Chapter 12: Underwater

Samael and Will traveled in silence for the next half-hour or so, moving at a more cautious pace now that the trees were growing closer together. Either their pursuers had given up entirely, had fallen extremely far behind, or were just plain lost -- the woods were silent and the pair hadn't seen a single hint of headlights for nearly twenty minutes.

The rebel glanced over at his companion and then smiled briefly down at their still-joined hands. He didn't doubt that Will understood Samael wasn't exactly premium boyfriend material; he just also couldn't really blame the guy for wanting a bit of comfort to aid the plunge into a life that was officially now punishable by death. "Hey, Will -- nothin' against this by a long shot, but c'n you reach back there and dig into my bag for my radio?"

Will blinked, barely realizing he was still clutching into his companion's fingers. He released Samael with a sheepish smile before tilting his head slightly. "Radio? Oh...that was how you called your people to make that change when you weren't Shell..."

Samael could see the gears turning in the ex-corporal's head and he grinned amusedly. "On the nose, Will. Encrypted, but still had to keep it short. No idea how much monitorin' of the airwaves y'all were doin' back there, either." He raised a finger with a wink. "Also, hey, they're our people now, my friend."

Will took a moment to reflect on that before smiling a bit. He didn't mind that thought, at least. "Yeah. That's true." He leaned back between the seats and spotted the large pack, wedged in next to his own hastily-filled bag. He grasped it and began to unzip it before pausing wryly. "I'm not gonna find more naked...bats in here, am I?"

"Not in there, at least," Samael teased as he steered the jeep around a bend to continue trailing the base of the Qoppa mountains. "I will say, I think the mail-bat is gettin' tired of deliverin' our dick pics back and forth..."

Will was at a genuine loss for words for a few seconds as he stared at the rebel. "M-mail...bats? Jeez, I can't even tell if you're being serious or not, but I know what I saw, at least," he mumbled before shaking his head quickly and searching through the rebel's bag.

Samael laughed softly and shrugged easily. "It'll be easier to show ya. There's plenty 'bout this world you still gotta learn, Will. A hidden civilization of bats 'n their secret infrastructure is just one of 'em!"

"I guess so," Will responded morosely. He paused when he found a small plastic bag, frowning and holding it up warily. He shook it slowly and when it jangled, Samael laughed next to him.

"Those would be my piercings, my good friend," Samael provided, trying not to snicker with amusement. "Give 'em here, I'll put 'em in next chance I get now that I'm not tryin' to impress no cute corporals."

Will pursed his lips, visibly trying to repress his blush as he tossed the plastic bag to the other chupadore. Samael grinned to himself and tucked it into his hip pouch while Will continued poking through the pack before grunting softly: "This feels...uh." Will lifted a heavy object carefully in his claws, sighing in relief when he saw it was, in fact, a communication device and not something...indelicate. "Here."

Samael glanced down when Will offered the radio to him, then smiled again. "Hey, you're no dumbass. Go ahead. It's more'n ten hours after sundown, so go to channel twelve."

Will blinked and then flushed a bit, even as he nodded once and held up the radio to see what he could with the thin starlight filtering through the tree branches. He carefully flicked to the aforementioned channel and then tilted the device to study the handmade encryption module that had been wired to the top. "Uhhh. What's your code? Does it rotate?"

A small grin twitched at the corners of Samael's muzzle again. "Simple substitution. Add the channel number to my tattoo."

Will blinked again. He huffed quietly after a moment, doing his best to look surly. "How do you add 'twelve' to 'giant sword and gun that obviously isn't compensating for anything'?" But even as he grumbled, he smiled to himself as he mentally noted the corresponding numbers for the letters 'R-E-S-I-S-T', added twelve to each and then summed up the results. It left him with a three-digit number that he punched into the encryption lock, which in turn rewarded him with a soft chirp.

Samael laughed despite himself. "Compensatin', huh? Shit, you didn't seem to be complainin' about no compensation earlier tonight," he commented playfully. Will huffed again and punched his shoulder lightly, then offered the radio once more. "Give'r a key, see if she'll transmit, though we might have some interference down here at the foot of them mountains," he explained.

Will nodded and held the radio near Samael's muzzle while thumbing the transmit key. The rebel leaned over slightly, smiling through the windshield as he spoke clearly: "Wurlitz to base. Anyone awake up there?"

