The Woodjin: Harvest Moon by Lbilover

The old-fashioned porch swing creaked in protest as it glided lazily forward and back, in time to the homey bluegrass music of a local band that Elijah knew. A full harvest moon, round and orange as a pumpkin, was rising over the trees, and the air was crisp and the smoke from the logs burning in the wood stove inside the cabin drifted on the air, smelling enticingly of pine. Elijah had made a pot of mulled apple cider, laced with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, and they took turns sipping the tart, spicy drink from a sturdy blue glazed ceramic mug.

Sean was comfortably warm despite the deepening chill that heralded the first frost of the autumn. Between the belly-warming richness of the hot cider and Elijah’s superheated body, settled close against his own, he had no need for a jacket. His stocking foot jiggled to the lively beat of the fiddle and banjo, and he admired the harvest moon as it crept above the treetops. He’d watched it rise over the New York skyline and over the ocean off Long Beach Island, but he’d never seen it more beautiful than now. He had the strange fancy that it was smiling at them. But then, this was the pines, where strange and magical things were par for the course.

Moonlight, music and Elijah. Life didn’t get any better than this, Sean thought contentedly. He took another sip of the cider and passed the mug to Elijah, before settling more deeply into the thick cushions that padded the wooden swing.

He was finally learning how to relax, no easy matter for a city boy, especially one of his energetic temperament. But every evening Elijah made him close his textbooks, shut off his computer, and step out of his office for a couple of hours. They might watch a movie, or take a stroll in the moonlight. They might read aloud to each other, or simply sit and rock on the swing and listen to music. This was their time, sacrosanct, and nothing and no one was allowed to intrude on it.

“You’re a Piney now,” Elijah had informed Sean over his initial protests that he needed to study. “You don’t always have to be working. Foreigners might say we’re shacklin’ people, but that’s not true. We just understand the importance of taking life slow sometimes.”

Sean had to admit that there was a lot to be said for the Piney philosophy of life. He only wished that he’d discovered it, and Elijah, years earlier. He’d missed so much in the frantic race to get ahead.

Elijah returned the mug to him. “You finish it,” he bade him. “There’s only a little left.”

Obediently, Sean did, and then bent to set the empty mug down out of harm’s way. “You make a mean mulled cider, Lij,” he said, smacking his lips with pleasure, thinking he could taste Elijah, too.

“It’s not difficult,” Elijah protested, reddening a little the way he always did when he felt Sean was giving him an undeserved compliment.

Sean just smiled and slid his arm around his lover, urging his head down onto his shoulder. They rocked awhile in silence, listening to the music while the moon rose higher above the pines, and its color turned from deep pumpkin orange to a coppery gold. Elijah’s splayed fingers were resting intimately on Sean’s jeans-covered thigh, though not with any intention of arousing him, at least not yet.

On the first day they met, Sean had noticed, and envied, Elijah’s intensely physical nature. Hugging, touching, caressing, came as naturally to him as breathing. It was so different from the reserved atmosphere in which Sean had been raised. To be on the receiving end of such freely bestowed love and affection was a revelation, one that opened a window in Sean’s soul, letting in light where for so long there had been shadows.

It hadn’t taken long for Sean to become addicted to this new way of living. He joked to Elijah that he was turning into one of those touchy-feely guys he’d never been able to relate to; but the truth was, he couldn’t get enough of touching Elijah, like a parched man at a fountain bubbling with sweet cool water finally allowed to drink his fill. Even now, his left hand was idling up and down Elijah’s arm, for the sheer pleasure of feeling the subtle architecture of bone and muscle beneath the flannel shirt the young man wore.

But inevitably that wasn’t enough; it never was. His hand traveled higher, describing a path along the solid length of Elijah’s shoulder, up the baby-skin softness of his neck and the line of jaw, cheek and temple. His fingers threaded into spiky strands of auburn hair, and unerringly found their hidden goal. Sean touched the round, raised bump on Elijah’s skull, lightly tracing the rough bony edge with the pad of his forefinger; he could feel a convulsive shudder wrack Elijah’s body. Then the young man let out a sigh of pure, undiluted pleasure, and practically melted into Sean.

