Trees, part 5a Title: Trees (5a/10) Author: (capra_fera) Rating: PG-NC-17 for the series, NC-17 this instalment (for sexual situations, at long last :D) Pairing: Billy/Dom AU Disclaimer: I don't know these people, I don't own these people, I am not these people. This is all a product of my fevered imagination. Astrid belongs to ingve9 and myself. All other OC's are mine. Summary: Dom introduces Billy to a very special place.
Notes: Links to all previous parts can be found here. The original tig (co-authored by Pip of acroamatica, pippinmctaggart, myself and ingve9) can be found here and is included in Part 1.
Many, many thanks to vensre for the beta. :D:D:D:D:D:D
Billy blinked and looked behind him, and swallowed when he saw the apparently solid wall, glowing faintly with some sort of phosphorescence. He laid the flat of his palm tentatively against the rock and felt the cool, uneven surface abrade his skin. Pushing against it only confirmed that, yes, it was real.
I just walked through that. Fucking hell.
"Next time, give a warning, all right?"
Dom merely giggled and pulled him further along. There was a bit of a glow to see by, but Billy found it impossible to tell where it was coming from - some exotic lichen growing on the rocks, perhaps. The air Billy inhaled was cool and damp, and tendrils of mist wound themselves around their feet as they walked. A sudden prickling on the back of his neck made him grip Dom's hand tighter, but he made no protest as Dom all but dragged him with new urgency.
An abrupt bout of vertigo nearly brought Billy to his knees. Only Dom's sure grip held him upright, enough to keep him stumbling through the thickening mist. Another lurch to his stomach made him nearly lose his dinner.
"Dom," he groaned, his body listing sharply to starboard.
"Almost there, Bills," Dom replied, his voice a mixture of concern and anticipation, and continued to guide them through the murk.
He pulled Billy to the right, and, blind in the uncanny fog, Billy did not see the step. He stumbled to his knees, his sharp gasp of pain echoing unnaturally loud. He felt himself lifted under his arms and barely managed to get his balance before Dom hauled him to the left again.
The ground fell sickeningly out from under his feet, and in his sudden alarm flailed his arms against Dom's chest (and most likely caught him in the face as well). Billy's cry died abruptly in his throat when he felt the give of spongy moss under his feet. He looked up, shocked to see not mist, but a brilliantly starlit sky, almost uncannily so, far out of reach of the grasping treetops. Billy whirled around, eyes wide, but there was no sign of the cave, or of any kind of entrance or doorway.
"We're here," Dom spoke softly.
Billy swore, and gripped Dom's arms, panting, needing his familiar strength just to keep upright. "What was all that?"
Dom shrugged, placing steady palms against Billy's ribs. "Sorry. I had this place protected with traps. That's where the dizziness you felt came from," he said, pulling him close to rest his cheek softly against Billy's hair. "I was able to lead you safely through, but an unwelcome guest would have found themselves hopelessly lost somewhere else."
"Ehm, all right," Billy agreed, not really understanding but not willing to go into it just then; getting his heartbeat to settle was far more urgent. A few moments later he had recovered enough to loosen his hold, and calmed further when he saw the infectious delight sparkling in Dom's eyes.
"Welcome to my home, Bill," he said with a kiss and an elfin smile. Something ignited sweetly when their lips touched, and Billy felt vertigo and warmth spreading out through his chest to fill his entire being. He was moved to kiss Dom more ardently, and blinked when Dom stopped him with the touch of fingers to his mouth. He felt Dom turn him around in his arms, soft laughter teasing his ear.
"Look," he said, shifting Billy's attention outward with a sweeping hand.
Billy was suddenly confronted with the utter unearthliness of the grove surrounding him. The myriad forms of stone and branch and leaf shone with a piercing brightness from the abnormally dazzling starlight. The brush of zephyrs mussed his hair and chilled the sweat on his neck; they carried with them the strange perfume of unfamiliar wildflowers and loam. Billy found he couldn't look away from the play of light and shadow dancing along the graceful silhouettes of the nearby trees, the dusk between their trunks shaded with a faint menace. The effect was a contradictory impression of deathless beauty and cold welcome - wholly unexpected and impossible to ignore.
