Disclaimer: Sadly, it is Terry Brooks who owns all that follows. Except for the rubbish writing. That's all me.
Author: Flash Gator
I love this couple, so so much. Just asdajskhflk so good! Someone other than I needs to appreciate the seriously amazing slashy potential of this here couple and write stuff for it. Please? For me?
Not too pleased with how this turned out. Cruddy ending is super cruddy. But I forgive myself since I haven't written in such a long time (though that doesn't excuse my earlier works!)
Really hoping doesn't hunt me down and murder me for this.
He found him in Storlock.
He hadn't meant to find him, but there he was, strolling through the healers village. Time had hardly touched him; a few inches taller, a smidge broader, but still the same fair haired boy he'd parted ways with at Chard Rush two years past. He hadn't even realised he'd called until the other was turning, eyes blue pools of recognition. A moment of staring, of hesitation, and then the boy was upon him, all warm arms and deep, melodic voice and it finally occurred to him that the boy was no longer a boy, was as much a man as he.
He'd left to travel the four lands, he said. He wanted to see the world, old places and new places, old and new people. Slanter nodded dumbly, barely keeping up, staring in wonder at the man before him. He had hardly changed; he was still the same boy, energetic and adventurous, face a canvas for emotions. He hid nothing from the gnome, an open book to read as he wished, and Slanter had never been more willing to read.
The boy was all smiles and joy at the reunion, and his mood was infectious, he was infectious, and the gnome was at once mesmerised, even more so than he had been with the boy the man once was. Shame arose in him, and he fought to squash the familiar upwelling of desire, desire it had taken him so long to hide away.
Before he could stop himself he was agreeing to go with him, couldn't say no, could never say no to him, couldn't refuse him.
They were leaving the village and his arm was about his shoulders casually as he regaled the gnome with tales from the vale and Slanter could only nod as he focused on the burning he felt where their flesh met. The contact was all closeness and heat and he felt himself flush as his body burnt.
The night was spent in the Anar, the campfire making the shadows dance as they talked and talked and laughed and Slanter felt a weight lift as he spoke with the ever interested Valeman. No one else had ever been able to make him leave his shell, it had always been the boy, only ever the boy, who caused him to open up and enjoy the company of others. Well, his company anyway.
As drowsiness claimed them and they lay down to slumber, the boy rolled over to his resting companion, honey voice a whisper. I missed you, Slanter. The gnome pretended to sleep, the shame crashing down as waves in his mind. I missed you too boy, it whispered, more than you could ever know, more than I hope you ever discover.
They travelled for weeks and weeks, months and months. Each day was a new adventure to the Valeman. Slanter taught him to track, and the boy taught him about the wishsong, just as he had promised to years ago. Each day and night were full of conversation and laughter, and the shame of feelings that had grown so powerful, so suffocating the gnome felt he could drown in them.
One night, addled by too much ale and overcome with desire, the gnome had almost kissed him, but had instead fallen on knees weak from drink. The boy had teased him about it for weeks after. Slanter was just relieved that he had fallen.
It was becoming too much for him to bear. He resolved to leave the boy at Kern, at Hearthstone, outside Culhaven. Each time he could not say the words, could not bear to see the hurt in those eyes. And so he departed like a ghost in the night, slipping from their camp as the boy slept, deep into the Wolfsktaag.
For days he travelled north, emerging in the upper Anar, in the territory of his race. The freshness of the air, the solitude, the long days and nights of thought and his own company. This was where he belonged; this was Slanter's niche in the world. He hunted the wildlife and bathed in the streams and slept beneath a veil of starlight.
He had never felt more alone.
It was two weeks before the boy found him. He woke in the deep dark of night to harsh breathing and fists curled about the front of his travelling cloak, tugging him upright. Narrow green eyes adjusted slowly to show the boy, all blonde hair and slight features and wet, angry blues.
Why did you leave me Slanter? He asked, anger forgotten, eyes now sad and lonely and suddenly it hurt to look at him, to see what he'd caused. The gnome tried to shake himself free, but the boy clung tight to him, hands slipping to grasp the gnome's slim shoulders. Slanter was desperate. Angry and ashamed and hungry and it was just too much, he couldn't take another moment of this jumble.
Leave me alone! I'm meant to be alone! I don't need you here boy!
Greens met blues and were captured, anger gone, regret filling the void it left. The hurt, oh! The hurt in those eyes!
I'm not a boy anymore Slanter. I'm a man, same as you.
The gnome hung his head, focused on the Valeman's brown leather boots. His voice was a low, meek mumble, all shame and despair.
