The men walk into the pill house, and for a moment nobody notices them. They’re just two more bodies in a place where everyone’s eager to look the other way. If they’re too well-dressed, with their pinstriped jackets over navy silk changshan and feathered fedoras, well, a lot of people here like to look like money whether they are or not.
A pill pusher nearly collides with the smaller of the two men, jostling the black case he is carrying. She starts to laugh and apologize before she recognizes the emerald-green kerchief tucked into the front pocket of the man’s jacket. Her eyes widen. She seems caught between a shriek and an apology. As if in compromise, she manages the latter in a rising tone of voice. “S-sir– I’m sorry, sir, can I help you with something?”
Her fear is contagious. It’s not long before the indulgent roar in the place dims down to a waiting murmur. With the Little Emperors anything could happen–they could shut the place down, or turn things into twice the party.
“Clear this place out,” the smaller man says. Despite his comparatively leaner, more compact frame, he appears to be the more dangerous of the two, the one in charge. He reaches up, checks the stylized backsweep of his black hair with the flat of his palm. “Your boss has a little debt problem.”
The pill pusher goes pale. She falls a half step back, hardly managing to balance her lacquer tray. “Of course, sir. I’ll just let him–”
“Clear out,” the man repeats. He doesn’t raise his voice, but the threat is obvious.
She ducks her head in apology, upsetting her tray. One of the long dishes on the tray slides to one side, bumps another. Pills scatter to the floor. She gasps and bites her lip; it’s good money she’s just dropped. She flees to another pill pusher, whispering urgently; he does the same. They set off a chain reaction as patrons rise and hurry towards the exit. If it were anything else disrupting their pleasure, there’d be a lot more protest, but you don’t cross the Little Emperors. You don’t cross Rome.
Of course somebody slips word to the back of the house. As the last of the patrons flee, the faux-wood door in the rear wall is slammed to one side. The pill house boss stands framed in the opening: a lean, knife-faced man, his hazel eyes narrowed. He seems to have been immersed in his own merchandise. His river of black hair is disheveled. The collar of his layered silk robe slides dangerously off of his right shoulder, showing too much tea-colored skin.
“Trajan.” His voice echoes in the now-empty space. “What the hell? I just paid your dogs yesterday.”
The first man, Trajan, flashes his teeth in a triangular smile. He shrugs.
“Zayn, sweetheart. How ya doing?”
“Shit now that you scared off my profits. Caesar gonna pay for all this?”
Trajan shrugs again, unfazed. “Figured you might like some alone time. Just you and me.”
Zayn is not amused. “Couldn’t ask me on a date like a normal person?”
“Nah. What fun is that?” Trajan cocks his mouth in another grin and raises the black case. “But I brought dinner.”
“Your fella just gonna wait out there?” Zayn slants his gaze sideways, towards the hovering shape just beyond the beaded privacy curtain.
“He’s my protection tonight.”
“I thought you were a bodyguard.”
“Since when does a bodyguard need a bodyguard?”
Trajan pauses from his unpacking and considers this, then shrugs. He lays a very sharp knife on the table between them, beside the cutting board, bowls, a small self-heating pot and several stasis-bins he set out earlier. Zayn eyes this assortment doubtfully.
“Which is it? No or sometimes?”
“Nah.” Trajan holds the pot towards Zayn. “Can you fill this with water?”
Something defiant flickers across Zayn’s face, but he does so without a word, and returns quickly. Trajan activates the pot with a flick of his fingers. Soon enough, the water rolls to a boil.
He pries the lid off one of the stasis-bins and the stasis field goes out with a soft hiss. Nestled inside, almost artfully, is a chunk of red-roasted pork. The smell fills Zayn’s back room, as rich and sweet and potent as if it had been cooked right there. Zayn isn’t much of a gourmand, but his mouth waters all the same. “Shit, wrong one,” Trajan says, setting it aside, and Zayn tucks his fingers under his thighs to keep his self-control.
Trajan opens a second bin to reveal a slender double-drape of yellow noodles, curled in on themselves into a graceful figure-eight. They look fresh, hand-made, even. He hooks them out with a pair of chopsticks and adds them to the water.
“Why didn’t you just invite me over to your place?” Zayn says. “Instead of dragging all this out here.”
Trajan doesn’t answer. Zayn’s never seen his place, though they’ve been fucking for nearly three months now. For all Zayn knows, Trajan sleeps at his master’s feet like a dog.
“Why’d you suddenly decide to do all this, anyway?”
“Can you shut up?” Trajan says. “I’m no good at this. I need to concentrate.”
