Fall faded into winter, though Kaon barely had one. It was only a month of true frigid air in the heart of the season with frequent snowfalls blanketing the land in white. If he and Drift went for a flight, it was rarely. They much preferred to stay indoors. There was always plenty to do, alone and together.
Though Perceptor would admit he preferred the latter.
Perceptor was used to being indoors, considering his labwork. He didn’t feel trapped. Drift was a little more antsy and had taken to pacing the corridors when he felt the need to move.
But Drift loved cuddling or snuggling, and Perceptor enjoyed it as well. Sleeping in together became a must. Waking Drift with nuzzles and teasing kisses was less of a rare treat and more of an everyday delight.
Perceptor no longer needed the weight of a sheepskin blanket to soothe his rest, he had the warmth of another harpy body next to his. Drift smelled so sweet, was soft and giving, and he surrendered to pleasure as though no one had ever given him any.
Perceptor had never enjoyed dedicating his attention to another so much. Every little thing seemed to make Drift twitch and sigh. He squirmed when Perceptor kissed him, licked his throat, swept his palms over Drift’s body. He was sweet and tangy when Perceptor applied his mouth.
He’d never taken so much joy in delaying the inevitable. He would fully rut with Drift eventually, but there was no hurry. This slow and steady exploration was pleasure itself.
Perceptor had never known that simply being in someone’s presence was enough to make him feel content. He hadn’t realized how much he could enjoy sharing his space with another. Not until he met Drift.
And Drift was so enthusiastic! He was eager to learn, eager to listen. And while he had little scientific aptitude to seek it out on his own, he loved to read, listen to lectures, and had even sat through Perceptor’s many, many theories and hypotheses without so much as a yawn. Perhaps he didn’t understand them, but he listened intently and asked questions sometimes, to prove he’d been paying attention.
They spent hours making plans, consulting Dr. Jessica as often as they could, figuring out means to reach out to nearby aeries, though subtly. It was impolite to poach, so to speak, from other flocks. But if they left on their own, it was quite acceptable. Drift and Perceptor didn’t intend to directly recruit, but put the word out that there was acceptance in Kaon, if anyone sought it.
Dr. Jessica had a few contacts in other aeries – like Perceptor had been a decade ago – and she agreed to pass on the messages. She’d also spoken with the local governing body on their behalf, who agreed that their eventual residency of the protected forest fell within acceptable use policies. More legal measures would have to be taken later, but with a flock of only two, it could be set aside for now.
Perceptor drew up plans, with Drift’s input, of what modifications could be made to the great tree. He designed rooms and walkways, an open ceiling, a lattice of canopy to protect them. He added balconies and gathering areas, and he made a mental note to show Drift the nearby hot springs. They, too, could be incorporated into the aerie, whenever it came to be.
Excitement grew within Perceptor, like a tiny seed which had finally found the proper soil and bathed in the best sunlight. He hadn’t realized how much he longed for home until Drift’s arrival, and now that there was the slimmest chance to have a flock of their own, he desperately wanted it.
Drift had quite the artistic talent as well. He helped Perceptor modify the plans, adding an artistic flair to areas Perceptor’s good sense had only thought of function.
“A home should be comfortable as well as functional,” Drift had teased as he bumped Perceptor with a shoulder. “We want to invite others, not make it seem like they’ve only found another prison.”
Perceptor had rolled his optics at the tease, but obediently added the decorative trellises to his blueprint. They suited each other well, he and Drift, and with every passing day, that truth became more apparent.
A tiny flicker of hope started to grow. He believed, with all his core, that others would come. His life of loneliness would vanish, eased first by the spark of his core, and then by others. They’d have an aerie, a flock, a family.
One week before the winter solstice, Perceptor took Drift up into the conservatory. They carried an armful of blankets and a woven basket full of drinks and snacks. Tonight would be a very special, if rare, treat.
They built a warm pallet out of the blankets and curled together on the floor, staring up through the windowed dome at a night sky blessedly clear of clouds with nothing to hamper their view. Perceptor lit about a dozen tealight candles to chase away the shadows of the darkened conservatory without the brightness of the overhead lights.
“What are we here for again?” Drift leaned back against Perceptor’s chest, his head tucked under Perceptor’s chin. He noisily munched on a bowl of trail mix, occasionally offering a few candied walnuts to Perceptor’s lips.
Drift guarded the candied nuts ferociously. They were his favorite.
Perceptor chuckled and rubbed his cheek over Drift’s crest. “The Vector Crossing. It’s a meteor shower, and we’re lucky the planet’s rotation allows us a prime view this year.”
