Galloping Conclusions




by



Ann Marie Olson





Story © 2000 Ann Marie Olson









      A freezing draft brought Nashen out of a sound sleep. Complaining bitterly, he muttered vile imprecations about the idiots who'd last weather sealed the window. He'd have much rather been woken by love's hand's sliding over his body.
      "You don't mean that, do you?"
      Arkay's rich voice brought him the rest of the way awake. He couldn't believe what he'd done. Terror colder than the February wind chilled his soul. "Not you!" He shivered, whether in fear or cold he wasn't sure. He couldn't risk Arkay. They'd only been together months. Of course Arkay wouldn't have woken with his hormones raging out of control. Nashen accepted the difference in their ages, even, like now, when he wished it weren't true with all his heart ... or other parts.
      "Hush," Arkay's weight returning to the bed made it creak. What was he doing up? It was still dark thirty! He wanted to beg his lover to return, despite the cold hand shocking Nashen to his toenails. He could warm up Arkay's hand. He even had the perfect place to do so.
     
      Arkay wished he knew what he could do for Nashen. He'd never known anyone so reticent to ask for anything. The long winter nights were made for sloth, but he didn't want to disappoint Nashen by not keeping up his end of the work. Running Fatima was laughably easy compared to Azov or Kirov. Fatima's children were far more self willed and required relatively little guidance, only the reassurance they had a leader.
      He sighed and looked at his warm bed and warmer Sime with longing. How wonderful it would be to cuddle back up with Nashen and go back to sleep ... or other things. He knew Gens had a much higher libido than Simes. Mornings like this one were proof of it. All he wanted to do was curl up around his lover and loose himself in Nashen's warmth.
      Grumbling to himself at the unfairness of life in general, he slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom.
      A string of Arabic curses curled his hair. "What ... what is it?" He hurried back to Nashen's side. His silky, wonderful smooth skin was burning hot. "Nashen, lover," the combination of the two words was still amazing to him. Never before had he ever had any Sime so close to his heart as the much younger Lord Fatima.
      His silver eyes opened in shock. "I'm sorry," he blushed, his fair skin showing his embarrassment like glass. "Didn't mean to be so noisy."
      "I did something wrong," Arkay was at a loss. If only Nashen would open up to him! "Again." Hmmm, yes, open up to him. His wandering libido conjured up images of Nashen's splendid, warm thighs opening to him in invitation. He had to get out of here!
      "No, my beautiful one," Nashen's silver lashes traced glittering lines over his knife sharp cheekbones. "Startled me is all."
      That wasn't all. His body was curled up into a tiny ball. A good trick for a man two meters tall. Slender, strong arms were wrapped around his long legs. Realizing his own hands were already freezing cold, Arkay removed them from Nashen's too tempting body. No matter how much he wanted his lover, he'd not coerce him. The only way to be sure was to leave!
     
      Nashen wanted to weep with the way Arkay pulled away from him. All he wanted was to not be a bother. Now it seemed he'd really made a mess. How could he show Arkay how much he wanted him? Other than his unruly flesh trying to turn into a rock of course.
      Even the thought of it was amazing. Arkay, his, to hold and love and touch. He'd dreamed, hidden even to himself, of being able to so much as touch Arkay's fingers. Now he slept with the man and had even touched his glorious nager. How could he be so greedy as to want more? The hot wetness of tears shamed him even as they fell to the pillow beneath his cheek.
     
      Arkay watched in stunned horror as Nashen began to cry. "Don't cry, my sweet," he struggled to figure out what to do. Karola's wise words to do one thing at a time, returned to him. "I'll be back," he hurried off to tell everyone he'd be unavailable today. Maybe, just maybe, if he could get his mind out of his crotch, he could manage to comfort Nashen without importuning him.
     
      Nashen clutched at the largest of their pillows. He heard the door shut with a snick and began crying in earnest. He'd run Arkay off. Why couldn't he do anything right? All he'd wanted to do was not mess things up. Now Arkay was gone.
      The knowledge he'd be back for their transfer at the end of the month was a poor second to his warm weight at Nashen's side. They were bound, Alahin and Alamir unto death, but that didn't mean Arkay was chained. Nashen would never have wanted that. He wanted Arkay to want him. Oh how he wanted Arkay to want him. His spirit, and yes, loins, burned with the desire to know his lover yet again. Again and again as a matter of fact. Say all day, with only a few pauses for naps and food. That was what winter was for, wasn't it?
      At last, eyes and nose sore with weeping, Nashen struggled to extricate himself from the bedding. Figuring it would be better to try to loose himself in work, he pulled himself together to go in search of it. Maybe he could convince his body it wouldn't die if he didn't get laid.
      He glanced downward. It wasn't listening.
     
      It was one thing after another this morning. First he'd nicked himself shaving, as any idiot renGen in the sharm would have done. Then he'd managed to get himself entangled in one insoluble problem after another.
      "Now get out of here!" He shouted down the obnoxious woman. "I don't care if the cook lost ten kilograms of coffee. We can afford it!" This was not the price he'd wanted to pay to distract his body. Dealing with Fatima's renGens, in the middle of winter, was a thankless job. Most of them seemed to be far more interested in lolling about in bed than in working.
      The fact Arkay would rather be lolling about in bed did not help matters any.
      "No we can't," a pinch faced, surly Gen glared at him.
      "I am Sharm Lord Fatima and you will do as I say!" He'd lost all temper with the fanatically miserly accountant hours ago but had tried to remember his dignity. Yes, dignity. Not something he'd have thought he'd ever be in danger of loosing. But not right now. His temper had reached the breaking point hours ago. Shortly after he'd left Nashen as a matter of fact.
      "If I hear one more word from you before the end of the week you're fired!"
      "You can't send me away," she twisted her hands in her lap. Her broad behind was still firmly planted on the chair. "Ten grams today, fifteen tomorrow, kilos after that! Who knows where it will stop."
      "I do ... right now!" He leaned over his desk. "You are fired, Gen Yana," he glared down at her in fury. "Get out!" At least she was Gen. If she were Sime he'd probably have been desperate enough to be willing to bargain.
      "I'll speak to Lord Fatima," her hand made the sign against the evil eye. "You're not one of us." Arkay would much rather be the one to talk with Lord Fatima, horizontally.
      "He is my Alamir and I speak with his voice in the sharm," Arkay heard his own voice go flat.
      "You aren't one of the faithful," her mutter in Arabic only fueled his anger. He took a deep breath.
      "There is no God but God and Muhammed is His prophet," Arkay spoke the words of acceptance with all his heart and soul behind it. "You are a child of Fatima and as such, bound to Her. You will not be turned out of Fatima, but you will leave my office right NOW!"
      "Anyone can mouth the words of faith," her mouth seemed permanently set in a frown.
      "If you don't leave, you will be put under ban for a month!"
      "You can't!" Her chin quivered. "Only Sharm Lord Fatima can proclaim a ban on one of Her own."
      Hadn't this bint been listening? "I am Sharm Lord Fatima," he stalked around the heavy desk. Picking up the chair she sat in, Arkay dumped her on the floor. "Now if you don't move your plump little rear out that door, I'm going to kick it out ... physically!" He tried to hike up his kador in preparation and realized he'd forgotten to put on underclothes. The inappropriateness of the thought completely ruined what measure of composure he'd managed to gain.
      With a sniff and another glare, Yana sashayed out of his office. Arkay'd had it. Locking the door, he looked upwards. There was a very large air duct near the corner of the room. If he went back through the halls, he'd be sure to be stopped. But if he went through the ventilation system ...
     
