Vaelen watched Lark walk away, hand in hand with his beautiful lover, and cursed his rotten luck. The man was gorgeous. How the hell was he, a poor sailor, supposed to compete with eyes like a winter sky, hair like starlit snow, and perfect skin the color of honey? Vaelen knew he wasn't ugly, but he had his scars, he had lines around his eyes from squinting into the sun-reflected water, he had hard, work-worn hands and ragged clothes and a shack on the beach. Who would want that over linen and silk and gold and the kind of man everyone watned to have? No one.

He sighed and turned back to the crowd encircling the square, listening to the band and watching the couples dance, searching the faces, hoping to see one that hadn't turned him down already. Stepping over to a stocky, brown skinned man, Vaelen pulled out his most charming smile. The man barely glanced at him before shaking his head and walking away. Vaelen watched him go and absently scratched at the back of his neck. The guy looked familiar, actually. Maybe he'd seen him at the festival last year? That's right, his name was Pagua, or something. He lived up north, in Jexlen, and made mewling sounds while having his balls sucked. Refused to let Vaelen fuck him, though, which had not left either of them in very good moods. Come to think about it, that might explain his attitude now.

Vaelen stepped over to the next guy in line, smiling as he offered him his hand. This man was as beautiful as Lark's boyfriend, though in a more delicate way. His skin was pale and glowed like milk, his waist-length silver-green hair pulled back in a single braid, and his eyes burned greener than new leaves. Vaelen didn't suppose he had an asses chance of getting this guy to dance with him, but if he was one thing, it was persistant. Keep asking, and eventually, someone will say yes.

The man regarded him for a moment, bright green eyes taking in his shirt, ragged where the sleeves had been ripped off, and his pants, belted by a piece of rope, and his bare feet-- Ah, why was he even bothering? This guy would never-- He almost jerked back in surprise as this beautiful, pale man took his hand. Grinning like a fool, Vaelen stepped out into the square, drawing his prize along with him. He was all prepared to dance like strangers - only their right hands clasped - but was plesantly surprised when his partner wrapped his arms around Vaelen's neck and melted against him, writhing and grinding to the music. It was almost indecent.

Vaelen glanced in the direction he'd last seen Lark heading, only to find both him and his lover standing at the edge of the square, watching him. Lark said something, to which his lover replied, and then turned away. After a moment, Lark followed. Telling himself to forget about the one that got away, he turned his attention to the man he'd caught.

"What's yer name?" he asked, leaning close and speaking over the music.

"Does it matter?" the stranger replied. "Names give the impression of false familiarity, turning an impersonal physical need into a personal attachment. What's the point, if all we're going to do is fuck?" Speechless, Vaelen swallowed hard. Was this guy serious? "However, if you need something to scream while I'm fucking you, call me Jan." Apparently he was. Vaelen felt himself getting hard. As close as they were dancing, so did Jan. "Good, I'm glad we understand each other. You have someplace we can go?"

"My place," Vaelen said, breathless, "on the beach."

"Take me there." Pulling away, Vaelen grabbed Jan's hand and fled the square, both of them near running as they headed for the bay. At the end of the main street, where the packed and rocky earth turned into loose sand, Jan stumbled, grabbing onto Vaelen to keep from sprawling on the ground. No matter where he stepped, the sand kept sliding out from under his feet. "It's been a while since I walked on the beach," he said. Vaelen watched him take a few stumbling steps, the effort quickly making him out of breath, and then scooped the slender man up into his arms. Jan gasped in surprise and then pushed against Vaelen's chest. "Put me down," he demanded.

"Yer going to wear yerself out," Vaelen said, striding across the beach toward his weathered little house. It kept out the wind and the rain - mostly, anyway - and he spent so much time out at sea, this shack was all he needed. Jan continued to struggle in his arms.

"This is hardly dignified," Jan complained. Vaelen laughed.

"Neither is screaming and moaning, but yer going to end up doing plenty of both, trust me." Jan fell still and regarded him with those blazing eyes.

