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16 September 2010 @ 02:26 pm
Havemercy; In Thunder, Lightning, or In Rain 1/2; Rook/Thom; NC-17  
Title: In Thunder, Lightning, Or In Rain
Author: nebulia @ con_noncuranza
Summary: "When shall we three meet again/in thunder, lightning, or in rain?" –Macbeth. Kink meme fill, from this prompt: Rook/Thom, Modern!AU Rook is super rich (reason is up to you) and has a pet hawk named Havemercy. They go for walks everyday (again, reason up to you. Is Rook secretly a taking-walks kinda guy? Maybe he likes to glare at small children?) and take the same route. One day Have, who tries to bite the fingers off anyone but him, flies over to a brunette, bespectacled artist in some place (park? coffee shop? garbage can?) and hangs out with him. Rook is not amused.
Rating: NC-17. Explicit and occasionally rough sex, light bondage, talk of violence, strong, strong language. It's entirely from Rook's POV, guys. Lots of language, much of it not nice, some of it derogatory to women, gay men, and the Ke-Han.
Length: Fucking long. 16,000+words.
Also: Some notes at the end. And AHHHHHH THIS ATE ME ALIVE IN THE BEST WAY EVER. AND!!!!! Fantastic fanart by ebonykat here! Yay!




Sometimes life works out really fucking weird.

After I got back from the war, I had shit-nothing. I mean, I'd gotten paid, but most of it ended up going to medical bills and the apartment I had for a few months after getting out of the hospital. I wasn't smart, I'd barely fucking graduated from high school, and I'd only ever been really good at killing people, but what good was that with the war over?

So there I was, twenty years old and almost homeless.

I started turning tricks, 'cause sucking cock might have been close to the most fucking awful thing ever but at least it paid pretty well. If you were in the right part of town it was twenty bucks a blowjob, and I could make a decent amount of money a night if I worked at it.

So I had a little extra one day and went into a corner store to get a sandwich, and the TV said some shit about it being the highest jackpot in the history of the state lottery.

What the hell, I thought, I have a couple extra bucks, and bought myself a ticket.

I won.

Got myself a nice penthouse apartment, went out a bought a couple of high-class whores and paid them, for a change, and then I had more money than bastion and no idea what the fuck to do with it.

People sucked, so I decided that other than the occasional whore, cleaning people and the cook who lived on the floor below me and only bothered me when I didn't want a sandwich, I didn't really need them. I did get in contact with my old squad, met the survivors for dinner a few times, and that was when Balfour mentioned that his older brother, also a vet like us, had a pet store for exotic pets.

"He has a hawk he can't get rid of," Balfour said, fiddling with the knife and fork he'd attached to his fake hands. I kind of hated Balfour sometimes 'cause he was a pissy little bitch but he'd proved himself pretty fucking well in that last battle and so I respected him a little, at least enough to let him talk about something that wasn't the war. "She's pretty vicious, I guess. Hates everyone." He nibbled at his steak.

Something in me kind of clicked.

So I went to Amery's pet store the next day. Amery was kind of an asshole, I noticed right away.

I noticed the hawk right after. She was beautiful, big even for a red-tailed hawk and her feathers were well-kept and glowing. She had sharp golden eyes, eyes that were smarter than they should have been for some dumb animal, and her claws flexed on the branch she was sitting on when she saw me.

I'm not ashamed to say I fell in love with her right away. Amery said she was named Havemercy by her previous owner, but, he added, "She's got none that I've ever seen." He stretched his hand to her, slowly, nonthreatening, and she snapped at it and looked smug. He snorted. "She's not threatened, she just doesn't like anyone."

I stepped forward and looked at her. She looked back at me. I lifted a hand and her eyes followed it but she didn't go for it, not even when my hand touched the bars of the cage. She looked at me, almost annoyed but even more smug, like she was saying, "What did you expect? That I was gonna bite your fucking hand off? And if you don't stop looking at me like that, I damn well will."

She was just like me.

"I'll take her," I said.

--

So me and Have, who was almost two when I got her, we were like two peas in a pod. I left her at home one day and went to library to do research--I hadn't ever been to a fucking library before and I never wanted to go back again--and found out all sorts of shit, like how red-tailed hawks were monogamous and lived to be about twenty years old and it was their cry that everyone was familiar with, in movies and shit, though people usually said it was an eagle 'cause that was more dramatic.

I figured me and Have were kind of like mates, in a way, 'cept for the sex thing. But she was the only company I needed, really. I could have gone without whores if I'd had to pick between them and Have.

We went for a walk every fucking day 'cause the park was nearby and we both liked outside. Usually she just sat on my shoulder, unless she saw something interesting and flew off, but she always came back. Sometimes she brought rabbits or mice or squirrels, and I gave the rabbits to the cook to make for dinner but Have just ate the squirrels and mice. She let me feed her, but she could have taken care of herself, and she damn well made sure I knew it.

