It was far beyond mid-day by the time Daegon found himself heading home. He didn't know how he was going to try to explain this one to Birten. He had done some horrible things before, and treated his squire like filth, but he hadn't shared a bed with anyone else since they spent their first night together.
Elan's lavish home was on the first street on the ring of residences nearest the castle, so it wasn't a great distance from his own home on the next street over. He didn't have a whole lot of time to try to come up with a story to explain his whereabouts for the past several hours. Daegon could spew a lie like it was a second language, tell tales as if they were an utter fact. But this time was different.
And before he knew it, he was at the entrance to his home. He hadn't come up with a reasonable excuse. At this point, he'd just have to wing it. Maybe he'd tell the truth. He tended to be a temperamental, boisterous man, so feelings of guilt didn't feel natural to him. He always said what was on his mind, uncaring of how it impacted the receiver. But Birten was no ordinary receiver, and this was no ordinary situation.
Hesitantly, he pushed open the door. It was silent aside from the loud, melodic ticking of the bulky tabletop clock that sat on his desk in the den. He made his way inside, into the main room, and closed the door behind him. "Birten?" he called, shedding his coat and draping it over a nearby chair.
He scanned the room. Everything was just as he'd left it. Peeking his head into his bedroom, the same was true. The bed was made, the thick woolen blanket pulled taut over the surface. The pillows were fluffed, no indentations reflecting that they had been used recently. He wasn't sure if Birten had slept here and had straightened up when he'd woken or if the bed was still put together from the night before.
Everything else was largely in order in the kitchen and bathroom as well. He ignored the second bedroom, as neither of them ever entered it. Finally he made his way into the den, which is where they spent most of their time. Books lined the shelves, a few other trinkets littered amongst them. His swords stood gallantly in their rack. A stack of old newspapers sat in the corner. Nothing seemed out of place.
He wasn't sure what to make of the status of the house. Considering he'd never spent a night at another man's home in the time the two of them had been sleeping together, he didn't know what Birten's mindset might be. He could be worried, searching the streets for him. He might be angry, back at his own house, unwilling to face him. There were a handful of possibilities, but none of them were pleasant.
Sighing heavily, he sank into the desk chair. The clock continued to tick, clucking a tsk tsk tsk at him. He stared at it.
It was large, taking up at least a third of the desktop. Wooden, birch maybe, and carved into the shape of a dragon, it was one of his most prized material possessions. Clocks were somewhat of a hot commodity in Jhirdyr. Clockmaking was an expensive practice, and thus it was primarily the wealthy that owned them. It was rare for a standard household to include any kind of mechanical timepiece, and the same would have been true for Daegon had it not been for Birten.
The squire had been saving up money in secret for months. A squire's wage was definitely not compatible with justifying the purchase of such an object, but Birten was very savvy when it came to money. He cut corners where he could, haggling with vendors and finding cheaper alternatives for everyday purchases. He was also a smooth talker; he had been able to get the clockmaker to shave off about a quarter of the asking price.
He had finally given it to Daegon on the day that marked one year of their companionship as slayer and squire. Daegon had grunted a thanks, given Birten a rough kiss, and pulled him into bed immediately after being given the gift. It was partially due to keeping up appearances, partially due to his horniness, and partially due to him being a raging dick in general. He certainly hadn't appreciated the gesture as much upon initially receiving it as he learned to over time. Especially now. Not that he would ever admit such a thing to the kid.
He studied it, taking time to appreciate the craftsmanship in the carving. The outline of the dragon was etched deep into the wood, making the figure stand out. Each scale had been painstakingly scooped and textured, creating a decently realistic depiction. The dragon itself was looped in a circle, which was conversely an extremely unrealistic pose. The tough exterior of the beast would never allow one to bend that way in actuality.
The clock face itself filled the interior of the ring created by the carving. It was far from impressive in comparison, but it did its job as a clock. The scrap metal hands shifted clunkily as the minutes ticked by. It was loud, every click audible in each room of the house.
He sat there for what seemed like hours, but in reality per the clock was only a few minutes. He thought of Birten's thoughtfulness, kindness, dedication, and all the other good qualities he brought to the table. He was a good man.
Elan, on the other hand, was far from a saint. He made Daegon seem like a kinder individual in comparison. He was notorious for being brusque and straightforward to a fault. Along with his success came the apparent justification to act the way he did.
