mid-coitus, “we thank them.”
It occurred to Leonas for the first time that, if Karzarul had ever been anything like a child learning manners, he had not been taught in Astian turns of phrase.
It also occurred to him that trying to get Minnow to act like she lived in a society since they were young may have negatively impacted his sense of what constituted an acceptable thing to say to a person while his dick was out.
“Thank you,” Karzarul said before Leonas could start spiraling, and Leonas kissed him, tasted bitter salt on his tongue. The sunlight restraints all disappeared, Leonas’ eyes losing their glow though his witchmarks stayed bright. He fastened his trousers back up, moving to stand in front of them both. He nudged Minnow’s knees further apart so that he could kneel between them, pressing a hard kiss to her mouth that caught her groan as Karzarul thrust deeper.
Leonas pushed Minnow’s knees higher, her louder cries still muffled on his tongue. “Can you hold these?” he asked Karzarul, who obliged by hooking his hands under her thighs. Minnow reached up and behind herself to hold onto Karzarul, fingers tangling into his hair and gripping the back of his neck. Leonas leaned back to see them better, Minnow bouncing as Karzarul’s cock pounded into her.
Leonas resisted the temptation to examine it in earnest, that hard white organ all run through with light. It was fascinating and terrifying, all those tentacles around it holding Minnow open and giving Leonas a clear view of exactly what Karzarul was doing to her. He was trying not to feel inadequate or intimidated about it. It helped to remind himself that he’d asked them to do it, to think of it as something he’d done, using them on each other.
Leonas kissed Minnow’s shoulders, her neck, a trail down her sternum. He got down onto his stomach, and with tentacles holding her open he had full access to suck on her clit.
Minnow’s scream was almost concerning. Her thighs trembled and shook, spasming around Karzarul and her orgasm dripping down the length of him.
Leonas brought his tongue lower until it was running over Karzarul’s cock while it thrust. Friction on his tongue, hard skin soaked with the taste of Minnow, the low shuddering sound Karzarul made. Tentacles sought out Leonas’ mouth, and he let them in. He maneuvered to suck on Minnow’s clit again, this time sucking on tentacles at the same time.
The sound Minnow made could not quite be called screaming, ripped ragged out of her as all the air was knocked out of her lungs. A whimpering and choked-off sound when he kept at it, letting go of Karzarul because she couldn’t hold onto anything. She moved like she might push him away, but her back kept arching and her limbs kept twitching.
“I can’t,” she half-sobbed, “I can’t, I can’t, please, it’s so much it’s too much I’m—”
Karzarul held her down and thrust upward, growling low and loud right in her ear as he came. She shuddered, practically limp against his chest as Leonas eased up and Karzarul filled her. Silver spilled out of her and down Karzarul’s shaft, and Leonas licked at it. He couldn’t place the taste, only knew that it was different, was not the taste of human arousal or satisfaction. When he pulled back he could see the twitch of it, the pulsing of the light running through it.
Leonas pulled himself back up to his knees to kiss Minnow first. She barely kissed him back, though she giggled at the taste of him. Karzarul let her legs fall to around Leonas’ waist. She sighed, resting her head against Karzarul’s shoulder as Leonas moved to kiss him. He was gentler with Karzarul, was always gentler and more careful. This time Karzarul ventured to touch him back, the slightest brush of his fingertips against Leonas’ jaw. Leonas grabbed his hand to hold it there and touched a kiss to the very center of his palm. Karzarul buried his face in Minnow’s hair, expression hidden as he took a deep breath.
“I have to get up,” Minnow apologized, patting Karzarul’s leg underneath her. “I’ll be back in a minute, okay?” She managed with great effort to pull herself off of him and onto her feet, though her legs were wobbly. “Oooh, that’s—that’s a mess.” She tried to tug her dress down, and made her way toward the other side of an enormous tree.
Leonas was still holding Karzarul’s hand. He wasn’t sure what to do with it. Ordinarily when Minnow disappeared into the bathroom he used that as his opportunity to have a minor crisis about everything he’d done while he was too busy being hard to have any sense. Karzarul’s presence complicated matters. With Minnow he could pet her hair, and make himself feel better by telling her she’d done well. Minnow was not the ancient King of All Monsters, present at the forging of every great artifact that had helped shape the world. That Karzarul had humored his orders even briefly felt absurd, and Leonas found himself working not to think about it.
“Leonas,” Minnow called as she returned, holding her hands at arm’s length. “I don’t know where we put the soap and I don’t want to waste liquor, can you magic me?” she asked. Her hands glowed bright, and she squeaked, shaking them out. “That burned a little,” she complained.
“Sunlight does that,” Leonas reminded her. “Did I hurt you?”
“No, just surprised me.” She gestured at Karzarul. “I want a lap,” she ordered, and so he rearranged himself and his skirt so that he was sitting with his legs straight out. Instead of sitting, she laid herself across his thighs on her stomach and hummed when he ran a hand over her back. She propped her chin up on her elbows. “That was really good,” she informed Leonas.
“Thanks,” he said.
“I liked the part where you sort of switched between us,” she added. “That was a good idea.” She tilted her head back to look in Karzarul’s direction. “Right?”
“Right,” Karzarul said, though not confidently. He was looking down at Minnow as he stroked her back, untangling locks of her hair with his fingers.
“I liked all the things you were saying,” she added. “I know those were for Karzarul, but it sorta worked on me at the same time.”
“I appreciate the feedback?” Leonas said.
“I know you feel bad sometimes,” she sighed. “Afterwards. If you think it was a failed experiment.”
“Yeah,” Leonas said.
“I had a good time,” she said. “Did you?”
“It’s not obvious,” she said.
“Ah.” He reached out to tap the tip of her nose. “It was good.”
“Good,” Minnow said with a touch of relief.
“Cover your ears for a minute,” he said. She obliged immediately, pressing her palms over them and shutting her eyes even though he hadn’t asked. Leonas stood and made his way around Karzarul, hand lingering at his shoulder. “Would it be patronizing if I—”
Leonas slid his hands along Karzarul’s shoulders, underneath his hair. He knelt, wrapping his arms around him, and pressed a kiss to the side of his neck. “You were good,” Leonas said, holding him tighter. “You’re beautiful.”
“Too nice,” Karzarul said.
“That was hot as fuck,” Leonas corrected. Karzarul leaned back a little. “You liked it?”
“Yeah,” Karzarul confirmed.
“I don’t actually know what I’m doing,” Leonas admitted.
“Neither do I,” Karzarul said.
“You’re very intimidating,” Leonas said.
“I know,” Karzarul said.
“You have a lot more experience,” Leonas said.
“You’d be surprised,” Karzarul said. “I don’t date much.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Leonas said.
“Is it a secret?” Karzarul asked. “That you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“No,” Leonas said. “She knows me too well. She can hear what I don’t say. If that makes sense.”
“It does,” Karzarul said.
“I’ve begun to care about you very much,” Leonas said, “which does not mean that I like you.”
Leonas kissed Karzarul’s temple, rising and coming back around to tap Minnow on the head. Minnow released her ears, moving to sit upright in Karzarul’s lap this time. “Good talk?” she asked.
“Yes,” Leonas said.
Minnow patted her lap. Leonas sat on the blanket next to Karzarul and dropped his head onto Minnow’s thighs. She stroked his hair, resting her head against Karzarul’s shoulder. “Can we all snuggle like this at night, now?” she asked.
Leonas huffed. “Don’t push your luck.”