Chapter 7


"There, look there where the trees are so close to the water and hanging low," Lio said quietly. "There's an opening there, I'm sure of it. If there's a cove there, we can hide and recover.” The soft voices slowly made their way into Hadrian's consciousness, though they sounded far away. He tried to move, tried to open his eyes, but every inch of him hurt and he was so tired. A soft moan was all he managed to accomplish, that and a quick lick of dry lips. Slowly, he registered that they were rocking slightly, a boat perhaps, and then the smell of burned material hit his senses. Memory came flooding back, of the parade through the streets, the abuse, the fire and then, blackness.

Hadrian struggled to open his eyes, seeing at first nothing but shapes, and then slowly clearing to see the others looking off into the distance.

Caled stood at the stern of the small craft, trying very hard not to think. The small vessel they had stolen did not deserve the lofty term of boat and the water sloshing around the bottom more than proved his doubts about its seaworthiness. But beggars could not be choosers and in this case they were extremely lucky to have found anything in their mad dash to get away from the burning city. Caled flinched visibly as the memory of the burning town taunted him.

With Hadrian’s unconscious body cradled in his arms Caled had only spared a single glance back at the accursed place, but it had been more than enough. Tall flames licked greedily at the air and the red glow of hell stained the sky. He wouldn’t think about it. He couldn’t. Instead he had clutched Hadrian closer and ran for all he was worth. But the image would not be banished so easily, nor would the knowledge of what he had done. The town would most likely burn to the ground… and it was all his fault.

Trying again to lose himself in the job of keeping him and his companions alive, Caled nodded at Lio. “That looks good. Let’s shift the sails a bit. With the wind in our favor we should be there within the hour.” A sudden jerk in the unsteady boat had Caled glaring back across the boat. “Gam, be careful. If you go over the side, I am not going after you.”

Gam just smiled and shrugged. At least someone seemed to have recovered reasonably well from their recent ordeal. In fact both of the thieves had been in remarkably good spirits since the fight around the bonfire. Caled shook his head. No doubt they would explain soon enough.

A prickle at the back of Caled’s neck told him he was being watched. Blue eyes met grey. For a moment, Caled had the unreasonable impulse to look away and pretend he had not noticed the sorcerer was awake. Instead he moved forward to the little platform the sorcerer rested on to keep him above the water. “How are you feeling?”

"Pain," Hadrian croaked from his dry and smoke raw throat. "What happened?" he asked softly, his eyes searching Caled's face for any sign of the nature of things.

"We spotted a hiding place." Caled said, choosing to misunderstand. "Just lay still for now. You'll have to move soon enough. With any luck we will be able to hide out here and catch a few hours of sleep before we head out after Manix."

Hadrian started to protest, but thought better of it and simply gave a small nod and closed his eyes again. He shivered slightly, his barely covered skin chilling in the breeze, but said nothing.

Lio glanced over at Hadrian, but did not stop or speak to him. He truly hoped the sorcerer would be alright and knew the best thing he could do to help him was work alongside Caled and Gam to direct the boat into the small inlet opening and bank it on the soft sand. Jumping out, Lio anchored the boat down and looked around. The cove was nearly hidden by the vegetation and would protect them well from passers-by. Lio helped Gam leave the boat and their hands clasped tightly together, glad to be on solid ground again.

It was quite a while before another quiet moment came. Lio and Gam had volunteered to go off and find quicker transportation. Caled had been amused by the secretive smile that had continued to pass between the two thieves and he had been pretty sure that getting horses was not the only thing the two would be doing.

Caled had been surprised how much Hadrian had been able to help in setting up camp. The sorcerer had seemed determined to pull his own weight despite his injuries. Several times Caled had opened his mouth to suggest the young man rest, and yet he was still strangely reluctant to break the silence that hung between them. It was almost as though he could pretend the events of the last day had not happened by simply not talking about it. It was stupid... but Caled really did not want to talk about. So it was a complete surprise when the words, "Tell me what they did to you," were suddenly hanging in the air between them. Ridiculously, he actually turned and looked behind him to see who had spoken.

Hadrian worked despite his pain, determined to help as much as he could. The question stunned him, not so much the query as the tone of voice and he stopped, looked at Caled and shrugged. "They took their anger out on me," he said quietly, no real emotion in his voice, "their retribution for their lost families and friends at my hand." Hadrian wondered why Caled asked, but he did not voice that curiosity.

“And you did not struggle did you? No, of course not. You never do. No matter what anyone does to you, no matter what I do to you, you never resist.” Suddenly Caled was mad, although he could not say at whom. Restlessly, he stalked like a large predator caught in a very small cage.. “Tell me why.”

