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He didn’t have to do this, he thought, ensconced in the water closet, hands braced on the cool porcelain sink, listening to the steady drip drip drip of water leaking from the tap. Each drop as loud as a gunshot to his overly-sensitized ears. They could leave this place, him and Volitant, weather the storm of her heat locked away in his bedroom, far from male wolves. The could go it alone. They’d done it before. It hadn’t been the hardest thing he’d ever done. But he’d been afraid, more afraid of what it meant to let it happen than he had been of denying the heat. He had such a tenuous position amidst his peers, such a shaky relationship with his father. He couldn’t countenance it that time, so she’d borne the aching discomfort of unassuaged heat for him.

It had cost them both, but she’d taken the brunt of it, because she couldn’t understand why.

The honor of men, the rigid standards set by the haut ton and queen and country, meant nothing to her. Heat felt good with somebody else—or so they could only assume having never actually tried it—why shouldn’t they revel in it? It was innate. What did it matter if that meant bedding another man, taking him into his body? Volitant would allow a male wolf the same. He did not love or value her any less for it. It did not diminish her skills at the hunt.

She didn’t understand the way it went against nature for men to allow themselves to be used this way. But she understood pain—his pain. So she had allowed them to be sequestered, to go to his family's hunting lodge in Scotland, cleared of all the servants and family members, to run the burn out of her blood.

He met his own eyes in the mirror, saw the glassy cast over them and the flush staining his cheeks as the rush of her heat licked under his skin sympathetically, quickening his pulse and making his breaths run hoarse. Twice they’d done that, but each time it had gotten harder. He couldn’t ask her to do it a third time. Not now. Not when she’d chosen a mate.

It’ll be good, she said to him, nosing his hip with her muzzle. You will like it.

He chuckled weakly, firmly doubting that. It did no good to explain the way men’s bodies were made, what exactly he’d have to do during heat.

“Why did it have to be him?” he asked her, finally.

She sat back on her haunches and cocked her head, flashing an image in his mind of Captain Toews at a card party a few weeks back, standing tall and straight-spined in his neat scarlet-uniform, his head bent at attention to listen to somebody speaking, and the large male wolf at his side, sitting quiet but alert, coat white as the driven snow. Patrick didn’t remember taking particular note of Toews at that party, but Volitant clearly had. The thoughts of virile and strong and most astonishingly friend came through clearly in the pack-sense.

What’s not to like? she asked, laughing at him.

Patrick gave her a sour look. For all that Captain Toews was nothing more than a simple soldier he also had the most astonishing rod stuck up his ass. He was an overly sober obstinate who lived to disagree with Patrick on everything. He had no use for racing, or gambling, or whoring or games. He moved in those dry boring political circles Patrick did his best to avoid. His family fortune came from trade, and he was only admitted to the same parties because he was some war hero, distinguishing himself in service to England, which would’ve been fine, except for how he seemed to have absolutely no sense of humor and could take absolutely no teasing of any kind. And his mother was a radical bluestocking known to horrify at all the events in town she chose to attend. To say that Patrick and Captain Toews did not get along, was the understatement of the century. They argued more strenuously than backbenchers in the House of Commons.

Playing, Voli informed him loftily, flashing on a mighty row they’d had not two months ago at Lady Sharp’s Musicale.

“Not playing! Fighting. The man is impossible.”

If Volitant could raise an eyebrow at him, she would. Want, she thought clearly, flashing him another image of the Captain laughing, his head thrown back with mirth with his fingers sunk into his wolf’s fur, a charming flush on his cheeks that Patrick was irritated to notice.

Patrick threw up his hands, letting out some choice curses. He couldn’t do this. It would be hard enough under normal circumstances but with that smug prig—

Please, she thought at him, simple and clear, piercing him through the heart.

He sighed. Volitant didn’t ask much of him, if he had suffered for this bonding, so had she.

“Yes,” he said aloud, even though he knew she could already feel his acquiescence through the pack-sense.

