Sheridan hears the dragging feet, the pathetic bleats for mercy.
They must be at the foot of the stairs leading up to Sheridan's tower study. He stands up, clears his throat. He straightens his suit. Runs a hand over his slicked hair.
The door bursts open. Two soldiers stumble in, bent as they pull a collapsed, sobbing man with them. He's shouting, "Please! I was there—I swear I was there! Right on the front lines!" His eyes are wild, he claws at the soldiers' coats in desperate motions. When his gaze happens to land on Sheridan, he freezes. Sheridan can see the cogs turn behind his wet, brown eyes. "Patrick..."
Sheridan smiles. "Walter."
"Patrick, I—" Walter Turney begins, reaching out as if to touch Sheridan. He retracts his hand, wipes at the snot under his nose. "I was there..."
Exhaling, lip curling, Sheridan folds his hands behind his back. "Walter, whether you were there or not, is neither here nor there." He pauses, and quirks an eyebrow. "But we both know that you were not."
Walter makes a wheezy, defeated sound. Sheridan smiles to himself at this, and then eyes the soldiers with a stony expression, nodding at the door. They quickly drop their hold on Walter, backing away without a word; they know better than to get on Sheridan's bad side. Door shutting behind them, Sheridan sighs. "Honestly...you should have just left the country."
He can see Walter trying to make sense of the situation, the blurred searching in those brown eyes. Finally, Walter reaches out again. "You're safe..." he mumbles, "Bless the Lord."
Sheridan snorts at this, leaning back against his desk and crossing his arms as he observes Walter. "Did you think that I was dead?" He tilts his head, his smile becoming more edged. "Or did you not think of me at all?"
"I wondered." Walter breathes, inching forward on his knees, his eyes wide. "I did, Patrick, I feared for you."
"You feared for me?" Sheridan echoes, amused. He sniffs, and then nods around the room. "As you can see, there was no need."
Walter's muddled gaze shifts to the walls, to Sheridan's large oak desk, the space and luxuriousness of the room. "Ah," Walter says, licking his lips, "Yes, I can see. You have been blessed...your valour—" he stops, choking on his words, and looks down at the ground. "I see now, you are a titan for the New Order."
Considering this, Sheridan sighs, as if bored. He stares at his palm for a moment, and then his hand drops to his side. "The New Order," he says, "I grow tired of discussing it."
Sheridan steps forward, taking note of the way Walter flinches. It grates, and to show that it grates, Sheridan takes a firm grasp of Walter's chin, tilting his tear-soaked face up. Their eyes meet; there is a brief moment of nostalgia for Sheridan, but then his smile turns disdainful. "I'm afraid my fervor died quite awhile ago. New Order or not, I have other things on my mind."
He drags Walter's face a little bit closer, "For instance—where you, my dearest friend, have been all this time."
Walter's hands clasp Sheridan's wrist. "Please, Patrick..."
"If I recall," Sheridan continues meanly, "there was a bright, young man who would annoy me
on the regular, talked of the future. He would poke at me, interrupt my fun at the tavern so that he could shove all the latest pamphlets in my face."
Walter goes stark white, his lips working like a guppy's.
"And I ask myself now," Sheridan continues, "how is it that I ended up here, in this office? As a leader for the New Order, while the bright young man who bought me rounds just so he could bug me longer is nowhere to be seen?"
"I ran!" Walter wails, slumping. "I was scared, I..."
Sheridan drops his hold on Walter's chin, and stands upright with a sigh. "That, I know."
A drop of sweat drips down Walter's forehead. It's probably cold. He's making tiny little gestures with his fingers, grasping at air—grasping at excuses, Patrick theorizes. Let him. He, who spoke the word of the new order, who held court at those fireside discussions afterhours at the tavern, pontificated on how the monarchy was bleeding the common man dry.
Whose face was missing on that historic day.
Sheridan's lip curls as he observes Walter's haunched form. "Where have you been hiding, my dearest friend?" He hears Walter gurgle a response, watches him wipe his mouth with the back of his hand, and then his brown eyes are on Sheridan again.
"Here and there," Walter says weakly. "I—I. May not have been on the front lines, but! I did my share, Patrick, I spread the seed of change through..."
