by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)
illustrated by cerine


The scrabbled grass and damp earth had not yet seen battle today, but it had felt the tear of war-boots upon it many times since spring’s dawning, felt the scars of swords’ dropping to it, bore the bruises of mens falling on their knees upon it. Sir William kept a hand on the hilt of his own blade as he looked out over it. He knew in his heart that the earth would taste blood once more before the sun settled, but as yet he drew in breath, tasted the air that was warming as the height of the year came upon the world, he savored these few moments of peace. He had not yet had to draw his sword against another warrior in any of the constant skirmishes as of yet, but he knew that his time would come. He would be ready. He could fight with honor and serve his king with pride. He would lay his life on the line, he–

“You look hot.”

Sir William blinked a few times and looked away from the battlefield. A young knave was standing next to him, a long glass of ale in his hand. He was small and thin, dressed in tight breeches and wearing a black-checked scarf about his pale throat. He had hair the color of a northern maiden’s that rose from his head like a cock’s crest. His eyes were wide and bright, the color of a stormy sky, and he looked at William, unblinking.

“Beg your pardon?” William said.

The young knave smiled. “You look hot,” he repeated, and then gestured, one fingertip extended from his glass. “In that getup. That’s a lot of layers for this weather.” William’s mouth came open as he searched for a response, but then the young man gained a devilish smile and tilted his head a little. “I mean, you’re hot in the other sense of the word, too, but I did just mean the cloak and stuff.”

“I…” William’s hand tightened on his blade; he meant no threat or harm to this young squire, but he wished to feel the strength of it beneath his gloved fist. He did feel heat then, rising to his cheeks. “No,” he said, in a steady voice. “No, this weather suits me, as do my garments.”

The knave’s eyes trailed down Sir William’s form, dipping low to hide those thundered eyes beneath spider’s-lace lashes. When they rose again, he brought his long glass to his lips, sipping it through the corner of his smirk. “I’ll say they do.” He laughed after he drank, showing a smile as clear as starlight. “No, okay, it’s cool, don’t freak out or, like, draw your sword on me. I’m just a little drunk.”

“My blade is bound for peace within His Majesty’s realm,” William said, brushing his fingers over the cord that wound ’round the guard of his sword, fixing it so that it could not be drawn from its sheath. Were that he were to be truly called onto the battlefield, it could be undone, but to walk amongst the common man, the merchant, the peasant, the minstrel, was to make a promise to do no harm upon them.

The young squire’s high cheeks were faintly pinkened, mayhap from his drink, or the sun, or other mysteries Sir William could not fathom. He tilted his head to look at William’s weapon. “Yeah, I guess I have seen all you guys wearing those. Makes sense,” he said, and laughed a little as he raised his glass again. “I mean, beer this size and a lot of knives and shit going around? Someone would lose an eye at least.” He closed his eyes and leaned his head back to take a longer drink of his ale; the pale column of his throat became visible beneath the scattered light-and-dark cloth ’round his neck. Sir William himself swallowed, though it brought no refreshment to him. “What ho, alert yon constabulary, or whatever.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand; he had the nimble fingers of a rogue. “So, what’s your name, my lord?”

Sir William drew himself up, taking a breath that made his chest swell like a dragon’s ready to burst flame. “Sir William,” he said, fixing the knave with his eyes.

“Oh, Sir William!” he said, and smiled, bright as highest summer. “Sir William, noble knight of… I dunno, Gondor?”

“Sir William of Banbury Crossing,” he corrected. He yet had made claim to lands of his own; the name he could call spoke only of the holdings of his Lord Father and Mother.

The squire stopped in the middle of another quaff of his ale and pointed a dextrous finger at Sir William’s face. “Oh, shit, that’s in Brentwood, right?” His smile turned as crooked as a cat’s at the witching hour. “I dated a guy for like a minute who lived in the next division over. Pretty swanky.” William lifted his eyes to the sky — he would not be so cowardly as to look to the ground. He, too, did not long for a maiden’s comfort, but rather for the strong and intimate companionship one could find with another warrior. It was not oft, though, that one in these realms would be so bold to speak of it so freely, particularly not one so lovely.

