Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW] (Nov 2017: Going Far!)

Post all your stories, poems, and haiku's here!

Moderator: avwolf

Check all that apply! (Re-voting is open)

I have seen this poll
21
27%
I've checked out the writing
13
17%
Finished the first story
13
17%
Finished the second story
8
10%
Finished the third story
7
9%
Read the blue book
3
4%
Read the pink book
2
3%
I've been inspired to produce my own work
4
5%
I have a new favorite pairing
1
1%
I [re]read Desire for Orders because of this thread
5
6%
 
Total votes: 77

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities: A Twokinds Smut [NSFW]

#16 Post by AndreRhineDavis » Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:49 am

That was an interesting read. I quite liked it :)
But yeah, the fact that everyone was "he" did make it a bit hard at times to follow who was being referred to.

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#17 Post by amenon » Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:25 pm

Well, here we are. If you ever thought to yourself: 'Gee-whiz, I sure wish amenon would write some more Twokinds stuff', you're in luck. If you didn't, well, we're stuck with it it anyway:

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There's a foreword in the book this time -- and yes, it quite arguably is a book this time, if not an epic -- so I won't repeat myself here, except to say that there are actually two stories, both direct sequels to Entertaining Possibilities. I'm releasing this on February 12th, two days before Valentine's Day... and you could say that the first story is for tomorrow, the second for the day after.

Make of that what you will.

As always, if you read my stuff and it leaves you wanting to say something -- be it good, bad, or mixed -- I would love to hear it, either via this thread or PM. Reader reactions are the only thing that can tell me what the story is actually doing, as opposed to what I intended it to. But whether you comment or not, if you read it, or give it a chance -- thank you. Words are written to be read.

I would also like to collect a bunch of recommendations and/or condemnations into the OP and/or this post, to help people figure out if this is something they want to look at. Think cover blurbs, or testimonials. If you'd like to submit one, you can mark it as such in your post, or PM me. They can be humorous or serious, for or against, but they can't have anything I consider a spoiler (and I'm pretty strict!)

Relatedly, untagged spoilers are welcome in the thread. If there is a thread beyond this post, assume it has spoilers.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here not writing. If anybody sees me pick up a pen, please sit on me.

Edit: And here's my marketing shuffles for this one, for posterity, linked for size:
The first
The second

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#18 Post by avwolf » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:59 pm

Well, I wish I'd gotten here a little closer to Half-Price Chocolate Eve instead of a month and a half late. :? Ah well, life is as life does.

First, the pacing difference between the two stories (or at least between Two of a Kind and the beginning of Full House) is intense. I'm not going to complain though, because just when I ran out of breath in Full House, you dropped into the KeithxNatani scene and slowed down for me to catch myself. Actually, while the beginning was the biggest and most definite pacing variance, you actually did a really good job of alternating fast and slow throughout the work. Which helped a lot with the otherwise staggering length (you weren't kidding about "book"). There's a little of everything in there, so, to address my fellow readers, if you're just not into the scene at present, keep reading, you're sure to find one that suits your fancy. :P

Thank you, my friend, for the shout-out, both here and in the foreword. I'll make sure to conceptualize you and Schrodinger as opposing shoulder consciences, throttling each other over which story I should be working on when I have time to write. =P

So on to my story-specific comments; I reserve the right to add to these in the future.
Two of a Kind:
I will forever be pleased and amused by "That's actually an interesting legal question," being Alaric's response to the question of if he is alive. That captures our dear Master General so very well. As you mention both in this story and in Full House, the legal repercussions for a living dead Basitin (at least one who is the variety of living dead that Alaric qualifies for and not the sort I joked about when saying TwoKinds would become Left2Die) are significant and strange. And probably very specific. I can imagine the sorts of legal oddities; much like how in my home state of Nebraska, we draw a distinction between laws specifying "18 and over" and "over the age of 18" even though most states don't; which puts 18-year-old people in a curious legal position. I'm sure the Basitin laws have some which interpret to "living" and some which cover "all" and possibly even yet others which cover the acts attributable to the dead. (Particularly since they culturally have the whole "died in surgery after a battle counts as dying in the battle for honor purposes" thing going on.)

I still get a chuckle out of "Post-Master General." (For those following along at home, I got to see an early draft of the work that included that line. And when I say "draft" I mean "those first couple pages before anything really happens.") It's a delightful turn of phrase. And I always laugh at "How prepared would you say you feel right now." Thank you. Like most of us, I do enjoy reading about myself. Or things I made up, anyway.

"The thought...did enter Alaric's mind but never got very far." I like the picture that paints. See, that's how you can tell that you wrote this and I did not: I'd have fallen in love with that language and burned a paragraph describing the thought wandering, lost, into Alaric's mind, and then fleeing quickly like someone who just realized they'd accidentally gotten off the bus in Innsmouth.

A more critical note: "Keith smiled at him, and he would have followed him anywhere." Who is the subject and who is the object of the subordinate clause here? If I don't miss the point, you start with Keith as subject and Alaric as object in the first clause and then swap to Alaric as the subject and Keith as the object in the second clause, but trust me, it's not obvious. Over all, Knot Too Late as a whole has fewer confusing passages than Entertaining Possibilities, but they still crop up occasionally. Full House reserves most of them for the KeithxAlaricxZen scene.

Speaking of Full House:
I guess people do carve granite, but I was under the impression that it was too hard of a stone to really get great detail out of. "Hardness" jokes notwithstanding, of course. I still would have changed "granite" for "marble" and "marble" for "limestone."

