The castle was impressive. It had been built approximately seven centuries ago, during the Tai'run Dynasty, a name that no doubt would have meant a great deal to Marta or Arthur, but only sounded a bit exotic and mildly familiar to Emerson. When he caught Rohan anxiously scanning his brochure, brow furrowed, flipping quickly through the information pages, he didn't feel so bad though. Apparently, they weren't so big on ancient history at that engineering school of his.

It was fun, leaning over the parapets or peering through the little slits where weapons would have been fired out onto the plains below. To think that thousands of people had met and clashed here, likely suffered and died, and not just outside the castle, either. The tour guide informed them that there had been two famous sieges, one in the winter of 2395 and one some hundred years later. Then there was the Great Plague, which struck the entire northern part of the country in the year ... he'd already forgotten. He thought of stealing Rohan's brochure, but decided it wasn't worth it. Besides, the man would probably be lost without it, seeing as how he hadn't stopped leafing through it since the tour started.

"I've never heard of most of these names and places," he admitted as much to Emerson, the tour moving ahead now after a break, leaving the pair of them leaning over yet another parapet, gazing far down below, the distant green grass shifting in the wind.

Emerson smiled, feeling the expression tickling his face.

"It's not much fun is it," he commented, "Being the lone idiot in a group of know-it-alls."

Rohan looked at him, surprised—but then smiled, sheepish.

"No, it isn't." He sighed, shifting slightly against the high stone wall. "You know, the old me would have been proud of my ignorance. But I find that the more time I spend around these people, the more ashamed I am of not being more like them."

It was Emerson's turn to look surprised, as he turned to face his husband.

"That doesn't sound like you," he said.

Rohan smiled a little.

"Well," he shrugged, "I'm human, aren't I?" He smiled, reaching over suddenly and tweaking the edge of Emerson's nose with his finger. "Believe it or not."

Emerson snorted, though he couldn't quite keep the smile from his face, either. "You wish I worshiped you like some sort of god."

"Don't you?"

Rohan laughed and pretended to duck away from the obligatory little smack against his shoulder.

"We should hurry up," Emerson said after awhile, "If we don't want to get left behind." He looked over his shoulder, the last few slippered footsteps shuffling off the parapet and into the next room, the tour guide's sonorous voice again echoing out into the chilly afternoon air.

Rohan turned around, leaning his back against the wall.

"I think I've had my fill of history for tonight." He turned his head sideways a bit, his green eyes twinkling at Emerson's. "How about you?"

Emerson snorted again. "Hells yes," he said. "It's interesting, but I think my brain's about to explode. Plus I can't help but wonder if they're going to quiz us or something once we're through."

Rohan laughed, his head lolling back slightly.

"Poor Remy," he teased, his voice playfully high-pitched, "Always in fear of a quiz!"

Emerson gave him another nudge, but instead of dodging him again, Rohan leaned over and kissed him.

It was a brief little kiss. He never even got a chance to close his eyes. His husband smiled at him afterward, a warm, relaxed expression on his face. He seemed younger—or maybe, for once, he merely looked and acted his age, seeing as how they were only five years apart.

Emerson had to look away, embarrassed, his eyes dropping down to the waving grass far below again.

"It's kind of romantic, isn't it?" he asked after awhile. "Touring a castle."

"No doubt why they built a resort around it," his husband lazily agreed. "Rich people love feeling romantic."

Emerson smiled a little. Was the implication that poorer people didn't have much time for such nonsense? It could be hard to tell with Rohan.

A strange thought entered his head then. And since it was just the two of them, and things seemed to be ... different between them, of late, since this morning in the suite ... he decided to say, aloud: "I wish Marta could attend that school of yours."

Rohan straightened, a quizzical look on his face now. Emerson was still gazing down, but he could still see him from the corner of his eye.

"Do you think she would want to?"

That was probably the last response Emerson had been anticipating. He lifted his head, finally meeting the older man's eyes.

"I don't know," he said after awhile. "But it's where she belongs. She's really smart. And she works hard." He nodded a little, as if agreeing with his own words. "She could do a lot of good."

Rohan looked interested. "Would her family not object to it?"

