June 17, 2024

Bonus

Blake leaned against the doorframe, his gaze transfixed on Lachlan, who stood over a water basin in the center of their living room. The orange glow of the evening sun streamed through the windows, casting a glimmering dance of light across Lachlan’s aquamarine scales. The water rose and fell at Lachlan’s command, swirling into intricate shapes before dissolving back into the basin.

He’d been working on his solstice decorations for days, forming shapes out of water and floating them out on the balcony to freeze into little ice sculptures. He made it look easy too, but Blake could tell that it was difficult work. Mostly he could tell because Lachlan always went to sleep early now, without even trying to get a little action from Blake—which wasn’t like him at all. 

But Lachlan wanted their first winter solstice together to be *special*. 

He’d said as much.

“You’re getting better at that,” Blake remarked.

Lachlan’s lips curved into a smirk, though his eyes remained focused on his aquatic ballet. “And you doubted my artistic flair.”

“Never,” Blake replied softly. “Just your patience.”

Lachlan huffed. “Wait until you see what I’ve got planned for the centerpiece.” Cockiness dripped from his words like the droplets splashing back into the basin.

Blake pushed away from the doorframe and closed the distance between them, his bare feet silent on the cool floor.

“Oh?” he murmured as he came up behind Lachlan, “Should I be worried that you’ll outshine my carvings?” He’d finished one for Lachlan just last week. A wooden dragon curled around itself, with intricately detailed eyes that Blake had managed to make sparkle with a thin coat of lacquer. 

“I do like your wood.” Lachlan grinned. “But my sculptures will be at least as good.”

Blake wrapped his arms around Lachlan’s waist and leaned his head against his dragon’s neck, closing his eyes. The scent of sea spray and salt filled his nose, making his heart thump with warmth. “You’re quite confident for someone who’s about to mess up their masterpiece,” he teased, lips brushing against Lachlan’s ear.

A ripple passed through the water structure as Lachlan’s concentration faltered. He turned his head slightly to catch Blake’s eye. “You think you can manipulate me that easily?”

“I don’t think, I know.” Blake nipped Lachlan’s ear lobe playfully.

The water began to rise and swirl once more, forming a delicate wreath made of intricate flowers and leaves. It was beautiful, truly. 

Too bad Blake was going to ruin it just to prove a point, just to mess with Lachlan, because Lachlan had gone and challenged him.

And besides, it would be good for Lachlan to take a break.

He slid one hand around to Lachlan’s chest while the other lingered on his waist, drawing him closer. The proximity made it harder for Lachlan to keep control over his magic. The water shape faltered, droplets splashing over the edge of the basin and onto the floor. Blake’s hand dipped down to the hem of Lachlan’s shirt and slid underneath it, teasing the warm skin hidden beneath.

“Blake,” Lachlan warned, “I’m concentrating.”

“Are you?”

Blake kissed his way along the soft ridge of Lachlan’s shoulder and the hard line of his neck, tasting the salty skin with his tongue. More drops of water spattered over the basin’s edge and hit the floor, making wet patterns against the stone. Blake smiled to himself and slid his hand a little higher up Lachlan’s torso, trailing his fingertips over the soft curves of muscle and tracing the line of his hipbone.

“Stop that,” Lachlan groaned, but he made no attempt to pull away.

“Why? Can’t work like this?”

“Of course I can.” Lachlan’s tone was firm, and miraculously, he managed to steady his magic and restore his sculpture. He even managed to add to it, creating a snowflake in the very center of the wreath.

“Impressive,” Blake whispered, lips brushing against the shell of Lachlan’s ear. He let his hand drift lower, brushing over the front of Lachlan’s pants, and smirked at the slight bulge he found there. *Also impressive.*

“See?” Lachlan asked. “I’m too skilled to be distracted easily. I’m–“

Blake squeezed his hand.

Lachlan cursed, but the sculpture held–until Blake *really* played dirty. He trailed his lips down Lachlan’s shoulder, following the curve of his spine until he found the sensitive nub of skin and scales that remained where his missing wing used to be.