We would talk past the playground at the park and into the woods and just wander. I was a multi-millionaire, it wasn't like I had nothing to do, so we glared at the little kids as we walked past the playground and once no one else was around we basked in the sun, just a little, and wandered through the woods, even though the sign said to stay on the path.

On our way home we usually stopped at a stand that sold meat buns, which were from fucking Ke-Han, but they were fucking delicious so I just tried not to think about where they came from or that bitch who ran the stand and her heavily-accented Volstovic. Mostly that accent reminded me of the war and the camp and the torture, but Have was there with me and the woman was perfectly nice, I guess, even if she was fucking Ke-Han, so what could I do, really?

At night we watched TV, sports usually, but only the really vicious ones, professional hockey and rugby and boxing or UFC if it was on. Some nights if I felt like starting a fight or actually picking up a girl, not just calling a whore, I actually went out, and got drunk with other people--every once in a while the squad, 'cause Balfour might have been no fun drunk but everyone else was okay, at least at this point in time seven, eight years after the war.

So we walked in the mornings, around ten-thirty, if it had been an early night, and two-thirty if it had been late. In the afternoons I taught hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting at this studio place that did all kinds of martial arts, 'cause I'd started to get real fucking bored with doing nothing, even if I was doing nothing with Havemercy. It was a schedule, which usually I hated, but it was my fucking schedule, mine and Have's, and it was easy and pointless and we only kept to it when we wanted to.

So we walked while most of the kids were in school and the adults were at work, so usually the park was empty, even the tables by the fucking Ke-Han meat bun stand.

So it was really fucking weird when one morning this dirty kid with broken glasses was sitting on a table next to the stand, speaking fucking Ke-Han to the bitch who ran the stand and drawing or some shit.

I would have ignored him, and probably gone to the other side of the road just in case Havemercy decided she really didn't like that one and she was going to go bite his fucking fingers off (I'd had to deal with that enough already when Luvander or Ghislain or Adamo and Balfour came over the apartment, and now she tolerated them (sort of, she didn't really like Balfour, which made plenty of sense since I didn't like Balfour) and the cook and the meat bun lady and me and that was it), but Have jumped off my shoulder as we got near the stand and landed on the table next to him and just stood there.

"Oh, hello," the kid said in Volstovic to Have, who just sort of tipped her head like she was saying fucking hello. "Who are you?"

Have pecked his hand, but lightly, not enough to draw blood, and she wasn't going for his fingers.

What the fuck?

"Well, yes, I gathered that you belonged to someone," the kid said. "I just was wondering--ow!"

Have'd just pecked him again, a little harder, and the kid grabbed his hand. A drop of blood welled up just below his first knuckle.

"She don't belong to no one," I said, striding forward. "But she stays with me."

The kid was a few years younger than me, messy brown hair, and green eyes behind his glasses. The nosepiece was held together with some tape and his clothes were covered in paint. He honestly looked fucking pathetic.

The kid flushed a little, and shoved his glasses up his face nervously, and said, "She's beautiful. Red-tailed hawk?"

I nodded, still glaring.

He offered me a slight smile. "She's very smart. I mean, red-tailed hawks are intelligent, but she's very smart even for that."

"I know," I said shortly. "And she don't like people."

Have hopped over to stand between me and the kid and gave me a Look. It said, "I like who I want to, you fucking asshole, don't tell me what to do."

"Him?" I said, glancing at the kid. He was too skinny and flushing and looked like a fucking wimp, even more so than Balfour. At least Balfour could do crazy shit with a AK-47 even while there were tendons hanging out of his bleeding hands. But the kid looked like he'd grown up in Molly, honestly, except for the wimp part. That weren't a Molly thing. Mollyrats tended to fight back.

If she'd been a person, she'd have lifted an eyebrow, and she turned around and strode over next to him.

"Sorry about that," the kid said, gesturing to the bleeding wound in his hand. "I just assumed..."

Have did the thing where she leaned forward and looked threatening. The kid trailed off, watching her for a moment warily. Something in his eyes was odd, almost fierce, like he was getting ready to fight or run. Maybe he was a mollyrat, just a shitty one.

Have stood back up, and bobbed her head intently.

"What am I drawing?" the kid said, pushing his glasses up his nose again. "Oh, well, I'm just doing some perspective work, and those two trees with the playground in between make a really good picture to work on perspective." He talked to Have like I did, like she was a person, and Have seemed to be talking back.

Bastion fuck. What a fucking bitch. I tapped the table impatiently. "Have, time to go."

Have glanced at me, her eyes very clearly saying, "Where the fuck do we need to go?"

I rolled my eyes, ordered two meat buns from the fucking Ke-Han bitch, and held out my arm. "Have."

She hopped irritably, and then flew up to my shoulder.

"Hang on," the kid said, jumping off the table with a clatter. "I'm Thom. Will you be here tomorrow?"

"Fuck off," I said venomously, and walked away.

Have was giving me another Look, and I didn't have to glance at her to know what it said. It said, "You're jealous!" and was viciously gleeful.

"Like fuck I am," I muttered.

Have squeezed her talons into my shoulder in a move that clearly said, "You're a fucking liar."

