OooO Off Again, On Again OooO
Kailin released a small groan, half rolling in the bed to press his face into the pillows. His body felt stiff and a little sore, as if he had been sleeping too long, yet he still felt tired.
"Prince Kailin?" the soft voice repeated.
Mmm, why didn't Lukin deal with whoever this was and send them away so he could drift off into sleep again?
"Prince Kailin, I've been sent by your father…"
He cracked a bleary eye open, it felt dry. A tower servant stood in the doorway to the hospital room, wringing his hands nervously.
Kailin rolled over and pushed up half-way on his elbows, wincing slightly as his cracked ribs gave a twinge of protest. His eyes glanced around the room. Well, that explained why Lukin hadn't intervened. The commander wasn't even here. Perhaps he had snuck off to get breakfast or change.
He gaze returned to the servant. "Sorry, you are?"
The servant, hardly more than a boy, flushed pink to the roots of his blond hair. "Ruiz, Your Excellency. The king tasked me with collecting you. He said you are needed in his office now."
Kailin frowned, brain still sluggish. "Right now?"
"Yes, Your Excellency. He was very clear; it needed to be as soon as possible."
"And my…Ah, Commander Paniz, that is," Kailin corrected quickly, "Have you seen him this morning?"
"Yes, Your Excellency. He was in the antechamber, I believe, waiting to see your father."
Kailin nodded, "If you'll give me a moment to change, then I'll be ready to go."
"Of course, Your Excellency." The boy bowed out of the room and then popped back in to close the door, expression drenched with embarrassment.
Kailin chuckled softly and slowly got out of the bed, stretching carefully to work the kinks out of his muscles. He dressed in loose fitting, casual clothes, ducking into the bathroom to splash some water onto his face.
When he left the room, the young servant was waiting for him. He walked up the King's offices, Ruiz never more than a few feet behind, apparently talking his duty of making sure Kailin got to his father very seriously.
When they arrived outside the King's rooms the boy bowed off gratefully and disappeared from sight.
One of the guards nodded to Kailin. "You can wait in your father's office, Prince. Commander Paniz is already in there. The king mentioned he was running slightly behind and would be with you soon."
Kailin nodded politely, "Thank you."
Kailin walked right into his father's office. Lukin, who had been seated in front of the desk with his back to the door, stood and turned – obviously expecting Amuth. When he saw it was Kailin, his brow furrowed, "What are you doing here?"
"Father summoned me." Kailin dropped into the chair beside the one Lukin had just vacated.
Lukin lowered himself back into his seat.
Kailin groaned stretching a little, his back arching against the seat back. "Suns, I slept like the dead last night. On that hard bed."
Lukin grunted noncommittally.
"Think the doctor will release me today? I'd kill to get back into my own rooms."
Appearing lost in thought, Lukin didn't even answer. In fact, Kailin concluded, Lukin was behaving oddly. He was holding himself stiffly, not making eye contact.
Kailin shifted up in the chair, sitting straight. "Is something wrong, Lukin?"
"No, Your Excellency, in fact, I imagine for you, something is about to be set very right."
Kailin prickled with a feeling of unease, his mind catching on something in the way Lukin had spoken. His brow furrowed. "Why are you 'Your Excellency'-ing me?"
Lukin's feigned ignorance didn't fool Kailin. He sat forward in his seat and demanded, "You never address me as Your Excellency and now you've done it three times including last night. Why?"
Lukin's jaw hardened. Finally he answered, with a tone of barely restrained antagonism, "Because I always thought of you as mine."
"Huh?" Kailin was wholly confused by the outburst.
"It didn't seem right to call you 'Your' Excellency when I considered you mine."
Kailin chuckled. Lukin's possessive words appealed to his submissive drive, sending a warm heat coursing through his body. "Oh. Then why stop now? With the bonding ceremony in two days, you'd think I was more 'yours' than I ever was before." He saw Lukin's jaw clench, that was never a good sign, and Kailin became serious at once. "Lukin? What's wrong?"
The King chose (carefully chose) that moment to appear. "Ah, excellent, you're both here."
Kailin didn't take his eyes off of Lukin, ignoring his father's arrival. "Lukin, what is going on?"
King Amuth smiled benevolently, "Yes, Commander, why did you call this meeting with us?"
Kailin frowned quizzically, Huh? Lukin had called the meeting? Not his father?
Lukin grit his teeth, gaze shifting from Kailin to the king. "I did not call a meeting with you and Kailin. I asked to speak to you alone, and you know it."
"I'm sure whatever it is can be said in front of my son and your promised bondmate." The king's smile never wavered. He almost seemed to be daring Lukin to say what he had come to say.
So be it.
"I," Lukin had to pause his clear his throat, ashamed at how hard it was to force himself to form the words. "I am breaking the bonding promise."
"What?!" Kailin's exclamation came out choked.
"I see." The king tented his fingers, thoughtfully.
"What the rek, Lukin?" Kailin repeated.