      Nashen choked down his pride and went looking for Arkay. Gens were scurrying through the sharm like a kicked over pile of ants. It was impressive. Usually this time of year they were indolent to the point of being nearly comatose. All of them were muttering with their nagers about their discomforts.
      To Nashen, it was physically painful. What had Arkay been doing? Murals which hadn't been scrubbed in twenty years were being repainted. Sand was being replaced in all the hallways. Nashen nearly tripped over a set of workmen retiling one of the ceilings.
      At last he came to the Sharm Lord's offices below. They'd been abandoned since Taina left him, but from the lack of new paint smell, Arkay'd installed himself immediately on his return as Fatima's Sharm Lord. The walls were beautifully done in all five colors of the demense, spelling out verses from the Koran in fantastic script from floor to ceiling. Nashen wondered who he'd gotten to do the work so well and so quickly.
      He rapped on the closed door to the Sharm Lord's office. "He's in a pissy mood today, my Lord Fatima." The most annoying and incompetent of all Fatima's accountants accosted him.
      "Yes, Yana?" She never spoke up unless she wanted something, which was always.
      "He's throwing away Fatima's selyn!" Her wide eyed panic would have been believable if Nashen didn't know the woman.
      "How so?" was it milligrams of sugar or salt this time, Nashen wondered.
      "He threatened to fire me!" Her nager spoke otherwise.
      "Sharm Lord Fatima doesn't threaten." He towered over the rather plump woman. "Are you saying he did?" From this vantage the soft curve of her breasts was painfully obvious. He closed his eyes. Why me? He didn't want anyone but Arkay. Behind his eyelids he saw Arkay's broad chest, covered in his thick thatch of silvered hair. He could feel the crinkle of it as he pressed his hand over Arkay's heartbeat. His own raced as he imagined Arkay's eyes turn hot with desire as he bent his lover backwards over his desk.
      "He doesn't know anything," Yana shredded his fantasies to dust. "How dare he claim to be of the faithful?"
      "How dare you say otherwise?" Nashen was incensed. If this was the sort of thing Arkay was getting from Fatima's children, no wonder he was out of sorts. He grabbed the woman's collar and bodily forced her out of the administrative section of the sharm. "I'll be taking your selyn for the next two months and you won't enjoy it." He was furious. This stupid bint had managed to ruin a perfectly good fantasy and now she was whining. Yana knew nothing about the price Arkay'd paid to learn of his own faith!
      "My Lord Fatima," now her stiff neck bent.
      "You should have thought of my Alahin's will first," he had to find Arkay and apologize. Infuriated beyond measure, he stalked off to find him. Where could he have gone? His office door was locked.
      Nashen knelt down and looked through the keyhole. There was no one there? He knew Arkay was no Djinn! He couldn't have simply vanished, could he?
     
      Arkay dropped out of the cooling vent. Their guards were dozing by the door, but he knew the moment he neared them, they'd be as alert as anyone could wish. All his joints ached with a fire he knew would eventually cripple him and he wanted a hot bath to ease his pains. The idea of seeing if he could talk Nashen into scrubbing his back, with tentacles, brought a fillip of interest to his soul he'd thought lost with this morning's hassles.
      A back rub would do. It wouldn't be quite what he was after, but at least it would be something. Besides, if his back were to Nashen, he'd be able to hide his reactions to his lover's touch.
      But how to get by the guards? His kador was filthy with dust. Making a mental note, Arkay decided the next job he'd put the Gens to was cleaning the ducting. He sneezed and one of the guards dropped her spear. Her partner's flashed forward. The first reached for it. Her shoulder brushed the blade of her partner's.
      Arkay dashed forward to stop the havoc. A spear prodded his chest. Without underclothes, it went right through his thin kador. "Stop!" He lashed out with his nager.
      Both renSimes bolted. The clatter of instant silence after they'd fled rang in his ears. This was not what he'd intended. A very wide pair of brown eyes peered around the far corner. "It's all right," he knelt down, as if he were talking to a foal. "I won't hurt you." For all the boldness of Fatima's renSimes, they could still be quite skittish when badly startled.
     
      "Arkay!" Nashen saw Arkay fall to his knees before their door. He jumped between Arkay and the threat. Blood tainted the air and he saw the cut over Arkay's heart! "No," he wailed, frantically trying to gather his lover into his arms. He couldn't be hurt. He just couldn't. Nashen couldn't heal him. Diomid had tried to teach him to heal and failed.
      Arkay's heavy frame was quivering with incipient shock. Where were the shenned guards? If they'd been the ones who'd hurt him, they'd pay. He looked around frantically for them, afraid to zlin. Arkay slumped in his arms, still shaking.
     
      He would not laugh ... would not. Nashen's wide eyed response to the nick on his chest was a bit over the top. "Nashen, lover," he tried to get out around the laughter burbling up inside him. It seemed not only the guards could overreact a bit.
     
