Sholto rested his head on Rhys's lap, the rest of his body curled up on the sofa. The house remained silent, enough to make both men uneasy when they were used to something always moving either in the sithen or their home in the mortal world. Andais's edict left Merry's house full to bursting with live bodies, and all of them out at one time was a rare occurrence. The only reason Rhys hadn't gone with them was because someone had to stay home and keep an eye on things. Sholto turned up later, sick of court and at his wit's end.
"The only problem with having a schedule," he decided, and decided to say it out loud, "is that more nights than not you sleep alone."
Rhys's fingers combed through Sholto's hair as he tried to concentrate on the last fifteen minutes of the film. "You could spend more time here, you know," he murmured, trailing his fingertips down the back of the Sluagh King's neck. "No one would mind."
"My people would mind," Sholto sighed. "I have a responsibility and a duty to see to them."
Rhys made a noncommittal noise but said nothing further. They all had responsibilities to their people, those as had a people, and those who didn't had their own duties. His fingers curled through Sholto's hair, every little strand catching in the sword callouses of his palm. For himself, he appreciated these moments between catastrophes.
Apparently, so did Sholto. Rhys turned a crooked smile down at the sprawling Sluagh. "You could at least come to visit a little more frequently. Or invite us in..."
"After everything that's happened?" Sholto rolled over onto his back and snorted up at the ceiling and Rhys's tolerant smile. "Give it a little bit of time to settle at least, if it ever does." Then, after a moment. "I wouldn't mind if you came by more often."
There was something more to it in that. Rhys shifted on the couch, hearing a different note in the younger fae's voice, setting it to one side for the moment while he watched to see what Sholto meant by that invitation, simple on the face of it. "I don't suppose they need me here all the time," he offered. "Do you think your people, your Hags especially, would be all right with that?"
"They'll learn to live with it," Sholto muttered darkly. "Or not."
Rhys chuckled at that, even though he knew perhaps he shouldn't, if Sholto still felt something for the lost Hags. Merry felt guilty for killing them, either because of her human upbringing and how her father had raised her or because of her lack of experience with dealing out massive amounts of violence herself, he wasn't sure. It bothered him a little. She would have to be more ruthless if she wanted to hold the throne, couldn't always depend on them to hold it for her.
Sholto's fingers brushed against his chin and lips, bringing him out of those thoughts. "You went away," he pouted, mock-pouted, softly. Not to intrude so much as to distract Rhys from whatever had put that frown and wrinkled brow on his face.
"I'm sorry," Rhys smiled. "I'll try to be more attentive." And in the next breath he remembered back to Sholto's comment a moment ago, and wondered if that underscored some kind of question neither of them had voiced but both were assumed to understand. Asked and answered.
"See that you do," Sholto grinned at him, and Rhys grinned back, and the world closed around them, the last five minutes of the movie forgotten. He could always go back and find it later.
Right now, there was freshly exposed skin to tickle. To touch. Much more interesting than a movie of two dimensions and stock dialogue. He kissed Sholto's forehead to test his theory on their unspoken conversation and found himself dragged down, the Sluagh's lips clamping onto his. All right, then.
"This angle," Rhys murmured against the other man's mouth. "Leaves something to be desired."
"Mm?" Only before he could react to what had happened Sholto found himself scooped up and into Rhys's arms, a trick he never would have tried with any of the more battle-weary guards, and carried into one of the spare bedrooms. No one labored under the illusion that these beds were used only for sleeping, or only by a set group of people. He half-tossed Sholto onto the bed; the Sluagh landed in a position somewhere between a crouch and a sprawl, smirking.
An expression that quickly faded when Rhys took off his shirt, exposing his chiseled, flat abdomen. He didn't have to explain or even move further; Rhys understood. Listening to Merry talk out that particular problem gave him some idea of what went through Sholto's mind as far as bedding one of the Sidhe went, and even in his own distant past, well. Not all of his close companions and lovers before the Queen had been Sidhe. He told Sholto as much, simply and in those words.