The radio crackled for a moment before humming in silence for nearly thirty seconds. Finally, a garbled transmission sounded, but it was far too distorted to hear even a single clear word. Samael leaned in to try and discern any of the scrambled message, but he shook his head with a frown. "Nah, like I thought. Garbage signal down here. Ain't got a straight shot to the bay."

"The bay?" Will frowned thoughtfully as he glanced at the radio, then twisted the power knob to conserve battery. "So. Wait, where is --"

"I feel like I should be makin' some threat that if I tell you, I'll hafta kill ya..." The look Will gave Samael was less than amused, and the rebel laughed, raising both hands quickly. "Just teasin', just teasin'. Our branch of the Movement is holed up in the cliffs of Honkal."

Will tilted his head and leaned back in the seat, holding the radio silently in both hands. "Huh. So...the bay is the Sea of Vossler. Wow, I can't. I can't believe you guys are. Right there. Hiding in plain sight."

Samael chuckled softly and brought the vehicle to a gentle stop. "Not quite as plain as ya might think, but yeah. Base was built where it made sense." He nodded toward a visible clearing nearby. "There's a small waterfall and pond this way. We should take a break, clean off, rest a little before we start up any mountains. Been a busy night already."

Will glanced at the radio in his hands before exhaling quietly. "Okay. Sorry, Samael, I'm just still...very tense." He couldn't help looking over a shoulder. "Still feel like they might be right behind us. Want me to bring this with us?" He shook the communication device gently.

"Nah, won't be any better signal 'til we get up higher," Samael reasoned as he hopped out of the jeep and checked the pistol at his side.

Will noticed the quick motion and looked self-consciously at his own armor. "I...I dropped my rifle outside my room. Didn't even grab my sidearm." He gave a faint laugh. "Even now I can hear that bastard Marsden yelling about it." Samael offered him a sympathetic smile, but Will shook his head in return before climbing out of his side of the vehicle.

"That's alright, hon, ain't gonna be much but a few wild beasties out here for us to worry 'bout, we'll get ya somethin' to use when we get back," Samael reassured before winking. "And Nelson might remind you of your asshole CO at times, but she's good people. Ain't gotta worry about bullshit like his no more."

Will grunted softly, using the edge of the vehicle as a guide in the low ambient lighting. "Well I guess it'd make sense you'd need a rough hand to control that smooth tongue of yours," he grumbled, even as he smiled a bit when he saw the enormous grin Samael responded with. "Hey, you said somethin' about 'your branch'. What, there are multiple rebellions? With all we hear about the House and the HADES raids, I...well. No offense, just wouldn't have thought I'd ever even meet a single rebel, let alone hear there's more than one group..."

"Ah, sure, sure," Samael replied, laughing and gesturing in the darkness for his companion to follow him. "We gotta stay small 'n compact to avoid gettin' found, for one. But...guess it's also fair to say not all of us agree on the best ways of achievin' our goals. And even more fair to say even our goals don't always quite line up. So. Y'got a few different splinter groups, each doin' slightly different things to try'n fuck up the status quo." He waited for Will to join his side before linking an arm cheerfully with the other chupadore and guiding him into the thicker woods ahead. "Ain't really got nothin' against 'em, myself. I mean. Other'n the fact that they're led by some fuckin' Freelancers."

Will wasn't sure if he should be surprised or not. Freelancers were supposed to work for the two Armies or the House, depending on whoever paid the elite, independent soldiers for their services. He'd never seen one, himself, though he'd heard plenty about their skill...but also their lack of loyalty. So it wasn't impossible to think they'd go against everything, except it also felt odd to imagine that a group of soldiers who made their living off of being paid to fight and kill would choose to rebel against it -- not only would there be a lack of income, but the House of Omega likely wouldn't be very thrilled to find out its mercenary forces (supposedly funded, trained and given rare weaponry by the House itself) were working against them.

He could see why Samael had the tone he did. "So...what, you don' them? Does, uh, your --" He hesitated when Samael peered up at him with a half-serious pout. "S-sorry, our group ever...y'know. Work with theirs?"