“I’m Dash, by the way,” spoke the squire, and held his hand extended to Sir William. ‘Twas a rogue’s name, indeed, but William took his fine-boned hand in a firm grasp between the two of his.

“An honor, Sir Dash,” he said, and the beautiful youth laughed, though there was little cruelty to it.

“I don’t know about ‘Sir,’ but I’ll take it.” William’s hands were gloved, but he could still feel the squeeze of his hand, the curl of fingertips over the leather. He let go and William let out a small breath. “So, do you work here? Is this your thing?”

Sir William swallowed hard. “I… am not currently a true citizen of the King’s realm,” he said. With all of his spirit he wished to be, but he had yet to prove himself worthy. “Though I have wished to swear fealty to him, I have no lord in these lands. I come here of my own accord.”

Dash drank of his ale again, the amber liquid ever decreasing in its long vessel. “Oh, I get it,” he said, nodding. “Didn’t pass the job interview?” Sir William’s nostrils flared as he took in a breath, but he simply nodded. “Well, that sucks. I don’t know a lot about all this tights and swords stuff, but you seem to have it down.” Dash swirled his glass with a twist of his lithe wrist, causing a foam to form in the drink like the crest of waves in a golden sea. “My friends brought me out here because they said it’d be hilarious, which it entirely is.” He gazed out over the battlefield himself; Sir William saw no lust for the sword in his eyes. “I was thinking it was going to be a lot of neckbeardy guys with Linux shirts on under their doublets, but I actually feel like I’m getting my twenty bucks’ worth just in eye candy alone.” He gave a glance back to Sir William, sly and fox-wicked, and William felt heat rise in his cheeks just from the look. It was so brazen he could scarcely speak.

“I think you… you will find much to enjoy in these lands,” he said, and wished that he could have spoken with fire and steel instead of the pathetic snap of a broken bow-string. Dash smiled at him regardless.

“I am definitely working on that.” Dash brought forth from one of the pockets in breeches that clung to his slim hips a pair of dark spectacles and placed them on his face as the sun emerged bright enough to cause Sir William to squint. “I think I’m going to work on that some more and get another beer. You want to get a turkey leg or something, Sir William?”

“I, ah…” Though Sir William oft found himself the subject of mockery by other warriors for the practice, he had taken upon himself a diet suited to a monastic order, where he partook of the flesh of neither beast nor fowl nor creature of the sea. “No, I thank you for the offer, but… no thank you.”

Dash’s plump lower lip pushed out and he sighed. “You sure? I’m just saying, you seem like you might be getting real thirsty in that getup, and I’m–” He cut off as another young knave came behind him, this one large and dark but garbed much the same as he, and put a hand upon his shoulder.

“Dude, come on, there’s like some kind of dirty puppet show that’s about to start, we have got to get in on this,” this newcomer said, and Dash sighed just faintly.

“Well, see you around, Sir William,” he said, tilting his head back to regard William, displaying how the lines of his throat and angles of his jaw were of the type of beauty that William associated with fine sculpture. “Mayhap you’ll want a beer later.”

Dash was pulled away by his associate, into the paths through the trees where Sir William knew the stage he sought lay. “Mayhap,” he said softly, when Dash had traveled too far to have any hope of hearing him, and then placed his gloved hand over his face.

The battle came and Sir William did not fight. He had no lord to call him, no king to command him into the fray. He watched from the edges, saw the chessmatch of it play out as it always did, blades clashing, brave words shouted, men falling to the earth. He did not stay to watch it play out to the finish. It would end as it always did, he knew; the forces of goodness and honor would triumph, as always. Perhaps they were right; perhaps his blade was not needed. Such a truth would not stop him from dreaming of it, though.

He set to wander through the grounds of the king’s lands, through the trees, past the merchants selling their crafts, blade and bauble alike. He had no need of them. The smell of victuals drew him towards the tavern that lay in the center of the holdings. In these warmer months it was open to air and sunlight. Sir William could see revelers within, drinking and feasting with no troubles to burden them. Mayhap he would have an ale, after all.

