Subject 15: Ch 29

Subject 15: Legend of the Bai, book 2 by Chapel Orahamm, ring with green glow and tentacles against storm

NSFW: Erotica

A gaping maw yawned at his feet. He tripped back from the gravesite as the white coffin descended the black hole. Dirt broke away from the sidewall. He slid, crashing into slimy sludge. A hollow scream of death threatened to burst his eardrums as he fought to get out of the mire. Something in the dark grabbed his boot and pulled him under. He tried to yell out, but the oily murk promised to drown him.

“Mr Anson?” a soft voice broke through the blackness. He looked around, trying to find the sound. He fought against the monster. “Mr Anson?” He yanked at the rigid coil wrapped around his feet.

“Mr Anson? Prince Orlov is asking for you.” The maid shook him awake at three in the morning. 

He blinked, not entirely sure of where he was. His cavern of a room swam into focus. “Be right there.” He yawned, his hands mechanically placing knives and guns as he peeled himself out of bed. He was not anticipating the funeral for Tamasi and his twenty-three men who had died. The thought haunted him, and his regular nightmares were using it as hell-fuel.

Outfitted in little more than a compression tank and his cargoes, he dashed out of the room, following the maid. Three doors down on the left, the maid rapped lightly on the door before entering. Inside, Fane waited for his eyes to adjust to the Prince’s personal living quarters. This was the first time he was seeing them.

“Prince.” The maid bowed, ducking out of the room. Fane glanced around, trying to identify where the man was. A palm tree canopy on level with the window bent wildly. A flash of lightning focused Fane’s attention to the farthest armchair where the Prince lounged, watching the storm.

His platinum blond hair sprawled across the armchair, a waterfall in the flashing light. A blood-red kurta with silver ornamentation clung to his frame. He had his feet tucked up under him as he leaned against the armrest. Amber yellow eyes glowed in the lightning’s flash. In one hand rested a glass of red wine, a book split open on his leg.

“The lights went out a minute ago. Ajay’s at the hospital. He was designated to officially take Zahar’s place. I figured it was probably time to call you in,” the Prince said nonchalantly.

“Sir.” Fane straightened to his full height, saluting. He conducted a cursory inspection of the room, checking dark spots for lurkers. It was a regular routine but in unfamiliar territory. Once through the living room, kitchen, and dining room, he walked to the hallway, then stalled. He glanced back to the Prince. The man waved him on from his chair.

Fane eased into the hallway, wary of the doorways. There were only a few. Patchouli and frankincense. A spacious bathroom with an en suite door. The bathtub was large enough to hold a five-person party in. The shower could have accommodated the same. The toilet room and washstand were separated. The washstand held shaving soaps and a series of displayed straight razors resting on acrylic shelves that split up the massive mirror.

A different door held a private laundry room where cupboards held pressed, hotel-quality linens and bedding. Towels sat in meticulously folded order. He wondered if the maids saw to that or if it was in the Prince’s nature to maintain such organisation. A tiny room towards the back of the linen closet revealed itself to be Ajay’s old quarters.

The last door was a single bedroom. A grand four-poster with mosquito netting dominated the massive space. The bedding within looked freshly made. A pair of chairs faced each other at the window, a wardrobe across from them. A tremendous Persian rug warmed the room from the white marble tile running the length of the apartment. 

Fane turned to check the corners and walls across from the bed. A massive painting startled him. Dark, save for the lightning, Fane barely made out outlines before turning his torch to illuminate it. A man was shoving his knee into the back of another man who knelt on the ground. He was pulling him back, his face buried in the kneeling man’s neck. Onlookers watched; one a demon with bat-like wings.

Fane’s eyes rounded, shock hitting his system. A burning smoulder ripped through his side. He clicked the torch off to hide in the darkness.

Bouguereau’s Hell or Dante et Virgil.” A low voice caused Fane to flinch. The Prince stood in the doorway, watching him.

“I – I…” Fane stuttered.

“It’s considered fine art and had a fine price tag, so mom and dad didn’t think much about it.” Orlov shrugged.

“I finished checking the other rooms. The only doors I have not looked into are your wardrobe. Otherwise, I have no sense of any intruders in your rooms.” Fane snapped out of his trance.

“I don’t think anyone would willingly hide in there. Don’t worry about it.” Orlov nodded at the wardrobe and went to observe the grounds outside his window. 

Fane suspected it to be a false piece of furniture with a walk-in closet behind it. At least, if he was being imaginative with architectural plans, that’s what he would have done. “Should probably still check it. I’m not sure about how well the palace was secured yesterday. Not doubting the palace security patrol, but doubting the security patrol. Then I can set up for the night to keep you safe.” Fane eased to the wardrobe on silent feet. The Prince folded his arms and leaned against the window frame, observing him. He waved Fane on when the man stopped at the door.