I wasn't too sure about your handling of Alaric at the beginning, but your explanation of his behavior later was solid and going back it makes sense. That is certainly Alaric appropriate: he's the sort of character that one really should only be able to figure out in retrospect. On the whole, the characterizations became stronger as the story progressed; starting out somewhat weaker at the beginning than they were in Two of Kind but arguably ending stronger.

The thing that struck me the most is that this is all inside jokes! I mean, not just between you and me -- they're inside to the forum in general; but most of them are so deep that I don't think there's all that many active users who are still on the inside. :P The reference to Sable's "Keith is a girl" argument? Delicious! Even the Natani and Maddie scene? So many people have told me not to do that in DfO! And then you go and do it; I suppose because you think that way I don't have to. :P (And of course, the inclusion of Seff's gift from the King...) I'm not mentioning everything I caught here, and I'm sure I missed more than a few (partially because I know you have a fresher remembrance of the forum's past, and partially because I believe your memory and wit are sharper than mine). Suffice to say, I got some really good laughs out of the story, and generally in between the, ah, sexy-times at appropriate moments. I wish I could call them all out explicitly like I did above, but unfortunately, I was reading the story on my kindle on an airplane and didn't have a good way to take specific notes.

I won't argue that any of the scenes are unnecessary: they are all important to the completion of the whole. That said, Full House is so long... I didn't read a lot of the scenes as closely as I should have because, well, for one thing I was reading in more-or-less public and for more than fifteen minute intervals (so to speak ;)), and partially because you've got a little something for everybody and as a result there's so much there. And that includes a lot of cuddling and emotional intimacy for yourself. :D I wouldn't change it; I'm not really complaining, but it's worth it for readers to remember: set aside plenty of time if you want to read it in more than little chunks. Though it does have some good breakpoints in it, so it's not hard to pick it up and put it back down when necessary.

On the whole some good work, amenon, and a pleasure to read. Thank you! :grin:
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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#19 Post by amenon » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:10 pm

avwolf wrote:Well, I wish I'd gotten here a little closer to Half-Price Chocolate Eve instead of a month and a half late. :? Ah well, life is as life does.
The second Guinness I had made it two days past its sell-by, too, but to be fair that's mostly on me for repurposing older stock :P Was still tasty, though!

Thank you for your readership, and your post. Both are ever appreciated. I've decided I'll still try to be coy about the work, even in the face of your presence -- though there a few specific replies below. But coy or not, I see no harm in reiterating prompts that are already implicit in the work, and so I ask you: Which timeline is superior? EP/ToaK, or EP/FH?

avwolf wrote:A more critical note: "Keith smiled at him, and he would have followed him anywhere."
Gah, mea culpa. I think I know what went wrong with that sentence. I liked the idea, so I didn't want to rewrite it, and 'Keith smiled at him, and [Alaric] would have followed him anywhere.' is also somewhat broken, so I didn't want to do that. But I should have either rewritten it, or bit the bullet and went for 'Keith smiled at [Alaric], and [Alaric] would have followed him anywhere.' Which... I probably never even considered, but actually doesn't feel awful to me now that I look at it. Certainly preferable.

I'll remember it if I ever have the occasion to do editing, which... I might. To that end, please call out all the clunk that you wish to.
avwolf wrote:I guess people do carve granite, but I was under the impression that it was too hard of a stone to really get great detail out of. "Hardness" jokes notwithstanding, of course. I still would have changed "granite" for "marble" and "marble" for "limestone."
Nope, definitely granite!
avwolf wrote:The thing that struck me the most is that this is all inside jokes!
I would like the record to show it isn't all inside jokes, and that I'm not gratuitous with them.

Unless it is, or I am, in which case... eh, I'll call it worth it :P

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#20 Post by avwolf » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:39 pm

Oh, you wanted a cover quote. "Knot Too Late a pair of salacious tent-poles, stiffly spit-roasting the expectations of any who thought amenon's sophomore slash would beat around the bush."
amenon wrote:Thank you for your readership, and your post. Both are ever appreciated. I've decided I'll still try to be coy about the work, even in the face of your presence -- though there a few specific replies below. But coy or not, I see no harm in reiterating prompts that are already implicit in the work, and so I ask you: Which timeline is superior? EP/ToaK, or EP/FH?
Hmm. They both have things to recommend themselves, but I think I favor the bittersweetness of Two of a Kind. I kind of prefer it's slower moving timeline -- Keith and Alaric's projects both have a lot of groundwork involved in them, and that timeline has given them time to establish that groundwork. Besides, I like Alaric's introduction there better. Full House has something for everybody ("something that's horny, no one that's lonely, something for everyone a slash-fic tonight!"), and from the perspective of "being slashfiction," it's probably the winner there. :P And of course, it's got your specialty happy ending for everyone. But like I said, I think I like the bittersweet ending to the sweet one. Tugs more at my heartstrings.
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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#21 Post by The Rookie » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:10 am

Damn it, Amenon! I didn't come here to feel feelings :x

I legit felt tears swelling while I was reading about Zen+Nat's farewell present and it's significance to Kieth. Why you gotta go and do that to me (;_;)
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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#22 Post by Dadrobit » Sun May 08, 2016 10:54 pm

:mrgrin: :mrgrin: :mrgrin:

Thanks for the shout-out! My family got a good kick outta it.