Flower petals of every shape and fragrance drifted softly around them to land at their feet, glazing the new-born grass like an aurora of frost. Enchanted, his fingers twitched, begging to touch, but the blossoms flitted maddeningly out of his reach. He reached out only to pull back in pain - something had pricked his finger, a thorn, most likely. He sucked on the small wound briefly then examined the four tiny pinpricks that curled in a semicircle on the side of his finger. He hissed while he shook his hand and tried to ignore how much it reminded him of a bite mark.
Movement out of the corner of his eye distracted him. Billy turned to look, but there was nothing, nothing but the gentle sway of branches. He frowned, certain he had seen something. He turned toward Dom, a hundred questions in his eyes, when he heard the approaching rush of sound in the leaves heralding a fresh gust of wind, stronger than before. The air swirled around them aggressively, whipping at his shirt, blowing grit in his face. Branches shook and swayed, and irate birdsong erupted from a nearby thicket, discordant and jangling against his nerves. The resulting cacophony of smells and colours and movement sent his senses into an internal tailspin, confusing him, making him dizzy. Is this supposed to be happening? Billy thought, alarm turning him suddenly cold.
Dom's hand on his shoulder steadied him, and Billy forced himself to calm down. He took a deep breath and stood his ground, thinking defiantly that this was no worse than a mild Glasgow winter breeze and it'd take more than this to run him off (and feeling something of a berk for ranting silently to thin air and plant bits). The uncanny whirlwind soon calmed, petals raining softly down on them, and Billy found himself brushing them from his face and hair. He felt a squeeze on his shoulder and a kiss to his neck and he smiled as he let out a shaky breath.
With the wind quieting down, the silence weighed heavy in his ears, filling him up, smothering his unease. He looked up at the night sky and became consumed by the multitude of stars, so clear they hurt his eyes to look at. He couldn't tear his gaze away, and felt almost bereft when some strands of cloud moved in, obscuring the light, yet lovely and distracting in their own fashion. He had no idea how long he stood there in Dom's loose embrace, enthralled, watching the wisps of relative darkness morph into fanciful shapes: birds soaring in flight, more trees (of course), a hint of dancing silhouettes (or were they fighting, perhaps?), and the unmistakable shadow of a horned figure, striding across the sky.
He turned away, then, eyes closing, and concentrated on keeping his breathing steady. He was surprised (now that he wasn't being harassed by the uncanny) that he hadn't noticed the air before - it seemed like it was alive somehow, as if breathing it in imparted some of that life to him. He laughed for the pure joy of it (even laughter felt different here), and Dom's arms around his waist tightened in reply. Billy leaned back with a happy sigh and let his chest move with the rhythm of Dom's, in and out, perfectly in unison.
Everything's so bright here, Billy thought, then reconsidered that as he opened his eyes again. No, it was dark: the sky was that perfect, clear indigo, and the plant life was painted in hues of dark purple and ebony as befitting night vision. But oddly, Billy could see the surrounding landscape in as much detail as if it were high noon, far clearer than starlight should account for. He blinked several times, trying to switch his vision to something more 'normal', but the panorama before him refused to conform. A wary sort of awe swelled inside him, a desire to surrender to his wonder and delight, muted by the awareness that there were hazards here, known and unknown. He continued gaping at the wondrous landscape before him, never moving from the safety of Dom's embrace.
Yet that small bit of security soon failed him - Billy was hyper-aware of the electricity of Dom's merest touch: the breath on the back of his neck made him shiver, and, god, his lip against his ear.... Billy moaned, aroused and alarmed. He shouldn't be feeling this much from such a simple caress. He practically jumped out of his skin when he felt fingers exploring the skin along his waist. Billy closed his eyes and imagined flames in their path, igniting his nerve endings like the driest tinder and engulfing him whole.
He turned abruptly and tried to bury himself in the familiar taste of Dom's mouth, but even that was rendered strangely potent and alien. He hid his face in Dom's shoulder, floundering in the emotions surging through him.
"Shhh..." Dom soothed into his hair. "I've got you."
Billy's hands clenched with bruising force on Dom's arms. "Everything here is so...so...."