“Right.” Drift crunched on a handful of peanuts. Getting him to share would be the real challenge. “Why’s it called the Vector Crossing?”
“It’s based on an old fairytale. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, the one concerning Emperor Vector?” He rubbed a hand along Drift’s side, talons carding through the thinner feathers.
Drift squirmed, his rump cradled against Perceptor’s groin, tail twitching. “Wasn’t he a human?”
“Indeed he was.” Perceptor leaned into the hill of blankets that served as a back rest. His other hand rested on Drift’s belly, softly stroking his featherdown, a slow heat stirring within him. He focused on the story as a distraction.
“Vector ruled over the southern hemisphere, over much of what we know today as Praxus and the surrounding city-states. He was a brilliant physicist, not unlike myself, and he was fascinated with magic.”
Drift scoffed. “Magic doesn’t exist.” He offered a walnut to Perceptor’s lips. How generous of him to share.
“I believe it does.” Perceptor accepted the offer with a little lick to Drift’s fingertip. “It simply doesn’t exist in a state that can be recognized or measured.”
“What?” Perceptor asked with a stroke to Drift’s belly.
“Nothing.” Drift set the bag of trail mix aside – empty, the little glutton – and grabbed the two wine glasses Perceptor had brought instead. “It’s just cute, someone all scientific like you believing in something as insubstantial as magic.”
Perceptor pinched his belly.
Drift squirmed and laughed. “You’re going to make me spill!” he said as he uncorked the bottle. It splashed into the wine glasses without losing a drop, contrary to his warning.
“Do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?” Perceptor asked, lips curving into a smile.
“I do.” Drift sipped at his wine and offered the other glass to Perceptor. “What’s Vector have to do with the meteors?”
Perceptor tasted the wine, found it red and sweet, a perfect choice. Though, of course, not as sweet as his companion.
“Vector spent years searching for the source of magic, for proof it existed. He traveled far and wide, climbed mountains, dove into oceans, dug deep into the earth, and followed the most obscure of clues.” He paused for dramatic effect, the hand on Drift’s belly wandering a bit further down his abdomen. “What he found, we’ll never know. One day, he disappeared while on an excavation in the core of Tetrahex. Some say, he vanished in a pillar of fire.”
Drift made a noncommittal noise and shifted Perceptor’s hand a bit lower, so that it lingered just above the heat of his antrum. “And?”
“And the meteor showers showed up the very next year, on the anniversary of Vector’s disappearance,” Perceptor continued. He nuzzled the back of Drift’s head. “Be careful what you wish for, the stories cautioned, else you’ll become your obsession.”
Drift snorted. “So people think Vector became the meteor showers and the meteor showers are magic?”
“It is, after all, a fairy tale.” Perceptor drained his glass and set it aside. He cupped Drift’s face with his free hand, tilting it up to meet his. He brushed their noses together. “They don’t have to make sense.”
“Be better if it did,” Drift murmured.
Perceptor chuckled and pressed a kiss to the tip of his nose before he tilted Drift’s chin up. “Look,” he said, lifting his own gaze. “It’s started.”
Drift settled back against his chest, obediently tipping his head back as the first meteors streaked overhead. There and back again, quick as a flash.
“Wow,” Drift breathed. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Tesaurus was almost always cloudy, you know.”
“It is in a rain shadow, so I am not surprised,” Perceptor murmured. He tilted his head against Drift’s, soaking in the weight of his partner, the warmth of him, the tangy sweet scent which always seemed to easily intoxicate Perceptor.
He wrapped both arms around Drift, one still stroking inches from Drift’s antrum, the other petting the nearest white thigh. Drift was warm against him, getting hotter, and the scent of his arousal filled Perceptor’s nose. Candles flickered as the heating system kicked on, filling the chilly air with a lukewarm breeze and the scent of paraffin and imitation vanilla.
They weren’t anywhere close to as intoxicating as Drift however.
Perceptor nuzzled the back of Drift’s head. He glanced up at the show, every now and again, but his hands were far more interested in Drift’s body. The scent of slick was stronger, and Drift’s thighs had started to part, pushing against the sides of Perceptor’s legs. He rolled his hips, nudging Perceptor’s fingers close, until they barely brushed over the swollen nub of his clit.
Drift made a low noise in his throat, close to a whimper. His hands clutched at Perceptor’s thighs, bracing himself to grind into the cradle of Perceptor’s body. He arched his back, craning his neck.