Hadrian sighed softly. "Because there is no point. My words mean nothing, my life has no value. What is the point of fighting anymore? What is my life that it is worth fighting for?" He spoke quietly, matter-of-factly, as though this were as simple a conclusion as the fact that water was wet.

“Your life means something to me.” Caled said, stopping in front of Hadrian. The rage was still there, burning brightly beneath the surface of his skin. “I burnt down a city for you Hadrian. Who knows how many people will die in the blaze.” His voice was raw and cracked but he couldn’t stop. “And do you want to know what is worse? I would do it again in a heartbeat to save your life.”

No declaration could have stunned Hadrian more at that moment. "You did that to save me?" he asked incredulously. "But, why? I don't understand."

Caled shook his head. He was not ready to answer that question. He was not ready to have this conversation. Why did he start this? “I don’t know. You killed my friends; men I knew and worked with for years, men with wives and children and families. You destroyed an entire city…” Suddenly all the color drained from Calad’s face. “no..no..no..no..no..no..” Caled collapsed onto the ground, shaking his head back in forth in denial, his eyes sightless as the vision of the burning town they had just left behind suddenly merged with visions of Rhiad. “Oh god, Hadrian. Oh god, what have I done?”

For a moment, Hadrian just stared at Caled, seeing the instant that realization hit the blue eyes. He wasn't sure what to do, to comfort Caled or to leave him to his own. After all, the last thing the sorcerer was up for was more rejection and injury; and yet, there was something so frail and painful about Caled at that moment, that the part of Hadrian that cared for him could not hold back. "You reacted to an impossible situation," he said softly as he stood beside the blond, a tentative hand on Caled's shoulder.

Caled heard the words but they didn’t make any sense. His body began to rock as his hand dug deeply into the sandy soil. “The city burned. I watched those people die and I was so angry. So very, very angry. All this time I couldn’t understand…I never thought… and now it’s me. It’s me. I did that! It’s all my fault!”

The pain in Caled's voice, a pain that Hadrian knew intimately, tore at the young sorcerer’s heart and he knelt gingerly in front of Caled's trembling form. His touch grew stronger, willing to risk being lashed out at if it meant he could ease that pain from the other's heart. He knew nothing to say to ease the rage, so for the moment, Hadrian just knelt there, close enough to hold Caled, but holding back for now.

Waves of self-loathing rolled over Caled as other images began to present themselves. Images of Hadrian, turning away in fear and pain, again and again, as Caled stuck out at him. He loved Hadrian but that had only fueled his anger at the sorcerer for what he had done. Defenseless and yet so strong, Hadrian had taken all the abuse that Caled could dish out. Hate was familiar and such a comfortable emotion for the mercenary, but now there was no one left to hate but himself. He was just as guilty as Hadrian. Two cities now lay in ruins… one for each of them. When Caled’s eyes finally focused on the soft features in front of him there was nothing left but pain. Caled could not meet Hadrian’s eyes. He stood and turned his back. “I’ve given you a bad time since leaving Rhiad… tormenting you at every chance. It was wrong and…. I’m….. I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone from now on. You have my word.”

Hadrian watched Caled's face register all the emotions that Hadrian himself knew so well and in the end, when the blue eyes focused again, they would not meet his. He wondered what to say, what to do, but in the end, decided he had little to lose and opted for the truth. "My fondest wish is that you no longer hate me, but please, do not leave me alone. I could not bear it. I would rather your abuse than that." Hadrian could not think. The emotional trauma of the day was overwhelming and now Caled was in pain and he feared losing the blond completely. Hadrian was ashamed of how much he wanted and needed Caled near him, but he did and he would take the abuse rather than lose him completely.

"Why, Hades? After all I have done why do you care what I think?"

"Because you are still the finest man I have ever known," the soft voice replied. Hadrian moved closer to Caled, reaching out but not quite touching him. "You gave me the only affection I ever had in my life. I will always care."

Caled turned around. He couldn’t help it. The man who stood before him was so beautiful; wide grey eyes were downcast, those soft lips were wet and parted, his skin was so pale. Even after all they had been through, Hadrian looked as untouched and untouchable as a virgin god. “God’s, Hadrian, I love you.” In an instant he had the smaller man clasped in his arms, those ripe lips crushed beneath his own.

Hadrian did not possess thought or emotion enough to process the three words he had most craved from Caled finally resting on his ears. Before he could react, Caled's sweet lips claimed his mouth and breathed life into his aching heart. A soft moan passed between them as Hadrian's eager tongue greeted its mate in a long-missed dance. Slender, trembling arms wrapped around the mercenary as though afraid that he would slip away into the mists of yet another dream.

