In A Dark Place
By Camile Sinensis (Teapot)
Characters: Cal, Velaxis.
Spoilers: At least Fulfilments.
Author’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In A Dark Place
In the heat, he finds it impossible to sleep.
Inside the cabin it is claustrophobically dark. There is a window – a porthole, to be accurate – but no light enters though it. Outside the full moon is hidden behind cloud.
He swings his legs carefully over the edge of the narrow bunk, hearing it creak with his movement, and sits on the edge. He is naked, but the still, dead air within the cabin does not cool his skin. He can feel the slight but ever-present motion of the ship traveling through the wooden structure, like the vessel’s own heartbeat, up through his feet, his groin, his abdomen, his chest, his head, making him feel slightly giddy and off-balance.
He would open the window if he could, but it doesn’t open. A practical measure designed to keep the ship from being swamped by a high wave if some careless passenger were to leave it open, but tonight, on this calm ocean, on this airless night, it seems pointless and vindictive.
You’re an idiot, Cal, he tells himself, and his self does not disagree. You didn’t have to be here in the first place.
Since he has nothing better to do, and he feels he deserves it, he decides to torture himself by dwelling on the fact that it was his own insistence which has put him in this situation. There is no need for either him or his traveling companion to be making this journey by boat. They are both capable of travelling via more exotic means, either with or without the help of a sedu.
You thought it would be fun. An adventure. Excitement. You’re a fool. He takes a calculated delight in rubbing his own nose in his stupidity, enjoying the process of humiliating himself. And you’re a masochist too, he concludes savagely, but his inner humiliated Cal does not reply. He sighs. He knows himself too well these days.
He wipes a hand down his own throat and chest, There is a thin trickle of rank perspiration running down his breastbone, and he smears it over his skin, feeling a moment of coolness before the stifling heat returns. He could do with a drink, but in the dark he cannot see where the flask of water is.
“Some light would be useful,” he mutters up at the dark circle of the porthole, and as if on cue, the clouds part and the full moon makes its triumphant appearance. The cabin is filled with a cold, silver light. Cal grins slowly. Even the universe loves him.
He reaches over to grab the flask of water, which he sees tucked down between the two bunks. He gulps down about half the contents, and pours some of the remainder over his head, feeling it soak gloriously into his short, sleep-messy hair.
Belatedly, he wonders if he should offer some to his companion, and he looks across at the other bunk, but its occupant is sleeping soundly.
Of course, thinks Cal sourly. A Gelaming is never bothered by trivial things like heat or cold or physical discomfort. They are above all that. Smug bastards.
Cal looks at the har lying on the bed. He is naked also. Plainly he is not completely impervious to the cabin conditions. He is lying on his back, with his hands folded lightly over his stomach, long silken hair draped fluidly around his body. Cal can see no movement to indicate breathing. He could be dead, for all the signs of life he is exhibiting. He reminds Cal of one of those marble effigies atop the coffin of someone who had been important in life. An unexpected memory surfaces – a graveyard at night; himself and another har; the fierce passion of aruna, the smell of the damp earth, the stone slab under him, and the marble angel looking impassively down at them, all blind, carved eyes and petrified wings. Aeons ago. He cannot even remember the har’s name, but that is true of most of his couplings.
For a brief second, he thinks he sees wings folded around the har’s body but he blinks and the illusion vanishes, leaving only familiar contours. He lets his gaze travel along Velaxis’ naked body, admiring every part. The hard and beautiful face – eyes and lips both closed. Some hara take on an innocence and vulnerability when they are asleep, but Cal cannot imagine either of those words applying to Velaxis – even sleeping, he looks contained and serene. He admires the supple neck, the smooth chest, the hard, flat abdomen with those long, manicured fingers resting lightly there. Below that, a swathe of silky hair – pale, like the rest of him – Cal briefly wonders why the eyelashes and eyebrows are dark – and below that the outline of his ouana-lim
Cal stares at it intently, and slowly runs his tongue over his bottom lip. He wonders if Velaxis’ skin will be cold to the touch, like marble. He can see muscles outlined underneath the porcelain surface, in sculpted perfection.
Voyeur, he accuses himself, but he feels no guilt. He never does. He reaches out and takes Velaxis’ ouana-lim in his hand, and is almost surprised when it is warm. He can feel a slight pulse, and a slight quickening as he lazily strokes the underside with his thumb. Flesh and blood. Not marble after all.
Pervert - Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. Add voyeurism and molesting a high-ranking Gelaming in his sleep to his list of crimes. The flesh in his hand becomes harder, the pulse more insistent. His own ouana-lim stretches and rises in sympathy, demanding attention, and he moves forward, so that its swollen length rubs pleasurably against the other har’s body.
