Rama shook as he tried to concentrate on the magic, feeling Helem’s eyes on him. He was terrified of unleashing the wolves, of what they might do to Helem once they appeared. “Breathe, Rama.” Helem’s voice was gentle and Rama felt frustration crawling.
“I can’t do it.” He dropped his head in defeat and Helem’s arms were suddenly around him, pulling him close.
“It’s okay, don’t get discouraged, this was your first attempt.”
Helem had given him time to get used to being able to count on him, visiting often and showering him with understanding and affection and now here he was failing him. He was terrified of the wolves, of losing Helem, of someone coming along and taking him away. “It’s hard, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
Helem pulled back and smiled warmly at him. “It’s going to take time.” He placed a hand against Rama’s chest, closing his eyes and examining his heart. Helem had managed to erase most of the pain and sorrow, but he could still feel that shadow and it was now fueled by fear and doubt. He knew last time Rama had unleashed the hounds he had been in a highly emotional state, anguish, rage, sorrow, they had called the wolves to him as a defense and now he held it back, blocked out the magic. Rama had to learn to let go and feel past those emotions.
“Is everything okay?” Rama asked and Helem opened his eyes, smiling at him.
“Everything’s fine physically, but emotionally we need to do some work.”
“Between you and your magic.” He pressed a gentle kiss against Rama’s lips, making him blush. “I propose we take a trip into the wilds so I can observe your natural instincts.”
“But in the wilds if the wolves hurt you” Helem interrupted Rama with a kiss “I’ll be fine, they won’t hurt me baby.”
“You keep telling me that but I’m still so scared” Helem just held Rama a short time, knowing words weren’t going to do much in this moment. “lets go pack small bags and head out. I’ll pack tea to help calm you”
“Of course and lots of White Chai aswell” They walked into their home and packed. “The last thing they did was put their tea in plastic bags which they taped up to help insure no moisture got in the tea leaves and ruined them before they were ready to use them.They then tucked them into their own space in the bag and set out. “anywhere in particular you were thinking?”
“I did find a place, it’s far enough away you won’t have to worry about hurting other people.” He took Rama’s hand. “It’s going to be okay and the hike there is so beautiful.”
Rama let Helem pull him along, his anxiety spiking with every step. He really didn’t want to do this, but Helem had a point. He needed to learn to control his powers, but with them came memories, sharp and painful. His failure to his first love. He suddenly felt ashamed. Helem was right here, was warm and alive and he was lingering on the past. He knew Helem wouldn’t fault him, but he also thought it was unfair to the man who had been helping heal him. “Helem?”
“Umm, are you sure about this?”
“You need this. If you never face your demons, then you won’t be able to live fully. I understand you are terrified, but I’ll be there every step of the way.”
“It would be so much easier if you could just kiss it all away.”
Helem chuckled. “If I could I would, but physical ailments are different than ones clouding the heart and soul.”
“I know I thank you all the time but thank you. You can say otherwise all you want but I know it’s hard to be with me. It would be much easier to be with and love someone without these issues”
“You’re worth everything, always remember that. You are a good soul and those are hard to find” Helem took Rama’s hand in support, hoping he understood just how much he was cared about. The weather cooperated with them the whole way there, making the hike gorgeous and pleasant. The sights were so stunning for brief moments Rama forgot his anxieties and actually felt normal.
“Here we are.” Helem said and he felt his heart leap in his chest. He looked around the gorgeous clearing, thinking it looked like something out of a fairy tale. A river ran next to the clearing with beautiful flowers blooming along the bank, birds sang and bees buzzed. There was a cave and Helem pulled him towards it. “We’ll sleep in here, I had the dragons make sure it was clear.”
“Remember when I told I was going out to collect herbs for a couple of days?”
“I was putting this all together.”
Rama looked between him and the cave. “You knew I’d have trouble.”
Helem gave him a gentle smile. “You have so much self doubt, Rama, you’re always so scared of yourself, I was sure that you would need a better place to practice.” He pulled him into a hug. “I can read you like a book, my love, your thoughts always show on your face.”
Rama clung tightly to Helem. Helem was truly a gift in his life and Rama wasn’t sure what might have become of him if he had never shown up. He would probably still be isolated or even more lost to depressions with the progression of the years. “Can we go ahead and see the cave?”
“Of course, come on” Helem said as he let Rama go. Everything looked so perfect here that Rama was actually being careful where he stepped. He purposefully avoided little things that helped make this place look so much like a utopia. Even the inside of the cave was beautiful. The walls were covered in beautiful moss. Normally all Rama saw was green moss but the kind growing in this cave were varying and beautiful shades of blues. “The moss is harmless. Not much of this kind grows here”
“This is a stunning cave”
“I’m glad you’ll be comfortable. I thought it was pretty as well”
“You didn’t have to go through so much trouble.”