Drift’s mouth turned hot against the side of Perceptor’s throat. His glossa followed, wet and agile. Perceptor shivered, tightening his embrace, shifting beneath Drift. He was trying very hard to focus on the shower, but he swore Drift’s scent made him dizzy.
“You’re supposed to be watching the meteors,” Perceptor reminded him with a little pinch to Drift’s thigh. He inhaled, dragging in the delicious scent of Drift’s arousal.
Drift chuckled deep in his throat, thick with heat. “How can I when you’ve spent the better part of the evening teasing me?”
“I have not,” Perceptor retorted.
Drift’s hips rose, pushing into Perceptor’s touch. “Oh? What else do you call your fingers inches from where they can do some real good?”
He grabbed Perceptor’s hand around the wrist and pushed it down, until he cupped the entirety of Drift’s featherdown. His nub throbbed hotly against the heel of Perceptor’s hand.
Drift purred and rocked up against Perceptor’s hand, the damp of his folds slicking Perceptor’s palm.
“That’s better,” he said.
“Hedonist,” Perceptor whispered. He captured an ear with his teeth, applying a light pressure.
Drift shivered. He pressed back against Perceptor’s chest, hands sliding up Perceptor’s thighs, talons pricking at his skin. “You started it,” he panted.
Perceptor nuzzled him. “Yes, I did.” He rubbed the pad of his fingers over Drift’s antrum, wetting them in the slick. Drift’s nub pulsed beneath his palm, and he gave it a firm rub.
Drift moaned, thighs spreading wider. “More,” he breathed.
Perceptor swallowed thickly, his core thumping faster. He circled the heel of his palm, and let the pads of his fingers caress Drift’s antrum, dipping carefully into the wet center. Slick immediately spilled sticky-sweet over his fingers, and Drift rippled around him.
“Oh, Percy, please,” Drift pleaded, talons clamping on Perceptor’s thighs, digging in hard enough to make Perceptor wince. He panted, and the hot nudge of his thickening clava pressed to the underside of Perceptor’s arm.
Perceptor groaned and mouthed the side of Drift’s neck. He felt each moan vibrate against his lips. He tasted the quick beat of Drift’s core. He drowned in the scent of his lover’s need.
He curled his free hand around Drift’s nearest leg, pulling it up and over, until it was draped over Perceptor’s own leg, opening him up further. Drift keened and pushed up against his hand, both of them now. Perceptor rubbed one palm over Drift’s clava and the other circled his throbbing nub.
Candles flickered in the edge of his vision, but the rest of his focus was for the hot, squirming mess in his lap. Drift panted audibly, faster and faster. He squirmed, writhing in Perceptor’s lap, tarsals digging into the blankets, his hips pumping up against Perceptor’s hands.
Arousal stabbed hot and hard through Perceptor’s veins. He groaned, his clava emerging in short order, the hot tip grinding against Drift’s rump, sensation magnified by the glossy slide of his feathers. His length pulsed, pre-fluid no doubt sticky against Drift’s rump, the urge to grab Drift’s thighs and rut against him almost overwhelming.
He refrained. He had other ideas.
Perceptor buried his face against Drift’s throat, inhaled his scent, his teeth and tongue nipping at Drift’s neck.
“Let go,” he murmured as Drift soaked Perceptor’s fingers, and his clava grew rigid in Perceptor’s hold, slick beading at the tip. “Come for me, sweet pea.”
And Drift did.
Head tossing back, spine arching, feathers fluttering in a wave. His hands dug into Perceptor’s thighs, sharp enough to draw blood, hips pumping into Perceptor’s hands. His clava throbbed, but didn’t spill, and the flutter of his antrum against Perceptor’s fingers was the testament to his release.
By Adaptus he was beautiful.
Drift sagged in his arms, panting. Perceptor gently grabbed his chin with lubricant damp fingers and tilted Drift’s mouth toward his, stealing his lips for a kiss. Drift ate at his mouth, teeth scraping Perceptor’s lips, his breathing hot and humid.
“We’re alone, right?” he said against Perceptor’s mouth, his voice raspy, his antrum still pulsing wet and hot against Perceptor’s palm.
Perceptor hummed in his throat. He stroked down the side of Drift’s throat. “Yes, of course.”
“And you locked the door?”
“Yes,” Perceptor replied with a gentle caress to Drift’s dripping center.
“Good,” Drift purred and abruptly surged in Perceptor’s arms, disentangling himself as he rolled over and straddled Perceptor’s hips.
