jessamygriffith: Sherlock and John (John)
[personal profile] jessamygriffith
[The 6th day of Boedromion, passing into the 7th as the sun sets, year 4 of the 696th Olympiad, early autumn]

Rather than share a lift to the cliff-side, Martin expressed a desire to walk. For all he knew, it was the last one he'd have. With his family. And two kind-hearted strangers who had unwittingly hired the unluckiest mortal on this plane of existence.

The hotel lent them torches and they set off, Martin linking his elbow through his mother's. A few people gave their group odd looks. Well, they looked more like a funeral procession than a wedding party. Which made Martin, with his shadowed eyes and black suit the chief mourner. Ha, ha.

The twenty minute walk was... refreshing, Martin decided. Yes, cool and… nice and... His mind made multiple attempts to dive into a whirlpool of panicked speculation, but he kept dragging it back. Martin found himself making random and disjointed comments about the weather and the sunset as they walked. Judging from his mother's replies, she was just as distracted.

The heavy scent of sea and grasses was cloying. The evening was waning to deep shades of dark blue, pricked by the faint light of stars in the firmament. The wavering cones of their torches illuminated small sections of the cliff-side trail, aided not at all by the fingernail sliver of the new moon.

Arthur, whose natural ebullience Martin doubt could be dampened by anything less than a thunderbolt from Zeus himself, chattered away. “Gosh, this is the strangest wedding procession I’ve ever been in! Not that I don’t like it. I quite like the torches. It’s just like camping and telling ghost stories in the tent! Mr. Crieff, do you know any good ones?”

“No, I don’t,” Simon answered. Caitlin nudged Martin, her mouth tucked in an expression half-way between laughter and horror. Wendy smiled.

“Arthur’s a dear boy, trying to cheer us up, aren’t you Arthur?”

“Why, do you need cheering up? Aren’t you glad Martin’s getting married? Oh, I know!” Arthur’s torchlight bobbled. “Flowers! That will make everyone happy, and make this more like a wedding! Martin, would you like me to pick you a bouquet?”

“Arthur...” Carolyn said in the tones of one who too often had to restrain her son’s ebullience.

“Oh, let him,” Wendy said. “Don’t wander off the path, though, dear. It could be dangerous.”

“Right-o, Mrs. Crieff!”

By following the directions Hermes had emailed, they found themselves on a bare section of cliff that extended in a shallow bluff. Exclamations of dismay came from Arthur now and then as he hunted the grass. Martin checked his watch. Twenty minutes after sunset. Good. He’d timed their arrival so they didn’t have to wait long or give him time to lose his precarious calm. His empty stomach churned with dread.

Everyone looked at each other. “Now what?” Caitlin expressed their doubts aloud. “Just kick our heels and hope he turns up?”

“If he turns up,” Simon said, but the old sarcasm was dead.

“He will,” Martin said, his tone flat. He wasn’t that lucky, he knew.

“Aren’t any of your husband’s friends coming? How’re they going to find us?” Arthur asked. He’d wandered back with green-stained hands.

Carolyn sighed. “If a god can’t find a group of people standing with torches at the edge of the White Cliffs of Dover at a spot they specified , well! I’ll never waste another drop of wine on prayers again.”

Caitlin’s teeth flashed in the smirk of a born traffic warden. “No point in asking for heavenly direction in our lives if even gods get lost, right?“

“We have to trust that they made no mistake with Martin,” his mother said, sweet and staunch as ever. Martin squeezed her hand then let go.

“Well,” he said, and coughed. He checked his watch again. “Well, it’s... I guess it’s time.” Giving a speech at this point was well beyond him. He hugged Caitlin hard and did that awkward one armed hug and handshake thing that men often do in lieu of heartfelt displays. He turned to his guests. “Carolyn, Arthur, thank you for coming.”

Carolyn shook his hand with evident sincerity. “Good fortune to you, Martin. Remember - one week for the honeymoon. Don’t forget.”

Martin began to nod but found his nose buried in Arthur’s shirt before he completed the motion. His breath whooshed out as Arthur embraced him. “Best of luck, Skip! I didn’t get enough for a bouquet, but here.” Martin gasped for air and found that Arthur had pressed a single flower into his hand, small and sweet. A clover. In the clover, for comfort and prosperity, or so the saying went. He gave Arthur a lopsided smile and tucked it into his shirt breast pocket.

“Thank you, Arthur. Help me out of this?”

Arthur grinned in the pleasure of a shared secret about to be revealed and helped peel away the jacket. Carolyn huffed a laugh and Caitlin murmured with a hit of fond exasperation, "Oh, Martin."

