I Didn't Want to See
July 2002 (revised May 2004)
It was strange waking up to a bundle of warmth curled against him, but Teryan easily recognized the presence of his son and relaxed with his arms still wrapped around the youth. Years ago, he had asked Angel if he wanted a father or brother more. The boy chose a father, though he understood that Teryan was both to him. Every time the child uttered the word 'Father', Teryan felt a sting of love and guilt, pride and shame. But as the boy wasn't to blame for the sin of his parents, he was named 'Angel' to remind others of that fact.
While he watched the boy sleep, the youth stirred and opened sleepy eyes to look at his father.
"Good morning, Angel."
"Morning, Father!" He put his small arms around him in a tight hug. "Can we get pancakes for breakfast?"
Returning the hug, Teryan replied, "You bet. Do you still like blackberries on them?"
"Then we better get dressed before it gets too late." The dark-haired man sat up and lifted the boy to the floor.
"Um, Father? Can I see it again?"
Before he could respond, a tired voice came from the other bed. "Teri, are you showing that boy something a child his age shouldn't see?"
Teryan swung around to glare at the man who was currently propped up on an elbow and smiling with a teasing look. Not understanding the mocking words, the boy sought to correct the young lord.
"No, Levi. He has a scar that he got when he saved my life. Show him, Father."
The man's hazel eyes became a bit more serious, though he mimicked the boy's tone. "Oh, please do."
Sighing at being out numbered, the fortuneteller removed his shirt and placed a hand on his left shoulder. A rather ugly scar was just beneath there, reflective of the deep wound which had led to the marred skin. Angel crawled back onto the thin mattress and lightly touched the dark scar.
"Momma wasn't right in the head. She wanted to kill me with a knife, but Father stepped in the way." After kissing the scar, he gave Teryan another hug. "Thank you. I'll get dressed, now."
The boy dressed quickly, but neither of the older men had moved in that short time. His annoyed glance at his father was answered by a weak smile.
"Angel, go ahead downstairs and order all the pancakes you want. We'll join you shortly."
Happy at being treated like a child who didn't have to be watched constantly, the boy ran out the door and headed in the direction of the inn's restaurant. They visited the same inn every year and Teryan trusted the motherly woman who ran the restaurant to watch over his son.
"What do you want, Levitare?" the psychic asked tersely as the man's stare caused his skin to shiver.
"Would you tell me? About Angel?"
Suddenly, there was a touch at the scar, the unexpected move causing Teryan to inhale in surprise as he never heard the man move. The hand didn't linger for long as Levitare moved to sit down behind the dark-haired man and then rested against the psychic back-to-back. The feel of skin against warm cloth was almost soothing, similar to when they rode horseback into town, but Teryan silently vowed to not get used to it.
"If it would stop your questions… It’s a rather uneventful story. My father died when I was young, and something broke in my mother that day. When I was twelve, she saw me as my father or perhaps she wanted to punish me. It's impossible to guess. She was too far-gone at that point. Either way, she made me have sex with her.
“When she surprisingly got pregnant, she thought that it was my father returning to her. She was fine throughout the pregnancy and for a short time Angel's birth, but then she somehow got the idea that boy was pretending to be my father so that he could get her soul. I stopped her murder attempt by shielding Angel with my body. Frustrated, she chose to end everything by slicing her own throat. After that, I was able able to watch over Angel for a couple of years, but then people began being… violent in their request for my services. He has lived at the orphanage since then..."
After a prolonged silence, Levitare scoffed softly. "Uneventful my ass. Angel is incredibly lucky to have you as a father." The redheaded man then stood up from the bed and walked around to kneel in front of the fortuneteller. "Would I get punched for hugging you right now?"
"Like hell I'd let you--" His rant ended when there was a warm, wet feeling along his cheek. Touching fingers to skin, Teryan numbly realized that it was a tear. Suddenly, strong arms were wrapped tightly around him and a rough hand carefully rubbed his naked back. The tears wouldn't stop, and more from shame than the need for comfort, Teryan buried his face against the redheaded man's shoulder.
Levitare moved his hand into dark hair. "You know, he loves you dearly. His greatest wish is to be able to protect you like you have always watched over him."
"Why…? Why is it only you?" Teryan pushed the man away from him and stood up with rage on his face. "I don't cry. I don't need warmth. I don't need happiness that--" The words stopped when he closed his eyes as he tried to regain control.
"Sometimes, it's not a matter of what you need, but what you want. You are denying yourself too much."
His eyelids flew open. "Ha! It's so simple to you. Have you ever dreamed of your child loosing fingers because you can't give some nobleman what he wants? Do you know how loud a child can scream, not understanding why he is being punished?" In a quiet hiss he continued, "Do you know how loud you yourself can scream while the person you truly love burns, him saying your name over and over until death finally takes him away from you?"
Fallen onto his ass, Levitare looked up with widened eyes. His mouth was partially open, but no words came out.
Teryan smiled darkly at the man. "You see, you know shit."
As the young lord sat stunned, the fortuneteller dressed in wrinkled clothes from his pack, and then left the room without another word. His mask in place, Teryan smiled warmly as he sat next to his son at a table near the bar where the older woman could watch over the boy. With blackberry juice smeared around his mouth, Angel smiled back at his father.