A buxom wench stood in service behind the bar, and smiled as William approached. Her name was Theresa, and she had always been kind to him, even where others had not. “Ah, Sir William!” she said. “I had not yet seen you today, and had begun to worry!”

He bowed his head a little to her. “Good day to you, my lady, and I’m sorry if I caused you distress.”

“I didn’t worry too hard. You always turn up,” Theresa said. “Care for a drink?”

“Yes, thank you,” he said. His throat had become parched as the heat of the day had risen.

“Bud or Bud Light?” Theresa asked.

Sir William let out a small sigh. While the drink did flow freely in the king’s lands, it was not of a quality he would have preferred. One did what one had to, to live in the realms one wished to. “Bud,” he said, and Theresa filled a glass for him, the pale amber foam rising to the top of it. He paid her the coin she was due and stepped away to drink as she tended to another thirsty peasant.

He drank deep, slaking his thirst, and licked away what clung to his moustache after he swallowed. He could, if he had wanted to, have been like Theresa. There was much want in the realm for those who would provide the peasantry with drink, for one happy to spend his days passing out sausages to drunken revelers. The offer had been made to him, but he had declined. He honored the merchants’ work, but he knew he was meant for a greater station.

Sir William had just started to make his way to the tent near the tavern that sold roasted potatoes, enticed by their heavenly scent and by the way the drink’s hitting his empty belly had made his head light, when he caught the sound of a disturbance, some upset coming from where Lady Meredith sold her candles. William drank back the ale in three heavy swallows and walked in great strides to see the cause of the commotion — he might not have been a true citizen of the king, but he still wished to protect his lands.

Ah, ’twas only natural. The cause of the noise and the upset was none other than the Scot, MacTavish. His face was redder than usual, a fine sign that he was well in his cups already. William knew from his own observations and from the tales Theresa told that once she had declined to serve him, and he had called her a foul name and begun to drink from a flask he had hidden within the folds of his kilt. Sir William was certain if he came close enough, he would smell the spirits reeking off him.

He was grinning, a white moon in his ruddy face. He was a handsome man, it was no doubt, but any man with a grain of wisdom knew that an outward beauty was no indicator of inward worth. “Now, don’t walk away so fast, pretty one,” he slurred, and William noticed then the object of his attention: Dash.

Dash was alone again, the friend who had drawn him to bawdy puppetry gone. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his eyes were cast scornfully to the heavens. “I’m sorry, were you going to say something useful, or were you just going to burp on me some more?”

“Oh, now, be sweet now,” MacTavish said. “As a matter of fact, I suspect you could be very sweet.”

MacTavish was a true citizen of the king’s realm, as marked by the bright azure ribbon he wore pinned to the rough cloth of his shirt. He served the king, and he, like William, did not want for any maiden or wench in the kingdom. William had not gained this knowledge through any intimate means, and thanks to the heavens for that, but through the gossip that spread through the grounds of how brazen he could be in his flirtations, fearless of repercussions due to the threat of his physical prowess. He was massive, and strong, and said to be good with a blade; it gave him license to do as he pleased.

And now he wished to do as he pleased with Dash. Fortune smiled, though, and Dash seemed to have no patience for this. “Please,” he said, and snorted. “The last time I hooked up with a guy in a skirt was at Play on Halloween, and I got mono. And it was not worth it.”

MacTavish just leered. “Ah, but this is no skirt, ’tis a kilt, my lovely,” he said. “And I’d think you’d be so pleased to find what delights lie beneath it.” He reached out then and grasped Dash’s wrist, as though he had intent to guide it under his kilt to remove all question as to what it covered.

Sir William moved forward without a moment of hesitation, with no second spent on any dithering thought, and clasped his hand on MacTavish’s arm. “I think you’d best remove yourself, MacTavish,” he said, voice low.

Dash blinked and took a small step back, while MacTavish only snorted. “Ah, the noble William,” he said, and then laughed fully, deep-throated and mocking. “Sir William, do pardon me, the fine knight with no lord.” He released his hold on Dash and turned his arm to grasp William’s, fingers clutching hard through his sleeve. “No lord, no name, nothing.”

