Taeru stood, eyes squeezed shut, in only light brown under shorts. He was biting down on his lip as the maid wound her measuring tape around his waist purposefully, then removed it and did the same around both legs and his arms. She measured the length of each respectively once she had finished.

The young man fidgeted and twisted, swallowing far more often than necessary. Finally, the maid, a middle aged woman with light gray hair and kind eyes, smiled at him. "Alright, now, see if you can fit into these, you cute little thing." Calis cleared his throat, and she rolled her eyes before skittering across the room and hitting him with her measuring tape.

Calis knew that it had been a few months, or it had actually been a year and a few months since Taeru had been under Vkani's jurisdiction, but Taeru still didn't need to hear himself referred to as a thing, affectionately or no.

The maid didn't adhere to Calis's wishes particularly well though, and continued to call his lover by silly, endearing titles. Taeru had said it didn't bother him, though it was apparent that being stripped and measured for the umpteenth time had. The maid had left him with a navy blue uniform, prince's attire, as they hadn't quite made the jump from prince to marquis just yet. Really, Taeru hadn't made the jump from servant to prince, but he was getting there.

Taeru hastily reached for the blue garments, but before he made any move to put them on, his eyes moved back to his lover warily. The young prince's cheeks blossomed a brilliant shade of red as he seemed to realize that he was wearing only under shorts. The former servant was instantly embarrassed.

Calis knew that he wasn't helping with the admiring eyes that he was moving over Taeru. Over and over. Calis coughed, laughed and then looked away. "I apologize, it's really not intentional."

Taeru muttered something that Calis couldn't make out and then began slipping into the navy blue pants. He fastened them quickly and Calis stole another glance when he figured the prince wasn't paying attention. Navy blue looked even more striking than most colors on the small form.

Taeru's body, now that toned muscle had replaced his wiry look, was absolutely impossible not to stare at in any color, though—still small, but damn. Calis chewed on his lip. There were times that he desperately wished he could have more of Taeru physically, but he loved him too much emotionally to push that. The prince was unfairly gorgeous, though, and Calis's heart pounded while he stared at him.

A sigh interrupted his thoughts. "Calis!" Taeru demanded. Calis's cheeks flushed and he moved up to meet Taeru's beautiful, blue eyes.

"Yes?" Calis asked with the utmost innocence.

Taeru threw his head to the side. "It's rude to stare!"

"Not at you. It would be insulting for someone not to stare at you, darling." Taeru's teeth clicked together and another tint of red came to his cheeks.

Taeru huffed. "You're the man everyone thinks is so handsome. Perhaps you should go find a mirror."

"Why would I want a mirror when there is something more impressive in front of me now?" Calis's desire began to grow and he took a hungry step towards his lover. He cautioned himself, knowing that Taeru had his limits, but Calis was in the mood to test them.

Taeru shook his head, "I disagree." The young prince didn't step away, and didn't warn Calis against taking anymore steps. That was not a good idea if he didn't want Calis coming any closer.

"Do you?" Calis asked and advanced again.

Taeru nodded. "I'm not wearing a shirt," he stated plainly. Calis didn't know if this was to encourage Calis or ward him off. He decided if it was to ward him off, then his lover was far dumber than he seemed.

Calis closed the gap without another word, but let nothing but his eyes do the touching. The part of him that felt the need to protect Taeru kept him from going further without permission. "Taeru…" He let the breathy way he said his lover's name do the asking for him.

The sharp blue eyes met his own with a spark, and a smile in them, "You are my lover, Calis, you do not have to ask."

Calis placed a hand gingerly on the other man's cheek. "I do." His thumb moved over Taeru's cheek a few times, softly. Calis heard Taeru's shaky breath, and smiled slightly. "You look good in blue," he informed Taeru.

The corner of Taeru's pale lips curved upwards into a very soft smile, and it was almost too alluring for Calis to resist tackling Taeru to the floor. "Thanks, Calis." The way the name sounded still made Calis shiver a little.

Their eyes remained locked for several seconds, and then Calis swallowed, and laughed and moved his head up to the ceiling. After another moment, he lowered his head and pressed their lips together. His hand snaked around the back of Taeru's lithe form, fingers gliding easily along the ridges of his lean back.

Calis worked his tongue gently against Taeru's trembling lips, and with very little resistance, they parted. The way Taeru's mouth felt to his tongue was not a sensation that he could get used to. Fire raged through his veins and electricity sparked through his brain and accelerated his heart further. His tongue moved easily through the other man's mouth, sweeping the crevices like a hungry explorer searching for food. Every bit of the feeling satisfied him, and every bit of it made him crave more. Heat had somehow generated between the two of them and Calis worried the room might catch fire.

Slowly, gently, he removed his tongue and pulled their mouths apart. Calis just stared into the shimmering blue eyes for several seconds after they opened. Taeru's breath on his lips made him shudder, and the way Taeru shivered under his fingers ignited his desire further. "Your eyes," Calis whispered, and he could barely hear it himself, "are unbelievable. They're brilliant… have I told you that?" Calis asked and then pressed their lips together, gently and briefly this time, before Taeru could answer.

"Your kisses are brilliant," was the soft reply. Calis grinned savagely and pushed his hands further into the small of Taeru's back. He pulled the form to him hungrily, and then bent his beneath Taeru's jawline. Calis pressed his mouth against the crook of Taeru's neck and moved his lips along it gingerly.