Fane nodded. The curled handle was cool in his hand. A little pressure, a click, and the door swung out. Fane stood to the side, glancing into the pitch black. He flicked on his torch, the bright yellow halo almost blinding in the dark. Fane’s eyes settled on the series of hooks on the back of the door. Leather. Studs. Rings. Silk rope. Gleaming metal. Burning heat ran below his scars. He decided to ignore it for his own good. He swung the light into the darkness, finding the wardrobe was not as deep as he thought it would be. It held quite a few sets of clothing, though. He poked through to the solid back of the furniture, determining no one was hiding in the fabric.

Fane closed the door and backed away from it, sweeping the corners of the room once more, this time with the light. Nothing popped out or scuttled away. He sighed with relief and clicked the light off. It would take a couple of minutes for his eyes to readjust to the dark. He waited quietly in the middle of the floor, blind. A noise to his right had him turning to the rustle of material. Gently, a hand settled on his shoulder. “Right here,” Orlov whispered.

“Where would you feel safe?” Fane asked, acting calm and aloof. It was hard enough, heat licking at his insides. The art on the walls. The things he had seen in the wardrobe. He should have taken the Prince at his word and left the furniture alone. Orlov was so close he could smell his cologne, a heady smell of musk mixed with patchouli from his shave soap.

“I don’t sleep well when it rains,” Orlov confided, refusing Fane’s prodding eyes.

“Scared of thunder?” Fane asked, more curious than condemning.

“No, not that. The sound disrupts my sleep.” He turned to exit the bedroom.

“I know a place you can probably get some sleep,” Fane offered, more than happy to escape the Prince’s rooms. They felt too impersonal and yet too intimate at the same time.

“Where?” the Prince asked, exhaustion coating his voice.

“Here, follow me; I’ll show you somewhere quiet.” Fane motioned, clicking the flashlight on once again. Orlov, intrigued, followed Fane from the room. Fane waited for the man to lock his rooms before leading him to the stairway.

“Where are we going?” Orlov asked again. Always with the stairs. He’d have preferred the lift, but it was the only way they were getting down anyways with the power out.

“Not a great place, but somewhere you can probably have some privacy, and I can guarantee your safety,” Fane replied over his shoulder. Orlov followed him quietly down the five flights of stairs to the second basement. He blinked, the location registering in some lost part of his brain that was inaccessible when he was too tired.

Fane walked him to the large set of metal double doors and threw the bolts. He preferred it when the keypad worked, but he had several sets of physical locks set in for moments like this when the power went out. He locked the door back down after the Prince stepped inside.

Fane’s torch bobbed along the walls until he centred on a pair of lights in the corner. He handed Orlov the torch and walked into the recesses of the armoury. A flick and an electric lamp brightened a corner of the space. A couple minutes later and five other lamps illuminated most of the cavern. Guns, swords, and staves all gleamed under the bluish electric light. Fane picked up one of the lamps and led the Prince over to a door. Once a storage closet, Fane had repurposed it with a cot, a couple bottles of water, field rations, an old-fashioned bell alarm clock, some coarse blankets, and a couple changes of clothing.

“Do you sleep down here?” Orlov looked around the little room, a frown tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“On occasion, when I’ve spent a late-night cleaning and restocking. I find it easier to come in here and sleep rather than take the fifteen minutes it takes to get back to my room.” Fane shuffled provisions so he could flip another lantern on in the back corner.

“It only takes a minute…” Orlov went to say, knowing that the lift system was reasonably fast. “You haven’t been in any of the lifts since you arrived here.”

“Shelly dragged me on a couple of times. I got better about knowing my schedule after that.” Fane rubbed at his left arm, unable able to meet Orlov’s eyes.

“How do you sleep in here? It’s tiny!” Orlov pressed. Between the two of them, the cot, the little table that sat between the cot and the wall, and the door, there was probably no more than a foot of standing space. The cot was a double-wide issue, larger than the single-man cots Fane was used to, but a bit of luxury had taught him the value of a large sleeping area.

“I usually leave the door open; that way, if any of the men come down, I can hear them. It locks from the inside. I think it’s an old safe room. The walls are fireproof, and I’ve looked into the air system that feeds it. It’s a private line leading to a separate venting system, so it won’t stifle. I suspect that the armoury is an old bunker from the second world war, or maybe the cold war; I’m not too sure about age here. Couple hundred years old but still usable.

“What did I tell you?” Fane smiled at the Prince. “You can’t hear the rain!” Orlov paused, listening. It was true; he couldn’t hear the rain. “I know the bed isn’t as comfortable as yours. It’s a cot, and the bedding is from a cheap stall in town, so it’s not gonna be as soft,” Fane apologised.

“Thank you for thinking of me.” Orlov ducked his head.

“I hope this will work for you, Mr Orlov.” Fane went to back out of the room. A hand snaked out, catching his wrist. He glanced at the Prince, startled. “Mr Orlov?” Fane asked. 

Gentle pressure returned him to the room. Fane swallowed as the Prince’s face came close to his. “It’s Ishan.” The Prince pressed Fane against the wall, his mouth smothering Fane’s reply. His hand tunnelled into Fane’s hair, pulling his head back. Ishan trailed fire down the side of his neck. 

“Prince…” Fane protested, Ishan nipping him gently. “Ishan,” breathed Fane, his eyelids fluttering down, his throat working as a firestorm ignited. 

