The wolf blocked the doorway with his body, his yellow eyes sadly gazing up at Yuri.
"Move, Ryku," he said. "I have to see him." The dog refused to move out of his way so Yuri pushed past him. "They all think they know what's best for me," he whispered, wiping his wet cheeks. Sniffing, he drew himself up. He had to do what Papa had told him to do. He had to be there for Dorian, no matter how his hostling had treated him.
As he walked silently down the hallway, keeping an eye out for Ria or Niko, he felt his tears had dried up. Perhaps somehow, Papa had prepared him. I won't cry again, he promised himself. Papa had never cried.
He heard voices. Peering around the corner, he saw Ria in the corridor clutching his robe closed at his throat. Ria gave a naked Dorian a long, deep kiss on the lips. They'd never done that before. Ria kissed Dorian like Gabriel had.
But Ria had disappeared and Dorian stood at the door, staring after him. The wistful look left his hostling's face as he turned back to his empty rooms.
It took all of his courage to draw himself up and open the door to his hostling's chambers. Facing this creature was like going into the dark unknown.
Dorian was lying on the bed on his stomach, his face buried in his arms in the pillows. His slender legs were drawn up to the side, accentuating the curve of his hip from the gentle slope of his side and lower back. Yuri chewed his lower lip, feeling as if he were attempting to face an unpredictable wild animal. He moved more into the room and shut the door behind himself.
At the sound of the door, Dorian suddenly sat up and slowly turned to face Yuri.
"Dorian?" his son whispered. Dorian simply stared at him, his ethereal beauty seeming ghastly in the harsh light. Yuri could picture this creature in his father's arms so easily. Dorian was so perfect in every way, even in his cruelty.
"What are you doing here?" Dorian hissed suddenly. "How did you get here?" His muscles were tense under smooth skin, so easily seen. His hostling had become nearly gaunt in the last few months.
"I came by myself," he said.
"What do you want?" Dorian snapped.
Oh, how many answers were there to that question? You, Dorian. You! I want you to want me. I want my father back. I want to be a child again. I want to be dead if you don't love me!
But he stayed quiet. Dorian had turned away from him.
But that was it, wasn't it? Dorian didn't want him. Dorian didn't love him.
Nobody wanted him.
Tears welled up and he took a deep breath to control the emotions stirred in the realization. Dorian looked back at him. "I might as well be dead," Yuri whispered softly. "You would gladly have traded me for him, wouldn't you? You could always have another one of me." His eyes fell on Dorian's swelled belly.
Dorian was staring at him, dark blue eyes reading deep into him. With his conversion, Dorian had become somewhat of an empath. He could feel the horror emanating from his son.
"I hate you!" Yuri screamed suddenly, throwing all his pain into those three words so that Dorian could know his suffering. "I hate you like you hate me. I don't need you!"
And he fled. He didn't care if Dorian followed, or his dog. He just ran. Out of the loft into the pathways that were streets. The mist stirred up under his bare feet as he ran, crying his anguish at the top of his lungs.

He couldn't run fast, but he did what he could. Dorian wrapped a robe about himself and chased his son out of the loft and into the streets. He screamed Yuri's name over and over. But if his son could hear him, Dorian doubted that Yuri would've stopped anyway. After what had happened in that room, he didn't think his son would ever come back.
He stumbled in clumsiness. His rounded belly was screaming at him to stop running and exerting himself. No. He had to get to Yuri before his son hurt himself. Even more than I have. Dorian grasped his belly in pain, stumbling again as sweat broke out on his brow.
If Dorian hadn't been carrying, he could have kept up. His heart thundered in his chest, his head pounded and sharp pains if warning shot throughout the body of the young one he was carrying. He could loose it if he wasn't careful.
"I don't care!" he screamed, picking up his pace. He could never have another one as Yuri thought. Not even if Gabriel was here.
He stumbled again, falling and scraping his knees. The stinging pain shot up through his aching legs but he didn't stop. He pushed himself up again and forced himself to go on. He could feel the beads of sweat dripping down his face, his neck.
He had reached the corner of the market, empty and deserted at this unholy hour. He leaned on the corner of a stand, gasping for breath, feeling very acutely the weight of his belly. Clenching his teeth, he made himself take another step and his knees buckled. Pain shot through his belly, spreading like a wildfire, enflaming every nerve in his body, making him scream.
He was loosing his children, his born and his unborn children. He tried again, pushing himself up, only to collapse again, his elbows scraping the stone. "Yuri!" he cried. And lost consciousness, the feeling in his body fading slowly with the last thought, Finally.

