: Cado in Tenebris (7/?)Author
: This universe is shared, created and owned by the writers of the Oblique Reference Project
. The characters and situations herein are of my own creation. Any similarities to situations and/or persons living or dead are purely coincidental.Notes
: Sorry for the delay in this chapter! I started college about a month ago and it’s been hectic. Thanks to all my reviewers and the readers also. It’s nice hearing from you in whatever context. I hope all of you are still enjoying this story and will continue to do so. Also, do you like the .pdf file concept? If so, if anyone wishes I can make a .pdf file of each chapter and post it up with the new chapters. Let me know. If the answer is yes, I’ll begin with Chapter 8. This chapter is written while listening to Gilgamesh.
Bael was busy with meetings between the Order of Kings and so left the new additions to his household in his sisters’ and Astaroth’s care, much to Caellach’s relief. While he did feel better after telling Fionn what had happened before, the wounds were still so painfully fresh nonetheless, at least when it came to Bael. His melancholy irritated him, and Bael’s scarce presence at least did not add fuel to the fire. Blurting out the memories had only served to refresh them, and made the wounds from Bael’s betrayal bleed anew. Thinking about the past didn’t help, and he could not prevent that in Bael’s home. Every hallway, every niche, and every room held a memory of the two of them as they were six long years ago: friends, kindred spirits, and tentative lovers. All that destroyed in one fell swoop to be left crumbling like dust at their feet.
The sting of seeing the closeness that grew between Bael and Brén after the bonding was something that he wanted so very badly to ignore, but he knew that the hope was fruitless. It was always there, undeniably squeezing at his heart despite every hope to the contrary. He hated how much of the blind fool that he was lingered still in the face of Bael, hated how much the past was tangible between them, not knowing what he could do to dispel it. This forced cheer he had put on was wearing thin, and he knew his composure was becoming so very fragile. The ease that he had felt with Brén was strained now and he could not quite meet the gaze of his prince. He felt Brén’s confusion, his hurt even as he pretended that all was right and it hurt him too, to see Brén that way, to have made
him feel that way but at the same time, he just couldn’t get close to the prince, could not get the illusion of Bael’s scent lingering on Brén’s skin from his mind. It was torture, and he didn’t know how to get away from it.
Every morning he joined Astaroth in practice, learning from Astaroth as the Demon learnt from him. The exercise was something familiar, something that very firmly reminded him of his place, of his duty and so he immersed himself in it, just as he immersed himself in his role as Court Liaison, joining the rest on their trips to the city, meeting Demon nobles, chatting with the other races that made up the bustling crowd in the Demon Kingdom. However, he knew that he could not hide from Bael for much longer and a week into their stay, he received a summons from Bael that he could not avoid. Standing outside the imposing doors of Bael’s study (once his father’s), Caellach took a deep breath before he knocked and Bael’s calm, smooth voice bid him enter.
The Demon sat behind his desk, long hair pulled back in a braid as was his wont when he worked and Caellach felt another pang of memory that he squashed ruthlessly, pushing it to the back of his mind as he moved towards the Demon who looked up briefly at his approached and nodded for him to take the seat before him. Caellach slid into the chair, fingers unconsciously going to stroke supple, dark leather before moving to curling at the armrests loosely, posed relaxed. It was only the tension in his jaw that gave away his unease at being so close to Bael once more, a tension that did not go unnoticed if the hurt that flashed so quickly in the Demon’s eyes was any indication. He wanted to stare, felt something in himself start to hope, but again, he forced the unwanted emotion aside, meeting Bael’s gaze coolly.
“You wanted me?”
Something else went through Bael’s eyes, something so close to heat that Caellach’s breath caught in his throat and he cursed himself the carelessly worded response that was fuelled by his discomfort. He almost looked away, but forced himself to keep his gaze locked to Bael, eyebrow rising ever so slowly in an imperious expression that did not match his mood one whit. The Demon placed the documents he was reading down, steepling his fingers over them as he regarded Caellach solemnly, and that strange and yet familiar heat banked so completely from his eyes that Caellach had to wonder if he had dreamt it up.
“I have received instructions,” Bael began, slowly and carefully, as though weighing his words, glancing at Caellach warily. “To bring you and your companions to Court.” Caellach felt his breath catch in his throat again, but this time for an entirely different reason.
“By whose orders?” he asked quietly, unease bleeding into his tone even as he fought hard to keep it at bay. Sympathy and bone deep weariness settled on Bael’s face as he leaned forward the very slightest bit closer.
“The Order of the Kings would request your presence at Court two days hence,” he said, and the words sounded practiced, as though he were repeating something that he had been told. He shrugged helplessly, fingers spreading on the papers under them before hands slowly clenched into fists. “I tried to request that you be given some more time as you’ve all just arrived, but they were rather insistent. Especially –” here he hesitated, looking at Caellach carefully again before he continued. “ – When they heard that you have joined the party in coming here.”