"Eh. On a mission, not me personally, but some of our folks have before. I've had some unrelated run-ins in the past with Freelancers that didn't go so great, and honestly, those fuckers love their goddamn mysterious 'ooh ahh who do I work for, who's side am I on, you'll never knoooow' bullshit so much that I don't know if they were on our side or not." Samael stuck his tongue out with an exaggerated gargle. "Just not a fan, I s'pose. But I guess bein' fair, I ain't worked directly with the fella who runs that branch, so I ain't gonna judge no one at too much of a distance." He chuckled easily, his natural happy-go-lucky attitude bleeding through the heated opinion. "You c'n ask Nelson, she's touched base with Wash 'n his folks before."

The ex-corporal nodded a few times before yelping as he tripped over a loose rock and clutched tightly into Samael's arm to avoid toppling forward. "God...dammit, sorry," he muttered sheepishly as his tail flicked irritably behind him.

Samael smiled up at him, shrugging amiably and keeping his muscular arm looped securely around Will's. "All good. No offense, Corporal, but yer feet ain't seen much wild land for a long while, eh?"

"What gave that away?" Will replied sourly, even as he ducked his head a bit, mumbling quietly again. "Sorry, I just. I feel like a whelp scared of getting lost in the woods. Which I didn't even get to do as a kid...grew up in Blarganthia, not a lot of forests."

"A Blargy, eh? Well that explains a lot," Samael teased with a wink. Will shot a glower down at him before tilting his head back imperiously.

"Yeah, well you sound like you barely cleared high school or the minimum height for the roller coaster, so. You must be from Sampi, huh?"

Samael blinked in genuine surprise before bursting into laughter as he nudged Will's side good-naturedly. "Well, color me fuckin' shocked, the bureaucrat's got some bite to 'im! Atta boy!" Will huffed dramatically, but smiled slightly all the same as the rebel continued with a chortle. "You got it, though. Me 'n my short ass come from the frozen wastelands. People say I got an accent too, but I ain't hearin' none, so guess I'll just hafta take folks' word on it."

Will couldn't help snorting laughter in return, rolling his eyes even as he smiled again. "All joking aside, Samael...I didn't think there really was much fighting out that way. How the hell did you end up rebelling against the war?"

"Now there's a tale for a long trip," Samael replied quietly, his own smile softer. "For starters, you're right -- wasn't much fightin' at all back home. Can't really even think of a single pack member that took part in it." He tapped at his chin for a moment. "Dunno how much you know 'bout traditional Sampi rituals, but when we come of age, the rite of passage to adulthood involves goin' out into the wild on your own for three days, survivin', 'n then thinkin' about what the fuck you want outta life so you can tell the clan when you get back."

"And you had a vision of being a guerrilla?" Will inquired with an inquisitive cock of his head.

"Naaaah, but I did stumble across the guy who would end up recruitin' me into the Movement," Samael answered, rubbing at his muzzle slowly with his free hand. He was briefly quiet, giving a faint smile before he shook his head out a few times. "I was a young dumb kid, he was a lonely outsider lookin' for the nearest town. He said he was lost, but...fuck if I know to this day whether or not that was the truth." He chuckled softly. "Anyway, I was on day three, still didn't know what the hell I wanted with my life. Decided to take the time to help him find the village he was headin' to an'...well." He gave Will a knowing look, which caused a blush he couldn't avoid this time.

"Yep. Man, that was a crazy night -- you think I know what I'm doin' in the sack now, but you can bet yer ass I was 'bout as green as a damn striped pup back then. But he knew what he was doin', tell ya what..." Samael grinned helplessly, devoid of embarrassment as always. "And once I got 'im to town, after we'd...y'know. Explored. I decided his stories 'bout rebellion 'n fightin' the injustice of all the shit I didn't even have experience with sounded like a goddamn good idea." He shrugged a bit, his expression becoming wistful once more. "Don't doubt at least part of it was just me bein' a dumb, impressionable pup in love, but I was determined."

Will's eyes were finally adjusted to the dark -- it took him considerably longer than Samael, but he could see the small pond ahead as they approached, the waterfall tinkling gently into the pool to create an even more peaceful scene. Yet all his attention was on his companion's story as they came to a stop near the water's edge, looking down at Samael softly, his arm still locked securely with the other male's. Samael smiled a bit more, then glanced up at Will. "Anyway, I ran my cocky tail all the way back to the den...told the elders my plan...and that went over 'bout as well as you might imagine. Wasn't our way, went against the tribe's customs, all that shit. But rituals were rituals. I'd completed it, I'd survived, I was free to do what I wanted with my life."