No, not the same as me. Never the same.
The air was thick between them, so hard to breathe, all hot and heavy and he couldn't take it! He pushed back from the Valeman and this time he let him go, stumbling backwards to get some space between them. Still he wouldn't let him from his sight, a tall, dark figure in the forest, fair hair glowing in the moonlight, eyes glistening.
Why'd you leave Slanter?
You wouldn't understand! You could never understand!
The anger was back, irrational and bubbling and consuming. He didn't want this, didn't want to say it, didn't want to see the Valeman turn in disgust. Better that they part in anger than he find out!
Try me, Slanter. The voice was a whisper that sounded as a shout in the quiet of the forest. Narrow elven features were sharp as they had never been before, goading him, daring him.
The waters broke the dams of his mind and flooded forth, a mess of feelings half forgotten and re-ignited, of craved companionship and hurt and heat and shame. All he had strived to hold back flowed out, his secrets laid bare before the Valeman.
Why couldn't you leave me be? I'm a tracker, I'm meant to be alone! I'm not meant to get attached, to feel things the way you make me feel them, to feel the things I do for you! Gods, Jair. You may be a man but you were always a boy to me, I had to see you that way, had to stop myself thinking of you as something more, as something attainable. Why did you have to come back? I can't stand this! I can't stand the shame and the temptation and stopping myself over and over again from doing something!
He deflated as he realised what he'd said, tempted to throw a hand to his mouth, as if he could somehow usher the escaped words back in. Instead he stood in the dark, arms limp at his sides, waiting for the man before him to do something.
The silence hung in the air, a gulf between them, as Valeman and gnome stared at each other through the darkness.
Two steps, three, and then Jair was before him again, looking down at the rough, yellow face of his gnome companion. Open book face closed and vacant, eyes almost piercing.
What are you saying Slanter?
He tried to move away again but hands caught his shoulders and held him, proximity suffocating and intoxicating and the touch of the Valeman's hands on his flesh was causing a knot of warmth in his abdomen which made him all the more uncomfortable.
He could see no way out; couldn't lie to the Valeman, couldn't escape his scrutiny, could only satisfy the others need to know. Dread twisted his gut as the words strummed themselves across his vocal cords.
I love you!
The world went quiet about him and Jair released his shoulders, eyes shocked beneath a mess of blonde. Slanter sighed, all fight and fury leaving him with his admission.
I love you Jair. Have since you forced me on that forsaken trip into the Eastland. Couldn't help myself. And you were just a boy! Older than I when I left home, not a child, but still not a man, still so much younger. It's been so hard to stop myself from acting on it; I couldn't do that to you. But I want to, oh how I want to!
Weak yellow legs stumbled back into a fallen tree, the gnome seating himself on the trunk. Yellow face fell into calloused hands, waiting for the anger, the disgust, the awful quiet rustle of departing footsteps in the leaf litter.
Something musical pierced the air, and he recognised Jair's laughter; a deep, thrumming melody. Then thin yellow wrists were gripped and wrenched apart and soft pink lips were meeting his own and his mind dissolved to a puddle. They lingered only moments before being swept away, and then strong, slim arms were encircling him and lifting him from the tree back to his feet. The grin the Valeman wore almost split his pale face in two, and words tumbled from it in a hasty mess of feeling.
I love you too, you know. Thought I may have fallen when we travelled to Heavens Well, but I had to know for sure. I left home to find you, and I did, and I discovered my answer. I never believed you could ever reciprocate, but now…
The gnome silenced him, pressing lips with bruising force against his own, the Valeman's hair like liquid gold between his fingers. The knot in his abdomen constricted as the man released a low moan, the vibration rumbling through his body and driving him to frenzy. Hands grappled with constricting fabric, desperate to feel the contact their bodies craved. The night became all flesh on flesh and whispered confessions, the air cacophonous with cries of needs fulfilled.
They lay wrapped in each other as the first rays of sunshine broke the horizon. Light set twinkling the sweat that formed in tiny droplets on their skin, soon covered by shirt and trousers as they readied to leave.
The march through the trees was a conversation reel of times past, of regrets and achievements, of times shared and the planning of future adventures, of tracking and wishsong illusion. Of the companionship they'd left with, and the partnership they'd gained.
I am sorry for this poor piece of writing. I hope someone found something they could like about it though.
I am working on a (hopefully better written) multichapter for this couple. I promise you nothing though, and due to problems with past multichapters I shan't upload a chapter till it's all done, or at least very almost nearly all done. Still, if you'd like to read a Slanter/Jair multichapter, do let me know and it might help me stay inspired :)