Lukin deliberately ignored Kailin, not even looking in his direction. "I realize it is highly unusual, with the date of the bonding so close. But I am hoping we can dissolve the agreement in a prompt and private manner."
There was a commotion small commotion at the door. A guard saying 'Ma'am, you can't go in there', the rustle of clothes, shuffle of feet, and then the door flew open.
Queen Dana stood in the doorway. She was wearing a long copper-coloured dress that reached the floor, with long, draping sleeves. Her blond hair pulled back in a tight bun.
"Amuth –" She cut herself off seeing Lukin and Kailin in the room as well.
"Dana, you are not welcome here." Amuth stood from his desk, expression thunderous.
Kailin rose from his chair, too, but his entire attention was focused on Lukin, his parents unseen. "What do you mean 'dissolving the agreement'?!"
Lukin remained still, staring straight forward.
"We're supposed to be bonded in two days!" Kailin snapped, infuriated.
"Well, we won't be. You should be pleased."
"Thank the Suns, someone is being reasonable! This is just what I came in here to discuss with you Amuth. There are so many more suitable choices," the queen breathed a sigh of relief.
"That doesn't please me," Kailin snapped, ignoring Dana's outburst. "Why are you doing this?!"
"Lukin…" Kailin mimicked acerbically.
Lukin's gaze sharpened, his head turned towards the prince. "I'm doing this for you, you little fool! You've made your bonding preferences very clear. You've told me repeatedly you don't want to be bonded."
"Now?" Kailin sputtered out, "After 18 years, you're finally listening to me? At the worst possible time? Lukin…" Perverse as it might be, just hearing Lukin say the words to break their bond out loud, cemented Kailin's desire to go through with the bond.
For once Lukin looked unsure. "What are you saying, Kailin?"
"I'm saying, I don't want the bond broken."
"He's only trying to do the right thing," Dana interrupted harshly, reaching out to take Kailin's upper arm and shake. "Let him!"
Lukin growled, on his feet and immediately stepping towards them, "Take your hand off him…Your High Excellency."
Dana looked at him in disbelief, mouth opening and closing like a landed fish. "Why…I…You…"
When she didn't move, Lukin carefully, but firmly, took a hold of her wrist and pulled her hand off Kailin's arm. Every inch the fierce, Arlonite commander.
Dana ripped her arm back. "How dare you! Guards!"
Her personal guards took a wary step forward, away from the door. The Tower guards, all trained by and loyal to Lukin, stopped them easily.
Lukin turned back to Kailin, expression serious. "What is your objection to breaking the bonding promise?"
"My objection," Kailin practically shouted, "Is I don't want to break it. I want to be bonded to you."
"That's not what you've said to me, and it's not what you said to your mother last night."
"That's right!" Dana chimed in, tone almost accusing, "You agreed the bonding was inappropriate. You're an Arathrian Prince for Suns' sake, Kailin, be reasonable. You can't married a dir –"
Kailin's eyes flashed furiously, he took half a step towards his mother, "Do not use that word in front of me."
Dana looked at Amuth, hands on hips. "You can't seriously allow our son to behave in this way."
"Dana. Shut up."
She looked at him, mouth agape.
Amuth looked back at Lukin. "You know my thoughts on this. Kailin is yours. However, you are the dominant and the decision to bond is yours. If you choose the break the bonding promise, I will not, I cannot, stand in your way. However, know that is you break the bonding promise, it will be my duty to arrange another dominant bondmate to take your place."
"A more suitable bondmate," Dana snapped, ugly, red flags of colour marring her cheeks.
"I'm not bonding with anyone else," Kailin protested.
The king responded to Kailin without breaking gaze with Lukin, "You will have no say in it. He will have no say in it."
"Lukin!" Kailin said his name in a tone clearly looking for support.
Lukin was incensed by the king's clear threat and also by the thought of Kailin being bonded to another. It took every ounce of his hard-learned self-control not to explode. "Perhaps that is for the best."
"No!" Kailin's gaze was bright with betrayal.
"This is what you wanted, Kailin." Lukin reminded him almost desperately.
"It's not. I just…wanted a say, a choice, some control over my fate." Kailin shook his head. "Lukin, I want you for my dominant."
"Don't say that if you don't mean it," Lukin growled.
Queen Dana interjected, aghast, "You can't possibly…"
"I want it."
"So, the bonding will proceed as plan?" Amuth questioned wryly after the silence stretched a little too long.
Lukin was only able to play the honourable dominant so long. He had forced himself to open the cage door and give Kailin a way out, but damned if he was going to keep it open if Kailin ran back in of his own violation. Lukin looked to Kailin and then nodded. "Yes. The day after tomorrow, the bonding will go on as planned."
"Fine." The king's gaze landed on Lukin sternly. "Frankly, Paniz, I expected better from you than to give heed to Kailin's whims like this."
Lukin opened his mouth to respond, but Kailin beat him to it, snapping defensively, "Lukin doesn't –"
Rolling his eyes, Lukin wrapped his hand around the back of Kailin's neck, giving a squeeze and a signal to shut up. "Yes, Your High Excellency. I apologize. It won't happen again."
