Wishful

by Oneira

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/121587.html)

“There you go.” I flashed a smile as I handed over the gaily coloured package to the waiting customer. “One present, wrapped and ready for Christmas.”

“Oh! How lovely!” The pretty but frazzled-looking woman placed the box gently on top of her baby buggy, wrapping crinkling under her careful fingers. The infant inside cooed with delight at the twists of ribbon dangling in front of his face, batting one chubby hand towards them. I smiled.

Clink went a handful of coins into the donation box. “Thank you so much,” the lady said, with a smile that took years off her face.

“Don’t mention it.” I bobbed my head at the pair of them and watched absently as she wheeled back into the endless bustle that is every shopping mall in the world during December. The sound of her son’s laughter trilled brightly in their wake and my smile deepened, turning perhaps a touch more self-satisfied than was really appropriate.

I did so enjoy seeing a Christmas wish granted though.

“Well!” Pam leaned in at my side, grinning in an entirely disconcerting fashion. “You’re certainly looking pleased with yourself. Did you get her phone number or something?”

“Huh? Oh, no, nothing like that.” I could have told her the lady was happily married and looking forward to celebrating her first Christmas in a new home, but I doubted Pam would appreciate the information without my explaining how I knew. “She was wearing a ring,” I said instead.

“Hmm. Guess that explains why she wasn’t climbing over the counter to get to you.” Pam winked at me, brown eyes twinkling with a fond sort of mischief. “At least tell me you’ve got a pretty date for the Charity Ball next week.”

I looked down at the ribbon I was rewinding onto the spool. “I’m not going.”

“What?” Pam gaped, visibly disappointed. “Why not?”

I steeled myself against the swell of her unhappiness. “I’m scheduled at the children’s hospital that night,” I told her, in what I hoped was an apologetic tone.

“Are you serious? Actually never mind, of course you are,” she said, with a roll of her eyes. ” Lord knows I’ve never met anyone who spent as much time volunteering as you do. But do you really have to miss the Charity Ball? It’s going to be a blast.”

My sheepish grin wouldn’t go far towards appeasing her, I knew, but I gave it my best try anyway. “It’s not really my kind of thing, Pam.”

Pam raised an eyebrow at me. “What? Having fun? Come on, Gale!” she insisted, breaking out the pleading eyes that were the bane of her husband’s existence. “You can’t seriously be thinking of missing the Ball! Think of all the people who’ll be expecting you to be there!”

I winced. “I’d rather not. What’s the big deal, Pam?” I leaned back against the counter, wearing my blandest expression. “I’d just be uncomfortable and awkward if I went. What good does that do anyone?”

“It’d do you some good to do something besides work, sleep or volunteer for once!” she retorted tartly, fisting her hands on her hips. “When was the last time you went out and did something just for the fun of it?”

“I walked the dogs at the animal shelter last week.”

“Gale! I’m being serious here!”

“Me too.” I offered her a crooked smile. “I’m really okay not going, Pam. Honest.”

Pam’s expression softened in quiet concern. I didn’t know whether to be touched or tell her not to waste her time. “I’m just worried about you, Gale. It’s not healthy to spend all your time living for other people – you’re going to burn yourself out.”

I shrugged, painfully awkward. “I like making people happy.”

Pam appeared unmoved by my brilliant rebuttal. “Uh huh. And when do you make yourself happy?” I stared at her blankly and she sighed. “Look Gale, I know you like to help anyone and anything that crosses your path, but that doesn’t mean you should live life without ever thinking about yourself. It wouldn’t kill you to have a little fun every now and – oh my god that’s Emerson Swift.”

“What?” I whirled fast enough to make the world spin, gaping in shock at the tall, ridiculously attractive blond man striding towards us.

“Hey Gale,” the man said as he got close. “How’s it going?”

I stared. “Emery?”

He grinned and I was over the counter in an instant, catching him up in a rough hug that he readily returned. “What the hell are you doing here?” I demanded. “I thought you were filming over Christmas?”