      Arkay's voice was strained and harsh. Nashen tipped his head to hear his faint words. Allah wouldn't let his Alahin die, not after all they'd been through! It couldn't be.
      "Boo," a sharp nip on his ear startled Nashen right out of his skin. Literally, his tentacles flailed about Arkay's arms and then latched onto them. "Love you," and then the fool laughed! What was this? Utterly taken aback, Nashen leaned back and looked into Arkay's grey blue eyes. They were sparkling with his snickers.
      Now if it had been anyone by Arkay in his arms, Nashen might well have been able to cope. Avilan, Karola, even Diomid did silly things occasionally ... but not Arkay! Then Arkay leaned forward and nibbled on his earlobe. "Hmmmm," Nashen purred as he melted into Arkay's strong arms.
      "What are you doing out of bed?" Arkay's teeth clicked over his ear rings, one at a time. The stone of the hallway was getting colder by the minute, or maybe his behind was heating up.
      "Looking for you."
     
      What had gone wrong? Arkay had tried to tie off all the loose ends he could think of. There wasn't anything pressing in the sharm, was there? "Is there a problem?" Silence answered him. Awareness of fondling his lover in the hallway descended with a crash of falling libidos.
      "Not really," Nashen's field went flat.
      "Nashen," he shook his partner gently, terrified at the lack of response to his field. No Lord ever went so grey except as they neared death. "Lover!"
      "Oh, I'm fine," Nashen's eyes wouldn't meet his.
      "No you're not," he grabbed Nashen and picked him up. There was something wrong. Nashen stilled and clung to him as a child would. Then he sneezed. No, Simes didn't get colds. Or at least well cared for Simes didn't. Guilt at not having managed to care for Nashen well enough ate at his soul. He swore he wouldn't let his body get the better of him again!
     
      Nashen wallowed in the strength of Arkay's arms. Diomid was probably stronger, physically, but Arkay made him feel protected and safe in a way he'd rarely ever known. He burrowed into the security of being held. Then his nose itched. No, he wouldn't sneeze. Dust had no hold on him. Argh!
      Sneezing, time after time, Nashen tried to think of anything else. But the itching would not go away. Then he had to blow his nose. He reached for a handkerchief. He didn't have one. Who'd turned out his pockets last? He could see the square of cloth on his dresser as Arkay tried to bundle him into bed. "Dust," he wheezed.
     
      "What must you do?" Arkay wished he knew what was going on behind those silver eyes. He could open his mind, but only Allah knew what he'd get. Besides, Nashen was still not very comfortable with sharing thoughts. The wheezing and rattling in Nashen's lungs was getting worse, not better.
      Afraid for his lover's life, Arkay pressed his hand over Nashen's heart and let his senses trace into his body. His bronchia were shutting down. "Oh shen!" Arkay realized what was going on. Faster than he'd ever managed in his life, he stripped out of his clothes and threw them across the room. His hands were filthy. He ducked into the bathroom.
     
      Nashen finally managed to grab a handkerchief and blow his nose. Much better. The wheezes in his lungs were also vanishing as fast as they'd arrived. He took a deep breath and wiped the tears from his eyes. "Not again," he stared up at the canopy overhead. Black silk reflected his winter pale skin with horrifying accuracy.
      No wonder he ran away. Anyone with taste would. He was as colorless as a maggot. How disgusting. Sitting up, Nashen looked towards the bathroom in longing. Maybe shellfish red would look better than winter white.
     
      Arkay scrubbed his hands and face until he thought his skin would come off. A ghostly shape followed him. Nashen, his eyes red from his allergies was trying to sneak past him. "Lover," he turned and Nashen bounced off the towel rack. "Hey," his knees quivered a bit a how good Nashen's height made him feel. He liked having a taller lover. Even though with the way he was hanging his head, he wasn't much taller.
      He reached up and tickled Nashen under the chin. "Talk to me?" Maybe this time it would work, he hoped.
     
      Nashen was caught. There was no way he could put a prettier face on this whole mess. "Bath?" He waved towards the steaming tub.
      "I would love it," Arkay turned to him. There was a small hole in his otherwise perfect skin. Unable to resist, Nashen spread his hand over it, wishing he could make it vanish. Stiff, wiry hair tickled between his long fingers. His thumb wandered off and decided to tangle itself in Arkay's curls. This felt so much better than his fantasies.
      "Are you trying to seduce me, my Lord Fatima?" His voice rumbled through his chest.
      "No," Nashen's automatic response was not entirely true. He knew it. Arkay must know it.
     
      Arkay was crushed. Admittedly it wasn't the most romantic proposal in the world, but he want Nashen desperately. No one else had ever fit him so perfectly. It was as if with their nageric bonding, Allah had also blessed them with perfect carnal bonding.
      He sighed and looked down. No wonder Nashen didn't want him. He was a mess. His hair was coming undone and tangling in everything. He stepped backwards and tripped on it.
     
      Nashen caught Arkay's flailing hand. "Whoops!" It had been years since he'd forgotten about the effects of mass differential. Overbalanced, he fell. Hmmmm, maybe this wasn't so bad. Soft, perfect Gen skin spread before him. Hectares and hectares of it. He purred his utter contentment as Arkay's arms finally wrapped around him. This was almost what he'd been waiting for all morning. Almost. Close. He was still wearing clothes.
     