Lachlan’s muscles twitched at the contact, and he moaned softly, almost involuntarily. And when Blake flicked his tongue against that spot and kissed it gently, Lachlan shuddered, his body melting back into Blake’s embrace.

“Fuck.” The sculpture collapsed back into the water basin.

Blake grinned triumphantly.

Lachlan sighed and turned, his expression both irritated and amused. “Why did I fill you in on all my weak spots?”

“Because you secretly enjoy losing to me.”

“Oh, have I lost now?” Lachlan asked, and Blake didn’t miss the mischievous glint in his eyes.

He didn’t have time to react, though before Lachlan tackled him, tumbling them both onto the plush rug that stretched out near the fireplace. Lachlan landed on top, straddling Blake and pinning him in place with his body.

Lachlan grinned down at Blake. “You were saying?”

Blake looked up into the glittering eyes of his dragon and couldn’t help but smile. He felt the hard line of Lachlan’s arousal pressed against his thigh, and his own body responded, his cock twitching with interest. “I think the score is tied,” Blake said, trying his best to sound unaffected.

“Oh?” Lachlan ground his hips into Blake, forcing a small gasp from his lips.

“Or not,” Blake relented, and then he reached up to capture Lachlan’s mouth in a deep kiss, pulling him closer until their bodies were flush together, legs intertwined and cocks rubbing through their clothes.

“That’s more like it,” Lachlan whispered against Blake’s lips, then kissed him again, harder. He trailed his hands up the back of Blake’s shirt and tugged it off over his head, then tossed it aside carelessly. Lachlan’s lips moved down his throat, and Blake tilted his head back, sighing.

His entire body felt warm, almost feverish, and his mind clouded with lust. His hips bucked upwards on their own, desperate for friction. “Lachlan…”

“Hm?” Lachlan didn’t stop his assault on Blake’s body, kissing down his neck and across his collarbone, nipping and licking his way down to his chest.

“Need you.”

“You have me,” Lachlan murmured. “Always.”

“Not what I meant.”

Lachlan grinned against Blake’s skin. “I know.” He lifted his head and captured Blake’s gaze, his sea-green eyes dark as the ocean in the middle of a storm. “You’ll have *that* too.” He reached between their bodies and cupped Blake’s erection through his pants. “As soon as you admit that you were cheating earlier.”

Blake bit back a groan at the touch. “It’s not cheating to know what you like.”

“Maybe,” Lachlan said, his voice dropping low. “I know what you like too.” His hand slipped inside Blake’s pants, and his fingers wrapped around Blake’s cock, giving him a slow, torturous stroke, soft on the upstroke and firm on the downstroke.

Blake couldn’t suppress the moan this time, and his hips rocked upward involuntarily, his cock throbbing against Lachlan’s palm. Lachlan grinned wickedly, his thumb circling the head of Blake’s cock.

“What was that?” he asked, leaning down to press his lips against the sensitive spot below Blake’s ear. “I’m not sure I heard you.”

He could be such a fucking bastard.

“It wasn’t cheating,” Blake insisted, though the words came out breathy and strained.

“Mmhm.” Lachlan kissed him deeply, his tongue exploring Blake’s mouth. At the same time, his hand kept stroking, bringing him closer and closer to the edge. His heart was pounding, his skin was burning, and every part of him ached for his dragon. He didn’t want to come like this. Not yet.

He grabbed Lachlan’s wrist to stop him. “Please.”

Lachlan’s brow creased, and he tilted his head, studying Blake intently. “Please, what?”

Blake rolled his eyes. “You know what.”

Lachlan’s mouth curled up into a wicked grin. “Say it.”

“Why?” Blake’s lips pursed.

“Because I love to hear you beg. It’s good for my ego.”

“Arrogant dragon,” Blake muttered. Though, admittedly, he kind of liked when Lachlan was like this. Cocky and smug, yes, but also playful and uninhibited. Happy.

“So what’s it going to be?” Lachlan asked, his thumb tracing Blake’s lower lip.

Blake considered holding out for a moment longer, but the truth was, he wanted his dragon, and he wasn’t willing to wait any longer. “Fuck me,” he said. “Please.”