Sir William drew a sharp breath through his nostrils, flaring them like an angry boar, and grasped at MacTavish’s arm harder. Mayhap he would have mottled wine-colored bruises there within the hour. William squeezed harder to assure it. “I may have none of those things, but I still have honor.”

“Honor!” MacTavish said, and pulled him closer. Sir William was not a small man, but MacTavish still had half a head’s height over him. “And just where has that honor gotten you, wee William?” His voice changed with his next words, the vowels reshaping, the consonants landing elsewise. “Didn’t get you a job. Hasn’t gotten you laid.”

Sir William curled his lip back to respond, but Dash let out a sharp crow’s-cry of a laugh to cut it off. “I’m sorry, what?” he said, and laughed fully. “I don’t know what is going on here, or if you guys used to date or something, but he,” he pointed at William, “is cool, and you,” he pointed at MacTavish, “are pathetic.”

“Him?” MacTavish said, and let go of William’s arm only to grab him by the shoulder, shaking him lightly. “Do you know him? You know him?”

Dash shrugged. “We met earlier.”

“So, do you know?” MacTavish said. His voice had not returned to its northern bent. “This guy lives with his parents. He couldn’t pass the audition. He comes every weekend and skulks around, bothers the merchants, and pouts through the joust. He’s a wannabe.”

A smile began to curve Dash’s cupid’s-bow mouth. “A wannabe?” he said, tilting his head. “A wannabe one of you guys.” MacTavish’s heavy brow knit in confusion. “Oh, grr, how dare he want to pretend to be a knight or whatever! Only special dorks get to play pretend in the woods every weekend!” Dash shook his head from side to side as his smile became full. “All I know is, even if he’s not an officially sanctioned nerd, he looks all hot like Jon Snow, and you somehow have a farmer’s tan on your legs.”

MacTavish gawked at him, stunned as a drunk mule — a fine description of him at any time, to be fair. He released his hold on Sir William. “Listen, you little hipster piece of shit, you don’t know who I am.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re a guy who only gets ass from boys too shitty on rank homemade mead to think better of it,” he said, and Sir William caught the laugh before it escaped his throat. He had tasted MacTavish’s mead, and it was akin to the last dying, foul expulsions of a plague-poisoned beehive.

MacTavish became somehow redder, blood-flushed down into his chest, and he reached for Dash with a hand extended to choke. “Fuck you, you little fa–”

Sir William was between them before he had a moment to think, his hand wrapped ’round MacTavish’s wrist and twisting it back sharp enough to make the Scot bare his teeth. “That’s enough!” William said, his voice a sudden boom that drew the attention of merchant and peasant alike. “I have had enough of your shameful behavior. I have watched you, and all you do is cause strife and distress, pain and suffering. You do dishonor to yourself, dishonor to your name, and dishonor to this realm.” He tilted his chin up to look MacTavish in the eye, to stare him down beyond the bullsnort flaring of his nostrils. Sir William snatched the blue ribbon from off his chest. “You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve any of this,” he said, and he could not keep his eyes from flicking to Dash, just for a moment.

MacTavish’s lips curled back, as affronted as if manure were being held beneath his nose. “You know what you deserve?”

“Pray tell, what is that?” Sir William said, holding himself rigid.

“An ass-kicking,” MacTavish said. “In the parking lot, after the gates close. If you aren’t a coward.”

“I am anything but,” William said, and kept his eyes held fixed on MacTavish as he snorted and blinked. “I know the meaning of honor, after all.”

MacTavish rolled his eyes and grabbed at William’s hand, wresting the ribbon of his station from his fingers. He gave Sir William a shove, childish and stupid as boys’ play in the mud, and when he spoke again, his sounds struck Northern once more. “‘Tis a battle, then!” he roared. “Aye, truly we shall see who is the worthy man, come dusk!” He leaned back in close to William’s face. “You’ll never show your face here again when I’m done with you.”