Fuck that. The kid--what the fuck was his name, Thom?--wasn't a fucking threat at all. It's not like he would be there anyway, since I was always at the meat bun stand at the same time and he had never been there before. And given how much of a pussy he had been, my parting shot had definitely been enough to keep him away.

It had always been just me and Have, and like fuck was that going to change.

--

Then life threw me for a fucking loop.

The kid was there the next day, when I came by to get my meat bun. Sitting on the same table, and intensely focused on his perspective shit or whatever the fuck he was doing. He might have completely ignored me, except Have gave a quiet little squawk and hopped off my arm and onto his table, moving over to him and butting her head against his elbow before pecking him.

He jerked up at that, letting out a little squeak and swinging his arm around in a move that seemed almost defensive. Have jumped out of the way and squawked at him again, still pretty quiet.

"Oh. Oh, hello, Have, was it?"

"Havemercy," I said sharply, and the kid looked up at me and shrunk back slightly. He was scared of me. That was good.

Then he quirked an eyebrow and glanced back at Havemercy. "Havemercy, huh? Pretty ironic name."

Have ruffled her feathers proudly, and the kid laughed. He was wearing a paint-stained 'Versity sweatshirt, and a pair of ratty corduroys. I was pretty sure he'd had the same ones on yesterday.

"You go to the 'Versity?" I said blandly. He flinched when I started speaking, and I thought this could be fun, scaring the shit out of him.

"Y-yeah," he said, not looking at me. Have was looking at me, and I couldn't tell what she was saying, if it was "cut it out, don't be such an asshole, he's already aware of that fact," or "cut it out, you don't know what you're getting into," because she seemed amused at the same time.

Women.

I put my hand on the table and leaned into him. "What're you studying?"

"Um. Double-majoring, in studio art and literature."

"So, smart 'Versity kid, with broken glasses and shitty clothes. What, did your parents find out you were a cindy and throw you out on your ass, but then realized disowning you would humiliate them so they keep paying tuition?"

The kid flushed brilliantly with anger and snapped, "For your information, I have a full-ride scholarship on merit alone," and then all the color drained from his face and I grinned.

"Huh. Look, I didn't go to the 'Versity and I don't give a flying fuck about school, but everyone knows only kids from Molly and Mollyedge get scholarships, merit or not." My grin widened, and I leaned in further. "And everyone knows that if the rich Miranda shits find out a kid's from Molly, they're avoided like they've caught something from a low-priced whore." The kid went even whiter. I laughed. "Bet you keep that a fucking secret, don't you."

The kid stared at me with big fucking scared eyes and quivering lips for a long moment, and then those green eyes narrowed and he reeled back and slugged me in the face.

--

The kid had huge hands for being as skinny as he was. Physically, other than the thin thing, he was pretty average, a little shorter than me, and his hands had always been clenched around a pencil, so maybe I just hadn't thought about that, but when his fist slammed into my nose I really noticed how fucking huge his hands were.

There was a crunch and I fell back, landing on my ass. Have flew down to the concrete to look at me. My nose was bleeding.

The little shit!

"Hey! Hey, hey, hey, if you gon' fight, do it away from my stand."

The kid was looking at his hand, and then turned red and bowed, apologizing profusely to the Ke-Han bitch who ran the stand. Then he turned around and looked at me.

"I know who you are," he said. "I realized it when I walked by the statues near the 'Versity. You're from the Dragon Corps. Rook. Your squad saved the whole country."

I stood up. Fucker had broke my nose, and I closed my eyes and wrenched it back into place. "So?"

He handed me some napkins to staunch my bloody nose. "Everyone knows you. You're from Molly, too. You went to my high school."

It was a shitty high school, too. Place was falling apart, it was next door to a condemned former whorehouse and a burnt-out building (that I'd lived in, 'fore it burnt down), teachers didn't give a fuck, students cared even less. I skipped class most of the time, and still passed, barely. It was in the worst part of Molly, and the year I was a senior, there had been two separate lockdowns 'cause some idiot had brought a gun to school and started shooting shit.

The kid had to be real smart, then, to be able to graduate from Tuesday Street Senior High and get into the 'Versity full-ride.

He shrugged. "Look, I didn't talk to you, your hawk came to me first. And you're not any better than I am, so stop acting like you are."

"I'm a fucking war hero."

"Yeah, and you're an asshole." He picked up his sketchbook and looked back at me, his lips pursed disapprovingly. He had cocksucking lips, I realized. "Well, it was nice talking to you, Havemercy." He offered her a hand and she pecked at it, lightly. "Sorry for punching your pet."

I looked at him. "The fuck?"

He smirked, and it was a look that for some reason reminded me of my asshole father when he was sober and in a good mood (though that was rare). "She 'don't belong to no one,' right? So you must belong to her."

He bought a meat bun and left.

I looked at Have and she looked back.

"Fucker's actually sort of right," I told her, my voice muffled by the napkins pressed to my nose. I was perfectly aware of who owned who in this relationship, and what little heart I had belonged to Have.