His blubbering makes Sheridan's chest warm. To see the once vibrant, doe-eyed scholar kneeling on the ground, spluttering with a begging, tired voice... "You coward," Sheridan says quietly, exhaling.
Walter blinks at him, eyes wide and deranged, but then his face twists, a smile curling on his sweaty, pale face. "I am no coward," he huffs, "I am not blinded by the walls, and the opulence, the ruins left by—I have not, like a snake, swallowed my enemy, only to rise up in its stead to only repeat the the extravagances. For truly, these things must be burned down, and the people to rise on their own—"
Narrowing his eyes, Sheridan considers Walter. These phrases, although easily mistaken for the word of the New Order, are not. Sheridan has never heard them before.
"—and if I were a coward," Walter continues, stumbling over his words, completely lacking the oratory skill he once possessed, "I too would be swept up in the seduction of prizes taken from the conquered regimes, but no, oh no, I have a clear mind and soul—"
"What have you gotten yourself into this time, Walter?" Sheridan mutters, just as he catches Walter slipping a hand to his ankle and pulling out a blade.
Walter flings himself forward, blade held high and then arcing down towards Sheridan, who, in a state of utter ease, grabs Walter's wrist and, with an angry grunt, twists it behind Walter's back. With a bruising squeeze to Walter's wrist, the blade clatters to the stone floor, and Sheridan stares at its sharp, glinting edge.
"You would kill me?"
Sheridan shoves Walter forward, hears him cry out but ignores it, bending Walter over his desk and, with clenched teeth, cruelly grinding his crotch against Walter's ass in a display of pure dominance. There's a whimper below him, and he sees Walter's eyes clenching shut, his mouth a tight line, and his fingers curling against the desk. This almost sends Sheridan over the edge.
Leaning down, resting on a forearm on the desk as he puts his face near Walter's ear, he says, "Does this mean I am free to do as I truly desire, Walter? If you are allowed to so easily cast aside the decades of our bond, may I do the same?"
He can hear the faint crying, the hiccups and shuddering breaths. It only ignites the smoldering lust in his gut, that which he had kept dormant so well, had hidden behind his wry humor, his gentle mocking of Walter all throughout their 'friendship.' How desperately he had craved to run his tongue all over the body now trembling below him, but refrained because Walter showed no romantic interest in Sheridan, in fact, no interest in anything except the New Order.
That's why Sheridan had joined in the first place. He couldn't stand fighting for Walter's attentions with a goddamn belief system.
"Oh, Patrick," Walter says, his voice wobbling, "I'm sorry...I—I didn't know it would be you."
With a sigh, Sheridan pushes himself up a little, but keeps his hold on Walter's wrists, keeps his hardened cock shoved tight against Walter's backside. He brushes his fingers through Walter's hair, gently shifting the locks. "You've found a new cause."
Walter licks his lips, and nods his head, his cheek flat against the surface of the desk.
"And you went on this suicide mission...why?"
"Patrick..." Walter whines, drawing out the name. He opens his eyes, trying to peer up at Sheridan from the corner of them. Sheridan sees the hesitancy there.
"Say it clearly," Sheridan growls.
Walter nods again, swallowing. "I—I was blind before, to the poisonous faults lying within the New Order, too hopeful that selfishness was not inherent. I put too much naive faith in the fathers of change, but they are the same as before, and..."
Grinding his teeth, Sheridan shuts his eyes. "And?"
"I have found the pure truth, Patrick!"
It's amazing how Walter can still sound idealistic, his cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling, while pinned down flat on a desk. Sheridan has half a mind to bring him back to tears again through some cruel, nasty means—but instead he lets out a beleaguered sigh, and says, "The pure truth, Walter?"
"Yes," Walter breathes, "the path to salvation, so that no man goes without bread."
Sheridan slides his hand to the center of Walter's back, presses between the shoulder blades, feeling somewhat comforted by the knowledge that at that moment, he has Walter completely under his thumb, and out of trouble. "You have always been a dreamer," Sheridan says, and runs a tongue over his lips as he narrows his eyes. "But never a such a delusional fool."