Samael fished in his pouch for the small bag of piercings, tossing them once in his hand. "Set a speed record back to town with nothin' but the damn skins on my hide. Joined back up with the rebel, helped him gather a dozen or so willin' folks and we started trainin'."

Will finally loosened his arm so Samael could pull his own free, allowing him to start putting the dark-red studs back into place on either side of his lower jaw. "Can I ask his name?" Will murmured softly, looking nervous both between the question as well as the fact that watching the rebel replace his piercings seemed oddly intimate.

Samael seemed to catch his awkward expression and gave a reassuring smile. "You're alright, Will," he replied quietly while putting the last stud back in his muzzle. "His name was Tracer. Raymond Tracer. He's by far the reason I'm here at all, yeah."

He went silent as he focused on curving his tail over one shoulder to grip the tuft and then maneuver a barbell piercing through the gauge near the end. Will could tell there was more to the story, but he didn't want to press. Clearly Tracer was an important figure in the rebel's past, and if he wanted to talk about it later, Will knew by now he would.

The ex-corporal tilted his head as Samael frowned a bit at the piercing in his tail -- it was far more complex than the simple studs in his muzzle, involving a hoop that was sized just perfectly to be trapped between the barbell and his tail itself. " you need a hand?" he asked lamely as he stepped forward.

It threw Samael out of his small funk as the rebel smiled gratefully, nodding and holding out the hoop to the taller male. "Thanks, hon. You gotta slide the ring over the end of the tail...that's it."

Will pressed lightly against the rebel's side and grasped his tail carefully, then slipped the hoop piercing over his tuft and pulled it gently down before holding it in place over the hole in his tail. Samael smiled again over a shoulder, then reached up to push the barbell through the hole and the ring at once to keep the loop in place. Finally, he quickly screwed the other end of the barbell onto the rod and gave a sigh of relief. "Perfect. You're the best, Will."

Will released Samael's tail with a sheepish smile, opening his muzzle to say how it was no big deal...only to be muffled as Samael turned around against him and pulled him down for a kiss. He blinked in surprise but eventually closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around the rebel's waist to pull him a bit closer as they worked their jaws together slowly for a few moments. Samael's tail flicked gently behind him, now giving a soft jingle whenever it moved thanks to the odd, two-piece piercing.

When they pulled apart, Will glanced over his companion to study the odd decoration for a moment. He was honestly intrigued, even if it was also partially an attempt to distract himself from the way his codpiece already felt distinctively tight. "I, um. Yes. Do you always kiss people to thank them?"

"Sometimes," Samael replied cheerfully before he wiggled his tail with a half-grin, watching the way Will's eyes stared at the barbell-hoop piercing bemusedly. "What? You ain't never seen a tail piercing before?"

"...No, no I haven't, actually, and even if I had, I wouldn't expect it to be a goddamn optical illusion," the chupadore mumbled awkwardly. "So. Are. Are all the other rebels like. Uh. Like you?"

"Hell no!" Samael exclaimed as he began to remove his chest piece. Will swallowed nervously, but Samael only continued to ramble as he stripped off the rest of his armor. "Nah, you'll see, we got all types. Personalities range from borin' church-mice to...well, me. Some folks got more marks 'n metal than me, an' some of 'em ain't even ever painted a single claw, so. Don't worry, you won't hafta go thinkin' about what you wanna get pierced just to join us."

Once more proving his unnatural speed at undressing, Samael peeled his tight under-armor off his legs and stood nude before Will for just a second before winking and suddenly diving sideways into the pond.

Will was left on the smooth rock, still fully-clothed and fully-confused as a bit of water splashed over his armor. "I. God. Goddammit," he mumbled before wincing as Samael's head popped out of the water with a happy groan. The ex-corporal looked around nervously, still expecting one of his former soldiers to ambush them and shoot them on the spot, but hearing only the soft whispers of the tree branches and the occasional call of a wild animal. He sighed softly, looking back at Samael...and finding it impossible not to smile as the carefree rebel swam in a lazy backstroke with a broad grin on his muzzle as the twinkling light of the distant stars glanced off his toned stomach and chest and...everything else.