"Too much!" Billy cried out in frustration. "Can't stop...." and with Dom's shirt clutched in his fist he slammed their mouths together again. Unlike the night before in Astrid's house, Billy had no control whatsoever to withstand this storm, and it was he who propelled them both to the forest floor and bit and thrust with frenzied abandon, possessed. Dom's joyous laugh erupted from underneath him, shaking Billy momentarily out of his daze. He gaped at Dom, who was practically aglow with an eldritch light, and with a desperate cry bent his head to repeatedly devour his mouth, hunting down the irresistible trace of magic.
Flashes of Dom in uruisg shape leapt across his vision. Billy closed his eyes to them and concentrated on the feel of cloth and skin under his hands and mouth - the tantalising glimpses were too dizzying. He felt he would burst out of his skin and soar above the clouds, and he wanted so much to bring Dom with him but couldn't concentrate on anything other than the sizzling heat in his body. His head spun with the roaring of the wind in his ears, or maybe it was merely the rushing of his blood boiling to the surface of his skin, cracking it open like egg shell with the light of his ecstasy. Abruptly, Billy's vision whited out and he was shuddering helplessly against Dom, eyes wide and blank.
He had no idea how long he was insensate, but he was grateful there was no horrible crash down to earth. Billy opened his eyes to see the familiar grin on Dom's face, and sighed in relief when the world around him decided to forgo the tilt-a-whirl antics he'd been experiencing. He shifted to the side and groaned with the ache of over-stressed muscles - and felt the somewhat unpleasant sensation of cooling stickiness in the groin area of his jeans.
Dom whooped in delight and kissed Billy over and over, missing his mouth more often than not. Billy laughed in the face of Dom's enthusiasm and flopped heavily on top of him, content to bask in his post-coital lassitude.
"You're good, yeah?"
Billy bit back the usual comment and merely nodded, grinning, and kissed Dom again, softly this time. He brushed his lips against his cheek (an innocent gesture, surely) and gasped at how the burgeoning stubble scraped and tingled pleasantly along them.
"This place...it's a little heady for mortals...." Dom sighed and melted against his pack as Billy's mouth explored his throat, concentrating on relearning everything he thought he knew about the taste of Dom's skin there. "Things become distilled to their purest state, good or bad."
Billy licked his lips thoughtfully as he compared the saltiness of his Adam's apple to the soft flesh under his jaw, then realised he had missed Dom's words completely. He grinned ruefully when he heard Dom laughing at him.
"Wow, you're lost today."
Billy's fingers took over from his mouth - he needed it to talk. "It's this place, isn't it? Makes everything...I don't know...seem more than it is," he said, marveling at the wealth of textures living behind Dom's ear.
Dom rolled his eyes. "If you had been paying attention..." he chided before repeating his earlier comment.
"Doesn't it affect you, then?"
"Oh, yeah, sure, but it doesn't overwhelm me like it does with novices," Dom teased, pushing Billy gently off him. Billy shrugged, feeling utterly content and oddly unembarrassed about the fact that he'd come in his pants, even after Dom made a big production of pointing and staring at Billy's crotch and wrinkling his nose in mock disgust (though, in Billy's opinion, he was looking far too pleased with himself). "How about a swim to clean yourself off, then?"
"Eh, yeah." Billy let out a chuckle when he took a peek into his jeans. "I can't believe I did that."
"Didn't even take off your pack first," Dom grinned, sitting up to brush leaves and grass out of his hair.
"Neither did you," Billy replied as he slid the cumbersome thing off his shoulders. He looked about cautiously to find that his perception of his surroundings, while still piercingly clear, was at least no longer making his head spin. He shook his head, just to make sure. "Lying on it couldn't have been comfortable. Why didn't you stop me?"
"And why on earth would I have done that, you sexy, sexy man?" Dom asked with a kiss and a jaunty eyebrow waggle, easily slipping out of the straps.
Billy snorted, then stopped, cocking his head. He could have sworn he had heard whispering. He tried to shrug it off to his imagination when, once again, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. And again, he turned to find no one there. He felt a prickling along his neck, like eyes boring into him, and he started when he heard the odd whispering again, from his right this time.