Something warm and heavy was resting on his chest, almost suffocating him. His hand was entwined in something soft and wispy, like thick feathers.
The ceiling materialized from the blur he was seeing. His own room. A soft wind blew over him, bringing freshness from the outside and ruffling his hair gently. He was tucked deep within the warm blankets of his bed and couldn't conceive of moving to get up at the moment.
There was no feeling in his belly now. No sparking pain but no gentle throb of life either. With his free hand, he felt his belly.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he stared at the ceiling and his chest heaved with the beginnings of a sob, waking the young fledgling who had fallen asleep.
Yuri didn't say anything. Dorian's hand dropped from his hair when he raised his head. He merely gazed at Dorian, his eyes misting over. He looked afraid of Dorian, uneasy. He moved to get up.
"Oh, Yuri," Dorian choked, holding his arms out for his son. Yuri didn't need any other encouragement. With a small cry, he collapsed on his hostling, seeking to bury his face in Dorian's hair. To curl up in his arms as he used to when he was still small.
Dorian breathed in the fresh scent of his son's hair, his cheeks already wet from tears that squeezed from his tightly closed eyes. He wept just as surely as Yuri did, forgetting about everything else.
"Forgive me," he whispered, kissing Yuri's hair, his ear, his cheek. "Forgive me..."
Yuri drew up so he could look into Dorian's face. "No," he said softly. "Don't ask for forgiveness. Just love me." He wiped his eyes and brushed his hair back with his hand. His other was tightly clasped in Dorian's. "Dorian," he said. "Ria says that the one growing in you is gone. That it won't ever-"
Dorian put his fingers to Yuri's lips. "Hush, child. I know. I knew it would happen."
"Then why did you do it?" Yuri suddenly burst out. "Why? It was Papa's child too-"
"You are your father's child," Dorian said, his voice a little on the edge. "It took me long enough to realize that you are all I ever wanted." He stopped and took a deep breath. "Gabriel is dead," he said with effort. Perhaps he was finally admitting it to himself. "But you are here. Already I see him in you."
Yuri gazed at him, his eyes filled with tears. "Dorian, I...I feel I won't ever be to you what he was. That I'll disappoint you or fail you somehow-"
Dorian pulled him down to rest on his chest. Gently he stroked Yuri's hair. "Forgive me," he whispered again. "My baby, my love. You could never disappoint me or fail me. You won't be your father. You'll be Yuri. And you'll grow up to be strong in your own way."

Many months passed after that incident. Yuri was still wary of his hostling, but everyday he became bolder and bolder as to how close he could get, curiouser and curiouser as to who Dorian really was and more importantly, what he was, or would become.
He would watch his hostling every chance he got, and get as close as possible to him. He wanted to imagine what Dorian had been like before he'd gotten here, when he'd lived Down Below. Ria often used to tell stories to Yuri and Auriel about it to make them sleep, but Dorian balked at the mention of his life before this place.
Sometimes Dorian would fall asleep in the sun with Ria in the lazy afternoon. That was the time he liked to watch most. His hostling curled on the wicker couch, his head thrown back over the arm of it and both hands petting Ria's hair with a slowing rhythm until he had dozed off. Ria was all gold in the afternoon sun; Dorian, with his pale skin and black hair was like the moon defying the daytime.
It didn't take long for him to figure out that Ria was giving Dorian more comfort than anyone knew about. Even Niko wasn't suspicious at the amount of time Ria spent there when he was away on some flight. And his hostling was happy whenever he bid Ria goodnight afterwards. He was always full of some lazy sighing and was receptive to cuddling if Yuri timed himself right after Ria left, or when Dorian returned to his own rooms.
Niko had told him about the laws here in preparation for the Rites. He'd mentioned that a relationship between hostlings was absolutely forbidden, but that was all he'd said. He'd moved on to other things after that.
Yuri didn't care if it was wrong. He didn't see why the Flyers were so afraid of it. If it was what Dorian wanted, then he would gladly go along with it, but...
"Mmm?" His hostling was lazy again, drunk on whatever it was that Ria and he did when no one else was around, and that meant he was ripe for affection and closeness. Yuri lay curled against him on his side, breathing in that scent of musk and salt that always lingered.
"Niko says it's not right- what you and Ria do I mean..."
Dorian's easy breathing froze for a moment. "Ria?" he said softly.
Yuri propped himself up on his elbows and touched Dorian's swollen lips. "I won't tell," he said softly, attempting to smile. "If it makes you happy, then..."
Dorian had opened his eyes and was gazing up at him. It was unnerving.
"But when I take the Rites-" he gathered his courage and tried to stop his voice from trembling. "When I take the Rites, I...I want it to be me who you come to for...comfort-"
"Shush!" Dorian whispered, wrapping his arms about Yuri's neck and pulling him down in a warm embrace. Gods, he smelled like... like what? Whatever it was, it had Yuri's body and senses reeling in an odd new sensation. "Hush you, I know. Listen to me." He pulled Yuri's face up between his hands.
"When you pass the Rites you will be a full-grown Flyer. Then I can have you, and I will not need Ria any longer."
"You mean you're just-"
"Using him?" Dorian smiled eerily in the darkness. "No. He knows. He knows very well that I am spoken for. As is he." When Yuri said nothing in his confusion, he continued with a sigh. "Ria loves Niko very much. He is just...helping me right now because he loves me too. He wants to see you grow, Yuri, and be happy."
"I want to grow and be happy too," Yuri whispered, rubbing his cheek against his hostling's shoulder and daring to kiss and taste that warm saltiness of his skin.