“Finished ahead of schedule,” Emery announced cheerfully, apparently in no hurry to get his arms back. “Thought I’d stop by and say hello. Took me a couple of tries to figure out where you were though.”

“…I don’t want to know how many riots you caused trolling around town looking for me, do I?”

Emery’s grin quirked. “No, probably not. How’re things?”

“Good,” I started, then the sound of a throat being cleared behind me derailed my thought process entirely. I froze.

“Gale,” Pam said sweetly and I detached myself from Emery long enough to turn, wincing, to face a decidedly unamused Pam.

“Er,” I managed. “Sorry, Pam. This is –”

“I know who he is,” Pam interrupted, syllables sharp enough to cut your finger on. “Since when do you go around hugging famous movie stars, Gale?”

“Uh…”

“He didn’t tell you about me?” Emery put in, with a pout that would have sent a lesser person into a swoon. I elbowed him unsubtly. “We’ve been friends for years.”

Pam’s tone was thick with frost. “Really?” she said to me, not even close to a question. I flinched.

“Oh yes,” Emery nodded easily, as though he hadn’t noticed her trying to bore a hole through my head with her eyes. He gave Pam a cheeky wink. “Gale’s the one who got me into acting, you know.”

“Emery!” I gaped, aghast, and was completely unmollified by the cheeky grin he slanted my way in response. “Stop telling people strange things!”

“No sense of adventure,” Emery sighed dramatically, and I was on the verge of doing something drastic when his grin turned a slightly sheepish around the edges and he nodded slightly. Sorry his eyes said, and I made a face at him that he accepted with easy aplomb.

“So,” he said then, turning his attention back to Pam. “You’ve been volunteering with Gale, huh? He still working too hard?”

I allowed them both the resulting series of digs at my overactive work ethic, just glad to have moved into safer territory.

There were times when Emery was far too honest for my own good.

I met Emerson ‘Emery’ Swift on a job. Not his job, my job. He’d been just a teenager at the time and hadn’t yet made his big break into the exciting glitter-and-blood world that is Hollywood stardom. I’ve never figured out how he knew it was me who got him the audition that gave him his start, though he’s always been smarter than most people give him credit for.

(And for the record, getting caught ass up on someone’s kitchen floor absolutely covered with cinnamon isn’t the most subtle way for a fairy to keep a low profile. Just in case you were wondering.)

“So really,” I said several hours later, heading towards the closest exit with Emery at my side. A collection of shopping bags dangled loosely from his fingers, ready evidence of how he’d spent his time while waiting for my shift to end. “What are you doing here? Last I checked, you had a family who probably wouldn’t object to having you home for Christmas.”

Emery shrugged, careless of the sporadic double takes he was receiving as we threaded our way through the throng. “They’re not expecting me for a while yet. Besides,” he grinned down at me. “It’s been too long since we saw each other.”

“It’s certainly been a long time,” I agreed. “You just signed on for another film, right?”

“I’ve been very lucky,” Emery said, with the careless modesty that was so much a part of his personality that it had taken my efforts to get him on stage that first time. He waggled his eyebrows at me. “So you’ve been following my career?”

“Sort of,” I evaded, pushing open the double doors to the parking lot. “Kind of hard not to when you’re the biggest thing to hit Hollywood since Titanic.”

“Sometimes I think you exaggerate just to irritate me. Where’s your car?”

I gestured absently, making a face at the over-full parking lot. “Unfortunately, it’s gonna take forever to get out of here.”

Emery shrugged, unconcerned. “I’m in no hurry.”

I squinted at him, immediately suspicious. “If I’m driving us both, then how’d you get here?”

Another shrug. “The bus. Why?”

I groaned. “It’s beyond me why you haven’t been mobbed yet.”

Emery’s grin flashed. “How do you know I haven’t been?” The face I made must have been funny because he laughed then, pulling open the passenger side door as I popped the locks and climbed in. “I’ve got a couple funny looks,” he admitted as I climbed in and started the engine. “But no mobs yet. I think most people think I’m a look-alike.”

