Lor’themar Theron rubbed his eye and yawned enormously despite his most valiant efforts to stay alert. It was far too late for decency. Even his most loyal (and mercenary) assistant, Sinras, had fled for the evening, even taking a moment to gently caution him against the dangers of overwork. Excellent advice--something he’d tell anyone else but himself to heed.
A steward of a beleaguered people did not have time for such luxuries as self-care.
He stood more slowly than he had when he’d first arrived just after sunrise. Lor’themar stretched and could not help noticing kinks and hitches that never used to be there, not even after a hard day’s ride or hours of combat. This was a new way of being--an entropy that did not sit well with a veteran warrior.
Lor’themar wandered over to the west-facing window of his largest office suite and peered out over the city. The stillness of late night--or early morning, as the case might be--lay over the streets like velvet, softening the shadows, a world of blue and glimmering lamps. It would be warm out, he knew. Warm, breezy, the air flower-scented and soft.
“I cannot do this,” Lor’themar said to himself. He had nothing left in him. Without a second glance at his desk and all its unfinished work, he extinguished the lamps, activated the suite’s protective wards and closed the door behind him.
Lor’themar did not even realize he was walking, long-striding and unseeing, towards his personal apartments until he had reached the door. He wandered around his comfortable sitting room, not bothering to light the lamps. The light of a magically-stoked fire flickered over the cozy furnishings and shelves of his favorite books but Lor’themar could not feel comforted. He was restless, he realized. Too tired to even sleep.
He wanted, he needed...something. Something that he could not grasp, something like a wisp flitting overhead, glimmering, just out of reach. Lor’themar paced faster, finding himself in his bedchamber.
He was not alone.
“Where in the name of all that is holy have you been?” Halduron addressed Lor’themar from where he lay, fully clothed and looking sleepy on top of the duvet. He had at least taken off his boots, and his sword was propped precariously on the side table, hilt next to a half-empty bottle of wine.
Lor’themar let his hand drop from the dagger at his side, his ranger’s reflexes clearly sharp as ever. He gazed at Halduron, eye narrowed.
“How did you--you know, never mind,” Lor’themar said with a shrug.
“I used the hearthstone you gave me. Did you forget?” Halduron sat up a little, propping himself against the scarlet and gold pillows at the headboard of the bed behind him. Lor'themar could not help noticing the other man had chosen his own preferred sleeping side upon which to collapse.
“To be honest?” Lor’themar sighed. “I don’t even know what time it is. I might have forgotten my name.”
“You’re Lor’themar the Curmudgeon. You make your best friend wait for an hour in your chamber for that game of cards you said you’d play last week and moved to tonight then clearly forgot. I cannot tell you what a labor it has been to stay mildly drunk this entire time, but my efforts have been heroic, I assure you. Now get over here, keep me company,” Halduron said with an air of lazy command.
Lor’themar raised an eyebrow but relented. He unceremoniously shucked his boots, dagger and sash, and even undid the jewel-inlaid fastenings that secured his hair in its formal styling. It was almost painful; the release of heavy locks from their tight binds. His scalp tingled for a moment, and he combed at the now-tangled silvery strands with his fingers, willing them to lie flat.
“That is a lot of hair,” Halduron mused from behind where he was standing. “I’m curious. Take off your shirt.”
“Why?” Lor’themar angled a hard gaze over his shoulder.
Halduron didn’t answer at first. He cocked his head to the side and closed his eyes. Lor’themar took advantage of the moment, studying his friend with an almost hungry scrutiny. His Ranger General was decidedly disheveled, hair unbound in a mess of gold that spilled onto the pillow behind his head, his collar undone--his shirt even stagger-step buttoned, as if done in a hurry. Lor’themar allowed his gaze to travel lower, and noted that the other man’s trousers were slightly undone, his tunic lifted so that a sliver of sun-burnished belly showed, just a hint of a trail of darker blond hair disappearing beneath his waistband. He took a shaky breath, discomfited by the jolt of feeling that shocked from his stomach to his groin at the sight of his friend splayed on his bed.
“I'm trying to remember how it goes again,” Halduron finally said, startling Lor’themar out of his guilty thoughts. He opened his eyes and smiled, a slow wicked grin that sent another wave of reluctant pleasure through Lor’themar’s gut.
“How does what go? Are you out of your gourd drunk?” Lor’themar asked drily.
“The poem that woman sent you. The one about your hair. And no, I’m not ‘out of my gourd.’ Almost out of my trousers though,” Halduron said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
Lor’themar couldn’t keep back a smile at the joke.