Knowing that the child could read minds, Teryan kept high defensives around his thoughts. Occasionally he would allow certain things pass through his shields if the boy was searching, the psychic not wanting Angel to notice he couldn't read his father completely like he could most people. It was an unfortunate happening that the boy probably told Levitare about his feelings for the man, but it couldn't have been helped. For right now, Angel didn't need to know what happened upstairs, and he certainly didn't need to know what was in the darkest regions of the fortuneteller's mind.
Unsurprisingly, the young lord failed to come down for breakfast. Teryan figured the man needed time alone, and would hopefully come to the realization that it would be best for him to leave the son and cursed father. Herding Angel outside, the psychic told the boy that Levitare didn't want to interfere with their time together. After ensuring his son that they would have lunch with the three of them together, the two went to enjoy the town as Angel rambled on to his silent father.
~ > < ~
It wasn't until a little after midday when the father and son returned to the inn, their hands linked as Angel tried to increase their pace. Once opening the door to their room, Teryan was mildly surprised that the young lord was still there, but more of an oddity was the sight of the dark bodyguard standing next to his lord. The fortuneteller could always sense the mysterious man nearby, but Kashii was only visible when it couldn't be prevented.
"Welcome back," Levitare said with a warm grin, the lighthearted tone making Teryan uneasy. "Kashii, this is the young man I was talking about. Why don't you see if he has potential to be a guardsman, and feel free to get some lunch afterwards."
"With pleasure, my Lord."
Though fortuneteller had the immediate urge to protect his son, but the boy had already run up to Levitare and Kashii. His stance stiff, Teryan glared at the redheaded man. "What is the meaning of this?"
His soft smile unfaltering, Levitare responded, "I told you earlier - Angel here wants to become strong enough to protect you. Being an instructor himself, Kashii will be able to test him to determine what he should study."
"Really?!" The boy's eyes were wide with hope and wonder.
The elder guard knelt down to the youth's level. "Nice to meet you, Master Angel. You may call me Kashii."
The boy wrinkled his nose at the title given to him. "Angel is fine. It sounds odd the other way."
Kashii simply smiled at the offer, and then lifted the child such that he could carry him with one muscular arm. "We will be just outside the inn."
"Bye, Father. I'll do my best," Angel stated with both excitement and seriousness, failing to notice his father's obvious distress. And before Teryan could react to what happened, the guard and boy were out the door and footsteps sounded as they went downstairs.
Gray eyes didn't follow their exit, the cool gaze remaining focused on the core of his problems, the redheaded man appearing entirely too smug with himself. In a part growl, the psychic asked, "What nonsense is this?"
With a disarming smile, Levitare stepped forward. "We can talk about that later. First--"
There was a flash of what was to come and Teryan promptly turned for the door. However, the ex-soldier was faster and larger, thus able to get a strong hold on the struggling man before he could escape. With some effort, the fortuneteller was pushed onto a bed and Levitare straddled above him. Teryan tried to push the larger man off of him, but his two hands were grabbed and too easily placed over his head. Seeing no way to escape and knowing the man had no intention to hurt him, the fortuneteller chose to save his energy and relaxed slightly into the mattress.
Leaning down such their faces were mere inches apart, Levitare spoke softly. "Since the moment I knew it was you in the prediction, I've asked myself, 'What in the world do I want in him? Why would I love him when no other would do?' Frankly, I'm still rather clueless. But I have discovered a couple things. First, you are amazing beyond words."
Unable to look elsewhere, Teryan stared into the firm hazel eyes. His breath was faster than normal, complementing his heartbeats. Heat which didn't originate from any fever was seeping through his body, making his thoughts fuzzy and disjointed. He wanted, he needed to escape those eyes - the same eyes which gazed at him fondly in the visions of the future.
"But more importantly, for whatever inane reason, you love me. Not some title or a room filled with gold, but this pathetic soul in a human shell. You love me so much, you'd protect me by denying yourself what you want while convincing me to hate you."
There was no other sound but his voice. Although the words were different, they echoed the chant of 'it's too late' in the psychic's mind. And suddenly, Teryan wasn't certain if he felt angry or happy at that thought. He tried pushing the man away, but Levitare always came back with more force. An unstoppable force.
"Well, I hate to tell you this, but you failed, little psychic. I've fallen for you. The question is if you'll ever let me love you, or will you continue to shove me away?"
Teryan smile weakly, knowing that the man would never response to his demands to leave him alone with his cursed life. And so, with a change in tactic, the the fortuneteller decided attack the young lord where it would hurt most - commitment.
"Would you 'sync' with me then? Right this moment?"
Levitare sat up at the question, his hazel eyes shifting with wariness. 'Syncing' was an archaic ritual which bound two souls together for their lifetime. Given fewer people had magical abilities these days, or rather that they typically hid their powers, syncing became more of a legend than reality. And unsurprisingly, people preferred to marry in the name of syncing, a method which was far less overwhelming and by no means permanent. Given the young lord had yet to commit himself in a simple marriage, Teryan was confident that the man wouldn't subject himself to an eternal bond with any person.
