Phury opened the door and gestured at the darkness. “This will be your room. Rest. We can… talk more tomorrow.” He looked at his half-starved, twitching twin, waiting for him to respond or just enter the room obediently – something. Anything. He was exhausted after their days-long escape and he desperately needed to rest and adjust. Losing his leg, finding his brother… it was a lot to absorb.
But his brother was not moving. He just stared into the dark room, black eyes wide with distrust and fear. At Phury’s weary sigh, he jerked and twisted, as if expecting a strike. Those endlessly black eyes were not fixed on him, the emotions not changing. Phury didn’t know what made his chest hurt more, the fear or the distrust.
He turned his attention to the dark room and lit the candles within with the power of his will. “Better?” he murmured, forcing his hard-won sibling to turn that painful gaze away.
“Very much, I thank-you sire.” His voice was quiet, and held a fine tremble. Yet he still didn’t move.
Phury wondered what else it might be. While they were travelling his brother had tensed like this, stared at odd things, trembled and refused to say what it was that so terrified him. Phury had tried asking, but his brother’s gaze would always drop away and he would murmur that he was not afeared, sire. Ancient dialects rolled so naturally from his mouth, his fresh scars contorting the otherwise perfect elocution.
It was sickening how submissive he was. He never asked for anything, or indicated he had any needs of his own. He was always obedient – eagerly so – but for now.
Yes, now, when Phury was too exhausted to figure it out.
“Do what you wish, brother,” he said after a heartbeat more, turning a little to hobble down the corridor on his one leg and a make-shift crutch. He would have to get something better…
He heard a soft scuff behind him, and looked back. His brother had followed after him, looking unsure but with a very odd strain of stubbornness in the set of his jaw. When he didn’t explain himself, Phury prodded, “Is your room not satisfactory?”
His brother shrugged minutely. “It is a fine room, but… to be alone is not my wish, sss…” His scared face contorted briefly, flicking to something that looked like pain for an instant before a dark frown deepened his brow, then it was back to neutrality. He hadn’t added ‘sire’ – he had started to but… stopped himself.
“Well, I’m the only one here, and I’m about to fall down from exhaustion.” There was a flash of panic in his brother’s face and he fell back a step, his deep eyes dropping as if he regretted his decision to almost ask for something. “You may accompany me,” Phury said quickly, not wanting to force his brother to retreat into his submission again. “So long as you forgive the mess. I did not… anticipate company.” After a century of searching, Phury’s hope had been insubstantial.
His brother looked at him with a yearning that was as endless as his gaze. Phury didn’t move until his twin had given him a shallow nod.
Turning back down the corridor, Phury wondered what his brother had been thinking to give him such a hungered expression. The chance of safe companionship, perhaps. His brother had been exposed to very little, if any, comfort during his slavery. Anyone would be desperate for even his clumsy offerings.
They entered the master bedroom, Phury pretending not to notice how his twin hung back for a few seconds, as he always did when faced with a door. He disliked them, especially when they were closed. Phury smiled thinly at the memory of his brother ripping one from its hinges at the first inn they stayed at in their flight.
Phury dropped his crutch beside the bed and dropped onto it with a low, rolling groan. His hands moved to his thigh, rubbing the aching muscle. They had made it, to relative safety. Shooting off his own leg had been the most unpleasant thing he’d ever done, but worth it.
He looked at his brother. He wasn’t hovering in the doorway like he had expected, but stood in arms reach. His head was cocked to a side, his rage-dark eyes following the slow, rhythmic movement of Phury’s hands.
“Name yourself,” Phury said suddenly. He didn’t know what the bitch had been calling him, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to call it him. He knew the name his mother had given him in the cradle, but like Phury’s own birth-name it didn’t seem right to use it on him now. The only option was to have him choose his own.
So it was with all warriors. They knew their name, in their dreams they heard it, in their minds they called themselves by it, their very bones reverberated with its un-heard echo long before they truly understood what it was for.
Something that should have spilled naturally from his mouth made the ex-slave tense and fretful. “I… my mistress did not deem me worthy –”
“Fuck that,” Phury snarled, rage blazing in him. How dare she deny him his name? The curse jolted his twin and there again was that dire hunger. “I am Phury. That is my warrior’s name, a name the Scribe Virgin herself deemed me worthy to carry. Your bitchwhore of a mistress had no right to refuse you something so sacred.”
His twin looked awed and stunned. Whether from Phury’s sudden and uncharacteristic ire, what he had called his mistress or affirming that he should bare a name Phury didn’t know.
But then, he smiled. Smiled. Not for long of very much, but his eyes danced. “How does ‘Zsadist’ sound?”
“Promising. But the real test is how you like hearing it from other people. Zsadist.” There was the yearning again, wilder than before. “How do you like it?”
“I like it, sire,” came his twin’s, came Zsadist’s, excited murmur. “Please, speak it again.”
Phury smiled. Tired and aching though he was, he was happy to indulge his brother. “Zsadist. Zsadist. Zsadist.”
“Zsadist,” echoed his brother.
“It’s a strong name. It suits you.” He lay back, his mind slowing and his body growing heavy. “You could have the bed if you’d like to rest, Zsadist,” he said, his words slurring a little as his eyelids drooped.
“I… do not wish to take your bed from you, si… Phury.”
There was more to it, Phury knew. He struggled to force his eyes open, to ask about it, to find out what… but his will failed him. He wondered if he dreamed when he felt uncallused fingers ghost over his cheek, and Zsadist whisper, “Brother,” so close it made the loose, soft hair by his ear tremble.