"You comin' in or not, Corporal?" Samael called out playfully before diving beneath the surface and disappearing for a few seconds only to surface near the rocks with the same confident smile as water ran down over his head and muzzle, reaching out to splash a bit of water onto Will's paws. The lanky male winced again and stepped backward before rolling his eyes with an amused shake of his head and beginning to pull off his armor.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Is this 'taking a break', or 'cleaning off'?" he inquired ironically, a smile twitching on his lips as Samael kicked gently off the rocks to glide backward through the mirror-like surface of the water.

"First one, then the other," the rebel replied smoothly while watching with a shameless grin as the other chupadore took his time removing the armor and the snug fabric garments beneath.

Will grumbled as he hesitated with the under-armor that covered his waist and legs...but he also really didn't want to walk around in wet skintight fabric. And he and Samael were both due for a bath. "You know, you keep reminding me you aren't cut out to be anyone's boyfriend, but you sure are interested in getting into my pants again," Will commented as he attempted to gain some semblance of the upper-hand in their playful ballet. "And you carry around that picture of that...bat-guy, too, which is. You know. Something that. Isn't normal unless you're close."

"No-Longer-Corporal Barnes, I do declare that you sound just a hair covetous," Samael mockingly accused as Will finally pulled off the lower half of his under-armor and dipped a toe-claw hesitantly into the cool water. "Eh, I guess if I was gonna pick one single guy to make a home with, it'd be that foul-mouthed little fucker. Although that winged-ass, short-ass bastard would probably wanna live in a goddamn cave as if I didn't spend the first fuckin' half of my life stuck in a goddamn cave fuck that shit, naw, I'mma drag his smug li'l ass out someplace where there's some fuckin' sun and we're gonna spend the rest of our lives throwin' rocks at Omegites and fuckin' in the trees."

Will was quickly realizing that being rendered speechless was simply a given when spending time with Samael Wurlitz. He was also very certain that any hope of taking the lead in this admittedly addicting dance was nigh impossible; Samael didn't seem to have any shame. His huff barely carried any protest as he slowly lowered his leg into the edge of the pond and exhaled softly from the delightful shiver that ran up his spine. "Yeah, well. Having sex in a tree sounds dangerous. Do you and your bat...friend...get to see each other a lot? It sounds like you're always on the move, and. Uh. Clearly they do a good job of staying hidden, since you only ever hear rumors. Let alone see a damn picture..."

Samael smiled curiously as Will eased himself into the not-quite-cold water, continuing to glide along on his back while waiting for his companion to wade further in. He was asking a lot of questions, but it didn't bother the rebel. After all, essentially everything about this was new to William Barnes. Andee and his people were only a single puzzle piece. It was still interesting to Samael, though, and he couldn't help but wonder if Will truly was jealous. If he was being honest, he was spending a lot more time with Will than he might have with the average recruit, even one he'd slept with...and especially someone coaxed into joining him on such short notice.

He felt close to Will, and had no doubt he'd seek his companionship more in the future, if the other chupadore accepted it. But he'd also been around the block enough to know that not everyone truly understood or accepted the rather carefree way Samael approached his friendships and intimate encounters. It wasn't rare that someone he hooked up with once later refused his advances once realizing they weren't the one-and-only.

He'd been raised in traditional Sampi fashion -- their tribes behaved as enormous, loosely-affiliated yet tightly-knit families. His 'parents' were only two of several adults that co-mingled and brought up all the children together. Relationships weren't based on singular bonds, but rather what fit the situation at any given time. 'Unusual' sexual preferences weren't looked down upon, either. He barely raised any eyebrows once it became clear he liked other males, after all. He'd received far more horrified stares when he announced he was leaving to join the rebellion, after all.

His curious smile was honest, too, as Samael turned onto his stomach and paddled quietly up to Will. "Okay you're definitely at least a little jealous."

