AN EXCHANGE OF GIFTS
It's Easter. Silver gives Steel an Easter egg and receives a much greater gift in return that he could ever have hoped for.
An established relationship story.
Written October 2005. Word count: 2,869.
Author's Note: // either side of words indicate when the characters are talking to one another telepathically.
"What is it?" Steel asked, taking the brightly wrapped oval shape and holding it at arm's length. From the look on the stern face anyone would have thought he feared it might bite him - except, of course, Steel never feared anything.
"An Easter egg," Silver said, his tone bright.
Steel continued to stare at the silver and blue swirled pattern. "But what does it do?"
Silver blinked. "It doesn't ‘do' anything."
Steel looked at him, the eyes that matched him name seemed to bore into Silver. "Well, what is its purpose?" he eventually asked.
"Enjoyment?" Silver finally said, after several moments of deliberation, somehow feeling it necessary to make it a question as well as an answer. The steely looked became more frozen, and a look of incomprehension passed over the handsome face. Silver sighed and reached out to take the egg from Steel's hands. "Forget it," he said.
A cool hand caught his wrist and held it in a tight grip. Tight enough to snap Silver's wrist, should Steel choose to do so. Silver glanced down. He couldn't prevent a shiver of pleasure from coursing through his body at the touch. He knew Steel had felt it, as seconds later the hand that held his became warmer. Silver sighed. "Don't," he said softly, glancing up and meeting the grey gaze that studied him, much as they'd studied the egg moments earlier.
Steel didn't speak. His eyes gave nothing away and his face remained impassive, but once more his body temperature reduced back to its normal level, which was several degrees below the normal level for both humans, and his fellow elements. "Why an Easter egg?" Steel finally asked.
Silver sighed again, amused, as always, by Steel's total lack of knowledge about anything he didn't deem important. "I don't know how you can spend so much time amongst humans and not know about their customs, their history, about them," he said, suddenly exasperated as well as amused. He shook Steel's hand off, under no illusion that Steel let him go, rather than him actually breaking the grip, and strode across the room, tossing the egg from one hand to the other. "Why don't you bother?" he rounded on Steel.
Steel met his gaze and shrugged. "Why should I? Unless it's pertinent to our assignments, the information and knowledge is pointless. Would knowing about their customs and history help me?"
Steel continued to stare impassively at Silver. "I have Sapphire for that," he said finally. "Or you," he added, his voice becoming less steel-tinged for a moment.
Silver moved back towards him. "But you miss out on so much," he said, making the egg suddenly disappear, and capturing Steel's hands between his. Again, Steel let him hold them. The grey gaze continued to study him.
"Very well. Tell me about Easter," Steel suddenly demanded.
Silver blinked. Damn. "It's the time when Christ died and -"
"Steel!" Silver said, truly vexed now. "Jesus Christ. The Son of God. Virgin birth. Wise Men. Shepherds. Disciples . . ." he trailed off as the grey eyes just widened and watched him unblinkingly. "Come and sit down," he said. "This could take some time. Or," he added hopefully, when Steel didn't move, "we could just go to bed now and forget all about Easter and eggs."
Steel shook his head; his almost shoulder length blond hair moving like a heavy curtain. "No," he said. "Tell me first."
Silver sighed again and raised his eyes heavenwards. Then he tugged Steel's hand and led his lover to the sofa. Once more he was under no illusion; if Steel had not been willing to be led, they would both still be standing.
Ten minutes later Silver's own knowledge of Christianity and Easter dried up, and he stopped talking.
Steel studied him again, a faint frown creasing the almost obscured forehead. "But why an egg?" he finally asked. "What has an egg to do with this Christ dying and returning to life?"
Silver opened his mouth. And then shut it again. "Er," he said after a moment or two. "To tell you the truth, I honestly don't know." He beamed at Steel, who rolled his eyes and glared.
"Then why mention it?" Steel asked after a moment. "Why did you give it to me? What was I meant to do with it?"
"But I don't -"
"Yes, I know. I know. You don't eat. If you tell me that one more time I think I'll . . ." But Silver couldn't think of anything truly threatening. How did you threaten a man who could twist a lift cable with his bare hands? Who could crush bones as easily as Silver himself could crush a biscuit? A man who despite being willing to enter into a sexual relationship with Silver, didn't seem to need it or even necessarily enjoy it? A man who wasn't capable of caring, or at least didn't appear to be?
To Silver's surprise Steel's countenance softened, and he took Silver's hand in his own, tugging it and thus Silver nearer to him. Held mesmerised, a prisoner, powerless by the now gentle gaze, Silver shivered as one fingertip began to lightly caress his face, tracing his profile. He closed his eyes, desperately trying to hang onto the intense sensation he was feeling. Seconds later, cool lips brushed across his own and he gasped.