"You think so, do you?" he said. "We'll just see about that." Vaelen almost groaned aloud. Not another one. Sure he enjoyed taking it in the ass, but what he loved most was fucking a guy and listening to him beg and whimper and moan. Nothing sounded sweeter. Vaelen considered the weight of the man in his arms. Not nearly heavy enough to put up a fight, and considering the trouble he had with the sand, not very strong or fast, either. A little "gentle pursuasion" might go a long way toward changing his mind.

They reached the cracked and warped front steps and Vaelen set Jan back on his feet. Vaelen scratched the back of his neck as he waited for Jan to say something about the house. It had happened before -- a guy would get one look at the house and call the night off. Jan didn't spare it a second glance, though. He just climbed the steps and pushed open the door. Vaelen followed, shutting the door behind him before stepping over to the fire grate and stirring the coals back to life. Using a sliver of kindling to carry a flame to the lamp, he filled the single room with a warm, golden glow.

"So, how--" The words died on his lips as he turned to find Jan stripping off his tunic in the middle of the room. His pale skin was flawless, his body taught and softly muscled. Vaelen stared, his mouth dry, as Jan kicked off his shoes.

"Are you going to participate, or just watch?" Jan asked with a smirk. Vaelen nearly ripped his own ears off trying to get out of his shirt, but as he fumbled with the knot in the rope around his waist, Jan stepped over to him and stilled his hands. "Let me." Vaelen's eyes devoured the lean body before him as those slender fingers teased and tugged at his pants, brushing against his erection through the cloth. His breath quickened as the rope fell away, Vaelen's pants sliding down his hips and pooling at his feet. Jan smiled, the tip of his tongue slowly gliding across his lips as he wrapped his fingers around Vaelen, drawing a sigh from the tall sailor. Vaelen reached up to brush his fingers along Jan's silky skin, but Jan pulled back, his bright eyes hard.

"What's wrong?" Vaelen asked. Jan raised his chin a fraction, his gaze softening.

"I will make you feel like no man or woman before has made you feel, but you cannot touch me." Vaelen opened his mouth to ask why, but Jan reached up and pressed his fingertips to Vaelen's lips. "I have my reasons -- Let's leave it at that and enjoy this night." He took Vaelen by the hand and drew him over to the bed, gently pushing him down onto the threadbare blanket. Leaning back into the pillows, Vaelen watched Jan climb between his legs. He bent his knees and grabbed the headboard behind him as Jan leaned down, his tongue gliding across the head of Vaelen's cock. He licked and nibbled down the underside of the shaft, and then spent some time sucking his balls.

Vaelen was having trouble catching his breath as Jan moved back to his cock, licking up the fluid weeping from the head before taking him into his mouth. Jan's tongue moved sinuously across that sensitive skin and Vaelen had to bite his lip to keep from moaning. He almost didn't see Jan reach into his pocket and pull out a small jar, but he raised his head as Jan unscrewed the lid and dipped his fingers into the pale pink salve inside. Swallowing Vaelen down his throat, Jan rolled his eyes upward, watching the coarse man's face as he smeared the salve across Vaelen's asshole. Vaelen's eyes fluttered shut as his head dropped back against the pillows and Jan smiled around the cock in his mouth as he pushed two slippery fingers inside.

Vaelen arched his back, his hands gripping tight to the headboard as Jan worked those long fingers in and out of his body, each stroke touching and teasing that sensitive spot inside him, coaxing a hoarse shout from his throat. He felt himself quickly approaching climax and tried to hold back, tried to prolong this exquisite torture for a long as possible, but he couldn't fight the shaking, shuddering pleasure growing inside him. He cried out as the orgasm swelled, crested, and threatened to spill over him-- and gasped as something cold pressed against the skin behind his balls.

"What-- What did--" Jan lifted his head and smirked.

"Did you think I was going to let it end that quickly?" he said. He slipped a third finger inside, making Vaelen bow up off the bed. "You're going to be moaning and screaming before I'm done with you." Vaelen was just about there already. He hovered at that brink, the edge of total abandon, and could not fall, could not find his release. The pleasure just rolled on and on, like distant thunder rumbling across the sky, rattling his bones and heart and breath. Vaelen screamed through his teeth as the headboard cracked in his hands. A moment later, Jan withdrew his fingers, leaving Vaelen gasping and shaking. "Can't have you breaking the furniture, now can we?" Jan said, slipping off the bed. "When you think you can move again, why don't you turn over. I've got a surprise for you." Vaelen lay as though dead, watching as Jan unbuttoned his pants and let them fall from his hips. Jan's "surprise" suited him, slender and pale, like a piece of carved alabaster. Vaelen suddenly ached to have it inside him.