Caled’s body responded instantly to Hadrian’s acceptance. There had been no foreplay, his mind had been as far away from sex as it was possible and yet suddenly he was hard and aching, wanting nothing more than to feel Hadrian open to him. “You’re mine, Hades.” Caled demanded as he worked his mouth down the long pale throat, finding a particularly vulnerable spot to sink his teeth into. “No one is going to take you away from me.”

His head falling back to allow Caled more access to his neck, Hadrian's lips parted and a soft groan escaped, his body pressing closer to the blond. "I only ever wanted to be yours," Hadrian whispered breathlessly. //Please, he thought, if this is a dream, just let me sleep forever.//

Clothes became the enemy and Caled was in no mood to fight fairly. Everything was stripped away from the sorcerer’s body, leaving only a puddle of cloth for him to stand on. Caled then set about the task of leaving a mark that Hadrian would never forget. Every bruise was tenderly licked; every inch of skin was touched and claimed, until Caled was down on his knees performing the act he swore he would do for no man. Hadrian’s erection was as perfect as the rest of him, hard and pulsing with need. Caled felt no reluctance as he brought the crown past his lips.

The raw hunger in Caled's eyes and touch took Hadrian's breath away and he struggled to remain on his feet when the blond bared him and began to lave attention to every inch of his body. He was like an animal mate, licking wounds and caressing undamaged skin and the sorcerer could only watch as his body trembled beneath the assault. He was shocked when Caled fell to his knees in front of him. Surely he wasn't about to.... A gasp passed Hadrian's bruised lips as he watched Caled claim his hard flesh, an act he had never known Caled to even consider doing. The combination of watching Caled devour his flesh and the feel of the warm, wet mouth made Hadrian weak in the knees and he had to concentrate to remain standing. Gloved fingers tangled in Caled's hair but it was not enough.

Wanting to touch his lover's hair, Hadrian slipped the glove off and tangled his bare fingers in the soft, blond locks. "Gods, Caled, I love you," he whispered.

The declaration did not come as a surprise to Caled. He had always known that Hadrian loved him. As difficult as it was to understand, there was simply no other answer for why Hadrian put up with him the way he did. But the warm feelings that blossomed in his own heart at the declaration was certainly a surprise.

Caled sucked harder, hollowing out his cheeks and gripping hard on the firm round ass cheeks in his hands, banishing all thought from his head as he concentrated on the delicious sounds that were spilling out of Hadrian’s mouth.

Hadrian whimpered and moaned, barely staying on his feet as his body trembled and his heart began to heal. Fatigue and emotional trauma had him on edge and he lacked any control he normally possessed; all combined with the unexpected revelations sent him tumbling far too hard far too fast. With a cry, Hadrian threw his head back and released hard, his fingers tightening on the golden strands he held onto for dear life.

Caled pulled back when he felt the first wave of Hadrian's release in his mouth. For all that was suddenly new about his life he wasn't yet ready to go that far. Catching Hadrian's release in one hand Caled supported the sorcerer in the other until the last tremors had shaken their way through.

Standing Caled returned both hands to Hadrian's ass and began a firm massage. "Are you ready for me, my beauty? Can you feel how much I need you?" Caled rubbed his erection, still painfully trapped in his leggings, against the firm swell of Hadrian's hip.

When he could think once more, Hadrian found himself pressed up against Caled's hot body, his hard flesh pressing into his body. Passion filled grey eyes and kiss bruised lips drew close to Caled and the tip of a pink tongue brushed out and back in again. "As much as I need you," Hadrian whispered, his voice low and husky. His gloved hand moved down to unfasten the tight leggings, while the bare one slid inside, grasping the hard flesh with a firm grip. The velvety hard skin sent tingles through his body at each touch and his need to feel Caled's claim on him was overwhelming. "Take me; claim me as your own."

The picture of exactly how he wanted Hadrian flashed in Caled’s mind, drawing a groan from deep in his chest. To do this without pain he would have to go slow and careful, even as his body was crying out for satisfaction now. Clenching a hand in his lover’s dark hair was as much to help him regain control as it was to still Hadrian. His other hand was infinitely gentle in comparison as he traced the kiss swollen lips before sliding his fingers into the warm mouth.

Hadrian watched Caled with wide, grey eyes full of love and passion and need. His mouth surrounded Caled's fingers, suckling and twirling his tongue around them as though they were his lover's hard flesh. A soft moan escaped around them as his body responded despite itself and his hands reached out tentatively to touch Caled's body. The one bare hand was not enough and Hadrian stripped the other glove away. Any pain it would cause would be worth it to truly touch his lover in this. Nothing had ever felt as wonderful to Hadrian as the feel of Caled beneath his bare fingers.

It was hard not to be distracted by the feel of Hadrian’s bare hands sliding over him. Needy skin cried out for the contact that had always had a barrier of leather between them. Yet, his own hands knew their business. Slipping from the clinging lips he reached and found the tight entrance. Going slowly Caled eased the path, stretching and filling his lover.