The blonde kissed fervently, yet gently, as he moved deftly along the full of Taeru's neck. Calis kept the kisses soft and easy around the still recovering burn towards the middle of the young prince's throat, but then intensified them as he reached the top. He pressed his teeth against the skin and sucked lightly, working to find a balance that satisfied his own needs and yet did not hurt Taeru.

Taeru let out a moan, a whimper, and then an adorable squeaking sound that made Calis laugh into his neck. The laugh made Taeru shudder more than the kisses had. "What was that about?" Calis asked into his skin. He kissed it again, determined to show Taeru that he had not been deterred by the simultaneously sexy and adorable noises his lover had just made.

"I didn't mean to—I… you did that! You made me make that sound!" Taeru accused, hilariously. Calis smiled against Taeru and nuzzled his face gently against Taeru's jaw.

Calis's voice had laughter in it when he finally spoke, though it was still muffled by the feel of Taeru's bronze skin on his lips. "Did I? Wait, which one… you made like three," he reminded his mate.

"The first one!" Taeru stated. "Well, partially the second one… the third was more of a reaction to the first two noises because I didn't mean to make them at all!" Taeru was gorgeous, and he was absolutely adorable.

Calis finally raised his head so that he could look into the flustered blue eyes once more. The smile never left the blonde's face. Taeru continued his very cute explanation. "So they were all your fault because you made me do the first one and the—"

Calis couldn't take it anymore and he pressed their lips together, effectively cutting off Taeru's rant. The younger man took a moment and then he kissed back. Calis pulled away, and grinned. "That was one of those questions that you really didn't need answered, huh?" Taeru asked anxiously as his brow furrowed. Calis nodded his head.

Calis let his hands trace along Taeru's exposed chest and stomach. He bit his lip as the feeling of happiness exploded through him at having the other man so close to him. "It was. I told you, love, it's because it feels good. I'm good at that, remember? Don't get so embarrassed."

Calis moved around the back of Taeru and let his fingers move more gently, and sensually down the exposed front of his lover. He wrapped his other arm around the man's waist protectively, and then moved the adventurous hand back up to Taeru's neck. He trailed his hand along the whole of Taeru's form once, and then twice, and then began kissing his neck again.

"I remember," Taeru said weakly as his body fell almost limply against Calis. Calis supported him easily, but continued with his ventures. After lingering at his neck for a bit longer, he moved to place the kisses along his jaw. He kept them all tender, and slow, and he felt the shiver of Taeru's body growing again. Then, he slowly raised his head enough so that he could place his teeth over Taeru's ear.

The shiver that prompted made him grin, and after a moment, he grabbed Taeru's face and pulled it to the side so that he could catch the man's lips again. Finally, Taeru turned around, and Calis kept his arms around the back of him. "Why don't you take your shirt off?" Taeru asked curiously. Calis smirked and kissed him.

"I sleep with my shirt off, love, and you have a meeting with the advisor in less than an hour." Calis kissed Taeru's lips another time. He couldn't stop.

"Oh," Taeru said and lowered his eyes.

"Don't sound so disappointed. I'll cave and we'll both be in trouble." Taeru grinned up at him, and the smile infected his eyes.

The two of them did sleep together—just slept. Taeru had naturally not allowed for anything beyond that but Calis adored the feeling of being able to put his arms around Taeru while they slept. This feeling satiated his protectiveness and his desire for the time being.

Taeru slept with all of his clothes on, except, occasionally, his shirt, but Calis never slept with a shirt on and Taeru had grown to like that. Taeru was more open physically than Calis would have expected, though sex was still out of the question for now.

Taeru was just getting used to kisses being used on him in a way that made him feel good, and so the idea of going any further was still foreign, and while he wanted it—he couldn't bring himself to commit to it yet.

The recent weeks had made it very apparent that he trusted Calis. He never flinched when Calis touched him, and he never shied away from their kisses. Nothing in this world could have made Calis feel happier than that fact.

Taeru went to move away from Calis, then, and Calis held him firmly. The blue eyes stared at him curiously, and Calis simply reached around him to grab the black shirt, which he handed to Taeru. Taeru took it, and Calis held him for a few more moments before whispering into his ear, "I love you." He kissed the prince softly on the cheek before reluctantly letting go.

Taeru laughed and pulled the black shirt over his head, before grabbing the navy blue jacket and buttoning it. Taeru looked like a prince. He definitely possessed the handsome quality of one, and the navy blue made him look slightly regal.

Getting used to the title hadn't been easy, but he had been determined to do so. He still didn't handle himself like a prince, doing things that he shouldn't, and being generally overly helpful, but Calis just supposed that was Taeru. "I love you too. But you're staring again."

"What can I say? You're hard to look away from," Calis informed him flatly. "You look good in that."

"You say I look good in everything," Taeru said.

"That's because you do," Calis countered.

Taeru smiled and rolled his eyes as he stepped into the black shoes. "You look good in that," Taeru informed him sweetly. Calis was surprised, and he found himself flushing instantly. Taeru grinned. "Ooh, I like that. I'll start doing that more often."

"Whatever makes you happy," Calis smiled at him.

Taeru blinked, "You seem so intense."

"I like seeing you happy. I mean it." Calis moved forward and caught the young man's lips again. "It makes me happy."

"And that makes me happy, so it's like a never ending cycle!" Taeru stated cheerfully.

"Works out," Calis said.