The last word comes out as a snarl, and he sees the way Walter grimaces as if slapped. Leaning closer again, Sheridan searches those brown eyes for any hint of recognition, as a choking flood of loneliness washes over him, makes him violently dig his grip in against Walter's wrist.
For if Walter is no longer the one person who Sheridan doesn't have to act with...
"Say something," Sheridan hisses.
The first attempt at words are choked, a sob, and then Walter closes his eyes and draws in a long breath. "I thought... I thought this would save me." Sheridan watches as Walter swallows, and opens his mouth to speak again with shaky words, "I believed in the New Order, Patrick, but when I heard the guns..."
He's shaking under Sheridan's hold.
"If I did this, I could at least be a martyr..."
It takes a moment, but then Sheridan's lip curls, and he lets out a light chuckle. Indeed, this is Walter. "Martyrs die, my darling, you are too selfish to offer that." Then it occurs to Sheridan, and he tilts his head, running his fingers through Walter's hair once again. "You knew it was me in this tower." The silence is his affirmation.
He slides down, resting his full weight on Walter's back—because at the very least, Walter will have to bear that—wrapping his arms under Walter, and gripping his shoulders. With a sigh, he presses his cheek against the back of Walter's neck. "Did you finally grow weary of the dreamer's life?"
A childlike murmur is the answer, and Sheridan has to smile at that. Walter always knew which chords to pluck.
"It won't be the same this time, my darling," Sheridan says, turning his face to press a feather-light kiss against Walter's skin. "I, myself, have become less indulgent over the years."
"Then I will indulge you."
Sheridan pauses, his eyebrows rising. He pushes himself up a little, and stares down on Walter, sees the faint blush on his cheek. "When did you become so obedient?" Sheridan says, expression hardening. "Did someone else—"
"I still want to do good, Patrick," Walter cuts over him, looking up from the corner of his eyes, but keeping his bent, submissive position, even has his thighs spread a little—and who taught him that?
"Well," Sheridan rumbles, and realizes he's losing his advantage already. "I'm sure I can...find some position for you..." Even as he says this, his hands are digging under Walter's waistband, tugging at his shirt. "For some reason, they've put great trust in my decisions."
"You've always been a natural leader."
Sheridan snorts, grabbing at Walter's shoulder, twisting him back around, wondering why he's not helping with this endeavor—hasn't it been long enough—and shucking his coat off, and then Walter's collapsed back slightly against the desk, peering up at Sheridan, his shirt half untucked and his hair ruffled, and his eyes red...
He wants Sheridan to kiss him. Sheridan can see it in those trembling lips. And hadn't Sheridan waited as long as he was ever going to wait?
"You know what I want from you, yes?" Sheridan grinds out, fingers twitching.
Walter's chin tucks in, he's looking up at Sheridan from under his eyelashes. "I've always known."
A breath Sheridan hadn't realized he had been holding escapes his lips. And then he cocks an eyebrow, stalking towards Walter. "Indeed?" he says. "What a dangerous thing to admit."
"It's only fair," Walter whispers, but he's still shaking. The confidence is a mask.
This, somehow, does not inspire even the least bit of sympathy in Sheridan's heart. He's in front of Walter now, rests his knuckles on the desk on either side of him, and with a grin, asks, "What's only fair?"
Walter blinks, drawing back, and his cheeks flush completely red. "Patrick..."
Tilting his head, Sheridan smirks. "What's only fair, Walter?"
With a gulp, Walter drops his gaze to the ground. "You—you've always been very kind to me."
"And...I may have taken advantage of—your affections. Once or twice."
Sheridan considers Walter, frowning. "So this is some sort of restitution," Sheridan waves at Walter's state of mid-undress, "this coy seduction." He lets out a wry laugh. "No, my mistake. You want in again, to be a part of the New Order...so this is something you're offering quid pro quo."
Walter turns his cheek, perhaps shamed. Snorting, Sheridan shakes his head, but the humor is only skin deep. "Somehow, knowing you'll be gritting your teeth the whole time cools my ardor."
Sheridan cuts Walter off by moving forward, mashing his lips against Walter's open mouth in a brash jerk that could never be deemed erotic, nor tender, but entirely violent. He grabs the back of Walter's head, threading his fingers in fine, brown hair, locking Walter in place, keeping him from struggling away.