The hazel eyes moved slightly as he closely examined the face below him. In time, a lopsided grin formed and the young lord bent down to kiss the trapped man. Teryan tried to resist the intensity of the touch of lip on lip, but he found himself unconsciously opening his mouth to deepen the kiss. Tongues and moisture met briefly before Levitare pulled back and smiled widely at the psychic.
"I'd be honored to sync with you."
Even though he was unable to fully focus on his powers, Teryan felt that the line had been crossed. There were no more futures without this man in his life, and no matter how much he wanted to hate Levitare for barging into his life, the fortuneteller smiled vaguely.
"Let me sit up and loan me your knife."
The redhead released the wrists of the fortuneteller and moved to the side so that Teryan could straighten into a seated position. From his belt, Levitare unsheathed a small silver knife and handed it to the psychic without a moment of hesitation at giving the dark-haired man a lethal weapon. Teryan set the knife down onto his lap and started to remove his shirt. The young lord took the silent cue and took off his as well.
Shifting such they sat face to face, Teryan gently placed his hand on Levitare's cheek. "Are you certain you know what I'm asking of you?"
"I do. The question is if you know what you're doing."
The psychic frowned vaguely, unable to meet the man's eyes. "I shouldn't do this, but it's too late. I haven't felt anything in so long, and... I don't want to be dead forever."
"There is your son," Levitare reminded him.
"Yes, there is my son, my Angel. But he isn't enough. I can't afford to endanger his life for my selfish needs, just as I shouldn't endanger your life."
With a warm smile, the redheaded man placed his hand over the one still resting on his cheek. "I'm not a six-year-old child. I think I can handle myself, and maybe even protect your life on occasion. If you would let me, that is."
"It's not that simple," Teryan argued. "I'm asking you to surrender your life to me. Syncing--"
"Is an eternal blood bond. Yes, I realize that. But I can't see you abusing your hold over me, and I have no intention to hurt you. Though there is the issue of my status..."
"Marry whomever you wish, and have your children, but if you decide to sync with me now... I won't be able to survive if you later chose to desert me."
Squeezing the hand in his hold, Levitare said, "You're uncertain about this, which is understandable. We've known each other for hardly a week and we're talking about syncing for life... A bit insane, isn't it?"
Teryan couldn't reply, his heart constricting at the words. The psychic had seen the future and had briefly felt the overwhelming emotions he would hold for the hazel-eyed man. He knew what they could eventually mean for each other, but the young lord had no such assurances. He would be an idiot to go through the ritual which would bind them for life.
"Completely insane," Levitare said in answer to his own question. "And yet, when I see the real you, the pieces which aren't dead, I think I know what attracts me to you." Pulling the psychic's hand aside, he lightly kissed sensitive fingertips. "Let me make you whole?"
Staring into soft hazel, Teryan hesitated before nodding vaguely, a weak smile forming briefly before he removed his hand from the man's hold. Without further delay, he breathed deeply to clear his thoughts and collect his energy, and with his next breath, he began a musical chant. Surrendering to the magical incantation, Teryan let the words guide his body and moments without conscious thought on his part. Gracefully, he picked up the knife from his lap and waved the silver blade in ancient symbols between the two bare chests. He then angled the sharp edge to his own body and sliced deeply across his bronze skin. Though in his mind he knew there should have been pain, Teryan was too deep into the spell to care. After another wave of the blade in different symbols, it was placed onto Levitare's chest. The young lord never flinched from the weapon, trusting the psychic with his body and life. And so, down the center of the man's chest, a lengthy cut was made, a twin to the fresh wounding on the psychic's body.
No longer needed, the bloodied knife was set between them onto the bed. Continuing the musical incantation, Teryan placed two fingers onto each cut and swirled his fingertips into the flowing blood. As the chant grew louder, he slowly brought his hands together as thread-like strands of red were intertwined into a complex knot between their bodies. With a sharp word in the ancient language, the crimson strings vanished as if never existing. In a shaky voice, the last blessing of the chant was uttered as Teryan fell forward at the same moment Levitare lost his own strength. Meeting midway, they leaned against each other in support while their bodies recovered.
Pressing his face into dark hair, the young lord muttered, "Damn, is the whole point of syncing to bleed to death before you meet someone else?"
"Can't you feel the cut being healed?"
"Healed...?" Tiredly, Levitare sat up straight to feel skin under the bloody mess. "It's gone…"
Teryan sighed at his lost support. "Unbelievably, that means the syncing is blessed. Otherwise, we would in fact bleed to death."
Hazel eyes glanced up from his body to stare at the bloodied chest before him, and in a careful move, he placed his blood-covered hand onto the psychic's chest. With an odd, almost shy smile, Levitare looked up to meet gray eyes with his softer gaze. Leaning in slowly to declare his intentions, the young lord initiated a gentle kiss which made Teryan moan quietly in ache.
Speaking into the kiss, the redheaded man said, "I suppose that we should clean up before someone thinks we killed something in here. Want to join me for a well-deserved bath?"
Once a maid had been well paid to rid the room of the bloodied sheets and mattress, Levitare dragged the weakly resisting psychic to the bathing room. Though it took some additional coaxing, Teryan couldn't deny that washing together would be far faster than waiting for someone to finish their turn. The large bathroom held everything they needed, from the wide basin easily able to hold two persons, to the collection of soaps, and to the pump system designed to pull hot water from further below. To the side of the large bath was a tiled area meant for washing travel dirt off before entering the bath, but by the time the two men had rinsed themselves, the white floor was pink from blood and water.
