Pairing: A couple of original non-canon characters and a dash of Velaxis, and a quick appearance by Ashmael Aldebaran and Tharmifex.
Rating: There is aruna, consumption of alcohol, and hara smoking at the club, so don’t read it if your roonaphobic, heavily involved in the Temperance Society, or offended by cigarette smoke.
Summary: A fluffy bit of drivel that was “inspired” by camile_sinensis (aka Teapot) (my sincerest apologies) story After the Rains in which Velaxis is uber-efficient at everything — love Velaxis though I do (and I really really do love him – in all sorts of unhealthy ways) I am a practical person. I believe that all those ‘stars’ in Top Administrative Positions who appear to consistently accomplish the seemingly unaccomplishable, consistently accomplish the seemingly unaccomplishable because they have a great working relationships with their amazingly efficient assistants…and those amazingly efficient assistants have private lives…. just guess what rung of the work force I’m on. LOL
Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement, or disrespect, is intended.
Warning: straightforward — occurs after the last book in the last trilogy, but nothing spoilery.
Beta read by: bigunen, all the rest of the mistakes are mine, all mine!
The two robes were elegant, sumptuously crafted, and very similar in appearance. In fact, apart from some slight detailing around the collar and a subtle pattern variation in the silk brocade, Moss could discern very little difference. He held the two hangers from which the robes hung at arm’s length and continued to maintain the appearance of examining them closely.
“Well?” There was no attempt to hide the irritation and impatience in the voice.
“Well…,” Moss began slowly, “this one is dark grey and this one is a slightly darker grey…”
“Moss, this is important,” Velaxis plucked both hangers out of Moss’ hands peevishly, “I am accompanying Darquiel…”
“And Thiede,” Moss said pointedly.
“…and Tigron Calanthe…” continued Velaxis, ignoring Moss.
“And Thiede,” Moss interjected again obstinately. He flopped onto the bed opposite of Velaxis’ open travel case open.
“…to Nezreka to attempt to coax Teva-edzen into more open participation in Wraeththu affairs.” Velaxis appeared to decide on one robe and returned the other to the closet.
“Are you going to visit your parents?” Moss queried fixing a stern glower across the travel case.
Velaxis continued packing as if he hadn’t heard.
“You should be doing this for me, you are my assistant,” Velaxis sounded mildly annoyed.
“I’d have chosen that other robe…” said Moss pointing to the closet.
Velaxis directed a baleful glare across the bed at Moss.
After a moment he asked, “Have we heard from…?” and his eyebrow arched slightly.
“No,” Moss shook his head, “it’s too early. I don’t expect to hear from him for a few more days.”
“… and you will notify me if…” the pause was meaningful.
“Yes! Yes! Of course I will!” Moss exclaimed.
“The budget summaries…?”
“…Will be delivered promptly at the appointed hour; our dear Chancellor is expecting me,” Moss grinned. “And by the way you sent flowers to our ‘favourite’ ambassador’s housekeeper.” Velaxis paused in his packing but didn’t look up.
“He and his chesnari are celebrating the arrival of a new pearl, and he does keep you well informed about that household’s comings and goings.”
“While it might appear that rumours run Immanion, its true currency is information.” Velaxis looked across the bed to where Moss was sprawled. “I have taught you well.”
“Yes you have.”
“You will, of course, miss me while I’m gone,” Velaxis cocked his eyebrow.
“Not likely — you, my love, are arrogant and insufferable,” Moss drawled lazily.
“I think you will miss me,” Velaxis purred, a smug smirk playing across his face.
Moss shook his head “Nope. When the cat’s away, the mice get to play.” This time he was unable to suppress the grin.
Velaxis made a wry face “They play while the cat is here… besides this cat’s well-trained kitten will be on duty.”
Precisely forty-five seconds before his appointment time, Moss arrived at the doors to Chancellor Tharmifex suite of offices. He arrived precisely one-half step before General Ashmael Aldebaran and an Attaché. With a practiced efficiency Moss opened the door and held it open for the General. As the General passed through the open door he nodded affably. Moss met the gaze of the Attaché as he followed; grey eyes in a thin face topped with stylishly-messy blond spikes. Moss nodded politely and although the Attaché said nothing he did give Moss a thorough look-over. Moss was sure he should feel affronted at having been looked over as if he was a horse at an auction, but he found it amusing and maybe just slightly flattering. As Moss followed them through the door into the office he noted to himself how well the Attaché’s uniform was cut, how well it showed of the insignia of his enviable rank. Moss also noted how flatteringly the uniform fit; the trousers were perfect, not too tight, and not too loose. Moss had heard some exotic and highly un-military rumours about this particular Attaché.