"Dorian?" Yuri mumbled, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
His hostling was perched on the foot of his bed, watching him sleep. "Mmm?"
"What are you doing?"
"Watching you."
Yuri sat up and stretched. He reached for his hostling. "Why are you watching me?"
Dorian laid down with him and stroked his hair. "You're leaving today," he said softly. "Off to become a full grown Flyer. I'll be lonely here without you." He smelled of the fresh morning and Yuri nuzzled closer.
"I don't want to go and leave you," he replied softly.
Dorian laughed outright. "Ah, but you must! You must go and come back strong like Niko, or-" He stopped.
Yuri looked up at him. "Gabriel?"
Dorian actually smiled then. "Hmm. Yes, like Gabriel."

Yuri remembered when Sephria had gone to the Rites. Niko's first son had left a mere child and when he returned, he was tall, strong and handsome as his father. He was a grown Flyer, ready for a consort and fledglings of his own.
It had been so amazing to see the change from childhood to adult in the span of such a short time. When he came home, Ria had cried and embraced him, as had Niko. But Sephria was gone now. Moved into a loft of his own with a consort of his own- a smooth and elegant boy with hair the color of a wheat field in the summer and a face so exquisite that, when he'd first seen the boy, Yuri almost couldn't decide between this new boy, Savel, and his own hostling. But then Dorian had come into the room, smiling as he played with Ryku and there was no doubt in Yuri's mind. He beamed with the fact that Dorian easily beat them all.
Savel and Sephria lived nearby and visited often. Dorian said they would have a fledgling very soon now, by the size of Savel's belly.

Niko went with him to the place he would stay for twenty days while he performed the rites.
"Don't be frightened, Yuri," Niko said, smoothing the white robe they'd given Yuri to wear. "It's as natural as anything."
"Dorian was angry with you," Yuri said.
"Aye, he was."
"He threatened you."
"I believe his words were something like: 'If you don't bring him back in one piece I'll personally make sure you're not able to have any more children.'"
Yuri laughed nervously. "I guess I'd better not hurt myself then."
Niko shrugged and smiled. "If you do, well, I don't think we were planning on having any more anyway. Though Ria might be a little upset if Dorian goes through with his threat."
Yuri smiled again. "He won't. He just likes to threaten people."
"I wonder. He's got some pretty long nails that could do some damage."
"He wouldn't dream of damaging them."
Niko's laughing eyes narrowed as a few Flyers in white robes emerged from the room next door. "They're ready for you now, Yuri. Don't be frightened."
Their good-hearted banter at his hostling's expense was a cover for his highly strung nerves. Niko's sudden seriousness hit him hard, and the young Fledgling suddenly felt a pang of fear. "How?"
Niko thought for a moment. "Remember how you like to make Dorian happy?"
"Just think of how much more you can do for him when you've finished with all this."
Now what did that mean? But when he asked, Niko had winked at him and said, "You'll learn. Believe me. It's a lot more fun that just talking with him."

"Argh!" Dorian grumbled, pacing the length of his room. Ria lounged on the bed, lazily stroking Ryku's fur. "I can't take this, Ria!"
"Dorian, come here."
The boy laid down next to him with a grunt and buried his face in his hands. Ria lazily rolled close to him and stroked his hair. "Dorian, he's only been gone a few days. You must be patient."
Ria smiled. No matter how close they'd gotten since the 'incident', Yuri was still so starved for Dorian's attention. But the way he flowered under his own hostling's care was just incredible. Even the smallest smile from his hostling would leave him dreamy for the rest of the day, floating in his own little world. He had lost his frail look in the weeks after that 'incident' too. He began to fill out and strengthen into a lean, healthy look. His hair was growing longer, and it was as flaxen as ivory.
Dorian sighed again and rolled over onto his back. "Ria?"
"Do you think that it's possible for us to..."
"To what?"
Dorian kissed his palm. "To have children? I mean with each other? Do you think that's why the Flyers are so afraid of it?"
Ria laughed richly, pulling both Dorian's hands up to his lips. "I don't know really," he said finally. He put Doran's hands on his cheeks. "Though I feel better when we're careful about it."
"Do you love me, Ria?" he asked suddenly. "Why do you care for me as if I were a child?"
"Because you are one. Of course I love you."
Dorian smiled and reached up to touch Ria's cheek. "I will be patient then, if you say I should."