Still trembling, he rolled over, every movement sending another wave of pleasure shuddering through him, and drew his knees up under him, his elbows on the pillow and his forehead resting on his clenched fists. Right then, nothing else mattered, except for the raging need burning in his blood. He felt the mattress sink under Jan's weight and closed his eyes. Fingertips teased his entrance and he pressed back toward his tormenter.

"Please," he whispered, "please ... please." He couldn't believe he was begging. He never begged. But this stranger had done something to him, and now he could do nothing but beg. Jan toyed with him a moment longer, and then guided his cock into Vaelen in one swift stroke. Vaelen shouted breathlessly into the pillow as Jan fucked him, deep and hard, each thrust sending another wave of orgasm through him, and he still hadn't come. He couldn't breathe, and waves of dizziness swept over him. He was going to die. "Please!" he cried, his voice muffled and hoarse. "Please, let me come!" Above him, and as though from far away, he heard Jan laugh, and then felt the man's silky hands slide around his hips and grasp his cock.

"Normally, I wouldn't," Jan purred, "but since you asked so nicely ..." One hand slipped back behind his balls and that cold, tight feeling pulled at him. He gasped, and then Jan slammed into him again, shattering his world. He came hard, semen splattering on the blanket, his body shuddering as Jan continued to fuck him and jack him off. After a moment, Jan stopped, pulled out, and climbed off the bed. Vaelen's muscles felt like kelp, and it was all he could do to roll to the side as he slowly sank down onto the bed. He could hardly move. Jan, his cock still erect, gathered up his shirt and pants and slipped the tunic on over his head.

"What ... are ya doing?" Vaelen asked, still trying to catch his breath. Jan glanced at him, and then turned away.

"Leaving," he said. "It was fun, but I should get going." He slipped one leg into his pants as Vaelen pushed himself up into a sitting position. Vaelen rose to his feet hesitantly, his legs shaking, but not enough to keep him lying down as Jan started to pull his pants up. Jan heard him coming and started to turn, but Vaelen grabbed him just above the elbows. "Hey, what the--" Vaelen shoved him across the room, pressing Jan's chest against the wall. Fingernails clawed at the wood, but Jan couldn't do a damn thing to get the big sailor off him. "Hang - hang on a second," Jan said, his voice shaking. "What - Why - Why are you doing this?"

"Ya had yer fun," Vaelen said, "now it's my turn." Jan's pants slipped down, pooling around his ankles, and Vaelen leaned into him, his soft cock pressing against Jan's ass. Letting go of Jan's arms, he trailed his fingertips down Jan's sides, to the hem of his tunic, and started to slide his hands up under the shirt.

"Don't!" Jan shouted, "Don't touch me!" Vaelen hesitated.

"Why?" Vaelen asked. Jan let his forehead fall against the wall with a thump.

"Just let me leave," he said quietly. "I don't want any trouble." Frowning, Vaelen shoved his hand up under the tunic and ran his fingers along Jan's ribs. The pale man tensed and tried to pull away, but it was too late. Vaelen had felt the hard, knotted ridges, the slick, tough burns, the layers of scars upon scars. But that wasn't possible. He had seen Jan's perfect, smooth skin, not even a freckle to mar his beauty. Vaelen stepped back, grabbing the tunic and stripping it off over Jan's head. Naked, Jan cringed and pressed himself closer to the wall as Vaelen's eyes scoured his body, searching for, but not finding, the scars he had felt. "Please," Jan said as Vaelen reached out and ran his hand up Jan's arm, across his shoulders and down the middle of his back. He was covered in scars that could not be seen. "Please, just let me go."

"How the hell did ya get so many scars?" Vaelen asked.

"In the line of duty," Jan said, trying to pull away, but Vaelen grabbed him by the arm.

"Who are ya?" Vaelen asked. "Who are ya really?" Jan swallowed hard and eyed the door, clear across the room.

