Rites

byTovey©

Aidan was seventeen when they lost everything. This of course was not how his parents chose to see things; they preferred to use words like "embracing change" and "fresh beginnings," but Aidan saw things for what they were. For all his father's promises and creative re-wordings, they were unsuccessful, floundering, bereft, and now all that was left was to turn tail and run.

The farmhouse was a far cry from the lavish penthouse they had called their own. Here, the high ceilings were adorned with splintering exposed rafters, rather than the gleaming steel and glass of the home he had always known. Instead of a city of human rabble laid out before their feet, theirs for the taking, in the shadow of this crumbling house there was nothing but dust and grass. He was disgusted.

His parents were pleased with the move. His mother had always held 'Mother Nature' in high regard; vegan since time out of mind, she had imposed her lifestyle upon her family with an almost religious fervor. She in particular had embraced the move away from their life of "soulless steel," as she had always put it; the city had always been a cage to her, and it had always been her prayer to return to the land with which she identified so closely. His father, of course, reaped the benefits of her newfound joy: Although in public his mother celebrated her favored pagan holidays with an almost tongue-in-cheek, light humor, even from two floors above them Aidan could hear the sounds of their raucous, celebratory lovemaking.

Although Aidan said nothing in the awkward, silent mornings that followed, they found his inability to make eye contact with them somewhat troubling. What they did not know, of course, and what he would never dare to share, was his silence was born of humiliation, not derision. They need not know he holed up in his room because his hands remembered too well the shape of his mother's body, or that his own flesh responded to each sound that wafted from her room to his. He had not touched her since his earliest days, falling asleep to the thump of her heart beating soft against his temple, his small hands still clutching at her breast, but somehow that knowledge only served to stir him further. In the cool of night, his lights long doused, his breathing long slowed to mimic the sounds of sleep, he listened to them. He imagined her hair, falling dark and thick in locks to her waist. He envisioned her skin, the same deep brown of the doe that haunted their fields in early morning. He gripped himself, too tight; awoke sore and raw and weak from desperate fantasies and sweat-slick dreams.

These secret pleasures were small comfort. They left him feeling uncomfortable and more alone than before. The space between him and his family grew wider by the day; in time he came to avoid even his mother's briefest smiles, her smallest touch. Consequently, Aidan was left with no desire to further explore the miles of farmland and forest that surrounded him. So caught up was he in his misery and self-pity that it took him more than a year to find the little glade, and still longer before he met the woman who would be his ruin.

Winter was fast approaching when at last he ventured out. The ground was hard beneath his feet; the heavy thud of his graceless footsteps carried easily, announcing his presence to all within earshot. He turned a corner and the forest opened before him. He stood at the foot of a hill, his feet at the edge of a narrow stream, his shoulders brushing branches hanging low over the glade's entrance. His skin pebbled with gooseflesh; the hair at the back of his neck stood up. This was a secret place. This place was hidden from the world. This place was his.

Without thinking he stepped out of his shoes, barefoot and trembling as he passed through the stream. On the other side the grass was thick and lush. It softened his steps, guarding and concealing his passage through this temple. His lips parted in a wordless sigh. His hands raised to his shirt, lifting it up and over his already sweat-slick back. He dropped it to the forest floor, forgotten offering in a forgotten sanctuary. His trousers soon followed, discarded even as he walked toward the hill that filled his line of vision. There was something there, he knew, something beautiful and strange, and the very thought of it stirred new heat in his veins.

The upward slope was a gentle one, soft beneath his feet. He followed as the path directed, his bare feet finding a carpet of tender, new grass laid out as if for him and him alone. The path lay beneath a lacework of branches and leaves, dappled with sunlight and shadow, but the hilltop itself lay naked to the sky, filled with brilliant brightness and surreal, bone-deep warmth. And she was there.

Aidan knew no other way to respond than to go to his knees before her. He tried to avert his eyes, but her presence drew him like a moth to flame. His eyes roved her body, all softness and curves and dark, lineless tan. Her eyes, the rich black-brown of fresh-tilled earth, met his and engulfed him entirely. Heat pooled low in his stomach. He opened his mouth to speak, but words fled.

"Aidan," she said. Her voice was his mother's, warm and inviting: the same silky tone he had only heard through walls and cracked-open doors. "At last."