Lachlan chuckled, a dark, satisfied sound. “Good enough.”

Blake let out a soft sigh of relief, and then Lachlan was kissing him again, his hands already working Blake’s pants off. Blake returned the favor, yanking Lachlan’s shirt up and over his head. Once they were both free of their clothes, Blake pulled Lachlan on top of him, and they fell together, limbs tangled and lips crashing into each other.

There was no space between them, no secrets or walls left. They were bound, together, in heart and soul and mind. Blake knew everything about this dragon. He understood him.

He loved him.

“Mine,” Lachlan whispered, a promise against his lips. The absolute truth.

“Always,” Blake replied.

Their eyes met and locked, and then Lachlan reached for the oil, using his magic to summon the liquid into his hand as he had done a hundred times before when he was too lazy to get up, too unwilling to break away from his mate for even a second. Blake’s lips curled up into a smirk, and he shifted his hips, lifting his legs a little higher.

“I have the most talented dragon,” he said.

“Damn right.”

Lachlan kissed him and slowly pushed a slick finger inside him, opening him up, preparing him. Blake’s body relaxed and yielded, accepting the intrusion and craving more. Lachlan’s touch was gentle and familiar, sending warm waves of pleasure through him. Soon, another finger joined the first, and Blake arched his back and moaned, the sound muffled by Lachlan’s kiss.

Lachlan added a third finger and began pumping them slowly, in and out, his lips still pressed against Blake’s. Every brush of his fingers sent sparks of heat through Blake’s veins, and his body ached for more, for the one thing that would complete him.

“Now,” Blake begged.

“Soon,” Lachlan whispered, but Blake knew he was struggling just as much as Blake was. He could feel it in his soul, through the bond they shared. Lachlan’s heart raced in time with his, his pulse matched his own, and every inch of their bodies yearned for the other.

They were two halves of a whole. Two halves that wanted, needed, to be joined.

“Lachlan, please,” Blake whispered, and his dragon gave in. He withdrew his fingers and lined his cock up at Blake’s entrance, then pushed in, sliding all the way in on one smooth, slow stroke.

Blake let out a deep groan and wrapped his arms around Lachlan’s shoulders, the fingers of his left hand digging into the skin just below Lachlan’s right wing, and his right hand resting lightly on top of what remained of Lachlan’s left wing. Lachlan shivered, and the sensation rippled through both of them.

“Yours,” Blake whispered, rubbing his fingers lightly over the sensitive patch of scales and skin, making Lachlan squirm.

“Fuck, Blake,” Lachlan groaned, his eyes squeezing shut. “Don’t do that unless you want this to be over quickly.”

Blake chuckled, low and throaty, and a little shaky because Lachlan’s need pulsed through him too. In this position, with how deeply they were linked right now, he couldn’t tease Lachlan without teasing himself. But that didn’t mean he was going to stop. “Where’s that famous dragon stamina I keep hearing about?” he challenged and gave the sensitive area another light stroke, a tap, and then a firm rub.

“It’s not–fuck, fuck,” Lachlan cursed and buried his face in Blake’s neck. His cock twitched inside Blake, and he was trembling, the muscles of his shoulders and back straining with the effort to keep himself in check.

Blake grinned, his body buzzing with pleasure that was his but also not his, and he stroked the sensitive spot once more, pressing harder, scraping his fingernails over the scales until he could hardly stand it anymore. Lachlan groaned, and his hips jerked, pushing his cock deeper into Blake.

“Gods, Blake,” he rasped. “Don’t stop.”

So Blake didn’t. He kept rubbing, scratching, caressing, until Lachlan lost all control and fucked him, hard and fast and desperate, and even then, he kept it up, pushing them both higher and higher, until their bodies trembled and shook, their minds filled with nothing but the white-hot bliss of pleasure and the absolute certainty that they were, and would always be, completely, utterly, irrevocably, one.

They collapsed together on the soft rug, breathing hard and holding each other. Lachlan’s hand found Blake’s and their fingers twined together.