“Ahhhh...there it is. A rare Regent Lord smile, in the wild. Who else can do that for you but your stalwart Ranger General?” Halduron said and reached for the bottle of wine.
Who indeed? thought Lor’themar, but he didn’t reply.
“And...I’ve got it. ‘Oh strong and noble Lor’themar, with silver tresses like waterfalls spilling over your alabaster skin’...was it skin? And alabaster, my ass,” Halduron said with a snort of laughter. He paused, his mirth fading. “I remember it now. ‘How you come to me in my dreams, undone, your hair like moonlight falling down your back’--what even can neatly rhyme with ‘back?’ Take off your shirt, Lor. I want to see moonlight.”
Lor’themar blinked at Halduron, gauging his friend’s mood. Halduron was not smiling now, his expression intense, unreadable. Before he could think or stop himself he felt his own fingers tug at lacings, at sleeve buttons in a nearly automatic fashion, measured, methodical. He shrugged away the shirt and waited, a question in his heart in mind that he could not form as words.
“Turn around,” Halduron said, his voice low in his chest.
Lor’themar turned back to the dresser where he’d sat his own hearthstone and jewelry, wishing he was the one with the wine bottle, or even something stronger. His face heated, and he could almost feel Halduron’s gaze like calloused fingers brushing his skin.
“I have always wanted to see you with your hair all the way undone over your naked back. It’s like a woman’s hair but instead of soft curves, it falls over muscles and scars,” Halduron mused.
“You are quite suddenly a poet yourself. If I have soft curves, it is a sure sign that I really need to get out of the Spire more,” Lor’themar replied, trying to ease the strange tension he felt with a jest. “May I please lay down now? And you’re in my spot.”
“I know. I can smell you on the linens,” Halduron said, then paused to take a deep breath.
“And what do I smell like?” Lor’themar asked, climbing up to lay next to the other man, close but not touching.
“Spice-tea, a bit of smoke. Mostly like whatever it is you use in all that moonlight-hair of yours,” Halduron replied with such quick sureness that Lor’themar’s stomach did another little flip-flop. “What about me?”
Lor’themar leaned in closer, face almost in the curve of Halduron’s neck. He sniffed lightly. There was sweat, herb-smoke, wine, perfume--a woman’s perfume, judging by the light sweetness, and a familiar, musky spice--
“You smell like sex, you savage.” Lor'themar said. “Like brothel sex.”
Halduron laughed softly. “Keen, as always.”
Lor’themar inhaled again, closing his good eye for a moment. The unmistakable hint of desire and male sweat mingled with the wine, with the sharp winter-pine of Halduron’s preferred bathing soap was intoxicating. He took another breath, this one shaky. When he opened his eye again, Halduron was closer, expression strange.
“You don’t mind, do you?” Halduron didn’t move, but there was hesitance--maybe even nervousness--in his manner that had not been there before.
Lor’themar didn’t mind in the least. He liked it. Loved it, even. How many times since they’d shared that rainy afternoon in his office, and that walk out to the very deserted park at night, and that hasty, hurried second time in his Spire office, not even in the back room--how many times he’d imagined Halduron sheathed in the heat of any number of women, the sensual slide of his strokes, picking up pace to a frenzied thrust of hips--
“I like it,” he said simply, aware of how his voice broke on the words.
“Truly?” Halduron asked.
“It is you,” Lor’themar replied. “Who you are. I like who you are,” he added.
Halduron smiled--a smile that brightened his eyes and bent his full lips in a beautiful arc. “It is me, isn’t it. This is me, too,” he said and snaked an arm up under and around Lor’themar’s shoulders, drawing him so close the Regent Lord was partly resting on the Ranger General’s chest. “Would you like me to tell you about it? All the sordid details?” Halduron asked, his voice velveted.
“What do you think?” Lor’themar replied. “It’s yes, in case you were languishing in suspense.”
“Mmm,” Halduron hummed gleefully and took a swig of wine before nudging the bottle into Lor’themar’s hands.
Lor’themar drank straight from the bottle as his friend had, the strongest wine he had in his quarters burning down his gullet, pooling in his belly like the heat Halduron’s touches seemed to coax from his skin.
“I didn’t feel like being expensive tonight. Murder Row--I think you know the place. The oldest woman there costs extra but is absolutely worth it-Raven, she calls herself. Know the one?” Halduron tugged at a lock of Lor’themar’s hair, a little frisson of delicious pain sending chills over Lor’themar’ arms.