“Makes sense,” I said, joining the slow-moving conga line out of the parking lot. “I wouldn’t expect to run into a blockbuster star on the bus either. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to find a dozen people staking out the gift-wrapping counter tomorrow. We weren’t exactly incognito today.”

I saw him shrug out of the corner of my eye. “Yeah, I know. I miss my privacy sometimes but it’s part of my life now. And it’s always nice to meet fans.”

I nodded absently, taking the first left out of the parking lot. “I’m glad you’re happy.”

Anyone else would have thought I was being flippant, but Emery just nodded, his expression at once wistful and content.

“Yeah,” he said simply. “I am.”

I already knew that of course – I’d been feeling his happiness all afternoon. But it was always nice to hear.

Emery chuckled suddenly. “Hey, I’m kind of doing you a favour by coming to visit – think of how many people I’m making happy just by being here.”

“Egoist,” I shot back, though he was probably right. A random sighting of the Emerson Swift would certainly fit the bill for brightening most people’s days. Seeing Emery worked that way for me too, though for rather a different reason.

I didn’t look over at him as I added, “If you lead a mob back to my apartment I’m kicking you out.”

“You’re so mean,” Emery pouted, and I figured it had to be his acting skill that made it come out like a compliment. “And after I came all this way to visit you.”

“Crazy too then,” I shot back blandly, and we traded good-natured insults all the way to my apartment. I almost wished it didn’t feel so natural – it wasn’t a good idea to play favourites in my position.

“Um,” Emery said when I unlocked the door, pausing just inside my apartment to stop and stare. “That’s a lot of plants.”

I glanced round at the thick foliage, plants twining and spreading and radiating life on every available flat surface. “Reminds me of home,” I told him, letting him take that how he would.

From the amused mischief staring back at me, I’d probably get reminded of it at some entirely inappropriate moment in the near future. I wasn’t sure I minded.

I kicked off my shoes and headed for the kitchen. “You want anything to eat? I’ve got…” I faltered, belatedly realizing just what I did have. I tossed a sheepish smile over one shoulder. “Erm, maybe we should go out for dinner?”

Emery glanced up from the waxy leaf he was fingering. “Why?” He left his shoes behind and followed me into the kitchen. “Don’t tell me fairies don’t eat.”

“Not… exactly.” I did my best not to squirm like a child as he made a beeline for the fridge. Yellow light spilled across the tiles and I took a deep breath.

Emery stared at the contents of the fridge for a long moment, then crooked an incredulous grin my way. “Why haven’t your teeth fallen out?” he demanded, one silver-ringed hand waving emphatically at the plates heaped with raspberry-chocolate truffles, sugar cookies, slabs of fudge cake and other assorted goodies. “What’s with all the desserts?”

I exhaled noisily, drawing his attention away from the contents of the fridge to my own, rather crooked smile. “Emery, I can only eat sweet things. Nectars and sugars and stuff.”

“But cake?”

I shrugged. “Baked goods are cheaper than fruit at this time of year.” I canted my head towards the worktop. “There’s a bowl of peaches on the counter if you’d rather one of them instead.”

Emery blinked at me for a moment, then laughed. “Weird,” he said finally, shutting the fridge and leaning one elbow idly against the counter between a pair of spider plants. “Kinda makes sense though. Guess I forget sometimes that you’re not really…”

“Human?” I supplied, helping myself to a peach since Emery seemed in no hurry to try them.

“Not what I was going to say,” Emery started, but I shrugged that off carelessly. It wasn’t like trying to hide the facts now would make any difference, after all.

“Come on,” I said, licking an errant trail of juice off my finger. “I’ll give you the grand tour.”

Emery blinked, looking somewhat glazed. I figured it was the sudden shift in topic. “Oh, yeah okay. Should we water the plants while we’re at it?”

I gave the massive expanse of greenery an appraising glance. “Probably,” I agreed. “I wouldn’t want them to feel unloved.”

I got a snort for that. “Like you could make anything feel unloved,” Emery said as I filled two tall glasses from the kitchen sink. “It’d probably upset the entire cosmic order or something.”