Zayn shuts up, but only because he’s distracted by the artful, easy movements of Trajan’s knife as he separates the stems of slender greens from their leaves: snuck-snuck-snuck! Puts them into two piles. Zayn’s eyes follow the movement of Trajan’s hands, drawn to their confidence. The man is either lying about his skill at cooking, or he knows knives a little too well. Maybe both. Zayn knows the kindness and the cruelty in those hands is nearly equal.
Trajan takes the noodles out, shakes the water off, and divides them between the two bowls. They steam in coiled piles, glistening. Zayn is rarely hungry; as often as not he eats Ferevol instead of food, but now hunger stirs in him, makes his stomach growl. He plays with a set of fancy chopsticks, rubbing his thumb over the shiny-smooth wood.
“Get rid of this,” Trajan says to Zayn, and it takes Zayn a moment to register the pot thrust towards him. “Fill it with fresh water.”
This time, Zayn can’t help his flash of temper. “What am I, your lovely assistant?”
“You will be if you want to eat.”
“What if I’m not hungry?”
Zayn’s stomach growls, betraying him. Trajan’s mouth flattens into a line and his eyes grow hard.
“You’re hungry. Get the water.”
Zayn takes the pot, does as he is told. He’s not stupid enough to disobey a Little Emperor when he sounds like that.
Trajan produces a twist of salt from somewhere inside his sleeve and salts the fresh water. He drops the greens into the boiling water, stems, then the leaves, and checks the time on the multimini tucked behind his ear. His expression is odd, intense, watchful, but almost bored. Zayn can imagine Trajan looking like that as he plays guard dog for Echep Caesar. He almost remarks on this, but Trajan picks up the knife again and Zayn thinks better of it.
Trajan slices the block of pork, and then two hard-boiled eggs. He lays the slices of pork out on the noodles like a fan, and then the egg on top of that. He wipes the knife off and chops green onions into thin rings.
He’s a liar, Zayn thinks, as Trajan fishes the greens out and arranges them in a half-circle near the edge of the bowls. A knife-wielding thug of a liar. No one who can’t cook dresses a bowl with such care.
Trajan finishes the bowls with a broth he produces still simmering hot from one of the bins, and adds a scatter of green onions and fried shallots.
He shoves the finished product towards Zayn with all the grace of a bear knocking a hive out of a tree. “Eat,” he says.
Zayn would almost be cross, but Trajan is watching him with such a look that his anger fizzles out and dies. He looks, Zayn thinks, nervous.
Zayn dips his chopsticks into the broth and snatches a skein of noodles. He brings them to his lips, feeling Trajan’s eyes on him the whole time. Blows. Eats. Slurps. Swallows.
“It’s good,” he says, softly.
Trajan beams. He slides his own bowl towards himself, rough enough to slosh broth over the side, and joins Zayn in devouring the food.
They eat without speaking, the only sounds their slurping and the occasional scrape of chopstick against ceramic. Zayn finishes first, surprising himself, feeling a little too full, but a good full. He starts to help Trajan by putting things back in the case–he prefers some order, some neatness, especially here, in his own space.
Trajan finishes eating and puts an end to that. He grabs Zayn’s wrist and asks, “You really liked it?”
“Said so, didn’t I?”
Trajan makes a guttural, pleased noise. He moves swiftly, startling Zayn. He sweeps everything off of the round table. Zayn winces as ceramic hits the ground, chipping at least, shattering more likely. He doesn’t have time to see which it is; Trajan is hauling him around the table, shoving him back up against it. The knot of the sash holding his robe closed slithers apart under Trajan’s fingers, handled as deftly as Trajan handled the noodles.
Trajan grabs the sides of Zayn’s loose skirt in double-fistfuls, rucks it up around Zayn’s full belly. Trajan pauses and Zayn glances down to see the slight swell of his usually flat abs, rounded just a little.
“That’s me inside you already,” Trajan remarks. “I like it.”
Moments like this, Zayn never knows what to think. Usually he has Trajan pegged, knows what kind of man he is, coarse and rough and full of the dirty arrogance typical of someone who’s beaten his way to the top. And then he shows glimmers of something else, something thoughtful and appreciative and abstract. Like the deft, artful elegance of his knifework.
Trajan rubs his thumbs beside Zayn’s belly button, squeezes his fingers around the curve of Zayn’s slim waist. Zayn doesn’t know if he moans from the pressure on his fullness, or the beginnings of pleasure, or both.
Finished his inspection, Trajan boosts Zayn up onto the tabletop and begins sinking downwards. He opens his mouth to say something, but Zayn interrupts.