      Arkay realized he had a double armful of warm Sime at the precise moment he landed in the sink. The threadbare shorts did nothing to keep the cold water from crawling up his backside. Nashen just shivered and grabbed him harder. "I guess you want to be held," he lipped Nashen's silver hair. He'd taken to leaving it down and Arkay loved running his fingers through it.
      "Yes," Nashen's voice was hardly louder than the water dripping on the floor. There was a reserve to it. How he wished there hadn't. If he slid just a bit lower, he could have managed to get Nashen in his lap.
      Would you stop that? He doesn't want you. Go away. Arkay's libido wasn't listening. The only effect sitting in the cold water has was to make Arkay aware of how warm Nashen was, and how warm he could be if he could love him.
      "Why are you blushing?" He traced the curve of Nashen's ear with a single fingertip. It was so shell like and delicate compared to his own or Avilan's. This was not helping his problem any.
      "I don't want to push you into anything."
      "Like the sink?" He nipped at Nashen's ear to tell him he was joking.
      "I am so sorry," he leaped backwards, taking Arkay with him. "I didn't mean it."
      "Hush," Arkay tried to settle him back down, but he was vibrating with nerves. No Sime he'd ever dealt with had been quite so sensitive. "Easy," Nashen felt like a three year old colt who'd gotten way too much grain. "Settle," nothing seemed to be working. "Nashen," he rubbed at the steel tight muscles of his back, "relax."
      He deflated. But still Arkay could feel his entire body shaking. "I'm trying," Nashen bit at his lower lip. The gesture was astonishingly cute. Arkay cupped his lover's face with his own broad hand and looked up into his eyes. "Really I am." His words tripped over each other. "Trust me?"
      "Hush," he put his fingers on Nashen's lips. "Hush," he repeated. "Hush," he brushed his fingertips along Nashen's lips exactly how he wished he could use his own, or other things. The image of Nashen's lips caressing other parts of his body flashed in his mind. "Calm down." Arkay wasn't sure if this was to himself or Nashen.
     
      He couldn't. Unable to stop zlinning, he could feel the cold water chilling his lover to the bone. Nashen struggled to back away. Arkay let go.
      The suddenness of it startled him. Flailing at the air, he fell backwards. Arkay leaped for him. Water went everywhere. The last thing he saw was Arkay reaching for him.
     
      Warm water flooded the tiles. Arkay dove to try to catch Nashen. Sime or not, hitting his head would hurt. His foot slipped. Gravity worked.
      Arkay's wrist bent backwards. He tried to guide his fall. The sickening sensation of falling went on and on.
     
      Nashen resurfaced to see Arkay land on his behind. Pain knifed through the ambient from his wrist. He struggled to get to him. More water sloshed onto the floor. His lover, wrapped in only his hair and a now translucent pair of cut off pants cradled his sprained wrist in his lap. He could feel Arkay fight not to display how much it hurt.
      "Ins'Allah, Arkay," he managed to get to him, dripping from head to foot. "Is there anything I can do?"
      "Hold still," his voice was breathy with shock. Nashen froze in place. A breeze trickled in the open door. He shivered. Goose bumps rose on his arms. One hand was in mid air. Even his tentacles stopped moving. "Silly Sime," Arkay's smile seemed unforced. "You don't have to be quite that still."
      "I want to please you," his throat tightened with held back sobs. Arkay wouldn't appreciate him falling apart now. He was hurt. Nashen had hurt him. He blamed himself for all the horrible things going on. If he'd only managed to be better, somehow not been such a clumsy fool, Arkay wouldn't have gotten injured.
     
      Arkay ignored his sprained wrist for Nashen's distress. He could feel the guilt rising off his lover in waves, very much like the bathing pool's. The simile brought a faint smile to his lips. "Would you like a bath, my love?" The whole situation was rather ridiculous, but at least ridiculous had cooled his ardor to the bearable point.
      "I don't want to do anything else dumb," Nashen's field wrapped around him in a blue white cocoon, shutting Arkay out entirely. "I've messed up everything today."
      "No you haven't," Arkay sighed, tugging at Nashen's hand. "Come here you silly Sime."
      "I'm cold," he pulled away and clutched his arms to his chest. "I don't want to chill you."
      "I've gotten cold water on my behind before," he thought of Valtanir's exciting entry into the world. "Come here." Arkay felt like he was talking to a much younger Valtanir as well. "Come here! Over here!" He knew repeating himself was a pointless exercise, other than the fact it did make him feel better.
      "All right," Nashen's eyes wouldn't meet his, but he gingerly slid into Arkay's well dampened lap. Under the influence of his Alamir, his wrist healed instantly. Unfortunately this meant his desires returned with renewed force. Why was it when he'd thought he'd gotten them under control, they always sprang back like weeds?
      "See," he held out his hand. "It's fine," he turned it from side to side. "Thank you." Arkay sat very, very still. Nashen's behind was in the perfect place. If he moved at all, he'd discover Arkay's secret. Then he realized he had another problem. Weeds weren't the only thing that could be bent. Ow, ow, Nashen's warm behind had trapped a fold of Arkay's shorts in exactly the wrong place.
      "For hurting you?" His eyes sparkled with tears again. What had gotten Nashen so emotionally frangible today? It wasn't turnover, that wasn't for another week. Hopefully he couldn't zlin the bend driving him crazy.
      "Heavens no," he rocked Nashen as gently as he'd rocked any of his children. Maybe this might unkink things. "I love you," he sang in falsetto. Good, thinking of children helped. Nashen was not going to get molested. Nope, not, even if he had to bathe in cold water. Even though his entrapment was cooling some of his intents
      Nashen chuckled and a bit more of the tension left his body. "I love you too," his grin was rather sheepish. Arkay lipped away a lock of hair which had fallen over his lover's face. A spicy scent rose from Nashen's skin. Arkay swore it was an aphrodisiac Nashen wore to tempt him. Even though he'd never seen Nashen use any cosmetics or perfumes at all. He licked the curve behind Nashen's earlobe.
      "Good thing after this morning," Arkay realized how much of a mess he'd made. "I am sorry, Nashen." Good, think of that. If he thought of his stupidity, maybe he'd quit nibbling on Nashen's neck. But it was such a perfect neck. Fine white skin teased him into one more little, tiny, untraceable lick and then managed to pull himself back.
      "For?" Nashen blinked droplets of water off his lashes. "You didn't do anything wrong." He looked so innocent, as if he had no idea how desirable he was. His wonderful, long, arched nose and high cheekbones, all framed with his unique silver hair demanded Arkay touch them to be sure they were real. He sat on his own hand.
      "Didn't do a whole lot right, either," he sighed. Nashen's seat bones were rocking slowly against his thigh. This didn't help. Their rhythm seemed to match the desperate throbbing in his loins. Or maybe that was his empty skull. Ins'Allah he hurt. He had to get up off the floor.
     