His eyes were bright, his lips wet from their kissing. His clava bobbed proudly at the apex of his thighs, and he hovered over Perceptor’s clava, the heat of him achingly close.
“I want you inside me,” Drift said as he rocked his hips, gliding his wetness over Perceptor’s length, teasing him. “Now.”
Perceptor shivered, his palms gentle as they slid from Drift’s thighs to his knees and back again. “Is that so?” He kept his tone light, despite the need throbbing through his veins.
Drift nibbled on his bottom lip. He leaned forward, hands braced on either side of Perceptor’s hips, Perceptor’s clava framed by the vee of his thighs.
“Not that I’m not enjoying our slow and steady pace,” Drift said with a little breathy sound. “But I think we can take it to the next level, don’t you?”
Perceptor cupped Drift’s hips and rolled upward, the head of his clava briefly tasting Drift’s slick. “I am your servant.” Anticipation coiling like a hot coal inside his belly.
“You always know the perfect thing to say.” Heat flashed bright and hungry in Drift’s eyes.
Drift shifted his weight and guided Perceptor to the core of him. He rocked down, taking the head of Perceptor’s clava inside of him. Perceptor’s eyelids fluttered, wet heat enveloping the sensitive crown, before Drift sank a bit further, swallowing half of his length in one roll of his hips.
Drift’s hands buried in the blankets to either side of Perceptor. He groaned low in his throat, head hanging. He licked his lips, and it took all Perceptor had not to pull Drift the rest of the way. He trembled from need, but held back.
This would go at Drift’s pace or not at all. Drift was no untouched, this was neither of their first time, but there was no rush either.
None at all.
They had time aplenty to savor, and Perceptor wanted to memorize everything. The slow dance of Drift’s hips, the inch by inch sink, the way Drift’s face glazed over with pleasure, the flash and burn of the meteors lighting the sky behind him, the flicker of candlelight over Drift’s feathers, painting him in shadows and light.
He was beautiful.
Perceptor stroked him, up his sides, down his hips, over and around his rump. He trembled, clava throbbing, and moaned as Drift swallowed him another precious inch. His head tipped back, sucking his lips through his teeth, pleasure surging through his veins like a flash fire.
“Drift,” he moaned. “Please.”
As if waiting for him to beg, Drift’s entire body gave a shudder. His legs secured around Perceptor’s hips, and he sank down fully, their groins notched together.
White light danced behind Perceptor’s eyes. He clutched to Drift’s hips, clava throbbing, hips rocking upward in tiny bursts as the hot clamps of Drift’s antrum rippled around him. Drift ground down, little circles of his hips, stirring Perceptor inside of him. He gasped through his mouth, body drawn taut with visible pleasure.
Drift tilted forward, his mouth crashing over Perceptor’s. His palms smacked to either side of Perceptor’s shoulders and knocked over the wine glasses. They chimed as they struck the metal floor, but did not break.
He exhaled hot over Perceptor’s lips, the change in position adjusting the angle of Perceptor within him. His hips stuttered, losing rhythm, before picking it up once more.
“Adaptus, you feel so good,” he breathed against Perceptor’s mouth, hips rutting forward, his clava grinding against Perceptor’s abdomen.
“As do you,” Perceptor murmured. One hand cradled Drift’s rump. The other swept up and down Drift’s back. He drew his legs up, bracing his feet against the blanket, so he could thrust up into Drift.
His lover cried out, burying his face in Perceptor’s throat. They rocked together, bodies pressed close, heat building between them. Drift rippled around him, and several intoxicating noises peeled from his throat. His teeth and tongue were hot pinpricks on Perceptor’s neck. He murmured a nonsense string of sounds, his breathy pants hot puffs over Perceptor’s ear.
All thoughts of restraint vanished.
Perceptor’s head tossed back, hand gripping Drift’s rump, grinding their bodies together. He pushed deep into Drift, swallowed by heat, and felt pleasure steal away all trace of coherent thought. It barreled him over, stole his breath, or maybe that was Drift’s mouth, pressed to his, teeth and tongue claiming. He spilled deep inside Drift, the ecstasy seemingly without end, his entire body trembling.
Drift’s mouth on his was hungry. He made a noise of protest, his hips grinding down, as the last tremors of ecstasy left Perceptor.
He hadn’t lasted nearly long enough. But no matter. There was always room for improvement. For now…
Perceptor wrapped his arms around Drift and rolled them over, nearly rolling them both right off the pallet of blankets. Drift made a startled squeak as he splayed across the blankets, his eyes bright with want, his lips swollen and wet. His clava bobbed, rigid and wet with want.
