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Dream Cycle I: The Forge

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The hammer strikes on the anvil, a steady beat ringing in the morning air. The mist from the lake obscures everything around the glade, leaving a kiss of morning dew upon all the green and growing things. Upon stone and wood, upon fern and the heavy heads of cattails nodding by the well. His bare feet pad on the damp grass, the dew wetting the hems of his trousers. He follows the sound, the iron heart beat, with an anticipation he cannot name.

The doors of the small building are thrown wide, and within, the throat of the forge breathes in and out, filling the small dark room with an orange glow. The object of his intent is within, sweating against the heat. He's bent over his work, focused entirely on the bar of steel he's thrust into the coals. One hand works the bellows, stoking the fires to their hottest, bringing the metal up to the perfect colour of scarlet red before extracting it and laying it across the anvil. He wears nothing more than a leather apron, heavy gloves, simple trousers, and his boots. His broad shoulders are bare, and his skin is coated with a fine layer of grime, of oil and iron, of sweat. It beads on his brow, trickles down through his hair, now grown a bit longer than when he first arrived. The ends curl at the nape of his neck, and sway lightly with every hammer stroke. His entire form is lit by that soft orange light, as if he was cast from bronze and lit from within.

He watches from a distance for a long while, reveling in the intensity of the man's focus. Hephaestus himself would be proud to watch his form, his attention to detail, and the calm that comes over him when he gives himself over to the work.

One arm lifts to swipe across his eyes, and he lifts his head for just a moment.

He is spotted, and the moment's reverie is broken. He smiles, dips his chin, and moves to the well. Water is always a welcome gift, is it not? He draws up a bucket, heedless to the way it splashes down his white robe, and uses it as a thinly veiled excuse to invite himself in.

'How long have you been standing there?'

The older man, though only by the passage of time, not by evidence on his smooth features, smiles, his head down as he pours out the water into the barrel.

'Not long.' He leaves, and returns a moment later with another bucket of water.

It is the younger man's turn to watch. His companion's hair is long, touched by dark waves like the ocean, falling to the middle of his back. His cheeks are shaved smooth, but he keeps his beard at his chin and jawline, neatly trimmed. His back is also strong, but is more of a warrior's strength. He spends hours at the pell, working the swords he makes, checking the balance, driving the movements deep into the muscle until the mind is no longer required to recall them. He covers himself with a white silk robe, one that falls just passed his knee. Beneath the robe, pale, smooth skin, though not as pale as before. The kiss of the sun has brought some colour to his cheeks. His bare feet draw both a hint of annoyance and amusement. He is a decadent fool. Who comes to the forge in bare feet? Honestly.

The older man returns with the third bucket of water, pouring it into the bucket. 'Please. Don't let me keep you from your work.'

The younger, nods sharply, and turns back, bouncing the hammer twice on the anvil before raising it to strike the cooling bar.

It's more difficult to concentrate when he's being watched. It makes him nervous. No, not nervous. Anxious. The anticipation that shimmers under the skin, and makes him aware of every drop of sweat on his throat. He swipes a hand over his face again, and tries to focus.

Minutes pass in silence, broken only by the exhalations of the bellows, and the strike of steel against iron. Sparks fly. The older man settles against the door frame, arms crossed over his chest, his eyelids drooping in relaxation. This place is like standing inside the heart of a great dragon, its pulse ringing through the entire body. He understands why his companion spends so much time here.

There is a pause in the work, and Vlad steps forward. 'Here.' He beckons gently, lifting one side of his white robe over one hand. Javert looks up, sweat in his eyes. It is but a moment's work for him to wipe it away.

'Your robes.'

'Nonsense,' he murmurs, still drying his brow and then his cheeks.

Javert stands, feeling like a child being tended to, until he can't stand it anymore and takes Vlad's wrist in his hand.

'Stop.' The tone is perhaps a bit more terse than intended, but he doesn't know what to do with the care he feels being lavished on him.