      Nashen was very glad he was still clothed. Even wet, his pants would hide, hopefully, his misplaced enthusiasm. They'd rarely made love between transfer and turnover. Arkay's broad fingertips went back to tracing lightly over his skin. He bit back a harsh moan and leaned into the caress. More, he pleaded with himself, knowing to say so would have only made Arkay go away again. He didn't want a reminder of his age, Nashen told himself.
      "Feel good?" What a silly question. His skin was alive with the fragile touch. He longed to open all his senses to Arkay's questing.
      Instead he responded truthfully, "yes." His eyes were trying to roll up in his head. By all the holy names of Allah he'd missed loving for pure pleasure, not simply post reaction. His own hand wandered off to brush the fine, unmarred skin of Arkay's broad shoulders.
      Wonder at how accepting this magnificent man was filled his soul. He'd have never dared push himself at Arkay, and here he was, touching him! Amazement at Allah's great blessing warmed him like the sun of the south. "I love you," tears of joy choked his throat as he gazed into Arkay's perfect blue eyes. This was something Arkay could accept. Nashen had very carefully made sure to use the term for spiritual love rather than carnal love.
     
      Arkay's hand trembled at Nashen's avowal of love. He'd never thought he'd be loved so purely. For all he'd longed these months to simply wear him out with how badly he wanted his glorious body, at this moment he was grateful for this simple touch.
      Perfectly smooth, alabaster fine skin covered warm Sime muscles working in absolute harmony. He could spend hours loving Nashen's form. From his long silver hair to his delicate toes, so fine they could grab Arkay's. He sighed as his longing to love his partner threatened to spill over into abandoned lust. No, he wouldn't do it. Would not. Would not!
      He knew Nashen would not accept such a coarse approach. Nashen was a mature, delicate, fragile Sime. A Sharm Lord's desperate desire to take him over the nearest inanimate object would not be looked upon with favor.
      "I love you," how he wished he could put his feelings into words. With another Gen, he'd simply show them, by loving them. With a Sime he had to be civilized. Even though his palms were sweating, his skin five cents too small, all over, and his unit bent into an 'E'! He'd never abuse Nashen's trust by violating his slender charms, no matter how badly he wanted to. And oh how he wanted to.
      He'd pledged his spirit. Holy love was better than carnal love. Or at least so the books said, Arkay reminded himself firmly. Sitting on his frantic libido, Arkay tried to squash it back down to size, along with everything else straining its bounds. He doesn't want you poking and prodding at him. Arkay vowed to enjoy the purity of touch ... above the waist!
     
      Nashen's head whipped around as a thunderous crash broke into his minute inspection of Arkay's pulse fluttering beneath his sun browned skin. "What?" His tentacles lashed around Arkay's shoulders, trying to pull his Sharm Lord to safety.
      A horse crashed through the bathroom! A dark, rather well padded horse. Well, not a horse. Darya's rather distinctive backside vanished beneath the bed. "What the hell!" Arkay struggled to free himself. Nashen braced for the encore.
      Soon enough, another dark figure leaped over them, stepping on Nashen's shoulder in the process. "Hey!" This wasn't fair. What were those two doing playing tag in their bedroom?
      "He can't hear you," Arkay chuckled as he looked towards the doorway. "I'd guess neither of them could."
      "Weren't they supposed to have transfer yesterday?" Nashen tried counting days on his fingers. He'd gotten entirely turned around with all the excitement at year's turning. He had to give up at six. His tentacles kept confusing the count.
      "Looks like Darya's been playing really hard to catch," Arkay watched the goings on with considerable interest. Vayer dove beneath the covers. Darya slipped out from under the bed and shinnied up the bedpost. When she was done, all Nashen could see or zlin of her was her shiny dark eyes. One of them closed in a wink.
      Vayer stirred the blankets into a tumbled mess and fell over the back side of the bed. His eyes were midnight black with hard need. Blind, deaf and dumb, his laterals were fully extended to zlin as best they could. Nashen would have pointed if the young man could have seen him.
      Like a baited bull, his head shifted from side to side. Then all his tentacles retracted and he started swearing, both in Arabic and Russian. Nashen looked at Arkay in shock.
      "I didn't teach him to swear like that," Arkay cringed at Vayer's vitriolic description of what he was planning on doing to Darya when he caught up to her. "Vayer!"
      The only sign Vayer heard his father was an infinitesimal wink. Stomping back and forth, Vayer went on and on. Then Nashen zlinned. Darya's dark nager was sliding down the bedpost in search of Vayer's need. "Zlin," Nashen tipped his chin towards the phenomenon.
      Arkay snickered softly. "I see," his hand slid down to play with Nashen's tentacles. This was very distracting. Arkay's broad, calloused fingertips sliding among his tentacle sheathes sent shivers of desire through his body with every gliding gesture. He tucked his knees under his chin to better hide the post in his lap.
      Then Vayer leaped for the canopy. A shriek nearly shattered the windows. Darya tumbled to the floor, followed by Vayer. They landed in a tangled heap. She struggled to get free.
      "Mine!" Vayer wrapped his hand in Darya's thick, black hair. "Move!" He shoved her in front of him. Now Darya's eyes were the black of unfulfilled desire. Their nagers twined with the promise of a truly spectacular transfer.
      She stumbled. Vayer dropped his hold. Darya bolted at full speed back through the bathroom. Nashen ducked. Arkay's face hid on his shoulder. The wind of Vayer's passage knocked three glasses off the sink. Another crash announced the fact Darya hadn't gotten away this time.
      The wailing cry of a Sharm Lord in the throes of ecstasy made Nashen blush to his toenails. He knew that cry. It often featured strongly in his most erotic dreams. Arkay's face was hot against his skin as well.
      "She's going to get herself pregnant again," Nashen commented, wishing he could turn his mind from what those two were doing now.
      "She's doing a damn good job of trying," Arkay lipped at his shoulder. Fortunately there were two layers of cloth between Arkay's mouth and Nashen's skin. Unlike say the curved muscles of Arkay's back beneath his fingertips.
     
      "Do you think she wants to get pregnant now?" Arkay tried to distract Nashen from the desire raging through Arkay's body. He wanted Nashen, now! His fingers fought to get through the layers of wet, skin tight clothes Nashen had on. He'd manage to get himself unbent and there was nothing stopping the desperate pounding.
      "Possibly," Nashen wasn't helping any. Didn't he realize how his squirming around aroused Arkay? He hunched his back a bit more to keep himself from trying to dig through Nashen's pants.
     
