m/m/nb, mixed race triad (blasian chinese/mexican), D/s, choking, impact play, uterine body horror, pregnancy, miscarriage, disgusting eldritch trueform demons, fucking out your feelings, femmes who use "dom" and "Daddy" and the bi men who love them, parenthood, found family, anal, fingering, pegging, first time bottoming, dream sequences, blood, recovery from self-harm, coping with undiagnosed C-PTSD. 13,500 words.

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Bazoniuth comes back to me in a dream. Doesn’t possess me, that much I’m sure of, because there’s a Taoist mirror hanging over the bed that wards away her kind. I’ve got enough awareness in the liminal half-world to recognize that I’m dreaming, but not enough to dream lucidly.

“Hello, Ronnie,” Bazoniuth says, wearing Karen’s body again. She goes out of her way to twirl around and show me the tattoo on Karen’s back that’s supposed to prevent her from ever being possessed again. “Been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Get out of her,” I hiss. My heart pounds against my chest as my hands ball into fists at my sides.

“I don’t know if you’ll like seeing the real me,” Bazoniuth replies, her tone nonchalant as Karen’s face splits into a ghoulish grin. “I’m not this pretty, you know.”

I’m rooted to the spot. I’d fight her, but that’s still Karen’s body, and the very thought of hurting her makes my stomach twist. Besides, what would punching Bazoniuth do? Only an exorcism had finally cast her out, and I don’t know jack shit about performing one.

Get out of her,” I repeat, my voice a low growl.

“All right,” Bazoniuth says, sighing and turning Karen’s beautiful, silky voice into something clammy and moist that sends goosebumps of disgust up my arms. But Bazoniuth doesn’t burst out of Karen’s body like during the exorcism. Instead, she oozes out of Karen. Turns her skin translucent and saggy, reveals the whole of Karen’s eyeballs as the flesh sloughs off her eye sockets. Tears along her stretch marks, seeps liquefying fat yellow-slick over her limbs, which distort like quavering Jell-O. Pulls her inside-out until all my beautiful Karen is anymore is a mass of meat. I’m too shocked to register the scene. All I glimpse is tendon tethering bloody chunks to bone before Bazoniuth rises and reveals her true form.

I don’t know what I expected Bazoniuth to look like. In my naïveté, I figured demons were four-limbed, horned and winged things with pointy tails. But Bazoniuth is none of that. She’s a pebble-skinned mass, cysts like salmon roe spotting her body. Blood, thick and near-black, sloughs off her in coagulated lumps along with bits of membrane. She towers over me, stretching into the endless night sky—the roof is gone, and I’m levitating to hang in the air like the sickle moon. As she grows, she bulges, becoming ridged as her flesh sprouts ragged edges like rotting kelp. She splits open down the middle, all squick and slick sounds as her gaping maw writhes open, thick with the scent of offal and death.

“What the fuck,” I say. “What the fuck.

“Don’t like what you see?” Bazoniuth says, voice a gurgle bubbling up from a poisoned well deep in the abyss of her. “You’ve been inside me, you know.”

“Not you,” I say, my chest tightening with the shortness of my breaths. “Not like this.”

“You’re all ugly like this on the inside,” Bazoniuth says, sympathetically. “It’s just that you’re usually neatly contained. But I like how disgusting humans are. I fashioned my body out of human parts, after all.”

One by one, the cysts all over her bruised violet-red body burst. Green-white fluid seeps from the hollows left behind in her flesh as the lumpy masses levitate alongside me like mutated stars. God. I think I’m about to choke swallowing my tongue with how hard I want to throw up.

“Ronnie,” Bazoniuth says gently. “They’re just eggs. Karen’s full of them.”

Each of them splits open to reveal a big-eyed, curled thing that could be a chicken, could be a shrimp, could be a fucking elephant for all I know. They’re all alien at that size.

“You came from one, too.”

To my horror, my arm reaches out of its own will to pluck one of the fetuses from the sky. I can feel the faintest hint of a heartbeat as I hold it in my palms. As Bazoniuth swallows me into her maw, the fetus melts into rivulets of old, dead blood that stain my hands black.

Sweat plasters my hair to my forehead and my shirt to my chest when I wake up. Karen’s already left for the day, but Jesse’s still snoring softly under the covers beside me. The way our shifts are staggered leaves us with little time together. Karen works first shift doing data entry for an office recovering documents lost during the quake. Jesse drives third shift doing a mix of delivery and rideshare. Meanwhile, I’ve been taking contractor projects here and there. Barely made it through the triple-digit heat of summer, but the work is more manageable now that the weather’s cooled down.

