Here we go again!

DISCLAIMER: Garth Nix. Still a freaking genius. Who am I? An Inconsequential nobody. He owns KTTK and much else besides. I don't.

Second installment of the Gauntlet Series. Still Pre-Mister Monday, but cutting it close. The Will is still imprisoned, as far as Noon and Dusk know. But they can sense that something may go wrong. Their "just love" has become bittersweet.

As for musical entertainment to go with this: I think this series has become a Jason Mraz-music series. Try listening to "Clockwatching" from Mraz's second album, Mr. A-Z.

Without further ado, I present you with the next Gauntlet story. (Reviews are love!)



(Part II of the Gauntlet Series)

Dusk was smiling again, goose bumps appearing on his arms as a breeze continued to ripple through the window, unabashed and unashamed at what it saw. He quivered a bit, as Noon's finger traced along his arm, tickling the goose bumps, and causing more to rise. Soon, the fingers moved to his spine, pressing along it. Dusk arched his back in a yawn, and settled against Noon. He felt the hand brush against the nub of one of his ebony wings—neither of them had bothered to bring theirs back in.

After a while, Noon's touch left Dusk's body, but his presence did not. Instead, Dusk felt the smooth underside of the sheets, cascading slow motion up his thigh and then over his waist and stomach until they dropped against his chest.

Noon's hand returned to his wings, gently stroking them, and Dusk exhaled, enjoying the feel of Noon's breath on his back between his shoulder blades.

"Good morning," he said to the air in front of him. Noon chuckled.

"It is almost not morning anymore," he replied, sighing, his finger running over the other wing. Dusk slowly turned over, careful not to crumple his wings, nor to hit Noon in the face with them.

"No," he whispered, as Noon moved his head back up to the pillow. Dusk put his face against the taller Denizen's chest, kissing him over the heart. He felt Noon nod, heard an almost silent yes. "No," Dusk repeated, kissing his chest harder, as though the passion could force Noon to stay. It might have, were it not for the fact that Noon needed to go, that it was his duty. "How long?" Dusk finally asked, knowing he could not keep his bedmate with him.

"I have about an hour until noon, half until I must leave you." Noon's lips touched Dusk's forehead, just below his hairline.

"Must you?" They both knew the answer.


Noon returned to his tender touching, gentle stroking, and Dusk simply breathed.

Because they had chores to do during their Times (though not in Secondary realms if it was not Monday), their hours together were numbered. But all in all, they had forever. Until the Architect Willed the end, they could be together, and they would be together. The Will was locked up, and even if it were not, there were many things it had to carry out before the end of time. Still, every day seemed like so little time, as though it was running out. Both sensed it, both were closer for it, but it was bittersweet closeness. Something was coming, something that would change the House—for better or for worse, no one except perhaps the Architect knew. And where was she?

In the meantime, they would simply have to love. And love they did and love they would, until the end.

Glancing at the large clock on the far wall of Dusk's habitation, Noon noted the time. With another sigh, he withdrew his arm from where it was curled around Dusk's waist, his hand caressing the dark Denizen's back. For a moment, he almost put it back, but, shaking his head, he pulled in his wings, feeling them flow back into his body, sliding into niches within his shoulder blades. He leaned down over the now sleeping body of Monday's Dusk and kissed the other's lips, then his pale neck and shoulder.

"I love you."

The taller Denizen waved his hand, and his clothes returned to him, starched and crease-less. With a manner of importance he strode from the room. He saw a flash of darkness near his feet, and looked down to see the night-sky blue of his socks peaking out from his shoe—his ode to the Denizen he loved. He couldn't help but grin.

On the bed behind him, Dusk stirred and sat up.

"Wait," he called.

"I can't," Noon said, whirling on the spot, his grin fading.

"I know," Dusk replied, not bothering to draw up the covers as they slipped down his form. "I love you, too," he added, and Noon nodded.

"I know."

Dusk hesitated, not quite sure what to say, and in that moment, the other took his leave. The pale Denizen sighed, and slowly lowered himself back to the pillows, pulling up the red bedspread.

Monday's Noon walked purposefully down the hall, straightening his sleeves and gauntlets. He did not look back. But inside he knew. He knew that Dusk was crying.


Silence and a review?