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Lachlan opened his mouth to call out Sam’s name, but before he could get any sound out, a long spindly claw wrapped around his shoulder, hooking into his shirt. Branches scraped his arms and snagged his clothes as he was pulled backward into the foliage behind him. Then his feet left the ground.

The thing was flying, lifting him higher and higher toward the canopy.

Before the past few days, Lachlan had never experienced true, mortal terror. By now, he’d experienced more of it than a lot of people do in a lifetime, and he’d noticed something about it.

When he was panicked enough, his animal brain seemed to take over, opting to fight, run away, scream in terror, or just freeze up, without any input from his higher cognitive functions. That didn’t surprise him.

What did surprise him was that his higher cognitive functions didn’t stop. They were still present–they just seemed to shrink down until they weren’t in control of his body anymore. It felt a little like being a passive observer in a body possessed by a panicked chimpanzee.

As most of his brain devoted itself to panicking, screaming, and flailing erratically, a small piece of it detached itself, continuing his normal thought processes.

Right now, that part was a bit relieved, as illogical as that was. The claws were holding him by the shoulders, but they weren’t restricting his arm movements. Ever since he’d woken up paralyzed in the van, being unable to move his limbs was the most terrifying thing he could imagine. Even more terrifying than being carried away by some kind of airborne alien predator. As long as he could move his arms, he could do something. He could figure something out. He wasn’t helpless.

That small part of him was also really, really annoyed.

Seriously? Another fucking thing? As if being kidnapped, ending up in an alien reality, being attacked by multiple monsters, actually dying, and then nearly suffocating wasn’t enough? Now he had to deal with this?

And the timing couldn’t have been more awkward.

He’d had no idea Sam felt that way. In fact, he’d assumed Sam had been straight the whole time. Now, it seemed so obvious he had no idea how he’d missed it.

Gender wasn’t really something that had ever mattered to him when it came to attraction. He didn’t consider himself gay or straight, and bisexual didn’t feel like the right word either. A classmate had once asked him what he was, and he’d responded ‘I’m just sexual’.

He watched a lot of comedy shows about pairs of guy friends who were vaguely gay-coded in a way that was probably meant as a joke for straight viewers. Maybe he should have found those shows slightly offensive, but it was the closest thing he’d found to seeing non-straight guys on TV that he could actually relate to.

When he pictured himself with a boyfriend, he’d always pictured himself in a relationship like he saw on those shows–two inseparable partners in crime who were always bantering with each other.

Even though he’d only known Sam for a few days, he’d already started to see him in that role.

He knew Sam lived on the other side of the world, that after they made it home, they wouldn’t be able to have any kind of real relationship, but they could talk about that later.

Now, he had to make sure he lived long enough to have that talk.

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