“It just doesn’t taste right,” your Captain hisses. Her tongue rolls out against her dark lips, gray-teal and hungry. “No sigil, no marks, no brands-- he’s not from any guilds, gangs, or families, he’s not even a goddamn assassin, his hands are all the wrong shape. And yet we caught him in your respite block, trying to steal your signet ring while you slept.”
You frown, slouch thoughtfully back against your throne. “He’s brave as seven kinds of hell.”
She laughs at that. “He’s an imbecile. A jumped-up tiny little nothing of a guttersnipe.”
“Nothing is so small as it doesn’t still count as something, sister.”
She scowls, chastened. You pull another honeyed starling off your plate, hold it up. The Captain of you Legislaceratura nips it out of your claws and drops a kiss to your knuckles as she chews. Her hair falls in soft waves as you press lips against it; she brushes it a hundred strokes each morning, perched on the window seat of your respite block.
Her hands are folded neat as featherbeasts in the nest of her skirts right now and she perches at the wing of your throne like a hunting hawk, perfectly jessed. She is a deadly piece of business and you don’t have to go into her head one whit to know how hard she hungers to wrap fingers around her blade.
You press your smile to hers and the calm and comforting warmth of her seeps through you.
“Bring him, Terezi,” you council. “All in one piece, if you’d be so fucking kind.”
Her tongue flashes against her wide smile, and she skips across your reception hall light as a shadow.
You slouch farther back in your throne, snap your claws.
“Another plate of beakbeasts, brother,” you tell the attendant. “And then clear the fuck off. I want a private audience with the prisoner.”
A curt nod. “Yes, Lord Makara.”
Your mouth tastes of honey and impatience. You lick a smear of sweetness from your signet ring, drum a measure against your knee, and smile.
When he arrives at the point of Pyrope’s sword, he’s smaller than you’d thought he’d be though you couldn’t say why. He’s pretty in a hard-worn, unprepossessing way, with a stubborn jaw and a charming snub of a nose that’s been broken once or twice, blunt teeth-- a few chipped-- and strong hands under the raggedness of his rust-stained knuckles. His smallness fits him: he’s skulking gutterblood cur, all bones and bared teeth and his mind is flayed down to the raw flesh of itself before you. He is brave as seventy thousand kinds of hell, for his fears are myriad. They hang around him thick as winter wool and twice as choking. He is scrubbed to a raw cleanliness and crammed into a plain, serviceable shirt and breeches that hang far too large on the ghastly rack of bones as constitutes his body, and his soul blazes out in redhot fury through the bitter stink of his fear. He expects to die. Inside the confusion, the anger, the sorrow, the fury, he expects to die. He falls heavy to one sharp knee before you, and spits square on the toe of your glossy boot.
You feel your eyebrows raise as Pyrope kicks him down to all fours.
“One piece, my Lord,” Pyrope says grimly, brushing her hair back from her face with a contemptuous sniff. “If you’re rounding up, I could relieve the whelp of his tongue and he might still qualify.”
“Fuck you,” the boy says. “If you want my tongue how ‘bout you ask me what I think of you, you blueblooded bitch, you can have my mouth all fucking night.” He has a hoarse voice, low and uncultured, but not an entirely unpleasant one. The silvery youngness of his eyes is beginning to tint a strange and pearlescent pink. Terezi’s face has gone a dangerous milky teal with irritation. The grim twist of the prisoner’s lips: he is not a boy that takes well to silence, and you would wager your own indigo-coloring eyes that he’s already more than informed her of his opinions regarding her personage.
You purse your lips, place your meal to one side. His eyes flick to the food, then to your face, then to your hands, still sticky with honey and warm fat. His throat bobs with anger and hunger both.
“Fuck you too, your Lordship,” he says to you, by way of a hello.
Terezi clubs him to the floor with the pommel of her blade. “Show some respect for your betters!” she snaps.
He laughs at that, a careless bark of noise. “I will as soon as I meet them!” he says. “Now are you going to cull me before I die of old age, bitch?”
Terezi makes a strangled hiss of fury and looks pleadingly up at you. Her knuckles are pure gray on her swordhilt. You yourself are breathless with laughter: he has fire inside him, this bitter child, enough to catch even your proud and implacable Pyrope aflame.
“Come up here,” you tell the boy, reining yourself in enough to command.