Martin brushed at the epaulettes that showed against his white shirt in the darkness. He shifted his shoulders and stood, keeping his hands open and relaxed by his thighs with an effort of will. "How do I look?"

"Like a captain," Simon said, his voice over-loud. His sister nodded agreement. Martin gulped, grateful for the covering dark hiding his expression. His mother pulled him in for an embrace and kiss.

"Take care, Martin love. The gods will be hearing from me if you aren't happy."

"Thanks, Mum. Love you," Martin said. He swallowed the spiky ball in his throat. "I... I’ll see you -” The words dried up in his throat. He stepped away and stood a few metres from the edge, as instructed. His heart began to thump in painful lurches. Nothing happened, except a low mist began to rise as the soil gave up its heat to the cool night.

“Well, at least you’re wearing white, Skip!” Arthur said. “I wonder when your groom will come? Do you think your groom will like your epaulettes? I think they look very smart.”

Simon sighed and covered his face with one hand.

Martin was growing rattled. “I didn’t wear them for him, Arthur!”

Arthur looked surprised. “Oh. You don’t look very happy about it.”

“Arthur -” Martin looked at his open expression and checked the sharp retort on his tongue. “I just want to remember that even if... that I’m a captain.”

“Sure thing, Skip!” Arthur said. “Wow, it’s getting really misty isn’t it? I thought it’d be all clear tonight. I can’t even see the constellation Hercules anymore!” Indeed, thickening mist was curling up from the grass and the edge of the bluff. “I can hardly see you! What if you can’t see your groom when he comes? Gosh, he could be anyone. Like, imagine if a monster came and married you. Is your groom ugly, Martin? He must be awful. I bet Martin’s pretty scared. Are you scared, Skip?”

Martin tried to moisten his dry mouth. “No, I’m not scared.” It came out sort of quavery. And scared. Everyone had disappeared, his torch lighting a wall of white as he turned, looking for - for whatever was coming. His toe kicked a small rock and it rolled and then pattered away, clicking as it fell some great distance. Oh gods, he didn’t want to die by accident. His shirt clung to his skin with moisture and he shivered, standing stock still again.

“Arthur, remember what I said about tact?” said Carolyn in a long-suffering tone.

“No, isn’t that what ponies wear? There aren’t any ponies. It’d be the best wedding if there were!”

“Yes, I agree,” said a smooth voice in Martin’s ear. Martin gasped and dropped his torch. “Ponies would be brilliant at a wedding. Sorry, everyone, must dash.” An arm wound behind Martin’s back, another behind his knees and they were airborne. Martin made a noise between a yelp and a shriek. Blind, he clawed and grasped at his kidnapper with desperate hands. “Oh, I say,” said the voice. “That’s rather sweet, but save it for your husband. We’ll be there in a tick. Not a real wedding until you’ve entered his abode, eh? The name’s Zephyrus, by the way. And you must be the inestimable Martin?”

Martin made an inarticulate noise in the back of his throat. He was beyond caring about putting up a good front and clung harder to the unseen figure. There were shouts from below. Faintly Arthur’s voice came up to him.

“Good luck, Skip! See you soon!”

“Well, this is rather a let-down. I take a passenger this one time and he’s beyond the power of speech.” The being waited, the expectant silence filled with the rush of wind.

The air was growing colder, the speed of their passage cutting through Martin’s clothing like icy blades. Oh, ye gods, what altitude were they going to? How fast? The pressure on his unprotected eardrums shifted. He heard a pop. Dizzy, he tried to dig his fingers in harder, but they’d somehow turned into rubbery sausages tenuously attached to his hands. Speak? He tried to shape words but found himself gasping at air that had become much too thin. Purple spots danced, swirled, and began to swell in his vision. His hands loosened and fell away. His head lolled.

“Martin? Are you well?” Zephyrus glanced at his slack burden. He sighed. “Damnation.”

Zephyrus was most apologetic as he passed the slight figure over to Eros' eager arms. "Poor lad’s out like a light, I'm afraid. Most people I have pressed up against me faint from more pleasant reasons. I suppose it was an interesting having someone do it from terror."

Eros' grip tightened around his limp burden. "He's freezing!"

“Is he? Oh, dear.” Zephyrus lifted a shoulder. "How was I to know not to go so high? I don’t carry mortals, I just waft clouds about, you know. And what with one thing and another, I thought it would be better to get him here on the fastest wind. Lad nearly crushed my ribs before he passed out! Stronger than he looks. I’m sure he’ll be fine."

Eros sighed. He looked at the wan face. Most red-heads were pale but Martin was ghost white, aside from violet smudges beneath each eye. But his pulse was steady, though faint. He brushed a hand over a small lump in Martin’s shirt and withdrew a crushed flower. Clover. He smiled down at the little bloom. He coughed to clear away impending sentiment. "Fine. You have my thanks, my cousin."