Finished with his cleaning first, Levitare moved closer to the psychic. "Let me see to your back."
Teryan stiffened at the request, but he didn't stop the man as he walked behind the lithe figure. With the day-old bandages removed, Levitare could see that the wounds from earlier in the week were healing nicely, fast on their way to join the collection of white scars on tan skin. Kneeling to better balance himself while soaping the marred backside, Levitare glanced up at the tense neck of the fortuneteller, and on a whim, he kissed just below dark hair.
The body shivered at the touch, but didn't move away. "Please. Don't."
"Are you afraid of me?" Levitare was greatly tempted to hug the naked form, but decided that the other looked tense enough to react violently at the action.
With a sigh at the pointless argument, Levitare stood and used a nearby bucket to rinse the bronze skin of soap. That task done, the young lord stretched as he stepped to the bath and eased himself into the warm water. After a time of enjoying the soothing feel, the redheaded man glared in the direction of the still seated psychic, the dark-haired man unmoving from his position.
"You know, this water isn't going to stay heated forever. I suggest getting off your ass and join me."
The fortuneteller turned to stare at him, the gray eyes slightly wide with a nervous and suspicious gleam.
"Oh, please," Levitare said in his sarcastic way. "I synced with you barely an hour past and you treat me like a stranger in an alleyway. Are you truly that afraid of me? Or perhaps, are you trying to protect your virginity from my wandering dick?"
An unnamed emotion flashed in the cold eyes, Teryan then promptly shifting his gaze to staring at the uninteresting floor of white tile. All hints of amusement left the young lord once he recognized the hidden misery in the psychic's face. Hazel eyes briefly closed as Levitare silently cursed himself for managing to say the wrong things just when things had been getting better between them.
"Spirits, I'm sorry, Teri. I didn't think--"
"Stop calling me that," Teryan bit out while standing up from the tiles. "This is wrong. I was foolish. Forgive me."
As the psychic made for the door, Levitare jumped out of the bath and nearly fell when his water-slicked feet contacted with smooth tile. His balance quickly regained, the former soldier caught up to the smaller man and managed to grab onto a wrist before the dark-haired man could escape the bathing room. Jerking on that arm, Levitare pulled the psychic up against his body and quickly placed his arms around the slim waist.
"Must you always run?" the hazel-eyed man asked, allowing some of his frustration to sound in his voice.
"Let me go."
Levitare smiled into damp hair. "I seem to remember you telling me that before, but I didn't listen to you then, and I'm certainly not going to listen to you now. We are bonded, Teri, which means you no longer have the choice to leave me behind. That said, you might as well just tell me what is going on in that head of yours."
Not struggling from the strong hold of the larger man, Teryan waited before saying, "I'm too... tainted for a man of your status."
"You obviously haven't heard the numerous rumors associated with me."
The dark-haired man shook his head. "You don't understand."
Taking hold of the man's shoulders, Levitare spun him around so that they faced each other. "If I don't understand, it's because you haven't told me anything. So tell me, why would one of your beauty and grace be less than I deserve?"
The fortuneteller opened his mouth in response to have it promptly covered by warm lips. With Teryan caught off guard, Levitare was able to deepen the kiss with little resistance on the part of the stubborn psychic. Hesitantly, Teryan closed his eyes and joined in with the play of tongues. The skittish man was obviously inexperienced, but the testing touches were sweetly maddening to the young lord.
Somewhat reluctantly, Levitare pulled back and smiled softly as he watched the fortuneteller slowly open his eyes to reveal amazing silver that was hazed by pleasure. But a few blinks later, the gray eyes returned to their protective deadness, the sight disappointing the young lord, but he was far from losing hope that Teryan was a lost soul forever.
"I'm not a virgin," the psychic stated as if nothing had interrupted him.
"Obviously. You have a son."
Gray eyes shifted to escape hazel. "In the other sense, as well."
With true surprise, Levitare stared at the man. "Ho, I didn't realize you were into men, other than me, of course."
The fortuneteller gave the man a halfhearted glare. "Must everything revolve around you? And for your information, it was hardly by choice."
Hazel eyes narrowed in revulsion. "The scars… Just for some predictions, those bastards raped you?"
In a soft voice, Teryan said, "As I told you, there are many paths into the future, and on occasion, I chose the wrong one to describe. There are also those who demand for my lifetime service."
Studying the face which revealed little of the man's pain, Levitare found it ironic that the one who had finally claimed the psychic didn't desire the gift of knowing what was to come. The redheaded man couldn't deny that it would be interesting to be bound to a man of such abilities, but that wasn't what attracted him to the man of soft words and dead eyes. Wrapping his arms around the slim waist, Levitare rested his head on the bare shoulder and enjoyed the feel of warm skin.
In a quiet whisper, the young lord promised, "I will show you that there can be more than hurt and shame."
The fortuneteller shivered slightly at the words, and then leaned against the taller man. In a protective hold, the young lord pulled Teryan closer while silently cursing every person who had hurt the psychic in the past and swearing that no other man would harm what was his. For several heartbeats they stood there, enjoying the warmth which only the other man could provide.