"What's that noise?" he demanded, casting wary glances about him.
"It's the trees."
Billy turned to stare at Dom, who had abandoned his poker face for a fit of the giggles. He flopped to the ground with an exasperated groan, wishing for something hard to throw at him. "You are in so much trouble for that, m'lad."
That just made Dom laugh all the more, which calmed Billy somewhat. Obviously, Dom had heard the sounds and was not particularly worried. Soon enough, Billy gave in to the twitching of his lips and joined him, his spirit lightening with every gasping chuckle. Laughing was definitely an experience here - Billy felt giddy enough to be drunk on the very air.
A few random hiccoughs escaped from Dom before he pulled himself together enough to speak, still giggling. "All right, what you heard was not the trees, but the tree spirits."
"Are you having me on?" Billy asked, enchanted, recognising from Dom's manner that he was serious.
"No. Many of the trees here aren't trees, exactly, like the dryads," he explained, joy shining from his eyes. "Or they have fae associated with them - ghillie dhu, lesidhe, that sort of thing. They're harmless enough to invited guests."
Billy looked again at the pinpricks on his finger, and shook his head. "Do they have to watch so closely? I wasn't expecting to be quite so...em...exhibitionistic," Billy said, surprised again at how little embarrassment he was feeling, considering what the 'spirits' must have seen earlier.
"It's their job to watch," Dom grinned and waved his hand toward the nearest trees. Billy could 'feel' the whatever-they-were quiet and fade into the forest. Except for one stubborn presence, who seemed to stick around before reluctantly leaving after a glare and some suggestive arm waving from Dom. Billy grinned as he pulled off his shoes and found himself blissfully curling his toes in the lush clover.
"Did you just have a row with a pixie?"
"No, a lunantishee. He's more wary of humans and didn't want to leave me without a watcher. I told him he had to, that you were a little shy."
Billy's eyes glinted sharply, the clover forgotten. "Shy?"
Dom smirked in obvious challenge. "Should I have said 'demure'? 'Diffident'? 'Bashful'? 'Prim'?"
"I'll show you prim!" Billy pushed him to the ground and kissed him hard, but with no real heat of anger, and soon enough the tempo of their kisses slowed to drugged molasses. His curiosity regarding the local inhabitants melted in the heat of Dom's mouth, cataloguing the minute differences of texture and taste.
It was Dom who pulled away at last, grinning like a loon while pulling on his arm, much like a child begging a parent to 'come and see'. Billy smiled and let himself be manhandled to a standing position. He grabbed his pack and his shoes before following Dom, actually managing to pay attention to his surroundings for more than a few seconds. He noticed that the grove had lost much of its faint menace - there was more of an atmosphere of watchful curiosity, though still lacking somewhat in cordial sentiment. Billy found he could deal with that, and gave himself permission to bask in his wonder.
All around him the old trees were poised in near dance-like forms, frozen in graceful mid-ballet. Many of them, bright with branches of silver and gold, were flowering and fruiting and losing their leaves all at once. Some were in the throes of budding, and still others looked to be lost in midwinter dreams. They brought to mind half-remembered tales of Tir na n'Og and the Voyage of Bran, and for the first time since he'd arrived he felt a shimmer of excitement spark under his ribs.
The fresh scent of water teased his nostrils. Billy looked to the right and saw the low hanging branches of a great willow tree, seemingly ancient yet still supple in the slight breeze. From behind it whispered the sound of water falling over rocks into a pool sheltered partly on one side by a rocky cliff. The rippled surface, bright with star shine, winked back at him. The willow's leaf tips brushed the restless surface, as if it were fidgeting while lost in thought. Billy noticed that the trees and plants near the water were putting forth their first leaves and flowers - it was springtime, then, in that spot.
Billy continued to survey his surroundings, turning in a slow, clockwise circle on the spot. When he caught sight of the huge tree at the other end of the pool, he stopped short - everything seemed to fade into the background as he stared at it. He recognised it as an oak in its full summer glory (hard to mistake with those leaves), emanating an aura of unflappable strength. Setting down his things, he walked over to it, and closely studied the leaves. The colour was so pure, like that of the first new shoots at the beginning of the world. The colour nearly hurt his eyes with its clarity - every vein, every lamina was displayed in shining relief.