Sir William stayed stone-faced through these bellows and brays, still as a rock as MacTavish marched away in wide, wavering strides. When he was gone, he closed his eyes and drew in a long, slow breath. It had been foolish, perhaps, to meddle in this, in this way; it was beyond time for something to be done, though.

He opened his eyes when he felt a hand on his arm. “Are you seriously going to fight that dude?” Dash said, his pale eyes wide and slim brow drawn in worry.

William summoned up a smile to his lips, even if his heart was darkening inside. He rest his gloved hand over Dash’s where it lay on his arm. “Do not worry, Sir Dash. He is a large man, and he is strong, but in the end he is nothing more than a lout and a fool. He needs to learn the virtue of humility.”

Dash stepped in a little closer, and dipped his head, a gentle, coy gesture. “So are you… fighting for my honor?”

Sir William’s eyes fluttered like a startled moth, and though his pulse had remained a slow, steady drumbeat through the confrontation with the Scot, now it went wild, the unmeasured thrum of a fierce rainstorm. “I…” The flush in Dash’s cheeks was not from drink now; it seemed crystal clear. “I am. If that is not something that displeases you.”

“No,” he said, grinning now, that wicked cat’s smile. “No, it does not displease me at all, Sir William.” He drew his hand away and looked at William with a graver expression. “Just don’t get your ass kicked or get arrested or kill that guy, okay?”

William bowed his head to Dash, putting a hand over his heart. “I swear none of this shall come to pass.”

Dash let out a breath. “Okay, good,” he said. “You want that drink now? That was all way more excitement than I was expecting for a day out in nerdland.”

“Perhaps after,” Sir William said. “I need to have my wits about me for the battle.”

“Hoo, wow,” Dash said, putting a hand to his brow. “I have definitely lost my mind a little here, because there is no reason you saying that kind of thing should be so hot.” Sir William’s mouth fell a little open, and Dash reached out to touch his chin, just tugging the scruff of his beard. “Well, I need a drink. You prepare or meditate or pray to your god of battle, and I’ll be there to cheer you on later.” He began to walk away, back towards the tavern, but stopped and held out his finger towards Sir William. “If you come to your senses and ditch the whole thing, though, I’ll understand.”

William placed his hand over his heart again, feeling it pound through leather and cloth. “Not when I have a fine man’s honor to uphold.”

Dash looked at him for a while, smiling, and then simply shook his head and turned away again, darting towards where ale did flow. When Sir William rest his hand on the hilt of his sword, his fingers shook, and he looked through the leaves to where the sun came ever closer to setting.

Sir William was the first to arrive on what would be the field of their destiny. Now that he was outside of the king’s boundaries, he was free to remove the cord that tied his blade to a promise of peace. He wound the golden strand into a coil in his hand and placed it within a pocket near his breast. ‘Twas the first time he had ever readied his weapon for war in these lands, and such an occasion had to be dealt with solemnly.

“Ooh, hey,” Dash said, and Sir William started faintly, like a deer in the woods at a cracked twig. The wisp of a man was a rogue indeed; William had not heard him approach. “I didn’t miss it, did I? I had to pee.”

“Nay,” William said. The merchants and peasants who had come to the king’s lands today to feast and fest had largely taken to their carriages and taken their leave. Few remained in the field outside the gates to the king’s realm now as the light grew warm and thick, painting them in reds and yellows. “Mayhap MacTavish lacks the bravery.”

Dash laughed softly. “Or mayhap he got drunk and passed out in a bush.”

“Aye, ’tis likely,” Sir William said. “I have oft seen it before.”

Dash tilted his head towards him, a smile painted on his pink lips. In the dying light the parts of him that were pale shone golden, the soft strands of his hair caught in the last embers of sunlight. “So, do you just always talk like that? I mean, if I got you in jeans and a t-shirt, would you still be all ‘prithee’? Because that’s okay, but–”

Sir William cut him off with a raised hand. MacTavish had appeared, stalking from the kingdom’s gates to where the two of them stood. His blade was unbound now, too, and he drew it from where it had been held across his back.