"He is completely right," Havemercy's face said, and I sighed.

Why hadn't I beat the shit out of him? He'd punched me. He'd broken my fucking nose, called me a bastion-damned asshole and I'd just stared at him!

Fuck, I was getting soft.

Fuck.

--

The damn kid was there the next day, and the next, and the day after that, always in shitty clothes with those broken glasses and intently drawing. I ignored him, or tried to, because like hell was I going to change my daily routine for some fucking 'Versity shit who'd slugged me in the face once.

But Have continued to like him, and fly off my shoulder to land on his. She always came back, of course--after all, she was my better half, or at least as close to a better half as I'd likely ever get--but he fucking interested her, and he wasn't something she was going to kill and bring back to me like a prize or a gift, and that was damn well enough for me to hate him.

I bitched at her whenever we got home, and she ignored me. She hung out with whoever the fuck she wanted to, and I knew that as well as she did. She just liked me well enough.

Bitch.

So the kid and I talked sometimes, always hostile. I never got close enough for him to hit me again, because it wasn't gonna shock me the next time and I'd be as like to kill him as to beat him up, and the fucking Ke-Han bitch wasn't gonna have any fights near her stand anyway, or so she told us every fucking day.

One day he had a book instead, and he told me and Have that he'd finished his perspective project and had to finish this book for class so he wouldn't be much good company. I didn't give a shit, bought a meat bun, and waved for Have so we could just keep walking, but she didn't budge from his fucking side.

"Havemercy," I said, and she gave me a Look and turned back to the kid, nudging the book with her beak.

"Hm? Oh, I'm reading a collection of legends on Tycho the Brave. I've got a paper comparing the legends and the socio-economic classes they come from."

"The fuck?" I said, and Have looked nearly as confused as me, which was a little hilarious. She was fucking smart and always acted like she knew fucking everything.

The kid pushed up his glasses and glanced at me, warily, and then at Have, less so. I bared my teeth in a grin. He was still scared of me, and that was a fucking good thing.

"Well," he said, "For example, the legend of him losing his nose in the duel with the other man who wanted the girl he loved is a story straight from court. It was told in aristocratic circles long before it reached the middle or lower classes. However, the story of Tycho saving the little girl from the evil monsters because the woman he loved asked him to do so comes from Molly. Tycho the Brave himself was simply so famous that everyone knew of him, so the legends that sprung up after his death, came from every class and region of Volstov. And the themes in each legend--well, they vary from class to class."

That was actually kind of fucking interesting, not like I'd tell anyone that. "So you mean a legend that comes from Molly has a different message than a legend from Miranda?"

The kid smiled broadly, like he was fucking proud of me. "Exactly! A lot of the aristocratic legends are all about, for example, honor, but a lot of the Molly legends are about, say, loyalty or trust. A lot of the legends from the country feature bad weather as the villain, as opposed to a monster or another person, because a blizzard or a tornado or a fire can be devastating to a farm. It's really quite fascinating."

I was starting to get bored, though it was kind of an interesting thought. "You mean to say different stories come from Miranda folk and Mollyrats and hicks?"

"Yep," the kid said. "I'm writing about why class makes these things change. It's for my sociology class, but since I'm studying literature, the professor gave me a literary topic."

"And you like doing this shit?"

The kid practically glowed, he smiled so wide. It was kinda creepily familiar, but I didn't want to think about that. "I love it."

I rolled my eyes. Fucking little 'Versity shit, he'd let school make him soft. No way would that kid survive in Molly now.

He looked up at me again, and I noticed he had dark circles under his eyes, like he hadn't slept in fucking weeks. I remembered Balfour looking like that in the hospital after the war, unable to sleep 'cause he could feel his hands moving even though they were gone. We were all so doped up that the rest of us did nearly nothing but, but Balfour nearly went fucking insane with no sleep before his hands stopped moving.

We'd all looked like that at the end of the war, too, sleeping in fits and starts between watches and bombs and blood and sirens. Compagnon's eye had got a piece of shrapnel in it, and Adamo had taken it out in the bunker. Magoughin was dead and just fucking lying there, starting to smell. By the time the cindy spy who'd been feeding us shit had gotten us the information and convinced th'Esar that the best way to go about it was a direct hit, none of us had had a decent night's sleep in a month.

By the time the army got us out of the torture camp and fucking Ke-Han surrendered, most everyone, not just Magoughin, was fucking dead.

The kid looked a little like that, not the war zone part, but the sleepless part. Guess that was a 'Versity thing, though, all that fucking studying.

I didn't think it was anything more till the next day, when he was sitting at the table like always, but with a ragged duffel and a box full of books next to him.

"Fuck's up with you," Have's face said.

The kid's smile was as pale and sleepless as the rest of him, now that he wasn't talking about fucking literature or whatever. "Got evicted." He shook his head. "I was so busy, I forgot about the date, and that I had to have the rent in by the end of the month, or else..." he sighed, and put his face in his hands, like he was all wore out, but I saw the anger in his eyes and twisting around his mouth – it was more like he was trying to hide that. "Fuck."