Ishan pulled back to look at the man. “If you push me away again, I will try to understand. I won’t bother you anymore.” He untangled himself from Fane. 

Fane’s side burned. His cheeks were warm, and the high that was sitting below his stomach promised nirvana. “You take responsibility for this if everything goes south,” Fane growled, easing his hands around the man’s slight waist, pulling him back.

A startled gasp escaped Ishan at the suddenness of the man. “Anything,” Ishan promised, pushing Fane harder to the wall, his thigh pressed between his legs. His lips trailed fire across Fane’s exposed skin. A groan escaped Fane as a shock of electricity skittered through him. Ishan pulled his arms up over his head, placing him in a submissive position. His nipples hardened under the stimulation. He was no longer aware of the size of the room, only of the diverting warmth pressed against him.

“Have you ever done this?” Ishan nibbled the sensitive skin of Fane’s right tricep. His amber eyes glanced at Fane’s face. Fane leaned his head back against the wall, studying Ishan under half-closed lids, his breath uneven. Ishan forced a moan from his bodyguard’s lips when he bit a little harder. “Are you…?” Ishan eased off Fane.

“With my amnesia, I don’t know. My first time I can remember was with a red room woman the night before you met me,” Fane admitted, wishing Ishan would continue.

“At the club, you said something about not being picky. Guess you don’t remember that?” Ishan went to pull away.

“I’m-I’m pretty indifferent about men, women, everyone in between. I haven’t really gotten this whole attraction bit up ‘til you came around, so not like I have a lot of experience that I remember.” Fane squirmed. Ishan smiled, returning to Fane’s neck, kissing it gently. “Have you ever?” Fane was having trouble breathing.

“I had a few different boyfriends in college,” Ishan breathed into Fane’s shoulder.

“So, you know what you’re doing,” gulped Fane.

“I have quite a few ideas.” Ishan released Fane’s hands. Fane looked to him, perplexed. Ishan wrapped his hands around Fane’s waist, tracing his muscles through the compression material. He stopped his pursuit, a rigid object pressed at his hand. He slid a dagger out of a hidden pocket. Ishan raised an eyebrow. Fane smiled slyly. Ishan patted him down, finding more hard objects along Fane’s shirt. That didn’t include the back sheath. 

“Want me to?” Fane offered, pulling a knife out of a drop pocket on the front of his left shoulder.

Ishan sat down on the edge of the cot, spreading out comfortably. He raised an appraising eyebrow and waved for Fane to continue. “If you want.” 

Fane shivered, nervous and embarrassed. Was this a striptease? With knives? He gulped audibly in the silent space. 

Ishan smiled lewdly, wiggling the finger with the bandage on it. “I figure if you do it, I’ll be less likely cutting myself doing it for you.” He offered Fane his hand. Fane dropped the first knife into the outstretched palm. Ishan placed it on the little table next to the cot, a mischievous smile playing at his lips.

Fane pulled the back sheath harness off, his shirt finally pulling loose from its tuck. A slight sucking in of breath made him glance up at Ishan, who was suddenly fixated. He looked down to the thin line between his cargoes and shirt. Is this a good thing?

He handed the sheath and knife to Ishan to put on the side table. Next followed the set of small throwing blades, the eight that ran on both sides of his obliques. One of them Ishan had already found. Mixed throwing stars that were clipped into his belt joined the growing pile. The Glock came out of the holster at his back. The straps he regularly hid under boots yielded another four blades and a small gun. His cargos held cartridges. He patted himself down once more, double-checking. A total of twenty knives, five sets of cartridges, two handguns, a multitude of straps and sheaths, and a pair of brass knuckles lay stacked on the table. Ishan nodded at the stack appreciatively. Lacking his defences, Fane wasn’t sure what to do next.

The Prince held out a hand to him once more. Fane took it and allowed the platinum blond to pull him down to kneel partially on the rail of the cot in front of him. Ishan leaned forward, wrapping his hand around Fane’s neck, pulling him close to kiss him. Fane rested a hand gingerly on Ishan’s shoulder, still testing the waters. Their tongues tangoed. Fire threatened to burn him once again. 

Ishan eased his hands down Fane’s body, appreciating his quiet, unassuming stature. Though the man was small, he was muscled. The texture was glorious. His fingers coursed across the hem of Fane’s shirt. He gently tugged at it, wanting Fane to take it off. Fane rolled, letting Ishan pull it over his abs and chest. He helped pull it over his shoulders, freeing himself from the dark material. Ishan’s eyes focused on Fane’s last piece of defence, a tactical full tang knife paracord braided necklace. “How many knives does it take to make you feel safe?” Ishan laughed good-naturedly.

“All of them.” Fane pulled the instrument from around his neck and handed it to Ishan.

“I think I could get behind wearing one of these. I didn’t even know you had it on.” Ishan admired the hooked blade that pulled from its holder smoothly.

“It sits lower on the body, so even when you’re in those kurtas, you can still access it easily. I’ll order you one tomorrow,” promised Fane. The smile fell from Ishan’s face as his gaze came back to Fane’s naked chest. Ishan sucked in a gasp. Fane immediately hid one of his extensive scars, the one on his shoulder he was most distressed with, under a protective hand. It was a massive spider’s web fracturing down his peck and wrapping under his arm. “Fane, god,” Ishan cooed, concern lacing his voice.