Reluctantly pulling away, Levitare looked down into gray eyes. "Join me in the bath, unless you wish for your son to wait even longer."
With patient and persistent skill, the young lord coaxed Teryan into the warm water and positioned the smaller man to sit between between his legs with the scarred back pressed against his chest. Tension filled the lithe frame, but there was also an encouraging faint blush along the bronze skin. Taking it as a good sign, Levitare placed his callous-roughened hands at the man's shoulders and began a simple massage.
Teryan moved in an attempt to escape the contact, but he soon fell under the magic of the firm hands. "What are you doing?"
"What, you've never experienced a massage before? You deprive your body of too much pleasure."
Whatever response was about to come died in a quiet moan as the young lord stroked his thumbs at the base of the tense neck. As he continued the massage, Levitare began to rub his foot along a slim leg with the same rhythm of his hands. Gradually, the body loosened to the will of the young lord, and the large man smiled softly at the realization that his psychic was sensitive to gentle touches, certainly something to be taken advantage of at a later date.
Abruptly, an unintelligible curse came from Teryan as he used the side of the basin as support to quickly escape out of the water. He stumbled away from the confused redhead, but when the man reached for a towel, Levitare caught a bare glimpse of partially stiff flesh.
Feeling a mix of amusement and anger, the young lord declared, "So, you are afraid of me."
The towel wrapped around his waist, Teryan stopped in the middle of his escape, but continued to stare forward. "No. Not you."
For several moments they stayed like that until Levitare sighed and stood up from the water. "I suppose we will have plenty of chances for more exploration in the future. For now, I'm starving. Unlike some people, I never got breakfast."
A quiet laugh sounded. "You aren't a patient man."
Approaching the smaller man, Levitare said, "And that's why we should get food right away."
Teryan turned and gazed into hazel eyes, a timid smile soon forming. "Thank you for understanding."
The redhead was stunned into place by the true smile meant solely for him, and he couldn't move as the other man hurriedly put on a robe and left the room. Once alone, Levitare raked a shaky hand through short strands of red and a mischievous smile came to his lips. No, he wasn't typically a patient man in the attempt to bed a person he desired, but it was becoming apparent that Teryan would always be an exception to the rule. With a quiet laugh at his crush-like reaction to such a simple gesture, Levitare grabbed a towel to dry off and eventually follow his psychic.
~ > < ~
With a warm weight completely relaxed against his chest, Levitare showed little interest in the passing background as he held the dark-haired man tightly. A playful smile on his lips, the young lord decided that more horseback rides with his psychic were certainly planned for future.
After gathering Angel's few items from the orphanage earlier that morning, the foursome were well on their way the the Maritav estate. Using the excuse that neither Teryan nor his son had much experience with horses, Levitare decided to save his money and simply ride doubles for the short trip. Though vaguely irritated by the matter, the psychic didn't argue as he rode with the young lord and his son was paired with the elder guard. As they rode, Kashii held the young boy close, already teaching Angel the language that he would need to understand as a part of his training. While the older man hid it well, Levitare could see the excitement the dark eyes, that Kashii had found a new recruit for his group. Knowing of the boy's abilities, the young lord wasn't surprised in the least that Angel had impressive reflexes. Glancing over at the excited youth, the redhead wondered at the dangerous force the boy could become with age and the proper training.
Returning his attention to his psychic, Levitare pressed his lips against the man's neck in an attempt to resist the sudden urge to laugh at his amazing fortune as of late. In an odd twist of fate, the redheaded man had managed to acquire both a skilled psychic and a young mind reader as faithful allies. Perhaps the worse thing about the situation was that is didn't seem to matter as it should. Despite his training to be a future lord, Levitare couldn't imagine using his bondmate or the man's son as deposable tools, especially not after the morning's event. Angel had immediately sensed the forged bond between his father and the young lord, and either by accident or on purpose, the boy let a 'Papa' slip when talking to Levitare. Never considering himself the father type, he was stunned by how perfect the one word made him feel, and the child wasn't even a son of his own blood.
Movement by the man in his hold woke Levitare from his thoughts, and he frowned when the dark-haired man groaned quietly from his apparent nightmare. But before the young lord could think to console the man, Teryan's eyes snapped open and he jerked upright, nearly falling off from the horse if it weren't for Levitare holding onto him tight.
In a panicked voice, Teryan screamed, "Kashii!"
As if reacting to the sharp cry, narrows objects flew out from the surrounding bushes and trees, their target the darkly clothed warrior. With amazing skill, Kashii managed to protect both himself and the boy in his hold from the deadly arrows, but two slipped by his defenses such that two shafts embedded deep into his dominate arm and his thigh. Hazel eyes lit with fury that his trusted guard had been injured, Levitare went for his blade wrapped on top of the saddlebag, but Teryan stilled his hand.
"No. Just stop the horses."
The gray eyes were firm in the decision, quieting the young lord's attempt to argue. Though unhappy with the decision, Levitare trotted his mare to the other horse and retrieved the dropped reins before bringing both animals to a halt. With a mere glance into the dark eyes of his guard, Levitare was assured that while the man was hurting, Kashii was willing and able to fight if the need were to arise.
