All Things in Time

Greed/Envy. NC-17. ~3700 words. Greed POV. Pastfic. Artwork by Pinstripesuit.
You watched and you waited, and never told me what you waited for.

All sins are attempts to fill voids.
-Simone Weil

[ leaves ]

The heavy tick-tock of time passing woke me.

The blankets were a weight against my chest. An embroidered duvet, hand-woven, hand-crafted, hand-picked. Your slender hand pinning me to the bed with gentle strokes, your eyes stained darker than the cherrywood.

My mind filled with blurred memories that couldn’t be real. Slit-pupil eyes half hidden by shadow. Your pale feet lazily kicking the air, the clock sounding the hour, steady counterfeit heartbeats.

Beyond the rippled glass window, windswept leaves on fire with colour. You didn’t light the fireplace, and she isn’t a mother. We don’t need its warmth. I wanted the illusion of comfort, not bare unfeeling stone. The room had no soul.

Everything always as it should be. Flowers in a vase full of heartless care, fine clothes laid on soft velvet cushions not meant to be touched, but you didn’t match the lavish bedchamber. You’re unscripted, erratic. Something worth owning in a house full of false pretension.

Your breath on my skin. Voice of a murderer in my ear: hello, brother.

[ rainstorm ]

Winter held on by broken fingernails. Naked trees swayed like wind chime bones. The stone bench cold against my back. Chiselled figures worn down by seasons. Angels fallen under dirt and lovers buried by moss. The air smelled of the end of life, decomposing leaves blanketed thick on the forest floor.

I spent a lot of time alone during those few months. It made the want harder to handle. She knew it, and thought it’d make me easier to control. You knew the difference.

You stood between the thick, gnarled roots and watched me. Just like you always did. You watched and you waited, and never told me what you waited for.

Slashes of sunlight struck through smoke grey clouds. Glimpses of a heaven I never believed in. She’d made you visit the tailor again, dressed you up like the doll she thinks you are. A gentleman’s attire. I wonder if the irony entertained her.

She’d wrenched your hair back in a fancy tie. She’d have told you it was unfashionably long, but you didn’t care about fashion. You didn’t care about her. Her obsession with proper appearance annoyed you. You prefer your hair loose and spilling down your back. Across my tangled sheets, ink from a bottle on white, white linen.

I used to hold it away from your face while we fucked. It emphasised the slant of your monster’s eyes. Sharp and bright and cruel. If I’d told you that, you’d have tied it back more often.

You called my name, lazy singsong on leaden air. I had a different name once, but I can’t remember it and you wouldn’t tell me. Maybe if I’d asked, you’d have told me what you waited for.

You draped yourself over me. Lithe, slight, hardly noticeable except for the unnatural heat of your body. Kitten curl against my chest, you traced the line of my jaw, the slant of cheekbones, the soft flesh of lips you liked to bite.

It fascinated me, how you went from languid smiles to vicious kisses in the blink of an eye. I didn’t know what to expect from you. Maybe that’s why I wanted you back then. Never boring, never predictable. I never did want everything, just everything worth having.

You don’t seem happy to see me, you said.

I said, I don’t seem unhappy.

It gave me a deliciously possessive thrill each time you willingly dropped yourself into my lap. You addicted me to it. No man’s absinthe. My hands curved around your waist, slid down to cup slim hips. I asked what you wanted.

I could just be curious about what you’re doing out here.

You could be, I said. You probably aren’t.

Your lips brushed mine, breathed candy-tainted words into my mouth, said you were supposed to bring me back to her. You stole sweets from her parlour because you could. Because you were content with small rebellions.

You said, It’ll be more fun if she lets me do it.

I didn’t know what you meant. I didn’t listen to her when she started talking about what we were. Poor, soulless creatures, she mocked us. The world’s greatest mistake. I wasn’t interested in her razor-tongue disdain, her narrow-eyed revulsion.

I used to think she’d had you fooled. You fooled me.

She wants to see what you’re capable of, you said.

You took my face between your hands, kissed me soft and sweet and slow like a lover would. The tie slipped out of your hair and tumbled to the brown grass, unnoticed. My lover I didn’t have to love. Your tongue slid over pointed teeth, stroked mine, left a thin veneer of sugar over the real taste of you.

After a few years, a few decades, you stopped kissing me first. Made me come to you and made me work for it. I hardly cared. You were still worth the effort.

When you drew away, her eyes stared down into mine, her smile tugged on your lips as amazement chased shock away.

To find it, you said with her voice, she’ll bleed you, make you sweat and groan and wish you were dead.