Alas, I feel wholly inadequate in my inability to contribute anything of worthy substance as even a cover quote in the face of such a monumental piece of literary tour de force.
The Rookie wrote:Damn it, Amenon! I didn't come here to feel feelings :x

I legit felt tears swelling while I was reading about Zen+Nat's farewell present and it's significance to Kieth. Why you gotta go and do that to me (;_;)
True story:
Dadrobit while reading that first paragraph of Two of a Kind wrote: *Sniff Sniff* I'm not out of tears either Keith.... *Weeps uncontrollably*
For sure though, crazy good read. It made my work day that much more..... Interesting. :mrgrin:

Got a question. Obviously Two of a Kind is a much more serious piece, but did you go into it with that in mind? Or did you come upon that tone after getting into it and feeling it would be too, (for lack of a better term) 'tacky' to try and force the same level of extreme sensuality on Kieth after losing Natani and being confronted by his past so abruptly?
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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#23 Post by amenon » Sat May 14, 2016 8:57 pm

For anyone just randomly clicking in: This thread is in full spoilers mode. So if Twokinds smutfic sounds like your thing, but spoilers don't, direct your attention to the start of the thread!
avwolf wrote:Oh, you wanted a cover quote. "Knot Too Late a pair of salacious tent-poles, stiffly spit-roasting the expectations of any who thought amenon's sophomore slash would beat around the bush."
The Rookie wrote:Damn it, Amenon! I didn't come here to feel feelings :x
Dadrobit wrote:Alas, I feel wholly inadequate in my inability to contribute anything of worthy substance as even a cover quote in the face of such a monumental piece of literary tour de force.
Thanks for these, you three :grin:

If anyone's got a good one waiting in the wings, I'm always open for more! And if someone is feeling shy, being '— Anonymous' is fine too!
avwolf wrote:But like I said, I think I like the bittersweet ending to the sweet one. Tugs more at my heartstrings.
Dadrobit wrote:
The Rookie wrote:I legit felt tears swelling while I was reading about Zen+Nat's farewell present and it's significance to Kieth. Why you gotta go and do that to me (;_;)
True story:
Dadrobit while reading that first paragraph of Two of a Kind wrote: *Sniff Sniff* I'm not out of tears either Keith.... *Weeps uncontrollably*
And thanks for these, as well. It's nice to have some reassurance that ToaK isn't just incredibly rude.
Dadrobit wrote:Got a question. Obviously Two of a Kind is a much more serious piece, but did you go into it with that in mind? Or did you come upon that tone after getting into it and feeling it would be too, (for lack of a better term) 'tacky' to try and force the same level of extreme sensuality on Kieth after losing Natani and being confronted by his past so abruptly?
I always know the main structure before there are any words on the page. What you say is actually the only reason I wanted to have a sex scene in there, and pretty seriously considered it; to show that it didn't have to be 'tacky'. But I still wanted these specific characters more than I wanted to make that point, and so the story is sexless. You could say it's one bit of inadvertent avwolf-provocation that didn't quite pan out :P

For the record, it wouldn't have been a flashy scene. Probably mutual masturbation (in the 'each other' sense), in bed, in the dark. Feel free to mentally edit that in if you want. It's like one, maybe two stories over at most :P (So in a sense, you're also exactly right; it would never have been 'the same level of extreme sensuality', at least without taking the time to ramp up. And I just realized you might not have even been using that as a euphemism, but the answer goes either way :grin:)



By way of news, I've been working on the long-time-coming edit of Entertaining Possibilities, and it kinda expanded into doing another copyedit on (Knot) Too Late as well. I'm not changing any of my intended meanings, just trying to increase readability. For instance, that line avwolf called out:
avwolf wrote:A more critical note: "Keith smiled at him, and he would have followed him anywhere."
Now reads "Keith smiled in response, and Nick would have followed him anywhere."

Anyway, that's what I've been working on, and I got a very good start on it... oh, three weeks ago. Suffice to say that life has been getting in the way :P But I figured I might as well give myself an excuse to take a bit longer, by asking for help! I'm pretty confident I can get this finished next weekend, so that gives all y'all out there one week to call out clunk in any of the stories, and maybe see it addressed! This is a really subjective thing, but basically I just want to know if there was some sentence or section that was hard to figure out, or that threw you out of the story in some other way.

Oh, and there will be a little something extra as well, once I'm done. Don't expect a new story though, those are still at least a ways out :P

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#24 Post by Schrodinger » Sun May 15, 2016 5:46 am

You want a cover quote? "Well, I got wood." How about that?
What was it the spider said to the fly...

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#25 Post by amenon » Sun May 15, 2016 8:13 am

Schrodinger wrote:You want a cover quote? "Well, I got wood." How about that?
Yeah, that's... that's about perfect :grin:

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#26 Post by anonfox123 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:43 am

After much delay, I finally gave all these a read. Pretty good, some character interpretations that were unexpected, but overall quite nice! (And many feels were had with Too Late)

Only point of complaint is the times where too many pronouns were bouncing around and I couldn't tell who was doing what to who. Those parts were kinda hard to read.
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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#27 Post by amenon » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:50 pm

After much delay, I finally gave all these a read. Pretty good, some character interpretations that were unexpected, but overall quite nice! (And many feels were had with Too Late)
Thank you for reading! But... that's such perfect author bait (;_;) Which character interpretations? (And anyone else reading this, feel free to chime in as well!)
Only point of complaint is the times where too many pronouns were bouncing around and I couldn't tell who was doing what to who. Those parts were kinda hard to read.
Well, you'll be happy to know that this is the post announcing the re-edited re-release... yeah, sorry about the timing :P

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So! EP now has a proper second edition, KTL has also been edited, and there's a few extra bits.