"Now, you've all wasted enough of my time with this nonsense." Amuth dismissed them with a wave of his hand. "Get out," he leveled his gaze at the queen, "All of you."
"You're holding my hand too tightly."
They were walking back towards the infirmary, when Kailin made the announcement.
Lukin blinked and looked over at him, almost as if he had been lost in thought and had forgotten Kailin was even there. He loosened his grip on Kailin's hand minutely. "Sorry."
It was the first word Lukin had spoken since they had left the king's office.
"Are you angry with me?"
"No." Lukin stopped after tossing out the word blithely. He amended more truthfully, "Yes."
"Oh." Kailin frowned and tried to tug his hand back. Lukin held it tight. "Why?"
"Several reasons. None I intend to get into here."
Kailin dug in his heels and Lukin was brought up short as the hand he was holding pulled back. The prince insisted, "Tell me."
Lukin ground his teeth. He could pull Kailin along despite the prince's… reluctance. He had the strength to do it easily. But he didn't. "I'm not having this discussion in the hallway."
Kailin's head swivelled around. Spotting a supply room, he turned and moved in that direction, Lukin, still holding his hand, was forced to follow.
Two servants were in the room and they look up at the disruption, in the process of arranging large tubs of cleaning products on the shelves.
Kailin angled his chin up, surveying them regally, "Get out."
Both servants hurried out of the room, hugging close to the wall to avoid the unthinkable transgression of brushing against the prince.
When they were alone, Kailin swung around to look at Lukin, "Well?"
"What under the Suns has you so angry?"
What did have him so angry? Lukin's emotions were a jumbled mess. He had resigned himself to releasing the bond. Then Kailin had come along and thrown everything askew again. Now the boy wanted to complete the bond. He should relieved. And he did. But he also felt angry that Kailin was fickle on the subject, that Kailin had put him through the pain of trying to break the bond, and anxious that now Kailin would change his mind again. Fear that this was all a mistake.
"I'm not sure we're doing the right thing."
"Do you remember what you said when we first met?" Kailin challenged.
Kailin hardened his gaze, unamused. "Not that."
Lukin remembered, of course he did. But Kailin had just been a little boy, surely he didn't remember that first meeting. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You said you'd keep me," Kailin reminded. "Are you going back on your word now?"
Lukin had nothing to say to that. The moment he had set eyes on the muddied, tear-stained, little blond, he had known the rest of his life would be tied to him. Though he was dominant, he had known in a matter of seconds that his life's purpose was to serve Kailin. That had never changed, never waived.
Kailin answered for him, "You're not breaking your word. I won't allow it."
"Just remember this when you grow sick of being bonded to an Arlonite and regret the whole thing. Know I tried to stop it."
"I will never regret this decision."
"You will. Sooner rather than later. You're a prince for Suns' sake. You won't be content with a life bonded to a…to me."
Kailin sighed and murmured, "You're too hard on yourself."
Lukin looked away, "There are things about me you don't know."
The prince looked up at Lukin, gaze steady. "I know everything about you."
Commander Paniz snorted. "Right."
"You haven't been far from my side since I was four, Lukin. I know you."
"No, you don't." He couldn't, Lukin had been so careful to hide the dark parts of himself from Kailin.
Kailin crossed his arms in front of himself, like armor. It was fitting, because it was starting to feel like he was going into battle. "What don't I know?" he challenged. "I don't know about Eline and Juni?"
Lukin's head snapped up, eyes sharpening. "So you somehow learned my parents' names. That doesn't prove anything."
"I know you haven't seen them since you left Arlon 18 years ago, though you've sent money back a few times. I know you have two brothers and three sisters. You haven't seen them either."
Lukin said nothing.
"I know you've killed before. Dozens of men who posed a threat me or the kingdom."
Still Lukin refused to take the bait.
"I know what they called you."
"A dirt-digger?" Lukin cracked and spit the obscenity out.
"No. The other."
Lukin grit his teeth, "What other?"
"You really want me to say it?"
He couldn't know, Lukin told himself. He had hid it too well. "What other?"
"They called you the Arlonite Whore." Kailin snapped belligerently. "Because you rekked your way through half the men in the service."
"I don't know what is more offensive," Kailin continued, "That you think I wouldn't know or that you'd think I would care. What you did with all those men, why you did it, doesn't change who you are, and it doesn't change how I see you."
Self-disgust rolled in Lukin's gut. Was he really so selfish, so greedy, he could go through with this? "You're perfect, Excellency…Y-you deserve so much better."
Kailin released a startled, 'ha', "I'm not perfect. You of all people should know that."
"You are. To me you are." Lukin wet his lips, catching Kailin's shoulders in his hands. "I'll probably be hell to be bonded with. I will be protective – overprotective even – and domineering, but you will be my world, I can promise you that, Kailin."
"I believe you."
"But you were against the bonding."
"I was against being forced to bond. I was being…stupid. Truly, Lukin, I want this."