*

It had all started on his 18th birthday. It was rare these days outside of the military and the upper echelons of nobility for parents to bind their offspring to wolves. But it still happened in the very oldest of families. The eldest son in his family had been bonded to wolves going back to the days of William the Conqueror, and a good many of the younger sons and girl children as well. They married only bonded females in order to expand and consolidate their reach and continue their bloodlines. He had known his entire life he would be asked to become brother to a wolf. That both his future wife and her wolf’s breeding stock would have to be assessed in order to make a match.

He was not under any circumstances to become bonded to a wolf bitch. But when Audax had littered it had been three bitches and only one dog pup. And Patrick had laid eyes on Volitant, already exploring outside the birthing box when he arrived at the kennels, her sisters and brothers still happily nursing; she’d barely been able to toddle on her little unsteady legs, her eyes still cloudy and blind, but he’d known then that she would be his. That was the way of it oftimes, his father’s kennelmaster had explained, the wolf chose the man, not the other way around. And Voli had the makings of a Queen Wolf. The kennelmaster had told his father he should be proud. His father had, predictably, not been proud, and he’d turned the kennelmaster off without references.

Patrick had been helpless against Voli. He couldn’t repudiate her for another wolf, although his own pack-sense was strong enough he likely could’ve bonded any other chosen for him. But she was his, from that very first moment, and he was hers. The thought of taking another caused him literal pain. Enough to throw caution to the wind and think he could ignore what it meant to be bonded to a bitch, what they would say, how they would act, and what would happen to him when her heats came. He’d been so young then.

Being the son of a duke afforded him at least a little protection from the ugly taunts and threats, but only so much. He’d had to prove his manhood on more than one occasion away at Oxford, either in boxing or on the cricket pitch, and later in horse races at the Row, which he always won. He and Voli had had to put many a dog wolf on his back, forcing him to show throat in submission. Those others might’ve been dog wolves, but they weren’t alphas, and there was no bitch more dominant than Voli, who’d try to back down a bear if he let her.

He’d done his best to deal with the endless march of suitors, the occasional matchmaking mama who’d had a daughter unlucky enough to be offside like him, the unscrupulous men who thought to get their hands on his lands through his wolf. He’d labored through two heats, making them both suffer alone, to avoid it all. Voli had made her displeasure known, but she’d also made it known she wasn’t too impressed with the dogs they’d had the misfortune of meeting so far.

But now she had chosen, and of all wolves, she’d chosen Prometheus, the brother of Captain Toews.

*

The Captain had gotten it through the Pack-Sense, the fizzy champagne feeling of her heat bubbling up unexpectedly. Patrick had felt him get it. He was lucky it was a small intimate gathering. There were four other wolves there that night. Iris, his sister’s bitch, Minnie and Charity who were bonded to the hostess and her daughter, and Agincourt, the only other dog wolf. Agincourt was old. Patrick had known him when he was barely out of the nursery and he was mated to Charity besides. Volitant was safe from him tonight.

Captain Toews had surely heard the rumors. The way that Patrick and Volitant had rejected all suitors, had chosen to go into seclusion rather than make themselves available. He’d had to have heard that they called him Frigid and that there was a bet up several thousand pounds now in the books at White’s about when he’d finally roll over for someone. He’d seen the entry himself, sick and lightheaded that somebody had thought to make this of all things a sport. That his own friends had placed wagers on it.

Patrick was relieved Toews hadn’t followed him when he’d quit the room, he’d thought that he might, and with man and dog wolf in immediate proximity, Patrick wasn’t sure he’d even have the time to debate his choices in the bathroom. He and Volitant might’ve demanded it right then and there.

You are not required to do this, he heard an unexpectedly even voice in his head, and jerked his eyes down to stare at Volitant. She must’ve connected to Prometheus in the pack-sense, letting him relay his brother’s thoughts to Patrick.

Think I can’t handle it?, he thought back, vicious, feeling stung by Toews’s condescending reminder, even though only moments before he’d been thinking frantically for any way he possibly could get out of it.