“You’ve seen them before.” Fane couldn’t look Ishan in the eye. He hated pity. His scars ranged from patchy white to angry red. Some were raised, and some were incised. It painted an abstract picture across Fane’s skin. He usually had on long sleeve shirts that hid his arms. Even when he didn’t, he barely noticed them as much because he saw them more often. Showers were not a pleasant task.

“Not the scars. The bruises. There’s more than there was yesterday.” Ishan raised a hand to touch Fane’s hand. Fane baulked, shifting in the tiny space, trying to hide. He wrapped his other arm across his gut where a garish, ragged gash had been painstakingly sewn together. Ishan inched forward on the cot, stilling Fane’s movement.

“But,” Fane protested, though he found the warmth of Ishan’s hand reassuring. 

Ishan shook his head. “I’ve seen the scars. It’s not them that has me concerned. This thing’s the size of a cricket bat,” exclaimed Ishan over a large bruise on the outside of Fane’s bicep. Fane trembled, suddenly uncomfortable in his skin. Ishan shifted on the cot edge. “Here, lay down,” Ishan made room for Fane to crawl through.

Fane baulked, his heart beating a thousand miles an hour. “I don’t….” Fane tried to back away. 

Ishan stood up, drawing Fane up, crowding him. He pulled the short man to him, pressing his hand into the arch of his back until he was off balance. A heated kiss was all that was needed to make Fane pliant again. They both knew well enough that Fane could have tossed his ass outside the room in less than a second if he wanted. Fane wished to relent; for once in his lucid life, he wanted to feel like someone actually wanted to be close to him. Ishan knew there was a massive amount of trust that Fane was handing him at that one moment.

With a gentle twist, he pressed Fane against the rail of the cot until his knee bent, causing him to fall onto the coarse material. A grunt escaped him with the sudden movement. Wide-eyed, Fane waited. What Ishan did next was not what Fane had expected. Ishan bent over him, nuzzling his cut v, nibbling the ridge. “What are you -?” Fane placed a stilling hand out.

The glare Ishan threw pinned him. Fane leaned back on his elbows, giving the man more room to explore. Ishan moved up his body, a platinum waterfall of hair, the texture of silk, skimming across his flesh. Fane’s arched under the onslaught. His head went back, and the world narrowed to the sparks of electricity coursing through his system. Ishan’s hand slipped under him, pulling the arch of his back up further until he finally laid back.

“Let me taste you,” urged Ishan in a constrained voice, only loud enough to be heard in that small space. The man found every scar, burn, line, and dot, kissing every one of them. Fane tried to smother his betraying voice, pressing his fist to his mouth. Ishan moved higher, pressing his leg against Fane’s crotch. A sweet mewl escaped the redhead, even though he tried to hide it. Ishan nipped at Fane’s hand, eventually pulling his index finger into the heat of his mouth, his tongue caressing, twirling, twining.

“I-Ishan,” Fane gulped. He wasn’t too sure how much more teasing he was going to be able to take.

“Let me have my fun,” Ishan demanded quietly, grabbing Fane’s hand to hold it still. He continued the onslaught until Fane’s breathing pulled ragged, and he looked like he would lose himself.

“Please,” Fane begged, knowing he wouldn’t be able to take much more.

“I want you, Fane. I’ve wanted you for a damn long while now,” Ishan whispered, releasing Fane’s hand to trail kisses along his jaw.

Fane’s heart jumped in his chest. Searing heat raced under his skin in a wave. He ground his teeth, ever aware of the pressure building lower, only encouraged by Ishan’s rubbing leg. 

Fane wound his fingers in Ishan’s hair, revelling in the texture. Ever since first seeing the man out on the practice field, he had wanted to touch the beautiful, almost white, shining tresses. He trailed across Ishan’s neck, skin milky smooth. The silken texture of the kurta skimmed the pads of his fingers. The surface was enough to enthrall him. “You don’t…need….” Fane inhaled, apologised, begged. Ishan smiled to himself, Fane’s body betraying him.

Blond hair trailed across Fane’s body as Ishan tasted every inch of him, lavishing attention on his erect nipples. A shiver ran down Fane’s spine. It was ticklish, having those sucked. Cold washed over one when Ishan moved to the other, inflaming him more. His protests had evolved to gasps and sighs. He didn’t even know who he was anymore. A wave rose in him he had not encountered in his memory yet.

Ishan relented, leaning back, releasing Fane from the spell he had been casting. He surveyed the hot mess beneath him. Fane dragged in frayed breaths, trying to gain some level of ownership over his own body once again. His cheeks were flush, and his eyes, half-lidded, were wet. His nipples had hardened under the onslaught. His hard-on pressed against the material of his cargoes. A flush had turned him from pale to a soft pink.

“Are you all right?” Ishan’s tender voice crept along his skin, making him shiver all over again. The blond man swept away a tear, tenderly cradling his head.