Will huffed quietly, though didn't protest as the rebel slid up to him and splashed a bit of water across his torso when he came to a stop. One other thing he was learning about Samael was that personal bubbles didn't really exist once he got to know someone. Samael's muzzle was practically pushed into Will's chest as he stood up in the waist-high water and continued his drawn-out answer. "But...if I ain't bullshittin', then...nah. I don't get to see Andee as often as I'd like."

He smiled again and shrugged a bit while reaching up to almost unconsciously rub his hands along Will's sides. The former corporal twitched but accepted the affections without comment, looking down at the rebel softly. Samael seemed to feel his gaze and glanced up for a moment before laughing quietly. "Sorry, Will. Easy to get lost in thoughts with you."

"I don't know if that's a compliment or not," Will admitted, slowly reaching down to hesitantly stroke a claw along Samael's jaw.

"It's not a bad thing," Samael provided with a chuckle, pushing his muzzle lightly against Will's caress and then gently pulling him forward and down as he let himself splash back into the water. Will winced but found his muzzle on Samael's chest as they floated backward together, their paws dragging along the silty bottom of the pond. "It's honestly kinda nice havin' someone to talk to out here."

Will frowned a bit, glancing around at the dark pool before smiling slightly and allowing himself to rest on the stockier chupadore as the water lapped at their sides. "Oh, you mean...out in the field."

"See, could you imagine how long it would have taken Jacobs or Ronson to figure that out?" Samael teased before laughing quietly. "But yeah. It's like what you said. I'm on the move a lot for my missions. Our base has been in the same place for a couple years, but in general, we move lots, too. Kinda right there in the name, after all." Will rolled his eyes but nodded, continuing to quietly trace his claw around Samael's features. "As for the batfolk, they definitely got the hidin' thing down to an art. Andee's people, they're tucked away in the jungles of Lactan. Pretty damn remote, although those crafty fuckers got caves branchin' out to everywhere, so you don't necessarily gotta go get choppin' with a machete to try'n find 'em, if you know where to look."

He winked up at Will and received a thoughtful frown in return. Will was quiet for a moment, then tilted his head while lifting his other hand to draw slow circles along Samael's masculine breast. "You don't have to talk about it, I'm just. I've never thought about what life is like for. Well. For someone who isn't a civilian but who's not. You know. Red or Blue."

"And you also ain't sure if it's okay to call us 'rebels'," Samael added with a playful wink. Will grumbled and responded by shoving the other chupadore down into the water.

Samael gave a gargling laugh as he flailed and shoved himself back up, promptly shaking his head out to send droplets of water across Will. "Hey, screw you, I'm tryin' to be thoughtful!" Will complained, though his tone was far from serious. "I don't wanna make a rookie mistake my first few minutes in a...rebel base!"

Samael snickered, shifting to his side and idly stroking in a slow circle around his partner. "Don't worry, you'll catch enough shit just for bein' a Pony Recruit. Anyway, most of us don't really care what we're called. Kinda a mark of pride to be known by all those saucy terms...rebels, insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, you name it, we're cool with it."

Will nodded before frowning slightly. "Wait...'Pony Recruit'? Why, because we' Like kids?"

"Nah, because I recruited you," Samael replied cheerfully.

Will still looked confused. "So. Why...are we called that, then?"

"Some of the guys decided to nickname me 'Pony' at some point," Samael explained as he swam backward. Will waded deeper after him, visibly trying to understand the moniker. Samael flashed an entertained grin. "Because when I'm around, everyone seems to get a ride!"

"Oh god, just fantastic," Will groaned, splashing water uselessly after Samael's cackling figure as he floated away from him on his back. "Ugh. Well, other than my being your latest success story in both the bed and the roster, anything else I should know? of the other...rebels know about the bat people, too?"

"Mhmm, most of 'em," Samael answered easily. "Ju'wo's tribe don't really involve themselves for obvious reasons, but let's just say they ain't fans of Omega an' all his Holy War bullshit, neither. So even though it ain't like we work with 'em, we know 'bout each other. Similar circles and whatnot." He tapped his chin thoughtfully as he tipped himself upright again. They were deep enough now that Samael's toe-claws barely scraped the base of the pond. "One thing that is gonna be important, though." The rebel's features became more serious and Will drew closer naturally with a small frown.