With one last, slow nibble to Walter's bottom lip, Sheridan pulls back, his eyes hooded as he observes Walter's flustered state. "On the other hand," Sheridan says, "when I imagine your distressed face, the discomfort..."
Walter's eyes drop, and he slumps even as he rests his fingers with a hesitant grip on Sheridan's shoulders. It's a show of defeat, if there ever was one, and Sheridan feels no qualms in taking a firm hold of Walter's upper arm, shoving him around until his front is pushed against the edge of the desk.
Leaning forward, crowding Walter against the desk, Sheridan's lip curves as he says, "Unbutton your pants, Walter."
Sheridan likes the way Walter is trembling, chin tucked in and arms wrapped around his middle. He watches over Walter's shoulder as Walter exhales a shaky, possibly frightened little sigh, fumbling for his waistband. His fingers shake as he undoes each silver button.
With little thought, Sheridan pets at Walter's side, squeezing reassuringly. It's not like Walter will calm down entirely from that, but Sheridan likes to plan for the long term, and he doesn't need a sulky Walter suddenly ignoring him over their morning coffee ten years down the line because Walter happened to recall what a heartless bastard Sheridan had been.
"Turn around, darling."
He hears an indignant huff, and chuckles, because he's obviously too close to Walter to allow any movement, so he acquiesces and backs up—barely a foot. Walter shifts until he's presented in front of Sheridan, his eyebrows pinched and cheeks puffed in a pout like some teenager, and not a man nearing his fourth decade. It is becoming on him, in Sheridan's opinion, as well as the defiant spark in his eyes.
"Give me a kiss, Walter."
Those defiant eyes flash to Sheridan's, lips parting. Sheridan can see the faint tinge of a blush heating at Walter's cheeks. "Or do you not want to?"
Sheridan waits. And he watches. But he doesn't see any betrayal of emotion, any tell that shows that Walter truly does not want this. And yet, Sheridan has bided his time far too long to have his victory tarred by a miserable, conquered prey. He reaches out, gently circles his hand around Walter's throat, feels the tendons shifting, the pulse and the warmth.
Running his tongue over his teeth, he considers Walter as he slowly slides his hand down, fanning his fingers out over Walter's chest. He can feel the fluttery, rapid heart beats. How easy it would be to just take what he wants.
Sheridan snorts at that thought, earning a curious glance from Walter. If it were so easy, he would have taken it already. But a few furtive ruts, a brief moment of bliss—he could have that with anyone. And it would have ruined everything.
"I've been lonely without you, Walter," Sheridan says.
He sees how that assuages Walter's pride, the visible relaxing of tense shoulders, the lines of Walter's face smoothing out.
"You are a very handsome man," Walter replies, his tone compromising.
Laughing, Sheridan tilts his head. "And do you like handsome men?"
"I've been known to."
That, of course, is said deliberately to rankle at Sheridan. And oh, how it does. Sheridan's eyes narrow—and with a low growl, he grabs Walter's arms, fingers digging in, and pulls him forward into a rough kiss, teeth dragging along lips, nipping in both possession and punishment.
Walter squirms against him, whimpering, panting. He's already hard, Sheridan discovers with wonderment, grinding against Sheridan's cock. It sends sparks of arousal through his veins, makes him want to laugh with relief; he had always been suspicious that Walter didn't have a lustful bone in his body.
Pulling away, he brushes an affectionate hand through Walter's hair. "I want your clothes off, darling."
Walter nods emphatically at first, and then sucks in a breath when Sheridan reaches for the hem of his shirt. "No, no, Patrick, someone might come."
"No one will come—" Sheridan begins to growl, but then Walter is turning, careful to press his body against Sheridan until his ass is firmly nestled against Sheridan's aching cock, the cursed fabric of their britches the only obstacle between them.
Walter slips his pants down to his ankles then, bending and resting his elbows on the desk, and with a daring smirk, he glances at Sheridan from over his shoulder. "Surely you can make do with this?"
Thoughts frozen, Sheridan unconsciously reaches out to grope Walter's left ass cheek, his breath hitching. Only in his fantasies had he ever seen Walter splayed out like this, presented over a desk, legs spread and ass served up for Sheridan's pleasure. Slowly, Sheridan's fingers ghost down the cleft, and he cups Walter's balls, feels Walter shiver.