"I'll hold you to that."
"Please, do." Kailin took a step forward. "You could just hold me, as well, if you want."
Lukin gathered Kailin against his chest, against his pounding heart. Kailin wrapped his arms around Lukin, squeezing tightly, his head resting on Lukin's shoulder.
Lukin held him. And held him. And held him.
"All done, Your Excellently. Thank you. You may dress again."
Kailin let out a sigh of relief, sitting on the edge of doctor's table, shirtless. The doctor had just finished examining him. Lukin stood by the door, glowering like a protective longfang mother guarding her cubs.
Kailin felt a little stab of irritation when the doctor stood from his stool and addressed Lukin directly. "He seems to be healing well. I see no reason for him to stay in the infirmary, Commander. Though the ribs will still be tender for several days, even weeks to come. No strenuous physical exertions, like heavy lifting. I would like to see him again in a week for a follow up. And of course, contact me at once if the pain sharpens or if he has any trouble taking deep breathes."
"I will, doctor." Kailin cut in touchily, pulling his shirt on. "I am still here, if it's skipped your notice."
"I…I was told…" The doctor looked to him, mortification clear. He rang his hands slightly. "Apologizes, Your Excellency. I heard a rumour the Commander was to be your bondmate."
It was common practice and manners to address the dominant bondmate in matters pertaining to a submissive.
"Ignore him," Lukin cut in, rolling his eyes. "He is still getting used to the idea. You have done nothing wrong."
"Doctor?" Kailin paused, fully dressed again. "May I ask about Captain Zaks V'Ox?"
"Captain V'Ox? Ah, yes, he was released to the care of his dominant, C'Oa, earlier today."
"What? How?" Kailin questioned rapidly, shoving his feet into his boots and tying them. "His injuries were a lot more severe than mine."
The doctor smiled at Kailin patronizingly and looked to Lukin with a wink. "His dominant was very insistent about it."
"WHAT?" Kailin snapped, "How could you –"
Lukin stepped between Kailin and the doctor and spoke to the man evenly. "Thank you, for checking His Excellency. That will be all."
The doctor left and Kailin smacked Lukin's arm. "That will be all? Rek, Zaks is one of your own men, your Captain, you should care about his wellbeing. He almost died protecting me; he shouldn't just be left to that uncaring, cold...child."
"Graven C'oa is only a few years younger than you, and he is –"
"Yes, I know you like him." Kailin interrupted dismissively, "But you're a dominant, no offensive, and a submissive can read a dominant's nature more easily. And the feeling I get off him…" Kailin shuddered lightly, "He's no good."
"He's a little… hard-nosed. I'll give you that. But Kailin, submissive or not, you have a defective read on dominants. You go in looking for problems. And you usually find them."
"That's not true."
"It is. Trust me. Zaks is in good hands."
Determination hardened Kailin's expression. Zaks had saved his life; he would do everything he could to repay the favour. "I need to at least see him. To make sure."
"Lukin! He could be delirious with fever and unable to care for himself. Or he could be bleeding out and no one would know, because Graven took him out of the hospital room too soon."
Lukin groaned; he recognized the signs of Kailin's legendary stubbornness. "You're not going to let this go are you?"
"No. Not until I see him."
"Fine, but right after that, we're going back to your rooms and you're going to rest. Without complaint. For the rest of the day."
Kailin huffed a sigh. "Fine."
It was Lukin who knocked on the door to Graven and Zaks' apartment. His other hand had a firm grip on Kailin's shoulder, as if he was afraid the prince was going to lunge in and attack as soon at the door opened.
After four bouts of knocking, the door swung open with a jerk.
"This had better rekking be good - !" Graven stopped himself when he finally focused his eyes on who exactly was at the door. He looked at Kailin first and then had to tilt his head back to look up at Lukin. His jaw set, a blood vessel pulsing at his temple. He took a breath in deliberately and then released it with a long puff of air. "Oh. Your Excellency? Commander?"
Kailin shot Graven he most regal, authoritative stare. "I am here to see Zaks."
The young, slight dominant held his ground, the dirty look he shot Kailin on the edge of being treasonous.
"I apologize for bothering you in your home." Lukin interrupted their stare down. "It will only take a moment."
Graven responded rudely, "My submissive is resting."
"Zaks." Kailin snapped. "He has a name."
"I know my submissive's name, thank you very much," Graven retorted almost childishly, his self-discipline obviously stretched thin. "What I don't know is why you are taking such an interest in him, Your Excellency."
Did he almost sound jealous? Kailin scrutinized the beady-eyed blond more closely, but it was impossible to tell what he was feeling, besides his obvious distain. His blue-grey eyes were unreadable, expression tight.
"I believe Kailin feels responsible for the captain, as he was injured protecting Kailin. If you would just allow Kailin to speak with him a few moments, we'll be out of your way." Lukin smoothed over.
Graven looked at Lukin again and then huffed and stepped back from the door. "Come in."
Kailin walked in, Lukin behind him.