Well then. Maybe there still was some Molly in the fucking kid after all.

--

I knew a lot about being homeless. Parents abandoned me and my brother when we were brats still, three and eleven, and we ended up living with this old lady who didn't give a damn what happened to us, and that was okay by me. I took care of Hilary, he stayed in our room when I went to school, and in the afternoons we scrounged up some food and were okay. We were just fine, Hil and me.

'Course, then the house burnt down with Hil still inside and after that I didn't have a place to live and I didn't have no one to take care of, so I was on my own and lived in alleys and cardboard boxes and shelters every once in while, slipping through the cracks, till I got arrested 'cause I tried to pick up an undercover cop and they put me in the system.

I ran away a lot, got kicked out a few times, learned to fight. Spent more time at fucking school than any home, which is saying something since I never went to school.

Most Molly orphans deal with some kind of homeless for a while, but the kid looked totally fucking lost. But then, maybe he'd had a fucking family.

"You're from Molly and you've never been homeless before?"

He shrugged. "I grew up in one of the whorehouses. It used to be next to the high school, till the building got condemned. But I was seven then, and we managed just fine till we got another place. Or," his face fell even further, which I hadn't though fucking possible, "I didn't suffer much for it, I guess."

Grew up in a whorehouse...I thought about my nose, still a little swollen, and grinned. "So you were a low-priced whore."

The kid looked at me archly. "Molly whorehouses have enough of a problem with the government as it is, you think they'd pimp out some underage kid? That would get them shut down in a heartbeat." Oh. Right. "By the time I turned fifteen, it looked like I might get into 'Versity and Madam wouldn't let me work, because I should 'be studying instead.' Her words, not mine. She wanted me out, I guess, since I had a chance."

"So you were raised okay, huh?"

He shrugged again. "Guess so. Most everyone tried to take care of me, but some didn't like it that I didn't have to turn tricks, even though Madam had pretty much decreed that I was going to school. I got some flack."

I snorted. Whores did not do flack. Whores did you bastion-damned little fucker, you think you're so much better than the rest of us? Let's just see if you bleed blue then like you fucking think.

It was a miracle he got to 'Versity with both his fucking eyes.

His face was red--he knew I was onto him. He definitely got cut by some of the whores at that house, no matter what he said. I nearly laughed--he was so fucking stupid for some 'Veristy hotshot.

"So where are you gonna go?"

"Probably the library. It's open all night, and there are lots of places no one goes. I can shower in the gym locker rooms."

"Aren't there like dorms on the campus?"

He looked away, his face going redder. "I'm not exactly friends with anyone I could stay with."

I laughed. "You realize what a fucking loser you are? No friends, no apartment, doing nothing but studying all the fucking time? Bastion fuck. What sort of fucking life is that?"

"It's my fucking life," the kid snapped. "So shut up. What do you do?" He stood up and faced me. "You're here every day with your hawk, just walking. What sort of life do you have? People might recognize you on the street, yeah, but not often, and you don't even fucking care anyway. It's not as though you're a glamorous celebrity. You don't seem to have a job, you don't seem to have friends except for Havemercy--from what I can see, your life isn't any better than mine. You might have a place to live but at least I'm doing something, and it's something I love."

Fucking cindy piece of shit! Who the fuck was he to say this sort of shit to me? I shoved him hard, suddenly furious, and he stumbled back into the tree on the side of the patio area. I followed him back, trapping him there, and he went white, his eyes going wide with fear. I grinned at him showing teeth, the kind of grin that's nothing but anger.

"You little fucking shit," I hissed, grabbing his shoulders and pushing him hard against the tree. "You have no fucking right to tell me that."

"I have as much a right as anyone," he shot back, his voice shaking a little. "You're not any better than I am."

"But I am. I have a place to sleep tonight, and you don't. Seems like I'm better'n you. And I have Havemercy. Who do you have? No one."

The kid's eyes darted to one side like I wasn't telling the truth. "Oh? You do have someone?"

He breathed something real quiet, so quiet I couldn't fucking hear him. "Speak up, you bitch," I said, slamming him against the tree again. "Be fucking honest. That's part of your 'Versity honor code, ain't it?"

He licked his lips, nervous, and my mouth went oddly dry. Then his eyes darted back to mine and he said, real quiet-like, "I have you."

I burst into laughter. "That's the best you got? Me?"

"Better than nothing," the kid said defensively. He wasn't moving against the tree--either he'd given up or he was waiting for me to let down my guard, and I was betting on the last one. He'd continued to surprise me since we met, and I wasn't taking any fucking chances.

I shook my head. "Ain't better than nothing, you fuck. If I'm all you got, you're fucking screwed."

The kid shrugged. "Maybe," he said, and his face might have still be white as a fucking sheet, and he might have still been trembling, but his hands moved fast and sure and he grabbed my face and kissed me.