From their hidden positions, numerous men with bows and some with long swords approached the foursome, the men efficiently surrounding the two horses to prevent an escape. The young lord suppressed a curse at the apparent disadvantage, now realizing Teryan's desire for them not to retaliate. From before them, the attackers parted way to allow a younger, more refined man passage. Hands held behind his back, the blond man of piercing blue eyes smiled with false warmth as he eyed Teryan. Levitare hated the man instantly.
"Master psychic," the stranger addressed Teryan with a haughty voice. "I am pleased that we were finally able to locate you. It was quite the shame to discover that you had left us earlier than we had hoped."
Teryan remained silent as he watched the man with an almost casual look, as if six arrows weren't currently aimed for his body.
The blond man smiled at the lack of response. "Now, if you would come with us peacefully, we can avoid a... messy situation."
Still holding his silence, the dark-haired man bowed his head in a sign of defeat.
"Like hell I'm letting him go with you." Levitare tighten his hold on the man to emphasize his claim.
Light blue eyes flashed with annoyance as he glanced up. "A-ah, the young heir of Maritav, is it? Forgive my rudeness. I am Whitney Calver, a personal counselor to the High King," he stated, bowing to just the right degree for politeness, but certainly without respect.
"In other words, you are merely a glorified errand boy if he is sending you to retrieve what he lost."
The counselor smiled as if not hearing the insult. "Young Lord, if you would simply hand over that man to our care, I promise that you and your father will gain the favor of the High King. But before you chose, understand that if you refuse my offer, we would still take the master psychic by force."
Though wanting to reply with his own threats, Levitare found his breath stolen away by an indescribable energy that wrapped around his body in a suffocating fashion. Glancing down at his psychic, he was surprised to discover that the man hadn't bowed his head in surrender, but rather to view the glass ball he had taken out at some point. The hovering ball dimly flashed in fast colors, the sight of which making Levitare ill, but he couldn't shift his gaze away from the hypnotizing sight.
It was the sound of a dropped weapon which finally enabled the young lord to look up from the scrying item. Hazel eyes widened as he stared at one of the archers who gripped his chest in a painful manner, the fairly young man then falling to the ground with gargled noises escaping from his opened mouth. Seconds later, the soldier next to him dropped his weapon as well as he clawed his throat, apparently unable to breath. By that point, the other warriors began to back away, their eyes wide with uncertainty as another two men dropped to the ground, dying.
"Shoot him! Not to kill, but sho--" The blond man abruptly clutched his left arm, his breaths coming short. "He will...learn of this. ...You belong to him!"
As their leader joined the other corpses littered on the ground, the not-so-loyal soldiers bolted for the safety of the forest. While uncertain about what was happening, Levitare was about to laugh out loud in relief when the fortuneteller suddenly slumped forward and leaned dangerously to the side. Quickly catching the limp body, the redhead frantically examined Teryan. The man was breathing, but it was unsteady and weak.
"Shit, Teryan! Come on, open those eyes for me." He slapped the lax face harshly, trying to get any type of response.
"My Lord, I highly suggest leaving this area before anything else can occur."
"But, Teryan is--"
"And so is his son." Confused, Levitare looked over to find Angel unconscious in the older man's arms. "We need to distance ourselves from here."
"Minor. I've ridden with worse."
Looking into Kashii's eyes, the young lord reluctantly understood the necessity of escape before anyone else desiring the psychic could appear. After gaining a safe distance, they would be able spare time to treat the guard's wounds, and from there they could make forced run home. It was the most logical strategy to take, but Levitare didn't exactly feel like being rational. Taking a calming breath, Levitare gripped the fortuneteller in a secure hold and kicked his mare forward, Kashii following suit as they ran for more familiar ground.
Instead of simply waking up, Teryan felt like he was clawing his way free after being buried alive. At his first deep breath of cleansing air, his eyes snapped open, and then promptly closed at the sudden light. More carefully, he dared to open his eyes and stared up at the dark canopy of a familiar design. His body felt heavy and ached from exertion, the reason for which evading the muddled mind of the psychic. But despite his helpless state, Teryan felt oddly safe and unbothered by worries.
"Ah! You have wakened at last."
The deep voice made Teryan turn his head to view the side of the bed where a large man smiled fondly at him.
"You may not remember me, but the name is Richard. I'm the one who first brought you here." Standing up and leaning closer, the dark-haired man spoke softly as he asked, "How are you feeling? Do you need anything?"
"Levitare." The voice was weak and broken.
"He'll be here shortly. I made the man take a bath to refresh himself. He has barely moved from this room in the past ten days, but I finally convinced him that you would be offended by his smell once you did waken."
Closing his eyes to block out the painful light, Teryan tried to process the information to determine why he was in such a pathetic state. It didn't take long before memories of the High King's counselor and his hired men assaulted the fortuneteller. Numerous questions then came to Teryan, the man needing to know if his son was alright, if Kashii had gotten necessary attention for his wounds, and if Levitare had been injured, but the psychic hadn't the energy to speak the various questions.
"You must be thirsty. I'll pour you a glass."
There was the sound of water being poured just before an outer door was opened and quickly closed. Subjecting his eyes to the brightness of the room, Teryan looked to the entrance to the bedroom, needing to see for himself that the man had survived the attack. Standing in front of the closed door, Levitare met the tired gaze of his psychic, the hazel eyes unusually guarded.
