One Thousand Journeys Pale in Comparison to A Reunion with a Long Lost Loved One
Obviously this is chapter one hundred of this story, which is in itself absolutely wild. But it also has the distinction of being chapter one thousand of the overall series, which blows my mind. I never thought How Best to Use a Sword would get quite this big, but here we are, six years later—almost to the day, in fact. This weekend is the series’s sixth anniversary, so there are a lot of milestones packed in really tight here. I think this chapter lives up to that, though, and I hope you guys enjoy it because it’s a special one. Thank all of you, honestly, for reading this series. It means so much to me that you’re here and this would really be such a different experience without you. I wouldn’t be interested in trading it at all.
Wearing nothing but his wedding ring, Owen gently ran his thumb down his husband’s face. Everyone knew he was the prettiest person in Dolovai, that was easy to see. But there were parts of his beauty that weren’t for everyone to see, just for Owen and Edwin, and Owen touched them all now, the corners of Gavin’s eyes, filled with adoration. The hollow of his hip, the arch of his back, the soft calluses on his hands. Owen got to see, got to have all of those parts, because in the last year and a half they’d become his whole world..
Owen kissed him, soft. Gavin kissed back, putting his hand on the back of Owen’s head to keep him there. Owen gave a thrust, and Gavin clenched around him, making a quiet noise into Owen’s mouth.
They moved like that for a good while, just back and forth, the only noise in the room the sounds they were making into each other, and Owen felt like the world was perfect. He could feel Gavin’s wedding ring touching the skin of his back, feel Gavin underneath him. They were joined, the two of them. By virtue of Owen’s cock inside Gavin right now, but at a deeper level than that, they were joined, one, forever.
And, one, they came together, murmuring each other’s names around kisses as they rode each other soft into the light. “I love you,” Owen told Gavin, kissing him again.
“And I love you.” Owen lay there a moment on top of Gavin, just looking down into his eyes. “I love more every time I look at you.”
Gavin nodded. “Me too. I didn’t think it was possible, but I do. But we have things to do, so get your dick out of my ass so we can clean up.”
Owen snorted, pulling out and sitting up. “As usual, your romantic attitude only enhances the atmosphere.”
“That’s one of the many things I’m here for,” Gavin said, smiling to himself as they cleaned each other up and even got dressed, because it was chilly.
Out in the main room, Edwin was sitting at the table, playing cards with Grey Rain and Greg, who were sitting on a chair together. Grey Rain was holding the cards and Greg seemed to be telling him what to do behind one of the huge ornate books Gavin never read. Greg was smiling again, and Owen couldn’t help a smile of his own when he saw that. He didn’t think that Greg was totally over whatever had set him off, but he and Grey Rain were both feeling a lot better. He wished he knew what had helped get them through the worst of it, but for now he was just happy that his boys were happy. Hey, Owen said, coming over to the table. Who’s winning?
I am, but only because I’m cheating, Edwin said after he’d put his cards down, winking at Greg. Eclipse Moth came by a few minutes ago. He said to tell you that Isaac said you could come back to the academy, which is weird. I didn’t think you guys ever waited for permission to go anywhere, or that you knew Isaac.
Owen glanced at Gavin. Yeah, we ran into him the other day again. I didn’t know you knew him.
Edwin shrugged. Met him at the big banquet in the summer, he said, his expression bland, not at all suggesting which part of him had met which part of Isaac.
We should go right now, Gavin said. Sorry to run out on you all, but it’s better if we just get this done.
Okay, said Greg. Be careful.
Don’t get too bored at the big school! Grey Rain added.
We won’t. Edwin has a three in his sleeve.
Edwin glared at Owen, and Owen leaned down and kissed him. “Bye.”
“Bye,” Edwin muttered, letting Gavin slide him a Jack and kiss him too.
Owen went to kiss Grey Rain’s forehead, and Grey Rain tilted so that Owen hit his mouth instead. Owen rolled his eyes and looked at Greg, who accepted a kiss on the forehead and hugged Owen of his own volition.
Ash and Warren accompanied them to the academy, since the kids weren’t going anywhere and there was no reason for their bodyguards to sit around on their hands. “Usually I suck Owen’s dick on carriage rides,” Gavin said, as soon as they’d started moving.
They looked at each other, and Warren shrugged. “Go for it, your Highness. We’ll watch your back, and anything else you care to show off.”
“Maybe on the way home,” Gavin said, leaning on Owen’s shoulder. “We’ll take the scenic route, maybe do an impromptu cock inspection too.”
