Hakuryuu sat in a nest of bones and branches, a fallen king exiled from his empire and forced into the shadows. He'd been driven out by those who called him family before they'd shattered every meaning of the word with betrayal and war. With his loyal source of power depleted and his fearsome magi lost, he'd been forced to flee to avoid death.

The plants talked to him. They whispered promises and lies, teasing him with hope for a future with happiness. They never gave a name, but Hakuryuu never forgot the playful voice of his first djinn.

The bones had a voice. Admonitions rustled through the creaking spines, bids for freedom among haughty criticisms. No black king deserved to rule; his punishment should well be harsher than loneliness. The star on his pauldron glowed brightly and Hakuryuu drank in its anger like it was the richest wine.

The plants talked to him and the bones had a voice, but neither were what he craved. The loss of Judal had left an irreplaceable hole in his heart; one he hadn't expected but oh how it hurt. Loneliness clawed at him as the hours, days, weeks ticked by, the sharp cocoon of bones and vines his only comfort.

Sometimes he dreamed of hands touching his face lightly, soft breath against his neck, a gentle humming in his ear.

Sometimes he dreamed of blood dripping from everything, running down his sides, his hands, his legs, along the ground and into the very earth until it was muddy with it.

Sometimes he dreamed of black pouring from the sky and coming up from the ground, swallowing him whole, taking every bit of the lonely black woods and spines etched in negative space with it.

Rarely he dreamed of bright red eyes and a wide smile, but he wanted them more with every passing night.

Hakuryuu couldn't remember the last time he saw the sky. There were vines tightly coiled in a canopy above him and thick branches around him, woven shut with tendrils until nothing could see him and he couldn't be reminded of his failures in the world.

The stars had haunted him and the sun had lit every scar with its judgmental glow; he curled further away from them and made his own sky. Unnaturally white arches of bones cut patterns across the blackened greens of the canopy, and the plants spoke in hushed, worried tones.

He sunk the roots of his legs deeper into the earth to fill the pit in his stomach, but ate the harshly sweet berries his spear grew when instead, his hunger became too painful to bear. It was a different taste, not the soft and slightly tangy one he had hoped for. He wanted fruit that burst forth from delicate blossoms, picked at summer's height and tossed lovingly from the palace trees.

In between his nightmares, he was gifted with a bright, warm dream. Judal is splayed on their bed, his hair a dark pool underneath him. Hakuryuu's hands are holding his hips as Judal jerks them up to meet his cock, and he sees Judal's smile drop open to a breathy moan. Fingers twist in hair and sheets and Judal's back makes the perfect, pretty arch when he comes. They end up tangled together, laughing at the mess they've made of each other, Hakuryuu wiping smeared cum off Judal's thigh while he comments on the line of bruises forming on Hakuryuu's neck.

The rukh around them was so pink, barely bleeding into black on the edges, and Hakuryuu woke up feeling emptier than before.

The plants talked to him and begged him to leave his self made cage, promised a world of happiness, and Hakuryuu ignored them.

The bones had a voice, but they no longer spoke to him.

Black seeped into every inch of his body, fluttering wings blotting out the spines and vines around him until all he saw was rustling darkness.

A small sliver of light shines through thick branches as bloody fingers claw their way in, ripping the woven tendrils out of their way until slivers turn to a bright, gaping mouth. Arches of bone collapse and the canopy unravels and hands reach desperately for him through the dark cloud of rukh.

Miles away and infinitely close, a familiar voice calls his name.

Judal grabs his hands and pulls; his legs creak and magoi flows into them until the earth releases their roots. Hakuryuu tumbles gracelessly into waiting arms and the plants reach up to catch them as they fall together.

Judal's fingers leave bloody streaks across Hakuryuu's cheeks and his smile threatens to break his face in two.

"I knew I'd find you."