Emerson rolled his eyes. "What family wouldn't? Besides, they're even poorer than mine, and they've been poor since before she was born. She told me they've been trying to work out a marriage arrangement for years, but no one's interested." Of course, this didn't help the self-esteem of a girl who already thought herself hideously unattractive, no matter how much they tried to convince her that it was nothing personal, but that no one could see any political benefit in allying with the Savignon family.

Rohan frowned. "That would be a waste. Shuffling a sharp girl like that off into marriage."

"But shuffling off a dull boy isn't quite the same thing?" Emerson couldn't help asking.

Rohan grinned. "You shuffled off happily enough," he countered, teasing. "I did my best to romance you. It's not my fault you were so cute, you know. I'd never had any intentions at making you like me."

Emerson's mouth twitched. "You could at least have said, 'Oh, no, Remy, you aren't dull! How could you say such things?'"

"But you are dull. It took you weeks and weeks to figure out you liked me back."

"It was a gradual thing," Emerson said, feeling his face beginning to warm despite himself. "You wore me down. After awhile, it was that or be miserable and rot away in my loveless marriage." He smirked and stuck his tongue out, the childish impulse seizing him suddenly.

Rohan gave a little gasp, one hand going instantly to his heart.

"Cute little tongue!" he cried out, "I'm undone!"

He made a grab for him, and Emerson laughed and skidded away, but he had to admit, even to himself, that he wasn't really trying. And when Rohan wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close, both of them were smiling, and Rohan made him lift his head by kissing him again, the kiss more passionate this time, mimicking the one they shared in their suite earlier, only deeper, more intense, Rohan's body melding against his for a moment, his back pressing against the parapet.

"Let's go back to the resort," he finally said, breathing heavily, once they separated.

Rohan's eyes widened before softening again quickly. "All right," he agreed, his voice husky.

That huskiness caused something to jump inside Emerson, a heat seeming to wash all the way through him. His nerves returned, but he wasn't about to change his mind. Besides, Rohan might throw him over the side of the wall here if he did, out of sheer sexual frustration.

Or so he imagined.

It's normal to want sex, he thought, as he and his husband made their way quickly back through the castle, getting lost twice before finally coming to the entrance. He had talked about it with Mack and Arthur once—well, Mack had mostly listened, after shaking his head when asked if the conversation was bothering him. It was the sort of thing he couldn't talk to Marta about, even though he considered her his oldest and best friend. It's natural for men to want sex, they'd concluded, all of them hopelessly horny and unwillingly celibate at the time.

Of course, now he was unsure about Arthur. But at the time, surely Arthur would have confided in them both if he'd lost his virginity...

They hopped into one of the waiting carriages, sitting down together on the plush cushion, arms going around one another as the vehicle began to move, the soft, thudding clop-clop of the horses' hoofs against the hard earth.

The inside of Rohan's mouth was so warm, Emerson thought he could get lost in kissing the older man. But he learned there were other uses for that mouth on the carriage ride back to the resort, as Rohan began kissing him in other places, on his neck, sucking gently at the skin there, his jaw, his ear, teeth nibbling at the lobe before a warm tongue licked and teased.

He was so hard by the time they stepped out of the carriage, he was beginning to find it difficult to walk. Rohan laughed at him, kissing his red cheek before pulling him along by the hand, up the stairs, past a few guests smiling knowingly at the pair of them. Servants paused to bow along the way, but Emerson couldn't acknowledge any of them, couldn't think of anything except being alone with his husband and discovering just what other tricks that tongue was capable of performing on him.

More than he could have ever dreamed, apparently. They fell onto the bed together, their mouths meeting again, but not for long. Rohan's busy fingers were working at the buttons on his gahi, his mouth trailing down his throat, then over his chest, once the gahi was opened and pushed past his shoulders, exposing his shoulders and torso.

Emerson tilted his head back on the pillow, feeling his chest and stomach rise and fall quickly as Rohan's kisses trailed further down, his lips once even pausing over a nipple and...!

"No!" Emerson breathed out, the little resulting tingle of pleasure shocking him, making him flush even more.

Rohan looked up, quickly. "No?" he asked.

"No," Emerson panted. "I mean, yes! Not no!"

His husband smiled, as if in impish understanding, before lowering his head and continuing his ministrations.

Emerson swallowed, knowing what was to come. But he couldn't quite still the nervousness that swept over him when he felt the laces of his khami pants being undone, the garment being tugged gently down over his hips. Then he turned absolutely tomato red, feeling the warmth of Rohan's breath over the front of his underwear, his husband's—now his lover's—mouth sucking him through the material there.