“You shouldn’t be that good,” Fane panted, muting a wayward moan. His body twitched and shivered, his nerve endings demanding their due. He reached out, tracing the pattern of Ishan’s ornate kurta. 

“Impatient, are we?” Ishan smiled, pulling the material over his head obligingly.

There was something ethereal, Fane thought, in watching the material skim across the Prince’s skin. He sucked in his breath, his mouth running dry. Ishan’s chest was what Fane could only describe as the perfect model for Michael Angelo. “God, you’re beautiful,” he whispered, admiring the view. Ishan’s skin was perfectly smooth, not a blemish, the tone amazingly even. He didn’t have any moles or freckles. Softness hid light muscling from years of tennis. His waist tucked tight beneath his ribs. Fane smiled, watching a blush rush across Ishan’s cheeks as he tried to think of some reply. Fane’s heart skipped a beat. He had put that expression on Ishan’s face. That was all the more worth it.

“You keep this up, and you’ll be in all kinds of trouble,” Ishan bit out with a playful smile, unbuckling Fane’s belt with an experienced flip. A protesting gasp escaped as Fane immediately reached for it, startled and nervous. “You okay?” Ishan asked, taking his hands away. The last thing he wanted to do was make a man known for his deadly accuracy and cold-blooded tactics nervous. There was something Ishan could only assume was going to be addicting in learning more about Fane. A man who could not easily enjoy himself let himself loose. He lived his life feeling guilty for things he had no memory of doing. He was intelligent and wise beyond his years. He was loyal to a fault. All Ishan wanted for this miracle among men was to let him feel loved for once in his complex life.

Fane hesitated, then shook his head. He hitched his thumbs in the waist of his cargoes and, lifting himself, pulled them off his hips, freeing himself to the cool air. He watched Ishan’s face, amused with the wash of surprise that seeped across his face. 

“You’re-!” Ishan trailed off, aware that there had been a significant lack of pants. 

Fane reached down, covering himself, scarlet sweeping up his face. “I was asleep,” Fane murmured.

“Is this a normal habit of yours?” Ishan leaned over him, nibbling once more along Fane’s abs. Ishan drew away his hand, planting a kiss on his palm. 

Before he could form any kind of protest, Fane wasn’t smiling; he fought to catch his escaping breath. A burning warmth, a building electricity, an engrossing numbness raced through his bloodstream. His back arched, his head thrown back, absorbing the pleasure that was the pure silken heat of Ishan’s mouth. 

“Aah! You-you sho…shouldn’t, it’s not…not-” Fane couldn’t keep from letting the sounds escape from him anymore. Ishan pulled away, looking up expectantly at Fane. “It’s,” Fane gulped, “you shouldn’t have to do this.”

“Why? Who said anything about ‘have to’?” Ishan asked him blankly, sticking his tongue out while Fane watched in enraptured fascination. The man looked like a pleased cat. Give him another minute, Fane considered in some recess of his brain, and Ishan will be purring. The smug Prince licked him from base to tip. Fane sucked in a ragged breath. 

“I’m a…You’re a -” Fane tried to say before his mind melted. Ishan took Fane’s length and deep-throated him. A couple of jerks left Fane numb and hot. Ishan looked up at him playfully. “A Prince?” he finished Fane’s sentence before coming back to what he was doing.

Fane nodded, mute. He chewed on his lip, his eyes closed. Ishan chuckled against Fane’s shaft before shifting Fane’s legs up, making it easier for him to suck his balls. He knew how far to push Fane before easing up. He played with him, toyed with him until Fane was at a point where he probably couldn’t remember his name if he was asked.

Ishan turned from Fane’s shaft and balls to his inner thigh, planting a gentle kiss along a scar he had caught in the dimness. “You forget something, Fane.” Ishan pushed his hair out of his face. Fane stuttered a questioning sound in his throat as whisps of blond hair skimmed sensitive skin. “I’m as human as you are.” Ishan nipped, eliciting a jerk from Fane’s cock.

“Why me?” Fane reached for Ishan’s head. He guided his face up to his, wanting to look Ishan in the eye, wanting to see the honesty in this answer. Ishan humoured him, moving up to straddle him, rubbing gently against Fane’s throbbing shaft. Fane was having a time controlling his nerves.

The lantern felt overly bright. The room was warming. He traced fingers along Ishan’s high cheekbone, mesmerised with his skin, with the soft gold of his eyelashes. He traced the cheekbone to the jawbone and found his way back to Ishan’s soft lips, the sensation burning through his bloodstream. Ishan gently licked the digit, encouraging Fane to let him have it to play with. Fane relented, focusing on the tenderness wrapped around Ishan’s features.

“Because, though you know my station, you’re brutally honest with me like a real person and not a figurehead. You watch out for my men. You watch out for Ajay and Shelly. You keep us all in mind when making decisions. You are always looking for the best way, the right way to do something. You think about more than yourself. Because you are amazing. You don’t ask for the moon, and yet you achieve so much in a day with your own hands, I would suspect you capable of pulling the moon down.” Ishan breathed in his scent. He buried his head in Fane’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Fane, so sorry,” Ishan apologised under his breath.

