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Just The Way it Works (a story of sex and not-quite-love in Camorr)

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"What do you think, Jean? Will I steal six thousand hearts to go with six thousand in coin?"

"I think," said Jean Tannen with a slow, amused calm, "if you'd stolen six hundred thousand hearts, you couldn't get it up for any of them."

"You're a shithole of a weasel-fucking bastard," said Locke and he sprawled himself out on his bed, tangling his fingers in the blanket next to Jean's hip.

Jean leaned back on his elbows and smiled. "But I am a correct shithole of a weasel-fucking bastard." Locke snorted and didn't dignify that with an answer.

The pair of them lounging on Locke's bed were Gentlemen Bastards, all right. Locke wearing the fashion of a well-off Vadran businessman, his heavy woolen coat tossed carelessly in a crumpled pile half on the bed, half on the floor, and Jean in lighter wools with his sleeves rolled up. If they hadn't been speaking in Therin, in a secret room under a Temple of Peralandro in the middle of the city of Camorr, any observer could have been forgiven for thinking that a young, well-to-do Vadran was simply allowing his servant to take liberties.

Locke stretched himself along the length of the large bed, fingers kneading the soft linens like a contented cat. Jean reclined on the pillows at the head of the bed, carelessly unbuttoning his thin woolen shirt.

Locke watched Jean slowly and neatly remove his overshirt and fold it so that it wouldn't crease. "Wool," Locke said, his irritation ebbing like the tide, "in middle of the Gods-damned summer heat. What in the hell is Chains even thinking? We could have died out there, you know. Just over-heated and kkkt-" Locke drew two fingers across his throat. He shifted around, using his knee to knock the thick jacket entirely off the bed. "If I never have to see a damn Vadran coat again, it will be too soon."

"If you're thinking like that, tomorrow's going to be torture," Jean said, letting his undershirt hang open and tipping his head back. "I get the feeling that whole 'creating an imaginary person' exercise Father Chains had us do was a little bit more than just an exercise."

"Oh, I'm aware," said Locke, who had spent more time with Chains and was more than aware of the way the devious bastard's mind worked. "I just think the old jackal likes to watch us suffer for our own good."

"That's because he does," said Jean. "And you'll probably be wearing that coat all week, pretending to be 'Master Fehrwight' and you'd best get used to it. Just like I'll be dressed like your errand boy, Graumann, so stop complaining before I do something that no errand boy would consider doing to his master."

The bed creaked as Locke pushed himself up on his arms, cracking his spine to get out a kink. His voice changed a little, rougher around the edges with a Vadran accent that obscured his words. "Graumann, I must ask that you keep your threats to yourself. I will never be frightened of you, boy." The twinkle of mirth that was Locke gleamed sharply and then dimmed under the weight of Lukas Fehrwight's stolid personality.

"Maybe you should, sir," Jean said. Jean didn't have the same talent for mixing voice and inflection that Locke had, but still the voice of Graumann was lower than Jean's sweet natural tenor, and the accent made him sound gruff and sharp.

Locke—no, Lukas— made a dismissive sound and finally sat up fully. Lukas Fehrwight did not laze around like an indolent dullard, he sat straight and serious and gave everything its due consideration. Including his servant, who had also sat up and seemed to be deliberately crowding him.

"Graumann," Lukas said, thin lips pursing, "I don't think you know what you're doing." He tipped his head up, chin jutting out in a manner that could have been taken as either haughty or petulant.

Jean was broad-shouldered and stocky, and when he grabbed hold of Locke's shoulder, it was clear that he—or maybe it was Graumann-- was certainly considering something unorthodox. He gave Lukas a light shove back, and Lukas fell against the wall, bumping his head with a low hiss. Graumann's expression cleared and for a moment it looked like Jean would break through the mask he wore.

But Lukas grabbed Graumann's arm and twisted it, eyes narrowed and so entirely unlike Locke that Jean faded back again, letting the bubbling emotion that was part anger, desire and amusement boil back up to seal the cracks. "I know plenty what I'm doing, Master Fehrwight, and I know plenty what you'll let me do," he said.

"You only do it because I let you," Lukas said, his accent filing the syllables down like a rusted knife. He said it, and he arched up, hands flat and pressed against Grauman''s chest, although it was obvious that Graumann was far more muscular and Lukas had no chance of escaping. There was a hint of fear in Lukas' eyes for a fleeting moment before it turned into something arrogant. "And I only let you because I pity your inability to find a woman of your own class to paw to over."

Graumann leaned down and bit Lukas' ear none too gently. For his effort, he received a low hiss. Something in Lukas seemed to relent; that stiff-backed posture melted little by little until it felt like he was molding himself against Graumann's body. Lukas tipped his head back, giving Graumann access to his neck and ran his fingers down Graumann's smooth hairless chest. Jean hissed then, almost losing hold on his character, as he pressed his face into the crook of Locke's neck, and slid his hands down to hold onto Locke's hips.

