A/N: Yeah, I've managed to update again. Shocking, I know. Still, I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter. Ah well, I've just leave it as it and focus more on the next chapter.

Chapter Four

Nolkeir was slow to enter his bedchamber. An unfamiliar hesitancy staying his hand each time he attempted to push the necessary button to gain entrance to his room. He was confused by this feeling, unable to understand such a meek emotion or moreover, just why it kept him from his room and the man within it.

The guilt too was unfamiliar. This knot within his stomach that clenched continuously was a nuisance and filled him with shame. Nolkeir felt horrid over his thoughts for the servant boy and he knew he only even considered the possibility because he wanted Parisa so very much. He wouldn't have gone through with it… not that it would have mattered had he done so. Well, shouldn't matter anyway.

But even as he thought it, he knew it did. He hated these emotions! This in-your-face rush that seemed to have struck him repeatedly ever since he had come in contact with Parisa. Ever since that damn Zercan had entered his life it had been Blanserta-worthy. His whole world opening up to an awakening both sexual and emotional that kept his mind at all times on the other man. Stifling him with the need to see him, to fuck him and to please him. None of which was familiar to him, he had never felt a need for anything and the very idea that he was so enamoured after two mere days was preposterous. What would his parents say were they to see him acting like this?

Pressing the entrance button, the mere sound of Parisa's weeping struck him a blow like none other. His heart hammered and felt as if it was actually falling. Nolkeir could actually feel his skin, blood, muscles, his very essence, pull towards the young Zercan. An undeniable need to comfort and still the sniffling over overtaking him as he found himself crossing the room and settling into the bed next to the man. His arms awkwardly encircling Parisa and hugging him to his chest as tears pricked his own eyes, so overwhelmed was he by the man's emotions.

Parisa, despite feeling warm and slightly comforted by his mate's mere presence, immediately struggled to move away. He couldn't bear this betraying pain that overtook him and deflated his heart. He hated this. All of this mate business and cursed to stars for joining him with such a man. Better he be alone and slowly die of depression than be joined and live with a man such as his mate. "G-Get off me," he pushed and attempted to scramble away.

Nolkeir winced as an even sharper pain drove through his chest. Still, the need to comfort refused to let go and, instead of doing as Parisa requested, he gripped the man's smaller wrists and twisted until he had him flat upon his back o the mattress. His larger body settling atop him in an effort to hold the struggling man still. "Calm down. Hold still!"

"To Blanserta with you!" Parisa snarled back, "Go hold your servant still and leave me!"

Grunting at the sharp slap that was delivered to his face when a struggling hand snatched free, Nolkeir didn't wait for a second blow to land and instead rose up enough to flip the man upon his belly. Now straddling that trim waist, he held the man down, his palms pressing into his slim back. "Still yourself and that tongue as well. You've no cause to act this way."

Parisa wondered if the man's tongue would swell up in his mouth and choke him. He almost wished it would. "Blanserta I don't! You were about to give yourself to that damned peasant when you had me –ME! – in your very bedroom waiting for you!"

"How the stars would you know?" But he knew the burning guilt that crept through him was due to the thoughts he had ere he felt Parisa's presence.

"Don't play stupid."

Nolkeir stared down at the boy beneath him with something akin to shock. In all his years no one, save his parents, had ever dared to insult him. That this man who was so very reliant on him would it was, well, shocking.

"Just get off me and leave me alone."

Parisa's voice sounded tired and still a little hurt and for some reason just didn't sit well with Nolkeir. "What have you done to me?" he wanted to know, but did move from atop the Zercan.

"I didn't do anything to you. "

Nokeir grunted, "You lie. You know something is amiss here." He gestured between himself and the other man. "Now rid yourself of these lies and tell me what you've done."

Parisa snorted. "I didn't do anything to you. Do you really think that I would have chosen an infidel such as you?" He pulled himself up and off the bed and wasted no time in moving to the now familiar chaise. "I didn't want a mate- any mate! – and still don't. I don't believe in it. All the same I got you, and frankly, I 'm thinking I got the short end of the stick when I got stuck with you!"

Mate. Nolkeir froze at the word. While not uncommon on Mentsiquar, the word was only used in a 'lifemate' context. And Nolkeir was no one's lifemate. "You lying, beastie," he growled the insult, referring to the Zercan's shape shifting abilities.