“It wasn’t trouble at all and you needed a calming environment.” He pulled him a little further back where there were a bunch of blankets folded into a neat pile. “Let’s get settled in.” Rama helped him lay out the blankets and then they went out and gathered wood for a fire when it got dark.
“Are we going to practice anymore today?” He asked nervously when they had everything set up.
“No, you can relax today, we’ll start in the morning.”
“I’m scared, Helem.”
“Don’t be.” He sat down at the mouth of the cave and pulled Rama down into his lap. “Your trouble lies here.” He rested a hand on Rama’s chest, over his heart. “There’s a shadow here that’s wrapped itself around your heart and it’s holding you down. You are strong enough to face this, I know you are.” He leaned in and pressed a light kiss to Rama’s lips, making his heart stutter. “I love you too much to let you linger in pain.”
“I’ll try hard tomorrow to let my pain go and let out my power again”
“I’ll help you as long as it takes. We have forever together” The same overflowing emotion filled Rama’s eyes as he looked into Helems. Helem just didn’t want him to feel so sad any longer or like a burden. They soon got up and walked around the area, admiring it’s beauty. That night Helem started the fire and they cozied up to eachother beside it, talking about all they had seen that day. When it came time to sleep Rama wasn’t ready because he knew it would make the day come faster. He’d pass out and next thing he would know it would be morning and time to try again.
“You need to rest.” Helem said softly.
He huffed out a laugh and turned so he was facing Rama and pulled him into his chest. “Close your eyes.” He ran his fingers through Rama’s hair and across his neck, soothing him. He needed to be well rested, magic was taxing and the emotional pain he might go through in the process would also exhaust him. “Sleep.”
“But…I’m not even…” he yawned, “tired.” Helem smiled as he pressed a kiss to the top of his head and let his hand rub Rama’s back, loosening tense muscles. Rama blinked his eyes trying to stay awake, but it was hard fighting Helem and before he knew it he was asleep. Helem pulled the blanket up and gave him another kiss before settling down himself.
“Sweet dreams, my love.” He said softly then allowed himself to drift completely off.
In the morning Helem gathered eggs and prepared breakfast before waking Rama “tea and eggs are waiting for you my love” Helem whispered into Rama’s ear. Rama’s eyes slowly opened and he sat up, rubbing at them “how long have you been awake?”
“Just long enough to have breakfast ready for you”
“It’ll be a hard day. You deserved to rest through the preparation” Helem handed him a plate and then a cup before getting his own and enjoying the fruit of his morning labor. When they were done they cleaned up so they wouldn’t attract animals, finished their tea and then moved out of the cave to start practicing.
“Do we really have too?” Rama asked in a fearful tone. “I’m fine, I don’t need the hounds.”
“That’s not the point, Rama, you know that.” He moved so he was standing in front of Rama and placed a hand over his heart. He focused there, seeing the shadow. “You’re still in pain.” Rama frowned. “Now don’t make that face, it’s okay.”
“I feel so guilty, it’s like my past is ruining everything. I feel like it’s going to get between us even.”
“Tell me something, do you love me?”
Rama looked into his eyes. “Yes.”
“And I love you and you loved him. If I ever lost you, it would drive me to madness, it would kill me.”
“I feel the same, that’s why I’m so scared.”
Helem smiled. “Close you eyes for me and just tell me what you’re feeling.”
Rama took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Fear, shame, regret, and…and anger. I failed to protect the person I loved and I’m afraid I’ll fail again.”
“When the hounds came you were in a heightened emotional state.”
“Agony, sorrow, and rage. It felt like I had been broken open.” He felt that all to familiar sadness, the knot in his throat, the tightening in his chest.
“Breathe, Rama, take slow deep breaths and slow your heart, slow your breath.”
“But the hounds came from such a dark part of me, all that hate for those men made them manifest. They killed them because I wanted them too.”
“Shh, it’s okay.” He pressed a kiss to Rama’s forehead. “You know I don’t believe it had anything to do with hate.”
“What kind of emotion causes such destruction?”
“Do you feel them?”
Rama nodded. “A little, but they won’t come out.”
“Try just one, focus on one wolf, call it.”
Rama took a long breath in then let it out slowly, allowing it to calm him. Helem had been so patient and he was determined to do this for him. One, it was only one, he had to be able to control just one wolf. Helem was proud of how well Rama was doing. Normally he would already be getting into an intensely emotional and terrified state but he was managing to stay calm and focused this time. “You can do it, I know you can Rama” Helem said in his head. He knew if he actually spoke it might ruin what Rama was finally achieving. Rama started feeling an odd sensation within him. He wondered if it was coming and as he thought it might be he began to panic again.