Then the lips and the finger were gone, but his hand was still held, and his body was now so close to Steel's, that he could feel the much lower temperature reach out towards him and begin to cool his own body.
"So why do you persist in giving me such things?" Steel asked, his tone much softer than his usual one, and full of the kind of genuine curiosity that the man of steel rarely displayed.
Held captive, Silver spoke without thought. "Because I love -" he broke off, and paused for less than a heartbeat. "To tease you," he said in a rush. He held his breath and waited. Steel might be lacking in social skills, knowledge of human customs and history, but he was highly intelligent, far more so than Silver himself. He was rarely fooled, and certainly Silver was no match for him - in more ways than one. Silver wasn't certain what his lover's reaction might be, but he didn't think it would be pleasant. He was certain that Steel wouldn't use his great strength on him, but he feared that he had just blown the most intense and important relationship he had ever had.
Again, Steel's finger touched his face. When Steel finally spoke, to Silver's surprise the voice was still quiet, and had a more gentle edge to it than even Silver had ever before known. "I'd never use my strength against you, Silver," he said quietly. "And I do ‘enjoy'," he frowned slightly as he said the word, as though it were foreign to him, "what we do."
Silver blinked. Then he remembered: Steel's telepathic abilities were immense. He could read another person's mind as easily as someone could read a book. With most people he had to be physically touching them, but when he and Silver had taken their relationship beyond a working level, and joined in more ways than just physically, as their kind did, Steel only had to be within touching distance of the younger element, to read him. And Silver, being a Technician, didn't have the levels of mind-control, to even attempt to block Steel - not that even Explorers of Sapphire's telepathic abilities could do so. Silver still marvelled at the trust Steel had displayed in Silver by letting him know the full range of the other element's abilities. No one, outside of ‘them' knew the truth about Steel; not even Sapphire. Occasionally Silver felt guilty about that.
//I do not know if I am capable of ‘love',// Steel said, moving from the verbal to the telepathic. Again, he said the word as though it were foreign to him. //I do not know if I am even capable of caring in the way that you, Sapphire and the others of our kind care. But I do . . .//
He broke off and through their link Silver felt him struggle for words. Then Steel retreated away from words, verbal or mental, and instead used the link he had with his lover to project . . . Silver wasn't certain what he could call the projections. They weren't images, or feelings, or pictures, or sensations, or anything he could put a word to. But he knew that he had just been given a priceless gift, one that made the hitherto apparently indestructible man horribly vulnerable to Silver himself.
Steel's body temperature had dropped even lower, and he began to shiver almost imperceptibly. Silver did the only thing he could think of, he moved closer and wrapped his arms around Steel, pulling the swiftly cooling body into his arms and holding it. For a second, Steel tried to pull away, then he gave in and sagged against Silver.
Moments later Silver was aware that Steel had slipped into the kind of healing sleep that he needed at times when his body temperature dropped far lower than was safe, even for him. Except it wasn't ‘sleep' as humans know sleep, as sleep was another thing that Steel didn't do.
The rest didn't last for long, and moments later Silver felt the once-again-back-to-Steel's-normal-temperature body move in his arms. He released his grip slightly, and to his surprise found his head caught in a firm hold and cool lips claimed his own in a deep, enticing kiss. It was rare for Steel to initiate a kiss, or anything else. He always seemed willing enough when Silver made a move, seemed content to kiss and make love, but he was nearly always a willing participant rather than a leader.
In fact Silver could only recall one other occasion when Steel had deliberately kissed him, other than an occasional light brush of his lips across Silver's, as he had done earlier. That had been the very first time Silver had out-and-out approached Steel. After staring at Silver as though he'd expected him to grow two heads, Steel had yanked Silver into a fierce embrace and kissed him, somewhat brutally, for a moment or two. After which he had broken the kiss and all but tossed Silver aside, adding telepathically, his tone almost violent, //That is what I am. That is what I am capable off. And my claws were sheathed.// After regaining his balance and his equilibrium, Silver had never been kissed like that before, Silver had quite deliberately moved back into the man-who-could-kill-with-one-blow's personal space and kissed him back.
That had been over a year ago, and since that night, Steel had never initiated any form of lovemaking. Until now.