Everything was grey. It was severe and lacked heart, everything precisely in its place. Everything, from the perfectly arranged bookshelf to the cold, hard lines of the furniture, screamed Graven.
Nothing reflected Zaks, Kailin thought. Zaks, the rough and tumble solider who was perfectly happy sleeping on a bedroll by the fire in the desert.
"Zaks is back in the bedroom." Graven explained. "If you'll take a seat, I'll go get him."
Kailin shook his head. "I can go back there; I don't want to disturb him at all."
"I would rather you not –!"
Graven shouldn't have bothered, Kailin ignored him and walked around him towards the alcove leading into the bedroom.
The bedroom was just as bleak as the front room. All grey and lifeless and hard. Zaks was reclining on the bed, but Kailin didn't even see him at first. He did see the shelves inset into the wall across from the bed. Weapons lay on each shelf. Knives on display. Whips. A paddle. A crop. Canes.
Kailin's gaze swung back to the bed. Zaks rolled off the mattress, standing. His arms were still wrapped in gaze, but the bandages on his head were off, revealing a brutal, half-healed wound on the right side of his head. His blond Mohawk was lying against the other side of his face. His skin looked pale still, dark eyes a little unfocused.
"Commander." Zaks nodded to Lukin who stood at the door to the bedroom as Graven pushed in after Kailin. Zaks eyed them, clearly confused.
Graven toed a well-worn silver cushion on the floor by the bed. "Kneel."
Zaks' dropped to his knees automatically, no hesitation in following Graven's blunt command.
Kailin grit between his teeth. "It is really necessary to stand on ceremony? Can't you see he's still hurt and should still be in bed?"
Graven didn't rise to the bait. "You've seen him now. Satisfied? His injuries are healing and I haven't done away with him."
"The position makes it a little harder for us to talk." Kailin glared.
"You are welcome to kneel as well. If it would make it easier for you, Your Excellency."
Kailin practically growled. He didn't kneel, he wouldn't give Graven the satisfaction, but he did crouch down a little. "Are you ok, Zaks?"
"Fine, Your Excellency. As Graven said, my injuries are healing." Zaks' brow drew together quizzically, he asked more informally, his gravelly voice lowering slightly, "What are you doing here, Kailin?"
"I just wanted to make sure you're okay."
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Ah, I'm glad, of course." Kailin side stepped the question. Uncomfortably away Graven was standing only a few feet away, listening to their every word, Kailin changed the topic. "Lukin and I are bonding the day after tomorrow. On the Feast of Arali. I was hoping you might attend, even just for the feast. If you're feeling up to it, of course."
Zaks looked up, eyes finding Graven.
"You don't need his permission." Kailin frowned.
Zaks almost smiled. "You misinterpret. I was looking to Graven because with the festival and your bonding, he must have a million things to do at work and yet he hasn't left our apartment."
"He wouldn't have known about our bonding," Kailin brushed off, "I didn't even know until a day ago."
Zaks chuckled, "There is nothing related to the Tower and its occupants that Graven does not know."
Kailin glanced up to Graven who looked back smugly. "I knew. I knew before you. Before the commander. I knew when you went off on your little escape. Right after the commander went after you, your father started plans for the bonding ceremony."
Flustered, Kailin looked to Lukin. The commander arched an eyebrow and shrugged. It was certainly possible. King Amuth had been the one to suggest the day of the festival for the bonding. The man was the most calculating person Lukin had ever met.
Lukin leaned his head in the direction of your door. "Come, Kailin. You've checked on the captain. Now let's leave and let him rest."
Stubbornly, Kailin couldn't give up. "Zaks if there's anything you want to tell me… Anything I could do for you…"
"I do not know what you are getting at, Kailin…"
"If Graven is mistreating you…"
Frustrated, Kailin finally flung his arm out in the direction of the sunken shelves. "Are you honestly going to tell me he doesn't hit you with those things?"
For a moment, Zaks looked startled. He paused and then answered, "He does."
Grave interrupted crossly, "You don't need to explain anything to him…"
"He does." Zaks met Kailin's gaze steadily and clarified. "When I ask him to."
"I told you to keep your nose out of it." Lukin walked behind Kailin towards the prince's quarters.
Kailin was walking fast, mortified and annoyed. "How could anyone…"
Lukin caught Kailin's elbow right at his door, forcing him to stop and turn. "Many couples engage in such play. I know you're not that naïve."
Lukin glanced up and down the corridor. "In."
Kailin punched in the code and the door slid open. He went in, and Lukin followed closer. "Well, do you?"
"Not to the extent I want an armoury in our bedroom. I have no desire to inflict real pain on you; in fact, I would sooner cut off my own hand. However, we have established I am aroused by binding you. And I am not opposed to other lovers' play."
Kailin huffed, still looking put out. Fortunately, he was distracted by a package on the table by the door. "What's that?"
Lukin glanced over at it, recognizing the markings. "Oh. I ordered that when the date of the bonding was first chosen. I…uh…tried to pick out things you would like."