Changes!
  • Entertaining Possibilities, second edition! Edited for clarity, rather than meaning, but it's a pretty good excuse for a reread, especially if you read it near the original release. It should be a good bit clearer now.
  • (Knot) Too Late got a last+1th copyedit pass. Much fewer changes than in EP, so I'm not calling it a new edition.
  • Releasing The Little Pink Book and The Little Blue Book! Both contain a part of a part of Full House, pulled out for a different reading experience. No points for guessing what these are :P There's a bit of new bridging content, in case you need an excuse to check them out.
  • A survey poll! Please go click some boxes at the top of the thread. Re-votes are open, so you can update your answers if the situation changes. (Hoping to trap some completionists :P)
  • New format! Now also available in AZW3, which is the Kindle format. If someone has an older Kindle and needs a .mobi, I'll do it if you'll tell me if it looks okay. Working blind isn't the greatest.
  • Typesetting changes! Everything is now available in justified (aka book-style; both margins flush) by default. Left-aligned (ragged right edge) versions are also available if you look at the bottom of the page, should you prefer that / find the quality of the typesetting to be morally unacceptable.
  • The PDFs look a lot better now! I think I managed to finally get around all of the kerning issues. For a laugh -- or a cry -- compare the first edition of EP (also available in the extras) with the second one S:P KTL was much less tragic on release, but has also seen considerable improvement.
Thank you to everyone who has read or will read these. Bonus points if you let me know what you thought, extra-bonus points if you do it here! The marketing will continue until I see actual discussion (or alternatively, give up :P)

And finally, a very great thanks to avwolf for hosting my by-now-ridiculous collection of files. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Everyone go read Desire for Orders and tell him to write more.)

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EP# 4 and Trust! [SFW works in an NSFW thread]

#28 Post by amenon » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:46 pm

Posting two new stories! The first one is part of the EP sequence, but the second one is standalone. Both are SFW, and both are inline below.


First up, we have Entertaining Possibilities #4: Dead of Night. 1700 words. SFW. Only read this if you have read all previous EP works. And if you thought Two of a Kind was too much... you might want to skip this one. If you choose to venture forth, there's a box of hankies on the sideboard.

Spoiler!
Natani slowed as they approached the bedroom door, then came to a stop with his hand on the doorknob. Alaric could hear nothing from within. All was quiet in the house, except for the soft patter of rain on the roof. The wolf drew a deep breath, held it, then let it out in a slow exhalation, radiating new calmness. Another heartbeat, and Natani opened the door.

Alaric followed the wolf in. A single lamp on the bedstand illuminated the room, pushing back the night. Zen was lying in the big bed, with Keith kneeling by his side, leaning over the gray wolf. Had they just kissed? Both turned to the newcomers. Zen looked... tired, but still had his usual glint of mischief.

He didn't look like he was dying.

Zen smiled at him, and Alaric could tell the wolf had caught his thought. But Zen didn't say anything to him, looking to Natani instead. "Any luck with Maddie?"

Natani shook his head. "No, but there's still..." He closed his eyes, and half the crystals on his necklace lit up. The thrum of magic was so powerful it set Alaric's teeth on edge. But after mere moments, the light faded. Natani opened his eyes and looked at Zen, his regret plain as day. "No. She must be traveling."

Zen nodded, accepting, then turned to Keith, still kneeling by his side. "Tell her..." and Zen whispered something to Keith, too low for Alaric to pick out. Keith listened, and laughed, but the laughter turned to tears. Zen pulled him close, soothing him, and Alaric's heart constricted. This was really happening. It was too soon.

Alaric felt Natani's hand on his shoulder. The wolf was looking at him, the pain in his eyes calling to the pain inside Alaric. He hesitated for the briefest moment, then put his own hand on top of Natani's and reached out to the wolf. Their minds came softly into contact, and they shared what comfort they could. It was the most intimate thing they'd ever done.

There's nothing we can do?

Nothing that he'll allow.

... And we have to honor that?

Natani went still for a moment, poised; then flashed to amusement. Sometimes, you have to let go. From amusement to tenderness, as the wolf leaned down to kiss him on the forehead. Thank you.

Alaric had been a little serious, though.

They let the connection fade, but Natani left his hand on Alaric's shoulder, and Alaric his on top. Zen and Keith had finished, and the basitin had pulled away, wiping his tears. Zen looked at Keith, love obvious. The wolf smiled. "Oh, and tell her... that cutesy thing she does? Worked every time."

Keith laughed, and wiped fresh tears from his eyes. "I will. I think she might know, but I will."

Zen nodded, and turned to Natani. "Natani... this is it. I'm grateful, but when I slip, you let me go. Okay? You hold the link closed."

There were tears in Natani's eyes now. "I... yeah. I will."

Zen extended his arm, and Natani took his hand from Alaric's shoulder to step closer. The wolves clasped forearms, and Zen looked at Natani, serious. "You hold it."

"Yeah." Natani swallowed. "I'll... see you later, brother."

Zen gave his brother's arm one last squeeze, then let go. "Yeah. Later."

Natani nodded and stepped back, next to Keith. The basitin put an arm around the wolf.

"Keith..." Zen just looked at the basitin, and his expression said everything. "You know."

"Yeah." Keith wiped his tears again. "And I won't ever forget. I promise."

Zen nodded at the basitin, then beckoned him closer. Keith came. The wolf tousled his hair, and something about it, the care he took, said it was for the last time. Zen let his touch play over Keith's ears, softly caressing, for the last time. Alaric stood and watched, his heart tight in his chest.

Keith leaned in to kiss Zen, taking his time with it. The wolf's arms slowly wrapped around the basitin's neck, and Zen half-pulled Keith onto the bed to give his response. He was even slower to let Keith go, but eventually he did, laughing quietly. "To the last, huh?"

Keith buried his face in the wolf's mane. For the last time. "Yeah."

They parted with one last look, needing no more words. Keith took Natani's hand, then put the other on Alaric's shoulder, giving it a little squeeze, and looked at him. Alaric almost couldn't bear to look back. Keith's expression made it undeniable.

He could hear the smile in Zen's voice, even now. "And now... I think I need to say goodbye to this idiot in private."