“I do not. But you’ll tell me,” Lor’themar said in a playfully imperious tone.
“As you command. She’s the tallest woman in the city, I’m sure. Strong, lanky. She played the Captain and I was her new recruit. She ordered me onto my back, and watched while another--Wren, this one calls herself--did all the heavy lifting. Wren is small and round and bouncy, hair like a pixie and breasts that I'm sure defy some law of magic or other. Rides cock like a jockey and that’s what she did--rode me hard, put me away wet.”
Lor’themar didn’t have any reply, just a galloping heartbeat and a hiss of breath when Halduron tugged his hair again, then let the lock fall, hands now wandering down to graze Lor’themar’s crotch.
“Raven did something else, though. I think you’ll particularly want to hear about this,” Halduron said, sounding a little breathless himself.
“By all means, do tell me,” Lor’themar said, reaching up to wind a strand of Halduron’s golden hair around his index finger. He tugged smartly, yanking the other man’s face closer to his. Halduron’s soft intake of breath sent a bolt of lightning through Lor’themar’s veins, straight to his groin.
“Yes, my lord, I’ll tell. When I was good and knock-kneed fucked, Raven appeared and leaned me over the side of the bed, blindfolded me. She tied my hands at the wrist but had me spread-eagled, open wide for any who would wander by to see. That’s when she got to work.” Halduron paused, pressing his palm flat to Lor’themar’s bare stomach.
“What kind of work?” Lor’themar goaded, now fully along for the ride.
“Well, see...I was not a good soldier. I needed to be reminded of who is in charge. I didn't see but I felt it, what she used to teach me my lesson. Warm and slick, maybe like a wand and almost, say, your girth…” Halduron paused, hand wandering down for a moment to squeeze Lor’themar’s cock through his breeches.
“Go on,” Lor’themar said impatiently.
“You like this. You like this greatly, do you not?” Halduron asked, squeezing again before moving his hand away.
“I will take it out of your hide if you don’t get on with it.” Lor’themar growled.
“Is that a promise?” Halduron teased, but continued. “She went so slowly at first. She knows I’m hoping to learn, wanting to work up to something. She teased me at first--dragged the wand up and down my crack. Fingered my hole. Then she poked the tip of her toy inside. Bad recruit, she said to me, and it was little more than the tip. Slid it out, and in, a little deeper…told me how to clench, then how to relax and let it happen. In and out and soon it didn’t hurt. Soon it felt good. Deliciously good.”
Lor’themar was barely breathing. He could feel his heartbeat in his ears, in his cock--a steadily thudding drum of animal desire.
He is teasing me. He is going to drive me mad.
How it had even come to this--Halduron in his bed, palming his balls through his clothing, talking about being ridden like a stallion by one whore, probed in the ass by another--how it had come to the obscenely visceral images of what he wanted to do to his dearest friend…
All of Lor’themar’s exhaustion had dissipated in wake of his lust. He was nothing but a desperate and hungry thing hanging on every word out of Halduron's beautiful teasing lips.
“Why--why are you doing this to me?” Lor’themar finally managed, blurting the words into the long silence.
Halduron twisted so that he could look at Lor’themar fully. “Because I want you to take me like she did but...real.”
“I--” Lor’themar started, but didn’t have the words. Sucking each other off, tandem hand jobs, kissing until their faces were stubble-burned--that was one thing. This...Halduron offering himself like this…
“I need you to fuck me.” Halduron was so intense, so earnest. He was serious--not joking, for a change. “Lor, please…now, before I lose my nerve. Don’t make me ask again,” Halduron added softly. “I’m not going to beg.”
Lor’themar lunged and took Halduron's mouth in a crushing kiss by way of reply. There were no flirtatious nips and sucks and little licks, just thrusting tongues and fingers digging into any flesh they lit upon. He kissed his friend until he could no longer breathe, tore himself away, panting, then leaned in to kiss him again but slower, a deliberate sliding rhythm of tongue over tongue.
Wordlessly, Halduron extricated himself and wrestled with clothing until he was on the bed on his side, naked and hard. He reached over to help Lor’themar tug away his own trousers. They lay there on their sides, face to face.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Lor’themar asked.
“I am always sure,” Halduron whispered his reply. "Especially with you." He reached over to the side table and picked up a bottled Lor’themar had not seen before, handing it wordlessly to his friend.
Lor'themar looked at the vial of clear oil, heart hammering. Before he could protest or hesitate further, Halduron had rolled over to lay on his stomach, head angled to the side.