“You have a pedicle fetish, Sean Astin,” Elijah had accused him, trying hard to keep a straight face, and Sean had laughed and agreed. There was something compulsively fascinating about this evidence, the sole outward evidence, that Elijah was no ordinary man. And ever since Sean had discovered, that first time they’d made love, that Elijah’s pedicles were also an erogenous zone, well, he’d made it a priority to discover exactly how best to use them to give his lover pleasure. He was, he thought with some pride, getting damn good at it, too.

He continued the light strokes, across the yielding surface now. He didn't press down or linger, but the butterfly touch was enough to make Elijah shiver and sigh. As Sean watched with the rapt attention of a maestro coaxing music from his instrument, a tide of pink color washed over Elijah’s pale cheeks, and his lashes fluttered closed on a soft exhale of breath. Sean couldn’t help but marvel yet again at the incredible gift he’d been given in this unique and wondrous young man. And that led to a question he’d been meaning to ask Elijah, one that had been shuttled aside when there were so many other, more pressing questions needing answers. But there was time now, time for all the questions in the world.

“Do you ever wonder if there are others like you?” Sean said softly, his fingers stilling in Elijah’s hair.

“Dad thought so,” Elijah replied, and pushed his head into Sean’s hand, in an instinctive, unspoken demand for more. “He said there were too many similarities among the different white stag legends for it to be simply coincidence.”

“But what about you?” Sean asked, resuming the feather light caresses. “What do you believe?”

Elijah lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I’ve never given it that much thought, to be honest. After all, it’s not as if I’d ever get to meet them if they do exist.”

“You don’t seem very curious, Elijah.” Sean was surprised; he’d expected a very different response. “Wouldn’t you like to know for certain?”

“I… suppose.” But there was a slight hesitation in his reply that puzzled Sean.

“Well,” he offered, “maybe that’s something I could find out…”

“No!” And with a suddenness that snatched his breath away, Sean’s hand was dislodged and he found himself on his back on the swing, pinned there as surely by the leaping blue fire in Elijah’s eyes as by his lean, hard-muscled body and the hands that held his wrists trapped beside his head. The swing wobbled violently, threatening to spill them onto the porch, until Elijah planted one bare foot firmly on the wooden floorboards to halt its motion.

Sean was stunned by this abrupt transformation in his partner, from pliancy to near-anger. “I don’t understand…” he began, but Elijah, that most polite and respectful of Pineys, cut him off a second time.

“You belong to me,” he stated flatly and his eyes were glittering now with an almost feral gleam. “If there are others, let them find their own lovers.”

Before Sean could even formulate a response, Elijah’s mouth had slammed down over his in a bruising kiss that made his head swim. It was a kiss completely different from any they had yet shared; it was not a kiss of passion, but of ownership, as if Elijah was trying to stake his claim to Sean beyond all doubting, in the face of some challenge or threat.

“Mine,” Elijah breathed against his lips. “My Sean.”

In a moment of blinding clarity, Sean realized what he’d done. He had, after all, read up on stags and their habits and natures, the better to understand that aspect of Elijah. And for the stag Elijah, the very idea of another stag interacting with Sean was anathema. No stag would share his mate with another, or relinquish him without a battle. Unthinkingly, Sean had roused the possessive streak that ran surprisingly deep within this otherwise peaceable young man, like the unseen currents in the Batsto that could drag a careless swimmer under in a heartbeat.

When Elijah finally raised his head, his breathing was ragged, and his dilated pupils made his eyes appear almost black in the light that spilled from the windows. As always when his stag nature was in ascendance, the wild tang of the pines that emanated from him was stronger and even more intense.

“You’re mine, Sean,” he repeated in a low, hoarse voice that was almost unrecognizable, “and I’ll fight to the death to keep you.”