“You win,” Lachlan said eventually. “Cheater.”

Blake smiled and closed his eyes, letting the warmth and contentment wash over him. “I think we both win. Don’t you?”

“Hmm.” Lachlan rolled onto his side and pulled Blake against him, and Blake sighed happily and rested his head on Lachlan’s chest, right over his heart.

“Are you going to finish your sculpture tonight?”

“No,” Lachlan answered. “I have a feeling I’ll be distracted again.”

“You’ve been spending a lot of time on those sculptures. You can’t blame me for wanting some attention.”

Lachlan’s hand ran up and down Blake’s arm. “I want this solstice to be amazing for us.”

Blake lifted his head and caught Lachlan’s eye. “It will be,” he promised.

A flicker of movement caught Blake’s attention as he lay nestled in Lachlan’s arms. His eyes darted to the balcony, where the shadows of dragon-shifters cut across the starlit sky. Curiosity surged within him and made him get up. “What’s going on outside?” 

When had the sun even set? He’d been so wrapped up in Lachlan he hadn’t noticed. 

Grabbing a robe, he padded to the glass door that led to the balcony and pushed it open to step out into the crisp night air. 

 The balcony was bathed in the ethereal glow of the aurora, waves of green and violet that danced like spirits in the sky. Blake leaned against the railing, his gaze lifted to the spectacle above. Dragon-shifters soared high above, their wings outstretched, weaving through the light with an almost otherworldly grace.

He heard Lachlan approach from behind, felt his presence like a warm cloak as he joined him at the railing. “What are they doing?” he asked without looking away from the sky.

“The Great Flight,” Lachlan said in a dry tone of voice. “It’s part of the pre-solstice celebrations. Aurora sightings during the week leading up to the solstice are taken as a sign of good fortune for the year ahead.”

Blake glanced at Lachlan, noting how his eyes tracked each dragon-shifter with an intensity that spoke volumes. He wanted to be up there too. “Have you ever… Did you used to…?”

“No.” Lachlan’s lips pressed into a thin line. “It wouldn’t have been proper.”

“Proper?”

“My parents didn’t approve.” Lachlan snorted and turned his gaze away from the sky. “They didn’t want me to take part in the traditions of the enemy.” He smiled as if he thought this was all ridiculous, but Blake recognized the expression, the pain in his voice that he tried so hard to hide. Lachlan must have realized it too, that he couldn’t fool his mate, and he dropped the façade, his smile turning bitter as he spoke on. “Guess now Daddy Dearest has made sure that I never will fly with them.”

Blake grimaced. Lachlan rarely bemoaned the fact that he would never fly again, but moments like this made it obvious how deeply it affected him.

Blake glanced back at the water basin, and then he looked at all the little sculptures that Lachlan had created so far. Had he poured all of his energy into these sculptures to make up for the fact that he couldn’t join in other parts of the celebration?

It sounded like something Lachlan would do.

“It’s fine,” Lachlan said before Blake could reply. He leaned against the railing, a mask of disinterest falling over his face. “I don’t need to fly to celebrate the solstice. I’m going to make it the best damn winter solstice in years. Just wait and see.”

Blake nodded, but silently, he made a plan of his own.

***

Lachlan watched Blake’s fingers brush over the wrapping of the gift he’d just placed in his hands. A spark of excitement danced in Lachlan’s chest, knowing what lay inside the box. 

“Go on, open it,” Lachlan urged, a playful nudge in his voice. It was the eve of the winter solstice, finally, and Lachlan felt like he’d been waiting for this day to arrive for way too long.

He and Blake were in their living room, sitting on the couch together, and the night outside was clear and full of stars as Blake carefully unwrapped his gift, revealing a wooden box. Lifting the lid, he paused, his breath hitching slightly as he took in the carving knife nestled within, its handle carved from whalebone, inlaid with mother-of-pearl that shimmered like the ocean’s own skin. 

It was one of Lachlan’s favorites.

“This is…” Blake trailed off, fingers tracing the intricate pattern on the handle before he lifted it, testing its weight. “It’s part of your collection, isn’t it?”

