Harry snapped out of the dream at the same time Tsu'tey did. He could feel it. Could feel the Na'vi's consciousness along his own, the background sensation of their link like a warm blanket wrapped around him, blocking some of the pain that had woken in his heart. Pain that Tsu'tey shared now.
Staring into those golden eyes, he froze. For the first time in a long while, he had absolutely no idea what to do. Recent revelations had proven that he really didn't understand anything as well as he had thought he did.
Tsu'tey reached out with both hands and took Harry's into his own. It was time for whatever they wanted. Harry could feel Tsu'tey's intent through the bond. Could feel that the Na'vi cared for him in a way he had never cared for another Na'vi. Could feel that Tsu'tey wanted to take away the pain in his heart, and yet understood that nothing he did would ever be able to erase the scar, even though the wound was beginning to heal.
Harry couldn't help but feel amusement at the thought of 'whatever they wanted'. Tsu'tey's 'remembering' of Harry engaging in sex had both embarrassed the wizard and aroused him. It'd be nice to get laid, but apparently these bodies couldn't jack off.
When Tsu'tey's amusement, embarrassment, and mixed confusion and understanding came down the bond, Harry realized his mistake. Heat rushing to his face, he looked away from the intensely examining Na'vi eyes. Right. Mind link equals Tsu'tey knowing his thoughts. Shit.
Annoyance came down the bond this time as Tsu'tey gave him a mental nudge. They were bonded. As much as Tsu'tey had tried to deny it before, they had first bonded before Eywa, and the Mother had approved, otherwise they wouldn't be where they were today. They would not officially be mates until they had mated before the Eywa but it was certain that they would be together. Tsu'tey didn't know what he was going to tell Neytiri. Didn't know what his people would say when they saw that the one to become Olo'eyktan had mated with not only a male, but a dreamwalker. But somehow, when he was joined with Harry, it didn't seem nearly as daunting as when it was just himself.
Harry sent a wave of… well, comfort, knowledge, experience… They would figure it out. Harry had never been in a situation like this before, but who was he to turn away from another adventure? Besides, he'd never… Mixed emotions filled him. There had never been someone on Earth who understood him as Tsu'tey now did, and he could feel that understanding. Feel how Tsu'tey's feelings, knowledge, and views had changed slightly, affected by those of Harry's own. Could feel how his own understanding of the People had shifted.
Could sense how his feelings towards the Sky People had acquired a new angle of darkness. A new hate born of adolescence and possessiveness and the knowing that what these aliens took was not their own, and they didn't belong. Hatred grown from personal loss as the memory of the soldiers who gunned down the school flashed before Harry's eyes.
The wizard closed his physical eyes for a moment as the memory and strong emotions swept over him. Watched through flickering images, impressions, memories as Tsu'tey's father was killed by soldiers when he was but a boy. All he had done was protect the village, and the demons had cut him down. That day Tsu'tey had vowed to be stronger, so the next time he could kill them before they stole something else from him. From them all. That drive had pushed him to the top of the clan, until Neytiri's father had chosen him to be the new Olo'eyktan after the Trials.
Harry almost lost himself in the memory for a moment, but something caught his attention and pulled him out of it. Tsu'tey was poking at his magic core. It wasn't a physical poke by any stretch of the imagination, but when they were linked like this, it seemed even thinking curiously about it was enough to catch its attention.
And caught its attention, Tsu'tey certainly did. The magic rushed down their link and into his body, startling the Na'vi and in turn startling Harry with emotions and feelings of unfamiliarity, confusion, worry, curiosity, and slight fear.
Harry sent a wave of calm down their bond. Magic was influenced by the subconscious mind when the conscious mind wasn't in control of it. It would never harm Tsu'tey unless Harry wanted him to be harmed, so the Na'vi had nothing to be worried about.
Slowly, as the magic did nothing but curl curiously about Tsu'tey before retreating gently back to Harry's core, the Na'vi began to relax and the emotions surging down the link filtered back into that innocent curiosity of youth. The emotion quickly segued into annoyance at Harry's amusement. Just because the Lost One was hundreds of years older than him didn't mean he could be condescending.
