This moment is perfect. Dawn falls across our shared bed in brilliant stripes, a golden cage for the angel who slumbers at my side. I long to wake him, with a touch to his bare chest as it rises and falls in sweet breath, perhaps, or one kiss upon his smooth lips, but I should not. He will wake soon enough. Instead I rise slowly, with a care not to disturb my companion, and drink in the sight of him. He has never seemed so relaxed, so peaceful. His eyelids tremble as he dreams; his fingertips twitch and dig into the cream colored sheets. The subtle motion sends a tremor of hungry memory all along my body. I have known those fingers. They have touched me, tested me, taken me and claimed me for their own. I am part of those fingers and they are part of me. But I will never have him so completely again. When he wakes, he will leave me. When he wakes, this moment will be taken from me. I will be alone again. I will be empty again. I will–

He stirs, shaking me from my thoughts. The sunlight has shifted and a bar falls over his lidded eyes, making him wince and turn his face away. Even now, retreating from the cruel morning light, he is beautiful. I want to say “good morning, my king”, but hold my tongue. I must not rush these things. I settle for a murmured “good morning, my love” and a wandering kiss upon his sleep-warmed shoulder. He shivers and begins to draw away from my touch, but my arms catch him and pull him close. “Did you sleep well?” I inquire, unable to keep my lips from seeking out all the delicious dips and hollows of his body. His chest presses against mine as he exhales gently.

“Like the dead, deep and dreamless.” Like the dead? I restrain an amused chuckle and continue to explore the body I have already mapped and memorized. For a moment he responds to my curious fingers, but then wriggles from my embrace with an apologetic, “I should go…” and untangles his limbs from the cool sheets. Before he can rise, though, I catch his wrist and press my lips to the place where the sharp curve of his radius strains beneath his smooth flesh. His radial artery is a steady pulse there, his heartbeat a flutter against my lips. “Oh, don’t go,” I beg. “Please. Stay with me.”

“I can’t, darling,” he replies with a laugh like a silver bell. “What are you afraid of? That I won’t come back?” My hand tightens around his thin wrist. “Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m afraid of. So don’t leave me. I forbid it, Daren.” I try to draw him back into my arms but he slips from my grasp with another peal of laughter. He drapes one sheet over his shoulders as he rises and turns to deliver me an amused smile.

“Forbid it?” He stands framed in the window, illuminated from behind by the rising Sun. The light gleams in his pale hair like a bright crown and transforms the sheet clinging to his naked body into a golden robe. “As if you could forbid me anything, Tanim.” Tears spring to my eyes, though in awe or love or envy I cannot tell. He could be a king. He could be a god. He could be mine. Now is the time. I have been patient, I have waited, and now I am blessed with this vision: the creature he can become, with my help. I hold out one hand to him and repeat “stay with me.” This time it is a command, not a supplication, yet he does not heed my warning tone. Instead, he grimaces irritably at the edge in my voice.

“Stop, Tanim.”

As he turns his back to me, tiring of this game, I slip the knife from beneath the mattress and rise from the bed. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand that he is the master, I the servant, and that together we shall reshape him. But I forgive him for his ignorance. He has not seen the golden crowned god-king as I have, so he couldn’t possibly comprehend his own potential. So I will show him. I will transform him. By my hand he will fall, and by my hand he will be reborn.

“Do you know how beautiful you are, Daren?”

Before he can turn from the window, I cross the distance between us and plunge the blade into his sunlit chest. He gasps and shudders, a full-body tremor so much like a quiver of ecstasy, and sinks back into my arms. “I have been waiting for you,” I murmur into his ear as he struggles against this violation, “my lord; my king.”

“Tanim–” He whimpers, pain and confusion twisting his angelic face into a mask of misery, but does not cry out. Only his labored breathing and bloody fingers digging madly into my hand betray his agony. I brace his heavy body against myself and tear out the knife, causing him to convulse and groan. “Hush, hush,” I instruct patiently. “I know it hurts, but it has to. This moment will never be so perfect again, don’t you see? It’s the only way, my love. You must die so that you may be reborn.” I gather his body into my arms and settle onto the bed, cradling him in my lap. Crimson blood soaks the pale bed sheet entwined around his torso and smears his alabaster flesh. He no longer struggles to speak, sinking into shock, but his glazed, panicked eyes meet mine.

“Don’t be afraid, beloved.” I take one of his bloody hands in mine and kiss the same small curve in his wrist, but this time the heartbeat under my lips is shallow, and slowing. I smile. “You aren’t alone for this. I’m here. I will always be here. I will never leave you.”

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