That, in part, was what drew Daegon to him. Elan was far more similar to him in personality than Birten. In many facets, Birten was a pushover. Where he catered to what Daegon wanted, Elan was more of a chase. Maybe that's what Daegon needed. Someone to knock him down a few pegs. To keep him on his toes.
It wasn't their natures alone in which they differed, though. Where Birten was thin and lithe, Elan was strong and muscular. Where Birten was several inches shorter, Elan was tall and sturdy. Elan's brown skin contrasted severely against Birten's pale complexion. Birten was cute, handsome even. But Elan was a sexual brute. They were night and day.
The more he thought about it, the less guilty he felt. Sure, the way he went about it and the events that transpired the night before weren't classy by any means. At the same time, wasn't everything running through his head just proof that he was settling? He was a slayer, after all. He could get whoever he wanted. Wasn't another slayer a pretty damn good fit?
As he continued justifying his actions in his head, a floorboard creaked. He turned his head toward the entrance of the room. It was Birten.
"Daegon," he said curtly, nodding once. It was an oddly brisk greeting from the squire. He walked across the room slowly and sat in a chair that sat against the adjacent wall. The familiar scent of alcohol wafted by as he did so.
"Have you been to a pub?" Daegon was surprised by the smell. Birten drank, but certainly not as much or often as Daegon. It was uncommon to see him drunk.
"I stopped off and had a few ales," Birten confirmed offhandedly, tugging off his footware. He pulled his socks off as well, tossing them aside carelessly. He fell let his head fall backward against the back of the chair, emitting a gentle sigh. "I felt like a few beverages."
Daegon nodded, though Birten wasn't looking at him. He cleared his throat and rubbed his neck absentmindedly. "Did you sleep at your house last night?" He said it lamely, unsure how else to find out how much Birten might surmise about the previous night's occurrences without immediately giving himself away.
"I did. I figured what with the feast and all, you'd be getting home late. Between that and your leg, I thought you could use some alone time. This is the first I've been back to your place since you left for the dinner." His response was stiff, almost rehearsed. There was the possibility he was lying, but Daegon would have no way of knowing for certain unless he admitted his actions.
He cleared his throat again, almost involuntarily. "Ah, I see. It's appreciated. I'm feeling better since our visit to the medicine woman. But still, it's appreciated." Now he was the one to sound stiff.
Watching Birten sit there limply in his chair, he was torn. He still was confident that he shouldn't beat himself up over what he had done. However, it did start bringing back memories from Elan's house.
Clothes flying off. Brawny, tight abdomen muscles sliding against each other. Sweating, moaning, hardening; all involuntarily. The feel of Elan's scarred chest under his fingers was invigorating. A man that had been through it. The taste of his experienced lips, the feel of his expert fingers as they patrolled his ass. His nails, digging into his back. In the current moment, he swallowed hard. Once again he found himself perspiring through no control of his own.
They sat there silently for a while, Birten unmoving in his chair and Daegon trying not to bring attention to himself as the lustful thoughts ran through his head. As when he arrived, the only sound was the ticking of the clock.
Until a knock came from the front door. At that, Birten's head lifted and the two men made eye contact. They shared a quizzical expression. Rarely did they get any unexpected company, and especially in late afternoon. They sat frozen in curiosity until the knock sounded again.
Birten steadied himself as he used the arms of the chair to push himself into a standing position. "Who in the…?"
He exited the den and made his way back into the front room. Daegon heard the door creak open and the muffled sounds of Birten and another male speaking.
Anxiety began flooding his insides as the stifled voices continued conversing. He was praying internally that it wasn't Elan. Elan had gall, sure, but he hoped he wouldn't be so brazen as to show up to his house unannounced when he knew of the current situation Daegon was in.
The sweat that had been peppering his brow, the sweat from the dirty thoughts he had been having about the more tenured slayer, was quickly replaced by the sweat of nervousness. This could be revelation of the truth that he had briefly considered sharing with Birten himself, the veracity coming straight from the horse's mouth.
After a handful of painstaking ticks from the dragon clock, Birten had padded back into the den and was looking far more confused than when they had initially heard the knock. His brow was furrowed and his mouth agape. He looked like he had just seen a ghost.
"Who is it?" Daegon asked, warily. He was outed. Told on. Revealed. He knew it.
Birten just stared. "The prince."