"Oh gods," he breathed, a part of him deathly afraid that he was already so close, too close—!

But Rohan wasted no time. The next second, his under things were removed, and he felt the blessed, sweet, cool air brush against his skin, his desire springing out. Then his lover's lips pressing against his tip, his hand holding him at the base. A tongue trailing quickly up and down a few times before that mouth folded over him, sucking him in, beginning to move up and down, up and down...

"I'm—I'm coming!!" he cried, the warning bursting out of him, even as his fingers gripped the sheets, his hips pivoting forward as he felt his release overtake him, unaware of the groan of pleasure that escaped from his lips until it was all over, his throat a bit raw, his cock still pulsing pleasurably in his husband's hand.

He let himself undulate a few times, his toes curling into the sheets, his teeth biting down on his bottom lip. He'd never felt this good in his entire life ... it was so different from doing it himself, do incredibly, amazingly, different...

By the time he became more aware of his surroundings again, his breathing beginning to even out, Rohan was lying down beside him, smiling a little, one hand stroking through his hair—he didn't even remember it being freed, but he guessed it must have happened soon after they fell onto the bed together.

Emerson couldn't help blushing, feeling himself still open and exposed down there ... although completely and utterly sated for the first time in his life.

"What about you?" he asked after awhile.

He closed his eyes when Rohan's response was to kiss him, his brow furrowing slightly through the kiss until he pulled away quickly, frowning.

"Is that what I taste like?" he blurted out, unable to keep the revulsion out of his voice.

Rohan laughed.

"You don't like it?" he asked, fingers stroking through his lover's hair again.

Emerson scowled. "It's not that it's bad. It's just ... different." Of course, this must have meant that Rohan has swallowed his ... Oh gods... The thought left him slightly more weak in the knees than he already was.

Rohan kissed him again, then, and after awhile, he found he didn't mind the taste so much. Or maybe it was just fading after awhile, and it was Rohan's taste he was beginning to like, Rohan's tongue flicking and pushing against his own.

"What about you?" he finally repeated, panting lightly again. "It doesn't seem fair that I ... and you didn't."

Rohan smiled. "It's all right. All that can wait until later."

Emerson frowned. "Until when?" He rolled onto his side now, his hand coming to rest on his lover's chest, fingers absently curling into the material of his shirt. "And anyway, there's no way it's all right. I'm not stupid, Rohan. I know what that feels like."

His husband fixed him with a dubious look. "Remy, I don't think you're ready for anything more—" He stopped mid-sentence though, a look of abrupt surprise on his face, color springing to his cheeks.

Emerson's hand now rested over his husband's slight bulge, a feeling of utter fascination coming over him as he gave a little experimental squeeze, causing Rohan to actually groan.

"What are you doing?" the older man asked huskily, a pained sound to his voice.

"I just want to return the favor," Emerson replied, but no matter how much he wanted to do more, it was like he was suddenly paralyzed, and all his hand could do was squeeze, feeling the pulsing warmth just beneath the material of his lover's pants.

Rohan closed his eyes for a moment, the dusting of pink still darkening his cheeks, his breath coming a bit faster now.

"All right," he said after awhile. "But you don't have to do anything you're not ready to do." He seemed to pause for a moment, thinking. Then: "Here." He reached down to tug up his shirt a bit and unlace his pants with one hand before gently grasping Emerson's, bringing it away from the front of his pants to rest against the flat of his abdomen.

Emerson was immediately entranced by how warm the man's skin was, how his stomach seemed to flutter with each inward breath.

"A little lower, please," his husband teased after awhile, but judging from the slight strain in his voice, it was taking everything he had not to shove Emerson's hand down there for him.

Emerson had to swallow a couple times before he could do it ... wrap his fingers around that stiffened length, his palm brushing over the wet tip. I'm touching another guy's dick. The lewd thought almost paralyzed him again, his hand giving a little squeeze and a tug before he even knew what he was doing or intended to do.

Without warning, Rohan pulled him close again, kissing him, his hand tightening around his lover's length again without thinking. After a moment, though, he remembered what it was he was supposed to be doing, and it was a wonder to think that the quickening of his husband's breath and the darkening of his cheeks were being caused by the steady motion of his own hand.