Calis steered the prince down the blue carpeted hallways. The halls were mostly tiled but these particular ones, which were used more for living and less for visiting were all carpeted. The carpet in this hallway was the same as in Taeru's room, well, their room—Calis's and Taeru's. That was still a thought that made Calis far happier than it should have.

Taeru was dragging, as usual, letting his eyes wander up and down the walls to either side of them. Calis wasn't an interested in the surroundings of the palace, but Taeru hadn't grown up around stuff like this like Calis had. "C'mon, Taeru. You've lived here for a few months now, no need to act so mesmerized by the overdone décor." Calis grinned at his mate affectionately.

The blue eyes came back to Calis in a flash, and another red tint came over the bronzed cheeks. "I'm not mesmerized! I just like to look at it. I don't think it's overdone…" Taeru's eyes returned to the wall, which was white, tinged in golden trim. "Well, maybe a little." Calis just laughed and continued tugging Taeru. He kept a careful hand on Taeru's arm so that the adventurous prince didn't wander off and make them late.

"What's so fascinating about it? I really don't see the appeal." Calis looked at Taeru sideways, curious for his response.

Taeru thought for a moment, and then grinned at Calis, "I like looking at things that people seemed to put a lot of work into. That's what they did it for. It's beautiful because people put so much dedication into it." Taeru's words were thoughtful, and he let his eyes continue to wander as he spoke.

The statement jarred Calis, and the blonde stopped for a moment and pulled Taeru's body against his chest. "Then, whatever made you must have worked tirelessly for centuries." The flush of Taeru's cheeks just made Calis chuckle softly.

"I'd say you too, but you already knew that." Taeru just smiled after a moment of embarrassment.

Calis nodded his head, then bent to whisper softly into his lover's ear. "I will tell you the same thing until you know it as well as I do."

"You know," Taeru said brightly, and Calis could swear that the young prince was trying to seduce him, "if you compliment someone too much… it'll lose its meaning." Taeru offered a lopsided smile, desire broke into Calis's resolve and the blonde placed his lips on top of Taeru's gingerly.

"I'm making up for lost time. Twenty years… especially with someone as attractive as you," Calis's eyes flashed, "is a lot of compliments. So you may as well get used to it." Taeru was smiling and chewing on his lip at the same time. "Besides, judging from how red you keep turning I don't think it's losing anything." Calis ended the sentence with a kiss to his lover's forehead.

Taeru jerked up then and kissed Calis's cheek. "You're right," he whispered, "not from you. It'll never get old from you." This time, Calis blushed and started towards the advisor's room again.

Once they entered, the advisor turned away from the window he was standing at and offered them both a quick smile. "Good to see you two made it here on time, this time." The brown eyes nestled on Calis, and the blonde squirmed beneath the unspoken accusation. The advisor did no more than laugh, though, and then his eyes were on Taeru. "How are you holding up, Taeru?" Calis could feel Taeru stiffen just slightly. "Are you okay here?" The advisor had done an excellent job at not being pushy, and to be frank, Calis was surprised—pleasantly so.

Taeru nodded, albeit awkwardly, but Calis knew he meant the gesture as they had discussed this very topic at length. "Yes, sir." The advisor chuckled and shook his head upon being called 'sir.' Calis assumed that was what the older man was laughing at, anyway.

"You really insist upon calling me sir, sir?" The advisor raised an eyebrow, and Taeru glanced to Calis as if he expected some sort of assistance. Calis only offered a smile and a raise of his eyebrows.

"I-I would like to, yes." The advisor simply conceded, once again, and then headed back towards the window.

The man stared at the young prince for several seconds, "Taeru, Calis, I brought you two here to discuss the matter of an heir. I know that you are both very young and it will not be an issue for some time, but it is no secret that you two are intimate and that the two of you cannot, of your own accord, produce an heir." Taeru turned bright red, and though it was adorable still, Calis could tell Taeru was very stressed about this topic.

Calis shook his head, "Please, Pailda, don't force this on him yet."

The advisor wasn't moved by Calis's plea, and his eyes never left the floundering prince. "Taeru, you will have to bed a woman…"

Taeru flailed, and despite the situation, Calis had to bite down on his lower lip to keep from laughing at the gesture. The bronze cheeks turned even brighter than before and the blue eyes widened to saucer level. "Wh-no sir! I can't bed a woman just for that sake! I—I… I haven't even managed to… oh…"

Calis furrowed his brow, though a slight smile made its way onto his lips as he observed his lover try to convey his feelings to the advisor. Taeru gestured with his hands, so that they were imploringly before him. "I could not use a woman for that purpose! And that would be betraying Calis." Calis hadn't expected these reasons to come before the main one. Wait—this was Taeru, Calis was foolish not to expect as much.

"Taeru has been a slave his entire life, Pailda, he is not comfortable with the idea of that just yet. Give him time," Calis said easily. Taeru threw him a thankful glance, though his cheeks still burned with embarrassment.

"I want Calis to be the first…" Taeru's voice trailed off, and for what felt like the thousandth time today, Calis felt his own cheeks grow hot. He couldn't believe Taeru had the courage to say that to the advisor. "Well, the first that… isn't…" Taeru drowned himself out once more.

Calis placed a hand gingerly on his shoulder, and the advisor's eyes widened as he seemed to realize. "OH. Taeru, of course. It isn't so much as a now issue. Naturally, you will get to the level of being comfortable with your own lover before we push you into this, but… maybe you should consider choosing a woman…"

Taeru shook his head, and then threw out his arms angrily. "No! Can't we just… can't I just… I don't want to use someone for that."