“There’s nothing for you to apologise for,” Fane protested.

“No, there is. My feelings for you are real, please,” Ishan begged. “I spoke with Zephyr before sending you here,” Ishan continued. Fane was confused, not sure where this was going. “He showed me your medical reports. It hurt so much to see what you went through. He showed me a scan of your brain after an in-depth surgery. He said….” Ishan looked away, taking a breath. Fane lay limply under Ishan, his fingers gently curled in platinum blond hair, trying to anchor himself. “He said the surgeries may have had damage on your emotions. I wanted to prove him wrong so badly.” Ishan’s cheeks burned red and blotchy.

“Find happiness….” Fane breathed out, finally understanding Zephyr’s perpetual demand. Ishan caught his eye, nodding his head.

“He said it might be difficult for you to ‘legitimately’ relax and enjoy yourself. I thought that was sad. For someone who enjoys partying, games, comedy clubs, it was unthinkable. I told myself I’d find your happiness,” Ishan explained.

“But why? Why involve yourself with me like that?” Fane pressed.

“Because, for not knowing who I was and for me being a complete jerk to you the first day we met, you still came and had coffee with me. You dressed in clothing not comfortable to you. You rode in a lift with me and didn’t say a word you were uncomfortable. You put on a show for me to save my face, though it wouldn’t have influenced your standing, and you knew it. You came here, not knowing the language and helped me,” Ishan continued.

“You had a position to keep,” Fane protested.

“Who brings a random guy as a date to a military dinner party?” Ishan smiled at Fane.

“You do, apparently.” Fane returned the smile.

“I didn’t want to let you go after the coffee shop. I wanted to watch you, be near you, hear what you had to say.” Ishan kissed him. 

Fane melted into the sweep of Ishan’s tongue. The sweetness and warmth flooding his chest was different, an odd feeling that he couldn’t remember feeling before. Vague images floated up, but none that he could place. He felt nostalgic. That was the word he could come closest to labelling the bittersweet tug at the back of his brain. He felt comfortable, and for once in his entire life, for some odd reason, he felt like he didn’t need to be in charge of protecting himself. A pang ran through his stilling heart, a shot of fear. “I thought you hated me.” Fane rose up to his elbows when Ishan withdrew.

“I saw you out on that field, and you were my type.” Ishan blushed. Fane sucked on his lip, trying to keep his mouth from betraying him. “I was so angry. I’m a prude, all right. I don’t like drugs, and I thought, you being my type, that you were the worst for showing up looking completely smashed.” Ishan admitted.

Fane looked away, not entirely sure how to respond. He startled when Ishan ran his thumb along the stubble of his jaw. “I was feeling selfish and disappointed. Have you ever seen someone you wanted to touch, to just watch walk, or talk?” Ishan drew Fane’s eye. Fane nodded his head numbly. “Really?” Ishan raised an eyebrow. A new emotion blossomed in the pit of his stomach. He recognised it immediately, readily labelling it from a few of his college flings. Jealousy.

Fane rubbed a thumb across Ishan’s cheek in a mirrored action of connection. “I had been drinking and, at the prodding of my commanding officer, indulged in a shared joint the night before at the party. It’s not something I do. It’s not something I found enjoyable or repeatable. Docs told me they suspected I might have slipped sometime that evening and hit my head. The night is kind of a blank between the party and waking up. I can’t say with confidence what I did that night. I know they were checking the plates in my head, making sure there was no swelling. They ran a few tests. I know I didn’t get into anything else in the strong recreational stuff from what the docs found. It’s not something that interests me, but I’d rather be honest with you than say I’ve never done anything. With the number of surgeries I’ve done and medications I’ve been on and had access to, not much does it for me. Anesthesiologists have cursed at me, loudly, for how much it takes to put me out. I don’t know what I had that put me out in the red room, and I don’t want to find out. Could have been a dance club in there somewhere. Guess we’ve figured that one out at the very least,” Fane explained. That padded cell. He had distanced himself from the box of a room. He had drifted in and out, suspecting that his conscious had retreated from the situation.

“You don’t know why you completely zoned out when I first met you then?” Ishan looked at him, puzzled.

“I may have an idea. Do you know how beautiful you are?” Fane asked. Ishan continued to stare at him in confusion. It felt like a complete change in the conversation. “If you had touched something other than my chin, which seems to be a habit of yours, mind you, you would have known it wasn’t any normal kind of drug in my system, outside of the possible head injury.” Fane grinned in a conspiratorial manner. 

Ishan raised a hand to his mouth, his eyes going wide. “But you-!?”