'Fine.' Vlad pulls back, his robes smudged with grime now. 'Suit yourself.' He withdraws again, arms crossed over his chest, his lips set in a thin line. The bucket needs returning to the well.

Javert frowns, but picks up the steel bar again, pushing it into the heart of the forge with enough force to throw sparks into the air. He watches one ember as it dances up and drifts down to settle in the hem of Vlad's robe.

'Stop.'

'I heard you the first time.' His long legs carry him back up the path to the well. The ember smokes, and the silk sends up a tiny lick of flame.

'No, stop.'

Javert crosses the distance between them, his hands reaching for the fabric, but Vlad turns at the last second. An awkward little dance ensues, until the pursuer growls in frustration and simply yanks the garment off Vlad's shoulders, throwing it to the ground, and stamping on it.

A bare chested Vlad looks down at the robe and back up at Javert, his lips quirked in an amused if confused grin. His head falls to one side, and he quirks an eyebrow.

'You were on fire.' Javert actually looks bashful for a moment, before the stern mask resettles itself.

'I was?' He was merely watching, after all.

'Your robes. There was a spark.' He points, but the whole garment is fairly covered in mud now, so it's impossible to see.

'I see.' He licks his lips, a smile prowling behind his eyes.

Javert shakes his head, hiding the grin that rises in answer. 'I have work to do. Do not bother me.'

'You are the one who accosted me, sir.'

'Accosted you? Hardly.'

'Is that not my garment, rent up on the ground?'

'Yes, but better for it to be covered in mud than you wrapped up in flame. Sir.'

'There's water right there. You didn't have to --' Javert's body backs him up against the side of the well, his scent thick, of sweat and iron. Broad hands catch his hips, and pin him there.

'It's not as if you've never torn the clothes from my body, now is it?' He mutters the words against Vlad's cheek, his forehead barely touching his temple.

The older man's eyes close, and he shivers, drawing in a long breath. Gently, deliberately, he lifts his hands to encircle Javert's back. He still can't quite believe he's allowed the privilege.

'No, I suppose it's not.' He swallows, feeling Javert's nose in the hollow of his jaw, feeling his hands gripping the width of his hips. 'I...'

The words are cut off again, this time by a kiss placed against his throat. A soft, wet kiss, framed by the younger man's rough beard. He can't control the moan that rises in his throat. 'What are you doing?'

'Kissing my lover,' he murmurs, and to illustrate, he does it again, this time pressing the weight of his body into Vlad's, grinding his hips against his. Aching flesh, standing shameless and proud, flares to life with that sweet pressure, and his arms encircle his lover's neck, dragging his head around for a proper kiss.

Strength pushes against strength, and Vlad yields first. He is instantly rewarded with growling moan, a rough sound so delicious, so deep, he can't think. He tastes, Javert's mouth sweet and soft, tasting of beer and bread, and that indescribable quality he knows only as Javert's scent. He sips, because he cannot drink. He doesn't want to drink, can't drink, and it doesn't matter. The body and mind pinning him against the wall makes sure of that.

'I want you,' he whispers, and waits to be pushed away. But the vision of Javert here does not find him disgusting, he finds him desirable in the utmost. His mouth strays down Vlad's throat, nibbling and nipping as he goes. His hands fumble at the button on his trousers and Vlad whimpers, utterly shameless, at feeling his broad, calloused hand curl around his cock.

'Mine,' he growls, his hand beginning to tug and pull, with a desperate, rough purpose. 'To do with.' His fist closes, tight, and squeezes. Vlad arches beneath him, helpless. 'As I please.'

He is lost, utterly lost as the pleasure hits, and strips him of all sense of self.

He wakes, alone, on cold sheets. He keeps his eyes closed for as long as he can, holding on to the shards of the dream. The sound of his voice. The weight of his body. When he finally rouses, and pulls a robe from the foot of the bed, he finds himself searching over the white silk expanse for a hand print, or the mark of an ember. The dream still burns in his skin.