The hands-on construction work keeps my mind off the all-too-many thoughts I have. The shelters I’ve been helping to build are done, so I’ve got a breather, a couple days to rest at home. I’m not sure if it’ll do me any good, though. When I’m on site, I do so much physical labor that by the time I get home, falling asleep out of sheer exhaustion is easy. But when I have free time and nothing to do but sit around and “rest,” every thought comes flooding back in to displace the momentary peace, including weird-ass dreams that I can barely recall now that I’m awake, but that have still left an emotional stain on me.

Still, it’s nice to be able to wake up late to Jesse beside me. His face is turned toward me, eyes closed and tranquil as his chest rises and falls. I push the last wisps of the dream out of my mind as I turn all my attention to him. His hair’s ruffled against the pillow, his beard this side of scruffy. I feel the smile on my face before I’m aware of it. Our triforce with Karen has been good—beyond what I ever thought was possible. It seems hard to believe now that it took us that long to become one, but then I remember how much shame seized me back then and continues to seize me now. Jesse’s sleeping face forth brings a surge of fondness in my chest that flutters against my ribs like a bird in a cage. As if to unlatch the door, I press a soft kiss to Jesse’s forehead. I hold him there for a moment, savoring the chance to show him some affection without being self-conscious about it.

“Mmm.” Jesse opens his eyes. “Good morning to you, too.”

I blush. Sometimes I forget how light of a sleeper Jesse is. I’d expected Karen to be the light sleeper for some reason, but she’s the one who can sleep through an earthquake without turning over. But even if you sneak out of bed like a ninja at 4 am for a piss, Jesse bitches at you to stop being so loud.

“Morning,” I reply. He cups my face in his hands and brings me down for a kiss. He’s got a bit of morning breath and I’m sure I do too, but it’s not enough to bother me, not when his mouth is so sweet, his kisses so soft they make my heart stop, waiting for his next breath so I might breathe too.

“I love kissing you,” I murmur as we part. He captures my lips in another kiss.

“Yeah?” he says, biting my lower lip just enough to get a whine out of me. “That’s good, ’cause I love kissing you, too.”

“Fuck,” I say in between another kiss. His sleepy face is one of the most gorgeous sights I’ve seen—something about the tenderness of his expression, like he knows he can be safe to be half-awake around me, gives him a glow like nothing else does. I deepen the kiss, nudging against him to find his cock already hard. Whether from making out or because it’s morning wood, I can’t tell. The blood’s already rushing to my own dick. I love morning sex.

Jesse’s grinding his hips subtly, like he’s trying to wear the edge off a spike of want. I grab his cock, my grip firm, getting a contented sigh from him.

“God,” I say, then laugh. “You get me going so goddamn quick.”

“I know,” Jesse replies, grinding now against my palm, his hips moving slowly as the blush on my cheeks deepens and lightning finds its way down my spine. His eyes have gone half-lidded with desire, his lips full and spit-slicked. Gorgeous motherfucker. A fierce possessiveness washes over me, knowing that, in this moment, he’s only mine. Don’t get me wrong, sex with all three of us is great, but there’s something different about just being with one person at a time, whether Jesse or Karen.

“Keep being a slut and I’ll fuck you like one,” I murmur against Jesse’s ear as he continues to rock against my hand. I relish the sight of goosebumps prickling Jesse’s shoulders as his breath hitches.

“Yeah? I’d like to see you try.”

I chuckle as my tougher side begins to surface, my face taking on a mask of dominance the same way his begins to reveal submission. We slip into the space where humiliation becomes a thrill, both for him and for me—him so he can stop being strong for just a second, me so the voices crowding my head have some kind of release.

“I don’t have to ‘try,’” I say, getting up on my knees and stripping the case off my pillow. I tug down my boxers and let my cock spring free. “I will.”

I haul him up by the collar of his soft, worn shirt. He gives me a defiant look, though I know from the wicked glint that it’s all for play.

“You know you want me to, anyway,” I say, smirking as lust begins to outshine defiance in his gaze. “You love it when I fuck you.”

My cock bobs as it gets even harder. It’s difficult to believe that the words are actually true. Going from crushing on my best friend for, what, twenty-five years, to finding out he’s into me that way, too, and having it all actually work out? In the middle of a long apocalypse? I wouldn’t believe it if Jesse weren’t in front of me now, looking at my dick.

“It’s true,” he admits, then smirks back. “So get to it.”

“Órale pendejo, don’t be rude,” I reply, whipping the pillowcase around the back of his neck and jerking him toward me. “I’m gonna fuck you at my pace.”