I think you didn’t choose me, he replied, tone still measured. His presence in Patrick’s mind radiated calm and empathy. He saw through Voli that Toews was still standing in the room Patrick had bolted out of, his hands down at his side, fingertips lightly scratching behind Prometheus's ear. Prometheus let out a restive harrumph, shifting on his paws, but Toews held him in check with the sheer strength of his will. Patrick could feel the iron bars of it through the pack-sense.

Volitant whined, projecting need want please please please so intensely at Patrick that his remaining resistance crumbled. Still he felt Toews waiting for him to voice it, to make it clear what he wanted.

Yes, he said on a gasp, tremors going through his body. Yes.

In that instant he sensed Toews snap to, Prometheus already moving at his side. For a moment he thought Toews was going to come and have him right here in the tiny cramped water closet that he was already crammed into with his wolf. But Toews actually bid their hostess goodnight, saying he had urgent business with an apologetic kiss to the back of her hand, and then told Patrick through the pack-sense that he’d summon Patrick’s carriage if he wished to meet him outside. Patrick shivered, unsure how he was supposed to manage an entire carriage ride with Toews and both their wolves in this state, but equally unwilling to prevail upon their hostess for a room. She would understand, he knew, but everybody else there would also know, and the thought was mortifying.

He quickly turned the taps, splashing water on his face to cool it. He let out a deep breath and then looked down at Volitant, who was grinning at him through the pack-sense.

All good now, she told him.

Patrick snorted.

*

The carriage ride was worse even than he’d feared, every bump and jolt of the coach over London’s cobbled streets felt magnified. Explaining to Voli and Prometheus that nothing could happen here, in this fucking coach, while they rattled about, was eating up the last of his patience. And he finally shouted “Enough!” so loudly both wolves startled and whined.

“It is but four more minutes,” Patrick reminded Volitant. “You will wait at least that long.”

She pointed out that he was surely to stand on propriety and order everybody out of the house so that they could be alone, and that would take a good deal more than four minutes.

On the opposite seat, Toews chuckled breathlessly, laying his head back against the padded headrest and widening his thighs. His eyes were closed. Pressed up against his trouser smalls, Patrick saw the swelling outline of an erection. He swallowed. He didn’t have to look down to know he was doing no better.

“Have you done this before, Captain?” he asked hoarsely.

Toews slowly blinked his eyes open. He seemed to choose his words with care. “Yes,” he said at last. “Three times now.” He cleared his throat. “But we’ve never been chosen by a bitch before.”

“Do they still do open matings in the cavalry?” Patrick asked unable to keep the horror out of his voice.

“No, no, nothing so uncivilized as that,” Toews replied quickly. “We were assigned those partners by the War Office. To breed the best pups for service, you understand.”

Patrick swallowed and rubbed his hands up and down his thighs, digging his fingernails in. That didn’t sound much better. “How did it go?”

Toews shrugged. “We did our duty.”

Prometheus must’ve said something to Toews through the pack-sense, because he laughed and stroked a hand down an increasingly grumpy Prometheus’s back.

“Did you enjoy it?” Patrick asked.

“You ah—it is—” he broke off and shook his head. “You will see.”

Another wave of heat crashed into him, making him shift and breathe out. “Please, Captain, I need to know.”

Toews sighed. “It is not enjoyment exactly, but there is...pleasure. You’re no green lad, my lord, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty from others. I’ve no wish to spread bawdy tales.”

“Yes,” he said impatiently, “with a woman.”

“Ah, that.” Toews leaned forward and Patrick realized he was smiling. “It’s no different with a man.”

Patrick hissed out another labored breath. “But for the ah—the receptive partner,” he prompted.

Toews laid a hand over his kneecap. “Yes, then too,” he said. He stroked his thumb over the bone and Patrick couldn’t contain a shiver.

*

He maintained his own house in town for which he was profoundly grateful when he was lying in his own bed, fingers in his ass, trying quickly to prepare himself as quickly as possible for as long as Voli and Prometheus’ patience lasted. He couldn’t have imagined walking into his father’s home, a cavalry captain hot on his heels, in this state. His valet, Hartman, had immediately taken charge, rousting the servants to prepare a chamber, discreetly dispatching a messenger to inform his sister that she should retire elsewhere, and then getting out of the way with haste.