Tharmifex was already standing in the understated elegance of the reception foyer greeting General Aldebaran, his manner solemn and deliberate as usual. Moss had learned much about Tharmifex from Velaxis; among them, that the Chancellor had impeccable taste in wines, and that he should never, ever be underestimated. While Moss learned ‘political expediency’ from Velaxis, it was Chancellor Tharmifex’s no-nonsense style Moss tried to emulate. In his public life, Moss stuck with simple, unadorned tailoring in conservative colours, and he kept his wild mane of waist-length chestnut curls tightly wound and primly pinned up in a trademark knot.
The reception clerk was already occupied; he listened politely to a short har in overly frilly attire who was giving painstakingly detailed instructions about a thin file he held. Moss stood quietly by the door, contenting himself with covert examination of the General’s Attaché. The Attaché was slightly taller than Moss. He stood motionless in a military ‘at ease’ stance actively listening to whatever the Chancellor and the General were discussing. The Attaché possessed that serene unassailable arrogance that all Gelaming seemed to have. Moss had the urge to run his hands through the Attaché’s stylishly spiked hair just to mess it up and see if he could ruffle the composure. Moss dropped his gaze to the floor quickly to stifle the smile this irreverent and highly unprofessional thought provoked.
“Tiahaar Moss?” Tharmifex voice brought him back to attention. “Are those the budget summaries?”
“Yes Chancellor.” Moss murmured respectfully as he crossed the room to place the file he was carrying into Tharmifex outstretched hand. Tharmifex sighed rather glumly as he nodded his thanks.
As Moss turned to leave, his brown eyes locked with the Attaché’s grey ones. Moss did not look away; he held the Attaché’s gaze for just a few seconds longer than protocol would have deemed appropriate.
The club was crowded, dark and noisy, and although the table at which he sat was strewn with drinks, Moss was alone. He was staring into the darkness at the movement within the shadows as fellow club goers mingled. Moss was absorbing the club’s atmosphere; he liked to picture the club and the energy being generated by his fellow patrons seeping into him and supplanting the efficient office-har personae he channeled at work.
Moss allowed himself to briefly review the week, although in all honesty he was not thinking about files, briefs, and protocols; he was thinking about a spiky haired blond with grey eyes. Moss had run into him several times during the week. Several times he’d looked around to find himself being watched. On the few occasions where he’d caught the Attaché unaware, Moss had always made sure that the Attaché had caught Moss observing him; it had become a game of sorts.
Moss closed his eyes and inhaled deeply allowing his lungs to fill completely; he exhaled slowly and focused on the deep pounding beat of the music. Moss opened his eyes. Xian and Sol had disappeared onto the dance floor ages ago, and Raj, the other har he’d been sitting with, had accepted Sol’s dare and was a few tables away flirting most winningly with a deliciously swarthy har whose heavy tattooing curled up around his arms and neck.
Moss closed his eyes again and felt the pounding beat of the music call to him. He made his way to the dance floor; the music was loud and in the darkness beams of different coloured lights played over the crowd. Moss moved into the mass of swaying and gyrating dancers. With the lights and dancers moving around him, Moss let the music move through him as he too began to move and sway. As the mêlée of dancers moved to the beat of the music, Moss either danced alone or with small groups. At one point he found himself pressed close to a beautiful har with ebony skin whose hair moved around him as if it was alive. They moved apart as the tempo changed. Moss felt hands slide onto his hips from behind. His unseen dance partner pressed himself into Moss and they swayed together to the beat. Moss let his body relax back against his partner, eyes closed, with his head back against the unseen shoulder. As the song ended, Moss pulled away and turned to face the har behind him.
“Me,” agreed the spiky haired blond. “Disappointed?”
