After the End Ch. 02

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Author’s note:

This is the second part of a 70,000 word novel, which I’ve divided into seven chapters. All seven have been completed and will be posted in sequence. The story takes place about one hundred years into the future. Chapters can be enjoyed individually, but the dramatic tension is strongest if you start with chapter one.

“After the End” is a genre romance: It is a fantasy about the progression of a relationship, with an interplay of both sexual and emotional elements. I personally find the sex to be very hot, and the romance to be very satisfying. I hope you will as well, but feel free to focus on just one or the other, based on your mood or interest.

A couple of notes on the story as a whole:

— I am new to writing, so I’d love to hear what you responded to or didn’t. I have very much appreciated all the feedback I received on my previous postings.

— I am genderqueer but biologically female, so I don’t always have first-hand experience with the m/m sex depicted. However, I have combined my personal knowledge with research to tell the most realistic story I can.

I hope you enjoy!

Tags for this chapter include: #bisexual, #bisexual male, #romance, #gay romance, #m/m romance, #future, #post-apocalyptic, #dystopian, #novel

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Avery:

Julian woke me while it was still dark. Memories from last night — his mouth on me, his fingers inside me — rushed back and made me shy. There wasn’t time to dwell on it, though. We needed to be packed and away by mid-morning, and if all of Sabine Ridge wasn’t going to know he’d spent the night with me, he had to be out of my tent before anyone started looking for him. He pulled on his clothes, gave me a lingering kiss, and left.

I had no time to waste, either. I scrambled around camp, handing off responsibilities and gathering my share of supplies for the next few weeks, adding them to the rest of the mission team’s. Rowan found me packing rations in the abandoned barn we used for storage. Her blonde hair was twisted away from her face, hanging long and loose down her back. As always, she seemed blissfully unaware of her bombshell looks. She turned a lot of heads, including mine, but romance was rarely on her agenda. We’d clashed, at first, until I learned to see her strong personality as an advantage rather than an obstacle. By then, it was a bit too late for casual sex.

“I just heard that you’re leaving,” Rowan accused. “and not even from you.” She was at least five inches shorter than me, but she never seemed it when she wore that intense expression. She ordered around young messengers and fired pointed questions at the head of our governing council with equal ease. I would miss that unapologetic boldness.

“Sorry,” I said, pulling a crate down from the shelf and counting out some strips of smoked boar meat. “I only got permission last night; I haven’t had a chance.”

“I thought the council decided to keep you here. Delta is going — why do you have to go too?”

I kept my back to her while I composed my answer. Rowan knew me well and was hard to lie to. I wasn’t ready for her to find out that Delta — Julian, as I now knew him — was the reason I had to go.

“I volunteered. Establishing another base is critical to our long-term survival. I want to help.”

She looked thoughtful when I turned to stuff the cured meat into a cloth pouch next to dried berries I’d already loaded into my pack.

“Could you let Lamont know tonight?” I asked to distract her from contemplating my motives. “He’s already out with the hunters.” Lamont was the other friend I would miss the most. We didn’t talk a lot, but he had been a steadying presence through unsteady years. We’d logged countless long hours of labor side by side, and they seemed to go by quicker when he was there.

Rowan nodded, then tilted her head mischievously. “How will we get anything done without those patented motivational speeches of yours?”

I smiled back and squeezed her shoulder. “I’m sure you haven’t heard the last of them. We’ll see each other again.”

“Take care of yourself, and make sure we do.”

The trek north was slow and weary. Though the September days were getting shorter, we sweltered through the afternoons. Some days we were harassed by storms; others we struggled to find paths clear enough for our pack animals. More than once, we were ambushed by nomadic crews greedy for our supplies. Those types were common in the vacant land around here. They considered murder a small price to pay for food they didn’t have to grow or gather themselves. But we were well-armed, and we had Julian, so we managed to avoid any serious losses.

About thirty people had been chosen to establish the second base: farmers, hunters, craftspeople, and lots of security. Our team stuck close for safety, sharing the daily chores of food, water, shelter, and defense. We covered about twenty miles on a good day, and there wasn’t any downtime. The country we travelled grew increasingly unfamiliar güvenilir bahis away from Sabine Ridge, so our path became less linear. We scouted more, sometimes losing whole days retracing our steps to avoid impassable cliffs, wild rivers, or unfriendly residents.