“I’m a fairy, not an angel. I have nothing to do with the cosmic order. Here.” Armed with full glasses, we made the circuit of my apartment, watering my massive collection of green leafy things while I pointed out the few rooms and appliances of note. It didn’t take very long.

“Not very big,” Emery noted, slumping down on the couch while I returned the now-empty glasses to the kitchen.

“You were expecting the Ritz?” I asked, snagging another peach as I went. After a moment’s thought, I grabbed one for Emery as well. He was probably getting hungry.

“Nah.” Emery accepted the peach with a funny little grin, shifting to make room as I slumped down next to him. “I know you’re not big on living it up. Besides, the towels at the Ritz aren’t nearly as fluffy as you’d expect for the price tag.”

“What a shame.” I took another bite of my peach, chewing thoughtfully. “So, where are you staying while you’re here?”

To say that Emery’s grin put me immediately on edge would have been an understatement. “I was thinking this couch, actually.”

“You what?!” I bolted upright, smacking Emery when he dissolved immediately into poorly muffled snickers. “You want to stay here? Why?”

Emery’s expression went guileless. “I like your couch?”

I gave him a look. “Emery, you’re longer than my couch.”

I got a boneless shrug in response. “That’s okay. I’m versatile.” A pause. “Unless you don’t want me here?”

“What? No, I…” I scrambled to explain without explaining, pausing only once the mischief in his expression finally registered. “Emery,” I sighed. “We do have hotels in town.”

Another shrug. “I know. But I don’t really want to stay in a hotel at Christmas. I promise not to be a pain.”

“You’re never a pain, Emery.” I sighed again. “Okay, you can stay here as long as you like,” I told him, fighting not to grin as Emery threw both arms up in the air with a delighted whoop, “But I’ll take the couch. You can have the bed.”

Emery paused mid-jubilation. “What? No way I’m not turfing you out of your bed, Gale. I’m the guest,” he declared, before I could argue back. “Which means you have to do what I want.”

I folded my arms across my chest. “I’ve never heard that rule before.”

“That’s because you never entertain guests.” Emery mirrored my position, grinning with his eyes even as his mouth turned down at the edges. “And really, how do you expect to sleep on this couch? You’re way too wide for it.”

Now that was true. The first time he met me Emery told me I looked like a linebacker and I’ve only filled out since then. It’s amazing how many human conceptions of fairies are wrong.

“Fine,” I surrendered, for the second time in as many minutes. Emery seemed to have that effect on me. “Have the couch if you’re that keen on it. Just don’t come complaining to me when you can’t sit up straight in the morning.”

Emery grinned, happy as a little boy who’s just been told he can have a bowl of ice cream for dessert. I should know – I’ve put that look on a lot of faces over the years. “Great! So now that that’s settled, where are we going tonight?”

I blinked. “Huh?”

The look Emery turned on me was frighteningly indulgent. “Gale, I know you. There’s no way you’d have been planning to spend the evening at home if I wasn’t here to make you pretend not to be such a bleeding heart.”

“Hey,” I retorted. “I am not a–”

“Is it the hospital?” he interrupted.

I made a face at him. “You’re an ass.”

“Answer the question, Gale.”

I huffed. “No.”

“The seniors centre?”

“No.”

“The food bank?”

“…maybe.”

Emery’s smile was somewhere between exasperated and approving. “You’d make a saint look bad, you know that? Oh, do you mind if we stop so I can grab a quick bite on the way?” he added, already on his feet and striding across the carpet to pitch his peach pit into the composter. “I’ll go grocery shopping tomorrow but my agent’ll kill me if I have cake for dinner so I’m gonna need something to tide me over until then.” He flashed a charming grin over one shoulder. “Okay?”

I wondered absently why it felt so normal to have Emery trampling into my generally orderly life like a hyperactive puppy in a china shop. He seemed fairly pleased by the state of affairs though, so I let go of my vague reservations with a mental shrug. As long as he was happy, I didn’t really have much to complain about.