The Captain was undressing painstakingly slowly, giving Patrick space and privacy for this part. He’d offered to help but Patrick had merely glared at him. He hated this, the alien touch of his own two fingers forced up inside him and the unrelenting erection that didn’t falter even when he added a third one. The worst of it was how it didn’t hardly feel enough. Some primitive part of his brain was desperate for the hard drive of a cock inside. Nothing he would ever want normally.

Time was running out. Voli and Prometheus were wrestling, snapping at each other playfully, flirting Patrick realized. He could feel Volitant’s joy in the game, even as their need rose. At last Prometheus caught Voli.

Patrick pulled his fingers free and lisped out, knowing he sounded vaguely drunk, “You had better get over here, Captain.”

“Jon,” Toews replied.

“What?” Patrick mumbled back. His eyes were squeezed shut, unable to make himself look as Toews climbed on the bed.

“My name,” Toews said, body hovering over Patrick’s. Their bare skin brushed and Patrick trembled. Pure pleasure. Toews cupped his cheek with a calloused palm. “Call me Jon,” he said before he pressed their mouths together.

It started chaste enough, just a gentle brush of his lips to Patrick’s, zinging with heat. Patrick gasped into the kiss and Jon dipped his tongue inside, tracing it against Patrick’s. Was Jon supposed to kiss him? He felt rather than heard Jon ask through the pack-sense if he was ready. Prometheus’s teeth were clamping down in Voli’s ruff and Patrick reached up to grip Jon’s shoulders. Please, he thought at Jon and didn’t even flinch when he felt the hot nudge of Jon’s cock bumping up against his hole. His thighs trembled. Please, he repeated, body screaming now to be filled, and then Jon was entering him in the same moment that the wolves were starting up and it was all mixed up and backwards in his head. He didn’t know if he was a wolf or a human, lying on a bed, spreading his thighs wide around another man’s hips, or if he was bracing his weight up on strong forearms holding his breath as he thrust inside. Oh god, he could feel the slick clutch of his own body around Jon’s cock. He moaned, overcome.

He’d had no idea, none. How was he supposed to survive this? Shh, I’ve got you, Jon said through the pack-sense, his voice was warm. He started to fuck in earnest, hips rolling, still kissing Patrick. Patrick’s entire body burned, but it was a good burn, an intense wash of sensations coming at him from all sides, so full up with all of them he could barely isolate himself. When Jon tugged up on his hip, dragging his thigh higher, brushing something deep inside, he shouted, feeling Jon smiling against the thin skin of his throat. Patrick arched, hands fisted tight in the pillows, as Jon’s cock struck that spot over and over again. It felt powerfully intense, but also mortifying. It was disconcerting to feel the center of his pleasure so separate from his cock.

Jon must’ve felt his embarrassment, because he said out loud, “Who cares what those jackals think? Bloody useless toffs, the lot of ‘em,” even as he wrapped his hand around Patrick’s cock and gave him a stroke, making his hips come off the bed. Across the room, he felt his awareness of Voli and Prometheus crescendo.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he cried, mindlessly tightening his thighs around Jon’s hips and pushing back hard into Jon’s next thrust. He came between breaths, nails digging into Jon’s broad back, shaking.

He barely had time to process it. His erection remained at full-mast, the high tide of heat still upon them, and Jon, who’d stopped moving while he was coming, started up again, fucking in smoothly. He was good at this, Patrick thought distantly, although he had little experience from this side of it, Jon seemed to be reading Patrick’s body’s cues and adjusting accordingly. Patrick still felt over-sensitized and overwhelmed, but also hungry for more.

“Oh christ,” Patrick said aloud when Jon came, awash in the sensations that ran through him almost as strong as his own. One down, he caught Jon thinking and laughed, tangling his hand in Jon’s dark hair.

He didn’t know how much time passed after that. It was all a blur. Wolves and humans mating, only the occasional breath for air. They were fucking with Patrick on his knees, Jon behind him and Jon’s cock squelched every time he fucked inside now, his own come frothing around his cock. Patrick was struck hard by Jon’s view of it, his come slicking his own shaft and leaking down over Patrick’s heavy balls. Patrick shuddered, even as he pressed his hips greedily back in a way that would shame him when this was over.