I ran my fingers through hair turned fine and soft, and didn’t realise I already missed the velvet thickness of yours. You turned over and rested your head on my shoulder. Raised my arm beside yours and splayed our fingers to the darkening sky.

Your tailored clothes fit badly on her frame. Her mouth didn’t fit your smile. I unbuttoned your waistcoat to slide my fingers under expensive material and touch pale skin. Hand pressed between a woman’s breasts, I felt your empty heart beat.

Tell me, I said. Tell me how to do that.

You smiled her smug little smile and told me I couldn’t. Turning your head, you pressed warm, open-mouthed kisses to my neck. I caught the familiar scent of you lingering on her skin.

That’s why she wants to play with you, you said. But I want to do it.

I threaded my fingers with yours, tips stroking your palm. You quivered when my breath ghosted across your cheek and I said that if you wanted to, go ahead. I thought you smiled with anticipation, kissed me with the eagerness to possess.

The second time, I felt muscle and tendon and bone rearrange themselves until it was you straddling my thighs.

You said, Don’t touch them until I give them to you, and spilled a handful of sweet red stone beside me.

You knew I’d let you do what you wanted. Those days, you counted on it.

My gut clenched with need. Quick fingers stripped away my clothes, bared skin to your impatient mouth. You knew how to keep my attention on you and nothing else. Your hair swept over my chest like brushstrokes. Some desires are stronger than others.

It took me a long time to learn your games and how to hide what I really wanted from you. It took me longer to learn what you really wanted.

Five lines of pain seared down my chest. I almost took the stones. My hand clutched your hip hard enough to bruise as the thick, ferrous smell of blood filled the air. Stolen lives, stolen candy. I strained to hear your sibilant whispers over the rising wind.

She’d seal you. She’d kill you.

I almost pinned you beneath me. Imagined you writhing and gasping as I fucked you. I gripped your clothes instead, tried not to hurt you. My fingers twisted. The seams tore. You always say you don’t like fighting because it hurts. There are exceptions to every rule.

But I know something she doesn’t.

You pushed us both to the grass, the stones pattering to the ground in a bloodred rainfall. I reached for your hair as you rose above me, knees spread wide. Sinner’s prayer to an obscene god. You caught my hand, scraped small white teeth over the thin skin of my wrist. Kissed the ouroboros.

She still doesn’t know what we are.

Pain flared as your nails parted skin. Pleasure chased it as you ground against me. Fingers dragging through fresh blood, you tried to follow the tingling energy of wounds that healed too quickly.

Years later, I realised you weren’t sure what you were doing. In the middle of a market in Drachma, swimming in the scent of foreign spices and a young girl’s sun-warmed skin, I thought of you. You have a habit of showing up like that.

You hissed in frustration. You didn’t want to resort to her methods. They weren’t any less brutal, any less bloody. They were just her ways, and you had something to prove.

Eyes flickering to the red stones lost in the grass, you said, Bleed me.

I didn’t pause, didn’t think. Your clothes landed in a crumpled heap. The lines of your body distracted me. So slender, so lean. Taut stomach, supple limbs. I started picking men and women who reminded me of you. Then ones who didn’t. I couldn’t tell if you were flattered or irritated. I told myself it didn’t matter.

Snatching the tie, I rebound your hair. You didn’t notice. You pushed my coat off, let the thin woven shirt catch on my arms. Flutter in the wind, frantic white wings of a trapped bird. Your fingers left dark red smudges on my skin.

I asked, How deep?

Deep enough, you said.

I bit your neck. Your nails ripped my back. Branches cracked and groaned. Loose strands of your hair whipped around me. As blood spilled hot onto my tongue, you gasped for me to do it again.

My teeth scraped down your collarbone. Sank into the curve of muscle near your arm. You shuddered, pushed into the pain, nearly blinded me with my own. Your heart thudded hard against your ribs, hard enough for me to feel it beat against my chest.

I dragged bloodstained teeth to your shoulder. Clouds churned. Your fingers traced my spine, found the shimmering pulse of energy hidden under flesh. Punctured it, tore an inhuman howl from my throat. My world glowed red.

You held me pinned against you, made me feel everything. Everything I’d ever felt, all at once.

My flesh crawled. Thousands of insects crept over me, millions of butterfly wings beat against me. You ripped me apart with one touch. Shoved me back together again, skin rippling, molecules reassembling. It wavered, faded, left me panting and dazed.

Your eyes lit bright with unholy glee. I tried to speak, and couldn’t.

That’s what I know, you said.

You grabbed my face, kissed me again. Blood and salt on our lips. You pushed a red stone into my mouth with your tongue and watched concentrated life burn through me.