Helem could feel the magic moving over Rama’s skin, but he could also feel him trembling. He wrapped his arms around him, holding him close as he ran a gentle hand up and down his back. “It’s okay, let it out, it won’t hurt me.”
Rama clung to him as he tried to hold onto his concentration. Helem saw a wisp of something appear behind Rama, an impression of yellow eyes and a growl filled the clearing, startling Rama who opened his eyes. “Did…did it work?”
“It’s gone now, but that was a good start.” He pulled back, smiling.
“This is so frustrating.”
“Hey, you made progress. You just need to tell yourself I will be safe, that the wolves are an extension of you so they won’t hurt me.”
“I want to try again.”
“Just remember, they are not bread from hate, I promise you that. They appeared in defense of you.”
Rama nodded then closed his eyes to try again. He used the same method, taking long breaths and exhaling slowly to keep calm. He knew if he let himself be afraid for even a moment it wouldn’t work so he pictured Helem and all the little moments that had made him fall in love. Suddenly he heard Helem say “Rama, look” Rama opened his eyes and saw two beautiful all black wolves looking up at him “they’re..they’re”
“peacful, beautiful creatures. You summoned them and look, just as I said, they are good. They were only protecting you the last time you called”
Rama was still so nervous, he couldn’t even move, he just stared into the eyes of the wolves. He could feel how wild they were. “What do I do?” The wolves cocked their heads at his voice, their tails swishing back and forth a little.
“They know your voice.”
“But I’ve never even spoken to them.”
“They live in you, they’re a part of you.”
The wolves moved forward and Rama moved back. Helem grabbed his shoulders, steadying him. “I can’t, Helem.”
“It’s okay, they just want to smell us.”
His heart thundered in his chest as they approached. The wolves simply smelled the two of them and left, sensing Rama wanted them to go. “see, nothing bad happened at all”
“why did they leave?”
“because you were scared. They come for whatever need you have. Thats why I know they wont hurt me, you’d never want them to”
“They did seem nice”
“They are, all they wanted to do all that time ago was protect you Rama”
Rama turned into him and Helem hugged him tightly, pressing a kiss to his temple. “There’s just so much going on in my head, the screams of those me, the horrible memories of that day.” He gripped Helem’s shirt. “I just want to forget.”
“They remind you of your first love.”
“Doesn’t it make you angry that I’m so hung up.”
“Not at all, I love you and I am happy you are mine, but it doesn’t bother me you still think of him. I know how you feel about me.” He pulled back to look at him. “You need to face that day head on if you wish to heal, Rama. He wouldn’t want you suffering.”
“It’s so painful.”
“I know.” He gently stroked his cheek then kissed him.
Rama melted at the feel of his lips, his heart dancing in his chest. He truly did love and need Helem, he desired him with every fiber of his being. He was flushed and breathless when Helem pulled back. “You’re like magic.” He said, his voice shaking a little.
Helem chuckled. “I love you too. Want to take a break?”
“yeah, lets go sit where all those flowers are” They walked hand in hand over to the flowers and sat down. It smelled amazing and they both quickly got taken by the bees and butterflys flying around, landing on flowers. “The gold ones have always been my favorites” Helem suddenly said. “Truly?”
“Yes, do you have any butterflies you particularly like Rama?”
“No, they are gorgeous though, especially considering they are bugs”
“I think insects are even beautiful in their own ways”
“You can’t tell me that about spiders”
“Of course I can, they make beautiful webs and some spiders are beautiful, vibrant colors”
“what about stink bugs?”
“They look like trees with their coloring and they only get stinky when you mess with them.”
“Honey for your tea.”
Rama huffed. “Alright, I give up, you win.”
Helem chuckled and leaned in, pressing a kiss to his lips. “Feeling better?”
“Yeah, sorry I got so jumpy, I’m really trying.”
“I know and you’re doing an amazing job.”
“I was really surprised when they actually appeared. I had so many thoughts running through my head, so many memories. I guess I’m both scared and happy? It’s weird.”
“it’s not weird, it’s wonderful. I’m glad some happiness is mixed in now with the emotions you feel for those wolves.” They continued talking about the life and world around them then started practicing again shortly after dinner. He called the same two but he couldn’t muster up any more than that. By the end of the day Rama was frustrated again “hey, you did well.”
“I don’t want to just do well Helem”
“Healing can’t be rushed”
“Because then you won’t truly heal. People with broken bones must be patient or they’ll only make it worse. There’s no reason to rush.”
“I just want to be better for you and for me. I feel like such a burden sometimes.”