Natani and Keith nodded and, with lingering looks, left the room, closing the door behind them.

Alaric stood there, looking at the wolf. Nora wouldn't help, and he'd had little luck even reaching any of the other dragons. But maybe if Natani...

"Nick?" Zen's voice was gentle. "There's nothing you can do."

Alaric met the wolf's eyes, and saw the truth of his words. The possibilities in his mind narrowed, collapsing into each other until the only thing that remained was this moment. He was out of time.

Nick sighed. "Yes there is. I can be here."

Zen grinned. "You always were the smart one."

And you always knew how to get me.

Nick knelt at the wolf's bedside, and Zen reached out to stroke his cheek. 'I'm yours.' How could he, at a time like this...? Tears welling in his eyes, Nick fumbled to return the gesture. Zen smiled at him, wiping away his tears. "Does this bother you?"

Nick stared, incredulous.

Zen stuck his tongue out. "I mean that whole 'dying nobly in battle' thing your people have going on."

"Ah." It hadn't even crossed his mind. Why was that? "I tried it once. It wasn't all it was cracked up to be." Zen laughed at that, his pure, honest amusement so familiar, and so precious, that Nick couldn't help but smile. "Besides, the basitin fear is being... feeble. Infirm." And Zen looked as well as he ever had. Tired, that was all.

The wolf smiled. "Magic has its uses. But there are limits."

"There really isn't anything...?"

Zen shook his head. "I'm on borrowed time. I would have gone in my sleep, but Natani felt it and... I can't explain any of it. But it cost him more than it got me." The wolf stroked Nick's cheek again. "That I get to say goodbye is as much of a miracle as I can ask for. So if Natani tries again..." Zen sighed, then smiled wryly. "Well, if I can't stop him, Keith will. But I think he'll let me go now."

Nick swallowed his tears. "He will."

The wolf nodded slowly. "And... will you?"

Nick looked at Zen. It was impossible. "... do I have to?"

Zen was quiet for a long moment, but his hands filled the silence, caressing Nick's ears, ever so careful. Comforting. Eventually, the wolf started to find his words. "With wolves, it's... I used to think that it was... pride, you know? That people wanted to die with some dignity, not... railing against the world. Not being unseemly. But... that isn't it at all. I get that now."

"Then... what is it?"

There were tears in Zen's eyes, now. "You, Natani, Keith... Maddie... would I ever leave any of you? But... it's the last choice you can make, when there are no choices left." The wolf's voice cracked. "It's the last goddamn thing you can ever do for the people you love. So you do it. You let go, so they can let you go."

And you let them go, so they don't have to rail against the world. Nick's eyes filled with tears as the last of his stratagems crumbled away, unworthy. Zen pulled him into an embrace, and Nick buried his face in the wolf's chest tuft, Zen's scent enveloping him. For the last time. The wolf's winter coat wasn't quite in yet, and it never would be. Nick would never see that again.

There were so many things he would never see again.

But this wasn't the time for that. His heart near to bursting, Nick pulled away and wiped his tears. "Okay."

Zen had his own to wipe. "Okay?"

"I'll let you go. But it's under duress. Would never hold up in court."

Zen laughed. "That sounds about right. But... thank you. That makes it a little easier."

Nick stroked the wolf's cheek. "For you... anything."

Zen flashed his grin. "A last kiss for the dying?"

How could he not? Nick kissed Zen, pouring out all his love, and the wolf responded in kind. They spoke wordlessly of all they had had. All that would be lost... but wasn't, not yet. They looked at each other, smile meeting smile, love meeting love.

"Any other last requests?"

Zen arched an eyebrow, thoughtful. "Try not to make too much trouble for the world?"

Nick had to grin. "I can't promise that."

The wolf feigned a sigh. "Ah well. History will remember that I tried."

Nick stuck out his tongue. "If I tell history."

Zen smiled at him. "You will. And you know what they say, it's the winners that get to tell it."

Nick's heart caught. "... yeah. I will."

"... how about one last kiss?"

I thought you already had that. But of course, he kissed the wolf. Playful, this time, teasing him for having asked more than once... and Zen responded, reminding him what happens to teases. One last time.

The wolf sighed. "I should warn you, there's every chance that getting an erection would literally kill me right now."

Oh, you idiot. Nick laughed. "Better be careful, then."

Zen stroked his cheek, one last time. "I always am."

"... yeah."

"... one more?"

He leaned in.

It really was the last one.



Next up, we have a story that just sort of... happened a few weeks ago, for reasons that are both complicated and stupid. Not related to anything else I've written, though technically it could be an EP prequel of sorts. Set quite close to current events in the comic. No hankies necessary.

Trust. 3600 words. SFW.

Spoiler!
Keith closed the door behind himself. He felt a sigh coming on, but it died on his lips when his eyes met Natani's. They both smiled. The wolf was still in his vest and pants, sitting cross-legged on one of the two beds in the room. Their room. Keith felt a twinge of disappointment that there were two beds for once, then chided himself for it. He was being ridiculous. Here was Natani, up and awake, and he wanted something more? How greedy could he be? ... though, the wolf did seem more--

"Finally done, huh?"

Keith shook himself out of his reverie. "Ah, yeah. Only took forever. Comes with the territory, I guess." He made a modest flourish with his cape, showing off his set of ambassadorial armor -- somehow more or less undamaged -- hoping Natani would say something about the outfit. He didn't... but then, the wolf looked a little distracted himself. Keith made his way to the other bed, sitting down on the edge facing Natani. The mattress was... welcoming, and it felt good to be off his feet. It had been a very long day, and the armor had some weight to it. "No luck with Zen, I take it?"