—-

It came as absolutely no surprise to me that Emery was popular with the people down at the food bank. Charming and kind and really devastatingly good looking, he had people smiling within three seconds of walking in the door and only got better as the night went by. When he started giving out autographs with the meals, the sheer amount of happy in the room was enough to make me dizzy. It took us twice as long as usual to get through the lines, but everyone was so pleased I couldn’t summon up even a token protest.

Emery himself was happy enough to be practically glowing and that, if nothing else, would have convinced me that letting him bully me into bringing him down had been a good idea. The pleasant buzz of granted wishes and unexpected smiles sang through my veins as we worked down the lines, with less than half the effort on my part as it would have taken otherwise.

Emery was still smiling when we staggered out into the crisp winter air several hours later, tired but accomplished. “That was great!” he declared, his boyish delight making him even more handsome. “What are we doing tomorrow?”

And so we settled into an odd sort of routine. Emery slept on my couch at night and stayed at my apartment while I went to work – doing domestic things and mostly lazing about as far as I could tell – then each night we ate dinner together and went out to one of my innumerable volunteer positions for a couple of hours.

Emery never complained about the workload, refusing to stay in even when I told him he could. I couldn’t really say I minded, truth be told; I liked Emery and it was nice to have someone around for once. I wasn’t used to having friends. It got too hard to keep secrets when people got that close and, aside from situations like Emery’s when the truth became impossible to hide, we didn’t really encourage letting mortals know about us. It was too dangerous. I was just lucky that Emery had turned out to be one of the rare sort of human who didn’t look on a wish-granting man-shaped entity as something to be exploited.

We got on well together. Emery was effortless to accommodate and I’ve never been the type to cause conflict. We talked about his career – the parts he’d liked playing best, the size of his apartment in California, the embarrassing things that’d happened to him at autograph sessions – and my day job (“Insurance?” Emery had demanded, up to his elbows in soapy water. “Why the hell do you work in insurance?” “Can you think of any people more in need of a nice day?” I’d shot back, flicking him with my dishtowel for good measure). Emery asked all the inevitable questions (Were there other types of fairies besides the wish-granting ones? How did I handle company dinners when I couldn’t eat anything but sugar? How much of a person’s emotions could I read?).

I answered most of his questions – ignoring the one about how much it took out of me to grant wishes, since I figured he’d never stop hovering if he thought it was hard work – and the uncomplicated interest with which he received the responses never failed to light a quiet warmth inside me. I suspected that had more to do with the fact that it was Emery asking the questions than any burning desire to share information I’d always assumed no one else would ever need or want to know.

Christmas drew inexorably closer, and Emery grew increasingly adept at avoiding the question of how long he was staying. Eventually I stopped asking. It was terribly selfish of me, but if Emery was happy where he was, that was good enough for me. Everything was more than I’d ever asked for, in a decidedly good way, except for one thing.

Emery had a wish.

Now, normally I’m pretty good with wishes. Part of the job description you know. And being as it was Emery, I was decently keen to see if it was something I could help with. But it wasn’t that easy. Wrapped and doubled back on itself with bands of hope, the wish was drawn so close to Emery’s heart that I wasn’t sure even he knew how to face it. And it wasn’t a tangible wish, in the ‘I want a pony’ or ‘I wish I were an actor’ way, but all tangled up in emotions and vague impressions that even I was hard-pressed to pick apart.

It was getting to him too, which was the worst part. Oh, I could still feel his happiness, a shining thread of that quiet contentment that makes people think of a winter night drowsing in front of the fireplace with something warm and sleepy in your lap and a cup of tea on hand, but his wish hung like a shadow over it regardless, making the fire burn too low and the snow beyond the window seem less classically white than it should have been. I didn’t know how to fix that, not when I couldn’t even tell what was wrong.

And that was heartrending.

“Hey, Gale,” Emery said one evening, only a few days before Christmas. We’d spent several hours at the orphanage playing with the children. Which usually never failed to put Emery in a good mood, but instead Emery had been strangely silent on the trip back. He was sitting on the couch, staring at his hands as though he were trying to see straight through to the bones inside. “Do you ever do anything that makes you happy?”

I blinked, setting aside the knife I’d been using to cut a piece of pie. “All the time,” I said. “It makes me happy to make other people happy.”

