AUN: Disclaimer, yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill
She approached the Dark King's throne. "Take care of Gabriel and Irial?"
"For exchange," Niall said.
"Your dreamweaver doing as Irial asked," Niall murmured. He didn't look at Irial as he said it.
"Weaving the two of your dream selves together?" Ani clarified.
The Dark King's nod was curt.
Ani looked at Rae, who nodded.
"Done," Ani said.
And then she turned to Devlin and the pack of wolves crowding the room. "Let's go home."
Neither Irial and Niall said anything until it was just the two of them alone. For a few minutes, all that surrounded them was the uncomfortable silence that had steadily grown as neither of them said a word.
"When do you plan on speaking?" Irial asked, leaning against the seat of Niall's throne. He had started to play with the hair that Niall had been working on growing out, admiring the length that Niall had let it reach. He knew that when Niall had started to grow it out, it was meant to be a peace offering to Irial. The reason he had shorn it to begin with was because he knew that Irial liked to have something to hold on to when having sex. Growing his hair out was meant to be the beginning of Niall's forgiveness. "Our limited time is being wasted. I don't want my last memory to be of us sitting here not saying what needs to be said."
"I don't kn-" Niall started to curse himself. Sometimes he truly wished that he were capable of lying. If not to those around him, than to himself.
Irial just smiled sadly. "We both know that I will not live pass the night. I'd prefer it if we both made the most of it."
"You will live," he said with conviction. "I won't let you die."
"I don't think you have much of a say in this, Gancanagh." Irial smiled without humor.
That's when Niall finally showed that there were still feelings he harbored for the once-was Dark king. He had been hiding for so long, refusing to feel what he wanted to feel. He grabbed hold of the past Irial's hand and held it over his heart. "I don't know if I can live without you," his voice cracked.
"I know you will, though." Irial said lovingly, paying with the top button of Niall's shirt. "You have to, for your court." Tears started to run down Niall's face. "Don't cry. Right now I am not gone. I don't want this look on your face to be the last thing I see." The wicked side of Irial started to come out just then. The side that first drew Niall to the then-was Dark King. Looking into Niall's eyes, asking without words, he started to unbutton his counterpart's shirt. "I could think of some of your other," he paused, "more entertaining faces that I'd rather see at this moment in time."
"And which one of those would that be?" Niall choked out.
"I could tell you." Irial brushed a kiss over the other male's eyelids. "Or I could show you." His mouth moved down his face to his mouth, which he kissed softly.
Niall smiled, no longer the Dark King at that moment, just someone as frightened and terrified of the situation as Irial was. This was a side of Niall that Irial had both hated and loved for so long. He loved making that look appear on his once-was-and now-could-be lovers face-and he hated imagining it brightening some other fae's life.
Rather than answering Irial though, he just pulls the other male to himself and kisses him. Everything he had been trying to hide for so long rushes through him, making it hard to breath. The kisses were desperate, understanding that after tonight it would be their last.
"I was so stupid," Niall muttered against Irial's lips. "I thought we'd have more time."
"You couldn't have known that this would happen," Irial said, trying to comfort him. "I don't want to think about what-ifs, just right-nows."
Niall couldn't have agreed more. Rather than responding though, he just started to unbutton Irial's shirt with one hand and, not thinking about it, moved his other hand underneath the material separating them from something that they both had wanted for so long. He started to rub his hand along his side, just as he had remembered the other faerie liking, when he accidentally rubbed his hand against Irial's wound.
If Irial had known that would happen, he would have enjoyed the pain. But since it came to him as a shock, he winced, which caused Niall to stop right in his tracks. The pain was only there for an instant, but it still hurt Niall to see Irial cringe away from him.
"I am fine. Don't stop." Irial started to run his fingers through Niall's hair again, already over the pain that had caused him to jerk.
"Are you sure?"
"I've never been more sure of anything else in my life," Irial said against Niall's lips. "I've been waiting on you for months. Don't leave me now." To make his point clearer, he kissed Niall harder and pulled him closer, showing him how okay he was.
"Okay." Niall let himself get lost in the moment. With the only man who truly ever made him happy. The only man who made him feel like there was nothing wrong with him.
They laid like that afterwards, content but not content. They knew that their time together was dwindling. Already Niall could start to feel Irial's heartbeat slow down, then pick back up. They both knew that they had mere moments left together. Already the sun was coming up in the windows.
Niall had his head over Irial's heart, happy to have been in his arms again, if only for that moment. He hadn't remembered the last time he had let himself truly enjoy someone like that. He knew that the truth was that Irial was the only one he had truly enjoyed himself with. "I do love you, you know."
Irial smiles. "I know. I love you, too. More than you will ever know," Irial said. He placed a kiss on the top of Niall's head. "I take it that you have forgiven me?"
Niall looks at Irial and plants a light kiss on his lips, just making contact. "I think I forgave you long ago. I was just to blinded by my anger to admit it to myself."
"That's good to know."
Niall didn't know how he knew when Irial's soul left his body, he just knew. Being the King of Nightmares, he knew what his fae's emotions were, and he knew when there was a lack of emotions. He was just happy that he could give Irial one last good memory.
The pain that racked through him was so harsh that it jerked him awake.
After waking Niall ran straight to where he had left Irial. He was still on the couch in the sitting room. The thistle fae were surrounding their old king, patting cheeks, rubbing arms, leaning on him crying, leaving blood in their wake on accident.
The fae started to pick up the body, but Niall stopped them. "Leave him."
They didn't say a word, they just left.
Niall collapsed half on top of Irial, crying. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry." He just kept repeating the words, knowing that they did no good. Knowing that he couldn't bring Irial back to him. Knowing that Irial's once-was warm skin would never comfort him again. But he didn't care about anything. He just wanted to grieve. He knew that it was irrational and that Irial wasn't in this shell below him. Niall's court was built for emotions though, and to show them would be a lie to both him and Irial. He didn't cry just for him. He cried for both of them. He cried for what they had been. He cried for what they were. And most importantly, he cried for what they could have been.
Had he been thinking clearly, he would have seen Irial's shade right behind him, running his transparent fingers through his hair, admiring the length.
Every Dark Fae in the city heard it when their king awoke. The despair, anger, sadness, hatred, anguish he let off in that moment fed his fae for weeks. They felt themselves grow stronger in seconds. But that didn't help the pain that they too felt when they found out why their king was in misery. That day would be the day that finally pushed Niall over the edge. The day after, he would begin to prepare his fae, and the fae of the Winter Court, for war. Donia had promised if war were to erupt, she would be backing the DArk King. Niall was more than willing to accept the help. Niall didn't care who he would hurt, just that he wanted the Summer Fae to feel a fraction of the pain that coursed through his veins. He had truly become the King of Nightmares.