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James and the Fae (1)

So on top of everything else, James knows about the fae.

[Unfinished ficlet about him finding out.]

*

James stared at his fingers, irritated at the slight scuff on his nails – the manicure usually lasted longer. Even if he was a student, he had an image to practice, an image to maintain. There were expectations on his shoulders, and those expectations did not include plebeian, scuffed, fingers. He steepled his fingers, hiding the offending nail, and looked up to Harper to finish his impromptu dissection of the man’s gaming system. ‘If I am to understand your rules correctly, this avoids any and all legal ramifications, and puts forth a case for remuneration and damages.’

There was real, palpable relief in Harper’s eyes – from the outset, the man had been taking the situation far too seriously, and he had done his best to match him – this wasn’t a game – lawyers were far from the evil robots everyone seemed to think they were, but there surely couldn’t be a market for the type of Dungeon, Dragons and Legalese that Harper had been suggesting. There was something more going on – and even if it was nothing more than a thought experiment, or some incredibly strange waste of time, it had been an enjoyable diversion – the laws – the purported “rules” were full of so many possibilities, if only one knew how to properly exploit them.

‘So then,’ Harper said slowly, stopping to swallow, as if his mouth were dry. ‘I- I mean-‘

James leaned forward, closing the space. ‘You’re free and clear,’ he said, ‘now, why don’t you tell me what this really was.’

‘I could kiss you right now,’ Harper said, and he seemed to go limp as he reached for the half-empty beer.

James quirked an eyebrow at Harper. ‘It’s not as though I’d stop you. You are…attractive enough,’ he said, unwilling to put himself on the line any further than the simplest of compliments. Harper was attractive – deep brown eyes, tan skin that was blotched with patches of paler vitiligo – unlike a lot of engineering majors, though, Harper actually seemed to take some pride in his appearance.

Harper’s look turned cagey for a moment. ‘Are you gay, James? You’ve never said anything.’

‘Bisexual,’ he clarified. ‘And I find that intercourse is rarely relevant to discourse.’ He sat back against the supple leather of the chair. ‘Now, talk or kiss me, but please do put your mouth to some use.’

Harper took a sip of his beer. ‘Do you believe in the Socratic paradox, James?’

James reached for the words, and nodded. ‘I know that I know nothing. There is wisdom in understanding the bounds of your own ignorance, the places where you need to reach for outside counsel, and the areas you can refine when you choose to better yourself.’

Harper, with an exaggerated calm, put down his beer, and began to unbutton his shirt. ‘I could make your world a far larger place, James, but I am unsure if you’re willing to play Alice, and tumble down the hole.’

James pushed himself away from the chair, reached across the table, and grasped the free edges of Harper’s shirt. ‘I won’t liken myself to a girl in a mathematical parable, but I am a willing student.’ He bit the inside of his cheek. ‘Show me.’

Harper’s hands came to rest on his, and after a moment, the shirt was open – the rest of the buttons torn open. Beneath the shirt, Harper wore a tailored undershirt.

‘This is nothing I haven’t seen before,’ James mused, allowing his fingers to brush down Harper’s chest. Harper wasn’t particularly muscled, and seemed to be that kind of thin that came with forgetting to eat, rather than by design, still, he was pleasant enough to touch.

‘What do you think,’ Harper asked, as he freed his undershirt from his pants. ‘That you’re going to see?’

‘I wager a hundred pounds that you’re not human.’

Part of him knew that, in his place, a hundred other men would have claimed that the words had slipped out, that the words had come from some irrational place, some extrapolation of an old childhood wish.

He’d never wished for fairies, never desired to run to Narnia or Neverland…and right now there was nothing he wanted more than to pull Harper’s shirt off, and see something amazing, to find an unexpected wonder.

‘Help me with this,’ Harper said, and together, they lifted his shirt.

James rested his hands on Harper’s hips as Harper finished taking the undershirt off.

Harper’s chest appeared human – there was nothing that gave it away as anything other-

Movement caught his eye.

A triangle of green and purple rose up above Harper’s right shoulder, which grew larger as James watched. A matching shape rose over Harper’s left shoulder, and slowly, with no overtones of hallucination or dream, a pair of large wings unfurled behind Harper’s back.

James reached forward, his mind stalled, all the words of his vocabulary held prisoner behind silver bars of silence. Harper’s wing strained forward – there was no prehensile movement to it, just the basic articulation like a-

His fingers came to rest on the wing.

James opened his mouth, and a small, perfect “oh” of surprise made its way through his shock, through his silence, but no more words came as Harper’s mouth came to close over his.

The kiss did nothing to help with his shock, but it wasn’t something he was going to back away from. He reached forward, and pulled the- ‘What are you?’ he asked, pulling back just enough so that their lips separated. ‘I need to know what to-’

‘I’m a fairy,’ he said. ‘Is this what you were expecting?’

‘No,’ James said, taking the opportunity to draw Harper closer – with his wings extended, it was easy to shift the taller man onto his lap, as they seemed to-

Magic and physics spun in his mind as Harper kissed him again.

James wrapped his right arm around Harper, explored the man’s back, feeling the points of connection between Harper’s wings and his back. There was no smoke, there were no mirrors. This wasn’t some random mutation – not that something so beautiful could be called a mutation, like it was some stupid black and white movie monster.

The wings were smooth, shiny, like- Keratin. It was probably made of keratin. There were a couple of different sensations under his exploring fingers – as if the wings were made of membranes and panels, like a dragonfly’s wings.

The wings flapped, and Harper pulled away, moving to stand on the low table. ‘At this point,’ he said. ‘Humans usually have questions.’

‘Turn around,’ James said. ‘I want to see them properly.’

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