Stroking your hand down my heaving chest, you sucked the taste of it from your lip. Told me to pay attention before you shoved the stone’s residue straight into my body. You knew I couldn’t, not then. Not with fresh life surging through my veins. Not while you made me twist and writhe and feel like I’d die.

I felt alive. More alive than a world that rejects us.

Energy crackled up your arms. You jerked away. Cracked another stone in half with your teeth and found the twin points on my waist. You caressed my skin, nuzzled my neck. Purred encouragement and promises into my mouth and waited.

I dreaded the moment you’d push that stone inside me. Dreaded it, and wanted it more than I’d ever wanted anything. I wanted you. You told me later why it felt like it did, why she didn’t understand.

We can’t perform alchemy, we are alchemy. One endless reaction in human form. With human thoughts, human feelings, human desires and human fears. Less, more, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care.

You plunged the stone into me.

Overloaded, overflowing, overcome, I struggled to taste you. Kiss you, bite you. Scream for you. I couldn’t do anything but feel. Skin to black, fingers to claws, the first time I saw myself change. It rippled down my body, blunted every sensation and receded like the tide. Your hands chased it. I tried to bring it back, hold it.

I gasped, What is it?

You weren’t disappointed when I couldn’t. You grinned, grinned wildly, pushed your hand down my pants to find me hard and wet.

It’s you.

You silenced me with your mouth, bit my lip and sucked it between yours. Sometimes, I still hear the harsh whisper of your breath. Sometimes, I still feel it.

One more time, you said.

My arms wrapped around you, fingers curved over your shoulders, braced for the lightning jolt. You didn’t wait. You gave me the last of your precious stones, drove it into the centre of my back.

Gunshot energy through me, splitting, forking, never weakening. I felt my entire body warp, remake itself into something monstrous and terrible.

You screamed as brutally hard claws pierced flesh, scraped bone. Light flared behind my eyes. My lips peeled back, thinned to nothing, bared snarling, hungry white teeth. Your hands trembled, clutched my face. Soft caresses of savage features.

You kissed my lipless mouth and told me I was fucking beautiful.

I tore my claws from you without time for gentle. Not-skin wavered, melted back to human. I started to feel it then, what you knew I would. Muscles less responsive, nerves exposed and raw. A hollow ache replacing too much life.

You pushed me back to the grass, knelt between my legs. My hand curved against your throat, thumb near your hummingbird pulse. You held me down as your tongue curled around the head of my dick, kept me from fucking sweet, wet heat.

You’re exhausted, you said.

You crawled over me, touched your tongue to my lips. Your breath smelled like blood and sex. I tried to ask how long it would last, but I couldn’t keep from kissing you. Your wide mouth felt too good sealed against mine.

You want me to fuck you.

I didn’t want it. I needed it. I tugged at your ruined pants, found them already to your thighs. Before the strange lethargy got worse, before real helplessness caught up with me, I needed it. I never wanted to be helpless for you.

Your mouth skated across my cheek to my ear. Slick, slender fingers pushed into me, hurried like you never did. You gave me what I wanted, gave me pleasure without pain to fill the emptiness. Didn’t tease, didn’t taunt, didn’t toy.

You rocked your hips, eased yourself into me. I gripped your arms, burned energy I didn’t have to lift and meet your thrusts. Ground shamelessly against the thickness buried inside me. The heat of my cock trapped between us.

You said, I’ll teach you how to control it.

I didn’t think you would, thought it was another careless promise made to be broken. But you met me in the forest and taught me what you knew. We fought. We fucked. I waited for you to name a price that you never did.

Your breath came in short, hard gasps to match mine. You thrust harder, faster, drove me groaning into orgasm as harsh friction turned to slippery heat. Quick and dirty and perfect. You took my dick in your hand and jerked me off as you came.

I stroked your spine, fingers sliding down your side to hit the ground as real exhaustion hit me. I watched you with heavy-lidded eyes, lips curved in a slight smile as you tumbled to the grass beside me.

Will you tell her?

No, you said.

Too quick. I didn’t believe you.

You should tell her yourself soon.

Your head rested in the crook of my arm. If you weren’t you, it’d have meant something. Eddies of wind stirred your hair.

I drifted. Half-conscious. I don’t know how long we lay there before the first drops hit my skin. Blinking open eyes that wouldn’t focus, I looked up to see the sky crack open. Afternoon turned to night and the rain poured down.

Your drenched hair stuck to my skin, black tendrils and red water. You didn’t tell her. You stole red stones and stole candies and smirked when she struck you.

If you weren’t you, it’d have meant everything.

You closed your eyes, and you laughed.