“Oil your fingers, and stretch me out,” he said, and Lor’themar was shocked to see a blush creeping over the other man’s cheeks, to hear an almost shy hesitance in his words.
“As you bid,” Lor’themar replied and covered the first three fingers of his left hand with the oil. He watched Halduron settle into place on the bed, head turned to the side in a gleaming halo of golden hair, ears pinked at the tips. The sight of the other man drawing his knees wide, lifting his hips to raise his ass in the air just a tad nearly undid Lor’themar on the spot. He leaned in and kissed Halduron’s lower back, down the last bones of his spine, placing his lips against one cheek, then the other. Halduron’s backside was lean and muscled, well-formed as the rest of him. Carefully, so slowly he felt like he was dreaming, Lor’themar held the other man open, sliding his index finger experimentally along Halduron's crevice, circling his small pink hole.
“Ngh--” Halduron’s hips jerked, pressing his ass to Lor’themar’s finger.
Encouraged, Lor’themar pressed harder, pushing past the tight ring of muscle and into the other man. Halduron’s little moans of pleasure spurred Lor’themar on further, and he felt himself drawn into his friend’s entrance, the heated pressure on his finger jolting wave after wave of desire straight to his own cock.
“You can...you know, do more,” Halduron urged, voice muffled by the linens.
“Tell me if you need me to stop,” Lor’themar replied. He was now rhythmically pumping two fingers into Halduron, slow and steadily, and the other man backed into the touches with vigor.
“I need you to stop that and fuck me with your cock,” Halduron said roughly.
“I want--” Lor'themar stopped himself, but slid his fingers away, feeling peculiar when the coolness of the room hit the fevered skin he’d buried so deeply inside Halduron.
“What? Tell me, Lor,” Halduron asked, the strange almost-shyness again at the edges of the words.
“I want to see your face when I do this,” Lor’themar said. Halduron shifted beneath him and he backed away to let him rearrange.
“Is this better, then?” Halduron asked. He lay now on his back, knees spread wide and pulled towards him, toes in the air and his ass and cock exposed for Lor'themar to see.
“Light help me,” Lor’themar murmured.
“Mmm. Oil, please,” Halduron said.
Lor’themar grabbed the bottle and emptied a generous portion into his palm, warming the oil before smearing it over Halduron, guiding a large dollop inside the other man. When Lor’themar reached down to coat his cock, he hissed through his teeth from the sensation of his own fingers against the achingly sensitive skin.
“I’m waiting for you,” Halduron said bluntly.
Lor’themar leaned forward, noticing how his hair formed a shimmering curtain around them both, his silver mingling with Halduron’s gold on the pillow. Halduron lifted his hips in a subtle, barely-noticeable twitch of impatience and Lor’themar knew in that moment that he had no need to hesitate any more. He ducked down to kiss Halduron, their chests pressed together, their cocks sliding one along the other, heat on heat, hardness to hardness. He kissed the other man until he couldn’t breathe then lifted himself on his arms and thrust gently forward.
“Lor…” Halduron said breathlessly.
Lor’themar gazed down into his friend’s face--Halduron’s high cheekbones were livid, eyes bright, and he was biting his bottom lip with impatience or nervousness. So slowly he thought he’d go mad from the anticipation, the aching pressure of waiting, Lor’themar pushed his hips forward again, sliding until he found Halduron’s entrance. He thrust, the tip of his cock just barely pushing into the resistance of the other man.
“Harder--” Halduron said tightly.
Lor’themar shoved. The sensation was immediate--heat that grabbed, which guided him deeper. An enveloping, pulling sensation.
“Sweet stars. Halduron. Hal--” Lor’themar moaned in pleasure so intense that it almost hurt. He drew out, feeling the head of his cock pop free.
“More,” Halduron said, his voice guttural.
Lor’themar stared down at the other man, watching his face as he guided his cock again to Halduron’s entrance. This time, he thrust more sharply, plunging himself past the tight ring and deeper into his friend. Halduron’s words echoed in his mind, the breathy refrain of in and out and in and…
“H-Halduron,” Lor'themar barely realized he had cried out, so intent on the sensations threatening to wipe all sense from his mind. Halduron shifted, pushing his hips to drive Lor'themar deeper. Lor’themar’s world shattered. He drove into Halduron’s ass with a grunt and was quite suddenly fucking him in long, slick strokes, letting himself draw nearly all the way out before plunging back into the exquisite tight heat.
The heat of my oldest friend. Of his tight, waiting ass that he got ready for me so that I would screw him senseless.
