[ID: A digital illustration of Orym from Exandria Unlimited. He sits in a tree, holding onto a slim branch with one hand. He looks over his shoulder, smiling slightly at the forest around him. End description.]
For the non-sexual intimacy prompts: 20 (tracing designs on arms) and/or 121 (touching affectionately without asking) for shadowgast 💜
Hello friend! Thank you for the prompts - same dealio as before, will probably get to the second one eventually and will post separately.
request a prompt from this list here
121 - touching affectionately without asking
shadowgast, post canon, 611 words, no content warnings apply
He isn't sure when it starts. Or rather, he isn’t sure when it starts again.
He knows when it started before, but then it always had a purpose, an intent or a goal. There was manipulation on both sides, Caleb’s was just more overt.
Maybe it starts again in the bowels of a ship, a kiss pressed to a forehead, a hand grasping his. Or maybe it is a hand clasping an arm reminding him to breathe, fingers brushing as components were gifted, or hands gripped in what he assumed were final moments.
But he finds he comes to like it, that he looks forward to the moments when Caleb holds a hand out to help him stand from wherever they had been sitting, the fingers that brush against his back as he beckons Caleb to look at a passage in a text book, a hand wrapped around his for a moment when handing over a mug of tea. It emboldens Essek to reach out, to brush the hair back from where it’s fallen across his forehead, to rest his hand on Caleb’s shoulder as he passes by just because he wants. Because he knows it will be appreciated and leaned into.
They learn to communicate through touches. They learn to communicate through words as well, through shared spells and knowledge, but Essek savours their touches. Maybe it’s the fact he has had so few of them. It’s not common in the Dynasty to have casual touches with someone you weren’t married to. From what he knows, it’s not even common to have them with someone you are married to. He can barely recall the last moment that he was truly held, before Jester came along. Before Caleb.
It’s the arm that automatically opens when Caleb is sitting on the couch, expecting Essek to curl up against his side and tuck his feet into the edges. It’s the way Essek always knows when Caleb is about to wake, so he threads his hands through Caleb’s hair and strokes gently. The times Caleb falls asleep, half on top of him on those lazy afternoons, and Essek can’t help but hold him close, his heart beating fast at the open trust Caleb has in him.
But it’s more than that. It’s also the moments where Caleb holds his hands, as his own fatalism spirals and he needs the grounding. How he tugs Caleb’s fingers away from his forearms, when the past looms and looks all encompassing. It’s when Essek sits in a courtroom, disguised, with his hand not moving from its place on Caleb’s back through every moment until they can leave, Caleb pulling Essek close and burying his face against his shoulder.
It’s the linking of arms, of hands, as they walk. Of how Caleb holds a hand out and it’s just expected that Essek will take it, that he doesn’t have to ask for it.
It’s a gift, and Essek doesn’t think he will ever be able to convey just how much it is treasured with words.
So he doesn’t. But he makes sure to squeeze Caleb’s palm when he threads their fingers together. Makes sure that there’s always space for Caleb to tuck his legs under when they share the couch. That he’s there when Caleb wakes, and when on those rare occasions he doesn’t feel like trancing upright, he tucks into Caleb’s side and it’s always welcoming and always warm.
As he cups Caleb’s cheek, holds his face between his hands and presses his own kiss to Caleb’s forehead, he decides it doesn’t matter how or when it started. They have time after all. There’s no need to rush.
(beauregard): we dream of the summertime during winter. we yearn for the winter during summer. what fatal flaw has god injected the human psyche with? why must we always strive for the things furthest away from us?
@stardustedknuckles created another wolf!Yasha AU with the wolf’s appearance leaned on a design I did months ago (,  they came up with the wing marking though!), which naturally meant I had to roll up my sleeves and draw another wolf!Yasha. Also smol Beau wearing a mishmash of all her three outfits.
Give it a read here: Here Our Dreams Aren't Made, They're Won
It’s actually a post-canon timeline fic in which Yasha discovers she can wildshape into a direwolf with a clever explanation as to why.
Time for more headcanon because I’m bored at work:
- Elves and drow don’t dream while trancing. They’re in more of a meditative state than actually being unconscious, so they still have a level of awareness of what’s around them to a degree. They don’t conk out enough for dreaming to happen.
- They’re expected to learn how to trance around early adolescence, so most elves and drow only have vague childhood memories of dreaming because they sleep so rarely once they learn to trance (it’s really only socially acceptable if you’re sick and have something going on that makes it difficult to focus enough to trance.)
- Essek doesn’t really remember dreaming as a child, but he does remember that he had reoccurring nightmares about being chased by a giant purple worm. What he remembers is being up at night, clutching his stuffed toy beholder and straining his ears for the sound of rumbling that might indicated a giant worm is coming to eat him up.
- In his defense, he was about the drow equivalent of six and one of his caretakers had read him a book about a purple worm who eats naughty drow children, and the illustrations were really much too scary for a children’s book. Essek was very worried about the worm coming after him for his childhood misdeeds.
- This did not actually stop him from staying up past his bedtime reading or using levitate to steal snacks from the kitchen when no one was looking, he would just worry about the worm after the fact.
- The point is that while he knows that he did dream as a child, he doesn’t really remember the experience of dreaming, what it felt like.
- so when he starts giving sleeping a try at the Mighty Nein’s encouragement (it does sound tempting to get to turn his brain off for a while, and he likes the idea of cuddling with Caleb as he falls asleep but he’s not up to admitting that part yet,) dreaming feels like a whole new experience. It’s interesting, and he does find sleep more relaxing than trancing.
- he’s so interested in how dreams work and the whole phenomenon of people having similar dreams. Jester keeps asking him if he has any dreams whenever he sleeps, and he admits having a dream that he showed up to the Bright Queen’s court naked and then all his teeth fell out. Fjord gives him a sympathetic look, he hates that ‘naked in public and your teeth fall out’ dreams. Essek is so bewildered by the concept that people can have the same dreams? How does dreaming work
- he starts recording his dreams to try to keep track of them and find the patterns and figure out how it works. He keeps his research journal somewhere secret because he has quite a few dreams about Caleb and he doesn’t need that becoming public knowledge.
- It’s all interesting academic fun until he has a nightmare. He’s so unused to having to deal with the particular experience of his worst fears slapping him in the face when his mind is at its most vulnerable, and it really shakes him up.
- He dreams about the Dynasty catching him and trying him for his crimes, and he wakes up in a cold sweat, feeling like the child who was scared of the purple worm gobbling him up for being bad. But his crimes are so much worse now, and he would deserve any punishment for them.
- He can deal with those dreams, however unpleasant they are, but then he starts dreaming about terrible things happening to his friends, to Caleb, and it’s just a bit too much. He had been sleeping a couple nights a week, but he abruptly stops after having a particularly horrible nightmare.
- Caleb notices the sudden change, and that Essek is acting strange, and finally gets him to admit why he stopped sleeping.
- And Caleb certainly isn’t going to force him to try sleeping again if he’s uncomfortable, but, well…maybe they could try sharing a bed together whenever Essek wants to sleep? Caleb still has nightmares pretty regularly, but they don’t happen as often when he’s sleeping near someone. Maybe the same could apply for Essek. They can keep each others nightmares at bay.
- This turns out to be there perfect solution to the problem, and after getting over the initial shyness Essek gets to experience his fantasy of falling asleep cuddling with Caleb. It doesn’t completely stop the nightmares for either of them, but at least they can care for each other afterward.