“Not at all,” Moss answered recovering his composure and holding his hand out in a rather awkward formal gesture. “My name is…”
“Moss. Yes I know. I made a point of finding out. My name is …”
“Taivas” supplied Moss and grinned.
Taivas grinned back.
Moss followed Taivas to a table in a quieter section of the nightclub well away from the dance floor. With a playful flourish Taivas handed Moss ‘his’ rather peculiar signature mixed drink. Moss took the glass from Taivas with a questioning brow.
“How …?” he began.
“Flawless Military Intelligence,” Taivas said airily as he shrugged. Moss laughed and Taivas looked smug.
Moss settled himself in a chair and took a slow slip of the drink as he gave Taivas an appraising look over. “I’ve never seen you in this part of town before”.
Taivas shook his head. “No, my usual territory is the Club Alley area, east of the main library.” He studied Moss for a moment. “But it was rumoured that a certain har was usually found here, so I decided to check it out, despite the fact that it isn’t the type of place I’d have expected you to frequent.” He glanced around the club before looking back at Moss. “I almost didn’t recognize you; you look quite…,” he paused, “different.”
Moss looked down. He was wearing a long loose shirt whose filmy black fabric was held closed by a single button at the chest. In the position he was sitting the shirt hung open giving a tantalizing glimpse of his flat abdomen and hip, and the two waist chains that were slung low around the tightly fitted red silk trousers he had borrowed from Xian. Moss had strategically pulled strands of his long hair away from his face and allowed the rest to cascade down across his chest and shoulders.
“Disappointed?” Moss inquired.
“Not at all,” Taivas answered, his eyes coming to rest somewhere around the waist chains. “I am intrigued.”
They walked, arm in arm, back to Moss’s small and somewhat cluttered apartment. Moss’s thumb hooked into Taivas’s heavily studded belt as Taivas’s thumb played repeatedly over one of the chains that lay across Moss’s exposed hip.
Moss led Taivas into his cluttered bedroom slipping out of the shirt as he went. Taivas tossed his own shirt aside and grabbing Moss playfully from behind pulled Moss back against his chest. Moss pressed back purring as Taivas kissed and bit a trail along his neck and shoulder. Moss started to turn to face Taivas, but Taivas stopped him.
“No” Taivas whispered and began running his hands over Moss’s body, and pulling Moss closer into his chest. Moss contented himself by reaching back and running his hands as far around Taivas’s hips as he could. Taivas made a low growling noise. When Moss reached behind his back to begin to unbutton the trousers Taivas wore, Taivas returned the favour, working on the red glass buttons of Moss’s trousers. The trousers were tight so Moss had to squiggle to kick them off, and squiggle he did, using the opportunity to rub his pert derriere teasingly into Taivas’s lower midsection. Moss again tried to turn to face Taivas, but Taivas tightened his arms and pulled Moss’s back against his chest in a tight bear hug. “No, I want you like this…” he murmured.
Moss pulled away from Taivas and crawled into the middle of the bed on his knees. He felt a thrill of anticipation shoot through him as Taivas moved to kneel behind him, his knees between Moss’s knees. Moss reached back to run his hands over Taivas’s naked hips and buttocks, pressing back hard against Taivas’s body; there was something so erotic about that first full contact of naked flesh to naked flesh. Moss moaned softly. Taivas wrapped his arms around Moss torso and buried his face in Moss’s neck. Taivas’s hands played down across Moss’s chest and abdomen, alternating firm strokes and feather light caresses. In due course, Taivas’s fingers found the sensitive spot between Moss’s legs. The sudden contact caused Moss’s to sharply inhale and his body to twitch slightly. Taivas chuckled softly and began to tease the spot rhythmically stroking and pinching. Taivas continued his attentions as Moss’s breathing deepened and he made soft murmuring sounds. Moss tried to reach behind his back to grab the hardness that pressed into his lower back, but Taivas caught his hands.
“Don’t be so impatient!” Taivas breathed the words teasingly into Moss’s ear. Taivas reached farther down between Moss’s legs and gently stroked the soft already moist folds of the opening to his soume-lam. When Taivas’s fingers invaded his body Moss moaned and rocked his hips trying to deepen the contact. Taivas intensified his movements, continuing until Moss thought he would scream.