"We're even then? Wonderful." A breeze began to play, fluttering Zephyrus' trouser legs. He grinned a wide white smile, hair beginning to lift in the stiffening draught. "Can't say he's what I expected."

Eros grimaced, pressing Martin's face against his neck as small pieces of grit began to fly. "No, me either."

Zephyrus spread his arms and began to drift up and away. "New things surprise me so seldom, though, that I find myself appreciating them all the more. It's refreshing." His laughing voice drifted down from the darkness. "Congratulations on your joining, cousin."

Eros leaned over the prone figure on the bed with fondness and worry. The room was in complete darkness - shutters drawn with heavy drapes pulled shut, door closed. His immortal eyes were able to easily see his love's pale face, red-gold hair mussed from the flight. Eros rubbed a hand over the ache in his chest. Damn Pothos and his bolts. Martin looked sweet in his unconscious state, but Eros longed to have him awake and speaking.

"Martin," he said, voice soft. He smoothed an errant lock of hair from the smooth brow. "Martin, wake up."

Martin's eyelids flickered. Eros watched his lips part. Soon those gems would press his own, part in desire beneath his. He smiled. His bright spark, his Martin. "Martin," he crooned. "Darling, tell me you're fine. Don't make me worry, hm?"

Eros leaned over his spouse and drew in a breath. Martin smelled of the wind and night, underlain by a simple clean scent. Soap, Eros, decided. He supposed it was soppy of him to enjoy that Martin didn't come to him perfumed and perfectly groomed. Martin's chest rose and fell in a deep breath. "Martin." Eros patted his cheek, then cupped it, thumb brushing a high cheekbone.

Soon Martin would awaken. Would he look sweet and confused, wondering who had awoken him and where he was? Dreamily he envisioned his Titian love, roused by his lover’s dulcet tones, lifting languid russet lashes and smiling.

He brought his face closer to Martin's - much more of this charming Sleeping Beauty routine and he would just have to kiss his love awake. Such a hardship. "I know you're in there. Don't make me -"

Eros might have known better, had he been in his right mind and not dart-stung.

Martin's eyes sprang open. The next thing Eros saw was a blinding burst of stars as Martin lurched upright, head connecting with unfortunate yet unerring aim into Eros' nose.

Martin fell back on his pillows pressing both hands over his forehead. Ow, ow, ow! What had he hit his head on? He heard a thump and muffled swearing. His eyes widened but there was nothing but darkness. Someone was in the room -? Someone was in the room! Where was he?

His arms swept out to the sides in frantic exploration - blanket, sheets, bed. Bed! Bed where? How big was this damned bed, where were the edges?  He flailed, heart climbing his throat. Never mind that, who was in the room and where was a weapon, his mind screamed at him. He squirmed away from the noise, heels slipping on sheets until his back hit something, a headboard or wall. He grabbed the only loose thing his blind fingers encountered and brandished it before him. “Stay away! You stay away or I’ll - I’ll -”

“Smother me to death with that deadly pillow?” The voice was resonant and rich. Not a mortal voice , one still-functioning part of his brain told Martin. He wasn’t sure how he knew that but it sounded - more. As if all his life he’d been hearing in mono over a tinny pocket radio, and now had full stereo sound. The stranger went on in deepest sarcasm.  “Force it down my throat and choke me? Rip it open and hope a strange yet rare allergy will cause me to have one great, fatal sneeze?” The voice was muffled and sounded thick, as if the speaker had a cold. “Hades’ tits, but you’ve a hard head. Ugh, I think my nose is bleeding.”

Martin’s mouth opened and closed a few times.

“Though if you insist on another go-round, dare I hope it will be bolsters at ten paces? I’d quite enjoy a pillow fight, though now I’m reconsidering whether I’m up to your weight.”

“You... are you... are you my...?”

“Your suffering bridegroom? Yes, I am. Is this a new mortal custom I’m not aware of, trying to flatten noses on the wedding night? Kinky even for me, but let’s not do that again, hm? Delightful though new experiences are for an immortal my age, it’s rather painful.” There was a rustling noise. “Oh, I think it’s stopped bleeding.”

“Uh, sorry about that.”

“Well, perhaps it wasn’t my best move, looming over you.” The voice sounded less sarcastic and more philosophical.

Martin strained his eyes, trying to see where the voice was coming from. Oh, gods, he really had married darkness. He didn’t want to think about the fire part. Or creature, definitely not creature. Martin became aware of how his skin was prickling in goosebumps. His bare skin. A thin robe had come undone, twisting up around his waist and threatening to manacle his arms. “Why am I naked?”