“They are displeased?” Caellach’s lips curved in a humourless smile. “I suppose I too would hate for the reminder of my failure to appear before me once more, the reminder that all is not well in the glamorous and powerful Dark Court.”
“Caellach,” Bael said, tone just a touch sharp before he sighed, rubbing his forehead in a rare sign of weakness. “Please,” he continued, voice once more calm and steady. “We need to face this with some semblance of calmness. It would do no good if you antagonize them as you are coming to live in the Demon Kingdom now. You might be a citizen of the Cerberii kingdom, the Cerberus king’s man, but as long as you are living here, the Order is the authority which you must bend to, that you must obey.”
“I know that,” Caellach snapped, then sighed as well, running his fingers agitatedly through his hair, muttering sulkily. “I hate politics.” The comment earned him a smile from Bael, affection and indulgence clear on his face.
“You always have,” the Demon teased, gently. “I’m surprised your Minister Stiobhard had chosen you for this delicate task.”
“You, my family and my friends, not to mention myself,” Caellach snorted, shooting him a faint grin. “I dare say that in about a month I will be driven out of here by an angry mob of Demon nobles carrying pitchforks.” Bael threw back his head and laughed at that, the sound filling the room and so very warm and familiar that it coaxed a laugh from Caellach as well. However, on the end of that thought came a pang at the realization of how easy it all was, to slip back into the comfortable familiarity that they had shared so long ago. His heart ached with it, and his hand clenched into a fist as his laughter died off, and he turned away. Bael too grew sombre before he sighed once more.
“Can it really last no longer than a few short and precious moments, our truces?” he murmured, sadly and Caellach’s head jerked in surprise before his jaw clenched and he looked away once more.
“I don’t…” he hesitated before pushing on, shaking his head, stomach twisting itself in knots. “I don’t know how to act around you anymore,” he admitted. “You were the most important person for me, Bael and I just… I know, I understand, I do! I know why you didn’t come for me and… and while my head has forgiven you because of logic my heart is… my heart is not so easy to convince. You hurt me,” he finished, softly and saw Bael flinch.
“I never should have listened to them. Caellach, you don’t have any idea how I wish that I’d never listened, that I went after you myself. You don’t know how much I’ve regretted leaving you for so long – ”
“Idiot,” Caellach retorted, trying to smile but finding that it was useless, the action refusing to stay on his face with any sincerity. “You could no more do that than I could go against my mother.”
“No!” The exclamation was loud and it jerked his gaze up again, especially as Bael’s chair screeched as it was pushed abruptly back and the other man stalked around the desk to stand by his side, yanking him up by the arms to shake him, so very carefully. “You mean so much
to me. Don’t you dare say that it’s okay that I left you like that.”
“You’re contradicting yourself,” Caellach said, smiling slightly, desperately trying to keep an calm facade while his heart thudded in his chest at Bael’s touch, his proximity, his intensity. “Do you really want me to resent you?”
“No,” the Demon admitted, seeming to deflate. He released Caellach and leaned back against his own desk, shaking slightly as he wrapped his arms around himself, biting his lip. In that moment, Caellach saw the image of a younger, more carefree Bael in his image, even though the younger Bael had never been as carefree as other youths. He had always had his maturity, his logic, too old for his age. It had only worsened with time. It hurt to see the reminder of the Bael that he loved so much in the figure of the man he had been determined to ignore, to be angry at forever. “I just… I know that what I’ve done to you in unforgivable. I don’t expect you to welcome me with open arms even though it is my greatest wish. I just – I don’t want you to accept my folly so calmly. There is no reason and logic when it comes to that, I loved you and I let you down, Caellach. I can only hope that you can forgive me for that one day, even as I feel that I shall never deserve it.”
Caellach was quiet for a moment, just taking his time looking at the man in front of him as though he had never seen him before in his life. Bael seemed uncomfortable beneath his gaze, but held still, unable to meet Caellach’s gaze. Finally a smile curved his lips, a true smile and he raised hesitant fingers to press lightly to Bael’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort, even as he chuckled slightly.
“You really are an idiot,” he said, fondly. “You’ve… not changed, surprisingly enough. But enough of this talk of importance and love. I shudder to think of what Brén would do were he to hear his lover speak so to another.” Bael’s head snapped up at that, eyes widening in shock as he caught Caellach’s hand in a grip that was hard enough to bruise. Caellach winced in surprised pain, trying to tug his hand away but Bael did not seem to notice, distress clear on his face.
“What – you’ve got entirely the wrong idea! There’s nothing between me and Brén, Caellach, barring from the night of the bonding.”