“Taivas …please…” Moss pleaded.
Taivas gave a dirty sounding chuckle, but Moss felt him pull away and adjust his position. Moss whimpered with relief, arching his back eagerly seeking contact. Taivas slid deep into Moss’s wetness with one powerful thrust. Moss cried out softly. The thrust was forceful enough to topple Moss forward; balanced on his hands and knees with Taivas deep inside Moss dispelled any stray thoughts he’d had about Taivas’s insistence on this position being due to ‘shyness’ — Taivas had nothing to be shy about. Moss squeezed himself tightly around Taivas’s hardness and was rewarded with a deep throaty growling noise from Taivas. Gripping Moss’s hips, Taivas pulled back quickly and thrust forward hard. Moss moaned as he pushed back feeling Taivas’s hardness fill him completely. Their coupling was vigorous; Taivas drove his thrusts in hard and fast and Moss met and matched Taivas’s every movement. Moss felt the hot waves of sensation building in him, then lost himself in the wild untamed sensations. Taivas moaned and Moss felt his thrusts became more erratic.
Moss heard himself cry out, and felt his body tighten as the room seemed to erupt into fireworks; pulses of exquisite pleasure tore through his body. Moss felt Taivas’s warm essence fill him, mixing with his own, as the waves of their climax raced through them. When the maelstrom had abated somewhat, Moss allowed himself to collapse gently forward to lie on his stomach. Taivas planted a kiss between Moss’s shoulder blades as he lowered himself to the bed to snuggle next to Moss. They lay together in silence while their breaths softened/slowed. In that blissful trance-like post-arunic state, the seconds stretched into minutes and these too began to stretch. Moss began to feel like he should probably… maybe… start to think of something to say; he could offer Taivas some sheh perhaps? Or some tea? The silence was not uncomfortable, but Moss always felt it was somehow ‘bad form’ just to fall asleep without saying a word.
“Wow” Taivas’s voice broke the silence.
Caught off guard, Moss snorted out a laugh.
“Sorry…” Taivas chuckled sheepishly “I know I should be saying sweet poetic things at this particular moment, but I think my brain melted…. … and ‘wow’ pretty much sums things up.”
“Flawless military intelligence and now flawless military romance…” Moss quipped, with a giggle.
Taivas pinched Moss’s buttocks playfully.
A pile of neat file folders were placed by Velaxis’s right elbow and in front of the files was placed a steaming cup of coffee. Velaxis did not look up from the newspaper which lay open in front of him.
“Welcome back Tiahaar.” Moss’s tone was brisk.
Velaxis still did not look up but he placed his hand, long thin fingers spread, on top of the files.
“Cataclysmic dullness in epic proportions,” Moss intoned sardonically. “The past few weeks have been as uneventful as they ever are in Immanion. The few problems, rumours, that did crop up were where you expected them to be and they have been dealt with. Nothing of note really beyond the salmon-pink ‘garment’, ” Moss said the word carefully so that it carried a tight note of censure, “the Tigrina wore to an criminally awful theatrical opening night.”
I have heard rumours about your recent associations with military personnel. Can you confirm them? The mind touch was silky. Velaxis looked up, fixing his sapphire eyes on Moss, his expression unreadable.
Did you visit your parents? Moss’s chin rose ever so slightly in defiance.
Tell me about Taivas.
Tell me about Thiede.
They stared at each other in silence. After a moment a muscle twitched in Velaxis’s jaw and he looked away, directing his gaze outside to the sun drenched ornamental garden in the courtyard below.
I have two bottles of pure heaven straight from the Tigrina’s private cellar. My place. Tonight. Velaxis eyes met Moss’s.
Velaxis returned his gaze to the newspaper. “Thank you.” he said aloud, “That is all.”
I’m glad you’re home. I missed you. With that Moss spun on his heel and headed out of the office. As he left he felt Velaxis – not words, but an emotion; warm and gentle. Moss knew only he, and possibly one or two other hara, knew ‘that’ side of Velaxis Shiraz, Chief Administrator to the Hegemony.
The key turned quietly in the lock, and Moss slipped silently into the apartment. He was startled to find Taivas sitting on the couch in the dark.
“You waited up?”
“I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t sure you’d come.” Taivas’s voice sounded troubled.