There was a long pause, while Martin flushed all over. Of course. He was naked because this was his... this was his husband. Even so, he rather liked to know when strangers were stealing his clothes!

“You were chilled. Your garments were damp through with moisture. Those are silk sheets, you know.”

“Oh.” Martin was somewhat mollified.

The end of the bed dipped and Martin drew his legs up to his chest with a thin squeak.  “And you are wearing a robe, though I see it has slipped charmingly askew. Not that I wasn’t eager to bare you to my eyes, Martin, even if was only to dry you with warm towels.” The voice all but purred his name and Martin’s stomach flipped over. Oh, gods above and below, this was it, wasn’t it? He was about to be ravished by a... by a… and he’d just nutted him in the nose , and oh ye gods -

“Wait, you have a nose?” he blurted, then pressed the pillow to his face in mortification. A shout of laughter followed his words.

“What kind being do you think I am? No, don’t tell me. Poor Martin.” The bed sagged as the other moved closer. “You must have been worried sick. You have nothing to fear.”

Martin lifted his head. He blinked hard but still saw nothing. “Can I turn on the light? It’s a bit unnerving being in the dark with...” A stranger, his mind supplied. “An immortal.”

“I’m afraid not.” The voice was kind but firm. “That is forbidden. You are free to pursue your flying as we’d agreed, and in return you may not know or look upon my true face.”

“But that’s stupid! Why not?” Martin burst out, then thumped his head into cotton. Idiot, here he was arguing again with the all-powerful! Douglas was wrong, he was going to get himself cursed or killed if he kept this up.

A poke at the pillow had him lifting his head again. “I will not give you the reason at this time; I require your faith and trust in this. It is important. Though,” the voice said musingly, “if you do manage to guess my identity, I’ll confirm it.”

“You’re not even going to tell me your name ?” Martin’s voice squeaked into the upper registers on the last word. “This isn’t fair!”

There was a dry chuckle. “You have no idea. I’m just balancing things up.” A warm breath touched Martin’s cheek. His head whipped round but there was nothing to see. “You need not be afraid of the dark nor of myself, Martin. There are other senses to use. I promise I will not harm you.”

Fingers curled around Martin’s wrist, strong and warm. He tensed, body trying its best to force itself through the headboard. Ye gods, he knew he was acting like a frightened virgin, but for the moment his muscles sustained their rebellion against his commands.

“Will you not touch me?” The voice had a piteous edge that Martin mistrusted. For the gods’ sake, do something! He forced his hands to loosen their grip on the pillow and allowed the hand to lift his arm. His fingers passed over a firm chin, brushed the softness of a pouty lower lip and the Cupid’s bow above. The lips moved and a small kiss pressed against his finger pads. Martin’s hand jerked in surprise. “Sorry,” the other said. “Couldn’t help myself. Don’t stop. Please.”

It was the ‘please,’ that gave Martin the courage to go on with his explorations. Gingerly he touched a lightly stubbled cheek. Not the cheek of a youth - this was a full-blooded man. The edge of his thumb skipped over the contours of a nose. A strong nose, straight and... oh. There was a crust at the edge of a nostril. Blood. Well, you did nut your husband the immortal, Martin, well done, a great way to start . He began to pull away but a hand caught his and pressed it back into place. "Don't stop," the voice said, and was Martin imagining it or was the voice thickened? Eyelashes fluttered against his fingertips. "You see? Just a man. No scales, no sharp teeth."

Martin’s heart thrummed in the back of his throat as he opened his mouth and exhaled in relief. No, not a monster, oh thank the gods. Not even ugly - rather the opposite. “You.. you’re real.” The muscles beneath his palm flexed into a smile and Martin’s cheeks heated. State the obvious, well done. “No, I meant - is this actually you?” Immortals usually took on aspects when dealing with humans.

“Yes, tis I.”

Martin grasped his way down the other’s neck as if to check his corporeality, feeling smooth skin and firm shoulder muscles. “Is that why I’m not to see you? In case I’m, er, overcome?” He thought of Semele, consumed by fire at the sight of Zeus’ true form and shuddered. There were reasons the images of gods were recorded in paint and sculpture - film and modern equipment just wouldn’t record them. And then there were the sensitive unfortunates who went half-mad upon viewing a god’s aspect. It seldom happened but Martin didn’t think he wanted to take the chance. Right. Dark might be best, after all . Sanity was good.

“Your perspicacity is wonderful,” said his husband. That doesn’t answer my question! Martin thought, but there was a hand now resting on his bent knee, gently urging his leg to straighten out.

“You’re not going to um, er...” Martin swallowed. The hand was moving in soothing circles and it was quite distracting. He bit and his lip and got it out. “Come home one night as a horse or eagle or something?”