At first, I was excited about adventuring alongside Julian. Remembering the way he had looked at me and touched me gave me a constant, low-level buzz. There wasn’t really an opportunity to talk to him, though, or to be alone with him. I couldn’t figure out a way to approach him without attracting the notice of our companions, and he never sought me out. He spoke to me rarely, and only about the tasks in front of us. For all I could tell, our night together might never have happened.

As the days went by, the vividness of that last day at Sabine Ridge began to fade. With nothing else to do as I trekked up wooded hills and slogged through marshes, I re-examined the memories, stripping them down. Yeah, he’d kissed me like I mattered, and wrapped me in his arms like he cared, and stayed with me all night because he wanted to. But that didn’t necessarily mean anything. For all I knew, he’d done those things with lots of people in private, and then ignored them afterward. Maybe that’s why he’d suggested keeping our “involvement,” whatever that was, secret.

Maybe the whole thing had been overblown by the drama of our looming separation. Maybe I had been right all along, and he had no more interest in me than he did in anyone. Maybe he just enjoyed luring straight men into gay sex. Maybe it was only my virgin ass he wanted. That possibility bothered me worst of all.

I tried to remind myself that his indifferent behavior might just be an effort to stay under the radar. However, with nothing but his impersonal commands and my probably-unreliable impressions from last week to go by, that seemed a very unlikely explanation. I watched him stalk through the forest with perfect control, face set in grim lines, eyes scanning ceaselessly for danger. His preternatural self-possession inspired both awe and despair. He was only four years older than me, yet he seemed as unreachable as one of the demigods of myth, born of divine Olympian strength. What would such a man want with me, a mere earth-bound human?

I wished bitterly that I’d never said anything to him. At least before, Julian hadn’t known that his apathy toward me meant anything. Now, his rejection had to be intentional, which was both devastating and humiliating.

The details of our journey lost their focus. I stopped speaking unless spoken to. All I wanted was to get to wherever we were going, so that I didn’t have to walk in front of him, or behind him, all day. I tried not to imagine how stupid he must think I was — following him across the state over an unrequited infatuation. I tried not to think at all.

Nights, we were all too tired to spend any more time than necessary setting up camp, not to mention tearing it down in the morning. We slept two or three to a tent to lighten the workload, with assignments made randomly each day, a system Julian has established to prevent conflicts. In some ways, nights were worse than days, because then there was nothing to distract from the memories. No matter how desperately I sought the oblivion of sleep, I always ended up reliving Julian’s gentle words, the safety of his embrace, and worst, his addictively erotic hands and mouth. Which got me achingly hard, with no privacy to alleviate the tension. Every night, I was tormented by the ghost sensations of Julian stroking my skin, licking my tip, finding that electric place inside me…

The long days got even longer.

Six days into our journey, chance paired me with Julian for the night. As soon as I heard, anxiety began simmering in my stomach. I dragged out my evening chores, ate my supper slowly, and joined a debate with a couple of others by the fire about the merits of settling in a valley versus on a hilltop. Finally, everyone turned in, and I dragged myself to the tent I was to share with the man who didn’t want me.

Julian was sitting on his bedroll when I came in. I laid out my own, pulled off my boots, and sat down reluctantly. For the first time in a week, he smiled. He started to reach for me, but I flinched away.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, as if there could possibly be any question.

“Nothing.” I didn’t look at him.

Julian watched me for a moment. “Did you lose interest in me already?”

“Me?” I challenged, eyes flashing to his face. “What about you?”

“Of course not. Why would you think that?”

I hid my misery beneath anger. “What else would I think when you’ve barely spoken to me since we left? Or even looked at me?”

“Avery, we talked about this. We agreed to stay under the radar. I’m treating you the same as everyone else, the same as I did before we left. Don’t you think people will notice if I start talking to you, or looking at you?”

It was hard to argue when he put it that way. “I guess.”

“Things türkçe bahis will settle down once we establish the new settlement. We’ll have more privacy.”