"No." Natani's eyes darted down to his lap, and Keith realized there was something there beyond the wolf's hands. A glint of metal in the lamplight? "I know he's alive. I feel like I can almost tell what direction he's in, but it's so... tenuous. I could just be imagining it."

To Keith's relief, Natani sounded more frustrated than sad. "Well, at least you know he's alive."

Natani nodded. "Yeah. And since it's been a while, I'm not too worried about that. It's hard to..." He seemed to think better of what he'd been about to say. "It was his own damn idea to put himself in their hands. Didn't really go so well, but... I don't think he was wrong. They're not ruthless enough to hurt a helpless prisoner."

Rather cold comfort, that. The silence stretched for a moment, as Keith reached for something to say. His eyes strayed again to the object in Natani's lap. "What do you have there?"

Natani showed what he was holding, and Keith's heart clenched. A slave collar. "I've been studying this. Apparently it's a fairly standard spell. Control." The wolf grimaced. "Loyalty. Obedience. But... I don't think this would affect the link. At least not directly. And I don't think Zen could do..." Natani waved a hand at the air "...this consciously. I'm pretty sure I couldn't."

"So... maybe it was actually something else they got him with?" That was a nice thought.

Natani frowned. "Maybe. I only got a glimpse of the runes, and my memory of that moment is a bit... shaky. But... it was a shackle, and it was supposed to help them with Zen, so what else could it be? Maybe they have different ones for mages."

A much less nice thought. "Do you want me to look into it?" There were some benefits to being an ambassador.

Natani looked at him, then smiled. "Thanks, that would help." The smile faded. "But first... did you lock the door?"

The words might have made Keith's heart beat faster, if not for the wolf's tone. "No. Why?"

Natani got up and locked the door, then bolted it, and seemed to briefly consider moving the dresser to block it. He then returned to his bed, this time sitting on the edge, mirroring Keith. He picked the collar up, fiddled with it for a bit, and then looked across at him. Resolute. "I'm going to try putting this on."

No! "But you just said it's probably not even the same thing! Why would you..."

"It might be different, but... I think it still has to have this. Else... why wouldn't he escape? So I need to know what it's like. Maybe there's some clue, but even if there isn't... I need to know what he's going through. What to expect." Keith looked at Natani, pleading silently for him not to do this. Natani smiled hesitantly in response, showing a tenderness that made Keith's heart ache. "Keith... I need you to guard me again. And then to help me get this thing off... even if I don't want you to." Natani opened the collar.

"Wait!" Keith sighed, then rubbed at his face. Why did he always give in? "... how long?"

Natani hesitated a moment. "If I don't want it off... fifteen minutes."

"... promise me you're going to be okay?"

Another flash of that tender smile. Natani got up, leaving the collar behind, and crouched down next to him. The wolf took Keith's face in his hands and kissed him. The kiss said, surprisingly clearly, that he was being silly and that Natani was going to be okay. The warmth of it was overwhelming, but Keith still returned the kiss, trying to make his own arguments. He couldn't lose Natani again. He just... couldn't.

Natani broke the kiss. "You know there's no permanent damage."

"... yeah." Or so they said. Even Evals seemed to agree. But...

Natani grinned. "Y'know, some people would be more excited to have me as their personal slave."

Keith looked at him, stricken. "Don't even joke about that."

Natani kissed him again, tenderly. "That's why it has to be you. I wouldn't trust anyone else with this."

That Natani would trust him with this filled him with joy; that Natani was trusting him with it turned the joy to ashes. Keith watched as the wolf once again returned to his seat and picked up the collar, making ready to put it on.

Natani looked at him expectantly.

Keith sighed. "... fifteen minutes."

With one smooth motion, Natani brought the collar to his neck and snapped it into place. Keith held his breath.

The wolf frowned. "I... don't think that actually did anything. Order me to do something?"

Keith was beyond reluctant. "Maybe... touch your nose?"

Natani smiled. "Maybe... try making it sound less like a question?"

Keith grimaced. "I know how to give orders. But I have no authority over you, and even if I did, that... thing..."

"No authority?" Natani grinned. "This sounds like a basitin thing. Shouldn't beating me most of the time count for something?"

Keith shook his head. "It's not like the winner takes anything. Between basitins, it's more like... the loser chooses to submit." Keith smiled despite himself. "You haven't been doing a lot of that. And besides, you're not basitin. There's no expectations." He sighed. "But that's not really the... there's no need to force a basitin to follow orders. We... well, I'm not a very good basitin, but in general, we follow orders, and it's because we want to. We recognize authority, in others and in ourselves, and act accordingly. But that thing... it's something that could force you to betray your orders. Betray who you are. That's..." He couldn't find a strong enough word, but Natani's expression told him the meaning had gotten across. Keith sighed again. "So no, I don't want to give you orders when you have that around your neck."

They looked at each other for a long, solemn moment.

"Keith... how about this? I give you the orders to give to me. That way..."

"But how do I know that the collar isn't giving you ideas? Where did you get it, anyway? And please don't say Eric."

Natani grinned. "So only give me the ones that seem harmless."

Keith buried his face in his hands. Of course.

"And let's say I really want to touch my nose."

Keith gave something halfway between a laugh and a sigh. Fine. "Touch your nose." Nothing. Maybe inflection wasn't enough. "That was an order."

Natani stuck his tongue out. "Bite me."

Relief flooded into Keith. "I guess it's broken, or something."

Natani removed the collar, then looked at it, thoughtful. "No. I think..." he looked at Keith. "I think... you have to put it on me."

...

Natani rolled his eyes. "It's the same thing you already agreed to."