The hand stilled. “Do you want me to?” The rich voice had an edge of surprise.

“No!” Martin said. Oh, gods , would the bed just do him a favour and swallow him up?

“Thanks be,” said the voice, amused again. “I’m not Zeus, you know. No, Martin, I’m afraid you will have to settle for just this. What you have beneath your hands is what you get. Just me. And you can use two hands, you know. Your mouth, even.”

Martin took a shaky breath. This was it. He was in his husband’s abode, he was naked - well, mostly naked, and now it was time to get on with it. It shouldn’t be too terrible. What he’d explored so far had been quite… normal. Fit. Fanciable, even. He could do this. He shifted closer. Shaking, his other hand lifted, brushed an arm and came to rest. The rise and fall of ribs as his husband took a deep breath bolstered his courage. Maybe he was as nervous as Martin? He leaned closer.

The treacherous robe under him slipped against the silk sheets. Overbalanced, he fell against his husband, mashing his mouth and teeth painfully against a chin. Hands grasped his shoulders to steady him. “Easy, sweet one.” It sounded like his husband was smiling. Martin tried again, lifting his head and tightening his grip to pull him closer. But the damned pillow was squashed between them, thwarting his attempt at bodily contact.

Martin’s bravado dissolved in humiliation. He shoved and wriggled, trying to escape. “Martin?” The voice was confused now. He pushed away, robe tangling around him. Gods, he had to get free, this wasn't going right -

He slithered back and there - of course - was the edge of the bed. He fell, yelping as his elbow cracked against the floor and went numb. Perfect, just bloody perfect.

“But perfection is boring,” said his husband, and oh gods, had Martin spoken out loud? He had. He sat up and rubbed his bruised elbow, dignity and robe alike drooping from him.

The mattress shifted. “Martin. Are you all right? What’s the matter, darling?”

“Nothing. I'm fine, I mean.” Martin had two choices - give up, let the pained watering in his eyes overflow and beg to be set free. He may as well kiss flying goodbye forever and enjoy the rest of his mortal life as a weed or an ant for defying an immortal. He wasn't cut out for this - this god-pleasing business.

Incongruously, the memory of Douglas’ voice came to him - 'Something made you worthy of notice, that's why you were chosen.’' The band of tightness constricting his chest loosened a bit.

“You're sure you're all right?”

“I'm fine!” Martin snapped. “Er, I mean. Sorry. It’s too dark. I, um, fell. The sheets are slippery.”

“Slippery sounds promising,” said the voice, and was that relief he heard? Martin wished he could see. “But again, perhaps not one of my better choice, the silk sheets.”

“They're soft. Quite, quite nice,” Martin offered. He steeled himself and stripped away the robe, groping for the edge of the bed. “Anyway. Can we - er. Help me up?”

“Here.” There was a brush of fingers. Martin took the proffered hand and used it to guide his way up on the bed, thighs brushing as he knelt between his husband’s knees.. “Oh,” his husband said in soft surprise.

“What?” His nerves were wounding tight again. He felt naked. Very naked. In a bed with another unclothed… being.

“I'm just appreciating the view, bold thing. Perhaps we can dispense with the robe in future. I rather like you clothed in air.” The hand still holding his stroked a thumb suggestively.

“You can see me?” The outraged squeak was out before Martin could stop himself. “That's not -”

“Not fair, yes, that’s been established, but darkness is my element, Martin. And may I just say how pretty -”

Oh my gods, no. Before the sentence finished, Martin reached, caught two arms, slid his hands up to the grinning face and guided it to his own. This time his lips landed in the right area and with more determination than ardour he applied himself to the task. The smiling lips softened against his own with a sigh. Arms came around him, pressing him against a well-muscled chest. Martin angled his head, bumped noses and corrected. What next? Oh, tongues, yes, that had to be the next step. He touched the seam of his husband’s mouth with the tip of his tongue. The lips parted, inviting. He took a deep breath and forged on, feeling the press of tongue against his own. Hands swept up and down his back.

His husband made a low noise of appreciation as his hands found and cupped Martin’s buttocks. Martin’s mouth stilled as his mind scrambled. What next, what next? Hands! His fingers had found their way into silky hair and were holding the strands in a death grip. He relaxed their hold, making an apologetic sound into his husband’s mouth. Uh. He traced an eyebrow with a trembling thumb, drew back and smoothed the pad over the sensuous - sensuous? Why had that word popped into his head, he’d never even seen his - mouth. That same (sensuous, mobile, slick) mouth kissed it before drawing it in, tongue flickering against skin in a way that gave Martin pause. Should he -? He had better. With his free hand he touched firm abdominals, nails catching on skin as he reached further.