I conceded with a nod, but his unnervingly perceptive gaze didn’t leave my face, so I lay down on my blanket with my back toward him. The questions I couldn’t bring myself to ask chased themselves through my head. What was he expecting? Weekly hookups? Was I just a warm body to him? That worked fine for my casual relationships, but I was well beyond being able to do casual with Julian. I wasn’t about to put myself through another week like I’d just had.

I tried to tell myself it was stupid to even make this an issue. After all, a week ago I’d been begging to join this mission, just to be near him. I hadn’t expected anything from him then. I shouldn’t expect anything now. But that didn’t stop my blood from galloping around and around the racetrack of my veins, as if desperate for a way out.

When I didn’t say anything, Julian turned off our lamp and settled onto his bedroll as well. The warm night air pressed close, barely cooled since the afternoon. We lay in the darkness, listening to the undisturbed sounds of the forest and the crackling of the fire outside.

“I’m sorry about this week,” Julian said after a while. “It didn’t occur to me how you might interpret my behavior. I’m not very…practiced…with personal interactions.” He paused a moment. “Circumstances are less than ideal, so it may take some trial and error to figure out how this works. Just know that I wouldn’t intentionally cause you any distress. I’ll try not to accidentally, either.”

Chastised, I turned to face him. I had jumped to the wrong conclusion, yet he had apologized anyway. Why wasn’t I handling this better?

I knew I should say something, but all I could think of was that he was too far away. I struggled internally for a minute, then finally shifted closer and tentatively touched his arm. To my relief, he understood what I needed and guided me to lay against his side, the way I had the first night.

He let me rest there, my head on his solid shoulder, his arm secure around my back, listening to his heart beat while I tried to sort out my thoughts. He was more thickly muscled than me, his body faintly heated from the biological work of maintaining all that power.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered finally. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Julian said, unfailingly calm. “You haven’t been with a man before, and I’m sure I’m not the easiest one to start with.”

I took a deep breath. It really wasn’t so much that he was a man; it was just him. No one had ever affected me this way, and I didn’t know how to protect myself from all the desires and fears swimming around inside, colliding and feeding off each other. I already wanted this closeness with him more than I should, more than was safe. More than Julian could possibly want it.

“You ok?” he asked after a minute.

“Trying to be.”

“You want to tell me what’s on your mind?”

I hesitated again. I wasn’t prepared to tell him any of it, but I knew I should at least try to establish the boundaries of our sexual relationship. “Maybe I should have listened to you about taking things slow.”

“Why is that?”

“I don’t know,” I hedged. It was my default response when a question cost too much to answer.

“Did I…do something that bothered you?”

Wow, he was actually worried about it. “No, it’s not that.”

“It’s ok if you don’t want to have sex, Avery. You have complete control of that.”

Hearing him say it out loud gave my blood another burst of speed. Of course I wanted to have sex; I had burned for him all week. My concern was for tomorrow, after I had shared myself with this man who meant so much to me, when I’d be worrying what it had meant to him. But I didn’t want him to know that.

“You can talk to me,” Julian encouraged when I didn’t reply.

I just lay still, tensed against him, too nervous to say anything else. He was being so patient with me, and I was acting like a basket case.

“Avery, calm down,” he said, his sturdy arm drawing me in tighter. His free hand stroked over my hair. “I can feel your heart racing. You’re safe with me, ok? You don’t have to say anything or do anything. Just relax. You’re ok.”

I tried to focus on the comforting pressure of his body surrounding me, a waypoint amidst the tangle inside my head. It was ridiculous that I couldn’t control my emotions better, but they seemed to take on a life of their own where Julian was concerned.

Eventually, with his reassurances, my heart rate returned to normal.

“I don’t know how you do that,” I said quietly.

“Do what?”

“Make me feel better.”

“I can’t be the first person who’s made you feel better,” he replied, sounding doubtful.

I shrugged. Truthfully, I couldn’t remember a time when someone else had been able to comfort me. I’d been depending on myself since childhood, and so had everyone else. güvenilir bahis siteleri But that was more than I could explain at the moment.

I sighed, then moved back from him a bit so I could stretch out. “Can we talk about something besides me?”

“Sure.” I thought I could hear a slight smile in his voice.