Never one to let unexpected circumstance knock him out of a lie he had constructed, Locke—or Lukas—tugged roughly on Jean's hair, yanking a few thin black strands out. "After all that, this is all you have? I'm disappointed in you," Lukas said.

Jean summoned up his control, and the persona he'd constructed under Chains and Locke's tutelage. Barely restrained anger hidden under subservience, and a gruff, off-putting demeanor. Jean tried not to notice that his original profile didn't have lust simmering under the surface. "You want more? I'll give you more than you ever wanted," he said, jerking Lukas over so they could lie entirely on the bed. Graumann swung a leg over Lukas' thighs, straddling him, and grinding down roughly.

Lukas turned his head away, eyes squeezed shut, and he reached up. He grabbed hold of Graumann's shirt, tugging him down for a kiss that involved clashing teeth and dueling tongues. Neither of them would let themselves to give in, and Lukas tried to bite Graumann's lips even as Graumann tried to fuck Lukas' mouth with his tongue. Lukas made a sound deep in his chest, arching up so he could shove Graumann's shirt down and off his arms.

Graumann complied with the wordless command, tossing the shirt into a corner heedlessly. He fumbled with Lukas' own shirt, his thick fingers sliding over the buttons until he gave up and just tore the shirt, sending buttons scattering. Satisfied, he leaned down and bit one of Lukas' nipples. Lukas gave a very gratifying yelp in response and tangled his hand in Graumann's hair. While his mouth was busy exploring Lukas' chest, nibbling and kissing the olive skin, Graumann tugged Lukas' pants open, without regard to the damage he was doing to the expensive fabric. Lukas' hips arched up.

Locke, for his part, felt Lukas sliding out of his reach. This was going to a place he hadn't expected. He tugged Jean's hair again and rolled his hips. It wasn't as though this felt bad. It felt better than he'd experienced with any woman, but... Locke bit his lower lip to keep a moan in when Jean's warm, soft hand wrapped around his cock and stroked. Jean hadn't been wrong about Locke's problems in this area. It felt good enough that Locke spread his legs, hips bucking up wantonly, but no matter how good it felt to have Jean's fingers trailing up and down his dick, he wouldn't be able to get it to stir. "Jean—," he half-choked his friend's name, Lukas' accent falling away.

It took a few seconds for Locke's breaking character to penetrate the hot haze wrapping Jean's mind. He was seeing Locke through Graumann's eyes, seeing Lukas vulnerable and needing. His own, true name nearly didn't register. Nearly. After a moment more of sucking on Locke's chest hard enough to leave a bright red mark, he tipped his head up, fair face slowly going red as his actions also slowly penetrated. "Locke."

"I'm not going to be able to, ah, perform," Locke said, with an embarrassed flick of his fingers towards his still soft cock. He moved to sit up and tug the remnants of his clothes over him, but Jean grabbed him and pushed him back.

"There are plenty of things I can do to you without your cock's active participation. And if you thought I was going to let you fuck me, you've got less brains than a syphilitic donkey," Jean said. He stroked Locke another few times for good measure before he sat back and stripped off his pants with hands that didn't visibly shake. Mostly. "Are you planning to get rid of your pants, or should I?" He spoke with far more bravado than he actually felt.

"You want to what?" Locke did sit up that time, Jean's hands on his chest or no. "Die screaming, Jean, I'm not letting you do anything like that."

Jean settled back down onto the bed, straddling Locke's lap again. "Consider it another part of our learning. I've read that it's a popular activity in Tal Verrar and Talisham, so we should at least know the basics." Jean's face was roughly the color of a roasted red beet, and the color was slowly creeping down his neck and chest so that it looked as though someone had dunked him in red dye.

"I know how it works. I'm not an idiot," Locke said with an emphatic shake of his head. "I just have no intention of letting you actually do it."

"Graumann and Fehrwight were about to. And we are supposed to be immersing ourselves entirely in our false faces," Jean said. "What if a game depends on something like this?"

Locke frowned up at Jean, and then let out a deeply aggravated sigh before wriggling out of the ruined pants. "Just because no woman can look at you with crying and running away doesn't mean I should be roped into satisfying your immoral desires," he said. But he kicked the clothing off the bed and lay back again. "All right, fine. But you're buying me a new outfit for Fehrwight."

Once Locke was fully undressed, it was surprisingly easy for them to find the rhythm they'd had before. Locke's hands tangled in Jean's hair again, and he took control, tugging Jean down. Jean accepted the instructions, and splayed his hands on Locke's chest, kissing where he couldn't caress and slowly working his way down Locke's body. Locke had been with plenty of women who were paid to know what they were doing, but Jean's slightly fumbling kisses and gentle hands made Locke's pulse race in a way that the women never had. It wasn't that Jean was any good at what he was doing, but there was something familiar in his touch, friendly and caring.