      Nashen's teeth itched with the desire to nibble on Arkay's broad shoulder. It was right there in front of his face. Soft and inviting and so perfectly smooth and rounded. There was nothing else in the world more inviting than a well rounded shoulder, unless of course it was a well defined pair of forearms.
      His tentacles explored both of Arkay's. He couldn't help but touch. The intricate dance of firm muscle, soft flesh and fiery nerves was too perfect. He'd never really dared to love Arkay's forearms after transfer. Before they were shimmering with life too strong to be denied. Now they were utterly fascinating in a different way.
      With Arkay's selyn still running fresh and hot along his nerves, Nashen's body thrilled to the purely physical desire called to the surface by Arkay's exquisite arms. This was why Nashen preferred Gens. Another Sime was dull compared to the growing warmth of Arkay's heart and soul calling to his own.
      Love and yes, lust, rose in him until he couldn't hold back. As delicately as he could manage, Nashen nipped at the strong column of Arkay's neck.
     
      Arkay wanted to tell him no. Ins'Allah it was going to be hard to stop. Hell, it was rock hard right now. But instead his hand cupped the back of Nashen's head and pulled him closer.
      His head fell back as Nashen's teeth teased at his neck. "More," he begged, entirely out of control. All he knew was Nashen's hot mouth on his skin and his strong body in Arkay's arms.
      Nashen gasped and stopped. As Arkay'd known he would. A dull ache rose in the pit of Arkay's stomach. This was going to hurt! "A bath?" Nashen's voice trembled.
      "Yes," he fought down disappointment, lust, desperation and twenty other emotions. He wanted Nashen like he'd never wanted anything in his life. He helped Nashen to his feet and tugged at his own pants.
      "Let me," Nashen's silver eyes met his. Arkay'd let him do anything. Anything at all as long as it wasn't going away. His knees trembled with the violence of his desires.
     
      Nashen slid off his heavy tunic and breeches. He'd already managed to get rid of his boots and knife harnesses, thanks be to Allah. They were a pain to get out of in a hurry. He debated with himself over the shirt. It was tenting in front of him as if he were still sixteen. Well, with Arkay he often felt as if he were still sixteen.
      "Let me," he looked into Arkay's blue eyes. He didn't dare look down. If he didn't, maybe Arkay wouldn't. Of course he wouldn't. That wouldn't be polite. Arkay nodded his acceptance and Nashen untied the soft, thin, transparent ... stop that! He told himself. Anyways, he did manage to get Arkay's pants untied.
     
      Arkay had to help. With a grimace he managed to pull off his sodden pants with a minimum of embarrassment. If they hadn't gotten caught up on something, it wouldn't have been a problem. They hit the wall over the hamper with a wet smack.
      Nashen jumped in place. Arkay caressed his cheek, worried about him. He'd left his shirt on. "Let me," he untied the laces. Nashen's beautifully soft, silky hair tempted his fingers to linger. But at last it was done. Ins'Allah the man was beautiful. Why had no one else ever seen it before? It had only been luck Arkay was in the right place at the right time ... and now was not it!
      His pulse was racing. With a hunger far more than physical, he drank in Nashen's glory. "There is no spot or stain upon thee, my beloved," he tipped his chin up, hoping for a kiss. He wanted at least something to entertain himself with ... later.
     
      Nashen saw Arkay's eyes flicker closed and couldn't resist. His fingers and tentacles twined in Arkay's hair and pulled him close. Arkay's lips opened to him with a groan. He tasted his lover's mouth as a starving man would taste the ambrosia of paradise.
      "I want you," at last he dared speak his desire. Even if it could never be fulfilled, at least it had been spoken of.
      Arkay's eyes snapped open, "yes." The simple word spoke volumes. His lips had been reddened with the force of their kiss and breathing harsh. Nashen could feel his pulse hammer against his hand. "Take me."
      "Now?" Nashen's head spun, but it didn't slow down his feet. He tossed Arkay over his shoulder and headed for the bed.
      "Oh my," Arkay's comment made him blush again. "Yes, like this," his enthusiasm rang in the ambient. "Please, yes."
      "Talkative," Nashen tossed him among the rumpled bedding. Arkay's eyes were bright and far younger than his years. Laughter echoed from the well used canopy.
      "If it'll get me laid!"
      "I thought ..."
      "Don't," Arkay put his finger against Nashen's lips again. "Quit thinking."
      "But I have to," he found Arkay's finger in his mouth. The taste of him was strong even this way and he curled his tongue around the digit. His world narrowed to the rough skin and slick, hard fingernail of Arkay's finger. Thinking of how he liked his own tentacles and fingers loved, Nashen drew Arkay's finger deep into his mouth and suckled on it, cupping the underside with his tongue and letting his teeth slide over the top.
     
      Sometimes Arkay forgot the fact Nashen was actually more sexually experienced than he was. Not now. "Yes, Nashen," he moaned, fighting not to do anything to stop the incredible sensations Nashen was teasing from him. No one had ever done anything like this! Of course Simes had caressed his hands and wrists in preparation for transfer, but never had anyone loved them afterwards.
      This long after transfer all he knew was the physical, and it was even more spectacular than he could have imagined. The wetness Nashen laved over his fingers seemed to feel as if he were wetting all of Arkay's arms. Then he looked down to see Nashen sliding wet tentacles between all of Arkay's fingers. The slippery, slick, wetness was driving him crazy.
      "Still," Nashen's breath cooled the wetness between his fingers. Arkay moaned. "Let me." His high tenor had sunk to a throaty croon. "Want you," his teeth nipped at the sensitive nerves of Arkay's wrist. He turned his hand over to give his lover better access. "Beautiful," his tentacle touch was as light as his breath on Arkay's skin. Then he leaned down and slid his tongue over the palm.
      "More," Arkay's other hand reached up and grabbed him. He wasn't letting anything come between then this time. Nothing! Nashen's tongue pressed into the webbing of his hand. The combination of massage and caress melted his bones.
      At last Arkay found what he was looking for. Inspired by Nashen's inventiveness, he caressed his lover's fingers. With a bit of wiggling, he managed to capture Nashen's hand. Now he was set. The instant his tongue touched Nashen's fingertips, someone knocked on the door.
      "Get out of here you scabrous excuse for the offspring of a mangy dog and a leprous camel!"
     