“Holy shit, that is a big sword,” Dash said, taking a few steps back from MacTavish. Aye, it was large, perhaps almost as large as the lithe Dash himself, but Sir William had faith that MacTavish did not have the wits to know how to wield such a substantial weapon. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Aye,” Sir William said, and drew his sword. “It is what must be done. I’ll make swift work of it, and you’ll need be worried no longer by this cur.”

“Are you ready, William?” MacTavish bellowed, the sound of a displeased ox. “Shall we end this?”

Sir William held himself steady, and gripped his blade. He had long trained for a day such as this, when he would finally prove himself. “It is time,” he said, and then a soft, clever hand fell atop his.

“Wait, one thing before you do this… admittedly completely insane and stupid thing,” Dash said. He untied the scarf from ’round his neck and beckoned Sir William to hold out his sword. He tied the black-checked fabric ’round the hilt of the blade. “This is a thing, right? I’m pretty sure it’s a thing.” His eyes, sweet and sly all at once, stayed fixed on William’s as he secured the knot.

illustrated by cerine

William took a breath. “Aye,” he said, voice toned soft that only the two of them might hear. “‘Tis thing enough.”

“Enough!” MacTavish growled, the long blade of his sword wavering in the air. “Fight me or fuck off!”

Sir William put a hand on Dash’s breast, spreading his gloved fingers out. He could feel Dash’s heartbeat, as rapid as a rabbit’s before the fox, and gently pushed him back, away from the line of harm. “The former,” he said, and lunged for MacTavish.

He began to grin from the first impact of his blade against MacTavish’s. For all that the Scot was large and his blade larger, he had no ken to how to handle any of that girth. The press of Sir William’s weight into his, even at just the first kiss of metal to metal, had put the big man off his balance. William pushed himself close to MacTavish, enough to smell the sweat and stench and liquor on him, close enough that he had no room to maneuver his oversized weapon.

“You are a fool and a pig,” he said, and looped his foot around MacTavish’s ankle at the same time he jammed the hilt of his sword, proudly wrapped in Dash’s token, betwixt MacTavish’s wrists. Sir William pulled his foot from beneath him as he sent the overweighted blade flying free from MacTavish’s hands. The sword hit the ground first, and then the man. “A fool who does not deserve to hold a weapon, and a pig, now in the dirt where you belong.”

MacTavish struggled like a toppled tortoise, grasping for his sword in the grass, but Sir William kicked it out of reach, and then rest the sole of his boot lightly upon MacTavish’s chest. “If you rise and wish to fight again, I will only send you down again.” He turned the point of his blade to rest just under the Scot’s chin. “Perhaps not so gently this time.”

“You are a shithead, Bill,” MacTavish said, and swatted the blade away. Sir William let him rise; the way he staggered and scrambled to make it to his feet showed he had no fight left in him.

“That’s… it?” Dash said.

Sir William held out his sword, eyeing the panting, pouting MacTavish down its length. “‘Tis up to MacTavish to make that decision, my lord.”

“God, whatever, I don’t care anymore,” MacTavish said, picking up his sword only to drag it behind him like a farmer tilling the earth. “This isn’t going to make anyone here suddenly like you, you know that?”

“What matters is that I’ve done what is right,” Sir William said, and sheathed his blade.

“Ugh, let it go,” MacTavish groaned. “I swear, you’re almost too much of a fucking dork to work here. I’m going home. See you next weekend, asshole.”

MacTavish made his sorry exit, blade scraping a line in the earth behind him, and Dash came nearby to Sir William again. “Wow,” he said. “What a douche.”

“Aye,” William said. Now that the battle, however brief it had been, was over did he feel the rush of it course through him, making him feel the size of a warhorse and as shaky as a new lamb all at once. His breath was uneven when he let it out. “I hope I did not disappoint.”

“I was kind of expecting a lot more sword-clashing, cling-clang kind of stuff, but I realize that probably could have gotten someone seriously injured and I’d have to explain things to a judge eventually.” He rest his hand on the hilt of Sir William’s sword, fingers curling over his scarf. “I’ve still never had anyone fight for my honor before, even if it was just shoving a drunk guy over. It was seriously hot.”