The advisor stared at him thoughtfully. "You mean to say that you do not wish to bed a woman? Any woman of your choosing!" Calis grunted at that thought.

"Not really. Besides, what if she didn't want to? It wouldn't be my choosing. She would have to agree, anyway, and why would she?"

"Taeru—my good lord!" The advisor seemed taken aback, and he was observing the prince as if small creature might spontaneously combust before his eyes.

Taeru ran a hand along his arm and stared to the side, Calis just squeezed his shoulder a little tighter. Though, the blonde stiffened at the words his lover said next, "I'm sorry, I..."

"No, no, do not apologize." The advisor back tracked before Calis could pounce on him. "I just—you are so very different from Aeron. I think you will be… a much better ruler." The advisor's eyes softened and Taeru brightened a little bit. "As for the woman thing, if you are so inclined to get her approval you may do so. Regardless, I do not think it will be an issue… as… you are rather handsome. I doubt most of the girls in the kingdom would mind bedding you once and only as a means to an end."

The advisor grinned. "We will table it for now, as you obviously have a few things to work through first. No rush, Taeru, though Miss Amyrial has made her desire to be… the mother of your child rather clear to me… on multiple occasions."

Taeru blushed, and Calis's teeth snapped shut in a snarl. Krystal had never seemed more annoying to him than she did right now. Krystal Amyrial had gotten over the loss of her mother as well as one could expect, she now lived with them, in the palace, and when Calis walked by her room at the right moment he would hear her crying.

He knew that it couldn't be easy to live without either parent. Calis felt that pain for Krystal and Taeru. "Thank you, sir, I appreciate it." Taeru bowed to the man before him, and the advisor returned the gesture with a smile and a bow of his own.

Calis tugged at Taeru's sleeve and led him towards the door, and then Calis threw another nod towards the advisor before they left. "Ugh," Calis mumbled as they left, "making me jealous before you're even… I can't believe this."

Taeru turned towards him, blue eyes wide with distress. "What? No! Calis! Don't be jealous. I love you! I would never—" Calis once more silenced his lover with a kiss, a practice that he had become quite accustomed to, and grown very fond of. When they separated, Taeru continued, undeterred, "We don't have to have an heir… if it's going to bother you."

Calis smiled, and shook his head, "We have to, besides, I trust you. I may kill the woman afterwards, but I trust you." Taeru's eyes widened further. "I'm only kidding, Taeru. But it will be fine, I won't like it, but it will be fine. So long as I get you before, and after." Taeru chewed on his lip for a moment, and then nodded agreeably.

"Definitely," Taeru finally smiled when he said the word. "Let's go for a walk," and this time Taeru was the one pulling Calis along by the arm.

The air was still warm as summer faded into fall. Autumn was Calis's favorite season, and thus, it put him in a good mood to think that summer was finally ending. Calis couldn't deny his own jealousy swimming around in his head though, and as he sneaked an arm around Taeru's waist and pulled the younger man to him, Calis asked his question. "So, do you think she's attractive?"

Taeru glanced up to him curiously, "Who?" The prince glanced around as if searching for a woman on the perimeter whom he should be finding attractive.

"Krystal," Calis said. He had long since determined that Miss Amyrial would be the one that Taeru bedded to provide an heir, but the more he thought about it, the more he didn't like it. Calis had never heard Taeru call someone attractive, aside from himself, but that didn't mean Taeru never thought it.

Taeru shrugged, "Yeah, I suppose she's kinda pretty, yeah." Taeru nodded his head, and Calis's brow furrowed with jealousy. "Don't be jealous. Are you still thinking about the heir thing? It doesn't have to be with her. If you'd prefer, it can be someone who is… not attractive." Taeru seemed to comb through his words, and then he sighed, "but you should know that I could never find her as appealing as you. I could never find anyone as handsome… or… fantastic as you are." The compliment struck a heartstring and Calis found himself grinning like a moron for a few moments.

"I'm not going to make you bed some old hag. I guess it's irrelevant at this point." Calis simply smiled and let the matter drop, content that he trusted Taeru enough no matter what happened.

Taeru kept glancing around the area as if they were in some wonderland that he'd never been to before. Though, Taeru had lived here for six months now. They had walked towards the stables, mostly because Taeru just had a tendency to go in that direction when he went on these walks. Calis and Taeru still found time to ride their horses, and it was still one of the more relaxing things they did. Though, Calis enjoyed their time in the bedroom more than horse riding.

"There are so many stables around the palace. I don't see how we could ever have this many horses." Taeru opened the door to one of the more empty stables as he spoke.

Taeru had a habit of exploring places that most people really didn't care about. "I feel like we should get rid of some of these, or either disperse the horses throughout them more. There is like two in here. They probably get—" Taeru's voice vanished and Calis stiffened at the sudden stop.

Calis had been turned and looking at the two horses that Taeru had been speaking about, and when he turned to look at the empty stall Taeru had been examining he saw the reason for Taeru's frozen sentence.

Black hair, and a slightly pale, rail thin body wearing nothing but black under garments. The figure was a female, though there were two of them. The other, who had his arm around the woman's back, was a male. Calis knew who they were, and he cleared his throat. Claire jerked her head up, turned to look at the two intruders and then flicked her hair casually out of her face.