Frotteur - The internal cataloguing of his own misdemeanours provides him with a sort of sordid glee. He continues to stroke Velaxis’ ouana-lim, until it becomes fully erect, and occasionally he slips a fingertip into the moist crevice behind it. He wonders what sort of dreams the other har is having.
He glances up at the sleeping har’s face and meets dark blue eyes which are open and staring at him expressionlessly. For a moment he is startled. Velaxis’ face is shadowed, but his eyes seem to glow in the darkness. Neither of them say anything, and Cal does not remove his hand from Velaxis’ ouana-lim – instead he continues his lazy, rhythmic strokes. Velaxis raises his hips deliberately, thrusting slightly into Cal’s hand, but he does not close his eyes, does not even blink, and continues to look at Cal with an expression which Cal cannot name.
Actions, though, speak louder than words, or so Cal thinks. He tightens his grip around Velaxis’ ouana-lim, constricting and releasing and running his entire hand up and down its full length. It feels hot, like the desire which is now burning Cal’s flesh. His skin is dry, there is a hissing in his ears and there is no oxygen in the suffocating cabin, but he does not care. He climbs carefully onto the bunk, straddling Velaxis, dragging his own aching hardness deliberately across the other har’s belly then pushing it downwards firmly. He rubs his own erection against the other har’s and shivers slightly with pleasure.
Velaxis still does not move, but Cal can feel his heartbeat, both through his chest and through his ouana-lim. He leans forward and breathes heavily into Velaxis’ right ear.
“Is that good?” he demands, in a low voice. His mouth is dry, the flask of water a distant memory. He licks his lips. They are dry too. “Tell me. Tell me what you want me to do to you.”
A shaft of the silver light from the distant porthole has fallen across Velaxis’ face. Cal can see his perfect features clearly. There is a strange look in those lambent blue eyes now, and a strange expression on his face. The lips are curved upwards, almost like a smile.
“Do to me?” Velaxis’ voice is soft too, but not dry or hoarse. It is silky and – possibly – just a little amused. “What makes you think you are the one who is going to be doing anything, Cal?”
Cal is not entirely certain what happens next, but Velaxis moves with sudden speed, like a snake striking, and before he knows what is going on, Cal finds himself upright and forced against the cabin wall, kneeling on the bunk. He can feel the rough wooden planks of the ship pressing against his back, the slightly lumpy undulations of the bunk’s hard, stuffed mattress under his knees, and Velaxis’ face pushed very close to his own. He tries to move, but discovers that the other har has him in an unbreakable hold. His ouana-lim is pressed hard into Velaxis’ belly and throbs insistently. He can feel a slight stickiness of lubricating fluid, or perhaps it is sweat, he can’t tell – the cabin is completely dark again – the moon is looking away, embarrassed by the scene – but the heat is still stifling and his brain is muzzy, all the blood diverted to his groin.
Velaxis is holding him very tightly, and then with a casual lack of effort lifts him to his feet. The boat moves slightly beneath them, and the timbers creak ominously. Cal is still convinced that he can break free from Velaxis’ embrace at any time, but he finds the unexpected bondage aspect is adding to his arousal. In both his mind and his body he is expecting to penetrate the other har, so when the opposite happens and Velaxis’ erect ouana-lim suddenly forces itself inside him he is taken by surprise, but decides after the initial stab of discomfort that he can live with this, yes, and he attempts to arch his back a little to force that hardness a little deeper inside himself, but he finds that he is unable to move, pinned as he is between the body of his captor and the wooden bulkhead. He is mildly frustrated, but at the same time increasingly wet with desire and excitement as he acknowledges his own surrender.
“I don’t even have to ask,” Velaxis’ voice is still silk, but there is an edge to it now, like a snagged thread. “I know what you want. This is what you want, isn’t it Cal? “
Cal realizes that he keeps forgetting to breath.. The walls of the cabin seem to be closing in around them and the darkness is absolute. Half of him wants to strike Velaxis, – hard – to fight back against the other har’s casual assumption, but another part of him acknowledges that, yes, he wants this. Wants it so badly he will collude in his own defeat and let Velaxis do what he pleases with him. He will never know if he could free himself, because he knows he will not try.
