A/N: This short story was inspired by my novel Rahz-thalt, or Self-Servitude. It reads better if you've read that. If you've read that, then this might actually make sense. Not a lot of sense, mind you, but more sense than it makes alone.

M/M, mild violence, some sensuality (non-graphic) and a disturbing relationship. You have been warned.


"Snooks. Iyadan. What else do you prefer to be called?"

He laughed. "I've been called all of those, and a lot more things too. People have a good number of names for me, most of 'em unpleasant." He closed his eyes for awhile, sighing and smirking. When he opened them, he sat up, holding himself upon one elbow as he lay on his bed. "You did bad tonight. Might be I did worse by letting you do that, too. Might be I've done worse by a lot of things, for all these years."

Élea stood in the doorway. His perfect lips were caught between a smirk and a frown, twisting like living creatures as Snooks spoke. "You want absolution," he half-said and half-accused. "Your conscience is hurting you, and you're parading your pain around for everyone to see. You just want me to say something comforting, don't you? Do you want me to refute the way that you've criticized yourself?" There was a pause. "I am by no means certain that I shall do so. I can give you no absolution."

"Absolution?" Snooks laughed. "Not from you, no, sorry, friend. You're not much of a priest, strictly speakin'." He considered, then added, "My wife said that I wasn't much for guilt. She was right. Funny thing, though, given how I'm feelin' now. I wonder what she'd think, if she could see it."

"I wonder what she would think, if she knew of all that you've done." Élea strode forward, sitting lightly upon the edge of the bed and extending his long legs, crossing one over the other at the knee and placing his hands upon both. His slender fingers stroked his hips and calves, moving up and down and sensually tracing the white, soft flesh. He had the fairest, prettiest legs that Snooks had ever seen.

"Tryin' ta guilt me, sweetie?" He moved quickly, seizing Élea by one of his little wrists and pushing him down onto the bed. Élea did not resist. He never did.

"I was positing a question. Nothing more."

Snooks frowned. That sounded too much like something that Fyree had earlier said. "I'm not much in the mood for this."

"What are you in the mood for?" Élea's lips quirked to form a devious smile. "You did not love her. You never did."

"I did love her. I love her still. She was my best friend. She just wasn't--"

"The love of your life. You didn't love her like you love me, did you?" His tone changed from teasingly sweet to demanding as he persisted with, "Did you?"

"I also didn't hate her like I hate you, though." He grabbed a handful of Élea's hair and twisted it between his fingers. It was like yalnesieesian silk, flowing between his fingers and catching upon his fingernails. Élea's expression had changed again. It was neutral now; expectant, actually. He knew that Snooks had no resistance. He knew what was coming. He probably wanted it, too. Snooks hated that; he hated it when Élea was right about him, because it gave the man an excuse to feel smug.

"But that's what you want. Passionate love. Passionate hate. You've never been lukewarm, Iyadan. That's why I'll always win."

"Win? Win what?" He laughed again, this time with considerable bitterness. "Am I a prize, now? Funny. Didn't think you thought so well o' me."

"Don't flatter yourself." Élea's eyes narrowed, becoming callous. "Anything is a prize to those who compete. I was born to compete, and to win."

"You weren't born at all, fuckhead." He waited. Then, looking into Élea's eyes, he kissed him.

"Technicality. I was made to compete, then. I was Oazno Amck's best creation, his best accidental creation, too." He sighed indulgently as their lips parted. "I'm much prettier than Panosy, don't you think?" He chuckled with his lips closed, reaching upward and gently touching Snooks's neck, fingering the jewelry there.

"I'm not certain that it was Oazno Amck who created you. You just assume that." Snooks felt his anger and tension rising. He grabbed Élea's small, dainty white hands, squeezing them as he kissed his neck again and again. "You--want to believe that. That's all. That's what makes me so fuckin' mad at you, Élea. You're like a religious addict. Whatever you want to be true, you just go 'n say it is. You don't even know who made you."

"But it must have been Oazno Amck, given his power. It must have been. Who else could it have been, Iyadan? Wershiyatsmiz was himself only a child back then. It must have been Oazno Amck. I'm not being idealistic, just practical."

Practical? Practical had never been a word that Snooks would have used for Élea. Passionate. Bi-polar. Calm and tranquil, or fiery and on edge. He acted with his emotions, and his emotions were anyone's guess. You never knew what Élea thought until he flared up like a dying star going nova. Convincing him of his habits was an impossibility. He was calm now, calm and arrogant and beautiful, but that could change to self-loathing and sorrow in an instant.

Snooks thought of something that might make it change. Perhaps because Élea was so pretty with tears in his blue eyes, Snooks said, "Oazno Amck. Always back to him. And now he wants you dead. And me. Both of us." His smile faded as he sombered. "Dead, like Fyree. Like my wife."

Élea made a pained sound, as though his throat was constricting and barely pushing the air through. He sounded like a dying creature, but Snooks did not panic. Élea did that often when Oazno Amck was mentioned. "Don't. Don't speak of that. Do you want to hurt me?"