--

I ain't no fucking cindy, but I turned tricks, as a kid and after the war both, and when you're a man on a street corner, mostly you're picking up johns. Most of the time I gritted my teeth and bore it, but there are always those few tricks who like it if you like it, and so I was perfectly aware that men could be nice.

Didn't make me a cindy, though. I liked fucking girls just as much, actually way more even, than I'd ever enjoyed getting blown by a guy, or even fucking one, which I'd had the chance to do a couple of times.

So what the fuck was this kid doing? Or, really, why the fuck was I liking it?

Granted I remember thinking his lips were made for sucking cock, but then, he was a 'Versity student and probably a nellie himself so that wasn't particularly shocking.

The kid kissed hard and hot, the way I liked it, the way only a few really aggressive whores did. He used his tongue and his teeth and his hands, licking into my mouth, biting at my lips, digging his fingernails into my neck enough to sting but not enough to hurt. He pulled me against him, hooked a foot around my ankle and pulled, and suddenly I had to balance with a hand against the tree to keep myself from tipping into him.

What the hell, I thought, and kissed him back, gripping his jaw with my other hand and forcing his head back for a better angle. He used his tongue really fucking well, and most whores that good with their tongues sucked cock like it was their bastion-fucked destiny. Kid could kiss.

Made me wonder how much truth there was to him never turning tricks. Course, he'd never said he hadn't turned tricks, just said he hadn't turned 'em at the whorehouse 'cause the madam wouldn't let him. He coulda been on a street corner for fucking years without anyone knowing, and I knew full-rides didn't cover room or textbooks, and that most 'Versity students never got fucking laid. He probable blew half the school to get money for books alone.

"Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. I got kids coming to my stand. You gon' make out, you do it in private."

I grabbed Thom's shoulders and pushed him back against the tree. He was easy to move, light.

He wiped his mouth and stared up at me fiercely, like he was daring me to hit him. I thought about it, but decided that if this was going to get me laid for free--especially with a mouth like that--I better not take any chances. He was still pale, except for the way his lips had flushed red and there were spots of color in his cheeks, and his shoulders were shaking. The fuck, did the kid get off on being fucking scared or something?

Behind us, Have made a slight sound that sounded rather unnervingly like laughter.

"Fuck you," I said without turning, and backed up just a little to give the kid a Look. Then I did turn, and offer my arm to Have.

"Wha--" the kid said, and cut off. I didn't need to look at him to know that he probably had a look on his face like a fucking kicked puppy.

"You coming?"

"What?"

"I said, you fucking coming? C'mon, let's not traumatize the fucking b--the lady."

The bitch at the stand huffed but said nothing.

"Oh. Oh! Wait--" He grabbed his duffel and the box and followed me.

I grinned.

--

Despite having a huge fucking bag on his back and a ratty cardboard box in his arms, the kid kept up with me and have without a problem, which was a good sign of his stamina. We took the elevator to the penthouse and he gaped at the way I had to slide my key into a slot next to the top floor button, which made me laugh at him.

"You are so fucking stupid," I told him, and he flushed.

"It's just...where did you get your money?" He glanced at me nervously. "I know ex-military get a stipend, but this is a building for..." He trailed off, like he was trying to be delicate.

"Millionaires," I said flatly. "Won the lottery the year after the war."

He blinked. "Oh."

"Lucky fucking break," I told him. "Spent most of my stipend on medical bills, the rest on a shit apartment. Could barely afford to eat."

The kid's hand clenched around his duffel like he was angry. I raised an eyebrow. "What?"

His teeth sunk into his full lower lip, and I could suddenly picture that mouth around my cock vividly. I would have bet my entire fortune and Havemercy to boot that the kid could suck cock like nothing else. "Nothing. Just...it bothers me that th'Esar doesn't pay for the medical bills of the soldiers. A lot of them are still in trouble."

I didn't doubt it.

The elevator dinged open into my entryway and I stepped in and glanced at the kid behind me. "Well?"

He followed me, and the doors slid shut.

And then several things happened very fast. Have flew off to one of her many perches, unsurprisingly. Then the kid dropped his bag, set down his box, shoved me against the wall, kissed me again, and started in on my pants.

I pushed him back. "What the fuck?"

"Shut up," the kid said, pulling the zip down with one hand and holding my shoulder to the wall with another. "You'll like this."

And then he dropped to his knees and sucked my dick into his mouth.

--

I was completely right. The kid sucked cock like he loved it, moaning around my dick, one hand gripping my hip almost hard enough to bruise, the other running up and down my thigh.

And he was damn good. Knew exactly what he was doing, knew how to use his tongue and the slightest edge of his teeth, knew how to open up his throat and suck me all the way down, a hint of pain on the edge sometimes but never too much.

The hand on the outside of my thigh vanished suddenly and I glanced down at him, and he was undoing his pants fast and awkward, pulling out his cock, which was already hard. The kid was getting off on sucking dick alone, and that was about the hottest thing I'd seen in a long time, cindy or not. I threw my head back against the wall, slamming into it, enough true pain to bring me away from the edge, to stretch out the best fucking blowjob I'd had in probably fucking years as long as I fucking could.