"Good timing, Levi. He just woke a few moments ago."
"Leave us," the young lord commanded, his voice sharp and demanding.
With a knowing sigh, the portly man approached the bedroom door, pausing next to the taller man while speaking softly. "Calm yourself. He isn't nearly full strength yet." Turning to glance at the bedridden man, Richard said, "I will see you again, fortuneteller. Don't push yourself."
Levitare waited until after the sound of the outer closing before he spoke. "Promise me to never do that again."
Hazel eyes lost some of their harshness at the sound of the strangled voice. "You almost killed yourself with whatever you did, not to mention putting your own child in danger."
"I put him to sleep. He wasn't affected."
"Don't give me that! You think seeing you like this--!" Levitare stopped and took a calming breath as his hand raked back through wet hair. "Just promise me. Please."
"I refuse to promise you anything."
"Why not? Can you give me a single reason as to why this one time was worth me thinking you dead? I have relived that damned moment in my dreams, except you never wake in those visions. It fucking kills me to even think about it."
The hurt carried along the rough voice was clear and painful to the psychic. And still he smiled. "I wanted him dead."
Gray eyes bright with manic pleasure, Teryan explained, "It was always him. In my dreams where you burn, it was always that man who kept me from reaching you, from at least dying with you. But I was able to kill him first, before he could even think of torturing you. Before he could stop me from being with you."
Shaking his head, Levitare approached the bed and wrapped the psychic in his gentle but secure arms. "Idiot, don't say things like that. I wouldn't want you to risk your life for mine."
Teryan remained silent as he was overwhelmed by the sudden feel of body heat, the same warmth which had protected him in the darkness of his unconscious state.
"You're cold again. How about you drink some water, and then you can get more rest. We will talk more about this later."
Too weak to move, Teryan was forced to let the young lord help him drink almost two glasses of water. His head once again resting on the pillow, he watched as Levitare let his robe fall to the ground. The fortuneteller couldn't resist a blush when he realized that the other had probably done this many times while he was unconscious. Catching the red hint to the psychic's face, Levitare smiled down at him and kissed a flushed cheek. With shameless movements, the young lord lifted the sheets of the mattress to join the equally naked Teryan. Despite his embarrassment, the fortuneteller soon found comfort in the body holding him impossibly close.
"Never scare me again like that." The deep voice was quiet, the young lord perhaps thinking Teryan already asleep. "I love you too much to bear it twice."
The darkness of sleep pulling him under had placed its claws too deeply into the fortuneteller for him to consider a reaction or response. Even so, what mattered to him at this moment was that he had heard. It was painful beyond description, somehow hurting so much that it felt amazing, but they were words Teryan wouldn't soon forget.
~ > < ~
Sitting on the edge of a small bridge, Teryan watched the unhurried moves of colorful fish in the pond beneath him. It was his first time outside of the enormous building since being carried there, though Levitare would probably be upset at his absence. But despite the inevitable argument, Teryan was self-assured that the combination of cool air from the water below his bare feet and the heat of the sun on his exposed skin was more reviving than bed rest could ever be.
The psychic heard footsteps on the old bridge before he saw anyone approach. Expecting Levitare, the fortuneteller was surprised by the appearance of an older man who smiled down at him.
"It's nice to see someone else who can enjoy this small pond."
Teryan bowed his head slightly. "Forgive me, my Lord, for not standing. I'm not too steady on my feet as of late."
Hazel eyes still bright despite their older age, their examining edge impossible to ignore. "I believe such a minor offense can be overlooked. So, you are my son's latest obsession."
Remaining neutral to the implied insult, Teryan turned his focus back to the play of fish.
"I hear you first came to this place in rags and poor health. Are you enjoying this moment of fortune gained by becoming my son's bedmate?"
"Is there something you wish me to say, my Lord?"
The man's voice deepened as it took a serious edge. "I could give you money and land in exchange for leaving my manor this very day. It is all you want, is it not? And this way, you won't be forced to sacrifice your remaining pride and honor by selling your body."
Feeling tired, Teryan rested his head against a wooden post. "I must decline, my Lord."
"Your presence threatens this lordship."
"Do not worry. He will marry Avern as you wished, and they will have beautiful children."
After a tense pause, quiet laughter came from the elder man. "A-ah, you are both stubborn to a fault. It's like trying to move mountains."
Confused, Teryan looked over his shoulder at the grinning man. "My Lord?"
"Enough with that, at least when no one else is around. The name is Vectre." With a low grunt, the lord sat down to join the fortuneteller. "I heard that you saved my lad's life. I thank you with all of my heart."
"There's no need."
The lord smiled softly in reply, his hazel eyes focused on the calm water of the pond. "Which one is your favorite so far?"
"Another test, sir?"
The older man laughed deeply at the tired voice. "It's Vectre, and of course this is another test. Be certain to choose well."
Without hesitation, Teryan pointed to the side.
"Oh? The blue one."
"No, the brown one next to it."
Vectre huffed his disbelief. "And you trying to fool me that you prefer that ordinary fish while the more expensive and exotic creatures mean nothing to you?"
The psychic shrugged. "That one jumps. It's more entertaining to watch."