Harry's amusement increased as he bowed his head in proper chastisement. Tsu'tey's tail whacked his leg. Harry tickled him back. Somehow that resulted in Tsu'tey feeling he had the right to tickle Harry to death, and the dreamwalker let out a startled yelp and jumped away from the touch. Tsu'tey followed him and they fell into the deeper waters beyond the rock.
Emotions twisted and turned together until amusement became the dominant emotion as they fought, tickled, and groped at each other for the upper hand. Finally, Harry's lungs began to demand his attention, and annoyed with his place underneath Tsu'tey, he pushed back the water around them until they were encased in a bubble. Using the Na'vi's surprise to his advantage, he flipped them in the air before landing on top of Tsu'tey on the mossy, rocky, silty river bed.
Gotcha, he grinned, teeth bared in a satisfied grin as he pinned Tsu'tey in place with his hands and legs.
The Na'vi grinned back at him, and Harry had a moment of suspended unease before something yanked and he let out a howling hiss of surprised agony. Before he could recover, he found himself pinned to the riverbed. What the hell had- flashes of amusement and the sensation of a tail curling around his own, caressing it in apology. As the pained ache began to fade, the tail caressing his own became highly… erotic.
Before Harry could stop the thought from forming, it had bounced down the bond to Tsu'tey and the Na'vi froze above him. The half-human let out an annoyed groan as his brain followed the predictable human pattern of arousal. As if a switch had been hit in his head, and really, it had, his arms tensioned against his perceived bonds and his brain timely announced that it had been a very long time since he'd had the pleasure of allowing himself to be dominated by another man.
Face heating with arousal and embarrassment, he turned his head away to avoid Tsu'tey's eyes, doing his best to separate the arousal zinging down their bond. It wasn't Tsu'tey's fault humans could be aroused by just about anything. Not that Harry knew that much about Na'vi sex drives-
Tsu'tey derailed his thoughts by kissing and nipping at his neck, frying his mental circuitry with a zap of electricity. Damn. It had been so long and- Tsu'tey had found his ears. Letting out a mewl he didn't even know he was capable of, he tilted his head farther to the side and grinded upwards in an instinctual reaction to touch and-
Lights exploded behind Harry's eyes as his groin made contact with Tsu'tey's hip and this time there was actually something there to- and the pleasure of blessed friction burned up his spine from his lower regions and fried his brain cells as he shot straight off the edge. But it didn't end there. His pleasure traveled to Tsu'tey and the Na'vi let out a hoarse cry as the unfamiliar sensations raced through his own body and set him off in a way never before experienced until their bond was a completed circuit of sensation that kept setting Harry off again and again as it cycled between them and-
Water collapsed towards them as Harry's control broke under the assault and peak of energy between them before exploding away under the influx and expulsion of uncontrolled power. Harry collapsed bonelessly against the riverbed, uncaring of the occasional rock digging into his back. Man. That wasn't even comparable to-
His attention snapped back to Tsu'tey, who was stiff and tense as a board, a parallel opposite to the water leisurely spinning around them like a whirlpool. A sliver of panic sliced through Harry's warm haze. Shit. Tsu'tey hadn't – Harry hadn't even asked – it all happened so fast – what if Tsu'tey never spoke to him again or-
The Na'vi's body collapsed on top of him in a heavy, panting, shaking heap, startling Harry out of his spiralling thoughts. The abrupt change derailed his panic enough for him to realize that they were still connected, and when he reached out to feel along the bond, he gasped softly at the wealth of convoluted and intense emotion that lay beyond.
But none of it was regret or anger, and that eased a tense little knot deep inside Harry's gut. Nuzzling his face into the Na'vi's neck, he let out a deep, contented sigh and relaxed under the weight of the slightly taller Na'vi. Letting his arms wrap themselves around the warm, wet back, he closed his eyes and tried to pick his way through the mess coming from the bond.
Surprise. Quite a heavy dose of it. He had… enjoyed it, a lot. Hadn't expected it to be so intense. From what he'd felt in the visions, Harry's own experiences hadn't been like that. Jealousy. At past lovers long gone. Mixed guilt and self-condemnation for not waiting until Harry was taronyu or Tsahik to mate like he should have, as was expected among the People.