“Elijah.” Sean tried to gentle him with words, as his hands were still pinioned by his head. “Elijah, that won’t ever be necessary.”

But even as Sean spoke, something deep inside him responded to Elijah’s possessiveness in a way that he supposed a so-called civilized man should find appalling. But he didn’t. Oh no, he definitely didn’t, and though he truly hoped that it never would be necessary for Elijah to fight anyone for him, the idea was arousing as hell. Just ask his quickening body, already awakened by that impassioned kiss, and now clamoring for more.

But Elijah, uncompromising, shook his head, and did not release his hold on Sean’s wrists. “Promise me that you won’t ever go looking for those others. Promise me, Sean.” His voice faltered. “I couldn’t bear it if you did.”

“Of course I’ll promise,” Sean said at once, and a little of the tension left Elijah’s body and the tight circle of his fingers relaxed. “I only thought you might feel less lonely knowing there are others like you, that’s all.”

“But I’m not lonely. I have you now. I don’t need any others. I don’t want any others, only you.” The wildness was gradually leaving his eyes, and suddenly Elijah seemed to become conscious of what he was doing, of how he was holding Sean pinioned to the cushioned seat of the swing. He quickly released Sean’s wrists, and then his eyes widened with dismay.

“Oh gollykeeper, what have I done,” Elijah exclaimed in horror. Taking Sean’s left wrist in a grip as careful as it had been rough minutes earlier, he studied the red marks his fingers had left. “These are going to turn into bruises,” he said sorrowfully, and raising the wrist to his lips, he kissed the abused skin with exquisite gentleness. When he looked up, there were tears shining in his eyes. “Sean, I’m so sorry for hurting you.”

“Shh, it’s all right. You didn’t hurt me. You could never hurt me. Come here.” With a gentle tug, Sean pulled Elijah down into his embrace and held him tightly. “Don’t be sorry,” he said softly. “To tell you the truth, it was pretty damn arousing when you went all masterful on me like that.”

“It was?” Elijah sounded shocked, but at the same time, so relieved that Sean had to smile.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, it was.” Sean added with a laugh, “I’m surprised you haven’t noticed. But I guarantee you that the only thing that’s hurting me right now is this.” And he guided Elijah’s hand between their bodies and placed it over the hard bulge in his jeans.

“Oh.” Elijah looked up at him, amazed. “Then you really didn’t mind…”

“Being pinned down and kissed senseless by you?” he asked, and grinned at Elijah’s blush. “Hell no. Not that I want you to do it every day, mind you. Maybe just on alternate Saturdays.”

“Sean.” The heel of Elijah’s hand moved on him, and Sean let out an involuntary moan as a jolt of intense pleasure-pain shafted through him. But to Sean’s disappointment, instead of continuing, Elijah withdrew his hand. With an uncertain expression clouding his face, he said, “I meant it, you know. I would fight to the death for you, Sean. I won’t share you with anyone.”

“I know,” Sean replied, and drew the backs of his fingers tenderly down Elijah’s flushed cheek. “But I meant it, too: you won’t ever have to. I’m sticking to you like, well, like one of those annoying little brown things that got all over my socks when we took that hike last week.”

At that Elijah giggled, the well-loved sound as music to Sean’s ears. “I told you to wear your boots, remember? And those annoying brown things are called cockle-burrs.”

“Oh right, cockle-burrs. I will avoid the obvious lead-in that word gives me and just say, ‘Let’s go to bed, Elijah’. I want to make love to you, but this swing is a little too unsteady for my taste.”

“Okay, but I’m sticking to you like a cockle-burr until we get there.” They sat up with Elijah straddling Sean’s lap. He wrapped his legs securely around Sean’s waist and his arms around his neck. “Ready,” he announced.

Laughing, Sean slid his hands under Elijah’s rump, and then pushed off the swing and climbed unsteadily to his feet. Before he was even upright, they were kissing, and they were still kissing as he carried him into the house and down the hall to their bedroom.

High overhead, the harvest moon shined down, and it very definitely was smiling.