The commander looked nervous, not that anyone else would be able to tell. Kailin had the unparalleled advantage of having practically his whole life to study up on the minutia of Lukin's expressions.
Unwrapping the bundle, Kailin realized quickly what it was. Clothes.
Bonding tradition and law both specified that submissives were unable to take anything from their unbounded life into their new life with their bondmate. Nothing. The dominant becomes fully responsible for everything their submissive needs, in order to demonstrate their ability to be good providers and caretakers.
This demonstration started with the bonding clothes which were always picked independently by the dominant. Lukin must have hated that, Kailin thought in the back of his mind, the man was not one for fashion.
One piece at a time, Kailin inspected the garments. They was a pair of fine cotton briefs, which he quickly tucked under the pile, slightly embarrassed by the fact Lukin have to pick out underwear for him. He moved quickly onto a pair of white, linen pants and a loose-fitting, but clearly tailored shirt, white as well. They weren't fancy (he had easily a dozen suits in his closet that the moment that were finer), but they were well-made and serviceable.
"I…" Unsure of what one says in this situation, Kailin finally settled on, "Thank you."
Sensing the hesitation, Lukin bristled, expression closing off, "If they are not suitable..."
"No, no, they'll do." Kailin hurriedly assured him.
Looking less than convinced, Lukin let it go. Tone gruff, he suggested, "You should try them on later. Let me know if they don't fit."
Kailin set the pile back down on the table, smoothing the folds self-consciously with his fingers, "I will. But I'm sure they're fine."
The bonding clothes seemed to make the whole thing seem more real. It was actually going to happen. In two days. Even less now.
Lukin continued. "Do you want anything from your father?" To get around the rules, new dominant bondmates often purchased the submissive's belonging from his or her guardian.
Kailin nodded slowly, "I'll put some things in a box. If that's okay with you. Some of my favourite clothes, a few pictures, the game of tegs Araz gave me for my birthday."
Kailin nodded, suddenly full of nerves, "We have a lot of things to get in order in a day and a half..."
A masculine smile spread over Lukin's lips, he stepped forward, dark eyes bright.
Kailin gave him a look, "What?"
Lukin leaned in and caught Kailin's lips in a soft kiss, the unshaven scruff around his mouth almost tickling.
After a moment Kailin returned the kiss, melting against Lukin, fingers grabbing the front of Lukin's shirt. The scent of Lukin's skin, familiar and arousing.
When he pulled back, Kailin looked up at him, half-dazed. "What was that for?"
"Because I wanted to. Because I can."
Kailin's lips tingled. He leaned up, catching Lukin's bottom lip between his own, nipping lightly. "If you can, I can."
"Mmm," Lukin rumbled softly, "How I am supposed to wait two days to claim you?"
Eyes shadowed by his lashes, Kailin answered provocatively, "Maybe you don't have to."
"Kailin…" Lukin said his name forebodingly. Warning him not to tease.
"You've already bound me…After that, what's a little thing like claiming early?"
"We'll talk more about it after. Right now, I want you in bed resting." Lukin rested his hand on the back of Kailin's shoulder and pushed him towards the bedroom.
"C'mon, Lukin, I'm really not ever tired."
"You can't order me around. I'm not your submissive," Kailin reminded him deliberately.
In a split second, Lukin's expression turned from indulgent to savage. Rek, after all of this? Kailin was still returning to that rekking scut? "Kailin –"
A smile played at the corner of Kailin's lips. "Yet."
The commander stopped short. "Excuse me?"
"I'm not your submissive. Yet." Kailin restated it, smile broadening. "Day and a half."
Lukin groaned. "Just go get in bed."
"You're impossibly bossy, you know."
"Just practicing for after the bonding."
Kailin rolled his eyes, "You've had 18 years of practice already. Trust me: you've mastered bossy."
Lukin pointed to the bedroom. "Go."
"If you go with me."
Lukin's head snapped up, other parts of his anatomy snapped to attention as well.
Kailin smiled, half-shy, half-coquettish, stepping back to towards the bedroom, "We're to be bonded in less than two days. No one will know if you claim me early…"
"Are you serious?"
"You don't want to?"
"I want to. Rek, I want to. But I can wait…"
"I don't want to wait." Kailin turned and disappeared into the bedroom, sending Lukin a promising look over his shoulder.
Lukin groaned. He may be the dominant. But Kailin, Kailin had always called the shots.
Kailin stopped by the bed, Lukin walked right up to him, eyes hooded, expression serious. "Are you sure you don't want to wait?"
"No. I want you. I want to show you how much I want you."
"Okay, but tell me if you change your mind, or if you need me to slow down." It would be torture, but for Kailin…
Kailin nodded his compliance.
Lukin tugged his shirt over his head, revealing his broad chest, thick with muscles. Kailin watched him closely and then reached for his own shirt.
Lukin shook his head. "No, let me." Reverently, Lukin unfastened each button down the front of Kailin's shirt and then pulled it off. That task complete, he reached down, tugging Kailin's pants open and then sliding them down, too. Slowly, inch by inch, more golden skin was revealed. Burning Suns, he was beautiful. Lukin wet his lips.