Lee, on the other hand, screamed like a little girl and backed up against the wall. Taeru had closed his eyes and was desperately trying to suppress his laughter as he buried his head into Calis's shoulder. Calis simply smirked. "HI THERE."

Claire bounced up immediately, and Calis saw more bouncing than he wanted to see. "Sorry, we didn't know you guys liked it in here too!" She bit down on her lip and kicked her toe into the hay. "You can join if you like, though!" She clasped her hands together.

Taeru jerked his head up to see if he'd heard right, and once he did, he blushed and looked away again. "What?"

At the same time, Lee yelped from behind her, against the wall and fortunately clad in underwear of his own. "WHAT!"

Calis simply chuckled softly, "No thank you, Claire. But if you'd like, I suppose we could leave you two alone?" He made sure to cast a glance to Lee to let the man know that he would not be living this particular incident down any time soon. Lee furrowed his brow and then ducked his head.

Taeru never looked at them, but he spoke nonetheless, "You two… do you not have a bed that you could… make love in? This cannot be comfortable!"

"It's more adventurous this way, Taeru." Claire reached out a hand as she spoke and shoved the prince with it. Calis found himself amused at the idea, and then suddenly the idea of having Taeru in this stable struck him and he found himself blushing rather profusely.

Taeru didn't seem to understand the appeal, "That's just… that doesn't seem like a good idea."

"It is, if you want, I could show you…" Claire arched her body forward, and all at once she was up against the small prince. He twitched and tried to take a step backwards in a way that wouldn't land her on the floor of the stables.

Claire raised her head to his, far too close to his face for comfort, "It's just a little dirt. It doesn't hurt anything." Taeru was doing his best not to touch anything he wasn't supposed to, but the task of supporting her and not touching her mostly naked body was proving to be rather difficult.

Now Lee was just irritated, "Stop embarrassing yourself, Claire! Good god." He placed a hand around her waist, and pulled her off the prince, obviously having none of Taeru's qualms about touching her in inappropriate locations.

"I think we ought to leave, before Claire gets more interested in you than her own lover, Taeru." Calis drug Taeru out of the stables, laughing the entire way. Calis kissed Taeru lightly as they exited, "You okay?"

Taeru's blue eyes were wide, "Why did she do that?" he asked.

Calis just smiled, "You're handsome, Taeru, you should probably get used to it—and she's Claire. However," Calis's eye twitched, "I might have to do some serious damage to the next person who tries that." The blonde smiled cheerfully at his wincing lover and they headed back towards the palace.

Once they got near to it, a slave shuffled by them carrying a rather large stack of wood. Calis knew what would happen before it happened—because it always happened. Taeru tilted his head towards the slave, and then moved gingerly towards him. "Do you need any help?" Taeru asked. Calis let out a huff as the slave turned curiously towards Taeru.

The man looked to be in his upper twenties. He had sandy blonde hair and the deceitful eyes of most slaves. Calis knew he should get over the stereotype since he'd found the love of his life in a slave, but he held to the fact that Taeru was never supposed to be a slave, and even raised as one, he was the exception to the rule. "Who's doing the helping?" the slave asked.

"I'll help," Taeru offered.

The man eyed him over once and then shrugged his shoulders. "Sure."

"No," Calis yanked Taeru behind him and glared angrily at the slave. Calis heard Taeru's protest from behind him. "Do your job. He's the prince."

"Yeah? And he never does anything. I have to do chores all day every day. If someone offers me help, I'm gonna take it. Especially someone who never does anything."

Calis's anger exploded through him and he grabbed the man by the collar—wood slamming to the ground. He shook him once before he felt the angry words escape him without filter. "Chores? Is that what you do?" His voice was acidic. "Well, how about beaten? Does that ever happen? Have you been beaten for nineteen years, taken advantage of, starved, and been forced to do your dingy little chores? No, I don't think you have, you son of a bitch. You do your fucking job. He did his." The slave's eyes widened and he glanced back to an apologetic looking Taeru.

"Right, we've all heard about the mysterious slave that became our new prince." The man's eyes went from Taeru to Calis, and back again. The man simply shook his head and continued. Taeru looked frustrated.

Calis whirled upon Taeru's urging and sighed. "Taeru, please, stop offering. Please? For me? At least let us pamper you properly for awhile—let me pamper you for awhile." Calis ran a gentle hand along Taeru's cheek.

Taeru brought a hand up and grabbed Calis's. "You've been pampering me since you met me."

"Not as much as I'd like to," Calis said lightly before dropping his hand with a smile and heading back into the castle, tugging Taeru by his hand.

"Still though," Taeru continued as they reentered, "you shouldn't be so hard on people. It isn't nice, and people are going to think you're some horrifying monster." Calis laughed a little at the remark, but didn't say anything for several moments. Taeru's hand felt nicely in his and he continued to pull the man along by that, rather than his arm. "I'm serious, Calis! They will!"

Calis never looked back at Taeru because he knew that the response he would receive from his lover would be unhappy. "I don't mind people being afraid of me, Taeru. It's part of my appeal." Calis couldn't resist throwing a glance back to Taeru and flashing a grin.

"Part of your appeal? I wouldn't say being afraid of you is part of that, but you can tell yourself whatever you want to sleep at night." Calis stopped and turned towards the female voice that had just spoken. Krystal Amyrial closed the door to her room, which they had apparently just passed.