"Why shouldn't I?" Snooks smiled again. He reached downward, placing his forefinger on one side of Élea's lips and his thumb on the other side. He squeezed, until the man's face looked like a fish. Élea writhed, pushing his hand away. Snooks caught him, then reached lower, rubbing the neck muscles and forcing sounds to exit from his slender throat. "You've hurt me. I hurt you, too. That's our relationship. Always has been. You fightin' it now?"

"I'm quite vulnerable now, yes."

"And I'm not? Motherfuck, Élea, stop bein' so fuckin' selfish. My wife just died."

Élea's eyes burned with the typical hot cloud of emotions that Snooks was used to seeing within the sea of blue. They had known each other for many years, and over those many years, those cold blue eyes were prone to becoming steamy with lust, or with the desire for violence. "Selfish? Me? You use your wife's death as an excuse for clinging to some shard of conscience that you have fashioned in your mind. You keep throwing that fact up like a shield when any accuses you of acting wrongly. You think your wife's death absolves you from your sins? It does just the opposite, if anything. To me, it reminds me of how you married in the hopes of ridding yourself of all thoughts of my body." His lips parted, forming a wide grin, and his eyes became callous, vain. "But it didn't work, of course. You can't forget me."

For an instant, Snooks felt his self-control waver. In that instant, he lashed out and struck Élea across the face with the back of his hand. His knuckles hit the shimmering, candy pink lips, causing a few droplets of blood to appear on the side of his mouth.

Still, he did not flinch. "That's how you handle things, too, Snooks. Iyadan. Friend. Lover." He jerked upwards, grabbing Snooks by the hair and kissing him. More blood came forth, and Élea licked his lips, smiling. "Violence, because you're too simpleminded to use words. You're too simpleminded to have self-control."

"Oh, Élea, I do have self-control, you little fool." Snooks pushed himself off of his paramour. Sitting upon his knees, he reached downward and grabbed the other man's thin body around the waist, hoisting it up so that Élea's thighs were wrapped around him. "I do have control," he whispered, pushing aside the pink hair that threatened to smother him as the man's face came so near unto his own. "Else I'd use your name, and I'd destroy you. I know your name. I have power. I could do anything to you that I wanted, through that name. You'd be my puppet, if I wanted. My slut. My slave."

Élea lowered his eyes. His expression was ambivalent, but he was neither smiling nor frowning. He appeared pensive, somewhat sulky, though the sulkiness was likely a product of his swollen lips. "I'm all of those things already: puppet, slut, and slave. Dead, too, if Oazno Amck has what he wants of me."

"He can't touch you as long as you're here." Snooks's smile turned feral as he jerked the long pink waves, pulling Élea against him until he felt his heartbeat against his chest. He moved his other hand, stroking that chest with an open palm. "So, this will keep fluttering. Gods know why it does. Not like you've got anything in there." He moved his hand, slipping it up Élea's back and pushing him upwards, forcing them to slide together.

He kissed him again. His lips were so soft, and they tasted wonderful, though they were now somewhat salty with the taste of blood. "He doesn't 'ave yer name, though. Hah. You son of a bitch. You puppet. You fucking clockwork. You whore. You gave 'em everything but you didn't give 'em that." He gave the hair another jerk.

Élea's eyes were closed. He was becoming randy; Snooks felt it in his quickening heartbeat, and elsewhere. "I have that, and no one else does, not even your precious fucking Oazno Amck. I have something of yours that he doesn't, that he never will, and why? Why? Why? Because you trusted me more."

Élea's eyes opened at those words. They were narrowed again, and again defiant. "Yes, I did. And I do. You trusted your wife more, too." Snooks felt fingernails digging into his back. "But trust is not the same thing as love. Love is wild and untame, like an animal. Trust is secure--" He sneered. "--like a marriage. Trust is dry, and boring, and dead. There's no passion in trust, in security. So I trust you more, for what it's worth." His sneer softened to become a falsely amicable smile. His eyes became gentle as he reached a hand upward and cupped Snooks's face. "You're my best friend. That's what you are."

"And you're evil."

"And you're--?"

"Deserving of torment in the everafter, with you. I understand that about myself. You don't, doll."

"You only understand it for now." Élea mimicked the fish face on his own this time, puckering his lips as he said in a mocking voice, "Oh, yes, praise be unto Iyadan now, for he has found religion, converted, become a changed man. He's a complacent soul, don't you know? For--a few days, at the least!"

Growling with laughter--he had to give Élea his credit--Snooks bunched the front of Élea's white silk robe into his fist and yanked, ripping the fabric. It tore loudly. Running his lips together, he took another fistful of the fabric and ripped again, tearing it away to reveal the white flesh that lay beneath. Élea was gasping his grievances with this matter, but Snooks moved a hand and pushed him down. The man resisted, but not much. Gleaming, shimmering pink hair fell everywhere. In its lightest places, Élea's hair was almost white. From barely-there pink to darker shades, Élea's hair was a mass of different tones of the colour. It fell over his eyes, and between them as his lips closed. His face was growing softer now, more passive. He was ready.