"I'm Lord Jan Besteth," he said, "the Green Mage of the Rynnawood." A mage? That explained the hidden scars, and whatever Jan did to prevent him from coming. Vaelen had never heard of him, though, so he couldn't be too powerful. When Vaelen didn't say or do anything, Jan cleared his throat. "So now that you know, how about I just leave, instead of you throwing me out." He hesitantly reached down to pull his pants back up, but Vaelen tightened his grip on Jan's arm.

"Throw ya out? Now why would I want to do something like that?" Jan made a surprised sound as Vaelen pulled him away from his clothes, grabbed both his wrists and pinned his arms behind his back. "No, I think I'm going to keep ya around for a while." Jan tried to pull away, but Vaelen was so much stronger. He held Jan's wrists in one hand while he bent down and fished through Jan's pants pockets for the jar of salve.

"Please," Jan said as he stood up with the jar in his hand. "Please don't do this." Ignoring his pleas, Vaelen shoved him over to the bed and pushed him face first into the pillow. As Jan struggled to get up, Vaelen climbed onto the bed with him and grabbed his hips, pulling his ass up into the air. "Please, don't hurt me!" Jan cried, clenching his fists. The expression drained from Vaelen's face as he stared down at Jan, his narrow shoulders shaking. It had never been his intention to hurt him. Why would he have thought that?

After a moment, Vaelen moistenend his lips and slid his hands from Jan's hips to his ass, gently spreading his cheeks apart. Choking on a scream, Jan buried his face in the pillow, squeezing his eyes shut and praying for deliverance from this nightmare. How could he have been so stupid as to let this happen again?

Vaelen leaned down and pressed his face into Jan's ass, his tongue soft and wet as he dragged it across Jan's tight asshole. Jan cried out, his body bucking involuntarily, and then he lay still, his chest burning as he gasped for breath. Slow and gentle, Vaelen stroked that dark skin until Jan was trembling against him, quiet whimpers slipping from between his slightly parted lips. Yes, that's what Vaelen wanted to hear. Tightening his tongue, he pushed the tip against Jan's opening, using a rhythmic thrusting motion to ease himself inside. Jan moaned into the pillow and pushed back against him, aching deep inside, aching to be touched, to be fucked, wanting so much to give himself over to the man eating his ass, but he couldn't let go of the fear that was just being played with, that as soon as he let his guard down, he was going to be hurt.

Out of breath, Vaelen pulled back, his cock already hard as he quickly opened the jar of salve and spread the slippery stuff along his length. Jan raised his head, hesitantly glancing over his shoulder. Their eyes met for a moment, gray blue and spring green, and then Vaelen pressed two fingers into Jan, and the mage dropped his head back down into the pillow. Taking his time, Vaelen carefully stretched that ring of muscle, every now and then delving deeper to stroke that magic spot inside him. Jan writhed, his whole body tight and aching, trying to hold back the flood of whimpers and sobs riding high in his throat, but they slipped from between his lips, betraying his need. At last, Vaelen withdrew his fingers and rose up on his knees, rubbing the head of his cock up and down the crack of Jan's ass before positioning himself at his entrance.

"Yes or no, Jan," he said, his voice soft. He wasn't a fucking rapist, after all. Jan took a ragged breath, his hands clutching at the pillow. Everything inside him screamed, 'No, no, no!', but he wanted it so bad.

"Yes," he whispered, "please ... please ..." Vaelen pressed forward, and Jan felt himself stretching, opening, taking the larger man inside him. For a moment, he didn't think he could do it, Vaelen was just too big, it had been too long, but then the head was inside, and the shaft followed smoothly, filling him with heat and hardness, gliding across his prostate and making the breath catch in his throat. Vaelen didn't stop until he was as deep as he could go, his groin tight against Jan's ass. For a moment, neither of them moved, and then Vaelen sighed, one hand sliding up to caress the small of Jan's back.