“You say anything about how delicious I look, how much you want to eat me up or suck me down, or anything related to having ‘dessert,’ and I will hurt you.”
“Maybe I’d like that.” Trajan laughs. “But I’m still going to suck you down like you sucked down that bowl of noodles.”
Zayn snorts and play-kicks Trajan in the arm, but the prospect of Trajan’s wet mouth on his cock distracts him from doing greater bodily harm. He lets Trajan push his knees apart, leaning back, catching his skirts in one hand so that Trajan has better access to his rapidly hardening cock. Watches Trajan’s head sink down towards his lap and then feels wet, warm mouth wrap around him.
He bites his bottom lip as the blood in his body tries to decide whether to attend to his stomach or his cock. His dick, inevitably, wins. He goes rock hard as Trajan swallows him all the way down. His hips jerk twice, but his full belly sloshes when he moves, so he tries to keep still. It’s infuriating; he’d like nothing more than to fuck Trajan’s talented mouth. From somewhere in the back of his throat, a pathetic little whine escapes him.
Trajan lets him go just long enough to show teeth, and then sucks him back down again. Zayn shakes, wanting to hold off release, to enjoy this for as long as he can, but it’s impossible with Trajan’s tongue flicking against that sensitive spot just under his cockhead. He shudders, arches, clutches his stomach as he comes in Trajan’s mouth, as Trajan drinks him down.
Trajan releases him, wipes his mouth crudely on the back of his hand and grins. “Your turn now,” he says, reaching up and tangling his fingers in Zayn’s long hair. Drags him down, down under the table, while his other hand opens his fly for Zayn. “Get me good and wet. But don’t make me come. I want to fuck you. Fill you up even more.”
Zayn would say that he’s stuffed, thanks, but Trajan’s hand pushes him down and he has no choice but to suck down Trajan’s rigid dick. He likes going down on Trajan, likes the dusty-salty taste of him, likes to do a hit of Apex with him and draw out that pleasure for hours. But that’s not the order of the day; Trajan jerks his hips up and down a few times, shoves down Zayn’s throat too roughly, using him, and he’s almost afraid he’ll gag and be sick–but then Trajan yanks him away, pushes him forward over the table and hauls his skirts high up over his back.
Slicks his thumb with spit and pushes it inside Zayn.
Zayn groans. He is full, too full, can’t imagine Trajan’s cock pushing inside him even though his own body is hardening again. The thought of Trajan filling him up, shooting hot inside him–
His legs spread of their own volition as Trajan rubs his spit-slicked cockhead against Zayn’s hole. Trajan pushes in, stretching Zayn, gorging him. Zayn moans as his full belly presses against the tabletop, as his cock is mashed against cold stone and hot skin.
Trajan’s lips press against the back of Zayn’s neck, warm and slightly damp. His teeth scrape the skin as if he wants to bite Zayn, eat him up. He whispers something Zayn misses the first time.
“What?” Zayn says; every time Trajan thrusts into him, he gasps, making it hard to talk.
“Tell me you want me to feed you.”
“What?” Zayn repeats. He shudders as Trajan rams him hard against the table, his insides surging, his belly almost painful, his cock feeling as taut and ready to burst as his stomach.
“Feed me,” Zayn whispers.
“Your fella’s gonna hear.”
“Feed me,” Zayn says, whimpering as Trajan moans into his neck and pounds him harder. “Fill me up. I want you to fill me up–”
“Stretch you out–”
“Fill your belly with my cum–”
“Fuck!” Zayn says, the word exploding out of him even as he comes against his stomach, against the tabletop. It’s so unexpected, that image, so revolting, so fucking gorgeous–He comes and comes and begs for Trajan to come with him. To come inside him, to fill him up.
Feels the hot flush of Trajan’s pleasure inside him and he moans, reduced beyond words, filled to the limit.
“They aren’t kidding when they say you guys got weird tastes.” Zayn is sprawled on a long couch, rubbing his full stomach with his fingers.
Trajan shrugs. He is packing up his things; the knife, Zayn sees, has its own special case and goes in last.
“If you weren’t an Emperor, you could be a cook.”
“Nah,” Trajan says.
Zayn snorts and shakes his head. Trajan seals the case shut and hefts it. He starts to go, then pauses in front of the beaded curtain. His gaze devours Zayn, from his face to his bared stomach to his toes. “Supper again sometime?”
Zayn starts to say an unconditional yes, then pauses. “Your place?”
Trajan looks at him. Blinks. Then he nods.
Zayn smiles. “Any time.”