by A.S. Mara
“So are you coming or what?”
“I’ll pass,” Qamar said, and grimaced at the exaggerated gasp that followed his answer.
“Bro. You’re passing up on free food?”
“It’s a buffet, man. What the hell.”
“Who are you? What have you done to the glutton we know and love?”
“I’ve got other plans,” he said, avoiding eye contact as he began packing up his things.
“What plans? This buffet’s been on the calendar for over a month!”
“And I’ve been saying for over a month that I wouldn’t be able to make it,” he answered.
“This is the first time I’m hearing about it.”
“Let it go, guys,” Aisya cut in. “It’s a full moon tonight. You’re not winning this one.”
There was a moment of silence as understanding dawned on the whole office. Qamar was simultaneously grateful for the interruption and irritated, knowing what would come next.
“Right. Full moon.”
“Special night,” someone else chimed in.
“So are you ever gonna tell us what you do every month or–“
“He’s a werewolf,” Aisya drawled. His saviour was standing by the door, bag slung over one shoulder, keys in hand. “Come on, guys, we’ve been through this a thousand times.”
“But he’s never actually said–“
“Now are you lot going to get moving or have you found some other way to get to the buffet? Because I’m leaving now.”
“Aww, come on, we were just–“
“Gone,” she said, and strode out the door.
Cursing, half the crowd rushed to follow, leaving the rest of them laughing at their expense. Thankfully, nobody else brought up the issue, and Qamar seized the opportunity to leave without further incident. He managed to get away with only one last sly, knowing “Have a great night” following after him, so he decided to count it as a win.
Leaving the building brought on a wave of fresh air. Qamar enjoyed it for about ten seconds, before the city smoke clogged up his senses, the noise of traffic and loud music flooding his ears. He sighed, adjusting the strap of his bag and glancing up at the evening sky. It was cloudy tonight, but he knew it was out there: this month’s full moon.
The trek home was the same as ever. He waited five minutes for the bus, then another fifteen because it was running late, as usual. When it finally arrived, he squeezed on, then off, and then into the monorail, just in time for rush hour. He navigated himself into a corner and dug out his phone, shooting off a quick “thank you” to Aisya for her help earlier. That done, he stuck his phone back into his pocket and braced himself for the long ride home.
By the time Qamar reached his apartment, night had properly settled in, but the clouds were still dithering around, blanketing the sky. He locked the front door, kicked his shoes off to one side, and checked his phone again; Aisya had sent him several pictures of their colleagues, followed by mouthwatering shots of barbecued ribs and grilled salmon. Qamar’s stomach churned with resigned envy.
No prob, Aisya had replied.
And, in a text after that, You could just tell us, you know. Be easier.
Qamar sighed, and dropped his phone off by the couch. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on; it was that nobody would believe him anyway.
It had started from a bedtime story, one about the dangers of the dark and the spirits that protected against it.
“What kind of spirits?” ten-year-old Qamar had asked.
“Well,” his grandmother had said, pretending to think, “let’s call them moon spirits.”
“Yes. You see, the moon is always watching,” she had told him. “If you’re ever feeling sad, light a candle in her name. If you do it during a full moon, she’ll send you a friend.”
“What kind of friend?”
Here, his grandmother had smiled, eyes soft and gaze warm, like she had just shared a life-long secret with him. “One of her guardians. Someone to keep you company.”
Qamar had done just that, all those years ago, when he was young and believed in spirits from another dimension. He had continued lighting the candles well into his teenage years, kept it up through college then university, when it had felt like the world was dead set on kicking him down. And then, over a year ago, on the night of his grandmother’s funeral, he had watched the lonely flame through his tears, felt the crushing pain in his chest threaten to swallow him whole.
It shouldn’t have been different from any other night, except.
It had, because that night, Qamar had looked up to the night sky, beheld the full moon in all its glory and felt it watching him. And when he had turned around, it had been to the sight of a stranger in his home, reaching out to him.
Now, Qamar fetched another candle from the kitchen, lighting it and tucking it into the stand he had set up by the window. As he straightened, a flash of white caught his attention. He looked outside and saw the moon, hanging bright and full in the sky.
Qamar sent up a little wave and turned away.
Usually, Qamar spent the evening slowly letting go of the day’s worries, detaching a little more from work with each step in his routine. By 7pm, he would finish catching up with his Twitter and get started on dinner. A quick movie to keep him company while he ate, then shower, leaving him with about an hour before bed to read a little or (attempt to) work through his backlog of video games. It was an important routine, a slow, winding down of his thoughts in preparation for a good night’s sleep.