“Why? What’s up? I told you I’d be late.”
“Are we okay?”
“Okay? Yes. Why?”
Taivas shifted restlessly. “We’re Wraeththu so it shouldn’t matter, right? We shouldn’t be selfish with each other right?” His voice was tight.
“Taivas? What’s up?” Moss moved farther into the room.
Taivas looked uncomfortable and took a deep breath before asking, “Are the rumours about you and Velaxis true?”
“Which ones?” Moss instantly regretted the harshness in his tone.
“You tell me,” Taivas shot back bitterly.
“Okay…” Moss hesitated and then took a deep breath. “Velaxis did not save my life, nor did I ever save his…I do not have any information about Velaxis nor anyhar else that I’m using as blackmail….I was incepted 14 years ago, so Velaxis is not my father…I am not of the same race as he was, I was human …” he paused. “How am I doing?”
Taivas’s gaze was fixed on the ceiling. “Is he as good as he’s rumoured to be?”
Moss sighed and sank into the armchair opposite where Taivas sat.
“Twelve, almost 13 years ago,” Moss began, “I was a new har with no training, no money, and stuck in the backwaters of nowhere. My inception had not been my choice, nor had it been easy; I had a serious chip on my shoulder about Wraeththudom and life in general. The Gelaming had recently arrived in our dismal corner of the planet and were trying to cram their version of civilization down our throats. I blamed them for….” Moss shrugged “well…pretty much everything.”
“One day,” he went on, “a har rode into the stable yard. He was Gelaming, draped in silks and pearls. He was all kinds of aloof smugness and veiled criticism. I don’t remember what exactly it was he said that set me off, but I snapped. I told him exactly what I thought of him, Gelaming, and Wraeththu. His fist connected with my jaw. He knocked me into the next stall. I remember sitting on my ass on the stable floor and watching the look of shock and surprise at what had just happened dawn on his face. I laughed. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Moss leaned forward earnestly. “I have never shared aruna with Velaxis. What I have with him is close, it’s complicated, and a bit messy, but we have never gone ‘there’ — it’s not what we want or need from each other. He does whatever he does and I do what I do. Velaxis uses rumours, and he’s even been known to start a few himself, sometimes just for the hell of it. The rumours are like a smoke screen, while hara have them to play with: they’re busy and happy and they don’t pay attention to … other things…” Moss’s voice trailed off.
Taivas said nothing and Moss let the silence hang for a few moments.
“Are we okay Taivas?” Moss asked softly.
Taivas said nothing but he held out his arms for Moss.
Moss stood up and crossed to where Taivas sat, pulling his shirt off as he moved. Moss knelt in front of Taivas pushing his knees farther apart. Reaching forward Moss slowly unbuttoned Taivas’s trousers, but Taivas said nothing as he watched Moss in the dark. Moss tugged at the trouser’s waist band; Taivas squiggled a little allowing Moss to pull the trousers slightly lower on his hips. Moss slowly and deliberately pulled the fabric as open as he could, and then with delicate and overly precise movements he freed Taivas’s ouana-lim from the confines of the trousers.
Taivas was already partially aroused; Moss squeezed him gently and smiled up at Taivas. Taivas stretched out his hand and gently ran his thumb across Moss’s cheek. Moss bent forward and placed a wet kiss on the shaft of Taivas’s ouana-lim. He then placed his mouth around the shaft and slowly slid up towards the petalled tip. Just below the petals, his teeth nipped Taivas gently. Taivas hissed. Moss wrapped his mouth around the now fully erect shaft again, and sucked hard. He released Taivas to take another spot on the other side. He repeated this action several more times, each time in a different spot, occasionally allowing his teeth to gently graze Taivas’s hot flesh.
Moss sat back for a moment and took Taivas firmly in his hand and tightly squeezed sliding his hand up and down the shaft. Leaning forward again he stuck his tongue out and licked from the base to the petals, and at the petals he let the tip of his tongue trace random pathways around the contours. Taivas made a small throaty sound. Moss put as much of Taivas’s ouana-lim into his mouth as could alternating gentle sucking with explorations with his tongue; his hand gripped and stroked the base; Taivas’s hips began to jerk slightly.
