Dev has been with xyr service submissive Noam for seven years and xe loves them very much. Dev and Noam have built a good life together in Noam’s family home in Oakland, where they both can practice their magecraft, celebrate the high holidays in comfort, support each other as their disabilities flare, and where Noam can spend Shabbos with their beloved family ghost.
But Dev’s got a problem: xe has had so much arthritis pain recently that xe has not been able to shield properly. As an empath, no shielding means Dev cannot safely touch Noam. That has put a strain on their relationship, and it feels like Noam is pulling away from xym. To top it off, Dev has just had an upsetting dream-vision about xyrself and Noam that caused one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. It’s only with a timely tarot reading and the help of another genderfluid mage that Dev is able to unpack the situation. Can xe figure out how to address the issues in xyr relationship with Noam before everything falls apart?
This romance novelette includes Jewish queer genderfluid mage MCs, the couple on the rocks trope, and fat, autistic, disabled, chronic pain, PTSD and depression representation.
It started with the dream-vision, a jangling clamor yanking me awake, leaving me rocking and tremoring and saying no repeatedly for an entire hour. My beloved submissive Noam woke when I did, leaving the bed for me alone, so I could feel free to shake and rock and try to weave myself into something more solid again. They placed the weighted blanket they had made for me nearby on the bed before they moved to their favorite chair in the corner. They were such a good boy, for me. In so many ways.
I could see them from the bed, reading their book, their curls in disarray, a blanket tucked around their midsize fatness, and that was a comfort. For the dream had been about them. And in it, I could not get to them.
When my tremors abated, mouth no longer grasping the word no, I draped the weighted blanket over my fat body. It made everything slow, the heaviness of it holding me just tight enough, so I could go from still to truly calm. My mind stopped; all I did was breathe as the weight seeped calm into me. I was left spent afterwards, my magic floppy and ungrippable, my shields weakened. This was the way it always was, after a meltdown.
It was time to come back to my cave-like room on the ground floor of our home. I named things that I saw, to myself, my usual strategy to come back into the world. The raspberry and teal scarf I wrapped my tarot cards in, the butter yellow frame around a photo of me and my best friend Ezra at Pride twenty years ago, my navy blue mini fridge strewn with Yiddish magnetic poetry, my red electric kettle, my sapphire boots on the top of the bookshelf, the moss green blanket wrapped around Noam.
I was filled with this tremendous relief to see Noam push their glasses up on their nose like always, concentrating on their book. They were still here, unshattered. Still here, still mine. So attuned to me; of course they looked up at my gaze, asked if I wanted company.
The want was a gnawing weight in the center of my chest, a bright burst of orange pain surrounded by gray heavy stone. Between the stress of swirling in trauma-soaked memories of my ex Linus, and the way my arthritis had been flaring, I hadn’t been able to shield properly in weeks. Weakened shields meant my pain could seep into Noam through physical contact. Their feelings, thoughts, and pain could seep through to me, without their permission. I had to protect them from that, even if it ached not to touch them. And truly, I did not have it in me to hold a deep connection to their depression this morning, if it was flaring, as my arthritis was. I was already filled with my own fear and despair this morning; I could not also hold Noam’s.
I shook my head, and they nodded jerkily, lowering their gaze. They were buzzing with anxious energy, but strangely they were still, instead of fidgeting like they usually would. Their anxiety was a chartreuse zappy flickering at the surface of their skin. It hurt to look at it. Maybe giving them a task would help? I could probably hold enough dominance for that.
When I pulled myself into a sitting position, the room tilted. My skin felt like a porous membrane. I needed to eat. There was a service task for Noam, one of the core ones we’d negotiated so long ago. When I asked, they gifted me with a smile and stood, slowly. They pulled on their favorite hoodie, putting the hood up, and walked gingerly out of the room.
Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.
Xan’s erotica has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since”, won honorable mention for the 2008 NLA John Preston Short Fiction Award. Their collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself to Me, is out from Go Deeper Press.
After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance. Their recent work still centers kinky, trans and non-binary, fat, disabled, queer trauma survivors. It leans more towards centering Jewish characters, ace and aro spec characters, autistic characters, and polyamorous networks. Xan has been working on a queer kinky polyamorous romance novel, Shocking Violet, for the last four years, and hopes to finish a draft very soon! You can find details and excerpts on their website, and sign up for their newsletter to get updates.