Well, that was that. Sheridan spat in his palm, spread Walter's ass cheeks with his other hand, and presses the slick into Walter's hole until it's sopping. A surprised gasp, and then a nervous "Patrick..." had Sheridan chuckling. "Be good, darling, and it will be good."
Nodding, Walter quiets down save for a few embarrassed mumbles as Sheridan slides one finger, and then another into him. Walter keeps clenching around him, legs shaking, and Sheridan coos with as much gentleness as he can muster, but he's not going to be able to fit inside Walter at this rate. "You implied men have had you before."
Sheridan lets his silence be the question.
"I'm—" Walter stutters over a third finger, drops his head, "—you and I have known each other for so long."
"And for almost that long have I wanted to do this," Sheridan mutters, aching to spread Walter wider, shove in, and have Walter grow accustomed to it as Sheridan moves. But no, Sheridan continues with his syrupy slow movements, scissoring his fingers gently, sliding a comforting hand down Walter's back, but he fears Walter will never calm. "I spoil you."
Surprisingly, he hears a faint laugh. "Then don't."
Sheridan pauses, the last of his restraint held taut on a very steep precipice. "I swear to God, if you hate me for this..."
Exhaling, Sheridan finally fumbles for the buttons of his own pants, and when they're undone, shoves the pants down, along with his drawers, his cock throbbing and free. Spitting again into his palm, he jacks himself once or twice, breathing deeply and observing Walter's bent form.
This will definitely hurt Walter. But Sheridan sees the ceremony in it, for both of them, and there will certainly be time—years—for soft caresses and precious, equitable lovemaking. This—this is about Walter's surrender.
Sheridan handles his cock, pressed the blunt tip against Walter's hole, and Walter is still shaky, clenching, not relaxed. Sighing, Sheridan takes a firm grip of Walter's ass cheeks, spreading them, and shoves in.
The pained grunt from Walter has Sheridan's heart twisting, but he doesn't stop until he's all the way in, Walter vise-like around his cock. He drops forward, resting a palm at Walter's side, breathing heavily, his heart thundering. He wants, he needs to thrust, to pound into Walter, but he waits.
"I won't hate you," Walter says with a quiet, strained voice.
"Just relax, darling," Sheridan almost pleads, but it's clear Walter is a bundle of nerves by this point, his entire body trembling. If only Sheridan had known earlier what an effect he had on Walter, perhaps he could have crossed this line so much earlier.
Well, no time for regrets. He succumbs to his baser needs.
"Ah!" Walter cries, rocking forward, the desk creaking under him. Sheridan swallows, throat dry, and grips Walter's hips, snapping against him again, and again, and again.
Sheridan's head rolls back, eyes closing. Finally, finally, he can feel Walter giving way beneath him, welcoming his violation. "Walter," Sheridan croaks, leaning forward again, curling over so he can mouth against the back of Walter's neck. He moves more slowly now, savoring the heat enveloping him, stealing his breath away.
Gathering himself, he at least has the presence of mind to slip his hand to Walter's front, wrapping a firm grip around Walter's cock. The pleased gasp is rewarding, as is the fact that Walter is hard in his hand, not soft at all. "More," Walter says, panting.
Sheridan knows he means the stroking, and he obliges, but he also takes his own pleasure, thrusting harder into Walter. Through hazy vision, he sees Walter under him, rocking shamelessly forward and back, spread over Sheridan's work papers, clutching them and ripping them, and that only arouses Sheridan even more.
Walter's flushed cheeks, his rumpled shirt, and his cries of distress, of lust. How Sheridan is taking Walter on his desk, where he directs the flow of history. Such thoughts, such arrogant thoughts are no help to his state, and he bites his lip, feeling the heat coil low in his gut.
And then he feels Walter tensing, clamping tightly around him and it only makes things fuzzier, hotter, Walter coming in Sheridan's hand.