She had that sort of smirk on her face that meant she was about to incite feelings in Calis that he had put away from the day. "So how's our new prince holding up?" she asked as her eyes turned to Taeru. The advisor's words rang in Calis's head about how Krystal had volunteered to be the heir and he could see the desire humming in her eyes as she regarded Taeru now.

Taeru glanced to the side, at Calis, and then looked across to the woman who was eyeing him hungrily currently. "Fine, thank you, Krystal. How are you doing? You seem to be fine living here for the time being." She grinned at him and simply nodded her head.

"I'm doing alright. Being surrounded by people I know and care about has helped, to say the least. And yes, the castle part of it is definitely not detracting." She grinned at Taeru, who smiled back. "Did you talk to the advisor about the heir situation today?" she asked. Calis could hear the hope in her voice and it irritated him a lot.

"Do you have to bring it up every time we see you, Krystal?" Calis asked. "We aren't even close to having everything sorted out, and no one's making any decisions on that particular issue for a long time." Taeru grabbed his arm, and Calis figured the irritation in his voice must have been more obvious than he'd originally thought.

"I'm just trying to make sure you don't forget about me. Not that I don't appreciate what you've done for me already. But you trust me, right?"

"No," Calis said flatly. "Though we might have to do it your way, anyway. Can we just not talk about this for a little while? It's a long ways off." Taeru nodded in agreement behind Calis. The blonde was glad that Taeru wasn't rushing himself or Calis. Though, Calis was beginning to think that he was going to struggle with this particular issue more than Taeru.

Krystal sighed and rolled her eyes at him. At that moment, one of the guards called for Taeru down the hall and the young marquis nodded to Calis, then Krystal and started off to answer the call. Calis watched him go for far longer than was natural, and then moved his eyes back to Krystal.

She was smiling at him, and not in that conniving way. "Oh, Calis, don't get so jealous. He's handsome, you and me both know that, I can't help that I want to be the one woman he beds. I sleep with everyone, that's the running joke, right?" She placed two fingers to Calis's chest, lightly. "You, though, have nothing to fear. It's obvious in his eyes how much he adores you. He loves you as much as you love him, so stop worrying so much." Krystal brushed a strand of hair out of her face. "And if it does come to pass, that I am the woman that you choose for birthing the heir, if you want to...participate."

Calis scoffed and then shook his head at the woman before him. "What is it with you women today? I wouldn't put Taeru through that kind of ordeal, and not to mention, you know you aren't really like that."

"I don't know, Calis. It's you. You're handsome… he's adorable… my limits could be stretched." Calis couldn't tell if she was joking or not. She giggled, but he still couldn't tell one way or the other. "Regardless, he loves you. Don't worry. Whoever ends up being the mother won't hold a candle to you in his eyes. Now, go, Calis, I'm sure you're missing him already." She winked at him, smiled, and then placed a quick kiss on his cheek before she flounced cheerfully off down the hallway.

That night, Calis sat up, reading silently in bed as Taeru lay next to him. The young Nayia's breathing had gotten substantially steadier and Calis assumed that he'd fallen asleep. The book he was reading was scarcely good enough to keep Calis's attention off the gorgeous form that lay peacefully in the bed next to him. Finally, he set the book aside and ran a hand gingerly along Taeru's back, under his soft, white shirt.

The whip marks could still be seen along Taeru's arms—and Calis's fingers felt the ridges of them along the prince's back, and Calis could do little to keep his mind from them. Calis closed his eyes at a very slight surge of anger. Vkani was dead, but what he'd done to Taeru couldn't be completely erased. Calis wouldn't forget it. Try as he might to make Taeru forget it, he would never forget it.

The mark on the back of Taeru's neck stood out black in the dim glow of the one remaining light in the room. The burn had all but disappeared and in its place was the royal mark. Even the knife markings that Aeron had placed there were all but indistinguishable. Calis smiled involuntarily down at his apparently sleeping lover.

After a few moments, though, Taeru stirred. The young form sat upright and seemed disoriented for a moment. Calis felt a pang of worry, "Did you have a bad dream, Taeru?" he asked. Calis winced at the horror that he heard in his own voice.

Taeru blinked at him for a moment, and then quickly shook his head no. Calis smiled in relief and rested his head back against the headrest of the bed. "No," Taeru whispered, and reaffirmed it with another shake of his head, "I just didn't mean to fall asleep."

Taeru looked anxious, and Calis found anxiety building in his stomach as he wondered what Taeru was about to say. "Calis." The voice was thick with passion.

Calis watched him curiously, silently. "What is it?" Calis prompted after a few moments of very nervous silence.

Calis could feel the smile starting to form on his lips as Taeru hesitantly stared at him, finally, his will snapped and he placed a hand gingerly about Taeru's waist and pulled the slight frame to him. Their lips met with another moment. Calis deepened it when he felt Taeru pull himself closer. Calis moved one of his hands up to entangle in Taeru's black hair, pulling the young man's head closer to his own.

With a movement, the kiss broke, and Calis twisted so that Taeru's small form was beneath him. Calis made sure to keep his weight off of Taeru as he stared down into the blue eyes that watched him so expectantly. He straddled Taeru's body cautiously, and then bent his head to kiss lightly along Taeru's collarbone. He moved up it softly, slowly, to the small neck, and there he moved his lips easily over the bronze skin. "Calis," Taeru breathed. Calis kissed his lover's neck one more time before raising his head to look into Taeru's face.

"Sorry, Taeru, I—"

"I love you," Taeru said and their lips were together again with the raising of Taeru's head. Calis heard his own moan, and then he felt Taeru smile. Calis put his arms around Taeru, and pulled their bodies together.