She leaned down to him then. The curtain of her hair fell thick and dark over his line of sight. He closed his eyes and breathed in the scent of her, his lips parting as he felt her draw close. Her skin brushed past his open mouth, and his body responded unequivocally. She laughed; it was the sound of a stream over stones, of rain across the plains. She twined slender fingers in his hair and guided him upward.

Aidan pressed his mouth between her legs, hungrily lapping at her wet heat. His first taste of her would have been enough but against all probability she allowed him to go on. He traced the lines of her body, dragging teeth and tongue over her sweat-slick flesh, nuzzling greedily into the apex of her thighs. He groaned, broken and wordless; he longed for more and dared not ask.

She sensed his need and moved to accommodate it. Lying back in the grass she beckoned to him, spreading her legs as he crawled shamelessly to her on hands and knees. Servile and pleading he kissed every inch of her, running his tongue around the curve of her ankle, the slope of her knee, the hollows of her ribs with all the same attention he'd paid elsewhere. His teeth found her breasts, nipping lightly at taut flesh as her back arched against him. She raised her legs to him, ankles crossed at the small of his back, smiling even as she dug sharp nails beneath the lines of his shoulderblades. He bucked against her, crying out at the unexpected pain, but there was nowhere to go but closer.

His lips pressed to the hollow of her throat, pale against her brown skin, gasping and weak in contrast to her even, steady breath. She would brook no further delay. She dug her heels into his back, bruising his spine, forcing him toward her. With a groan he slid into her slick heat, shuddering in the enveloping circle of her. She crooned her approval, her hips canting upward to beckon for more. His hips snapped in answer, driving his aching body into hers; she met the pain with a satisfied sigh, her sharp-edged smile growing only wider in answer.

Blood welled at his back, hot and thick beneath her hands; bruises pooled at his hips as he moved so deep he felt she might swallow him whole. Still it never seemed enough for her. For every encouraging noise she gave, every approving stroke of her hands across his wounded flesh, she silently begged him for what he could not seem to give. He was weak, human, less than her in every way. At last, frustrated, she grasped his shoulder with one chestnut hand, his hip with the other, and forced him to his back. Slim fingers curled at his throat, her palm pressing hard against his windpipe. He choked. His eyes watered as he stared up at her. "Life from me," she said. "Life for me."

She lowered herself onto him again, rolling her hips against his with a bruising, grinding force. Grass and dirt worked their way into the wounds at his back. He winced, but if she noticed his discomfort she gave no sign. Her hand tightened at his throat, clasping and releasing in time with her motions atop his captive form. Breath fled and returned at the rhythm she dictated; helpless and hopeless, he gave in to her. She felt his submission and reveled in it. Her dark head tipped back, black eyes to the sky, black hair falling in liquid waves down her back. She moaned affirmation and dug her claws into his neck. Her body tightened around him, sucking him dry with a hunger he could not begin to contemplate. Her knees scraped against the ground below as she raised from his body again, then dropped back onto him with all her weight. A shaky plea fell from his lips, but she was no longer listening.

Harder and faster she moved. Her grip grew stronger, and soon enough she forgot to release him altogether. He writhed beneath her violent motions, his hips jerking upward to meet each sharp thrust of her body against his own. His hands shook as he lifted them to her; she allowed him, at least, the touch of his hands against her breasts, the brush of his nails over her taut nipples. He felt his breath failing. Felt his vision start to blur. He shuddered, groaning mindlessly as he came inside her, grasping childlike at her breasts, her hips, her thighs, begging for more when no more would come. As his eyes rolled to whites beneath long, black lashes he felt her tense in answer, her victory cry a quiet moan as she flexed soft muscles around his exhausted body.

Panting, weary but renewed, she watched him die between her thighs. She did not move. She did not speak. She felt life leave him and pour into her, its vivid heat seeping into every pore, every limb. She smiled. Hours passed as she knelt above him. His flesh whitened, fading, sinking into the earth of this bower she had made for him and him alone. His trap. Altar for the sacrifice he had never planned to give.

She rose. Her hand moved to the soft hollow between her thighs, catching every drop of moisture that tried to escape from her. She slid slim fingers into her body, sighing softly. Her tongue traced the lines of her parted lips. "Your offering is accepted," she told his corpse. Laughing, Gaia returned from whence she came.

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