Samael smiled a bit as he reached up to pat his companion's cheek softly. "You don't gotta swear to give your life for the cause or nothin'...but you do need to be ready to accept this life as your life now. 'Cause even if you realize it ain't for you after a few weeks, gotta know that we can't just let ya out into the real world and take your word that you won't give nothin' away, even against your own will. Secrecy is kinda our biggest thing, y'know?"

Will bit his lip and reached up to place a hand gently over Samael's as it rested against his cheek. He didn't feel the slightest hint of threat or malice from the Movement operative, just a sort of immutable honesty. Samael had been serious about wanting to be straightforward with him. He nodded slowly after a second or two. "Yeah. Yeah, I understand. I'm...guessing you won't. Have to kill me or anything if I don't end up fitting in."

"For sure, we got all kinds of civvies helpin' us at the base. 'Sides, not everyone's a happy-go-lucky bed-hopper like me! Folks got husbands, wives, girlfriends an' shit," Samael explained with a laugh, his legs kicking gently to keep him treading in place. "'Sides, I know you'll find a spot, Will. Y'got some honest-to-goodness skills that our comms 'n command teams desperately need. You'll find a place."

Finally! An opportunity for Will to take the lead! "Well, as long as that place isn't your boyfriend, since you apparently have a thing for bats, and I'm sure I'd only have my poor dumb chupa heart broken," Will announced dramatically, placing a hand on his chest and tilting his head back haughtily. He couldn't help glancing down, though as Samael grinned up at him and then suddenly burst from the cool water to tackle the other male backward. "Hey, shit--!"

They sank back together into the water and Will's arms struggled for a moment before he realized Samael wasn't forcing him down. Beneath the surface of the pond, he opened his eyes and gazed through the clear water to see Samael smiling down at him. The trees and faintly-visible stars were distorted ripples above them, and the quiet sounds of the forest were completely muted under the water. It was simply Will and Samael, their bodies drifting weightlessly beneath the pond as their eyes locked together for a few precious moments.

Will couldn't help puffing out a couple of bubbles as his air supply became thin, and Samael gave a muffled chuckle underwater as he reached down to wrap an arm around his companion. Will instinctively hugged Samael's neck as he pushed off the bottom of the pond to send them back to the surface.

When they breached together, Will gasped for air but didn't seem panicked -- if anything, he felt flushed, especially with the way Samael's arm slid down to wrap securely around his waist and pull their hips close together. He met his companion's gaze with a helpless smile before closing his eyes and tilting his head away as Samael planted a series of soft kisses along his throat. "Is this how you treat all your jealous lovers?" Will murmured, allowing Samael to gently pull him through the pond and toward the burbling waterfall spilling into the serene pool from a smooth rock wall.

"I find the best cure for jealousy is to discuss it openly..." Samael began, his voice husky as he gave Will's soaked neck the softest of nips. Will gasped quietly and closed his eyes as he felt his back collide gently with the natural shelf of boulders at the base of the waterfall. "An' then to fuck 'til you forget what it was you were jealous of in the first place," he concluded with a predatory grin as Will stared down at him. They'd ended up beneath the flowing water, which now spilled down over Will's shoulders, running across his lanky frame and onto Samael's hand as it gripped gently into one of his hips.

Will might have tried to toss out some kind of retort, but once Samael's head dipped beneath the surface of the pond, any pretense of matching his partner's dance steps was swept away in the water that rushed across his trembling body. "Oh, f-f-fuck," he muttered, bowing his head down against his chest as he clenched tightly into the damp rocks behind him. Add this to the list of things I didn't see happening this morning...

"I see why you said the cleaning comes afterward," Will mumbled as his heaving breaths finally began to calm. He looked down at Samael as the rebel grinned and pulled on his wrist tenderly to draw him away from the waterfall and back into the middle of the pond where the water hadn't become as...churned. "I don't even remember the last time I was with someone, then you walk into my life and we've screwed twice in one night."

"Don't be so modest, hon -- we've had two intimate moments, but we've screwed a lot more than that," Samael returned, laughing at the mixture of affection and exasperation on his companion's face. "Alright, alright. To be fair, the adrenaline does a number on me. Plus...I really did mean it when I said you got a way 'bout you, Will. Hard to resist for me."