      Nashen was stunned. "Arkay!" He'd never heard Arkay swear like that.
      "My Sime," his growl yanked Nashen's attention back to what they were doing. Then Arkay's cool mouth and hot attention drove all thought from his mind. His lover's silky tongue played with him, teasing at the openings to his tentacle sheathes and then invading them.
      There was only one thing he enjoyed more.
      What the hell. "Arkay?" His voice shook. It wouldn't hurt to ask.
      "Hmmmm?" His nager was twining around his body, white hot and shimmering with desire. Why in the world hadn't he zlinned this before? Where had he hidden it? For that much matter, where had he hidden his beautifully upright shaft. He would have thought he couldn't have missed it poking into him while sitting on his lover's lap. But then all Nashen had been trying to do was hide his own intentions.
      "I would like it if you lick me elsewhere," his thighs trembled as he opened them in invitation.
     
      Arkay couldn't believe his ears. Could Nashen possibly be asking for what he thought he was? Had he actually opened his mouth and asked for something? Not wanting to question his good fortune any further, he slid around to take advantage of Nashen's loosened thighs.
      The wonderful smells and tastes he'd only dreamed of overwhelmed his senses. Soft, delicate hair tickled his nose as he gave Nashen's thigh a tentative lick. Firm Sime muscles tightened to rock hard as he trembled. Then Arkay slid in lower. His cheek brushed silky, perfectly hairless skin. A moan rewarded him.
      Surrounded by the alabaster glory of the very root of Nashen's masculinity, Arkay breathed deeply of the scents of his lover. Sweet, wonderful, spicy musk with the slightest hint of dark earth to balance it made Arkay's head spin.
      Avilan's favorite jibe about 'If you don't get your ears wet, you aren't trying hard enough' stopped him in his tracks for a moment. Gah. What a thing to think of. He flipped his hair out of the way and wrapped his arms around Nashen's hips. He kept sliding up and up. Quite well able to take a hint, Arkay let him.
     
      Nashen felt his head fall back as the rough skin of Arkay's cheek bit at his thigh. His own moan echoed hollowly in his ears. He couldn't believe it. Was Arkay really going to indulge him? He didn't dare hope. His hands twined in Arkay's hair of their own accord. A deep chuckle vibrated up through his middle.
      "Like this?" A tiny nip brought a mindless whimper from Nashen's throat.
      "Yes, please," he clutched at him. Slowly, ever so slowly, Arkay moved down. Nashen's breath caught in his throat as he kept going. Warm wetness followed the licks and nibbles driving him crazy. His tentacles wrapped around Arkay's ears. He had to fight not to pull.
      At last Arkay slid beneath his knees and caressed him as intimately as humanly possible with his skillful tongue. Nashen howled his wordless pleasure. He writhed in Arkay's grasp, reaching for him and opening to him. The slick, sliding sensation of his driving tongue sent magnesium flares of ecstasy through his body.
     
      Arkay was quite surprised he'd never tried this before. It wasn't as if he hadn't tasted any of the women he'd bedded as intimately. But he'd simply never thought to indulge with Avilan, or vice versa. Even though as he wallowed in Nashen's sweet warmth, he realized this was probably one sport he was only going to indulge with Simes. An omnivorous Gen would taste no where near as pleasant.
      Humming his pleasure, Arkay licked and nibbled Nashen into a soggy, whimpering heap. At last he looked up to see his lover sporting the silliest grin he'd ever seen on any human being. He brushed Nashen's still hard shaft with a breath of air. He bucked and howled, clutching at the bedding in fists like claws.
      "Like this?" Arkay licked him from base to tip. The light, faintly bitter taste filled his mouth. Nashen shivered all over and clutched at his ears again. For some reason Nashen liked to grab them. Convenient handles, Arkay guessed. "You want me to move up?"
      "Take me, Arkay," Nashen reached for him, silver eyes dark with desperate desire. "Fill me and fulfill me," his words brought back all Arkay's lust blunted by having pleasured Nashen first. He growled and began to slide out from under Nashen's legs. "No," Nashen held his eyes. "Like you are."
      The plainly spoken commands drove him mad. He had to take. Arkay drove himself onto his lover, sliding into him with a force he'd never dreamed capable. Nashen only opened to Arkay's impetuous thrusts as if he wanted such aggression. The soft warmth of his lover's acceptance held him in a grip of purest velvet and silk. Wet velvet and silk. Hotter and smoother than anything else in the world.
      "Do it, take me," his tentacles clamped onto Arkay's shoulders with the force of a vise. He felt himself pulled forward. Nashen spread beneath him, knees over Arkay's shoulders. His lover's feet caught behind his head and clasped him as he was clasped elsewhere. "I need you!" His shout was as frantic as first need.
      "Mine!" Arkay clutched at him, surrounding him and driving into him as hard as he could. "My Nashen," he took. He met Nashen's open mouth and plundered it with his own. His hips drove into Nashen's with the force of his desires. Sweet lust and desire burned through his veins. Nashen's head fell back and he bit at his throat.
      With a high, wailing cry, Nashen bucked beneath him one final time. Arkay gasped as release shattered through his control. Fire tore through his loins with the force of lightning as Nashen's teeth tore at his shoulder. He screamed his pleasure as pain loosed it to overwhelm him, body and soul.
     
      Nashen dozed on Arkay's shoulder. His entire body was as limp and relaxed as overcooked noodles. He purred his contentment as Arkay brushed his hand over Nashen's flank. "You sound happy."
      "I am," Nashen kneaded Arkay's side with his fingers.
      "Don't look," Arkay tipped his chin up.
      "Why not?" His tentacles traced the minuscule bit of padding he'd manage to stick onto Arkay's flanks over the winter. He hoped to glue on another ten to twenty kilos eventually.
      "I'm getting fat," his cheeks reddened.
      "I've certainly been working hard enough at it," Nashen pinched the little trace of softness. A female Gen's softness was inherent, trying to get it to stick to a male Gen's body was a lot harder. "It's been an uphill battle."
      "How so?" Arkay tipped his head and then yawned mightily. "Sleepy," he nuzzled Nashen's hair.
      "Me too," he slid his knee over Arkay's heavy thighs. "I've been trying to stuff you every chance I get."
      "No you haven't," Arkay flipped a blanket over the two of them. "This was the first time you've stuffed me since transfer!"
      "I thought you didn't want to," he regretted all those missed occasions with heart wrenching pain. "But I had been talking about food."
      "You've been trying to make me fat?" Arkay looked as if he thought Nashen were crazy.
      "Not fat," he demurred. "Just, well, um, a bit softer," he looked up through his lashes.
      "You want me fat," Arkay tapped him on the nose with a fingertip. "For you."
      "No lover, for you," he kissed Arkay on the nose. "You really should have a bit more weight on you."
      "As long as you don't get me too fat," he finally relented. "That's Vayer's job at the moment."
      "Who was at the door?" He realized they'd forgotten their unannounced visitor. Had something gone wrong with Vayer and Darya? Was Diomid looking for him? He tried to lever himself upright. It didn't work.
     