The Zercan grunted. "Don't flatter yourself. As if I'd subject myself to you," he made a show of looking over the man before sniffing and turning away, "for any reason but necessity."

The insult stung, the larger man mused, and it wouldn't have two days ago which only served as further confirmation that the man was telling him the truth. Stars, he'd even heard that the peoples of Zerca had found outer-planet mates so there clearly was no argument there. Honestly, Nolkeir didn't know what to say. He knew that these feelings came only with Parisa and after being given an answer from the younger man, it seemed the only one, despite his denials to the contrary.

"I see," he frowned, his silver and gold eyes meeting clever pink ones.

Parisa shifted uncomfortably, "You're not going to argue with me?"

"Would it make a difference?"

"No. We are mates. My people call mates two halves to the same whole."

The Mentsiquarian grunted at that. "I don't know what to think of you or your people. Or this mate business. But I suppose I'm stuck with you for the time being."

"For the time…" Parisa scowled. "I can leave since that is so clearly your wish."

He watched Parisa rise with a bemused expression on his face, despite the clench in his heart at the idea of being without the boy. He waited until he began to rise before pushing him back down and standing himself. "Let's not kid ourselves, Zercan. Where would you go? You have no where. No one here but me," he felt immense satisfaction as he said the words. "And really, who else would want you?"

Parisa gasped, his hand immediately going to his face to cover the horrid scar. "I hate you," he whispered as tears filled his eyes. "Better I die now than live with a cold, cruel man like you."

Nolkeir was taken aback by the emotion the boy put in his words and actually had to hold tight his chest against a painful heartache. Said heartache quickly had him saying, "I didn't mean…" he paused when the Zercan shot him a hateful, hurt look. Not sure how to apologize, he simply said the first thing that came to his mind. "You're beautiful as you are." Then hastily left the room.

He cursed the damn guilt that seemed to come with every word out of his mouth. He hadn't meant to draw attention to the small defect that marred the boy's cheek. Truly it was hardly noticeable, one was so captivated by those damned pink eyes. But he obviously had drawn attention to it and clearly hurt the boy enough to cry, yet again. He felt the worst sort of cad. Also did he feel bombarded, he didn't ask for this and yet it was being thrust upon him. He wanted no mate, wanted the responsibility of no ones feelings. Clearly the stars had other plans. And Nolkeir knew that he had better come up with a plan if he wanted to rid himself of the ache in his chest.

--- ---

Parisa didn't see Nolkeir for the rest of the night or the next morning, it would seem his mate was intent on avoiding him. And Parisa was glad of it. He didn't know how to act around the man and it was obvious that Nolkeir didn't know how to take his physical or mental reaction to him. Blanserta, Parisa didn't know how to take it himself. His life had always been one cunning, calculated plan. He knew what to do and how to please his master enough to get what he wanted. This was different, his master was also his mate and shared a bond that allowed them to share one another's emotions, bodies and even souls. How could he manipulate the situation to his benefit when he held no cards?

"Beggin' your pardon, sir, but will you be eatin' this morning?"

Parisa stared at Doba curiously before answering. On Zerca there was a small percentage of women. Women mated to and born from other women. And they stayed on a remote continent upon the planet so it was not often that another person, Zercan or no, actually viewed one. It was interesting how on Mentsiquar men and women coexisted. "No, I have no stomach for it."

"Yes, sir," She nodded and cleared the table only to return a few moments later. "Master Nolkeir left a message for you."


The lack of enthusiasm in the man's voice made Doba smile. "Come, I've something to show you."

Parisa was hesitant in following the woman but soon gave that up, she was after all, only a woman. He followed her down a hall and through the well-lit foyer to a good sized drawing room. Entering, he gasped at the display of jewelry. Armbands of the smoothest lyo, chokers set with rui, even the bracelets shone with sparkling syr. Clearly handmade, not computer printed and sized, which made the jewelry's value skyrocket.

"Master Nolkeir bids you pick six of your favorites," she grinned as he said it.

The Zercan knew the gesture was more like a bribe. An extravagant gesture that Nolkeir hoped would assist in making the words of the night before disappear. Parisa knew that. But still he was touched and terribly surprised. That the man was even trying at all to appease him when he so clearly didn't want a mate and possibly didn't even believe they were mates… Well, he could have done nothing at all and let Parisa rot in his own despair. This was a lovely start.