Harry dug his fingers into the tense muscles of Tsu'tey's back, slowly soothing them as he sent a rebuttal down the bond. First of all, Tsu'tey was incomparable to past flings and should just stop worrying about that entirely, he mentally chided. Second, their bond was not typical in any way, and even Mo'at understood that, so Tsu'tey shouldn't expect things to go according to plan. Thirdly, a little frottage was hardly full on sex. You needed penetration for that.
Tsu'tey frowned and pushed himself upright on shaky limbs, meeting Harry's eyes with confusion and a bit of annoyance.
Harry raised an eyebrow. Among humans, full on sex required that Tsu'tey stick his dick in Harry, and since that hadn't happened, they weren't fully mated. So what was the issue?
Tsu'tey stared at him for a long, drawn out moment before his brain processed that and he started laughing softly. It was Harry's turn to frown. What exactly did Tsu'tey find so funny?
Tsu'tey buried his face in Harry's neck and just continued laughing, his whole body shaking with mirth that was reflected just as brightly down their bond. ~Your words carry a personality of their own,~ he said between his chuckles.
Harry's frown deepened. He did not enjoy not knowing how he was the butt of a joke.
Tsu'tey just continued laughing helplessly. ~If you had spoken so to Mo'at or another Na'vi, they would have been horrified. And yet, I understand.~
~Understand what?~ Harry asked, now genuinely annoyed.
Tsu'tey grinned against his neck. ~Your way of thinking is funny, both knowing the way of my People and the way of yours, I mean.~
Harry ran his past 'words' through his head again and blushed slightly. Oh. ~Yeah, well, it's true! No penetration, no mating!~
Tsu'tey laughter finally began to die. ~If we follow your logic and apply it to the ancient ritual of the Na'vi, then does that mean we have to put off 'intercourse' until 'marriage'?~ he asked, injecting the true English words for effect.
Harry gaped. He had corrupted the hunter! Since when was his messed up sense of humor coming out of someone else's mouth?
Tsu'tey continued to grin. ~Now you see how it is funny.~
"Gah! How did you even learn that?"
~Most of your memories were not completely clear, but there are… impressions and flashes left behind.~
Harry banged his head against the riverbed. Just like flashes of Tsu'tey's childhood hung at the edge of his mind. Unlike Tsu'tey, however, he was trained in Occlumency and his mind had automatically carted all the foreign elements into a nice, neat little box that he would enjoy perusing later.
It was Harry's turn to grin. ~Just you wait until you have the real thing,~ he shot back, throwing the Na'vi off track with images and tactile memories of what it felt to have a warm column of flesh pressed inside. A shiver traveled up his spine as he shared in the memory. Oh yes, he couldn't wait until Tsu'tey nailed him to a tree.
~You are so- so- ~ A bundle of emotions crashed against him and Harry laughed.
"You're such a prude," he murmured softly with a grin, licking Tsu'tey's neck. The Na'vi jolted and glared at him. Meeting those angry, molten eyes, Harry just continued to smile and bask in the warm glow of sexual relief and contentment. But I love you anyway.
The Na'vi froze a second after Harry realized that Tsu'tey could read his thoughts. When a jolt of shock and panic raced through him, Tsu'tey growled and put his teeth to Harry's neck. Convoluted but unmistakable emotions surged down the bond, and Harry gasped as he was subjected to Tsu'tey's vision of himself.
-the way emotion/power/presence/strength/defiance burned under his flesh and in his eyes like it was alive-
-how he had helped that homeless child so long ago without a thought to himself-
-the way his face lit up when Tsu'tey was privy to a rare spark of joy-
-how he had risked his own life countless times for others in a war he hadn't known if he could win-
-the way his body moved through the kata like water itself-
-how others had hurt him countless times and yet blame and hatred were always so carefully and hesitantly meted out-
-the way he opened himself to Tsu'tey and accepted what was given in return-
Harry swallowed and forced back the burning in his eyes as he curled around the Na'vi.
So… That was rather more romantic than I originally intended. I know CHP 17 was mighty piddly, and I am sorry for that. My original intention was to write 17 and 18 in one go, but I got part of the beginning of 18 done and then abandoned it for nearly a month. When I returned to it later, I was so disgusted with where I had almost led the story that I was turned off writing for a week. Sad, but true. This second attempt is /much/ better and (hopefully) worth the wait…