Owen rolled his eyes. “So you guys bought a house together, huh?” he asked Ash.
Nodding, Ash took Warren’s hand. “Yeah. Turns out we’ve secretly been dating for a while, so…” he shrugged.
“Congratulations,” said Owen. “Happy for you guys.”
“Thanks,” said Warren. “You should come over for supper sometime. Once one of us learns how to cook.”
Owen laughed at that. “We’d like that.”
It was a short ride to the academy, and the gates were open when they got there, so they went right in. There was nobody to meet them this time. “Isaac is probably in class,” Gavin said. “It’s fine. How hard can it be to find a magical portal?”
“Probably not that hard,” Owen agreed. “It’s going to be like, big and purple and swirly, right?”
“Maybe not purple, but I would think so,” Gavin agreed, looking around. “And more importantly, there’ll be pretty fresh footsteps going to it. If our portals didn’t have to go on doors, they’d be outside so people wouldn’t stumble into them by accident. Let’s look around.”
“Are you guys lost?” someone asked them. Coming up on them were two guys Owen assumed were mages, both wrapped up in coats.
“Yes,” Owen said, before Gavin could declare they didn’t need help. “Do you guys know Isaac?” He gave Owen the impression of being pretty popular. And when they nodded, Owen said. “We’re friends of his. He sent us to look for a portal but he didn’t tell us where it was.”
“Oh, it’s over there somewhere,” said the one guy, starting to point off towards some trees before dropping his arm. “Shit, wait. You’re not evil or anything, right?”
“No,” Gavin assured him. “I’m Prince Gavin. You’ve been very helpful, thank you.”
Owen gave the two bewildered guys one last smile before following Gavin, who’d taken off after some footsteps that led towards the trees. “You know,” Owen suggested as they walked. “You could give people two seconds to adjust.”
“Why?” Gavin asked. “I never gave you any time to adjust and you did just fine.”
“Yeah, well not everyone is me, now are they?”
“Thank Cal for that, I’d never be able to sexually satisfy an entire world full of you.”
“It would be fun to try, though.”
“It would be fun to watch two of you fuck,” Gavin said thoughtfully. “Oh, look, it’s right there.”
Owen didn’t see anything when he looked where Gavin was pointing. “How do you know?”
“Because the footsteps stop abruptly, dummy,” said Gavin, He nodded at the ground, and he was of course right. The path that they’d been following did just sort of stop abruptly. Owen approached it, stuck out his hand.
Nothing happened. “Are you sure it’s working?” Owen asked, taking a step forward. “I don’t feel…oh.” After he’d taken that step, he was no longer on the academy grounds, but in a warm, green forest with a house and a river. “Oh,” Owen said again. “Hey Gavin, I found the portal.”
Gavin, being in the capital, didn’t hear him. But a minute later Warren stepped through, followed by Gavin and then finally Ash. “Huh,” said Gavin, looking around. “I guess this is where Isaac’s friend lives. It’s…cuter than I expected. Okay, you two stay here while Owen and I…”
“Sir…” interrupted Warren.
“It’s fine,” Owen told him. “If it were dangerous Isaac would have told us. And I’ll be with Gavin. You two stay with this portal so we can find it again later.”
This time Owen was the one who didn’t give them time to argue, walking towards the house with Gavin. “There’s snow over there,” Gavin observed, pointing ahead of them. Indeed, though this area was green and hot, the trees were bare and covered in ice and snow not far off. “But it’s fucking hot here.”
“I guess this guy is some big magic person,” Owen agreed. “I wonder what he…hey.”
There was someone coming towards them around the house, raising a hand and waving at them and…
And it was Owen’s cousin. “Ron.”
Owen ran towards him but Ron ran faster, racing over and jumping onto him, laughing. Owen caught him in a tight hug and span him around. “Ron, holy fuck, hi.”
“Hi,” Ron said, hugging Owen just as tight. He’d gotten bigger, and his hair was down to his ass. “Hi, oh my God, hi. What are you doing here? Oh my God I missed you so much.”
“Me too, fuck,” Owen said, letting himself laugh now that he thought he wouldn’t cry. “I had no idea what happened to you after you left.”
“I know, I’m so sorry.”
“No,” Owen told him. “No, no. Don’t be sorry. I’m just so glad to see you, fuck. I missed you, I love you.”
“I love you too,” Ron said, hugging Owen even tighter. “Oh my God this is so awesome, oh my God.”