As the kiss deepened, Silver felt his mental barriers begin to tumble, and in turn felt Steel begin to raise his, in an attempt to stay out of Silver's mind. //Don't,// Silver managed. //Please don't.//
Aware that his plea could have been taken either way, he dug into his small mental reserves in order to explain. Then he felt the hastily erected shields that covered Steel's abilities, begin to slip away, and felt Steel's mind touch his and probe into the areas that even Steel had hitherto not touched.
Silver gasped under the onslaught of . . . But once again he could find no words to describe it. He felt his clothes being removed, felt the coldness that was Steel's body touch his own, felt strong hands move over him, caressing him, touching him as they'd never done before. As the touches grew more intense, Silver felt his own body temperature begin to fall. Then he felt himself being sucked more deeply into Steel's mind, and momentarily instinctively fought against the emersion.
But as Steel had once warned him, Silver's powers were nothing compared to Steel's. And as physical completion overtook him, the full mental joining that only two elements can achieve, after which they can go with no other being, element or human, was completed. The double sensation was cataclysmic, and plunged Silver into a foray of sensations that he felt on all five normal sensory levels, as well as several others he wasn't even aware of possessing.
He wasn't certain for how long he'd been unconscious, but when he opened his eyes, he found himself staring into the steel grey ones that revealed heavy concern. The body that was wrapped around him was now not only above Steel's normal temperature, but above Silver's - another trick, one that even he hadn't been aware that Steel could perform - making him feel as though his skin was being caressed by the rays of the sun on a warm summer's day. His head ached, and suddenly Silver was aware that it was a sensation that would never go away. He reached up, aware his hand was shaking, and touched Steel's face.
He pulled back as though hit by a bolt of electricity, as jumbled thoughts and images bombarded his mind.
Steel caught his hand and held it, keeping it away from his face. //It will get easier for you,// he said. //I promise. In a few days, a week, it will seem normal for you. You won't even consciously notice it.//
Silver tried to form the question in the way Steel had spoken to him, but it was too painful. "What happened?" he finally managed.
Steel touched Silver's face with his blunt fingertips, Silver tensed and tried to draw back. //It's all right. It doesn't work that way,// Steel said, still using telepathy. Silver continued to stare up at Steel, once more attempting to form words with his mind. Steel frowned slightly. //You belong to me now,// he said after a moment. Then he added, his voice becoming wary, //It is what you wanted, is it not? Your mind . . .// through their link he trailed off.
Silver just nodded, suddenly incapable of forming any kind of words. The frown faded, and a faint smile touched Steel's lips, then he bent forward and brushed them once more across Silver's. //Sleep now,// he ordered.
When Silver awoke again, he found himself neatly tucked up in his bed. Steel was close by; he could sense that even before his eyes focussed on the partly-clothed man who sat on a chair near to the bed. The pain that had been in his head earlier had reduced to a mere throb.
//It will reduce further,// Steel said, his voice low.
Silver stared wide-eyed. //Is that part of it?// The words came slowly, but at least they came.
//At a basic level, yes. At a deeper level, the level that I can touch you, no. Not unless I wish it.//
"How basic?" Verbal words were still easier.
This time Steel followed his lead and switched the verbal. He moved from the chair and sat on the edge of the bed. "You'll have a link to me, a sense of me, wherever you are. Even when we are apart, I will be there. The same will be true in reverse, but more so for me. I will feel your emotions, your experiences, so please, Silver, as a courtesy to me, try to keep that quick-silver mind of yours focussed on one thing for longer than you normally do."
"Won't it interfere with your work?" Silver took Steel's hand; once again, he noted that Steel's temperature was correct - for him.
Steel shook his head. "No. I have the mental shields necessary to prevent that. Annoying it might be, intrusive, no. The nearer you are to me, the less basic the link will be. You will be able to sense some of my thoughts without me voicing or projecting them. But as I said, it will be at a basic level."
"Why can't I yet?"
"Because I am still shielding my mind from you."
"So you'll still be able to do that?" Silver knew he sounded almost petulant.
Steel smiled again. "Able, but it is not something even I would choose to do for more than a few minutes. It causes me pain."
"Then why do it at all?"
"Because I needed you to be aware before I swamped you. That is how it will feel at first, Silver. Even with my normal, natural shields and the more limited nature of your abilities, it will overwhelm you for a while. The gift, if that is what you wish to call it, I have given you, does not come without its price."
//Nothing worth having ever does,// Silver said, reaching up to touch Steel's face. This time he was prepared. //After all,// he added, having then to switch back to speech as the power of Steel's mind, even shielded, hit him. "I did have to pay for the Easter egg I bought for you. Now kiss me," he ordered, verbally, through the usual telepathic way, and also as a non-projected thought in his mind.
He was pleasantly surprised when Steel obeyed.
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