And then he swallowed me down again, hard, his throat moving around the head of my cock, and I came. I could hear the kid gasping, his whole body jerking, and knew he was coming too.

"Bastion fuck," I said, surprised I could even manage to remember how to talk.

The kid slipped my cock out of his mouth and smiled up at me, smug. His hand was covered in his own come, but none of mine had even escaped his mouth.

I wasn't sure I could fucking move, but I knew as soon as I could I was going to fuck his brains out.

--

The first night was good, the kid scrabbling at the sheets for some kind of purchase, writhing and gasping and coming all over the place.

The second night was better, the kid wanting to study and me just dragging him onto the couch, holding his hips, leaving fingerprint bruises, while he rode me and tossed his head.

The third night, I tied his wrists to the headboard and fucked him slow and deep and hard and wouldn't let him come until I had. Twice. He got more and more desperate, his voice getting raw, begging me, even cursing me, his cheeks flushed, his nipples hard, his cocksucking mouth red, his t-shirt rucked up around his armpits.

"F-fuck you," he gasped, as I moved in and out of him, enjoying every moment. I like sex hard and fast, aggressive, but sometimes I like it slow too, and he was just gonna have to deal with that.

"You wanna be in charge," I told him, leaning over so our lips nearly brushed, "then you tie me up."

He shoved his hips up and rubbed his cock on my belly, straining for friction. I pulled back. "Sorry, sweetheart," I drawled, smirking at him. "That ain't gonna fly here. I stand by what I said." I lifted one of his legs so it was over my shoulder, moving a little deeper, a little faster, a little harder.

"Like I could t-tie you--nngh--l-like I c-could tie you up--bastion fuck, Rook! Fucking please!" He arched his back, one smooth line only broken by the shadows of his ribs.

I laughed, a little breathless. "You're kinda a slut, ain't you?" I told him, and he shuddered and came just like that, all over his belly, spurting more come than I think I'd ever seen in my life and it was enough for a third orgasm, not nearly as impressive as his, of course, but pretty damn good.

The fourth night he caught me unaware during a hockey game and wrapped my wrists in one big hand of his--and that was unexpectedly fucking hot, the fact that he could hold both my hands in one of his--and fucked himself down on me without a fucking care in the world, and then slid up my chest and came all over my face, grinning the whole time. And then he fucked me, on my knees, face pressed into the floor, hands still held behind my back, and I was okay with that, if it was only once in a while, because if it was that fucking great every time it was worth being a fucking cindy in every fucking way.

The fifth night we ordered two pizzas and finished them and a six-pack off in an hour, and then the kid said, "So. Am I staying here?"

"You're a really good fuck," I told him.

"I could pay rent. I have a job, not very many hours and bad wages, but I could--"

"Fuck that. I have a guest room no one uses and more money than I fucking know what to do with. You can pay in sex."

The kid rolled his eyes and stroked his chin as if considering something. It was a weirdly familiar look. "Oh, I don't know if I could do that. So immoral."

"Fuck you," I told him, and screwed him over the kitchen table.

--

So that's kind of how it went. We fucked a lot and ate pizza and drank more beer than was, as the kid put it, "strictly necessary."

He was full of shit. There was no such thing as too much liquor.

The kid was usually gone by the time I got up for my walk with Have, but we met during his break at the park by the meat bun stand like we had when we weren't fucking and living in the same apartment—that was really all it was, after all, and I didn't mind it so much that way. Someone to fuck who would do—well, anything, and if that wasn't fucking hot as hell I didn't know what was. And he didn't want anything from me, really, except someone to talk at sometimes.

Well, a lot of the time. And that was pretty annoying but the sex was so good that I could live with it.

The surviving airmen came over for dinner a few weeks after he'd moved in. They didn't say anything, but we actually had dinner instead of take-out or my shitty, half-hearted, burnt attempts at frozen pizza or Hamburger Helper and massive amounts of liquor to make up for how much dinner fucking sucked. This time, the kid cooked something—simple, I guess, tacos or something, shit that came from the store and just needed heating, and joined us for the hockey game.

He and Balfour hit it off—not completely shocking, given that they were both nellie as anything and well-educated and shit. They talked about fucking literature during the period breaks while the rest of us stared at them like they were nuts (though Luvander might have been listening intently, I couldn't tell because he was wearing one if his ridiculous fucking hats) but they both watched the game like it would get them to Regina.

The Cobalts won, of course. We beat the fucking Ke-Han in the war, and we'll beat the Magicians at hockey until the end of the fucking world.

The kid liked hockey. He was real quiet about it unless you got him plastered—which was fucking surprisingly difficult—some 'Versity sin to like common-fucker sports or something, I supposed. But when the game was close his fists were clenched so hard his knuckles were white, and when we won he grinned like a million dollars had been dropped in his lap.

Adamo met me at the studio I taught at the next day. "The kid," he said.

"What about him?" I asked, picking up all the disasters my stupid fucking students left behind.