Emery didn’t appear comforted by this. “But you don’t ever do anything for yourself?” he pressed.

My brow creased in a frown. “I don’t need to,” I told him slowly, making my way across the floor to join him on the couch. Emery made space without a word.

“It’s never just about me,” I told him gently. “I’m a wish fairy – I exist to make people happy. I’m not… really able to be selfish the way you’re thinking; that’s not how we work. Making people’s wishes come true, spreading smiles, feeling their emotions dance – that’s what makes a fairy’s life worth living.” I shrugged, a little sheepish. “My emotions aren’t really my own, most of the time.”

Emery’s jaw worked and I wondered what he was thinking. “But that’s not fair,” he said finally, small and lost.

“Emery?” I asked, laying a careful hand on his slumped shoulder. “What’s wrong, Emery?”

“You deserve more than that,” Emery declared staunchly, rounding on me with a bright core of shining resolve gleaming in his heart. His eyes were fever bright. “You’re amazing and selfless and you deserve to have something that makes you happy, not just the second-hand feelings of other people you don’t even know.”

I had about a half-second premonition of where this was going and then Emery was kissing me, mouth was slanting across mine with such sweetness and need that I nearly melted through the floor.

“Mmph!” I managed, my hands fisting reflexively in the front of Emery’s shirt even as his cupped my face in a frighteningly gentle caress.

Emery pulled back and I gasped, blinking into a raw, open earnestness that arrowed straight into that unanswered wish lurking in his heart.

“Gale,” he said, hands searingly hot against my skin. “I love you. I’ve been in love with you ever since the first time I saw you smile and I want nothing more in the world than the chance to make you happy however you’ll let me.”

I goggled. “I…”

Emery shushed me with a quick press of his lips against mine. “Even if nothing ever changes between us, I’m just glad to be around you,” he told me firmly. “You’ll always make me happy.” He took a deep, shaky breath, the smile he flicked my way more nervous than I’d known Emery could be. “But if there’s ever anything you want from me, anything at all, I just want you to know that I’m more than willing to give it.”

I gaped at him like a moron, sure that I couldn’t be the answer to anybody’s wish, no matter the reason. I wasn’t supposed to need happiness for myself, and I certainly wasn’t supposed to be someone else’s.

When I didn’t answer, Emery’s expression blanked, need melting behind the polite, public mask he had to wear far too often as it was.

“Right,” he said after a long, awkward stalemate, the brittle edge to his voice making it more than clear that it wasn’t. He shifted uneasily. “I’ll just…”

My hands were still tangled in his shirt, I realized as Emery tried with a considerable lack of success to extricate himself from the couch. And I didn’t want him to go, I realized, more certain of anything than I’d been since he’d arrived. I tightened my grip. I’d never get the courage to do this myself and Emery wouldn’t offer a second time.

“Wait, Emery…” Inspiration dried up in my throat and I floundered, fighting for the words to fix this before I destroyed it. “Don’t, it’s not…”

Emery blinked at me, something hopeful and soft in his eyes. “Gale?”

“I like making you happy,” I told him baldly. “I like being around you when you’re happy. I like knowing that every moment we’re together gives me another chance to do something that’ll make you happy.” I caught his gaze and held it, trying to put every ounce of sincerity I had into these words. “I can’t promise to think only of you, not when there are so many people in the world who need my help to find their wishes, but I can promise to think of you first.” I swallowed hard and spoke a last truth. “I already do.”

It was Emery’s turn to draw a shaky breath, his emotions flaring wildly as he fought to get them under control. “So,” he said, voice cracking just a little on the word. “If I want to make you happy and you making me happy makes you happy…”

“Then I guess we’re going to have to work together,” I agreed, smiling tentatively as I uncurled my fingers and slid my palms up and over broad shoulders, curling them at the nape of Emery’s neck. My head tilted without asking me about it first. “Kiss me?”

A groan that was almost equal parts frustration and desire tore itself free of Emery’s chest and I found myself immediately swept up into Emery’s embrace, the light drape of my arms becoming a frantic twine about his neck as Emery kissed me without holding anything back this time and all rational thought went the way of the Dodo.