Calis began to kiss Taeru's throat, and he felt the way it had tightened with the endeavor. Slowly, easily, Calis moved his lips up to place the kisses along Taeru's jaw line. Scars from the whips were easier to feel as he kissed them. And he did, he kissed them more gently, and more frequently.

Calis could feel his own perspiration as his desire began to pulse within him. Taeru's hands were on Calis's suddenly, and the young prince moved them to the bottom of his shirt. Calis kissed up Taeru's neck again, and then kissed his ear, biting lightly. Finally, he whispered, rather breathily, into that same ear. "What is it?" he asked desperately.

Taeru's lips were suddenly against his own neck, and he could feel his own erection harden against his boxers. His body clenched, skin tightening as his fingers tightened at Taeru's own.

He breathed heavily, and Taeru continued, moving up his neck expertly. Taeru was gentle, though, and it made Calis wonder if he'd been soft enough. Taeru clung to him for a moment, hands digging into Calis desperately. "Shirt?" Taeru asked softly. The soft lips moved along Calis's jaw, and then Taeru's hand released Calis's and they were moving up and down Calis's back, clinging.

"Mmf… Taeru," Calis mumbled. His mind refused to let him ask again as he pulled Taeru's white shirt off his body. He let his hands explore the exposed skin, he tensed at the feel of the scars along it momentarily. The need to protect made him want to hold Taeru tighter, so he did.

Taeru was still kissing him, and finally their mouths found each other again. Calis let his tongue gently urge Taeru's lips apart so that it could explore the entirety that was his mouth. Fuck, he tasted good.

Their bodies were so close together, and Calis could feel that he wasn't the only one with an erection. The feel of Taeru's cock against his leg, though, made it even harder to focus on his limits. He moved his lips back down to Taeru's chin, and then his neck, and then he moved down to the young man's defined chest. The muscles immeasurably harder than they'd been when Calis had met Taeru.

He let his lips work over Taeru's chest, and then down to his abdomen. He breathed softly against the skin, feeling the way it tightened and burned. Taeru trembled softly. Then, the prince's hand found its way into Calis's hair, and Calis liked the way his fingers laced in it. He moved back up Taeru's upper body, not wanting to dip too low, and he stopped at the neck. Taeru had fallen back to the bed, and Calis's whole body was over him. "I love you," Calis finally whispered when his mouth hung an inch over Taeru's.

Calis let his fingers trace Taeru's cheek, gingerly. He sat up, and Taeru followed. Calis maneuvered his body so that he was behind Taeru, with the small Nayia basically in his lap. He let his hands move gently over the scarred back, and then he began kissing it, taking far more time than he had on the front. He dragged his lips slowly, lingering over the skin between kisses. Then, he lined every scar with those same soft, gentle kisses.

Inevitably, he kissed the juncture of Taeru's neck and shoulder, and moved up to the base of Taeru's neck. The mark tasted and felt no different than the rest of the bronze skin, and that meant that it tasted impossibly fantastic. Calis ran kisses along both Taeru's shoulders, so that the young man quivered, and then he moved them up to the nape of Taeru's neck.

The blonde let his arms slip around the front of Taeru, bringing Taeru back a little bit. Calis was contented, for now, not wanting to push Taeru further than he was ready to go. The traitorous appendage beneath his boxers begged him to show Taeru how fascinating sex could be, but he ignored that.

Calis simply wrapped his arms protectively about Taeru, and then placed his head on the young man's shoulder. "Are you okay?" Calis asked finally, whispering into Taeru's ear again.

"A lot better than okay," Taeru said, and his voice was just as breathy as Calis's was. Taeru's head had turned so that he was able to look into Calis's eyes, and the incline of his head made it impossible for Calis not to kiss him.

Calis claimed his lover's lips another time, and held Taeru tighter as the prince tilted his head to deepen the kiss. When they broke apart at last, Taeru's eyelids were lowered, and he spoke softly, "Calis…"

"You're amazing," Calis replied. Taeru smiled weakly.

"Me, huh?" Taeru leaned back into Calis's, and Calis reveled in the feeling.

The blonde let out a breath, "You need rest," he said. Every cell in his body wanted more, but he was determined to make this perfect for Taeru. Calis knew that it would be perfect for him, no matter when they did it. Every part of him wanted every bit of Taeru, mind, body and soul. Calis gently placed a kiss on Taeru's neck again. His desire for Taeru was something he was sure he'd never adjust to.

"Are you happy?" Taeru asked, and he sounded a little worried.

Calis laughed against Taeru's neck, which he had been nuzzling lightly. "Happy? No." Taeru's brow furrowed. "Completely and irrationally in love, in a state of dizzying bliss that probably isn't healthy, and so incredibly aroused that I don't know what to do with myself? Yes." Taeru made a noise, and Calis didn't need to see to know he had made the young man blush. "You're perfect. And you're—well, being happy would be an insult to the feeling." Calis kissed Taeru's jaw lightly.

"And I'm yours," Taeru finished the statement Calis had stopped himself from saying due to the negative connotations Taeru might attach to the term.

"Taeru," Calis said, with a hint of warning, "please."

Taeru twisted so that he was looking at Calis more easily, though still not facing him completely. "I want to be, though. Not your slave, not your servant… just… yours…" The expression on Taeru's face was the most attractive thing Calis had ever set eyes on.