"I keep not knowing if I should be insulted or not," Will grumbled, even as he lowered his head a bit so Samael could reach up and scrub his claws gently through his mane to work out the tiny flecks of rock and silt that the waterfall had deposited during their tryst. "For someone who doesn't wanna settle down with any one person, you're..."

"Nice?" Samael offered, smiling to himself as he cupped some water in a hand and used it to rinse his companion's mane clean. "Yeah, don't worry. You ain't the first to notice. Some people hate it. Some folks don't mind it so much. I just try to, that's all."

"'You' is a very strange one, that's for sure," Will murmured before turning around to return the favor for his lover, and then pausing. "Right. You don't have much of a mane, either. See? Strange." But his faint smile was tender all the same as he reached up with both hands to massage his fingers silently into Samael's head fur. "I guess it's better than just being left high and dry. And I really guess I can't blame you. You weren't at the base for even a whole day...I. I suppose there simply isn't enough time for much as it is."

Samael chuckled quietly and closed his eyes, sighing happily at the gentle ministrations of Will's blunt claws. "To be fair, me 'n Nelson figured a time line closer to three or four days. I wasn't expectin' to have a partner-in-crime. Not so quickly, at least."

Will grunted and blushed despite himself as Samael leaned into his chest, embracing him silently as he continued to rub slowly along the rebel's skull. "Yeah, I can see now that if I. Ah. Hadn't 'helped', you'd need more time. Time to build trust and friendships...get access codes...maybe tip someone to give you a hand..." He supposed he could take a bit of pride in what seemed to be an honest appreciation from Samael for his assistance. "So. Is that normal, then? Three, four days at a base, and just disappear? Sometimes with a bang?"

Samael laughed into Will's chest and then took a step back while running his claws down along his partner's fur under the water in an impromptu scrubbing. "Hell, always with a bang if I got anythin' to say 'bout it," he remarked with a half-grin. "But yeah. Rarely longer than a week. And my job isn't always to sabotage, actually." Will looked surprised, even if he knew that wasn't the only thing a Movement operative might do -- but it was still difficult to imagine Samael doing something other than causing havoc at Red and Blue bases around Sirca.

Samael didn't look offended, only grinning and then turning around so Will could rub clean water down along his back. "Yeah, I know that look. Hard to believe I got talents other'n blowin' shit up and makin' shit disappear." Will rolled his eyes behind him, picking up on the entendre easily but finding his cockiness endearing, as always. He reached down and grasped Samael's tail gently after finishing his back, running his claws along the twitching appendage and pausing near the unique piercing to study it as the rebel continued in a happy rumble: "'Cause of the fact I get 'long with just 'bout anyone also lands me plenty of plain ol' spyin' gigs." Samael closed his eyes and sighed blissfully when Will squeezed the end of his tail lightly to encourage him to continue. "Sometimes at bases like your old one, that got some important feature or another that we wanna learn more about. An' sometimes at lower-level R&D location or House sites. Nothin' too high up, though...fuck if those fuckers ain't got their security tighter'n ant nuts up there."

Will snorted despite himself. "I'm more surprised about the fact your country-boy-mountain-man accent doesn't get you caught more often." He finished with Samael's tail, finding himself suddenly face-to-face with his companion again as the other male spun around and then leaned up to kiss him before he could protest. "Mmfm. You can't change the subject with that every time."

"Nah, just most of the time," Samael replied cheekily as he motioned for Will to turn around so he could return the gesture to his companion's backside. "Anyway, not like either army is short in supply of us drawlin' types. Plenty'a farm boys grow up 'n wanna go get themselves shot up for some...fuckin'...stupid reason." The rebel's voice trailed off, an audible complement to the way his features clouded.

Will didn't have to glance over his shoulder to confirm anything -- he could feel it in the way Samael's fingers flexed slightly against his tail. He hadn't given Will any reason to think he had a personal stake in this war. It seemed to be his nature that he connected too deeply with the plight of Sirca's unfortunate sons and daughters. Maybe he was simply cursed to care.

They were silent for a few moments as Samael took his time slowly working his claws through Will's tail and tuft. It felt delightful, yet didn't manifest itself as anything sexual. Will's eyes slipped shut and Samael shifted close, close enough to grind gently into his companion's rear, but they remained chaste. There was some measure of reassurance they could share, even if it was mostly just an escape from the real world, pure and simple.