“Ishan, I’ve had a freaking ton of surgeries. Some of my nerve endings are completely screwed up. I have numb patches, and some areas you can touch, it feels like you’re touching a different side of me. I didn’t realise it when I was standing in line, watching you, haloed like an avatar by the morning dawn, that my body was trying to tell me I was attracted to you. It’s not like I can’t perform, but as I said, I really don’t see other people and get this whole attraction thing. Doesn’t mean I can’t do it with others, I guess, from the experience with the red room woman. Then again, I don’t have any memory outside of waking up in her bed after the party. I don’t have that kind of drive. I’ve been informed that EDM music makes me ‘cuddly as fuck’, and can’t really deny that particular frustration, but it doesn’t go anywhere. You stand out like a flaming gold beacon in a grey sea.” Fane laid his head back, staring at the ceiling, feeling defeated. He couldn’t believe he had admitted that out loud. He could still feel that pain distinctly. He knew he would have remembered that feeling from the party if he had felt anything for the red room woman. It had run straight from his feet to the top of his head, all on his left side. It had seared and burned. The ground moved underneath him. Cold sweats, hot flashes, the palpitations. He had been numb until Ishan showed up.

“You looked like you weren’t all there,” Ishan conceded.

“Every time I saw you, wanted to touch you, I’d get this running pain in my side.” Fane rubbed at the lateral scar on his oblique. “You caught me the first time that happened,” Fane admitted, his eyes sparkling mischievously.

Ishan groaned, pressing into Fane’s lower half. “You can’t be that honest, man.” Ishan bit into Fane’s collar bone. Then he looked up, “but you said you’d done it with a red room woman. Are you bi?”

Fane glanced at Ishan, perplexed. “I don’t know?” Fane answered, not sure how to answer that sudden question. “It’s not like I fixate on gender or anything. I just kind of float by. If someone’s attractive to me, they’re attractive. And you had to be top of the chart.” Fane rubbed at his face in embarrassment.

“Do you still hurt?” Ishan asked, caressing the scar that Fane had indicated.

“Every damn time I see you. Runs from mid-thigh up to the top of my collarbone. Hella fun standing behind your chair, and my brain just starts putting fantasies in my head unexpectedly,” Fane answered truthfully as he traced the path along his skin as demonstration.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” concerned, Ishan moved off of Fane.

“Because it started feeling too good.” Fane rested a hand on Ishan’s waist, trying to keep him from moving too far away.

Ishan laid a hand over Fane’s, feathering his thumb over the tiny raised scars. A glittering shine flashed in Ishan’s eyes as a malicious smile crossed his lips for a second. “Really?” Ishan asked.

“Ishan?” Fane cast an appraising glance on the man. What are you thinking?

“You might have guessed, from what you saw in my room -,” Ishan started. 

Fane knew where Ishan was going with this train of thought. “You have some tastes.”

“Would you rather I treat you gently? I want to give you something that you’ll enjoy,” Ishan said, suddenly bashful. He fidgeted like a schoolboy showing off his collection, not sure if others would like it or make fun of him.

“Is that what you would do naturally?” Fane asked.

Ishan looked up at him, a bit shocked. Fane hadn’t immediately dismissed him, hadn’t shied away from him in disgust, hadn’t stared at him like he was someone to be shunned. He leaned over and kissed the man under him passionately, rubbing against his erection, aware of it pressing against his own. “I’ve daydreamed of you taking me hard and rough, hearing every ragged sound you would make. Also, the flip, finding every little point of pleasure you weren’t aware you had.” Ishan pulled Fane’s hair gently, warily, nibbling on his lip, enjoying the soft texture.

“I’m not against it-” Fane trailed off, his voice hitching as his eyes swung to the door.

“Nothing claustrophobic, though, right?” Ishan smiled at him.

“I’m not…Um….”Fane couldn’t stop his hands from sweating. I’m not claustrophobic, he screamed in his head. He didn’t like lifts. It was better to have the door open to the small room so the men would know they could find him there. Other small rooms were ill-situated for safety. He couldn’t quite keep his gaze locked on Ishan. He drew in a shaky breath, a sudden flash of heat making him feel like crawling out of his skin. Ishan backed up, giving Fane some room. “I’m not claustrophobic.”

Ishan wasn’t going to press him. He knew it. Zephyr had cautioned him about Fane’s propensity to baulk at tight situations. He leaned into Fane, spreading out his full length onto the extra-large cot. Fane scootched over, trying to make some room. Ishan reached out before Fane could get too far away. He pulled the small man into the crook of his arm and wrapped himself around the spitfire, marvelling at the slide of muscle under scarred skin.

“The point,” Ishan rubbed against him restlessly, “is not to cause pain outright, but to allow the sub to finally give up all restraints, to enjoy what is going on. When dealing with a person who is perpetually in control of their surroundings, sometimes they can’t sit back and relax and enjoy themselves. If there’s anything, I mean it, anything you don’t want me to do, you have to tell me.” Ishan trailed his nails along Fane’s skin. 

Fane finally turned to look into Ishan’s eyes, begging him to understand what he could only deny. Fane caught the pleading in Ishan’s eyes and knew, somewhere deep inside, that someone had been hurt or had hurt his Prince in this. Fane wasn’t the only one dealing with problems. He ran his hand along Ishan’s arm, grateful for the texture. He could float on that softness, like rafting in the summer on a lazy stream.

“Can we go easy the first time?” Fane gulped, hoping that would be a modest compromise.

The strain gradually taking over Ishan’s body dissipated. “All right.”