“Wh-what are you saying?” Caellach said, laughing nervously, trying harder now to pull his hand free to no avail. “You call him so familiarly as does he to you, is that not so? And let go of me, it hurts.”
“I’m telling you the truth!” Bael said, desperation clear in his voice. “Caellach, you do not honestly think that there is anything going on between the prince and myself, do you?”
“Of course I do!” Caellach snapped, yanking his hand away but still the action proved futile. “You two are so comfortable with each other, are you not? How can anyone miss the fact that you are both lovers?”
“And I’m telling you that we’re not!”
“What does it matter even if you are?” Caellach finally shouted, panic and desperation clear in his voice. He did not want to hear this, did not want to hear that tone in Bael’s voice that begged Caellach to believe him. What was the point? Even if they were not lovers, it did not mean that – He cursed at the thought, struggling even harder against Bael but it seemed like all his strength was gone. He could not free himself from the Demon no matter how hard he tried and some part of himself was aware that he was not fighting for freedom as much as he could and he detested that voice which so slyly pointed out a fact he did not want to face.
“Of course it matters, I don’t want you to misconstrue – ” Bael caught back the words with a rare curse that had Caellach staring at him. He realized his mistake too late when Bael took the opportunity to yank him closer, pulling him closer to the body that he had tried so hard to erase from his mind. It was no good, the press of Bael against him was something that had been branded onto his skin and that warm, sensual mouth dropped to his and he moaned at the taste, tangy green apple and cinnamon sugar unchanged, even as warnings screamed in his head.
It was everything that he remembered and more. He had never been able to forget the taste of Bael’s kisses no matter how hard he tried and now those lips were on his again, that tongue forcing itself into his all too willing mouth to taste and search and mark as his. He felt his knees weaken until only Bael’s arm sliding surely around his waist kept him upright. He had not noticed when his own arms had taken fistfuls of Bael’s shirt, but he was clinging to Bael, pressing closer to that warmth and the magic that fizzled across his skin as though Bael’s power was dancing over him, engulfing him as it had always done. It was addictive those kisses, and so devastating but he could do nothing but moan almost wantonly and arch against the body of the man that his heart had claimed six years ago, against the man whom his traitorous heart still yearned for even now.
He didn’t know how long they stayed like that, bodies pressed close while they kissed, but what he did know was the shock that he felt when a perfunctory knock was made on the door and Brén’s sweet voice called out Bael’s name so happily that his gut twisted in pain. He jerked away from Bael, the back of his hand pressing to his mouth as his eyes widened almost wildly as he stared at the other man, panic creeping in. Madness, he had fallen into madness and had done so voluntarily, willingly
even when Brén was so close, when Brén called for Bael in that tone which made the listener unable to deny his feelings for – he pulled away, made for the door but wasn’t able to get very far before the Demon caught his arm in a grip that was surprising in its strength from the genteel Demon.
“A moment, Brén,” Bael called out before he turned to Caellach, not waiting for the prince’s answer before he tried to pull the Hellhound against him once more. This time though, Caellach fought it, struggling to get away until Bael wrapped his arms around him over his arms, trapping him against the solid warmth of his body, that damnable body his mind did not ever let him forget even in his dreams. “Don’t go, don’t run from me.”
“This was a mistake,” Caellach blurted out, shaking his head wildly. “This can’t – Lady and Darkness, Bael, do you know what this will do to Brén?”
“I have already told you that there is nothing between us – ”
, maybe!” Caellach snapped, lashing out. He sent his foot into Bael’s, relieved when the action caused Bael to hiss in pain and loosen his grip around Caellach enough to let him shove the other man away. He glared up at the taller man heatedly, snarling. “You might not feel anything towards him, but can you confidently say the same for him when he – ” he shook his head, cursing, feeling his eyes burn even as he forced himself through the next words, words that he knew were right, words that he would abide by. “This was a mistake. It should have never happened and it never will again. I can’t – I won’t do anything to hurt Brén and I won’t let you hurt me like you did before. I won’t let you have that power over me again.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked away, steps hurried as he ignored the voice calling his name over and over again, tone pleading, begging him to stay. He pushed past the startled prince, didn’t stop for anyone or anything until he was safely behind the locked doors of his room. It was only then that he realized that he was crying, tasting the salt of his tears again the lips his shaking hands was pressing against, against the very lips that still tingled from kisses that should have never happened and would never happen again. He slid down abruptly, knees unable to hold him up as he stared blindly at the ceiling of his room, tears seemingly unending. His heart could not take loving Bael once again. So he did the only thing he saw that he could.
He pushed back everything he felt for Bael inside of him and locked it, staring dully at the ceiling with now dry eyes.