Billy tentatively touched a finger to one and felt an intangible something sparking along the edges of his spirit. On impulse he ran his hands along a branch until he reached the trunk. He sighed and pressed his palms against it, relaxing against it, breathing in the faint scent of sap and earth and moisture. He was filled with a strange longing, as if he'd been shown something he hadn't known he needed.
"Ah, Da, if only you could see this place," he whispered, and stiffened at the sharp stab of sorrow under his breastbone. He bent over, gasping, undone by the old grief as he hadn't been since the months after the funeral. After a few deep breaths it left him as suddenly as it had come.
Unnerved, he backed away abruptly from the tree. He knelt down and turned his attention to the ground where a riot of flowers waved at him - the clover he recognised but was at a loss about the others. Their petals jostled against each other in the faint breeze, their varicoloured dance a joy to the eye. He knelt down to study them better, breathing deeply and steadily of their scent, racking his brain to identify such exotic seeming blooms. Anything to distract himself from the presence of the oak.
"This is my place, my refuge whenever I'm back home in Manchester," Dom spoke quietly against his ear. "Only three people know about it. Well, that are still around. Alive, I mean."
"And me makes four?"
"No, you're number three."
"And you're number one, I suppose."
"Cheeky bastard. Who's the other one, then? Astrid?"
"No, that would be Ali. Astrid's never been here."
"Ah, the mysterious Miss McKinnon." Billy silently pursed his lips against the sharp bitterness of his tone, and stood up to flee a few steps. He thought he'd dealt with his residual resentment earlier in the lorry. But then, according to Dom, Faerie was a sort of personal crucible, collecting and tempering all sorts of inner crud. Bugger. No wonder it was said people sometimes returned home barking mad.
"What's wrong, Billy?" Dom asked gently.
Billy shook his head. "Just trying to figure out how she fits into all this." He winced again at the tone of his voice.
Dom's eyes widened slightly. "You're not jealous, are you?"
Billy raised one eyebrow. "Should I be?"
"Well...." Dom started to take the piss, then merely smiled and said, "No, you shouldn't."
Billy insinuated himself into Dom's space until there was no breath between them. "That's good," Billy whispered, each syllable heavy against the silk of Dom's mouth, "because I don't want to talk about her just now. At. All."
Dom's eyes darkened and his breath caught, but he still couldn't resist slyly whispering, "I still think you'd like her."
"Shut it," Billy insisted, with teeth and tongue and hard, unyielding mouth. Something ugly twisted in his gut, something that added the sting of venom to their usually genial sex play. He broke the kiss off abruptly to pin Dom's wrists against his hips and gave him a long, considering look.
"I'd rather we discussed your failure to mention what being here would do to me," Billy said thoughtfully, holding Dom's hips still as he bucked uselessly for more friction. His mouth devoured his protests and he smiled when he heard the whine in the back of Dom's throat. "I think that deserves some kind of punishment," he hissed as he denied Dom the body contact he so dearly wanted.
"You couldn't cut me off for five minutes," Dom snorted, then yelped when Billy bit him on the neck. Hard.
"That'd still beat your record of thirty seconds," retorted Billy, pushing his thigh against Dom's hardening crotch for a long, heated moment before pulling away again.
"Fuck!" Dom exclaimed, and struggled harder against his grip. An evil cackle and more suction at his neck was his only answer. Billy felt Dom's knees buckle under him in an attempt to throw him off balance - with one hook of his leg, Billy sent them to the ground in a controlled tumble, and pressed Dom's wrists into the grass. Billy smiled, baring his teeth.
Dom grunted at the impact, but his eyes still sparkled with mischief. "Will you let me come if I do?"
"I'll think about it."
What was meant to have been a teasing comment flared sharp and cold. Dom stilled his thrashing, their breath harsh in the quiet. Billy stared at Dom in growing unease and wondered what the hell he was doing.
"I'm done." Dom looked up at him searchingly, concern plain on his face. "Bill, why are you angry?"