Owen thought that too, and just kept hugging Ron. He hadn’t seen Ron in almost three years, since he’d left Great Scar to go do…something. Live in the woods, apparently. They’d been closer than brothers as children, fuck. Owen was actually crying, fuck. He kept his arms tight around Ron to keep him from leaving again, supporting his cousin’s whole weight with his arms around Ron’s back.
Ron’s bare back. “Hey,” Owen said. “Not to ruin this and all and I don’t mind, but you’re naked, right?”
“Uh…” Ron didn’t stop hugging Owen, but he did shift. “Yes. I was in the river washing.”
Owen nodded, noting that the only wet part of him was where his own tears had been. “Cool. I mean I assume this is your house, so.”
“Yeah. I live here with my husband.”
“You’re married?” Owen asked, grinning. He put Ron down, kept holding him. “Congratulations, fuck. I wish I could have been there.”
“Me too. You were the only thing missing.” Ron rested his forehead against Owen’s, something he definitely couldn’t have done three years ago. “I can’t believe this. I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too. You look really good. Your hair’s long.”
“Yeah, I keep meaning to get it cut and then forgetting to ask.” Ron was smiling so much. He looked so much happier than he had at home. “God, you’re huge. You got so fucking big, it’s like hugging a tree.”
“How else am I going to carry you around?” Owen asked. He looked over at Gavin. “I got married too. This is Gavin.”
Ron looked over at Gavin, who’d waited very patiently for them to finish. “Hi,” he said, blushing a little. “I’m Ron.”
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” said Gavin. “Owen talks about you all the time.”
Ron blushed more deeply at that, glancing down at himself. His clothes were nowhere in sight, though now that Owen was looking at him he was wearing exactly one thing, a sort of clay cage on his dick. “That’s an interesting accessory,” Owen said.
“Yeah, well…that’s uh…” Ron cleared his throat. “It’s not what you think, actually, it’s a magical thing for this ritual and…ow!” He looked behind him at a large, viney green plant, which Owen was pretty sure had just smacked his butt.
“Did that plant just…smack you?” Was Ron being abused by the plants? Maybe Owen should have brought his sword.
“Yeah, he’s an asshole,” Ron muttered. The plant smacked his ass again. “Okay, okay. I’m wearing it because it’s a sex thing, God.”
“Well I assumed that,” Owen said, watching the plant curiously. “So that’s a magic plant, and there’s magic sex rituals, can I assume that your husband is the magical person we came here to see?”
“Well, James is the local witch, so probably,” Ron said. The plant smacked him again. “What? No, that doesn’t matter.” Another smack. “Fine! Fuck, fine. Apparently I should mention that I’m also a witch now, which is a long story but basically I kind of almost died and had a forest put in my soul.”
Owen blinked. “Oh. That’s awesome. So you have like, powers and stuff? Can I see?”
“I mean, I can’t do anything that cool,” Ron muttered. He got another plant smack. “Stop that!”
“Do your plants often sexually harass you?” Gavin asked.
“They do,” said a new voice, one with just slightly musical tones to it. Owen looked over and saw a darker skinned, skinny guy with messy hair and clothes that looked like he did real work in them approaching them from the house. “But only because Ron likes it.”
“James!” Ron said, voice a little high. James looked at him, and Ron cleared his throat. “This is, uh, my cousin Owen. And his husband Gavin. They came to see you.”
James nodded, looking them over. He had a very commanding presence that made him hard to look away from. “Hello, Owen. Ron talks about you frequently.”
“Good.” That meant that James should find him suitably intimidating, but probably not in the bad way if Ron had told him about all the stupid shit Owen had done as a kid. Hopefully he hadn’t mentioned the time he’d gotten his dick stuck in that tree. “I’m looking forward to getting to know you too. Do you make him happy?”
“I try very hard.” James sounded so serious. Ron had always been so serious too, so it made sense. “I don’t know if it’s possible for me to make him half as happy as he makes me, but I try every day.”
Owen liked him right away. “Good,” Owen said again. “It’s really nice to meet you.”
“You too.” James turned to Gavin. “Are you by any chance Gavin ven Sancte?”
Gavin smiled. “As it happens, yes. Isaac tells me you’re helping deal with the Sorcerer King.”
“Yes. You’re a little behind the times. Sam is apparently dead, but that’s okay, there are some things I’d like to talk to you about as well. Would you like to come inside? There’s tea.”