He bares all his teeth.
“Get him up here,” you tell Pyrope.
She grabs him up, the blunt curve of one small horn, the seat of his breeches, and she hauls him bodily to sprawl across your lap.
“Close enough, my Lord?” she asks. There’s a wicked twist to the corner of her scowl, a kindled bloodlust gleam to the crimson of her eyes. Her sword is a singing line of silver through the air as the boy tries to break free. She drives him flush up against you and he’s warm, astonishingly warm, and you laugh again.
“The fuck--” he gasps, shrinking from the sharpness of her smile. His heels kick awkwardly against your shins.
“Perfect, thank you,” you say, and wrap arms around his chest. You press your nose to the tender hollow where his shoulder meets his collarbones, take a good deep feel. Your girl’s right: he doesn’t taste right. He tastes of fear and lies and a deadly desire to be needed. He’s no assassin and a piss-poor thief, though he’s a brilliant sneak. He is achingly scared of the entire fucking world, and what you might do to him in particular.
Oh, and yet.
You slide your hands down the soft linen of his shirt, to the tight smooth curve of fabric between his spread legs. He whimpers when you cup it, and his hands fly up into the air, groping for a weapon as has long since been stripped from his side -- Pyrope snarls a warning and presses forward, blade snicker-snacking against his throat and he fists his hands awkwardly on either wing of your throne. You settle back further, cant your hips up. Bony fucker, but he’s got a sweet ass and it feels like a benediction against your unsheathing bulge.
“Fuck you,” he says, “I-- I-- don’t--”
You squeeze him again. “We’re not going to do anything you won’t like,” you promise. You pat the growing lump between his legs, and pick up your disregarded meal. It’s still warm, and he trembles harder as he catches sniff of it than he did when you were fondling his base anatomy.
You pull off a sticky, succulent wing, and hold it up before his face. Pyrope is very still and her nose is creased with confusion.
“Go on, brother,” you say. “Eat up.”
“I don’t need your fucking charity,” he says, which is true enough in its own sad, silly way. You press your teeth into his bared shoulder, hard enough to make him shake and squeak. He tastes beautifully of secrets. He wants to die. He wants to run. He wants you to slip your hands beneath the confines of his breeches and even more than that does he want not to want that.
You lave the mark with the flat of your tongue, till he’s squirming and the crotch of his breeches is tented with the questing upwards press of his bulge.
“A man can’t share his dinner with a new friend?” you ask.
“You’re supposed to be interrogating me,” he hisses, as if you might have forgotten. “I’m not some fucking whore, you poison-blooded slack-jawed pan-rotted contemptible excuse for a Lord, you can’t fucking buy my ass with a quick snack!”
“No fear of that misconclusion, brother, my fucking whores are a goddamn sight better behaved,” you laugh. “Now eat what I motherfucking offer you or I’ll have Pyrope here shove the splintered bones down your wind tunnel and I think she’s probably kind of keen for that particular hypothetical, don’t you?”
He takes the meat into his mouth. His teeth brush your fingers a little too hard to be accidental: a deliberate threat, but a weak one. He has no power here, no right to any part of anything but what you allow. He expects to die, but with food in his mouth and your bulge against the curve of his ass he knows there could be a lot of pain, a lot of time, between this point and the point you let him slide into the darkness of his death. He chews and swallows the bite, and his hands quiver against the black stone of your throne. The brittle curve of his shoulders, the fever-heat to his jutting ribs: he has been hungry for a very long time. You toss the bare bone carelessly to the floor.
“Good boy,” you say, and he flinches. The curl of his lip speaks of nothing more nor less than despair.
You hold up another piece of meat, and this time he has no hesitation. He bites and bolts the whole platter, piece by piece, his breath coming in wet hitches as he waits for the next bite. He runs his tongue along your fingers, between them, across the cup of your palm to catch the sweetness of honey, the richness of the oil. What must have he put between his teeth for the sake of his stomach, in his dirty little life? You don’t care to think on it. He licks your hand down to the wrist, one of his hands coming up to cup the joint. His breath curls hot and desperate and you smile and dare to stroke his hair.
It bristles him up, though, and he goes taut as a dropped noose.
“I’m not your whore,” he growls, pulling his loose shirt tight up around his shoulders. “I’m not anyone’s whore.” His cheeks are brick-red with shame, arousal, and a most intriguing mutation.