The sun’s light had almost entirely faded, so William could only blame the heat in his cheeks on Dash’s brazen admissions. Uncertain now of how to proceed, he went to untie the knot tied ’round his sword. “You’ll need this back, then…”

“Hang on to it for a bit,” Dash said, putting his hand over William’s. He held him there, that slim, strong hand grasping his, and rose on toe-point to close the space between them and press his mouth to William’s in a soft, dewy kiss. Sir William could do naught more but hold tight to his sword and kiss this lovely creature who had led him to such an act of bravery like he had never performed before.

Dash rested his hand on William’s chest when he drew away from the kiss. His eyes were closed and the little pink tip of his tongue slid out to trace over his lips, tasting where their mouths had just met. “Mm. Okay. I think if you want to give me that scarf back you should come with me to my car.”

“Oh…?” Sir William said, and Dash began to grin, as bright and wicked as a crescent moon at the harvest. He grasped William’s hand in both of his.

“I have something important to show you in the backseat of my car,” he said, slowly and carefully, with eyes wide and fixed on William’s.

“…Oh!” Sir William exclaimed, and though the knowledge of his intent made him breathless and the world beneath him seem to become as a stormy sea, he nodded and allowed Dash to lead him to his carriage.

Dash opened the door to his conveyance, looking around. “Okay, get in and be cool about it. While it would be entirely hilarious to tweet that I got busted for indecent exposure here, I’d rather not do the paperwork.” Sir William went inside the carriage’s interior, maneuvering within the small space so that both his sword and his body could fit.

Dash came in behind him and crowded close into his space, drawing him out along the long seat and stretching on top of him. “Oh, Sir William, is that a sword in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” William gawped like a fish, but Dash just kissed that awkward expression away. “No, shut up, I’ve just always wanted to a chance to use that stupid line and you finally gave it to me.”

“Well… it is, and I am,” Sir William said, and unfastened his belt, letting his sword fall down to the floor of Dash’s conveyance. Dash laughed warmly and drew his legs up on either side of his shanks, curled over him like a fantastic incubus. He put his fingers back through the dark waves of Sir William’s hair.

“I so wanted to do this from the minute I saw you,” he said, between kisses over William’s face, a suckling at his lips, a playful tug of teeth against his whiskers. “And then you turned out to be all a noble hero and shit, and now I just want to make you come until you can’t manage to even say ‘behooves.'” He twined his fingers tight into William’s hair, then, kissing him so hard William thought that all air might be drawn from his lungs. “…You good with that?”

“Aye,” he said, and took hold of Dash by the rump, savoring in the way he laughed and squealed as he pressed fingers into his flesh. They kissed more, teeth and tongue colliding in a battle that was all sport, greater and grander than any William had done with swords. He felt bewitched, as though perhaps Dash were some fae creature who had bespelled him from the moment he’d laid eyes on him just those short few hours ago.

“Too many clothes!” Dash said, laughing, as he pawed at William’s belt. “You took off a belt and you’re still wearing a belt! That’s ridiculous! Help!” William reached down to unfasten his belt, beneath which he could already feel his arousal straining against his breeches, but he paused, bringing his hand up to his mouth to tug off a glove with his teeth. Dash clasped his hand, though. “Ooh, no, no, leave them on. They’re so sexy, you have no idea.”

Truly, Sir William had had none. He nodded his acquiescence and left the leathers on, unfastening his belt with less dexterity than he could have. Dash tugged and pulled at his own garments until his prick came exposed, ruddy and well-shaped, pink tip peeking from its hooded head. William wished with all his heart to tear his gloves off and feel that skin with his own flesh, but he would honor the request that Dash had lain upon him.

Dash was laughing, soft like wind through leaves, and falling upon William to kiss him again. “Sorry, impatient, I’m bad.” His hands with their thief’s fingers dove through the layers of his clothing to find his arousal. William gasped as he wound his fingers around his shaft, drawing him out to stroke him hard. “Oh, shit, you’re big.” He traced the soft pad of his thumb ’round the tip of his prick where it was the most tender, were the softest touch made him shudder. It had been long since he’d known the touch of another — too long.