Gavin looked at Owen, who looked back. The Sorcerer King was dead? Again? “Sure,” said Gavin. “That sounds good.”
“Ron, you and Owen can stay out here and catch up if you want,” James told them, turning to go back in the house. “I know it’s been a long time since you saw each other.”
“Okay. Thank you,” Ron said, and Owen nodded at Gavin, who went inside with James. “Oh my God,” Ron said, hugging Owen again. “Oh my God I still can’t believe this. You’re really here. It’s not weird that I’m naked hugging you, right? I can go get clothes.”
“It’s fine,” Owen said, hugging him back again. “It’s really fine, we used to naked hug all the time, remember?”
“When we were kids.”
Owen thought of a few memorable naked hugs that had been when they’d been Grey Rain’s age, but he nodded and let Ron go. “It’s fine. You don’t normally wear clothes, right?” Ron was tanned everywhere on his body.
Blushing again, Ron looked at the garden. “No. You know, we live alone in the middle of the woods, so…”
“Do I need to smack you now or should I get the plant to do it again?”
“His name’s Charlie,” Ron muttered, turning so that Owen didn’t have access to his ass. “James doesn’t let me wear clothes.” He sort of said it all as one word. “Anyway, you married a prince? What the hell?”
“Oh yeah,” Owen said, gesturing at the house. “Well, he got kidnapped by a dragon, so I killed the dragon and rescued him. Then we went on an adventure, killed an evil winter wizard, killed another dragon, became friends with the dragons’ kid, raided a demon fortress, fought the queen of demons, fought an evil ocean wizard, killed a kraken, got married, adopted two kids, got a boyfriend. I’m also a knight but I get that you can’t tell because I didn’t bring my armour, but to be fair, you’re a witch and you’re not wearing a cape and pointy hat, so.”
“What the fuck, it hasn’t been that long since I saw you!” Ron said, looking at Owen all over again. “The last time I saw you, you could barely put your boots on in the morning!”
Owen shrugged. “Gavin brings out the best in me. Besides, you turned into a literal witch.”
“Well yeah, but…” Ron sighed, closing his eyes. He had tears in them. “I forgot about this. What it’s like to talk to you. It’s so easy. I missed you so much.”
“Me too,” Owen said. Ron was the easiest person Owen had ever known. “I’m really so glad that you’re here. And hey, now that I know where you are, I can visit you and since there’s a portal it’ll be as easy as just wandering into the forest. You can visit me too. I live in the palace so it’s not like I’m hard to find. You might have to wear pants, though.”
Ron laughed, wiping his eyes. “I’ll think about it. You said you adopted kids too? And there’s a boyfriend?”
“Yeah, Edwin. And the kids are Grey Rain and Greg. You’d like all of them. Edwin and Greg both remind me a bit of you. And Grey Rain also runs around with no clothes on all the time. I think you guys would have a lot to talk about.”
Ron laughed, looking light and easy and happy. Owen had been upset not that he’d left but that he hadn’t come back for such a long time, but if it had led to him coming here and looking like this, then Owen couldn’t be happier for him. He looked like himself, but better. “I’m sure. We don’t have any kids, but we do have a cat and all these plants, who are all very excited to meet you.”
“Plants get excited.”
“You have no fucking idea,” Ron told him. “Come on, let me introduce them to you. And I want to hear all about you and Gavin. The whole details of how you met and why you felt the need to fight so many people and what you’ve been up to all this time aside from that.”
“Well, the whole details includes a lot of sex.”
“Good, it wouldn’t be like you to leave that out.”
“Fine,” Owen said, putting an arm around Ron. “But I want the whole details of you and James and what you’ve been doing too, and I will bully you into including the sex if I have to, and if you don’t I’ll go ask James, I bet he’d tell me everything.”
“Fine, fine,” Ron said, chuckling. Him being happy was making Owen so happy. He didn’t think he’d felt this way since his wedding day.
Maybe even before. This was a different kind of happy than the happy Gavin gave him. He felt like he was home in a different way, with family in a different way. It was nice. It was perfect, actually.
“So?” Owen asked, as they walked past a tall plant with a lot of bulbs on it. “Talk.”
“No, I asked you first,” Ron said, pinching Owen. “I’ll go after you.”
“Don’t think you’re worming out of this one,” Owen warned him. But he’d never been able to say no to Ron, and he wasn’t about to start now that he’d finally gotten him back. “But fine. So this one day I’m in the Hunt washing glasses and these two guys walk in, talking about how the princess has been kidnapped by this dragon…”