Jean knew that Locke didn't pamper his skin any more than any of the rest of them but it felt softer, and startlingly smooth, under his hands. Jean swiped his thumb down along Locke's chest and watched the pale impression the pressure made darken again. Jean smiled against Locke's stomach and pressed a kiss there. Locke had a dusting of fine, dark hair leading from his belly to the thatch of curly hair between his legs and Jean nuzzled down the readymade trail, pressing kisses here and there. He slid his hands down Locke's sides, holding him in place even when Locke tried to arch and mumbled curses at him.

Locke's hips shifted, trying to buck up but thwarted by Jean's powerful grip. "Thirteen, Jean, if you want to do something, do it and stop making me wait."

Jean just smirked and slid down between Locke's legs. Maybe Locke couldn't get it up, but Jean scraped his teeth lightly on the sensitive skin of Locke's inner thigh and was rewarded with Locke parting his legs like a wanton. Another sucking nip and Locke cursed throatily and fought to arch his hips again. Jean smiled against Locke's thigh and shifted himself against the bed. His own cock was getting so hard it hurt, and he slipped a hand underneath his body to stroke it slowly.

Jean began to move back up Locke's body, but hesitated. He'd read enough books to get the general gist of what he was supposed to do in this case, but he had no practical experience. He knew they needed something to lubricate, and he wracked his brain trying to come up with something they could use on the spur of the moment. Calo had swiped some noble lady's thin perfumed lotion and had tossed the bottle onto the table beside his bed, Jean recalled suddenly. Fortuitous, that. Jean smacked Locke's hip. "Don't move," he said and went to grab the bottle. It was smaller than he'd thought, but the stuff was expensive as hell and one or two drops would probably do the job.

Locke grumbled at being given commands and sat up on his elbows. "Don't keep me waiting forever, Jean. I could change my mind about this whole fucking adventure."

"Far be it from me to keep a lady waiting," Jean said, retuning to the bed and sliding back between Locke's legs.

"Funny. Really funny," Locke began, but Jean quickly opened the bottle and slicked up his hand. Before Locke could finish his thought, Jean was slowly, experimentally sliding one finger up inside him. The sentence cut off with a whoosh of air, and a bitten-off whimper. "You could have fucking warned me," he hissed, hands fisting in the sheets.

Instead of responding, Jean stroked Locke's still-soft cock with his free hand and carefully fucked Locke with two fingers of the other hand. Locke bit his lip, and Jean smiled in triumph, twisting his digits in a way that made Locke's hips jerk and thighs tremble. "It'll be easier if you relax," Jean said.

"Is that what your books said?" Locke's voice shook, and he wondered how the hell he was staying so stubbornly soft. What Jean was doing to him didn't exactly feel good the way sex usually did, but it didn't hurt. It was overwhelming in a way that Locke didn't have the words to describe, and that made his breath catch in his throat when Jean slid his fingers out.

"Something like that," Jean said. There was something erotic about having Locke sprawled out and breathless under him, and Jean wondered absently why he hadn't noticed that before. He poured the last of the alchemical lotion onto his erection and slowly, carefully pushed his way into Locke. Locke was tight, tighter than Jean had expected and it made Jean see stars. He wrapped an arm around Locke's waist and pressed his head against Locke's shoulder until he felt like he could breathe again.

Locke clutched at Jean's back in return, blunt nails digging in. Jean's advice to relax echoed in the back of his mind, but his body clenched around the intruder, and it felt like he was suddenly ten times more sensitive. Jean's warm breath against his neck made a choked sob rise in his throat, and the fingers rubbing lightly against his hip made Locke thrust shallowly back. "Jean, Jean, dammit, Jean," Locke repeated like a mantra, trying to focus on something that wouldn't drive him completely insane.

After a long moment for them both to acclimate, Jean pulled out and then thrust back, and Locke yelled, scratching long red marks down Jean's back. Jean barely noticed the pain limning the edge of the pleasure though, and he pressed a kiss to Locke's throat.

Locke rocked back to meet the thrusts, eyes squeezed shut, and all but unthinking. It felt like the odd, intrusive pleasure had overwhelmed his mind. He just repeated Jean's name, nails digging into Jean's shoulders, and breathing in short, rough bursts.

Jean couldn't last long like that, with Locke clutching against him and all but fucking himself on Jean's cock. He reached in between them, unseeing, and stroked Locke's dick, a little too fast and a little too harsh, and matching his own short, hard thrusts into Locke's body. It only took a few minutes before Jean was coming hard inside his best friend.

Jean slowed, then, lying on top of Locke, who still shuddering and moaned at every stray touch, oversensitized to the extreme. "That was a learning experience," he mumbled against Locke's temple.

Locke bit back a whine as Jean pulled out. "I hope you realize you're cleaning this all up in the morning," Locke said, when he could finally breathe normally.

Jean kicked his shin.