"Just mine?" Calis asked, Taeru nodded. "Fine. You can be just mine… and I'll be just yours." Taeru grinned, and then nodded again. "Now," Calis caught Taeru's lips another time briefly, "you do need rest."

"Calis…" Taeru said again.

"I can get your shirt for you, if you want." Calis wasn't sure where the thing had ended up in their adventure, but he'd find it.

Taeru shook his head. "Calis, no, I…" The young Nayia drew a slow breath, "I want to try." Shock weaved through Calis's veins, but he observed the blue eyes carefully and found the hesitancy that he wanted gone before they tried anything there. "I want to be with you. I want to give you this, Calis." The voice was so anxious and Calis could tell that some part of Taeru really did want it. Calis wanted all of him to want it, though, and therefore just offered a reassuring smile to Taeru.

Calis placed a gentle hand on Taeru's cheek. "Taeru, I don't want to rush this." The blue eyes flickered with the thought, and Taeru cast them down towards the sheets. "I want you to want it as much as me."

Taeru nodded his head, but then bit down on his lip and stared into Calis's face for a long time before he spoke. "I understand, but I do! I want it."

"I know, part of you does, but part of you is still scared." The aqua eyes stared into Taeru's frustrated face with compassion. Taeru's eyelids lowered, but he didn't deny that part of him was indeed still afraid of the concept. "You're getting there, though, I can tell it as well as you can." Taeru still didn't seem entirely willing to let this go.

"I trust you. I love you," Taeru informed Calis earnestly.

"And I love you." Calis moved his face closer to Taeru's, inclining his head at an angle and placing his lips on top of Taeru's very gently. Calis lingered there for a moment, and pulled away so slowly that the traction between their lips was enough to keep them together momentarily even as Calis moved away. "But are you really ready, love?"

Taeru's eyes glimmered with desire, love, affection, and unfortunately, hesitancy. The young prince lowered his head against Calis's shoulder, and Calis brought up a hand to stroke his exposed back very gently. "No," Taeru whispered.

"Why are you trying to rush yourself?" Calis asked.

"Because you're not! It doesn't seem fair to you." Taeru's eyebrows furrowed as he pulled his head back and stared into Calis's aqua eyes worriedly.

Calis laughed and lay down against the pillow, turning briefly to Taeru, who followed his lead and lay down next to him. "Nothing could be unfair to me because I have you. Not in that way, not yet, but I have you. Knowing that you are in love with me, and that I can be with you makes me feel like the luckiest person in this world." Calis could make out Taeru's blush in the dim glow of the remaining light.

Calis sat up and put out the light before turning back to Taeru, wrapping the young man in his arms, and pulling their bodies closer together. Taeru spoke softly into the newfound darkness, though the small form moved closer to Calis, "That's how I feel about you, Calis, that's why I want more… part of me wants more so much."

Taeru buried his head into Calis's chest and Calis ran a hand through the young man's black and slightly tangled hair once. "You have no idea how much it means to hear you say that. But the fact that you want it so much means that you'll get there. There's no reason to take away from it by rushing into it prematurely. I'll be here whenever you decide. I'll be here forever." Taeru glanced up at him with the remark, and Calis glanced down and once more his lips were on Taeru's.

"Forever? How are you going to manage that?" Taeru asked as Calis reluctantly broke the kiss.

Calis grunted softly, sure of his own words, "I'll find you in the afterlife, love." Taeru grinned, and Calis felt it more than saw it.

"Forever, then, but I won't keep you waiting that long," Taeru promised.

Calis placed a kiss on Taeru's forehead gingerly. "Fair enough," was all he said.

The warmth of Taeru's body, and the steadiness of his breathing was enough to relax Calis, but having the young man safely in his arms, knowing that he could kiss the prince at will was what brought sleep so dangerously close. Happiness and sleep seemed to be more closely related than Calis had originally thought. "You do still want it, right?" Taeru asked, a little unsurely.

Despite the absurdity of the question, Calis had to laugh at how adorable his lover was. "Taeru, you have the most gorgeous body I have ever seen. Looking at you is enough to steal my breath, so I can assure you, I want it more than you could possibly understand."

Taeru smiled again, "I do understand." The comment caused Calis's heart to flutter briefly, and his happiness exploded through him once more. "I think you have a better body," Taeru commented and Calis could hear the mischievous grin in the young prince's voice.

"We'll just have to agree to disagree, then," Calis remarked lightly. Taeru grinned up at him. Calis could see the beautiful blue orbs staring into his own eyes and he would swear they were glowing. "Though, your eyes—your eyes I will not settle on. They are the most mind blowing things I have ever seen."

Taeru rolled the eyes of which Calis spoke, but instead of arguing, "Fine, then you have better… hair?" Taeru sounded more adorable by the moment.

Calis just laughed, "Awesome."

"I love you," Taeru said softly.

"I love you too," Calis answered. He held Taeru for a long time, until he felt the young man fall asleep genuinely. That was when, Taeru cradled gently in his arms, Calis found himself lulled into peaceful sleep of his own.

A/N: Aw, I am sad that I'm finished. It took me forever to actually edit and get this posted. I am going to miss this story a ton. And all the super awesome reviewers from it. I have a million things written, it's just a matter of determining what I want to post! So I'll be around! If you guys are interested.

And I know, I hate Calis for the ending too. Maybe if I feel up to it I'll actually write these two finally getting the sex they so desperately deserve sometime. :D