He was conscious at some point, minutes, hours, later of his ass beginning to ache, and in that moment Jon pulled out, making him moan with sense of loss more acute than the building soreness.

“C’mon,” Jon said. Rolling onto his stomach, he gestured at the lubricant on the nightstand.

Patrick’s confusion must’ve echoed through the pack sense, because Jon looked over his shoulder, quirking a grin at him. “My lord, surely you know how this works.”

“But I—” Patrick cut himself off. “Are you supposed to do that?”

“I guess you’ll find out,” Jon told him, wrapping his arms around one of the pillows. Patrick’s entire body pulsed with need, hands shaking and breaths coming hard. Across the room Voli and Prometheus were still consumed and it made Patrick want to tell Jon to forget it, they could do it the regular way. But he knew the opportunity was not lightly given—he’d never even heard of such a thing. Jon was larger than him, a military man no less, surely he couldn’t really want... Jon shifted under the weight of his regard, thighs parting, making the tight furl of his hole visible, even as he flushed down his spine. They could do it the regular way, but…

But he wanted to fuck Jon. To sink himself inside his tight body, working his cock inside, making Jon feel it. A dark hint of desire touched him—it took him a moment to realize it wasn’t his own. Jon had felt his train of thought, and given something back, his own warm interest and curiosity.

“Have you done it before?” Patrick’s voice came out hoarse. He didn’t know why he was hesitating, he felt sick with the need to mate.

Jon opened his mouth to answer, and Patrick caught a memory behind it, a fragmented view of sheets beneath palms and sweat on skin, mixed with the sight of Jon on his knees, head bowed, muscles along his spine flexing as somebody else thrusts inside him. As the image dissipated he felt a tide of jealousy and confusion well up inside his chest.

“I suppose that’s my answer,” he replied, unsure why he felt so disquieted.

Jon spoke into the pillow, body vibrating with tension, “Not to trouble you, but—”

Yes. It was starting to hurt to hold off. Patrick moved into motion between his thighs, grabbing up the lubricant they’d been using so judiciously. He unstoppered it and slicked himself up, drizzling more of it between Jon’s thighs.

He was just about to say that it hardly seemed adequate when Jon’s rough voice jolted him out of his musings.

“I believe I can take it, my lord,” he said. “Do your worst.”

He’d spent enough time in the past few hours in Jon’s head to know that he said it half in jest, but he also caught the thread of steel behind it.

“You’re not going to bate me,” Patrick muttered, taking himself in hand as he spread Jon’s cheeks apart.

Jon looked over his shoulder, eyes dancing. “Really? But it’s usually so easy.”

Images of the countless arguments they’d had over the last few weeks filled Patrick’s head as he slowly fed his cock inside.

“Don’t tell me you were deliberately winding me up,” Patrick said against his ear as his cock slid home inch by torturous inch.

Jon groaned low in his throat like he was fighting to adjust. Patrick had to smile a little around his grit teeth. Do his worst, indeed. He wasn’t a bastard though, and Jon had tried hard to make it good for him. He’d offered him this when he didn’t have to, and Patrick knew now what it could be like from the other side. And he was strangely nervous. It would be disastrous to follow up Jon’s impressive showing with some lackluster effort of his own.

Jon’s tight hole clung to him as he withdrew, like his body didn’t want to give up its clutch on Patrick’s cock.

“Oh fuck,” Patrick replied, awed. He fumbled for the lubricant, pouring more on his shaft and then fucked back in a third time, making Jon moan. It felt good this way, but weird and strangely disconnected, perhaps a side-effect of doing this backwards or the wrong way. Perhaps it would always be this off.

“Open up a little more,” Jon replied, voice soft, peeking back over his shoulder.