“You’re never a burden, Rama, never think that. I would walk through Hell for you if you asked.”
“I would never do such a thing.”
Helem chuckled as he gave him a kiss. “Even so, I love you and that means we go through the good and bad together.” He laced their fingers together and pulled him towards the river. “Come bathe with me.”
“I bet it’s freezing.”
“Then stay close so I can keep you warm.”
Rama’s cheeks tinted red and Helems smile stretched across his face which only made Rama’s cheeks resemble cherries more. “come on adorable”
“wha what?” Helem took his hand and they walked over to the water where they stripped down to bathe. Rama slowly put his left foot in. goosebumps forming at the coldness of the water. Helem just walked right in as if it was absolutely perfect. “don’t make me splash you” Helem said when Rama had only just gotten both feet in the water “it’s cold”
“I can’t make you warmer from over there”
Rama gave a little groan as he moved further in, gasping when the water finally made it to his thighs. Helem grabbed his wrist and pulled him so he was up to his sternum in water. It took his breath away and he would have gotten out if Helem had not wrapped his arms around him. “H…how c…c…could you.” He said, shivering.
“It would have taken you an hour.”
Helem rubbed noses with him, causing his whole body to warm. He smiled as he brushed a kiss across his lips. “Feels good right?”
“The water, now that you’re used to it.”
“Yeah, I mean I guess.”
“Clears your head.” He pulled some water up Rama’s back and over his shoulders so goosebumps covered him again. He let his hands move over Rama, massaging his muscles and running his fingers soothingly through his hair until Rama was warm and relaxed. He wanted his mind off of the wolves for now.
Helem felt Rama let go of his weight and just enjoy the massage. He smiled as he continued to rub him. They had made progress far sooner than he expected to and Helem was glad for it. All Rama needed was peace, understanding and guidance. Helem was more than happy to give him all three and knew his powers and soul were going to heal soon. They didn’t get much washing done but they were pretty rinsed by the time they got out and laid nude in the soft grass.
“Feeling better?” Helem asked as he rolled onto his side, propping his head up while he letting his other hand drift over Rama’s chest.
“Yeah, thank you.” Rama answered, smiling.
“You never have to thank me.” He slid his hand lower, letting his fingers move lightly over his abdomen so Rama shivered. He grinned and Rama blushed. “Do you realize how sexy you are my love?”
“Me? What about you?”
“what about me?”
“you..you look perfect and I know you know it” Helem chuckled and kissed him. They continued to flirt with and feel up one another but it stayed purely playful, simply leading to them falling asleep together in utter peace. Over the next few days Rama got better and better at summoning his wolves and soon he was summoning an entire pack. The day he finally found himself surrounded by wolves he himself called his jaw dropped in aw.
“I can’t believe I did it.” He turned in circles, taking in all of the beautiful shadowy figures. Even though they were made of magic, they were still real and solid.
“Want to try giving them some commands?” Helem asked and Rama felt that inkling of fear.
“But, what if…”
Helem gently grabbed his chin. “Listen to me, my love, you have come so far, you can do this. They won’t turn on us, they won’t hurt me, they are an extension of you and if such spirits are tied to you that means they are there for you. Trust them and trust yourself.”
Rama nodded and turned back to the wolves. He rubbed his palms against his pants and took a deep breath. “Sit.” He commanded and all of them dropped down obediently. He glanced at Helem who gave him and encouraging smile so he dropped onto his knees and held his hand out to the biggest of the wolves. “Come here uh boy.” He said and the wolf moved forward, letting Rama touch him. He could feel the fur, the warmth. “Hey boy, good boy.” He brought his other hand up, letting it run through the wispy fur. His eyes met the wolf’s, he knew those eyes. Instead of the glowing yellow of the others, they were green. He remembered him from that day. “You lead the charge didn’t you boy, you protected me. He would have liked you, you know, all of you.” The wolf’s tongue darted out, licking the tears from his cheeks. “Silly wolf, I’m okay, you don’t have to worry about me.”
Helem enjoyed watching Rama talk to the wolves. He was more and more at ease as the time past and by the time he had them leave him he didn’t have any fear at all of the creatures. Rama ran to Helem, hugging him tightly “thank you so much”
“I’m your partner, your lover for life. Any time you need help with anything, no matter how hard I will be here helping you every single way I can”
“You’re…you’re the best thing to ever happen to me Helem”
“believe it or not Rama, you are too” They just held eachother as they stood among the gorgeous world around them. They decided to stay a few more days. They had taken time to admire the world around them while trying to work through Ramas problems but it wasn’t the same under the stress so now they were there simply as a couple, enjoying a romantic few days.
~ The End