Naked, Kailin sat back onto the bed, eyes never leaving Lukin. Lukin shucked his own pants, his cock already starting to stand up, filling out.
He moved closer, nudging Kailin's knees apart to step between his legs.
Almost tentative, Kailin reached out and closed a hand around Lukin's shaft, his fingers barely able to touch.
Lukin hissed, a low unplanned sound.
"Is this…okay?" Kailin asked.
Lukin just nodded and grit his teeth. Kailin stroked him with excruciating slowness, his fist squeezing up towards the plum-like head. A clear drop of precum escaped the head, illustrating Lukin's rapid arousal.
Emboldened, Kailin started stroking faster, twisting his wrist slightly, as he did when he masturbated his own cock.
Lukin's cock thickened further, quickly reaching a solid, impressive length. Kailin's hand slid along the shaft, which felt like silk over steel. Another drop of liquid escaped the head and Kailin's thumb moved to wipe it up. Lukin inhaled sharply, hand coming out to grab Kailin's wrist. "Stop."
Kailin stopped his ministrations.
"I want you too much." Lukin explained. "If you keep that up..."
Kailin nodded in understanding. "What should I do?"
"Tell me you have protection."
Kailin nodded to the bedside table. Lukin took a small jar of lubricant out. Luckily, the slick gel worked as a lubricant and it created a film over the skin that acted a barrier against any possible viruses. Lukin slicked some over his heavy, aching cock.
Kailin obeyed again, shifting back on the mattress.
Lukin crawled over to him. He leaned in and kissed Kailin's shoulder, his breath warm. His lips made Kailin's skin prickle. He kissed his way up, over Kailin's throat, to his jaw, before capturing Kailin's lips in a long, slow kiss.
As their lips and tongues slipped together, his hands stroked Kailin's chest, teasing his small, pale pink nipples, touch careful.
Between them, Kailin's member became flushed, hardening and lifting up to meet Lukin's. Lukin expertly dropped a hand between them, stroking both of their cocks together. Kailin gasped at the sensation of Lukin's fingers, his cock, pressed tight alongside his own.
Lukin stroked them both at a building, strong pace.
Kailin's hands came up, grasping at Lukin's arms for support, his body quivering, tension building in his stomach and lower. As his hips started lifting, fucking Lukin's fist, the commander stopped, taking his hand away. Kailin whimpered, eyes snapping back to focus. "Ngghhh…"
Lukin smirked down at him, proud he was able to give Kailin pleasure so easily. Time for more.
He braced himself over Kailin with one arm, his other hand reached down, caressing over Kailin's full sac. Kailin gasped, his thighs trembling, but spreading wider in response.
Not taking his eyes off of Kailin's, Lukin slid his fingers lower, brushing over Kailin's ass, pushing between his round cheeks.
When he tried to circle a lubed finger over Kailin's opening the young prince tensed, hips jerking away.
He gave Kailin a look, staring down at him. "You know what's going to happen, don't you?"
Kailin looked up him, eyes shining with uncertainty.
"I'm going to claim you. I'm going to be inside you. So deep you'll never forget the feeling."
Kailin released a shuddering breath, teeth grasping at his lower lip.
"But I don't want to hurt you, so you have to let me prepare you."
Kailin gave a jerking nod.
"Good. Don't pull away from me again." Dominance bled through in the command. The dominant drive intensified with intimate contact with submissives.
When he reached down again, Kailin didn't bow away, but Lukin did feel him tense a little. "That's it, boy," he coaxed, teasing his finger around the rim of Kailin ass.
Kailin make a strangled sound, his cheeks flushing. Lukin leaned down and kissed him, swallowing the moan he made when Lukin pushed his finger in the knuckle. Lukin continued to press his finger in and out slowly, kissing Kailin the whole time to distract him. He didn't rush it, though he was painfully hard and wanted nothing more than to burry himself in Kailin and fuck him brutally. Instead, Lukin worked him open slowly, adding a second finger when Kailin started moving back against the first one. The second finger forced more whimpers from Kailin.
Lukin curled his free hand around the back of Kailin's neck, holding tightly, "Relax more, Kailin, I'm much bigger than those two fingers."
Kailin could do nothing but look up at him, taking the two fingers in deep.
When Lukin had fantasied about this (and he had, quite frequently) he had wondered what it would feel like to have Kailin naked in his arms. Would it make him feel guilty for sullying all that golden skin with his large, darker, calloused hands?
He didn't have a chance to feel guilt, or inadequacy, his every thought was occupied with memorizing Kailin's responses and feeding his pleasure. Drawing his fingers almost out of the tight hole, Lukin tucked a third in before pushing them back in.
A reedy, desperate moan broke from Kailin's lip, the discomfort making his flushed cock lose its hardness.
Kneeling back between Kailin's legs, Lukin held his fingers still and closed his other hand around Kailin's cock, stroking firmly. It took only a few dozen strokes to bring Kailin back to hardness and a dozen more before he was mewling and shifting his hips to shift on the fingers stretching his ass.