[ snowflakes ]

You found me riffling through her things. Thin ice covered stained glass windows, a frozen lake’s treacherous surface. You’d come home early. For me, you said. To save me from listless boredom. From drowning in an empty house.

When I didn’t answer, you wandered into her parlour. Nothing there for you because I’d taken it. Your kisses are candy.

Come play with me, you said.

My first snowfall, the one I can remember, you said that to me. You pulled me out into the snow, rolled us into a deep bank. Snowflakes clung to your eyelashes. Frostbitten memories. I lit the fire in my imperfect room. Your soaked clothes left paintsplatter puddles on the floor. It’s a stupid time to learn to swim, when you start to drown.

I said, I thought you were busy.

You took my hands, curled my fingers around your waist. Fingertips almost touching. My gaze lingered on the half-searched drawer. You said you weren’t busy. You said you’d come home early for me. Bright eyes, full of sincerity. Lies are easy to believe.

You slid your arms around me. Fingers under my shirt, mouth on my neck. You tasted the whore’s perfume on your tongue.

How was she?

You hate the smell of someone else on my skin.

Already dead.

Lies are easy to tell.

[ sunset ]

The girl moaned sweetly in my ear. Softly, shyly welcoming. Old enough to crave a man’s promises. Too young to know what they meant. A taint of fear you taught me to appreciate.

Kisses for parted lips, gentle touches for untasted skin. Sun-ripened summer peaches on her breath. Rich girl with a dead father. I did well for myself.

She reached for me, arched under me. Quivered and bit her lip. Long hair curled around my fingers. So soft against my lips. I breathed her in and it was you.

Warm brown bled to dark purple. You smiled. One chaste kiss to the corner of my mouth. Whispered words in fading red light.

You don’t seem happy to see me.

Dead girl with a dead father.

Where are the others?

I wondered if you’d left the money.

Forget them. I found you.

It’d been eight months since the last time. You never change.

You rose above me, fingers splayed on my naked chest. Slender thighs tight to my sides. My hands on your hips. Rough breaths, bruises on pale skin. I don’t know how to hold you without breaking. Salted words. Your head thrown back, lips parted. Flash of soft, pink tongue, flash of dying sunset. Snapshot of a perfect moment.

You’re beautiful when you die.

I let you tumble to the sheets. I didn’t have much time. Bloodstained claws brushed hair back from your face. Lingered there. I could have killed you again. Killed you until you didn’t exist. They weren’t behind you, you found me on your own. I hadn’t known you always did.

Not the streets, the alleys. Corners and close walls where the advantage would be mine. Crowds are a death sentence with you. You’re everyone. The boy with the cat, the wrinkled woman. No one to trust. Because of you.

I knew the moment you fell screaming back to life. I lost track of how many times I’ve killed you.

There’s never been a world without us.

Spires in the sky, piercing innocent clouds. You hate cathedrals. You might not have followed me. Silent bells, silent choir, no echo of my footsteps on penitent stone.

The god she wants us to make her stared down at me. Benevolently vengeful, it suits her. She named us the damned. No saviour of man.

You can’t keep running.

You can’t stop me.

Lips to my ear, breath soft and a promise: I’ll find you.

My claws sliced air. Fighting you is fucking you. Dirty games to play. Your smile, quick and nasty. Something to pass the time.

You couldn’t strike me. The first time you’d tried, you’d broken your arm. I’d ignored your scream like I’d ignored you. You didn’t think I’d use it against you. You didn’t think you taught me as much as you did. Scream of anguish or scream of betrayal, we both know they sound the same.

You slipped from my grasp. Painted glass stained your skin, endless ripples of colour. Graceful like no one else could ever be. Fucking you is fighting you. Such a pretty monster in my bed. You were never worth it.

Ruined chancel. She’ll crucify me. You stood on the altar. Her only begotten son. Splintered wood, shattered stone, spilled wax. You spread out on rich red cloth. Neverlasting life.

You found me for the last time.

[ ashes ]

His breathing is slow and rhythmic.

The threadbare sheets are a whisper across my legs. Floating dust, floating voices hushed on still air. His naked skin warm under my hand. A soft stroke for a quiet sigh.

Faded wallpaper, textured, slashed by my claws. Dirty window, spiderweb cracks at the corners. Too many memories, too many lifetimes. Steady drip from a loose tap, broken light on broken mirrors, his heartbeat.

Floorboards that creak, doors that won’t open right, rooms made to live in. The things I gave him: scattered clothes, freedom, warm bed, second life. He matches what’s forgotten. He’s unscripted, erratic. He’s the one thing you can never be.

Smoke curls from my mouth.

He isn’t you.


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