"And were any of them Sluagh?" Sholto asked, a challenge and a retort and an expression of weary resignation all at once. Rhys held his tongue and crawled onto the bed and kissed him.
"You worry too much."
He took his time with reminding Sholto that not all the Sidhe were so biased. He wasn't whole, himself, and that caused some muttering and bad behavior on the part of the other Sidhe, to say the least. And in the past few decades, knowing Merry, he had learned how much worse it could be if your deformity or imperfection wasn't due to a war wound.
Sholto hid behind illusions, carefully crafted ones that fooled all the senses, but that didn't mean he wasn't conscious of having to hide in the first place. Tension written all over his body as Rhys kissed his way down his neck, at the hollow of his throat where he paused, the Sluagh's fingers still tangled through his hair. "As lovely as the craftmanship is," he rumbled, running his fingers downwards. "It's not necessary."
Sholto stared down at him with skeptical eyebrows and tight-pressed lips but, bit by bit, the illusion fell away. He resumed the travel of his mouth, teasing the tip of his tongue along the collarbone, leaving streaks of wet down his chest. Each tendril had its own movement, some caressing his jaw as his face came within reach, some twining around his fingers. Different, certainly, but far from strange.
And far from unpleasant for either of them; Rhys came to understand some of what they meant as Sholto's gasps and coughs became more audible. He picked up the end of one of the tendrils in his mouth, suckling it as he might a fingertip or other part as an experiment. It did have the expected result, and more than. "Do you..." Sholto gasped, and Rhys looked up in time to catch the rueful laugh. "Do you have the slightest idea what you're doing?"
"Something very pleasant?" Rhys grinned, waggling his eyebrows at him before moving even further down, leaving his hands to roam along Sholto's sides and up through the nest of tentacles. One tiny strand wrapped around each finger as he spread his hand. "Something enjoyable, I hope." And that was the last thing he said.
It hadn't occurred to him, still didn't occur to him until after he was done and Sholto lay back in a panting, wet heap, that he'd made this more about the younger Sluagh than he had about him. Which seemed to be what he needed, after all. Maybe he was learning more than the obvious stuff from Merry, or he was re-learning things he'd practiced long ago. It had been centuries since he'd taken a man as a lover. Between the Queen's edict and her demand of Merry, there hadn't been much opportunity. Things were freer, now. The rest of the court might not understand, but all of them, Merry's Men as he and Galen called them in their mostly-joking fashion, they knew each other well enough not to question what passed between them, to just accept.
Especially when it was so delightful as this.
Sholto took hold of him first by the arms and then, tugging him down to the bed again (Rhys barely remembered drawing up on his knees) pulled him closer by his hips. And now he felt the writhing in a whole different way, pleasure rocking him rigid quicker than he would have expected. "Turnabout's fair play?"
"I thought this was foreplay," Sholto smirked, nuzzling against his shoulder. A thousand little touches over ten seconds, or something close to that. His skin tingled, body twitching and trembling under the new phenomenon, hyperstimulated. Worked up already from the taste of Sholto in his mouth but now given free rein to twist and moan, himself. It took him half a minute to separate which were Sholto's fingers, playing over his skin and pressing against him, and which were the extra long tentacles. A whole world of possibilities exploded behind his eyes as he shuddered against the other Guard, pushed over the brink by fantasy and a few good extrusions.
Sholto curled one hand around the back of his neck, bringing his mouth down for a soothing kiss. Rhys blinked, panting just a touch. "Explain to me why we never did this before?" he breathed. Half-rhetorical, but he added anyway. "At least since coming to Merry's bed."
"I came a little after you did," he reminded him, then both of them snickered like schoolchildren when they really heard the words. "And there hasn't really been time."
"We should make time," Rhys muttered, pulling Sholto closer again. "We should really definitely make time."
"Really definitely," the Sluagh agreed in a hoarse, distracted whisper. And that was all either of them said for a good while.