The jerks of Kailin's hips signaled to Lukin that he could move his fingers again, and he did. He thrust the digits in and out, focusing on loosening the hole for his cock, occasionally brushing his fingertips against the bundle of nerves inside that made Kailin pant and buck.
Soon, Kailin's hole became more pliant, his dick painfully hard in Lukin's hand and dribbling precum with each tug of his fist. Lukin pulled his fingers from Kailin's hole and the tight ring of muscle twitched and contracted, as if trying to keep him in.
"Ready?" Lukin's voice came out hoarse. He reached down and positioned the head of his cock at Kailin's hole, but didn't push in without confirmation.
Strong, long legs tightened over his waist, urging him on, "Take me. Claim me."
He couldn't hold back. He rocked his hips forward, wide, rock-hard cock sliding in inch by inch.
It burned, Kailin's eyes stung from it. But he made no effort to try to pull away. Lukin held him steady, slowly sinking in, all the way in. His head bent forward, watching himself disappear into Kailin's hole, watching it stretch to take him.
He grabbed and held Kailin, one hand on his hip, other on the opposite shoulder. It gave him a little more leverage as he thrust into the willing body, slow at first and then faster, harder.
"Don't stop," Kailin's voice panted in the empty room. He never knew anything could feel this right. Like this was what he was born for, not for being a prince, but for giving Lukin pleasure with his body. The truest compulsion of a submissive drive.
Despite being named the Arlonite Whore since his teens (or perhaps because of it), sex with Kailin was a revelation. There was no artifice in his reactions; each gasp and moan and curl of his fingers was untainted.
He grasped at Lukin, needy and mewling.
Lukin snapped his hips, fucking harder and faster, losing his rhythm.
Kailin moaned, head tilting back against the pillows, throat exposed. He let out a litany of 'oh, oh, oh's.
Lukin leaned in, kissing the exposed flesh and then nipping at Kailin's throat, shoulder. Kailin shuddered, breathlessly. "Lukin, I need…I need to…"
Lukin reached down, fingers finding and curling around Kailin's prick between their bodies. "Go ahead, come. Come now, for me."
That was all it took, with a guttural cry Kailin started to orgasm, prick pulsing and shooting, ass clenching tight.
Lukin groaned, the tendons in his neck stood out as he strained, holding on to fuck Kailin through his climax. He managed ten erratic thrusts in that tight, clamping heat before he was coming, too. Harder than he ever had before, vision blurring.
For a minute after, they panted to catch their breathes. Muscles jittery in the aftermath. Eventually though, Lukin pulled out slowly, hating the whimpered inhalation Kailin made, the young prince clearly sore from the claiming.
He wet his lips, looking down. Under Kailin's spent cock and soft sac, Lukin's ejaculate could be seen trickling from Kailin's opening. Pure possessiveness thrummed through him, carried by his rapidly beating heart.
Kailin groaned softly, rolling out from Lukin, flinging himself face down in the blankets. "Rekkkk."
Soothingly, Lukin stroked a hand down the blonde's sweat-slick back. "Do you want me to help you to the shower?"
"Ngh. Don't want to move." Kailin's answer came, muffled into the pillow.
Lukin wanted a shower himself, but he wasn't about to leave Kailin alone in the bed after what they had just shared. The dominant settled down in the bed, sweat and cum damp sheets a little unpleasant. He turned on his side, watching every breath the prince took.
"Are you okay?" He asked the question quietly, in case Kailin was asleep.
Kailin mumbled something.
Lukin hesitated; he knew Kailin had received pleasure, but, dammit, he wanted the words. "Kai…"
Kailin lifted his head from the pillow, craning his neck to look back at Lukin. He was clearly worn out. His gaze unfocused, irises dark with spent passion, almost a sea green. His blond hair fell forward, tangled and damp. His lips were swollen. "Lukin?"
"Nothing. Just go to sleep."
Trustingly, Kailin sank back into the mattress, within moments soft snores could be heard. Lukin shifted closer, wrapping an arm over Kailin, fingers carding through the soft blonde hair. He moved closer, resting against Kailin, leaning up at kissing the nape of his submissive's neck. He felt the younger man relax more deeply into sleep at his touch.
Now he understood what he'd sensed instinctively since the first time he had seen the prince; since the morning he'd climbed out of the obstacle course and seen the boy standing in the shrubs, red-eyed and muddy.
Kailin K'Or was his.
Outside the Tower, three people stood in the shadows as the light in the prince's rooms went dark.
"That's not enough time. We're not ready."
"You don't have any more time. The bonding is set to take place the day after tomorrow. After that it will be too late. Fools."
"You said – "
"What do propose we do now?"
"Do I have to think of everything? Listen. This is what you do – "
Ooooh, getting closer to the end, gettin' excited :) I want to thank everyone for their kind reviews and their patience as my chapters come out more slowly. You guys rock and making struggling with the new chapters all worth it. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a review if you have a moment.