His ouana-lim is still hard and taut, despite everything. He feels Velaxis shift, move his hand downwards and grasp it firmly. Cal feels as if he is splitting into two separate entities; two layers peeling apart, mirror-images of each other. Again Velaxis moves with purposeful suddenness – again Cal cannot be sure what has just happened, but an excruciating tightness grips his ouana-lim and then he is inside Velaxis, and Velaxis is inside him. He does not know how this is possible, but plainly it is. He is joined inseparably to the other har, and he could not move now even if he wanted to. It hurts, and yet it is an almost indescribable pleasure too. He whimpers slightly and digs his fingernails into Velaxis’ white marble flesh.
If Velaxis feels pain too, then he does not show it. Perhaps he’s used to it. He must have done this many times. He has a reputation for the unusual when it comes to the pleasures of the flesh, and Cal now knows why so many of the Hegemony seek him out for such things. Cautiously he moves his hips. The twisting discomfort increases, blossoming into a deep ache, but it is an addictive sensation, and he thrusts a little more, trying to increase his tolerance. It is worth it for the hot waves of pre-orgasmic pleasure which accompany each small movement.
Velaxis senses his increasing arousal, and stills him.
“Not yet,” he whispers smoothly, and Cal finds that he wants to obey; wants this strange, awful situation to continue, wants to experience the shame, the humiliation, the pain, the helplessness and the self-disgust that comes with desiring all these feelings. All those dark passions scorned by enlightened Wraeththu
He laughs quietly in Velaxis’ ear.
“Do your worst,” he says, and he means it. There is nothing Velaxis can do to him that hasn’t already been done, at some point in his life. And now he is trapped in a dark place, suffocating in the stagnant confines of the airless cabin, unable to free himself from his tormentor. And yet somehow, it still feels like a game, like something he could walk away from at any time he chooses.
He doesn’t choose to. He lets Velaxis twist the knife, or whatever it is that is thrust deep inside him. He lets Velaxis put his hands carefully around his throat, and begin to squeeze. He lets himself slowly start to lose consciousness as his airway is closed and the arteries in his neck constricted.
Old trick, Vel. Is that all you’ve got? He’s not entirely sure whether he says the words aloud, or whether he just thinks them, but given that Velaxis’ hands are now squeezing tightly around his neck the latter seems more likely. His vision is darkened – if there is moonlight in the cabin he can no longer see it, but he hears Velaxis’ reply; soft, seductive and way-too-reasonable.
“I’m only giving you want you want, Cal.”
Reality is fading. Curtains of pulsing colour rain down where Cal’s sight used to be and he can feel the oncoming rush of orgasm, both inside and out, too close now to escape, too inevitable to avoid. The only thing he is aware of now is Velaxis’ voice, dripping into his ear like poisoned honey.
“You want this. You want me to control you, because there are so very, very few who can, isn’t that right, Cal? Pellaz cannot do this for you, can he, Cal? The only other one who could do this was Terzian…”
Anger flares from nowhere, rising up through his chest, huge and monstrous, suffocating him with its sudden ferocity. He twists furiously, struggling against his confinement, not playing now. Every nerve and fibre in his body wants to strike Velaxis dead, see him broken and bleeding, but it is too late. Even as he realizes that there are some things you can never walk away from, some things you always carry with you, something reaches out and touches him deep inside, in a raw place, and as the universe explodes and surges over him in great drowning waves he barely feels the hands release their grip from his throat, is barely aware of the huge, gasping breath filling his lungs, or the arms grabbing him to prevent him falling down onto the bunk.
His orgasm is unbearably intense, and it feels as if it will never finish. When it does, his body is racked with agony, and he is only capable of choking out the one word.
Velaxis lowers him gently onto the bunk.
“You… unspeakable… bastard. You…” his voice trails off, and he starts to laugh, just a little. It is either that or cry, and he doesn’t do that.
He is kneeling on the hard bunk, clinging to Velaxis, still laughing his half-crazy laugh. Velaxis’ arms are around him, surprisingly gentle, like soft-feathered wings, and Cal cannot look up, cannot look into the other har’s face for fear of seeing not flesh and blood, but blind, carved marble eyes staring impassively down at him.
It occurs to him that he sounds slightly insane, but he doesn’t care. He’s been insane before and sanity’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Perhaps he wants to let go again, just for a while. Perhaps Velaxis can give him that, too. It’s what he does, after all. He gives hara what they want. Sniffs out their deepest desires and fantasies and fulfils them. No wonder the Hegemony are all so wary of him, for if there is one thing Cal knows – and knows it all the more intimately for this night’s experiences – is that there is only one thing worse than being denied what you want. And that is getting it. Be careful what you wish for…
The bruises around his neck fade within the week – from blue-purple, to green, to diseased yellow – and he hides them from Pell with a silk scarf, but the desire remains in him and with him for a long time afterwards.