It had been hard to believe, initially. A strange kind of arrangement, mountain air and misunderstanding, fixing a house and opening a door. Two brothers, barely more than boys but better men than most. And he’d gotten caught up between them somehow, tugged through an opening he hadn’t known was there into a place he hadn’t known there was room for him. Dusty scruples crumbling under sun-dark hands and impossible smiles.
They talk to each other over the expanse of his back late into the nights, about stupid things, nothings, all the while absently tracing unidentifiable arrays into his spine like they’re trying to send him a message. His muscles twitch under the fizzle of alchemical energy, fingers on his skin and warmth against his sides. He will pretend to be asleep for a little longer, allowing them this that he does not understand but will breathe in anyway.
Later he shifts and their voices fade away, leaning over him, eyes open and luminous in the moonlight. There are mouths everywhere, too many, wet and warm and gusting hot air that carries no words unless he hears for you and for what you have done we will do this for you, but probably not. We will, together. He has to close his eyes in the middle of it, clutch at the sheets and the tattered pieces of himself that they have taken and broken open and returned with something else threaded through, something different, something uncanny and bright. You are ours.
There is weight on his chest, solid and heavy. This will be, he thinks, this will be how he will keep himself sane. In the darkness of this room and out in the city sunlight, this will be his net. Insubstantial, he will let them carry him.