After an examining glance at the dark-haired man, the lord chuckled. "Truth be told, that little guy is my favorite as well. He's a fast one when he feels like it, and if my fading memory serves me right, he is the oldest in the lot."
They sat there a long time as Vectre pointed at each fish in turn, describing their origins and features to the fortuneteller. Though it was interesting to the psychic as he had never imagined such species before, Teryan was beginning to regret that decision to stay out for so long. He didn't mind the old lord, easily identifying with the parental worry he held for his son and eventually finding Vectre to be a good man despite the power he held. Instead, it was the darkness that threatened his vision which bothered him. Teryan wanted to simply lie down and get some rest, but he was afraid that sleeping outside would only led to Levitare placing guards around him to prevent any future excursions.
But seeing a shape from the corner of his eye, Teryan wondered if those guards were about to be a possibility after all.
"Teri!," Levitare yelled out as he stormed down the slight incline to the pond. "Damn it, tell someone when you get the idiotic idea to leave the manor."
"As if you would have let me go," Teryan murmured to himself, earning a faint laugh from the old lord.
"That's besides the point," he said, and then slowed in his trek to the fortuneteller. "Father. What are you doing here?"
"Enjoying the afternoon with your partner here. You know, he's much smarter than the usual type you bring around."
Crossing his arms, Levitare glared down at the person in question. "I could argue with that statement."
Vectre chuckled. "You can't blame him for wanting to get a breath of fresh air. And it would do you some good as well. It's not healthy to lock yourself in a room for days at a time."
"Teri, you just woke up yesterday. Walking around by yourself is the last thing you should be doing. What if you had collapsed and no one was around to help you?"
With exaggerated effort, the lord got to his feet and faced his son. "I never thought I would live to see the day when you would scold someone for doing something stupid. It's a shame that he wasn't born female."
Levitare raised his hand. "Stop the lecture right there. I fully understand my duty and I have already chosen Avern as my future wife."
"Then you are simply using this young man for a brief encounter?"
"Avern will be the mother of my children and the lady of the lordship. Nothing more to me besides a confidant."
Vectre scoffed at the idea. "And you think Avern would agree to such a life? That is rather selfish of you."
The young lord smirked. "Come now, Father. You know she loves the politics, not the family life. She is planning the wedding details as we speak."
The man of faded red hair eyed his son critically before sighing out his frustration. "If only you could put that devilish mind of yours to more important matters than your love life. Give me one good reason why I should approve this monstrosity of a marriage?"
"Given the choice between any woman and Teryan, I will stay true to my bond."
Humor evaporating from the old lord, his eyes narrowed dangerously as piercing green focused on his son. "You have synced with him?"
"Yes, and I will never regret that decision," Levitare stated with far too much pride.
"Come with me. Now." Vectre turned on his heels and walked off the bridge.
The young lord watched his father with confusion plain on his face, and then glanced down questioningly at the psychic. Having no idea about reason for the change in attitude, Teryan shrugged and directed the man to follow his father. As Levitare walked off, the psychic turned his attention to the fish and their uncomplicated life. During the hushed conversation, Teryan tried to ignore the growing ache in his chest, his thoughts centering on the worry that their syncing was wrong and that he should be damned for ever suggesting it. And yet, his heart remained confident that he wanted to be with the difficult lord.
The sound of boot stepping on wood woke Teryan from his thoughts, and when he looked up, he was surprised to see a melancholy gleam to the hazel eyes. Unable to speak in protest and his body still weak, the fortuneteller let Levitare lift him into his arms. No words spoken, Teryan was taken back to the room he was becoming all too familiar with, and he was placed gently onto the mattress.
Moving onto the bed, Levitare knelt at the man's legs. "Teri, I need to look for something on your body. I swear it's for nothing more than that, so try not to be overly offended by what I'm about to do. If you would let me, that is."
Teryan sighed and closed his eyes as he relaxed into the pillows. "Do what you must."
With little hesitation, Levitare undid the lacing of the trousers and carefully removed the thin cloth. The lower half of his body naked, Teryan felt exposed in the cool air as he legs were separated, one raised rather high. There was a long pause as the psychic held back his fear at the young lord examining his most private regions, but at a rough stroke against his inner thigh, Teryan had enough.
Opening his eyes to glare at the man, the fortuneteller asked, "What are you doing?"
"I'm debating whether or not you are the type to get a tattoo."
Confused, Teryan glanced down at the area on his raised leg which had taken the man's attention. A reddish mark stood out from the bronze skin, the marking two fingers in width and appearing in a surprisingly clear image. "Is that a bird? How...?"
Instead of responding, Levitare bent forward to kiss and lick the mark. Teryan jumped at the moist contact and tried to remove his legs from the hold of the larger man. Denying that escape, the young lord strengthen his grip and continued his wet assault on the sensitive flesh. Part of the fortuneteller wished he could simply relax and let the man take his pleasure from him, but the rest of the psychic feared the act despite the trust he held for his bondmate.
Obeying the quiet plea, Levitare leaned back enough such that the fortuneteller could see his soft hazel eyes full of conflicting emotion. Ceasing all of his struggles, Teryan pushed up onto his elbows to better view the young lord.
"Levitare, what has you so upset?"
He smiled bitterly. "All this time, you thought anything that would happen between us would be your fault. Never once did you consider that I could bear my own curses."