He didn’t reach his goal before his husband groaned and lifted Martin bodily, settling him so their torsos were in full contact. There was the unmistakable sign of the immortal’s interest pressing against Martin’s balls. Martin froze. Oh, Hades.

His husband had also stilled. “Martin. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t… seem entirely pleased to be here.” The tone sounded as if it sought reassurance. Why? He’s an immortal! Martin’s stomach turned over.

“Erm,” he said.

“You have done this before? I mean, I never ascribed to the standards that insist on virginal weddings. It’s better if at least one person knows what they are doing, and fantastic if both do.

“Uh,” Martin said. His face was hot.

“Is it because I’m male? It’s just that I can’t help noticing that you aren’t -”

“No,” Martin managed to articulate. “I mean, yes, I have, you know. Had sex. With men. And women too,” he added in a burst of honesty.

“Oh, that’s good.” A kiss was pressed against his mouth, followed by a huff of laughter. “Though a certain bubble of fantasy wherein I instruct you the arts of love between men has just been burst.”

“Er,” said Martin. “You could. Teach me.” His self-preservation instinct kicked in and he blurted, “But I am happy to be here, really.”

“Little liar. You’re shaking, and you’ve gone goose-flesh all over.”

Apparently one could see red even in the dark if one was furious enough. Pushed to the edge of his endurance, Martin bit his lip to stem the words but they burst out. “I am trying to please you!”

“No need to shout,” said his husband mildly. “You want to... please me.”

“Yes! This whole thing is ridiculous! I mean, did you even see me before you picked me? I’m not clever or… or witty, or even handsome, how could anyone expect me to be a consort? Gods, fine, I could see the sense of it when I thought I was marrying a monster from the Abyss, no great loss to the world if I’m sacrificed or whatever but… but… You promised I’d still get to fly if I pleased you and for Eros’ sake, I am trying!” Martin gulped for air, aflame with his frustration.”


“So... so if this just some elaborate joke, just turn me into a houseplant already, or let me get on with it!” To his fury, his husband was shaking with silent laughter. Martin could feel a shriek building in his chest. He opened his mouth but a hand covered it.

“Shush, darling. Now, let’s clear up one thing. I did see you before I chose you, though you won’t remember seeing me. And if I feel you to be a worthy consort, then you are. Ita est, verum est, and all that. And although I’m having doubts at the moment about your intelligence, I must say that your physical qualities are entirely enticing.”

Martin’s jaw would have dropped had it not been for the hand against his mouth.

“I suppose others found you lacking? Well, that will cut down on the droves of admiring competition trying to steal you away.”

In spite of himself, Martin snorted. His husband laughed. “That’s better. Now, while I’m impressed with your determination to see the letter of the contract fulfilled, I fear you are missing the point.” His hand moved to cup Martin’s jaw.

“But -” Martin said. A mouth covered his, and oh - he’d been doing the kissing all wrong, Martin realised before his thoughts fled. This kiss was lazy, taking the time to explore, with the perfect amount of teasing nips alternating with slow strokes of tongue. “Uh,” Martin said when his mouth was released. What had they been talking about?

“You please me by being yourself, Martin,” the voice said, the rich depth curling around Martin’s hindbrain. “Even when you’re being wrong-headed about some things. So, continue, er, being yourself. But without turning yourself inside-out making so sure I’m happy that you take no pleasure in the act yourself, hm? Consider: I’ve got a delectable mortal in my bed who is determined to seduce me, the night is long and I can see certain parts of you are now taking an interest.” He shifted against Martin’s half-hard cock. “How can I not be pleased by that?”

Martin blinked, his brain fuzzy. “All - all right.”

The hand had curled around his neck, and another was now pressing Martin’s hips in slow rhythm, rubbing his cock between them. “All right?” his husband queried.

“Yes,” Martin said. A particularly sweet movement dragged a groan from him. “M-more than all right. All of that. Yes.”

“Lovely,” his husband said. “Perhaps I should have done this from the start, but never mind. I’d no idea I was marrying such a complicated creature. You won’t mind, will you?”

Mind what? Martin’s arms were around his husband, hips beginning to shift in tiny movements. “Mm. What?”

“Oh, good.”

Martin’s half-formed question drifted apart as his mouth was captured again. His world narrowed down to sensation - the roll of his hips encouraged by the hand at the small of his back, the small thrusts of the erection sliding against his cleft, that mouth. It promised all sorts of erotic delights and satiation, the tongue flicking in time to the rocking of their bodies. Martin scarcely noticed as he was laid back on the bed, only aware that cool air was washing skin that had been covered by a warm body. He made a complaining noise and was answered by a low laugh.