Kissing wasn’t something I’d had too much experience with in the past, but I could tell that Emery was pretty darn good at it. I whimpered as he coaxed my lips open, his skillful tongue darting in to explore with a thoroughness that quite literally took my breath away.

“Ngh,” I gasped, squirming as his hands left my face and trailed, slow, down my sides, lingering in all the places that made my breath catch.

Emery was chanting my name, whispering it against my skin like one of the binding spells that had fallen into distant memory along with the Celtic druids. “God,” he breathed raggedly, mouth twisting to map down my neck. “I’ve wanted to do this for years.” His fingers slipped beneath the waistband of my jeans, teasing the skin there. “You feel so good, Gale.”

I moaned, finding the room suddenly bereft of oxygen. “Emery.” My hands fisted instinctively in his hair and I pressed in close, feeling the unassuming strength etched into the clean lines of his body. My head was spinning with the pleasure coursing through my veins and the heady flavour of Emery’s happiness. I didn’t think I’d ever felt something so joyful before.

“Gale.” He bit lightly at the juncture of my neck and I arched into the contact, offering no resistance as his hands tugged at my belt and peeled me carefully out of my jeans.

“Oh,” Emery breathed, a shaky sort of sound that was mirrored by the careful skirt of his fingertips along the length of my erection. “That’s much less complicated than I’d expected.”

I couldn’t help a laugh, my breath stuttering in the middle. Spirits, his hands were clever. “Don’t you think I would’ve warned you if I didn’t look human all over?”

“Mmm,” Emery hummed, his silver rings a shocking contrast to the heat of his fingers as he wrapped them around me. He glanced up from his task to fix me with a giddy smile. “I wouldn’t have minded either way, you know. But now,” the heat in his eyes made my heart beat double time. “At least I know you’ll like this.”

“Wha-aah,” I groaned, the word dissolving on my tongue as Emery shifted, kneeling between my carelessly spread thighs to swallow me down. I keened, fingers clamping tight in his hair, hardly able to process the feel of slick, soft heat, of Emery all around me.

“Ss-shit,” I groaned, eyelids fluttering despite my every intention to watch. Emery looked amazing, hungry and gorgeous with his cheeks hollowed around the weight of my cock and his big hands wrapped around my hips. I could see the outline of his erection straining against the front of his trousers, twitching in time with the enthusiastic bob of his head.

Then Emery did something with his tongue that tore a throttled cry from my throat and I couldn’t help the instinctive buck of my hips into that incredible heat.

Emery groaned a wordless encouragement, happiness redoubling as he lashed his tongue along the length of my cock, chipping away at my control until I was practically fucking his mouth.

“E-emery,” I managed eventually, patting awkwardly at his head. “I’m…”

Emery’s eyes grinned at me, avid and delighted and I surrendered with a ragged groan, spilling into his mouth and drinking in Emery’s fierce pleasure as he swallowed it down. I collapsed back down to the couch, the frantic clench of my fingers turning into a languid caress through his sweat-slicked hair that made Emery purr.

“You,” I gasped, rough and low, and Emery’s eyes practically glowed. “You didn’t…”

“That’s okay,” Emery said, draping himself across me and getting smears of come all over his shirt. His erection pressed against my thigh, though he seemed in no particular hurry to attend to it. “I’m still happy.”

“I know,” I told him, feeling remarkably blissful about the whole thing.

“Of course,” he added, with a leisurely drag of his tongue along my collarbone that made my breath stutter again. “If you think we could both be happier somehow, I’m open to suggestions.”

I thought about having Emery buried inside me while he loomed over me, happy and hungry and just for me.

“Bed,” I decided, pushing at Emery’s shoulder until he gave ground with a laugh. He reeled me in for another kiss as I staggered, sticky and still mostly dressed, to my feet. I met him happily, sure that the fact that I didn’t think I’d ever be willing to give up Emery was bad planning on my part.

But it’ll be okay for me to be selfish just this once.

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