The sun was absolutely brilliant that morning. It shined, cutting through the chill of the early hours, lighting up everything with a sharp glow. Yuri stepped into it and turned his face to the heat, basking in it. The air was so fresh and he filled his lungs with it, exhaling contentedly.
He looked towards the darkened pavilion where he knew the ones he loved most still slept. He stared at one darkened balcony in particular, envisioning the enigma of a boy that slept there. Ah, Dorian...I know you now...
He stretched magnificent white wings and loving their heaviness that he was still getting used to. He flew up to the golden railing and perched on it, balancing perfectly and listening carefully for any movement. There was none. His hostling was still asleep.
He slipped inside, glad for once that Dorian always kept the balcony doors unlocked and cracked for a bit of a breeze. The room was dark, all the curtains still pulled against the elevated sun.
His hostling lay on his back, arms stretched demurely above his head, face turned gently so his cheek rested against the pillow, his black hair cascading out over the white sheets like a black waterfall. His beauty had not faded in Yuri's mind over the short time he had been away. In fact, he'd dreamed of Dorian every waking second, of his scent, of his feel.
And, as his induction progressed, he dreamt of the things he was told he was now able to do. They taught him about things that he'd never imagined. Things that had made him blush in the beginning.
But now, he looked upon that creature, whose elegance and rarity was unmatched by any other he'd ever seen or even heard of. So many had noticed him at the Rituals, knowing he was the son of that dark-haired beauty, that he would be the one to have Dorian. They envied him to the point of shunning him.
He didn't care. He didn't think about that time. Now was the time for Dorian, to do things that he still could not muster the courage to do. He steeled himself. Father had done it. Even Ria had done it.
Dorian, sensitive to his presence, wrinkled his nose and stretched before opening his eyes and gazing up at him. The blue eyes focused on him with confusion for a moment, only to soften as he breathed, "Gabriel..."
"No, Dorian.." Yuri knelt on the bed and lifted his hostling's hand to his chest to hold it against his heat.
His hostling opened his arms, his eyes filling with tears suddenly. "Yuri.."
He was a child again. He buried his nose in Dorian's hair, breathing in the scent of him, his hands traveling down Dorian's sides to the outside of his thighs. His lessons were lost in the moment and he became as clueless in this creature's presence as he had always been. Dorian..Dorian...I don't know what to me...
Dorian's lips sought out his as if his hostling could read his pleading thoughts. Dorian's hands took his and guided them over his skin, to touch him...Yuri fed on that mouth, over and over again playing through his mind Dorian's face. This is him. It's really him beneath me. Flashes of his childhood, of pretty Ria and Niko. Of his wolfpup. Of his father.
"You could help a bit, you know," Dorian said, trying to tug off Yuri's robes. Yuri obliged him and pulled away to rid himself of clothes he'd never wanted to put on anyway. He stopped when he saw that Dorian was quietly staring at him.
"Nothing," his hostling smiled. "You're so much older now, I suppose. I feel ancient."
He smiled and laid back down and took his hostling into his arms. "Dorian," he said seriously. "I cannot be my father-"
His hostling's fingers touched his lips. "Shush, fledgling," he said, adopting Ria's style of teasing. He became serious. "Your father would be proud of what you've become, Yuri. I want no more than what you can give to me."
No more words were spoken. Neither felt as if words could be enough. He made love to Dorian, following the wants of his body and his hostling's gentle urges. He couldn't count how many times they did it, but Dorian never seemed to tire at all. He was insatiable, and Yuri, with a secret smile, conceded to his father's ability to tame his consort and make him into what he was.
It was well into the evening when he opened his eyes to someone gently touching his cheek. He smiled. "Dorian-"
"Shh. Ria will hear you. I want to keep you to myself for a bit longer."
Yuri's hands moved over Dorian's belly as if he could already feel the life he'd planted there. "We'll name him Gabriel," he whispered.
His hostling, his consort smiled and touched Yuri's face with gentle fingers, so different from just an hour ago.
"Gabriel it is."
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