Tonight, however, relaxing was impossible. By the time he stepped out of the shower, his heart was already pounding hard in his chest. On the one hand, he was excited, had been anticipating tonight for the last four weeks. On the other hand, though…
Qamar shook his head insistently. There was little point in imagining the worst possible scenario, not at this point anyway. Instead, he toweled his hair dry, and put on his comfort shorts and t-shirt. Then there was no reason to delay it any longer; Qamar opened his bedroom door and went back to the living area.
There was a familiar figure by the window, crouched by the small flickering flame of the candle Qamar had lit earlier. His skin was dark, his hair as black as the night sky, and when he turned, Qamar saw eyes the shade of moonlight.
Relief flooded him, followed by sweet, sweet joy. “Hasta,” he whispered.
Hasta turned to him and smiled. “It’s been a while.”
Qamar didn’t wait for another invitation. He strode past the remaining distance between them, meeting Hasta halfway as they embraced.
“Qamar,” he murmured. “It’s been so long.”
“Only been a month,” Qamar tried to joke, but the humour sounded flat even to his own ears. He tightened his grip around Hasta’s waist, pulling him closer. Burying his face against Hasta’s neck, Qamar breathed in the familiar scent, one that was uniquely Hasta’s. It made him think of wide open fields, a place that was peaceful. Safe. Hasta sighed against him, and made no attempt to pull away.
After a moment, Qamar cleared his throat, tried again for some levity. “Do you want anything to drink?”
“No,” Hasta said, chuckling a little. “No, thank you. I just want you.”
Qamar felt heat spread over his face. “Well, you have me,” he replied, feeling a little helpless for it.
Here, Hasta leaned back, cupping Qamar’s face in his hands.
Hasta kissed him intently, holding him close and pressing long, sweet kisses to his mouth. Qamar shuddered, sliding his hands over Hasta’s back, tracing the line of his spine until Hasta made a soft, vulnerable noise against him.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Hasta whispered.
“Missed you too.” Qamar nuzzled his neck, pressed his mouth against the pulse beating there, before reaching up to capture Hasta’s lips once more.
In the end, it was Hasta who pulled away first. He scooped up the candle holder in one hand, caught Qamar’s fingers with the other. Hasta led them both to bed, navigating Qamar’s home as easily as if he had never left, as if time and the night sky hadn’t stretched the distance between them with weeks and weeks of silence.
Hasta placed the candle down on the bedside table, careful of the flickering flame. Qamar strode over to the window, tugging the curtains aside for the moonlight to filter in. When he turned around, Hasta was watching him with a small smile, his skin glowing pale in the dark.
“Come here,” Hasta said.
They stood by the bed, sharing passionate, open-mouthed kisses. Qamar coaxed him down onto the bed until he had Hasta sprawled under him, more real and solid than any of Qamar’s nighttime fantasies. Sliding one hand through Hasta’s mess of dark curls, Qamar cradled his head as he sucked on the skin beneath Hasta’s jaw. It made Hasta shiver underneath him, even as his hands swept up and down Qamar’s back in long, heavy caresses. When Qamar dipped lower, mouthing over the jut of his collarbone, Hasta gasped.
“Enough teasing,” Hasta declared, and before Qamar could protest–really, he was just getting started–dragged him up for another kiss, crushing their mouths together. His hand slipped past the waistband of Qamar’s shorts, his touch bold on Qamar’s cock. It had Qamar gasping, hips bucking for more, and Hasta obliged.
Even here, Hasta wasted no time, rubbing his palm over Qamar’s cock in long heavy strokes, coaxing him into full stiffness, until Qamar could no longer bear it. He sat back, meaning to take off his shorts, but Hasta followed him, hands on his hips, pale eyes burning bright in the dark.
Hasta licked his lips. “May I?”
“Yeah,” Qamar croaked, his mouth going dry. “Whatever you want.”
“Whatever I want,” Hasta echoed, smiling. “I want you in my mouth.”
Qamar laughed, breathless. “Then go for it,” he answered, running his hands through Hasta’s soft hair, loving the way it felt in his hands.
Hasta grinned at him, a flash of white teeth in the dark, and then he bent close and mouthed at Qamar’s cock.
Qamar gasped, let his head drop back as his world narrowed down to the sensation of Hasta’s mouth on him–heat soaking through the fabric of his thin shorts, and Hasta’s clever tongue flicking against his cock. Qamar tried to keep his hips still, gritting his teeth against the urge to move.