"You're not taking advantage of him, are you?"

I laughed. "Are you fucking kidding me? What would you do if I was?"

Adamo narrowed his eyes but said nothing. It was enough to remind me that I was probably bluffing—Adamo was the only person on earth who could kick my ass. He was my CO, after all, and as much as I hated the fucking army authority shit and following orders that were shit like "don't kill until we fucking tell you to," I still respected him.

"Look," he said. "I know him, a little. Th'Esar's spymaster's a professor at the university and he's familiar with the kid. He's a good kid. He's brilliant. And if you fuck him over—"

"You'll what? Defend his fucking honor?"

Adamo gave me his patented don't be fucking stupid look. "I'll just be pissed. I don't need another incident like the Arlemagne diplomat's wife during the war, and while you wouldn't set off an international conflict, you might be facing prosecution from the university for sexually harassing a student."

"You think he doesn't want it?" I laughed. "You should hear him fucking scream. He fucking loves every moment—"

"I would rather not hear about this," Adamo said flatly, giving me a Look, and left.

It was a stupid fear, only brought out prolly 'cause Adamo had these weird fits about strange, pointless things that were none of his business every once in a while after the war. We all had our quirks, and Adamo was probably better adjusted than any of the rest of us.

Well, the rest of us who were still alive, that is.

It still made me glance at Have that afternoon while we were walking home. "You think it's a problem, Thom and me?"

Have did that snorty bird thing she did. Her eyes said, do you think it's a problem? Or does he?

"I didn't ask what I thought," I told her sharply. What do you think?

I like him, Have said. He has brass balls like you do. He just hides them better.

"I don't hide them at all," I said.

Exactly, you fucking fool, she said, and looked at me haughtily.

Bitch.

Though I really didn't know a lot about him. But I knew enough: he was a 'Versity student, he was clearly a Maryanne, or at least half of one, he was too smart for his own damn good but still didn't possess an ounce of common sense. He was fucking incredible in bed, and he was way too honest, especially for a former Mollyrat. It was going to get him in trouble someday.

And he had no sense of self-preservation, and he was stubborn as fuck, but I didn't think about those too long 'cause they kinda struck a little close to home.

And none of that stopped him from being able to take care of himself, more or less. Bastion, he'd gotten me in the face. He'd broken my fucking nose, and that's more than I can say about anyone who's punched me in the face since I was twelve. He told me no, once, and when I pushed he kicked me in a place no man should ever be fucking kicked—not hard, he's not that much of a fool—and locked himself in the bathroom. It wasn't like anything we did was fucking nonconsensual, or whatever, 'cause if he didn't want it, he made sure I fucking kenw it, and if I didn't want it he left me well enough alone. As much as I sort of hated Thom, or maybe just found him annoying and bitchy, I had to admit that at this point we stood on relatively even ground. I was better than him, of course, but he held his own and I wasn't going to challenge that. He might have been a 'Versity student, but he was still a fucking Mollyrat beneath all that schooling, and that was something he wasn't never gonna get rid of completely.

When I got home from the studio, Thom was on the phone, looking completely baffled.

"Well," he said, "I—" but then he was clearly cut off by the person on the other line, who I could hear chattering all over the place—

Oh. Oh fucking hell no, I was not subjecting Thom to Caius fucking Greylace, because no one deserved Caius fucking Greylace. I wouldn't wish him on the fucking Ke-Han. Havemercy sqwaked in agreement and I stalked over to the phone and grabbed it. "Shut the fuck up, Caius," I said, and hung up, only catching the beginning of his shriek of indignation.

"Um," Thom said. "Who was—"

"The guy who owns my studio has a…" Alcibiades barely tolerated Greylace, but tolerate him he did, some of the time. Maybe he was good in bed, though he looked underage and also like he'd snap in about six different places if you fucked him. "Friend? Fuckbuddy? I'm not really sure. Alcibiades don't seem to like him much anyway, either, but whatever. Caius Greylace. I wouldn't sic him on the fucking Ke-Han."

Thom smiled wryly. "Coming from you, that's saying something."

"He's a lunatic," I told him. "Messed in the head."

"That's also saying something," Thom said, almost laughing, and I smacked him across the back of the head.

"Shut the fuck up," I told him, and he kissed me, laughing into my mouth, pulling at my hair, half-happy and half-fierce and Have made a sound that was irritated and clearly said, you better get me pizza for fucking dinner tonight, you little bastard. Supreme. With spicy sausage.

I flipped her off and she flapped to her perch on the sofa and then we had dinner, Thom and I sprawled on the kitchen floor, Have perched on an open cabinet door—pizza, of course, because Have wanted it and who were we to say no?

Other than the "talking about pointless shit all the bastion-fucking time" and the "friends with Balfour, what the fuck?" part, the kid really wasn't so bad, and I realized as I watched him inhale a whole fucking pizza in a matter of minutes and wipe his tomato-stained mouth on his cum-stained t-shirt that I was pretty fucking content with my life.

Of course, that's always when it all goes to hell.

part two