Vaelen rocked his hips, fucking Jan in short thrusts, waiting ... waiting ... "Harder," Jan groaned and Vaelen smiled to himself. He pulled almost all the way out. "Yes ... yes," Jan hissed, his breath coming short and fast. He cried out as Vaelen drove into him, sending a shudder up through his body. It had been so long. Vaelen grabbed his hips again, grunting as their bodies slammed together again and again. With a hoarse shout Jan pressed back against Vaelen, jerking his hips as he came across the blanket next to Vaelen's contribution. Wrapping his arms around Jan's waist, Vaelen ground against his ass while he stroked Jan's cock, holding him until the slender mage stopped shaking. It wouldn't have taken much for Vaelen to come as well, but he pulled out instead, the air cold after Jan's tight heat.

With a sigh and a groan, Jan slipped out of Vaelen's embrace, sinking into the mattress to one side of the wet spot. Vaelen lay down on the other side, on his back, and stared up at the ceiling.

"My name's Vaelen, by the way," he said. Jan glanced over at him, at his shiny, stiff cock bobbing with every breath he took.

"Why didn't you come?"

"You didn't." They lay in silence for a long time, the distant crashing of the breakers the only sound in the room.

"I can't," Jan said finally. "Not ... not just from fucking someone. My dick was ripped off fifty years ago." Vaelen raised an eyebrow as he propped himself up on one elbow and took a good, long look at Jan's dick.

"Doesn't look ripped off to me," he said. Jan reached out, took Vaelen's hand, and guided it to the base of his erection.

"Feel that ridge? That's the scar tissue. Everything above that was constructed by magic. It ... functions, but it's not real." Vaelen drew his hand up Jan's cock and ran his thumb around the head.

"It feels real."

"Not to me," Jan said, shaking his head. "It feels like when your foot's asleep - numb. There is just only so much magic can do."

"So ..." Vaelen said, taking his hand back, "ya didn't get anything out of fucking me."

"I wouldn't say that," Jan said, pushing himself into a sitting position and turning his back on Vaelen. "It was very gratifying to hear you beg like that." His legs still felt weak, but he stood anyway. It was well past time to leave. He heard Vaelen climb to his feet and groaned to himself. Now what? As he turned, Vaelen pulled the soiled blanket off the bed and dropped it onto the floor before turning down the sheet. Getting ready for bed. Well, Jan could let him do that. Stepping around the end of the bed, Jan headed for his clothes, his tunic wrong side out and lying in the middle of the old wooden table.

"Do ya have to go?" Vaelen asked, watching Jan collect his clothes again.

"I think it's best," Jan said, not looking at him. Vaelen didn't say anything, just crossed the room, grabbed Jan by the arm and pulled him up against his tan, muscled body. "What--" Vaelen silenced him with a kiss, holding him by the shoulders as he struggled to get away. Jan jerked his head back, anger burning in his eyes as he glared up at Vaelen. "What do you want?" he demanded. Vaelen laughed and ran his hands down Jan's back, cupping and kneading his ass.

"I would've thought that was obvious," Vaelen said. He leaned down to kiss Jan again, but Jan turned his face away. Vaelen didn't let that stop him, though, He pressed his lips to the side of Jan's neck, that soft spot behind his jaw, kissing quickly becoming biting and sucking. Jan moaned softly in his arms, and Vaelen slid his hands a little lower, to the back's of Jan's thighs, and then lifted the slender man right off his feet. Surprised, Jan clutched at Vaelen's shoulders and wrapped his long legs around Vaelen's waist.

"Put ... put me down," Jan said, but Vaelen just turned and crossed the room, climbing into bed and pressing Jan into the wrinkled sheet. Looking down into those bright green eyes, filled with uncertainty and need, Vaelen reached between them, guided his cock to Jan's entrance, and pushed inside. Jan's eyes started to close, his head tilting back, but Vaelen grabbed him by the chin.

"Look at me," Vaelen said, sliding in to the hilt. He lay there, on him, inside him, not moving until Jan brought those bright green eyes back to his face. He wanted Jan to see him. He was tired of fucking guys while they pretended he was someone else. They regarded each other for a moment, both breathless and aching, needing desperately for the other to fill the emptiness inside them, both too afraid to ask. Vaelen trailed his fingertips along Jan's jaw, over a network of scars he couldn't see, slowly leaning closer, hesitating as his lips hovered over Jan's. He didn't want him to turn away again.