"Mmnnn!" Rohan suddenly moaned against his lips, his hands clenching in Emerson's hair. And before he knew it, his husband's warm essence was spilling out into his hand, the sticky warmth hitting his wrist and stomach and probably a bit of the sheets they were lying on, too.

He lay there quietly for a moments, his hand a bit of a sticky mess, while Rohan panted quietly beside him. After awhile, the older man opened his eyes, a tiny smile tickling his face.

"Thank you," he said, fingers unclenching in long blue hair, stroking it gently back once again.

"You're welcome," Emerson said, clueless as ever. Well, how exactly did one respond to gratitude after sex?

Fortunately, Rohan only gave a chuckling sort of laugh before delivering several little kisses to his face, his arms wrapping around him now, pulling them both close together. Emerson enjoyed the closeness, his heart beating rapidly in his chest, their partially exposed bodies pressed together as they were. But after awhile, he couldn't help pointing out ... "I need to wipe my hand on something."

There was brief silence—then, once again, Rohan's response was to laugh that soft little laugh.

"Of course you do," he said, pulling his face away from Emerson's. He smiled at him, eyes sparkling. "You're not very romantic, are you, my little chi-hata."

Emerson scowled. "Stop calling me that," he said, but with no real feeling, as truth be told, he didn't much mind it. At least not from Rohan.

His husband sat up after a bit and found a handkerchief from his pant pocket, pulling it out helping to dry Emerson's hand. They lay back down together afterward, Rohan's arms around him, his hands resting on the older man's arms.

They were quiet for awhile, the silence between them comforting, both of them just enjoying the moment.

"I'm not a virgin anymore," Emerson finally said, as if the thought had just entered his head and seized control of his mouth.

Rohan chuckled. "No, I suppose not. In a manner of speaking."

Emerson felt his face warm, guessing what he meant by that.

"We can take things as slowly as you like," his husband reassured him. Emerson couldn't help sighing a bit. He was doing that mind-reading thing again.

"How do you always know what I'm thinking?" he asked.

"Your thoughts are just so loud," came the amused reply. "I can hardly help it."

"It's lame," Emerson said after a moment, choosing to ignore that typically smart assed reply, "About being nineteen and still a virgin. Isn't it?"

Rohan opened his eyes again, a thoughtful, concerned look on his face.

"I don't think so," he said.

Emerson frowned. "You weren't a virgin at nineteen though," he hazarded.

"No," his husband agreed, "But some of my friends were. It really isn't that big a deal, Remy," he said consolingly.

Emerson just sighed, rolling onto his back after a moment.

He felt Rohan shift beside him, the older man rolling onto his side, propping his head up with one hand.

"You're shy," he pointed out after awhile, his hand coming up to caress his lover's face. "And you were bullied a lot. That doesn't leave much opportunity for romance."

Emerson frowned, a little uncomfortable with how touchy his husband was with him now ... not that he didn't enjoy it; it was just that it felt so ... strange.

"I just don't get why no one ever so much as looked at me until you came along," he finally said.

Rohan smirked, one corner of his mouth tugging up a little. "Hmm, maybe I prefer it that way. Maybe I like my chi-hata coming to me so lily white and pure."

Emerson snorted and pushed him away, ignoring the other man's laughter as he turned away from him, arms over his chest.

"Pervert," he said, but he didn't object when he felt that warm body snuggle up to him again, Rohan's arms going around his waist this time, his face burying in his hair.

"You're such a sweet boy," his husband sighed after awhile. "You smell so good, and you taste so good. I'm glad no one else discovered you before I did, Remy. I'm really glad."

Emerson didn't know what to say to that, so he remained silent. But he did bring his hands up to rest over the older man's, the pair of them lying quietly together like that for some time. He could hear the evening sound of birds chirruping outside the windows, the low sound of resort guests as they strolled through the gardens below, or the tinkle of silverware on rolled carts in the outer hallway.

He was content to lie like this for as long as they could, and not think about anything else. For awhile, he even let himself dream that he and Rohan had met and fallen in love, that they were meeting here on a tryst, and that their real wedding was to be a secret, hidden away from his parents and all of those scheming nobles.

It was a pleasant dream, for all it made reality all the more dreary.