“Moss…” Taivas’s voice was slightly hoarse.
Moss pulled back and looked up at Taivas.
Taivas’s smirk was suggestive: “Take off your trousers.”
Moss shook his head primly “I’m not done yet.”
“That was an order civilian,” Taivas leaned forward and caught Moss’s mouth with his own. The wild images and searing thoughts surged into Moss’s mind: Taivas was not about to be denied.
Moss stood up and kicked his shoes off. He then, with teasing slowness, began to unbutton the trousers he was wearing. He skipped out of the way just in time as Taivas made a playful lunge at grabbing him.
“I want you,” Taivas growled.
Moss let the trousers fall and approached Taivas on the couch. Taivas pulled him close and kissed his belly twirling his tongue across Moss’s flesh. Moss shivered.
He pushed Taivas back and straddled him. Moss kept his knees as close to the edge of the couch as he could. Sitting far back on Taivas’s knees, Moss reached down and took Taivas’s erect ouana-lim in his hand and stroked him, sliding his hand up and down the shaft slowly and firmly. He leaned forward and pressed his mouth against Taivas’s. As they shared breath, their thoughts merged, and images swirled. Taivas pulled Moss closer and tried to take him, but Moss rose up, avoiding the intimate contact.
Moss pushed Taivas’s ouana-lim forward so that it rested against Taivass’ belly. Moss then slowly shifted himself forward sliding the slippery folds of his soume-lam along Taivas’s length. Moss bit his lip; the sensation caused him to ache with desire. He slid back and then forward again. Leaning forward he caught Taivas’s lips with his own; this time the images were scorching and erotic. As Moss slid forward Taivas shifted; this time Moss did not try to stop him. As Moss lowered himself, Taivas guided himself into Moss.
They moved slowly. Taivas took pleasure in grinding slowly past Moss’s inner sikras. Moss’s whole body shuddered; he squeezed himself tightly around Taivas. Their rhythm was slow and their movements tender. As their climax approached Moss forced himself down hard, pushing Taivas even deeper into him.
A jolt of white hot ecstasy shot through Moss; his body went rigid, his back arched, his head back – a silent scream caught in his lungs. Taivas roared. When the storm finally released him, Moss crumpled forward against Taivas’s chest, his face buried in Taivas’s neck, his body drained. They were silent.
“You already have a key to this apartment, yes?”
“Mmmhhhmmm” Moss’s reply was muffled in Taivas’s neck.
“My place is bigger than yours, right?”
“Why don’t we move your stuff into this place and give the whole chesna thing a go?”
Still straddling Taivas, Moss pushed himself back and looked down at Taivas.
“More ‘military romance’?” Moss queried, raising an eyebrow attempting to look stern.
Taivas grinned broadly “yup, I’m getting much better at romance — that was way more wordy and poetic than ‘wow’. I am quite pleased with my progress…”
They both dissolved into giggles.
The key turned quietly in the lock, and Taivas slipped silently into the apartment.
The bedroom was lit by the glow of a single lamp. Moss lay asleep in bed, still holding the book he had been reading. Moss did not move when Taivas took the book and placed it on the bedside stand, or when Taivas turned off the lamp. Taivas stripped off his clothes and slipped into bed next to Moss.
Taivas propped himself up on his elbow and ran his finger over Moss’s naked shoulder — Moss still did not stir. Taivas wanted to wake him but decided against it — Moss’s clothes were hanging next to his in the closet, Moss’s books were mingled with his in the study, and Moss’s potted herbs were on his kitchen windowsill. Moss lived here and would be here, in this bed, in the morning.
Taivas rolled onto his back and grinned at the ceiling. He was enjoying a certain degree of notoriety in the Immanion rumour mill. Taivas had felt slightly ‘soiled’ after somehar he barely knew had struck up an innuendo-laced conversation with him, and he had almost choked on his beer when a passing acquaintance had outright told him that it was well-known ‘fact’ that it was Taivas’s arunic prowess that had enticed Moss out of Velaxis’s bed, and that Velaxis was rumoured to be madder than hell.
Taivas chuckled to himself; Immanion really did seem to run on rumours.
The flying rumours gather’d as they roll’d,
Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told;
And all who told it added something new.
And all who heard it made enlargements too.