He remembered something that he, too, had prepared for--had wanted to learn and try. He drew out and reached down, shifting Halduron so that he was flush against Lor’themar, long, strong legs splayed in the air. Lor'themar seated himself carefully, fumbling to adjust the angle until Halduron’s toes twitched impatiently.
“Lor’themar, what are you--ahhhh--” Halduron’s words melted into an insensate moan as Lor’themar rammed into what he hoped was the sensitive place other lovers' fingers had found on his own body in the past.
Clearly, he had aimed well. He drew out slowly then plunged in again with short, tightly-controlled thrusts.
“Fuck. Fuck, fuck--” Halduron’s voice shook with each thrust, the obscenities colored dirtier by the impact, the audible evidence of what Lor'themar was doing to him.
Lor'themar pumped faster, the head of his cock meeting resistance that shorted his strokes but caused Halduron to shiver and writhe beneath him. Lor’themar realized that Halduron was reaching frantically between them, struggling to get a hand around his own cock. He reached down, wrapping his fingers around the other man’s length, and squeezed and pumped as he thrust faster. He felt his friend tremble violently beneath him, one leg bumping into Lor’themar’s ear, the other with the toes curled in a way that looked almost painful then--
“Yes! Lor’themar--” Halduron cried out, the words shrill with his release. Lor’themar felt the surge of his friend’s seed on his hand, rode the aftershock of Halduron's trembling ecstasy.
Halduron was still shaking when Lor’themar drew his hand away. Lor'themar reseated himself and thrust, driving himself deeper and harder than before. The next two thrusts had him balls-deep, completely sheathed in the other man’s heat. He barely even registered the rocking creak of the bed, the slap of flesh on flesh, the achingly delicious sensation of his balls--already drawing higher--thudding against Halduron’s ass. He could smell the musky sweat beneath Halduron’s arms, the scent of his seed, of their combined sex.
“Halduron...you’re perfect. Light, so damned perfect--” Lor'themar lost all words, lost all sense of rhythm or time as he rammed so deep into the other man he could not tell where he ended and Halduron began then the world exploded, his ears full of fuzz, the room shimmering, his own voice a broken stream of expletives and moans and his lover’s name.
Lor’themar collapsed onto Halduron, utterly spent, hair lank with sweat, his heart in his ears. They lay there, the sweat cooling their bodies. How long it was before Lor’themar remembered he was still inside Halduron, he did not know. He pulled away, hissing a breath through his teeth as his limp but still sensitive cock drew away from his friend’s entrance, slicking a trail of his own seed on Halduron’s leg and over the bed linens.
They lay there in silence, both on their backs, just breathing.
Finally, Halduron broke the silence. “I was right to come here, yes?” He asked, his voice smaller than usual.
Lor’themar twisted to lay on his side. He reached out and smoothed away a sweat-damp shank of hair that had adhered itself to Halduron’s cheek.
“Did I leave you in any doubt, Ranger General?” Lor’themar asked, breath still tight, his heartbeat still normalizing.
“No, I believe not. The end results seemed very...unambiguous.”
“I would hope so. You nearly killed me. So, so good.” Lor’themar closed his eye, content to lay next to but not touching the other man as he cooled down, as he came crashing back down to reality.
“I could say the same,” Halduron observed, a smile in his voice.
“I...I am glad of that."
More than I know how to say, Lor'themar thought.
"Can you put out the light, Hal?” Lor'themar said after his breath had returned. He felt suddenly achingly exhausted--the kind of tired where spots danced before his eyes and his limbs felt unreal.
Halduron reached over to the nightstand and then the room was swathed suddenly in darkness. Lor’themar wriggled until he was underneath the sheets, yanking them out from under his friend to cover him, too. Lor’themar leaned in and kissed Halduron on the shoulder, on one cheek, then turned to his other side--the side he always slept on. Halduron returned the favor, a fumbled under-covers slap to Lor’themar’s bare ass.
“You’re not going to make me go home then, Lor?” Halduron murmured, voice already thick with sleep.
“Mmph. Don’t be stupid. Hush and be a good big spoon, please,” Lor'themar said, words fading on a yawn. He faintly noticed his lips were a little sore and stubble-scraped, and that the entire bed reeked of sex. He could not have cared less. Rustling sounded next to him in the dark and the last thing he was aware of was Halduron moving closer, one arm draped over his chest, the lightest of kisses on his neck, just beneath his earlobe.
The softest of voices sighing a sleepy-slurred good night.