“Ishan?” Fane leaned closer to Ishan’s waist, something catching his eye. Handprints. Raised red handprints and long-running stripes marked Ishan’s waist and wrapped around his back. “Are you okay?” He looked up, remember Ishan’s skin problem.

“We all have issues with our bodies, don’t we?” Ishan skimmed a nail from his shoulder to his wrist, a red welt running along the line. Fane watched, amazed and oddly fixated, his mind wandering. He wanted to know, wanted to see if he could draw patterns on Ishan’s skin.

“You’re planning something, aren’t you?” Ishan grinned, guessing at what Fane was thinking. It was something people wondered anytime they discovered his difference.

“That’s why you wear long sleeves and high collars, even in the heat,” Fane finally understood. He had pinned Ishan in the locker room and had threatened him when he had first discovered it, but he had not thought about how it affected the Prince’s daily life. 

“It itches when it rises like that. I’ll let you play with it someday, though,” Ishan promised.

His Prince detangled himself from Fane and got off the bed to shuck off his trousers and pants. Fane watched, transfixed, a hand finding carnality. Just watching the man move was a sin.

“You’re taking my fun, Fane,” Ishan grouched, lowering himself back to the cot.

“Just finding happiness.” Fane tunnelled fingers through his Prince’s hair, pulling his head down to find soft lips.

Ishan moved in, his lashes drifting to sweep across his cheekbones in two golden crescents. He savoured the kiss, the momentary burning passion Fane shared with him. He could feel every desire, every wish the man had in that moment of contact. Slowly, Fane released him.

Ishan opened his eyes to look at the magnificent man he had at his side. He sucked in his breath. The icy frost of blue-grey he had fallen in love with had melted away. Blue eyes, the shade of the Caribbean Sea, encouraged Ishan to dive in and explore.

Ishan’s hand wrapped around his, learning his rhythm, encouraging it. His Prince leaned in to kiss him again, mesmerised by the deep blue of his eyes. Initially, his Prince had started this because of his growing fondness for the man. He wasn’t ready to admit any kind of emotion such as love, maybe lust. Those eyes, though. The sharp chips of ice were calming, reassuring, but this shade, he quivered with the need to find how dark they could get.

“You haven’t asked me?” Nipped Ishan as he ran his teeth along Fane’s starburst of a scar on his shoulder.

Fane wasn’t entirely sane at that point. His nerve endings fired in such harmony he knew he was close to experiencing something he was certain was going to be soul-shattering. “What?” Fane barely managed to say.

“Anything about what this will make us or what we’ll do,” he barely whispered, afraid.

Fane slowed the rhythm forcibly. He pulled Ishan’s focus to his face. “As I said at the beginning, if this all goes south, you take your responsibility.”

“You really don’t care about titles or wonder if there are expectations or any of that?” Tension that had been building in the back of his neck released.

“We can figure those things out later. My brain is not on that topic at the moment. Every time you touch me, it dissolves, so for now, I promise I have no expectations except one thing.” Fane slid a finger along Ishan’s shaft. He chuckled in the back of his throat when everything within Ishan stilled. His eyes had turned from their warm amber to melted honey. A gentle, almost inaudible groan escaped his lips. Ishan’s grip loosened at the sudden touch.

 “Can I touch you?” Fane asked, suddenly not sure if that was going to be comfortable with his skin issues. 

“Gods, I wish you would.” Ishan trembled, waiting.

Fane’s nerves crackled across his skin as he learned Ishan’s various textures. A heady high left him on the edge as he captured every gulp and warbling breath the blond admitted. Fane pulled Ishan to straddle him.

He eased back into the canvas of the cot, admiring the blush running across his partner’s face. Ishan partially braced himself against the wall that served as a headboard, his other hand resting gently on Fane’s shoulder. Fane had taken command of the movement, wrapping his hand around Ishan as he stroked them off simultaneously.

“This – this was supposed to be about you,” Ishan stuttered.

“How is it not?” Fane’s free hand ran up Ishan’s hip and side, grasping, kneading.

“Because I’m too close. Thought you might want something else,” Ishan eluded.

“I thought that was just me. I don’t have any decent supplies in here to make this comfortable if you were thinking of ‘something else’.” Fane nipped at the inside of Ishan wrist. The pressure built, but he held his breath, waiting. Ishan tightened against him, pushing to wait for a moment longer. “So, if you’re good here?” Fane pressed his advantage, increasing his tight speed.

“Good, close, please, I’m…” Ishan stuttered.

“Cum,” Fane demanded. Ishan curled into himself as the orgasm hit him hard. That one defenceless moment pushed Fane over the edge. The roar in the back of his head washed down to his toes. The numbness in his gut caught, spread to an intense heat as the roar pushed back up to his core. He closed his eyes, relaxing into the wash.

Sated and exhausted, Ishan rolled to lay next to him, content. Fane pulled out a set of cleaning rags from under the camp table and handed one to Ishan. “Thanks,” Ishan murmured as they got themselves cleaned up.

“Cuddle?” Fane pulled Ishan to him when they were decent.

“Mm.” Ishan nodded tiredly. He relaxed into Fane’s warmth.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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