Fingers brushed his cheek, and Qamar opened his eyes to the sight of Hasta gazing up at him–saw Hasta pull back slightly, his other hand tugging Qamar’s shorts down just enough for his cock to spring free. Qamar held his breath in anticipation; Hasta held his gaze as he opened his mouth and took in Qamar’s cock.
Sweet, delicious heat overwhelmed him, and Qamar groaned. The grip on his chin fell to his cock, the touch searing hot, like a brand on his body. Qamar kept his eyes where Hasta wanted them, watched with hungry eyes as Hasta worked his mouth.
Hasta had only taken in the tip of him, but even that was more than Qamar had known in so long–and he’d missed this: the intimacy of Hasta’s mouth on him, working him in a way only Hasta was allowed to know. Qamar could feel the firm press of Hasta’s tongue, first flicking against the tip of his cock, and then pressing firm against the underside of his cock. When Hasta began bobbing his head, Qamar dropped his hands to Hasta’s shoulders, bracing himself.
True to his word, Hasta sucked him off fast, twisting his grip on the base of Qamar’s cock in a hard, relentless rhythm. The fingers of his other hand were digging into Qamar’s hips, a sharp, pleasant pain that only helped Qamar direct his focus down, where it belonged: Hasta’s mouth wrapped around his cock, pale eyes brimming with intent, the faintest of a flush on his dark skin.
When Hasta took him in deep and swallowed, Qamar came with a desperate shout, his whole body shuddering. It felt like he was coming apart from the inside, unraveling in Hasta’s attention–but Hasta held him through it. When Qamar was shaking through the aftershocks, gasping for breath, Hasta pulled off and wrapped his arms around Qamar, pressed his cheek against Qamar’s thigh.
When Qamar managed to slow his pounding heart, he nudged Hasta back onto the bed, kissed him soundly on the mouth and licking up the taste of himself.
“Still good?” Hasta asked, sounding breathless, his voice raspy.
“Better than I’ve felt all month,” he answered, felt the truth of those words seep deep in his bones.
That only made Hasta beam at him, delighted. He cupped Qamar’s cheek in one hand, brushed his thumb just beneath Qamar’s eye. “I’m glad,” he said, as Qamar leaned into the touch.
“Time for me to make it up to you,” Qamar said, turning his head to plant a kiss on Hasta’s palm, grinning at the pleased gasp it elicited.
“No rush,” Hasta laughed. “We have all night.”
“All night,” Qamar agreed and bent close once more.
Qamar woke again while it was still dark out. He stood up and went over to where Hasta stood by the window, wrapping his arms around Hasta’s waist. Hasta slipped cold palms over his fingers and leaned his weight back into Qamar. Neither of them said anything, merely stood there, watching as light crept into the sky, the first hints of the incoming dawn.
“We’ll see each other again soon,” Qamar said eventually, a reassurance for the both of them. “It’ll be okay.”
“Yeah,” Hasta replied, quiet. After a moment, he turned around in Qamar’s arms, facing him straight on and cupping his jaw. “Will you wait for me? Again?”
“Of course,” Qamar said. “Always.”
Hasta gave him a forlorn look. “Even if it means waiting another month?”
“Even then.” Qamar raised Hasta’s hand to his lips, pressed a kiss to his fingers. “As long as we get to see each other again.”
“Okay,” Hasta said, leaning forward to gently bump their foreheads together. Suddenly, he grinned, a slow, teasing curve to his lips. “‘As long as we get to see each other,’ huh? Do you use that line on all your sweethearts?”
“Only the special ones,” Qamar replied with a wink, chuckling at the way Hasta’s expression lit up with delight. “I’ll be here. Promise.”
“In that case,” Hasta said, leaning in, “I think it’s time to seal the promise.”
A soft peck against the corner of his mouth, and Qamar laughed again, felt Hasta’s answering grin against his cheek. He turned his head to slot their mouths together once more, one last kiss before daybreak.
“Take care,” Hasta murmured. When Qamar opened his eyes, he saw that Hasta was already fading, his skin growing translucent against the rising sun.
“You too,” Qamar said, then added, “don’t get lost on your way up.”
Hasta laughed, a bright, joyous sound that rang in the room long after he disappeared from Qamar’s sight. Qamar held on to the memory of it, smiling to himself. “One more month,” he said, and got ready for work.