by Matsuo Akane (松雄あかね)
illustrated by indelicateink
The sword was heavy in his hand this late in the day from the endless thrusts and parries, the stepping and shuffling, the blocks and attacks of his daily practice. His muscles burned, feeling bigger and denser than they’d been when he had picked up his sword this morning. Sweat rolled down his neck and spine. He resisted the intense urge to scratch at its ticklish path, instead pressing his advancing attack on his invisible enemy.
He wasn’t considered the best for no reason: he spent much of his free time as General of the King’s own forces. He was hailed as the hero of his people, and had settled many battles in decisive duels. He hadn’t lost once.
He pulled up, stepping flush with his sword, which he held frozen in a killing blow. He had just decided that he was finished for the day when a sound cut through the rasp of his breath in the otherwise silent room: a dry, appreciative clapping of hands.
“Bravo, dear General. As always, you are an inspiration.” A voice filled with heat, a voice that was the struggle between the sheets, a voice belonging to a man who had sought him out only once before…
They toasted to yet another battle won. Arcadian, chest puffed out, slapped his hand against the wooden table, put the rim of his mug to his lip and proceeded to out-drink even the gods, much to the cheers of his soldiers. They would not be invaded today, and those who would try to invade them would think twice about it tomorrow.
Slamming the empty mug on the table, he pumped his fist in the air twice. A chorus of victory cries rose through the room like the swell of waves on the northern shore. The King had awarded him the position of General today. He had earned it after years of toiling, fighting, scrabbling to get to the top, trying to find some respect and power in this world. And now, he was the top man in the entirety of the military. The King told him what to do and that was it. He answered to no one else.
He held the loyalty of the military, because it was he who fought side by side with his men, saving his men, fighting for his men, not the King nor the Priests. And a man’s loyalty laid with what he could touch and see, not an idea or belief.
There was a swirl of blue within the crowd among all of the brown and white of his men’s robes. He looked up, searching out the owner of the out-of-place robes. Arcadian was only able to catch little more than glimpses of the man in blue as he wove through the ranks of the soldiers, until he turned towards Arcadian, crowds parting to let him pass, and headed right for him. The man in blue had long, light brown hair that was as untouched by the sun as his skin, signaling a life free from hard labor in the fields or working on the buildings. It was pulled back in a long queue draped over one shoulder that dangled down past his ribs. He walked with a grace that said that he knew what he wanted and would attain it without much effort.
Arcadian watched his progress with interest, straddling the bench. He slowly lowered his mug to the rough tabletop with a dull thud, splashing the heavy ale on his fingers. He found himself leaning toward the man, sizing him up, but not as he would on the battlefield.
The man in blue plucked up a mug from the table and sashayed over to Arcadian, settling himself on the bench between Arcadian’s widely thrown legs. He set his mug down beside Arcadian’s, robe sliding partway off of his shoulder. He was close enough that Arcadian would merely have to lean forward in order to press against him. Arcadian brushed a finger along the bare skin, caught hold of the robe and drew it back over the man’s shoulder. There was something that Arcadian couldn’t name in the man’s gaze. Perhaps it was triumph, but that seemed wrong somehow. Or, Arcadian thought as the man slowly leaned into him, it was merely want.
“You want me.” His voice was low and smooth, confident; it was sweat-drenched skin, questing fingers and arousal. The man raised his mug to his lips. Arcadian reached for his own, mouth suddenly parched.
“Really. And you come by this how?” Mug poised, Arcadian raised an eyebrow in challenge.
The man’s smile was slow and knowing. “Because I want you.”
Arcadian snorted into his mug and set it down, spreading his fingers on the table. He knew that he was attractive, a handsome man with battle-hardened muscles, tanned skin and sun-bleached hair. “So does everyone else.”
The man continued to smile. “Ah. But I am not everyone else. You’ll never stop wanting me.”
And Teres had been correct, flipping his long hair back as he did later that night. The strands stuck to his sweaty back as the rest slid over his flanks, a teasing caress, followed shortly by Arcadian’s hands.
Teres was pale; pale compared to Arcadian who was sun-darkened from hours and days outside, hands callused from his sword, legs tanned up to his robe and chest down to his waist. Teres leaned down, reddening Arcadian with teeth and tongue, marking him. Arcadian had been able to feel that bite for days, often catching himself brushing his fingers over the mark, wondering when he would get to see Teres again.
He flipped Teres over, pressing Teres into the bed, dragging his teeth up Teres’ neck and eliciting a deep long moan vibrating Teres’ throat. He had discovered early on that Teres’ moans were better than the elixir of the gods he drank after a victorious battle. He ground down into Teres, Teres’ fingers scrabbling at his back as they slipped on his sweat, unable to find purchase. Arcadian smiled into Teres’ throat as he hitched Teres’ leg over his hip, fingers spread over the back of his thigh as he hovered over the man he already wanted to warm his bed every night.
Fingers slick with oil, dragging out unrestrained moans and gasps from the vision below him, he readied the firm body for him. Once he was inside, held close, filling Teres, embraced, Teres’ heel digging into his buttocks, he knew then that Teres was correct. There was no going back; there would be no lessening of his want.
A hundred different encounters and Teres had only sought him out that one time. Except that he was here now, the same sway in his step, the same look of want and lust, heat and desire in his eyes, a different robe– green this time. It was the same sunless skin tempting Arcadian’s fingers to explore, to caress and stroke; the same, and yet entirely different.
Teres’ fingers traced over his clavicle, spreading the sweat over his skin. Over his shoulder, across his shoulder blade — he couldn’t help rolling his shoulders, muscles flexing — down and up his spine, tracing a rib around to his pectoral. It wasn’t until a tongue licked up a trail of sweat between his pectorals that he realized his eyes had fallen closed.