Jan gazed up at Vaelen, his heart pounding in his throat, his whole body shaking as he waited ... and waited ... Finally, he couldn't bear it any longer. Grabbing Vaelen by the shoulders, he lifted his head from the pillow and pressed his lips to Vaelen's. Moaning softly, Vaelen cupped the back of Jan's neck, his tongue gliding along the valley between Jan's lips, seeking entrance. With a gasp, Jan opened his mouth, shivering as Vaelen's tongue slipped inside him. He hadn't kissed anyone like this since ... Well, since Naeven. Jan closed his eyes, wishing, for a brief moment, to feel Naeven's slender body on top of him, to run his hands over scarred skin just like his own.

Pulling back, Jan looked up into Vaelen's eyes, gray as the sea, and chastized himself for wasting another moment thinking about that heartless coward. Here was a man he had met barely more than an hour ago, and in his eyes he could see more tenderness and caring than Naeven had ever showed him.

"Fuck me," Jan whispered. To his surprise, Vaelen shook his head.

"No," Vaelen said. Jan felt his blood run cold. If Vaelen wasn't going to fuck him, what was he going to do? Vaelen frowned at the sudden tenseness in Jan, at the flash of fear in his eyes. He reached up to brush a loose wisp of silver-green hair out of Jan's face, and Jan flinched away from him. What was wrong? "Are ya really a mage?" Vaelen asked. The delicate pink bled out of Jan's lips as he pressed them tight together. After a moment, he nodded silently. "Then why are ya afraid of me? Surely, you could stop me if ya wanted to." Jan took a shuddering breath. This was a bad idea, such a bad idea ...

"I'm not that kind of mage," Jan said. "I'm a green mage; I talk to plants, I help them grow, I heal." He watched the realization dawn in Vaelen's eyes. He was helpless. "When people find out that I'm a mage--"

"They throw ya out."

"Or worse," Jan said, lowering his eyes.

"Or worse," Vaelen repeated slowly. No wonder Jan was afraid of him. Leaning down, Vaelen kissed him again, gently, just a brush of the lips, slow and tender, and Jan's grip on his shoulders tightened. As Vaelen drew back, staring down into those incredible green eyes, he did the one thing he had sworn he would never do again. "Yer safe with me, Jan, I won't ever hurt ya. I love ya." Jan jumped as through struck and Vaelen quickly turned his face away as it began to burn with embarassment. He knew better.

"What ... what did you say?" Jan said. Surely, he must have misunderstood. They hardly knew each other. Vaelen drew a heavy breath and sighed.

"I said ... I love ya." He scratched absently at the back of his neck, avoiding Jan's gaze. "I'm always getting called a false lover," he explained, "because I tell everyone that I love them, and I do. As long as I'm with them, and sometimes longer, I love them with all my heart. I can't help it. And ... and I don't expect ya to feel the same--" Jan reached up, caught him by the back of the neck, and silenced him with a kiss. Love wasn't what he was looking for, but he could live with it. He pulled back, breathless.

"Now will you fuck me?" he asked. Vaelen shook his head again.

"Not this time. This time, I want to make love to ya." Jan didn't understand the difference. Weren't they both just euphanisms for sex? He supposed he didn't care. Let Vaelen call it what he wanted. Then Vaelen leaned down and kissed him, his rough, seaman's hands gliding like silk across Jan's body as he began to move his hips, so very slowly, easing himself in and out of Jan. Jan moaned into Vaelen's mouth, the sound scaling up into a whine as Vaelen stroked and teased one nipple with his thumb, his other hand caressing the back of Jan's thigh.

That was the difference. The slow touching, the kisses that sucked at his soul, the feeling of Vaelen moving inside him. He had forgotten what sex could be like, that it didn't have to be about making someone scream and beg, about control or power, about pain or fear. He let Vaelen devour him, clinging to him as if he'd never let go, their skin hot and slick with sweat. Vaelen lifted Jan's hips, angling his strokes to rub across that sensitive spot and Jan cried out, his head falling back into the pillow. Vaelen kissed his throat, then bit and sucked at the skin, sending a shiver running down Jan's body. He held back, he fought himself, lengthening his strokes slowly, keeping the same, deliberate speed, concentrating on the feeling of Jan surrounding him, the smell of his skin, the taste of his sweat. He never wanted it to end.