Lachlan leaned back against the couch, a satisfied smile played on his lips. “Thought you could use something decent for your carvings.”

“Thank you. I’ll take good care of it.” Blake set the knife aside with reverence before he reached under their tree—a tall one with enough room to hang all the little sculptures Lachlan had made—and pulled out a slender package wrapped in dark blue paper. “Your turn,” he said, handing it over with an enigmatic smile.

The package was light in Lachlan’s hand. His fingers worked at the tape and paper to reveal a small vial filled with swirling liquid that shimmered like moonlight on water.

He arched an eyebrow at Blake. “A potion? Didn’t think you’d want anything to do with this kind of stuff after…” His voice trailed off, not wanting to dredge up those darker days.

Blake shifted closer on the couch, brushing his knee against Lachlan’s. “I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not like that.” He nodded toward the vial. “It’s something special. I made it myself—with a little help.”

Curiosity piqued, Lachlan uncorked the vial and sniffed cautiously. It smelled of sea spray and something wild he couldn’t quite place—like freedom bottled up.

Blake’s eyes held a spark of mischief as he gestured toward the balcony, the cold air wafting in as he slid the glass door open. “Come on, let’s take this outside.”

Lachlan followed, the vial clutched in his hand. He stepped out into the crisp night, the balcony offering an unobstructed view of the ice king’s solstice tree in the distance, its icy decorations catching the moonlight and scattering it across the snow-blanketed landscape.

“Drink it,” Blake said softly, motioning at the potion in Lachlan’s hand. His breath formed small clouds that drifted upward into the night.

Lachlan hesitated, eyeing the swirling liquid. What would it do to him?

He could have asked, but somehow, it was more fun not to.

With a nod to Blake, he brought the vial to his lips and swallowed its contents in one smooth motion.

The potion slid down his throat like liquid silver, cool and effervescent. For a moment, nothing happened, and he looked at Blake with a questioning gaze. Then, a feather-light sensation bubbled up from his core, lifting him from within as if he were no more substantial than a wisp of cloud.

He blinked in surprise as Blake stepped closer, his hand reaching out to touch Lachlan’s chest right where his heart beat a steady rhythm.

“I need a bit of your magic,” Blake murmured, his eyes intent and serious.

Lachlan felt a pull at his core, an intertwining of their magic—a sensation both intimate and empowering. He nodded silently, granting permission without words.

Before him, Blake’s form shimmered and shifted. Muscles and bones realigned with graceful fluidity until a large bird stood where Blake had been moments before. The bird was majestic, its feathers reflecting the starlight—a powerful raptor with piercing eyes that were unmistakably Blake’s.

Understanding dawned on Lachlan as Blake nudged him with his beak, insistently.

“Alright,” Lachlan said with a huff of laughter born of wonder. “I’m ready.”

In one swift movement, Blake spread his wings and grasped Lachlan gently but firmly around the shoulders with strong talons. The world tilted as they lifted off from the balcony into the open sky.

Below them, the city of Swara was a tapestry of lights woven into the dark fabric of night. Above them stretched an endless canvas of stars.

Lachlan’s one wing unfurled instinctively, catching the currents that swirled around them even though it could not lift him alone. But Blake was strong and sure, his powerful wings beating a steady rhythm that carried them higher and higher, and Lachlan was right there with him.

He was flying.

Not in the same way as before, but it was close enough. Blake was flying, and Blake was part of him. He felt every thrust of his wings, every shift of the wind against his feathers. The world was spread out below him, vast and free, and it was his for the taking.

No, not his.

Theirs.

Always theirs.

He laughed. A loud, boisterous sound that echoed across the sky and made his chest expand with pure, unadulterated joy.

He’d set out to make this night special for Blake, but his mate had turned around and beaten him to it.

He’d given him back the sky.

Lachlan grinned and closed his eyes, allowing himself just to feel. To let go and be carried away by the sensation of flying.”Happy Solstice,” he called, and though his words were lost to the wind, he knew Blake could hear him.

Blake knew he had won. 

And just for tonight, Lachlan conceded that victory to him.

Gladly.