No it wasn't. "Maybe..." Keith swallowed. "Maybe you could... try it on me instead." It was terrifying, but... better than putting the thing on Natani. Much better. And he had to admit to himself that something about the idea was almost... thrilling. If Natani could order him to do anything... what would the wolf choose?

Natani shook his head. "I've seen enough slaves to know how they act. And besides, this wasn't exactly made for a basitin. It might not work on you, or... it could work too well. I don't really trust magic around you guys."

Keith sighed. "... you really have to do this?"

"For Zen? Anything I can. He'd do the same for me. And... I need your help. I won't force you, but... I'm asking."

That was not playing fair. Reluctantly, Keith stood up. Natani stayed sitting, looking up at him. Keith stepped closer, and the wolf raised the collar for him to take. Keith brought his hands up, and Natani pressed the thing into them. It felt cold. Heavy. Natani placed his own hands on top of Keith's and guided them towards his neck, at the same leaning forward.

Putting himself in Keith's hands.

Natani looked up at him. "Please."

With a silent curse, Keith closed the collar around Natani's neck, taking care not to catch any of his fur or hair. The latch clicked into place, and Keith saw something pass over Natani's face. His heart constricted, but he suppressed the urge to immediately remove the thing. Natani's hands were still on his. Keith's voice cracked. "Are... are you okay?"

Natani gave his hands a squeeze, then brought them away from his neck. Away from the collar. Keith was relieved to see him smile. "Stop freaking out so much. It's... strange. I don't feel all that different, really, but... that definitely did something."

Natani was now holding his hands. Keith made it mutual. "Your scent didn't change."

"Yeah, magic still works. The link... that still feels the same. But I think... let's test this out. Ask me a simple question?"

"Err... what color is your fur?"

Natani stuck his tongue out. "Purple and pink."

Keith rolled his eyes. "Clearly."

"Now order me not to lie."

Keith hesitated, and now it was Natani's turn to roll his eyes. Keith still hesitated, then sighed. "I order you to tell the truth."

Natani frowned. "That's... ask me something."

"What's your name?"

"It's... Natani." He raised his eyebrows. "Huh. I... really had no choice. This is so... try something else?"

"Do you want me to take the collar off?"

Natani smiled. "No. Not yet. And... it doesn't feel pressing. Like it wouldn't matter too much even if you left it. I don't think I'd mind." He looked thoughtful. "I... should be freaking out about that, shouldn't I?"

Keith squeezed Natani's hands, his throat tight. "I know I am. You've got ten minutes left."

Natani grinned. "Has to be at least thirteen."

"I really don't want to be doing this to you."

Natani let go of his hands, taking him by the cheeks and pulling him in for a kiss. "See? It's still me. I can still do things."

It had definitely felt very Natani. Keith cleared his throat. "Twelve minutes."

Natani grinned again. "Can I get more time if I do that again?"

"I..." Keith shook his head vigorously. "No!"

Natani stuck his tongue out. "Better not waste any, then. Ask me something else?"

Well... might as well? Keith made another flourish with his cape. "Do I look good in this?"

The wolf shook his head. "No."

Keith faltered. "Ouch?"

Natani was covering his mouth, but couldn't hide his grin. Probably wasn't trying to. "Sorry. It's a nice set of armor, but... I don't think it suits you. You don't... like fighting, do you? Not when it's for real."

Keith sighed. "You're right. I never was much of a warrior." It... didn't suit him? He smiled. "But... I don't think I want to be one. Not anymore. So... I guess I'm glad you see it that way."

"And..." Natani was clearly reluctant to continue, then did so anyway. It was so odd seeing the words dragged out of him that Keith didn't realize to stop him. "... it reminds me of the last time I saw you wear it." Ah. Yes. When Keith had asked for the Heart's Desire spell. He didn't respond, and the silence stretched for a moment.... before Natani screwed his eyes shut, blushing. "Besidesyoulookalotbetternaked."

...

Keith cleared his throat. "You, um, don't have to tell the truth anymore."

Natani nodded, then sighed. "This is so weird." He was still blushing.

He looked better naked, huh? Keith tried not to smile, and failed. "I'm sorry I didn't stop you, but... that's hardly the worst thing you've ever said to me."

Natani smiled a little awkwardly. "No, but... this time you know I wasn't kidding."

It was Keith's turn to blush. He cleared his throat again, then found another smile on his face. He looked better naked. "Well, I guess you did strip me the first time I put it on."

Natani's eyes lit up. "Ooooh, there's an idea! Order me to undress you?"

Keith's mouth worked. Well, he did want to lose the armor, and if Natani wanted to help... Wait. Was this really Natani? His stomach lurched. He looked at the wolf, tail a-wag and a glint in his eye, and... couldn't be sure. Keith had been trying to be careful, and here he was, playing along.

The wag slowed. "Aaaaand you're freaking out again. No good?"

Was that the concern of his... Natani, or a slave being considerate of their master? Keith swallowed. He had to stay on his guard. But the order itself didn't seem-- wait, undress? ... "How about 'help me get out of this armor'?"

Natani grinned. "Thought that one through, did you?"

They were halfway done by the time Keith realized. "... I didn't actually make that an order, did I?"

"It felt like you sort-of meant it, so I think I could have fought it." Natani flashed another grin. "I just didn't want to."

They got Keith down to his pants and shirt -- but no farther -- with little further incident. To Keith's considerable relief, the wolf then seemed to get serious about testing the boundaries of the magic, and spent the the next while taking Keith through the paces of taking Natani through his paces. Simple orders, complicated orders, ambiguous orders, impossible orders. Half-hearted orders. Tone versus words. Literal meaning versus intent. Some, Keith refused to give. All the while, he was counting down the time in his head, and trying to keep his heart from out of his throat as he watched Natani being... forced... to follow his directions.

