Halloween I.F – “Crafting Love” – Day 24
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It was a split second decision, his hand coming up to touch Louis’s chest as though he were going to push him away, then curling in his shirt instead, tugging him closer and kissing back.
Louis made a soft sound, pushing into the kiss, mouth opening to kiss him wet and hot rather than soft and sweet. Jay let go of his shirt to close the distance between them further, sliding his fingers into Louis’s hair instead, feeling the string of his mask where it dented Louis’s soft locks.
“Nnh—” Jay heard himself gasp incoherently as Louis’s teeth brushed his lower lip. Louis kissed like he was some kind of expert. Like he had a Ph.D in kissing, hot and warm, tongue teasing, leaving him aching and tingling.
When Louis finally drew back, it took Jay a moment to catch his breath, genuinely almost shaken with how into it he was. “Uh,” Jay said. “Wow. Yes.”
“Yes?” Louis repeated, voice low. He ran fingers down Jay’s arm, slow, just feeling the slide of his shirt over skin. “Do you want to go to the bedroom?”
Well, what the hell. It was the end of the world, he liked Louis, Louis was hot, and he was definitely into Louis. And it seemed like Louis liked him well enough—more than enough to act as a person instead of just his role, certainly. Relationships had started with less, and even if Jay wasn’t sure if this would end up a relationship or not yet—well, it was certainly worth a try.
Sleeping with Louis was just sleeping with Louis, now that he’d just given him a Sign. It didn’t mean getting in bed with his god too.
“Yes,” Jay said. And then a problem occurred to him. Flushing, he stammered out, “It’s my aunt’s—my aunt’s bedroom. It’s a mess. I haven’t done any cleaning, all I’ve done is get my own bedding on the bed…”
Louis shrugged, lips twisting in a small smile. “I don’t care,” he said. “I promise I have had sex in odder places.”
“You are always so reassuring,” Jay said fondly. He pulled away from the desk, grabbing Louis’s hand, and led him down the hall.
Even with Louis’s reassurance, Jay was a bit embarrassed to show him into the bedroom, as messy as a point-and-click adventure game, but Louis glanced around with barely a sign of interest—at least as far as Jay could see, with the mask still on.
“Are you… going to keep that on?” Jay asked, shutting the door behind them before Ulthar could follow him in. He heard a distant, plaintive Mawwwhhh in return.
“I plan to keep very little on,” Louis retorted, but touched two fingers to the mask, still just tilted up to expose his mouth. “…But this will stay on. If that means you ask me to leave, I understand.”
Jay blinked. “It doesn’t mean that,” he said. “It definitely doesn’t. I mean, I’m sure you have a perfectly lovely face, but I don’t need to see it if you don’t want to show it.”
“Have one,” Louis clarified. But he smiled anyway, the scars around his lips twisting into incomprehensible patterns. “So I’m glad you don’t need it, especially as I cannot remove my mask fully anyway.”
“I mean,” Jay said slowly, “I like what I’ve seen. You have gorgeous eyes, and a soft mouth.”
Louis shook his head, still smiling. He began to unbutton his shirt, sliding it off his shoulders, letting it drop. His chest was unmarked by scar or freckle, almost entirely hairless, a smooth expanse of lean muscle and elegant lines. “Is there… anything specific you want?”
Jay flustered, pulling his own shirt off, stepping forward to touch. “I wasn’t making plans or anything?”
At that, Louis pulled away, turned away, and for a moment, Jay thought he was getting cold feet—and then he saw Louis’s back, with strange markings scarred into him, twisted patterns that must have been made with a knife, and overlaid with straighter, thinner scars, light whip marks. “My people have certain tastes,” Louis said, dropping his shirt on the floor with the rest of the mess. “When you’ve been listening for the tatters of the king for so long, you can’t feel much without some sort of …indulgences involved. If you need anything, I can—”
Oh, jeez. Jay put a hand against that back, almost unwillingly tracing an existing pattern, heart aching. Louis kept saying just enough to build an unpleasant picture, then walking it back, and Jay was never quite sure how much of the truth was on which side or the other, or if it was both. “Do you need this?”
“…Whatever kind of indulgences you need. Or have you not been doing it that long?”
Louis’s muscles tensed under his hands, then relaxed. “I don’t know,” he admitted, his voice strangely soft.
“Okay, because I don’t need it? Or, I mean, I’m not interested in anything that’s not definitely still just playing?” Jay managed to get out with only a light stammer. “I’m not looking for a service top. Or a service bottom, for that matter, or for a master or a slave or—look, I was thinking we could just go to bed and make out and see what we felt like in the moment?”
Louis turned again, sliding an arm around him. “I’d like that,” he admitted.
Jay awoke from his post-coital doze to find himself standing in the library, in front of the same picture he’d been looking at when he’d left it last: a painting of Aunt Grace’s bedroom. In it, he could see Louis curled up asleep, the door a little open, some strange horned creature starting to slink into it.
“Welcome back,” the woman from the library said, and Jay jumped, turning. Seeing the grin on her face, as well as the bathrobe that she was holding out to him, he realized that he was naked. “I see you’ve found several Signs, so you’re cleared to take information out, even if your attire’s a little less than professional. What do you want to know?”
[Please suggest an action in the Comments]
Here’s hoping that picture is some kind of weird symbolism instead of some actual creature coming for the boy you like. Probably not worth asking immediately, but you might want to keep an eye on that if you can.
What you most need to know is where the flute is and how to get there, but even in a library like this, it’s probably not that simple. So the best thing to get is probably information on how to help yourself: how to locate an object you know about in the Dreamlands, how to travel quickly to a location, how to protect yourself if you need to. If you stay in town, you’ll probably want to know stuff like that anyway. Information on the flute itself is probably not a bad thing to find, either, but your biggest priority should probably be how to make sure carrying it around won’t have any unpleasant side effects.
If you’ve got extra time and questions, you might be able to ask some things about Aunt Grace — there might be information about new dreamer-created domains, and you might be able to use that to get her a message or even visit occasionally — but that probably comes second to saving the world.
…but before asking any of that, you need to get an idea of the rules around here — what kind of information you can take out, what you need to avoid, and whether there’s a price you’ll have to pay. Now that you have the Signs you should have some degree of (dubious) protection, but better safe than sorry.
Definitely check on the potential price you’ll be paying for info.
If it’s not ridiculous, then ask where Aunt Grace might be and if it’s possible for a dreamwalker like you to visit her once this is all over. Keziah might not know, but chances are decent that she might, since they were close.
And if you can look up stuff about the flute? Where it is is imperative, but so is how to handle it safely, how to get past the monsters since they’re no longer leashed, and how to put it back in the horrorterror’s grip and get it playing again without too dire a consequence to yourself. Or the world, for that matter.
ALSO ASK WHAT’S COMING FOR LOUIS I CANNOT BELIEVE I MISSED THAT
Ask about what the HECK is creeping on into your room. That’s an immediate concern and it’s a quick check on the library’s range– would it have information on something unknown like that, how readily accessible is the info, and is that painting a 1:1 reflection on reality?
And DEFINITELY ask about Aunt Grace, yeah. If you can’t meet your Aunt now/soon yourself or otherwise contact her, would the library have any kind of log on her travels? Or really anything for where to start on tracking down where the flute got dropped– a map of between here and the throne, maybe? News on other questionable flutes or weird dancing incidents where someone else may have picked it up? If it’s somewhere Ashesh could get to, you might maybe hopefully not need to touch it all.
Does Keziah herself know anything personally?