“You little beauty, don’t make me rush.”

The bed dipped beside him. Martin rolled on his side to face the source of the voice and arched with a gasp as a hand encircled his aching erection. A  stroke smoothed down the shaft, slipped up and over the moist tip and down again, maddeningly slow. A thumb toyed with the frenulum and Martin found his hands were twisting the silk sheets hard enough to fray them. “Oh. Oh, Eros,” he groaned. There was a shaky breath and his husband’s forehead touched his.

“Yes. That’s it.  Don’t hold back anything, let me hear you.”

“I want... Can I? I’m going to touch you now.”

“That would - ah! Please me very much,” the deep voice said, voice catching as Martin found himself with a length of springy heat leaping in his hand. Oh, gods, this was perfect. His hand fell into a familiar rhythm. His breath grew ragged as his husband worked his own erection with consummate skill. Martin could feel the puffs of air against his face as the immortal breathed open-mouthed. Frantic, he shifted closer to press their lengths together, his gasp of relief mirrored by his lover as their hands clasped around them. He knew he was making half-voiced noises, knew his husband was drinking in the sounds but he couldn’t stop and was past caring. The world had shrunk to blind need and their moving hands. He was losing focus, body tightening.

“Oh, gods. I’m going to -”

“Yes, don’t stop. Don’t you dare hold back.” His husband nudged his head back and claimed his lips, tongue making one quick lascivious dart into Martin’s slack mouth, his hand over Martin’s quickening its pace. It was enough. Martin stiffened as he came, his hoarse cry swallowed by the mouth covering his. He blinked away the sparks. There was a murmur in his ear. “Just like that, you lovely bright thing, perfect…”

“Oh,” Martin said. “But… you -” Their hands had loosened and fallen away. Martin reached for his husband and felt a slick hand cover his own.

“Yes, there, darling,” the voice groaned. Martin squinched his eyes in a convulsive shudder. That voice!

“Oh ye gods above and below,” he breathed. He had his hand on an immortal’s cock, was wanking him - or rather, his hand was being used to wank. How had he come to this point? Why was it so - so sexy?

His husband and Martin felt the pulsing under his fingers as his husband came with an inarticulate shout. The hard grip on his hand relaxed and his arm sagged. In the aftermath, Martin felt drugged and boneless. They lay still, breathing slowing. After a time, Martin gathered enough nerve and energy to lift his head. Their noses bumped. His husband flinched.

Oh, good one, Martin, he thought. He’d forgotten about the bloody nose. Add more insult to the injury you already gave him. “Sorry,” he muttered.

“Continue with what you were doing and all is forgiven,” the voice rumbled. Martin smiled, a little embarrassed knowing that while he could see nothing but darkness, his husband had no doubt observed his every expression. And had enjoyed it, apparently. Martin kissed him, soft and a bit hesitant. His lover lay pliant, receiving the embrace with a quiet hum. Martin grew bolder. He wiped his hand on the sheets and laid it on his husband’s chest. But when he tried to shift closer, the immortal pulled away and sat up.

Martin’s skin chilled with the loss. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Just getting something to clean us up.” There was the click of a drawer and rustling, followed by the sound of cloth over skin. “These wipes are pure mortal genius for moments like these,” the rich voice observed. “One would think they were designed for intimate after-care.”

“For babies, actually.” Martin flinched, mouth twitching as a cool tissue passed over his stomach.

“Are you ticklish? How delightful.”

“Just a little.” Martin caught his lower lip between his teeth as the ministrations made their way down, but his husband’s touch was impersonal, moving his flaccid penis out of the way to mop up semen. It wasn’t what Martin was expecting. He had to know. “Um. Is anything wrong?”

“Not at all,” said the voice in a tone of relaxed contentment. Martin found his sticky hand resting in his husband’s, the cloth drawing a path of coolness down each finger. “But I can see you’ve some bee in your bonnet, you complicated little thing. Out with it.”

“Well…” Martin bit the inside of his cheek, thinking of how to phrase it. “Don’t you want to, um, ‘consummate’ your - I mean, our marriage on our wedding night?”

The wiping had paused. “This should be good,” Martin heard him mutter in an undertone. His husband went on in a louder tone, “I am almost loathe to ask in spite of myself - but what do you mean, dearest?”

The endearment, so casually and naturally used, flustered Martin. “I mean, well. I, I, what we did was just - just foreplay, wasn’t it? That is, it was great. I hadn’t expected, well you know -”

“I am agog as to what lurid fantasies your mind cooked up before the wedding, but perhaps it’s best to save those for another night. Your spouse is not what you imagined. I gathered that much. A happy surprise, I do hope.” The voice sounded both irritated and amused now. Martin gulped.