      Nashen collapsed back against Arkay's chest with a thud. He lipped his lover's silver hair gently. Arkay couldn't even imagine trying to move right now. Utter lassitude had his body pinned to the bed. A very timid scratch on the door woke him.
      From the position of the sun, they'd drifted off to sleep for a few hours. "Come in." He couldn't sense a thing about who it was.
      "Are you done?" Avilan's amused tenor woke Nashen with a start and weakly flailing tentacles. Arkay brushed them with his nager to settle them back down. "If not, I'll come back in another hour or so." Arkay could see his friend's smirk through the solid oak door.
      Nashen mumbled something incoherent and attached himself firmly to Arkay's side. His Sime heat baked the aches from Arkay's bones. Arkay mumbled something equally incoherent back as he lipped Nashen's hair.
      "Well?"
      "Oh, I thought I said to come in," Arkay lost himself again in the wonder of having managed to attract such an amazing partner. It wasn't merely sex, even though Allah knew well enough it was the best he'd ever had. Particularly today, he reached up and stroked the curves of Nashen's perfectly sculpted ear. His lover purred and gently groomed the hair on his chest. A chill brushed his skin and he flipped another blanket over them.
      "Better," Nashen followed his currying with licks. Arkay looked under the blankets to see Nashen happily applying himself to the project.
      "Um, if this is a bad time?" Avilan was standing there. Where did he come from? He didn't remember him having come over.
      "No," his heart skipped a beat as Nashen's rather sharp teeth brushed over one of his nipples. He wouldn't. Would he? Arkay didn't dare think Nashen would do something so forward as seduce him with Avilan present. Now Avilan on the other hand would certainly do such a thing. "You're fine."
      "You looked dazed," he pulled over a chair and straddled it. "Is there something wrong?"
      "No, not at all," Arkay couldn't believe what was going on. Nashen's warm mouth was sending little quivers of thrilled interest tracing all over his skin. Not just his chest or his arms, but his feet, his neck, even his hip. Everywhere Nashen touched, be it with his mouth, his hands, his tentacles, or even his feet came alive again. Never since he'd been a teenager had Arkay managed so quickly to repeat such a performance so long after transfer.
      "Where's Nashen?" This was an astonishingly silly question. Couldn't he see the bed writhing? Then Arkay noticed someone had put the silk sheets in with the wool ones. No one could have zlinned through them.
      "Busy," Arkay's pulse was racing frantically. Nashen snickered softly. Arkay got his revenge. Reaching down, he flicked his nails over Nashen's chest. A sharp gasp rewarded his gesture. Even though Nashen's renewed attack on his negotiable virtue redoubled. "So, yes, well, um," he shook his head, trying to think straight. It wasn't working. All the blood was going south ... rapidly.
      "You don't sound well," Avilan's brow furrowed in concern. "Do you want Diomid to look at you?"
      "No, no," his voice trailed off into incoherence as Nashen suckled greedily on one of his nipples. The wonderful, itching, teasing went straight to his loins. His hand cupped Nashen's head to his chest. This was his favorite thing. "I'm fine," he gasped, trying not to whimper as Nashen began sliding his velveteen tentacles beneath Arkay's pectoral muscles. The groove where muscle gave way to ribs was wonderfully sensitive.
      "You don't sound well," Avilan's chair creaked.
      "No, don't get up," sweat beaded on Arkay's brow. "Maybe I do feel a bit off."
      "Is that why you are still in bed?"
      "Yes, yes," any excuse. His fingers wrapped themselves in Nashen's hair. If only he would move over half a cent. Everywhere but where he wanted him, Nashen laved his chest with licks and kisses. A little too light, not quite right, Arkay's muscles trembled as he prayed Nashen would get exactly the right spot.
      "If you say so," Avilan did not look like he believed him. Not too surprising considering the dumb expression Arkay must have on his face. He probably hadn't looked too clever before ... Nashen flicked his tongue right over the spot he'd sensitized with his nails. His teeth clamped down on a howl. "Anyways, Karola wanted to know who you wanted to invite for First Thaw."
      "What?" He blinked, trying to get his eyes to uncross. "Oh, um," his stomach muscles contracted as one smooth tentacle traced between his thigh and his testicles. Nothing had felt quite like that before. What had Nashen done? Dipped it in roniplin?
      "You're sick, I'll call Diomid and come back another time," Avilan stood.
      "No, oh, yes, um," Arkay clenched at the blankets as Nashen's velvet tongue slid up his thickening shaft. He hadn't thought he'd manage a repeat, but it seemed Nashen had other ideas. Not that he was complaining. "Oh, my, yes," he caressed Nashen's ears.
      "Oh," Arkay was treated to the magnificent sight of Avilan blushing. "Tomorrow?"
      "Don't bet on it," Nashen growled from under the blankets, startling both of them. "Go on, I'm enjoying myself," and his suiting action to words nearly undid Arkay. He no longer cared for anything but Nashen's magnificently skilled hands finding nerves even he, a master healer, had no idea existed. Unable to contain himself any longer, he moaned and let his hips rock.
      Nashen never missed a stroke as he swallowed Arkay to the root. He knew his shock must have shown on his face. Avilan snickered and retreated to the couch. "Karola isn't expecting me until this evening," he pulled a book off the shelf. "Let me know when you're done, this time. I can wait for the next intermission ... or should that be intromission?"
      "Shut up, Avilan!" He shouted in unison with Nashen.

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