Patrick blinked at him, unsure what he meant for a long second. How could he open up when he was the one—oh. Oh. The pack-sense, it must be. He hadn’t realized he was closed off. He thought he could only get what Voli allowed to be relayed, but she was obviously preoccupied right now, and he had still felt things, perhaps he could reach for it again…

It hit him like a five force gale: the ache in his balls, the pillow against his cheek, the stretch in his ass, he’d maybe not accounted for how large Patrick was, but there was that creeping sense of pleasure too, and Patrick was ever so careful—Patrick, I. Me. Not Jon. He gasped, burying his face against Jon’s neck, felt the warmth of Jon’s amusement and the faint tinge of his surprise like even he hadn’t expected how deep that rabbit hole went.

A little too much there, rose up in his mind.

Maybe, Patrick thought. But he’d learned something when he’d nearly subsumed himself in Jon’s consciousness. Patrick withdrew his cock, tugging back on Jon’s hip and angling down towards his belly as he stroked back inside, making Jon cry out and tense up all over in pleasure. Patrick did it again, harder. Jon liked to be fucked, slow and deep, and Patrick knew it now with a knowledge as innate as breathing. His earlier disquiet flared when he thought about how Jon came by that experience. It was nothing short of lunacy, of course. They were nothing to each other beyond the choice that Volitant had made for them.

It was never like this, Jon thought at him, before, as he seemingly wound his consciousness tighter around Patrick, enveloping him, and then Patrick was falling back into his memories again. This time it was in a billiard room, Jon only newly returned from the front and itchy in society in a way he never expected to be. He sat in a stiff high backed chair, waving off the drink somebody proffered, discussing trade and tariffs with the older gentleman, rather than letting himself be drawn in by the youngbloods.

Prometheus, laying at his feet with his chin resting on his paws, grumbled. This is boring.

Jon sighed. Maybe. But it didn’t make him want to tear his hair out.

These people were all just so soft and well-fed, capricious and venal. He wanted nothing of them, and he didn’t know how to pretend he did. He pulled at the collar of his uniform, wondering why the garment he’d put on more than a thousand times in his life suddenly felt like it was strangling him.

He heard a deep laugh across the room and his eyes caught on Lord Kane, with a snifter of brandy in hand, keeping company with the other useless professional rakehells. His eyes dropped to the hand sunk in his wolf’s pelt, stroking through her fur even as he kept up a steady stream of conversation. She more than he felt his gaze, and she blinked at him affably, before nudging Kane hard enough to make him pitch his drink on the man next to him. Jon couldn’t help a chuckle. Kane must’ve had his hands full with that one. Or maybe it was the other way around, he thought as Kane laughed uproariously rather than apologizing as he proffered his handkerchief, seemingly delighted with her behavior. It was no easy thing for a man to be bonded to a female wolf, but it probably didn’t go any easier looking like he did, with that mouth and those eyes. He wondered how many hard-fought battles the two of them had engaged in to earn there place here, rather than shunted off, never to be spoken of on some family manor.

Patrick slammed back into his body with a gasp, still buried to the hilt in Jon, but it was the memory, Jon’s assessing gaze on him that had him fighting back from the edge.

“You saw me,” he whispered raggedly.

I could barely look away, Jon answered.

Patrick ducked in and Jon read his intentions correctly, turning his throat to offer it to the kiss Patrick pressed upon him, allowing Patrick to tangle his fingers in his hair and tug. Without a thought he thrust in hard and bit down, tightening his teeth in velvet skin, barely registering Jon’s gasp and the shock of pleasure that ran through him, caught as he was in the grip of some instinct he couldn’t name. He swiped his tongue out, licking over the marks left by his own blunt teeth, and then bit again. Jon shuddered underneath him, back bowing.

This...all you got… Jon said, words coming through hazy and slow, thoughts suffused so heavily with sensation Patrick felt nearly drunk.

Patrick thrust back inside him so hard the old oak bed frame juddered against the wall. Jon threw an arm up to brace it in place, the heavily muscled yet graceful shoulder flowing into the sinuous lines of his bicep and down into the the capable forearm that held him steady, pushing back into each and every one of Patrick’s unyielding strokes.