We switched to the much less fraught topic of our mission, talking over the journey so far and what we expected ahead. The conversation ranged over events back at home, and I filled in some details of what had happened before Julian arrived.

“We should get some sleep,” he said eventually.

“Yeah,” I agreed, much more at ease than I had been an hour ago. Julian hadn’t been phased by the lack of sex or scared away by my unstable emotions.

“Would you be uncomfortable if I get out of these clothes?” he asked.

His consideration warmed me, but I didn’t want to sleep in my sweaty clothes either. “No, it’s fine.”

We peeled off shirts and pants and got settled, close together but not touching, except for Julian’s hand anchoring my arm. I basked in the peaceful darkness, like the first sunny day after a month of storms.

“Julian?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you,” I whispered. I hoped he understood; I didn’t think I could be any more specific tonight.

He pressed a kiss to the back of my shoulder. “Goodnight, Avery.”

“Goodnight.”

I tried to sleep but failed. At first, I couldn’t get my thoughts to settle down. Soon, however, Julian’s near-nakedness beside me occupied my whole attention. Now that I was confident we could be together without having sex, I wanted it more than ever. His warm proximity woke the memories from our first time together, and that woke my body, until I was stiff and aching inside my trunks. Still, true to his word, Julian never made a move, and with his even breathing, I couldn’t tell if he was asleep or not.

Finally, I could endure it no longer. I turned toward him and whispered his name.

“What is it?”

In answer, I found his mouth and kissed it urgently.

He kissed me back with equal passion, then broke away. “I thought we were taking it slow.”

“I need you too much. Last week was so hot…I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“Oh really?” he asked, his tone dropping into something sexier. He ran a hand down my side and over my hip, then pulled my trunks down just enough to bare my cock. It pulsed in anticipation of his touch, but I felt nothing. “You think about it a lot?”

“Every night,” I admitted.

Julian’s hand closed around my swollen erection.

“Do you always get this hard?” he asked in that same seductive voice. He didn’t make any other move, just held my cock as it twitched in his hand.

“Usually…” What was the point in denying it now? He could obviously feel the effect he was having.

“What did you do about it?” he asked, teasing his thumb along the flared edges of my glans.

“Nothing,” I gasped, struggling to keep my train of thought. “What could I do? I never got any time alone, or with you.”

“Mm, I’ll enjoy thinking about that,” he murmured, brushing once over the sensitive spot at my tip. “You lying awake, all hard and horny for me when I’m not even there.” He took his hand away. I groaned and gripped the covers, hard and horny indeed.

“Julian!” I regretted how much that sounded like a whine.

“Don’t worry, babe,” he told me with a laugh. “I’ll take care of you.”

Soon, my cock was engulfed in the perfect wet pressure of Julian’s mouth. After a week of frustration, his lips and tongue sliding against my rigid shaft felt incredible. I didn’t last very long, and I didn’t care.

This time, I didn’t give Julian a chance to finish himself. I pulled him up beside me while I recovered, then switched our places. Hesitantly, I lay my hands at his hips, still nervous about when or how he wanted to be touched.

“My turn?”

“Only if you want to. You don’t owe me anything.”

“I want to,” I said simply. I’d imagined this with him often enough, but especially since last week, I was longing to try to make him feel even a little of the pleasure he gave me.

I slid his trunks off. I wished I could see him, but I was thankful for the darkness hiding me. My first attempt at a blow job was bound to be awkward, no matter how many I’d received.

First with my hands, I explored. Julian’s smooth cock was already firm, and it flexed when I stroked slowly over it. The angle was quite a bit different from when I stroked myself, but the principles were the same. Before long, I pulled his tip into my mouth. He let out a quiet sound of pleasure and tilted his hips forward. Exhilarated by my new-found command over his body, I took him in a little further, holding what I hoped was the right amount of suction.

“Oh, Avery,” he breathed. “God, I’ve been dreaming of this.”

With that encouragement, I experimented some more, listening to his responses, learning what he liked. His fingers combed through my hair while I copied some of his techniques — running my tongue along the sensitive underside of his shaft, licking at the head until pre-come welled up, tonguing it from the slit. I added my hand to his shaft, pulling up and down in time with my mouth.

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