Pressing his face against Walter's sweaty back, Sheridan blanks out, slamming into Walter over, and over, with no rhythm, fueled entirely by desperation for that final crest—
He bites down, vaguely hears Walter curse, and then slumps against Walter. They stay like that, their breathing slowly returning to normal, the last dregs of pleasure winding out of their systems. Suddenly overcome with exhaustion, Sheridan pushes up on his hands, and carefully slides himself out of Walter, watching the seed he left behind drip down Walter's thigh.
Only slightly embarrassed to admit it, he feels a primal triumph at the sight.
"Lord," Walter says, breaking Sheridan of his thoughts. He frowns at the almost broken tone. But then Walter sighs contentedly, reaching down to rub at his cock, then at his belly. When he stands up, still trembling, he gazes over his shoulder at Sheridan, and there's something there, in his eyes, that is troubling.
"My darling," Sheridan says, extending his hand out to cup Walter's cheek, "my love..."
There's a tremor that runs through Walter, his eyes widening, and then he turns his head, kneeling down to grab his pants. Sheridan does the same, pulling his up and doing the buttons, his eyes focused down as he tries to decipher what that expression on Walter's face meant. When he looks up, his lips part.
Walter is standing there, knife back in hand, blade pointed at Sheridan. His hand is shaking.
"No," Walter shouts, and Sheridan flinches, his eyes narrowing. Why is it like this? Walter's cheeks are still flushed from their coupling.
Walter wipes at his mouth, sweat beading at his forehead. Licking his lips, he spits out, "You so easily fell for this...a perfect specimen as evidence for how corrupt, how perverted the New Order is."
Sheridan blinks once, hand halfway out to reach for Walter. And then he draws back. "Oh, really?" As if there is a single ounce of determination in Walter's eyes. There's not. Fear emanates from him like a stench. "So, you were playing the temptress?" Sheridan snorts. "Or you came up with that on your own once you knew you were caught? Are you going to kill me now, Walter?"
How long, indeed, had Walter been planning this escape? He had refused undressing...perhaps to slip away all the more easily. Fury ignites in Sheridan's core. "You selfish coward."
"No," Walter bites back, waving the knife around. "This time, no. I will not run from this cause, I am not a coward. I will stand by my comrades!"
"So this is about redemption," Sheridan snarls. He closes his eyes, and lets out a world-weary sigh. When he opens them, he sees Walter inching for the door, knife still pointed directly at Sheridan.
"Think about it, Walter." Sheridan keeps himself sideways to Walter, if only to prevent himself from lunging for Walter's throat. "Think of the effect you could have here, the power—through my power."
"You don't understand, Patrick," Walter replies, eyes wide, "I cannot run again."
"So, are you going to kill me? That was your intent, was it not?"
Sheridan watches Walter's throat roll, the rapid blinking. And then Walter spins for the door, throws it open, and sprints out of sight. A millisecond behind him, Sheridan crashes into the hallway, but when he hits the opposite wall, catches sight of Walter running away...he pauses.
And then he rights himself, straightens his clothes. He walks back into his office, running his fingers through his hair.
It's when he's finally got the desk arranged to some semblance of organization that his secretary, Dawes, walks in with a stiff gait. "The prisoner?"
"Gone," Sheridan replies with a sigh, walking to his chair, and sinking down. He taps his finger once on the wooden armrest, and then looks up at Dawes. "Send a message to my estate."
"Have the servants prepare a room," Walter would want his own office, somewhere he could devise new plans, new speeches, "with a sturdy desk, and a comfortable chair. Make sure it is stocked with a good library on policy and social theory."
"Yes, Mr. Sheridan."
Poor Walter. It's admirable that he's returning to his brethren, but he will soon find that his failure, the failure of a suicide mission, will not be well received. He will be safe, Sheridan has no doubt of that, but he will also grow indignant once he realizes that was all they wanted him for.
He will come back to Sheridan. He will come home.
But will he be satisfied? Sheridan must make sure of that, keep Walter occupied with meetings, and forums, and political rallies. This sprinting off, this wavering between loyalties—it's a flaw in Walter's character, but Sheridan has never been blind to it, never kidded himself. He has just always been assured, confident that he could put in the commitment for the both of them, despite Walter's flighty tendencies.
"And for God's sake," Sheridan chuckles to Dawes, resting back in his chair as he crosses his arms, "tell them to put a damn padlock on the door."