“You were wonderful, I mean, I expec- no, never mind that, I mean, you are an immortal with years of experience. And not a monster! Sorry about that. So I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything bad. In bed. Or out of it. But, but -” Martin could feel the flush creeping up his neck. “You didn’t… you haven’t. You know.”

“Do I?”

“Heavens above and below!” Martin snapped. “You know what I mean! Isn’t real sex a requirement?”

“Oh, sweet skies.” He heard the creak of the bed as his husband leaned over as if to support himself. The back of Martin’s hand was pressed to a forehead. His husband was making small wheezing sounds. Was he in pain? “Never change, darling,” his husband gasped. “You are utterly perfect.”

He was laughing, the bastard! Martin stuttered. But before he could voice his indignation he was swept up in strong arms and kissed between chuckles. Martin allowed his annoyance to be pulled from him each as his husband quieted his amusement and turned his attention more thoroughly to his work. Each kiss grew deeper until Martin was flushing from entirely new reasons. At last that devastating mouth drew away, leaving Martin as limp as a Regency heroine, his thoughts dissolved in the midst of low-grade arousal.

“You gorgeous idiot,” his husband said fondly. “Sex is what we just did . Penetration doesn’t always come into it, though I’m looking forward to having your delectable arse against my belly while I roger you silly.” Martin’s throat emitted a strange gurgle at the crude words. It shouldn’t have sounded as hot as it did, but apparently that rich voice could read ingredients lists off food packaging and turn Martin on, he was finding. “You mortals and your funny ideas about sex.”

“Uh. Sorry,” Martin managed.

“You know I’m quite old by your standards. I’m flattered you think I’m up for another go.”

Martin was not fooled. “You are, though.” There was an insistent rigidity nudging his hip.

“Alas,” his husband said in a sad tone. ”My lot in life seems to be to have an insatiable mortal in my bed demanding satisfaction of various types. I suppose I can work myself up for ‘real sex’.”

“You already have,” Martin pointed out. His brain was coming back online and he felt a flicker of nerves. His hand flexed in memory of a generously sized length in his palm. “Er…”

He must have stiffened in the other’s arms. “No, not tonight, Martin,” the other said with such unnerving perspicacity that Martin blushed. “We’ve many nights ahead of us to fill with sensual delights. In the meantime -” He heaved, and Martin bounced on the bed with a surprised grunt. He pushed up on his elbows only to find arms on either side of his hips and the proximity of his husband’s body between his legs heating his skin. “We can do something about your insatiability, hm?”

A tongue traced a hot line up Martin’s length and he squawked. “Wait! You can’t do that!”

“Can’t I?” Lips were mouthing the underside, the voice vibrating against sensitive flesh in a way that had Martin’s nails digging into his palms.

“You - you’re an immortal. Aren’t you - oh, Eros, don’t stop, I mean, don’t - that’s my job, isn’t it? Being your - your - you know! ”

“Oh, heavens, Martin, please don’t make me laugh when I’m about to suck you off. My what? Greek sex slave? No. My kinaidos , my lovely pretty-boy bottom? Er. If that’s what you prefer? No? That’s grand. My erômenos? That would nice if you’re amenable to being taught more classical education than you’ve already gained. And got wrong, I believe.” Silky hair tickled Martin’s thigh as his husband lay his head against it, the amused tone evident in his voice. “But that would limit our sexual contact a great deal, and since we’re already joined, I think I’d better be clear that I hope for much greater… intimacies. Lest you fret over that, I’ll have you know that in love-arts,  I’m equal-opportunity, if you catch my drift.”

“Ah…” Martin blinked. “Oh. Really?”

“Mmm.” His husband rubbed his head into Martin’s leg like a great cat. “To answer your inarticulate question, Martin, you are not my ‘you know.’ You are my partner. So don’t think I’ll be doing all the work, hm?  It’s too tiresome.” He huffed a laugh. “If we’re going to have power struggles in the bed, let’s make them enjoyable. Does that suit you?”

Martin took a moment to digest this as the last of his expectations shattered. Everything between them was going to be uncharted territory, but then, hadn’t it always been? It could be… well, he wasn’t laying any bets for the future, but it might work out, this marriage thing. “All right.”

His husband laughed. “All right all right?” A hand was stroking around the base of Martin’s aching cock, playing with the curls of hair.

“Yes,” Martin said. He took a deep breath and reached blindly, combing his fingers through his husband’s hair. He would not tug. Martin did stroke, though, encouraging.  “All right.”

“Excellent.” The bed shifted as his husband braced himself up again on his elbows. “Now, let’s see what we can do about this,” he said.

“All ri - oh, gods!”

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