A soft gasp was heard when Caled's fingers pushed past the tight ring and Hadrian realized it was his lips that made the sound through the haze that he was lost in. Still feeling like he was in a dream, Hadrian wrapped his arms around Caled and held on as he parted his legs more. Without thought, he pushed down slightly and moaned, wanting more, wanting Caled moving inside him. "Please," he whispered.

“Soon, love. Soon.” The endearment slipped out with ridiculous ease and Caled did not question it. They might come down to earth eventually, but he hoped not. Taking Hadrian’s hand from around his neck, Caled sucked in the elegant fingers, laving and nibbling each one. “Help me out,” he said as he brought the slick finger down to his leaking erection.

The hooded grey eyes never left Caled's blue ones as his fingers wrapped around Caled's hard flesh and began to spread the moisture. Without missing a beat, his own body responding to Caled's gentle intrusion, Hadrian lifted his hand, licked it generously and returned to the task at hand. Gently, he ran his hand up and down Caled's erection, preparing it for his body as a pink tongue darted out to re-wet his swollen lips.

Watching Hadrian prepare him was more than Caled could stand. With no warning he grabbed the firm butt cheeks and lifted. He spread his legs to take the added weight and to brace himself for what was coming. “Mine,” he whispered just before claiming the sweet lips and lowering the lithe body onto his erection.

Hadrian let out a small yelp of surprise as he felt himself lifted and spread in one swift move. Instinctively, his hand returned to Caled's shoulder, helping to lift and support himself and as he felt the blunt head meet and then begin to penetrate the tight opening, he slipped his legs up and around Caled's waist, pulling them closer and pushing himself down further onto his lover's hard flesh. "Ohh," he gasped softly as his head fell back and raven hair fell like a curtain behind him.

Caled struggled for balance as he supported Hadrian’s almost prone form, as one hand slid up to help support Hadrian’s back. With the added strain on his arms the new angle increased the pressure, forcing his cock up further and harder into the hot body, shooting pleasure through him. Sweat began to drip down his back and forehead as his skin came alive. With Hadrian fully impaled, every movement seemed to send a jolt right through his hard flesh. It only took the barest flex of his hands to create the most intense friction he had ever felt. “Gods, Hades.”

A light sheen of sweat covered the sorcerer’s body as he rolled through wave after wave of sensation. Every thrust into him brushed against that one spot that stole his breath and his eyesight and it was mostly on instinct that Hadrian used his arms and legs to help him push into Caled's thrusts. His own flesh was hard again and ached as it was caressed between them with their skin and the soft curls. Fingers dug into Caled's skin as the pace increased and Hadrian's head dropped back down to claim his lover's lips in a hard, frantic kiss that mimicked their bodies movements.

Hot, tight and oh so sweet. Caled’s legs finally lost their strength and he collapsed to his knees, pulling Hadrian even closer as they fell and never stopping the small hard strokes that were slowly driving him out of his mind. He could feel the sorcerer’s hot erection caught between their hard bodies, his pre-come mixing with the sweat to create a sweet slide between them.

Even though his lover had given him relief earlier, the powerful nature of this coupling combined with the realization of his fondest dreams had not only renewed Hadrian's body, but driven him to the edge in record time. It was all just too much and with a soft scream of Caled's name tumbling from his lips, his back arched and Hadrian came hard and fast, pouring his essence out between them, his body tightening and shuddering from pure pleasure.

Caled went down in flames when Hadrian seized around him in the throes of climax. With a shout he came and came and came. His muscles felt like they had dissolved and he didn’t think he would ever get enough oxygen but he carefully lay his burden down on the discarded clothes before he gently pulled free. Hadrian looked to be as dazed as he felt. His eyes at half mast, inky black hair spread all around him, and those perfect lips swollen from Caled’s kisses, he was the picture of debauched pleasure. “No one will take you from me again,” Caled swore. “I don’t care how many towns I have to burn down, I promise I will keep you safe.”

There had never been a sense of completion between them that could match the one Hadrian felt in this joining. Finally, for the first time in his life, he felt loved and wanted and a part of something so warm and wonderful that he thought he would melt from the experience. Caled was so gentle, ensuring that he was on clothing to prevent him pain and moving them apart in an easy way. Tears sprang to his eyes at his lover's sweet words and he gazed up at the blond kneeling above him and without a word, opened his arms and pulled Caled on top of him, wanting, no needing to feel the warm, reassuring weight on his spent body. Hadrian's bare fingers caressed Caled's back and hair, whispering soft words of love and devotion into the mercenary’s ear; words that he meant with his very life.

"I love you and I will always be with you - as long as you want me. I could not bear to be elsewhere."

 

The End

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