“‘Inspiring’.” Arcadian repeated with a grin. “How so? I didn’t think you had an interest in the sword.”
A light chuckle. “No. No interest other than in your hands.” Long, fine fingers took his sword away and set it carefully aside. They returned, not to Arcadian’s thrumming skin, but to loosen Teres’ green robes, letting them slid off of his shoulders, catch at his waist. Arcadian stepped forward, fingers outstretched to touch, but Teres caught his wrist. He held it to the side and gazed steadily into Arcadian’s confused eyes.
“Why are you here, Teres?” Arcadian asked into the silence.
“Am I not allowed to come?” A corner of Teres’ lips raised in a half smirk. Arcadian wanted to press his lips there, where the skin wrinkled in amusement.
“You never come to me, I always come to you.”
“Ah. But I wanted to watch you. As always.” Teres stepped closer, his free hand sliding up the defined muscles of Arcadian’s torso, fingers digging into the ridge of muscle on top of Arcadian’s shoulder. Arcadian flinched, shoulder dropping and sucked in a breath. He rolled his head to the side, stretching those taut muscles for Teres’ fingers. Teres smiled, let go of Arcadian’s wrist and slid his hand up to Arcadian’s other shoulder, kneading and pressing and rubbing, working the tension out of the muscles, sidling around Arcadian so he could work the muscles of his back.
Arcadian become pliant under his hands, and Teres laid his head on Arcadian’s shoulder blade, sliding his hands around Arcadian, over the defined abdomen, down under the half robe, sliding his fingers into the thatch of hair hidden below. Teres licked at the sweat beaded on Arcadian’s skin, scraping his teeth against his spine, and took Arcadian in his hand, cupping, stroking, drawing harsh breaths from the taller man.
He freed one of his hands to trace Arcadian’s scars — the one on his side that thinned and thickened as it traveled over the ribs, the one on his thigh, the one on his shoulder where he had been run through. There were more and Teres traced them all one by one, Arcadian leaning back in his embrace. He reached up with both hands, pressed down on Arcadian’s shoulders until Arcadian sank to his knees. Teres following after him. He pressed himself to Arcadian’s back, molding along the curve of his buttocks, the dip of his spine, hands sweeping down Arcadian’s torso, working Arcadian’s robe loose.
“Lean forward.” He tossed the robe aside, set his hands to Arcadian’s back, who’d stretched out on his hands and knees in front of Teres. Teres smiled, working the muscles as he slowly made his way down that broad back. He often did this for Arcadian after a long day of training or a difficult battle. Normally there was a bath involved, but watching Arcadian today had truly been inspiring, and Teres didn’t want to wait any longer to have what he wanted.
Arcadian jumped with a soft yelp of surprise as a tongue lapped at his entrance, Teres’ hands kneaded his buttocks and spread them apart, baring him to the air and Teres’ talented tongue. He started to turn, the protest dying unvoiced on his lips as Teres’ tongue pressed inside, before licking out and up, ending with a sharp nip to the base of his spine. They’d never done it this way before, he had a moment to realize, before oiled fingers were inside him. He tried to jerk away, not sure if this is what he wanted, but too aroused to put up much of a struggle. And it felt good, so very, very good, as Teres’ fingers caused sharp waves of intense pleasure to move through his body like ripples on a lake.
“You want this.” Teres whispered against his skin, sure, confidant.
“And how did you come up with that?” Arcadian was proud that his voice didn’t tremble too much.
“Because I want this.” And then he was filled, whimpering, trembling, his eyes squeezed shut as Teres’ hands moving steadily over his skin. Teres thrust, back and forth, in and out, stroking, prodding, piercing the center of his pleasure. Arcadian moaned, pressing back against Teres. “It’s a heady feeling, having the General at my mercy,” Teres murmured.
Arcadian gathered his wits enough to reply back breathlessly, sucking in air on abrupt gasps of pleasure, lip twisted into a snarl. “I’m not some trophy for your bed.”
A light, breathy chuckle sounded from behind Arcadian. “Never a trophy. I’ve wanted this for too long for you to be a trophy. I’ll always want this,” He said, his hands smoothing over Arcadian’s flanks, teeth nipping to his back, moving inside him.
“It is a heady feeling with you under me, where I want you. But that’s not everything.” A kiss to his spine; gentle hands gripping his hips. “Oh no, Arcadian. I want much, much more.” They moved together on the floor, pressing close, moving faster, taking and giving as they strained toward their pleasure.
Teres stroked Arcadian, gripped his hip and slammed into him. Arcadian’s back arched, head flung back, pressing against Teres, legs spread wide, hips canted up. Teres moved his hand from Arcadian’s hip to press against his lower back. Arcadian dropped his head, moaned loudly into his fists, and came with a whimper. Arcadian sagged to the floor, limbs limp and Teres guided him to lie on his side. He pushed Arcadian’s top leg up to his chest, hovered over Arcadian and continued to stroke in and out. Leaning down to nibble on Arcadian’s tanned shoulder, damp with sweat, in and out, in and deeper in. With an unrestrained moan, swallowing Arcadian’s name, Teres came deep inside Arcadian, whose fingers clutched against the floor.
They lay there in a heap. Teres pressed a kiss to Arcadian’s shoulder, slipped out and pushed himself up. “But this is how it will be.”
Arcadian raised an eyebrow, looking up at Teres from his sprawl on the floor. “And how do you come to that conclusion?”
A knowing smirk, “Because I want it,” as if it was everything that mattered.
And really, Arcadian reflected, it was.