The back of his neck was flushed red, and his neat hairline was darkened with sweat, and there were two red weals left behind from the insult of Patrick’s teeth. Bent over Jon as he was, he couldn’t see his cock sink inside him, but he could imagine it, pinkened hole swallowing him in. The captain was a beautiful man. And he was Patrick’s. Nobody else would ever get to have this again.

Jon choked, muscles locking up tight. He came with a deep cry, fingernails sinking into the wood when Patrick bit him a third time. He trembled, and Patrick felt his desire to collapse, but he stayed firm, allowing Patrick to chase his own orgasm even as Patrick felt each deep stroke move from good to overwhelming.

I can stop.

Jon’s urgent denial was wordless but adamant. He arched his back, allowing Patrick to sink in even deeper. Patrick got in real tight, balls snugged up against his ass, as far in as he could go, and then the coalescing feelings in his belly tightened and he was coming. Jon groaned low in his throat and Patrick felt him stiffen up again, the shockwaves of Patrick’s own climax setting him off a second time.

They both dropped to the mattress, breathing like they’d just run for their lives.

Patrick took stock of himself as he lay on top of his mussed sheets, trying to count Jon’s unsteady breaths beside him. He felt the fizzing in his blood, the lingering hardness between his legs. It still wasn’t over.

With a sigh, Jon rolled over onto his back, arm over his eyes.

“God, I do hope they get tired at some point,” he said. Patrick shot a quick look over his shoulder at Volitant and Prometheus, still currently engaged, and had to laugh.

“Does it usually take this long?” Patrick asked reaching for the lubricant. He poured some more on Jon’s cock, watching as the muscles in his abdomen tightened and released as Patrick closed his fist around it, and then raised himself in a straddle. They both winced as he bore down on Jon’s cock. It hurt more than it felt good to keep going, but it hurt worse to do nothing.

He couldn’t stop fingering the bite marks on Jon’s throat, pressing in on them, as he raised himself lazily up and down on Jon’s cock.

Jon caught his fingertips and turned his head, pressing a kiss to the inside of Patrick’s wrist. “Do you know what they teach us, officers bonded to dog wolves, before the first mating?”

Patrick blinked down at him.

“Don’t bite,” Jon said.

“Why not?” Patrick asked hoarsely.

“Means something,” Jon said, skimming his thumb over the vulnerable skin at his pulse point. “Claiming.”

Jon’s lids fluttered as Patrick reflexively tightened down on him.

“I—I didn’t mean—” Patrick stuttered.

Jon sat up underneath him, arms going tight around his waist. He chuckled and said, “Yes you did.” He continued in the pack-sense, I could feel it. And then he was scraping his own teeth over Patrick’s adam’s apple. Tell me to stop and I will.

Patrick shook in his arms, his own fingers still tight on the marks he’d left on Jon’s skin. His lips parted on a gasp as Jon’s hips snapped up, cock sliding across his prostate. Jon smiled against the curve of his throat when he stayed silent and then he bit down. Patrick moaned, he felt lit up on the inside. He hadn’t known what he was doing, but it had felt right, as this felt right. He drew Jon’s mouth to his to kiss him, deep and needy. When he came again, minutes later, still kissing Jon, he barely even noticed. Sleep was creeping in. He felt Jon finish and slumped forward against his chest.

“Will it ever end?” he whispered.

“I’d say so,” Jon whispered back, nudging his forehead against Patrick’s collarbone. Look.

“Wha?” Patrick turned to look over his shoulder and spotted Volitant curled at the foot of the bed, sleeping, her chin on her paws. Prometheus rested, alert, guarding the door.

Patrick groaned. Warn a man, why don’t you, he told her.

She blinked open one eye. You looked busy.

With another groan, he pulled off of Jon’s cock, noticing all of his various aches and pains at once. All of his muscles felt tight and cramped and ill-used, and both his cock and his hole were hot and sore.

“I’ll never have sex again,” he announced.

Volitant opened both eyes now, summarily unimpressed. She shot him an image of what he looked like, head thrown back, back arched, sitting on Jon’s cock as he grazed him with his teeth. Unlikely, she replied.

Across the room Prometheus let out a bark that Patrick knew stood for a wolfish laugh.