Somehow, it all culminated in them standing in the middle of the room, Natani with one hand on the side of Keith's face, caressing his cheek. Keith looked a question at him.

"I was seeing if I could force your mouth closed. To keep you from giving me orders."

"Ah." The moment stretched. "And... now?"

Natani smiled. "I'm just doing it because I want to."

Yet another thing Keith didn't know how to take. He sighed. "Anything else you want to do with me? You're almost out of time."

A look of realization dawned on Natani's face. The wolf opened his mouth, blushed, then closed it again. He looked at Keith for a moment, the blush slowly fading... then sighed. "... you're never going to agree to put this on me a second time, are you?"

"No." And he wasn't going to budge, either. "You have one minute, and that's it."

"Then..." Natani blushed again. "Keith... ask me that again, and... order me to tell the truth."

Keith suddenly felt very nervous. What could this be? But echoing Natani was almost second nature now. "Answer truthfully: Is there... something else you want to do with me?"

Natani moved his hands to Keith's shoulders. "I want..." he blushed brightly, but he looked right at Keith, and his voice was steady. "Keith... I want to share my life with you. Every night when you go to sleep, I want to be there. Every morning when you wake up, I want to be there. I... want to make you happy. That's what I want to do with you."

Keith's heart wrenched, and his vision blurred. The words had to be true, and he wanted to believe with all his soul that it was truly Natani... but what if it was the collar? 'Leave me on, and this can be true'? Gods damn it! He reached for the collar, furious at--

Natani caught his wrist. Keith faltered for a moment. Was he... going to have to force Natani to let him take it off?

Natani shook his head. "One last thing I want to try."

Keith felt Natani's other hand leave his shoulder, and saw the wolf bring it up to his neck. Natani closed his eyes, screwed them shut, and, with a visible struggle touched the collar, found the latch, and undid it. The collar slid off, uncaught. There was a deep thunk as it hit the wooden floor.

Natani shivered, then stood there unmoving, his eyes still closed. Keith held his breath. Finally, Natani let out a long exhalation and opened his eyes. The wolf smiled at him, with no sign of regret, and Keith dared to hope.

Natani reached out to touch him, and wipe his tears away. "Yeah, it was still me. Maybe a bit more forward than I'd usually be, but... still me. So..." Natani withdrew his hand to scratch at the back of his head "So... err... how'd that sound to you? You think that's something--"

Keith hugged him, as tightly as he'd ever hugged anyone. After a heartbeat, he could feel Natani's arms slide around him, returning the embrace, and the wolf's muzzle pressing down on the top of his head, nuzzling his ears. He was so warm.

Pressed against his chest, the wolf's voice was a happy, amused rumble. "I'll take that as a yes."

Keith pulled away, wiping his tears again, to look up at him. "Natani... I love you." The words seemed insufficient, after what the wolf had said, so Keith reached up to pull his face down for a kiss. To say it better.

Natani had a long answer to that. The wolf left him no room to argue, no way to escape, no choice but to accept that yes, he was loved. The truth of it filled Keith's heart to bursting, and tears welled in his eyes again, but Natani wiped them away with a smile only to bring them back with another kiss, this one even gentler. Keith surrendered into it.

Eventually, they found themselves on one of the beds, lying side by side, looking at each other, all kissed out.

Well, maybe just one more...

After a few more last ones, Keith smiled at Natani, purely happy. "Every night when I go to sleep, huh?"

The wolf's expression, lovely to look at, was tinged with amusement. "And every morning when you wake up."

"How... close were you thinking?"

"Oh, something like..." Natani had a hand at Keith's side, and now slid it around him to pull him closer. "... this."

Keith ended up nuzzled against Natani's neck, breathing in the wolf's scent. He felt like he might melt. "I guess we won't be needing that other bed, then."

Natani's voice was an amused rumble. "I don't see what for, but it never hurts to have a spare."

There was a bit of ribaldry to that, but when Natani kissed him again, it was purely sweet, and the kiss soon ended with the wolf pulling Keith close again. If Natani had any more designs for him -- or the bed -- it seemed it wasn't that night. Keith... was fine with that.

He'd found the limit to his greed, here in Natani's arms.
If you liked Trust, it's probably thanks to my beta readers. I won't out any of you, but feel free to step forward and either claim some credit or disown the finished product :P I owe you all. (Yes, even you.)


I am also still asking for feedback on KTL in general and Full House in specific. I realize that story #4 is up there, but I actually wrote it nearly a year ago. #5 is the one I could use more data for, since it's the sequel/epilogue to Full House.

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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#29 Post by avwolf » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:28 pm

I haven't read the new version of Trust yet (though I like where the last line ended up, it's stronger than it was in the draft I got to read), but Dead of Night is very good. It's just the cure if you've been feeling simply too happy lately. Very powerful work. I feel like it was important to be written, now that I've read it, but I guarantee you, I'd never ever have been able to write anything like it myself. It just...Gets you right here. Thanks, amenon.
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Re: Entertaining Possibilities (and sequels!) - Twokinds Smuts - [NSFW]

#30 Post by amenon » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:04 pm

avwolf wrote:[...], but Dead of Night is very good. It's just the cure if you've been feeling simply too happy lately. Very powerful work. I feel like it was important to be written, now that I've read it, but I guarantee you, I'd never ever have been able to write anything like it myself. It just...Gets you right here. Thanks, amenon.
So I've been turning this around in my head. I understand why you would not have written Entertaining Possibilities, as you said back in the day -- possibly also could not have, in the sense that the story was probably in a blind spot for you -- but why would you "never ever have been able to write anything like [Dead of Night]"?

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