Perceptor’s mouth watered. He dragged his hands to Drift’s hips, slotted himself firmly between Drift’s thighs, and dragged Drift up to his mouth. He licked a long, wet line up Drift’s center, tasting himself among Drift’s slick, his teeth and tongue finding Drift’s rigid nub and giving it a long suckle.
Drift keened, his feet drumming against Perceptor’s back, his spine arching. He fisted the blankets, panting a desperate plea. “P–Perceptor…”
The stutter broke off into another keen as Perceptor slipped the tip of Drift’s clava into his mouth and gave a light suck. Feathers twitched. Drift’s hips danced in his grip, and Perceptor took him deeper, Drift’s pre-come trickling sweet and thick over his tongue. Drift throbbed in his mouth, the smell of his arousal a heady thing.
Perceptor hummed and flexed his fingers on Drift’s rump. He looked up the length of his partner’s body, taking in Drift’s closed eyes, his parted lips, the arousal staining his face a brilliant pink. And then he swallowed Drift to the root, his nose buried against the soft down at Drift’s groin, his chin nudging Drift’s nub.
Drift tensed in Perceptor’s hold before his head tipped back and he came with a wail, spilling hot and sweet down Perceptor’s throat. He gritted his teeth, ripped the blankets with his talons, his heels kicking in against Perceptor’s back. His entire body shook as Perceptor eased off of Drift’s clava, taking his time to savor it, extend his partner’s pleasure.
Drift breathed raggedly, making low sounds in his throat. His eyes fluttered open and he pulled his hands free of the blankets as he slipped from Perceptor’s mouth. He reached for Perceptor, and Perceptor reached back, carefully lowering Drift’s hips so he could crawl up the length of his body.
He nestled his hips between Drift’s thighs, his lips finding Drift’s for a soft and sweet kiss. Drift’s tongue slipped into his mouth, as though eager to taste himself on Perceptor, his hands sweeping up and down Perceptor’s back. His chest heaved with quick breaths, his body expending heat like he had an inner furnace.
Perceptor’s arms shook. He gave in to their weakness and ended the kiss, but only so he could pillow his head on Drift’s chest, listen to the rapid, but returning to normal, throb of Drift’s core.
Comfortable silence slipped into the warm spaces between them, filled only with their breathing. Perceptor’s eyes half-lidded, his ears attuned to Drift’s core beat.
“Do you know what they say about meteors?” Drift asked, his voice vibrating through his chest, sounding much deeper as a result.
Perceptor opened his eyes, watching the flicker of the candlelight create shadows against the wall. “What about them?”
Drift tightened his arms around Perceptor. “In some places, they are called shooting stars. And rumor has it, if you make a wish on one, Adaptus will grant it.”
“Is that so?” Perceptor lifted his head and shifted his weight to his elbows so he could meet Drift’s eyes. “Do you have a wish, Drift?”
A small, soft smile curled Drift’s lips. “I used to. But I don’t anymore.”
“Why is that?”
Drift dug his elbows beneath him, propping his torso up so their faces were mere inches apart. “Because it already came true,” he murmured, and brushed his lips over Perceptor’s. “I found you, didn’t I?”
Perceptor’s core throbbed a sharp shot of affection. “I believe we found each other.” He brushed their noses together before he snagged Drift’s lips for another kiss, this one sweeter and deeper.
He shifted his weight to one elbow and reached down with the other hand, curling his fingers around the nearest thigh. He lifted Drift’s leg over his hip, opening Drift up so that Perceptor could roll their hips together, his stirring clava brushing over the damp between Drift’s thighs.
Drift moaned against his lips and clutched at Perceptor’s shoulders, falling back into the embrace of the blankets as he did so. Perceptor followed after him, bathing his face in sweet kisses, nosing into the delicate area of Drift’s throat. He felt the quickened beat of Drift’s core against his lips, even as he rocked forward, his clava gliding through Drift’s slick.
“May I?” Perceptor asked.
“Please,” Drift breathed and his heel thrummed against Perceptor’s rump, urging him forward. He carded his hands through Perceptor’s feathers, a low purr rising in his chest, vibrating against Perceptor’s lips.
Affection soared through Perceptor’s core. He angled himself to sink into Drift once more, losing himself in the feel of Drift beneath him, the sweet sounds of pleasure, and the echoes of the meteor shower flickering over the walls around them.
A wish come true indeed, Perceptor thought fondly. And then he didn’t think much more.