Getting Into the Season -Francis Binot shook his wings. As a gargoyle, they were always the first sign that he was getting tired. He stretched them out with a groan, feeling fatigue being to harden them. He either needed another shot of the café’s espresso, that would hold the sun’s effects at bay, or head to the rooftop to sleep.
“Here.” Basil Dimas landed to sit on the high ceiling beam next to Francis, a small cup in one hand and a string of garland in the cupid’s other hand. Francis could hear and feel the flutter of the other man’s feathered wings even if he couldn’t see them through Basil’s glamour. “We only have a few more things to finish up, but I figured you could use a pick-me-up.”
Francis inhaled the strong scent of espresso wafting to him and making his wings flutter at the pick-me-up. He took the cup, feeling the sweet warmth against his taloned fingers with a grateful nod to Basil before settling on the beam as well. Feeling the stony stiffness in his joints soften, he sipped and looked down at all the hard work they’d put in.
Faere Trade was always beautiful. Magical places tended to be. Even the terrifying ones, full of dark magic and the suffering it inevitably left in its wake, were as awe-inspiring as they were horrific.
But Faere Trade was a place of healing and communion. Offering food and drink meant to help its clientele, from the limitations-blocking espresso in Francis’s hands to a variety of glamour-producing teas to a legendary macaron cookie that could supposedly alter your fate in ways no one but the boss knew how. The café grew most of its own ingredients, so the entire place was a lush garden, with trees and bushes and plants everywhere. The smell of life and growth was infused into the space, always making him feel centered and alive.
It was always beautiful, magical beyond words, but, this time of year, it seemed more so. And it really shouldn’t have. Looking at the silver and gold tinsel he and Basil had draped and the lights and decorations they’d hung up everywhere, it should have looked like tacky, chintzy glitz, but it didn’t. At least not to him. He wondered, as a just-under-three-foot being, if it all just looked more wondrous from this height.
Basil played with the garland in his hands. “I probably shouldn’t—I mean, it’s a Christian holiday—but I love this time of year.”
Francis snorted. “Aren’t cupids associated more with St. Valentine’s Day now than Greek mythology.”
Basil smacked him with the garland. “It’s not really mythology, considering that I’m sitting right here now, is it?” But he shrugged. “Though, truth is, we’re not really either Greek or Christian. Both cultures embraced us, at one time or another, but it’s not as if we belong to anyone.”
Francis nodded, rubbing his shoulder. “Kinda like us.” Gargoyles had an odd relationship to Christianity. Both portrayed as demons and protectors, both feared and revered. But, in reality, they were older than any faith.
Yet, when most people looked at Francis, they tended to think he belonged in some Halloween decoration box with all the other spooks and ghouls and devils. But he always liked Christmas more, preferring the joyous season to jump scares. He’d take twinkle lights and carols over haunted houses and scary movies any day.
In fact, he nudged Basil with his wing. “Is that mistletoe in your hand or are you just happy to see me?”
Basil, around the same size as him, ran his hands over the garland and gave a small chuckle, truly looking like some cross between a Greek god and a small snow cherub. “It’s actually holly, but most people mistake it for mistletoe.”
Francis grinned toothily and set aside the now empty cup on the beam. “So then, by default, that must mean you’re happy to see me.”
Basil jumped off the beam and hovered in front of him, wagging the garland at him warningly. “Oh no, you don’t. You’re about to fall asleep in mid-air and we still have a bunch of work to do still.”
Francis winked at him flirtatiously. “Then give me something to get up for.”
Rolling his eyes at the bad double-entendre, Basil turned to fly away, but Francis caught his wrist. He glided off the beam, raising Basil’s arm over both their heads while his other wrapped around the cupid’s waist. He gave Basil a game look. “It is the season for giving.”
Basil let out a laugh and shook his head, but leaned into the embrace. “You’re ridiculous.”
Francis puffed up his chest. “One of my better qualities.”
Raising his eyebrow, Basil tsked. “We’ll have to stay late.”
The gargoyle just grinned. “The better to see the lights by.”
Francis could see—could feel—the moment Basil gave in, relaxing completely into his arms. “You are ridiculous.” The words were a whispered smile against his lips.
And then Francis could taste him, warm and spiced like the tea Basil drank for his glamour. Mixing with the espresso already on Francis’s tongue, it ran through him like a rush. He held the angelic man close. Francis wanted to crush Basil to him but, not being a gargoyle too, the cupid felt fragile in his embrace. He flexed his tense fingers so they didn’t dig sharp talons into Basil’s soft flesh. When they kissed, he had to be careful with the man, so his pointed eye teeth didn’t bite. Even his body, dense and hard, more used to being stone than flesh, ached with restraint. And the longing sigh that escaped Basil’s mouth, a sweet sound breathed into Francis, didn’t help. Francis moaned.
“Tell me what you want.” The devilish spark in Basil’s eye and the decadent tone in his voice made Francis pant with want. Excitement and nerves were clear on Basil’s face. Francis understood that; they’d been flirting around sex for a while now, kissing and touching, but it’d never felt like the right time.
Looking around, Francis couldn’t imagine a better moment. Kissing him again, he sighed. “Your mouth.” The phrase came to him like a longing twist in the gut. “On me.” His voice dipped deeper. “And mine on you.”
Basil chuckled low before tapping his chin. “I think we can make that work.” He looked around, biting his bottom lip thoughtfully, before he took off toward the towering, decorated evergreen planted in the back corner of the café…
Read Part Two Here