Jan raised his head, Vaelen's lips sliding up to his jaw, teeth nipping below his ear and turned his face into Vaelen's neck, biting down just above his shoulder. Vaelen cried out, his control slipping as Jan ran his tongue along the teeth marks, biting and licking his way up Vaelen's throat. He thrust deep and hard, making Jan groan against his neck, both of them shuddering.

"Please," Jan gasped, his lips brushing the shell of Vaelen's ear before pulling the lobe into his mouth. Vaelen drew himself out, hesitated, his whole body shaking, and then slammed himself into Jan's ass. The slender mage cried out, his nails digging into Vaelen's back as he plunged over the edge, coming hard between their bodies. Vaelen felt the heat on his stomach and reigned himself in again, stroking Jan just enough to prolong the delicious shivers running through him. Jan shook his head. "Don't stop," he gasped, "finish. Come in me." With a hoarse shout, Vaelen buried his face in Jan's neck, a few quick, short thrusts all it took to make him climax.

For a long moment, they just lay there, both trying to catch their breath, but only one reluctant to move for fear that the other would leave. Finally, Vaelen slipped out of Jan, spent and soft, and rolled off of him, staring up at the shadowed ceiling again. Jan groaned and pushed himself to a sitting position, swinging his legs off the edge of the bed. Vaelen glanced over at his smooth, pale back, his hand sliding across the warm, damp sheet, aching to touch him one last time. Jan rose to his feet and Vaelen pulled his hand back, closing his eyes and turning his face away.

Why couldn't he just stay until morning? It never hurt in the morning; he never had to lay there and feel alone. He could go out to his boat, out to the sea, where it didn't matter if he was alone. He heard water being poured and glanced over to the corner, where Jan was cleaning himself up. Vaelen supposed he ought to do the same, but at that moment he really didn't care. Soft footsteps crossed the room, and then stepped up next to where Vaelen lay. Jan shook out the wet cloth as Vaelen looked up at him, confusion in his eyes. Jan just smiled to himself and washed the semen off of Vaelen's skin. He could feel the sailor's eyes on him as he walked back across the room, dropped the cloth in the basin, and then returned to the bed, pulling the sheet up over both of them as he lay down. He wasn't sure why he was staying -- he never stayed -- but for some reason, the thought of walking out the door, into the dark, was horribly unappealing.

"Yer not going to leave?" Vaelen asked. Jan tensed.

"Do you want me to go?"

"No," Vaelen said quickly, "I just ... I thought you were going to."

"Oh. No, I thought I'd stay until morning, if that's all right."

"That's fine," Vaelen said, propping himself up on one elbow to put out the lamp. In the dark, he smiled and turned toward the mage, resting one hand on Jan's rough and scarred chest. He felt Jan take a deep breath.

"So," Jan said, trying to make light of the situation and failing, "are you still going to love me after I'm gone?"

"Until the next guy comes along," Vaelen replied in the same falsely careless tone. Realizing that he wasn't fooling anyone, Jan dropped the pretenses.

"And ... and what if I am the next guy?" He licked lips that were suddenly dry. "Would you ... care if I came back?" Sliding closer, Vaelen wrapped his arms around Jan.

"I'd love it if ya did," Vaelen said, "but you'll understand if I don't sit around waiting for ya. Plenty of guys have told me they'd come back, but they never do."

"Any of them mages?" Jan asked, resting his forehead against Vaelen's jaw.

"No, I don't think so."

"There's the problem, then," Jan said. "Once a mage finds something he likes, he always comes back."

"Are ya saying ya like me?" Vaelen asked, one hand straying down to the small of Jan's back.

"I'm saying I like the way your cock feels inside of me," Jan said with a laugh. "The rest I'll just have to put up with." Vaelen laughed and shoved Jan away, only to pull him close again and kiss him soundly. "Yeah, all right, Vaelen, I like you," Jan said, snuggling back up against the tall sailor and closing his eyes. Vaelen held him as he dropped off to sleep, feeling like the luckiest man in the world.

Author's Note: Edited thanks to Phantos.