“Are you arguing with your sister?” Jon asked, slumped back on the bed.

“Why bother?” Patrick grumbled, collapsing beside him. The sheets reeked, and covered in fluids and lubricant were barely comfortable, but he was far too exhausted to do anything about it. Everything could be dealt with in the morning.

*

He was awoken the next morning by a chamber maid stoking the fire in the grate. At some point in the night, the staff must’ve returned, and while she gave a wary Prometheus a wide berth she seemed to hardly notice the chamber’s disarray. Jon was still sleeping beside him on his belly, the sheet kicked down over his thighs, displaying miles of smooth gold skin. Patrick gently tugged the sheet up to cover his buttocks. No sense in scandalizing the poor girl any further.

“Oh, good morning, your lordship,” she said, dropping into a quick curtsy. “I’ll tell Mr. Hartman to send up a breakfast tray right away.”

He sat up in bed, knuckling at his eyes. “Perhaps a bath?” he asked, his voice coming out rusty.

“Very good, sir.” She curtseyed again and left the chamber.

“What timez it?” Jon asked around a huge yawn, pushing himself up onto his elbows.

“Half 8, I think.”

Jon groaned and collapsed back to the sheets. “It feels like we slept only minutes.”

“Do you have anywhere to be?” Patrick asked, hoping his voice sounded less hopeful to Jon than it did to himself.

Jon rolled onto his side, a slight smile on his mouth. “I’m to escort my mother and some of her lady friends around Hyde Park this morning. I think they’re distributing leaflets.”

“Good lord,” Patrick said, pulling a face.

They were interrupted from further discussion by the arrival of first the much needed sustenance and then the bath. Jon told Patrick to use the water first while it was still hot. He sat in the window seat, a sheet wrapped around his hips, peeling an apple, the morning sun making his skin glow. Patrick watched him, lazing in the near scalding water as it soothed his aching muscles.

“So it’s common?” Patrick asked.

“Hmm?” Jon asked, looking up from the fruit.

“You offering to allow me—” Patrick made a lewd gesture with his hand.

“Oh,” Jon chuckled. He pared off a slice of apple and offered it to Patrick. Patrick impatiently shook his head and Jon shrugged, taking a bite. “Maybe not outside the military,” Jon replied. “But it’s good manners to at least offer. There’s a good chance your heatmate will be in your unit, expected to load a rifle beside you. I wouldn’t want to make it harder on anybody who could point a gun at your back.”

Patrick winced. “So it does go bad?”

Jon came and sat beside the tub, resting his arm on the lip of the big basin. He reached out and ran his thumb over Patrick’s lower lip. “Sometimes wolf brothers bonded to bitches die.”

Patrick shook his head and let out a sigh. Jon said nothing. Patrick’s eyes snagged on the bruises up and down his throat, the impression of his teeth blooming in purple and red. He couldn’t help reaching out to touch them, fingertips ghosting over them as gently as possible. Jon’s eyes fluttered closed.

“And this?” Patrick asked.

“I don’t know,” Jon said plainly. “I can—you don’t have to—” he cut himself off and shook his head, clearly searching for the right words. “We can make ourselves available to you the next time that Volitant comes in season. I’ve no wish to trap you.”

Jon would benefit greatly from Volitant’s choice. He would be elevated above Patrick now, a simple tradesman and soldier made one of the peerage in a single moment. But there was no guile or greed or malice in his face. If Patrick wished it, he would walk away, pretend the whole thing had never happened until necessity forced them back together again.

“No,” Patrick said, leaning forward. He pressed his mouth over the marks he’d made, tongue sliding over the abused skin. You are ours.

Jon exhaled slowly and when Patrick pulled back, he turned to rest his forehead against Patrick’s, nuzzling their noses together before kissing him.

“Alright,” he said softly.

See, Volitant said from the bed, right all along.

Patrick snorted. “No further input from you is required at this time.”

Volitant whuffed and licked a paw. Ridiculous.

“Oh, I’m ridiculous?” Patrick said, feigning outrage. "Me?"

Jon laid his head on Patrick’s shoulder and laughed.