"One thing," he said softly. "The boy has my name now. You gave it to him. Why?"

"You were in a rage. I wanted to calm ya. You're ridiculous, Élea. Listen to me, seriously." Snooks pushed a few strands of hair away from the man's eyes. He had to strive to keep his voice from breaking. He could not touch that hair for long without wanting so much more. "You need therapy. I do, too. The boy? The boy needs a fuckload of therapy, probably more than either o' us. You're crazy, doll. I just can't control my fuckin' anger. You're crazy because you go from bein' sweet and calm to bein' a raging maniac in the flash of lightning, or quicker 'n lightin', at times."

"Anyone can be so, Iyadan." Élea tilted his head to the side, and hair shielded his face. Snooks pushed it away once more, noting Élea's closed eyes. He looked to be on the verge of sobbing, as he had earlier done. His cheeks were growing hot. Snooks touched them, wondering at the heat's source. Given the circumstances, it could have been a number of different emotions, or all at once. "Anyone can go from being happy to being sad or angry quickly."

"But not like you, doll. Darlin'. Sweetie. Not like you. Not so often as you, nor so extreme."

"You feed off of that!" Élea turned to look at him again. He was pinned by Snooks's weight, and when he began to thrash, Snooks pinned his arms down, as well. "You dare to criticize me so, yet without that quality of mine, that passion that I have, would you even be interested in me? I think not. Is that why you're so fond of the boy?" He paused, becoming very still for an instant. Then, pushing against Snooks once more, he again queried, "Is it?"

"You're like the boy," Snooks answered, moving his jaw back and forth. He did not respond to the question directly; he did not care to. "I can have every part of you individually, but I can't have you."

"So enjoy what you have, and have it now, you fucking ingrate." Laughing, Élea pushed himself upwards, rubbing his fingernails against Snooks's back again. "Your clothes are scratching my belly. Take them off."

Snooks was wearing a tunic and leggings. Élea was wearing a now-tattered silk robe, and a considerable amount of jewelry. Snooks decided that the jewelry could remain, but the robe would have to go. He flipped Élea over and tore the silk away from him. Élea groaned, either in protest or delight, until all of the silk was removed. When that was finished, Snooks flipped him over again, pressing him down. Élea hissed in annoyance and began to tear at the tunic. Snooks sat up and removed his clothing in a methodical fashion. He stretched his wings, enjoying the absolute freedom that they had when his clothing was gone. Élea smiled, reaching up to stroke the leathery texture.

"If I had such wings, I'd never wear clothes."

"You hardly ever wear clothes anyway. The wings get in the fuckin' way. I got no use for 'em." He touched the golden bands upon Élea's arms, fingering the faces of the serpentine gods that the bracelets displayed. "Even in the everafter, in torment, hell, or love, we'll be together, and not necessarily 'cause we want to be, but 'cause we deserve that. You understand that, don't you, Élea?"

"I don't care right now. Kiss me again."

"With poison lips? Is that what you mean? Hah, you fuckhead. You slut."

"I'm the slut of the gods, fool." Élea laughed and grabbed Snooks's arms, using them as leverage as he leaned up to kiss him again. "Starslut, De'eash's slut, godslut. That's me. But you can't question my being here. I was made by a higher power. The boy is just a squirt of seed into an egg, or whatever that fool Darkall uses to make his brats. You, Iyadan, what are you?"

"Same as Darkall, mostly, but for all you know, I was made by a higher power, too."

"Darkall was never as great as I."

"But he's more real than you, puppet. You're a doll, crafted by wild magic. A pretty little doll with pretty little eyes and lips and not a thing in yer head or heart. I love ta touch you, and ta feel yer heat, and ta feel how real you feel, but you're not real. Ya never were. Ya never shall be."

"My emotions are real, and I'm real through them. I'm as real as you, Iyadan. I'm real through you. I'm real as soon as you touch me, and fuck me, which you should be doing now, and which you've been putting off doing."

"On the mornin' of my wife's death."

"Fuck you if you're going to be moral now, darlin'. Doll." Élea's fingers danced upon Snooks's abdomen, running downward and upward at a hasty pace. "I've got no time for simpering fools with hypocritical morals."

"Then ya don't have time for yourself, baby doll."

Élea slapped him across the face. He giggled as Snooks gave him an accusatory look. "You said that I'm a hypocrite. Why, I might as well wallow within my hypocrisy, as you do. Don't pull away. We're in hell together, remember? When you're in hell with someone like me, though--" He pulled him downward so that Snooks rested atop him. "--do you truly want absolution?"

Snooks considered, touching Élea's hips. He looked up and down, then lifted his head, musing.

"No," he said at length.

"I didn't think so."

They kissed again, this time more deeply, and Snooks reached over, putting out one of the candles.