“There is just no way this is going to be the only time I see you,” Dash said, and kissed him again as he stroked him, his narrow wrist moving quick and nimble, his long fingers fit with the perfect tightness of a blade’s built sheath. Sir William rose against him and grasped for his prick. Though he could not feel the softness or slickness of his skin through his gloves, the heat of his body still burned through the leather. “Oh, shit!” Dash breathed, and drove himself into William’s waiting fist again and again.

Dash buried his face into William’s neck, nuzzling like a cat into the scruff of his beard, gasping and moaning all the while. His hand never stilled, though — and soon it was joined by the other, ten fingers twining together to work him, make him shudder, make him moan. William’s guts were boiling with the need for it, a lust greater than any craving for battle, a hunger stronger than could be denied. His climax was sharp and sudden, and he let out a hoarse shout as he spilled his seed into Dash’s palms.

“Don’t stop, don’t stop,” Dash breathed into his ear. William caught his breath and redoubled his efforts. The leather of his gloves creaked as Dash writhed atop him like a serpent, into his hands, against his body, covering all of him. “I’m gonna fuck you later. Or you can fuck me,” he whispered against his neck, the words falling from his mouth thoughtlessly. “Whatever, I don’t care, anything, just gotta get more of–fuck!” His release was explosive, marking Sir William’s gloves and greater.

Dash collapsed against him, breathing raggedly. He was warm and in his dazed and satiated state, William felt like he weighed no more than a tired cat on his chest. He made soft, purring sounds akin to one, too. William could think of him as a witch’s familiar, transfigured to come bewitch him like this.

Dash sat up, eventually, resting his chin on folded arms on William’s chest. “So,” he said, smiling. “Behooves?”

William laughed softly. “I don’t know the meaning.” Dash grinned brightly and kissed him again.

“So, Bill? Is that your name?” he asked. “I mean, your normal name, your jeans-and-t-shirt name.”

Sir William closed his eyes and breathed in. Yes, after this day had ended, he would return to his parents’, would remove his garb, and would be Bill again. “Yes, it is,” Bill said. “And what’s yours?”

Dash made a strange face, mouth wrinkled and eyebrows quirked. “Dash.”

“It… oh,” Bill said. “I thought… it seemed very roguish.”

He laughed and kissed Bill again. His lips were plump, red and lush from scraping against Bill’s whiskers. “Short for Dashiell. My parents are pretentious douchebags.” He lifted his fingers from Bill’s chest to wiggle them in the air. “I had to get it from somewhere!”

“I think you’re very…” Words failed him now. Noble? Lovely? Fair? “Nice.”

“I think you’re very nice, too, Sir Bill,” Dash said, and tapped him on the end of the nose with a still slightly messed finger. “So, doing anything next weekend?”

“I, uh…” Bill tilted his head back, looking out through the fogged window of the car, indicating where he planned to be next weekend.

“Mm, yeah, I figured,” Dash said, and Bill bit the inside of his lip to brace for disappointment. “You want company? I could probably whip up some kind of costume before then. Not as hot as yours, but…”

“You’d want that?” Bill said.

“Hey, why not?” Dash said. “I thought this whole thing was going to be so dumb, but I’ve had more fun here than I’ve had in forever.” He pulled himself up a little to kiss Bill softly, the kind of kiss that held a promise. “And I got to meet you. And I definitely want more of you.”

Bill closed his eyes and rest his forehead against Dash’s. “I’d like that, then. Very much.”

Dash sat up and began to refasten his clothes, straddling Bill like a triumphant rider. “You said rogue? I could do rogue. You think I can do rogue?”

Sir William looked at the terrible thief astride him, the one who had, without shedding a drop of perspiration, absconded with at least half his heart this day. Oh, the kingdom of Triune would soon learn to fear the nimble fingers and quick mouth of the Golden Rogue, Dash. He placed his hand over Dash’s heart. “Aye.”

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