“You’re something, alright,” you counter, and slide your knees up along the inside of his. He whimpers at the grind of your bulge against his backside, your hand along his front. He arches back against you likely despite himself, and you want very much to feel him for real, but this isn’t the right time, it doesn’t feel right-- some part of you says no, no, not now, and it’s always paid to heed.
“Sister, if you’d fucking oblige us?” you say. Gesture with your chin.
She goes perfectly still.
“You can’t be serious, Gamzee,” she says flatly.
“Serious as the grave is long,” you say, and ruin it just a little with your grin.
She presses forward, grabs your horn. “You can’t be serious,” she repeats.
You purr at the rough pleasure that tingles through you at her touch, and settle the boy a bit lower on your lap. “Can’t I?” you laugh. “Didn’t know there was a rule against it.”
She sighs, long and low, and grimaces. Her thumb runs up the ridges of your horn one way, then the other, and she’s turning it over in her head. “My Lord Gamzee di Makara,” she announces, “you are going to be my death!”
“Wouldn’t let anyone else get there first, love.”
The boy is quaking between the two of you, and her sword is set gently against his arm and your own. She chews her lower lip once, twice, then leans in and kisses him. He makes a soft, lovely sort of noise and shrinks back against you, and when you slip hands up along the taut barren plane of his stomach his hips hitch up and he makes that noise again. You hum, pleased, rock against his weight on your legs and Terezi’s hand on your horn, luxuriating in the warmth.
Terezi licks into his mouth, drinks his secrets down like a hunting hound after her quarry. She and the boy are clasped at every point -- chest to chest, hips to hips -- and the farther she presses in the more helplessly his legs come up around her. The elegant arch to her her neck speaks to the condition of her skirts: rumpled, restraining, a hindrance she would no doubt sorely like to relieve herself of. You mouth wet kisses to the boy’s flat shoulder-blade through the shirt, work the sinuous curves of his bulge through his breeches, and he gasps through gritted teeth.
“Just kill me already,” he moans. “Come on, c- come on, chop off my hands, swing me from your gallows, ahnnh-- god, f-fuck you, damn your eyes and blight your bulges, what are you waiting for, why are you playing--”
“Sister,” you say curtly. “Get a move on.”
She tosses her blade to you, then drops to her knees between yours. The boy makes a strangled squeak and his nails scrape against your throne. You guide them to more usefully occupy themselves with your horns, and set the flat of the sword against curve of his chest, where it rises and falls with his fevered breaths.
“What are you,” he says, “Oh god, oh god in heaven what is she-- oh.”
She has applied her tongue to the most pertinent part of his breeches. Her hands come up to the ties, her neatly lacquered nails sharp and bright against the dull brown wool.
“Don’t you dare,” the boy hisses.
“So tell me you don’t want this,” she tosses back.
He moans, and his hands go crushing-tight around your horns as his body becomes a tight and lovely curve of sensation. He’s no one’s whore, he has said, and more is the fucking pity. Terezi licks into him, her face pressed down to the red -- red, fucking crimson, bright as sin and twice as pretty -- dripping junction of his thighs, her tongue plunging up into his nook. No wonder he’s never done this before. His bulge twists pink-wet and neglected against the curve of her cheek, and when you reach down to cup it he shakes as if to come entirely apart.
“More?” you ask.
He looses a terrible gasping laugh. “I,” he says, “Oh, god, oh fuck. Oh fuck me. Yes.”
“Ask and you shall receive, brother.” You twine his bulge through your fingers, thumb the root. Terezi does something with her tongue that rattles him all the way up to his teeth.
“Please!” he screams. “Please, c-can, I just, you -- you’re --”
“Who am I?”
“Lord,” he gasps. “Y-you’re Lord Makara, please, just-- get her to, to, make her g-give me more, Lord, please!”
“You heard him, girl,” you say. “Give him all you got.”
She leans back on her heels, instead. “He couldn’t handle all I got,” she says, and her smile’s sharper than her sword, which you drop gently off to the side of the throne entire. You splay all your fingers across his chest, savoring his warmth, his fear, his need. He has never done any of this before, you can read it right off of him: he has not the least clue what you are doing to him, or how.
“Up you go, sister,” you say. While she’s swinging up into place over him you take the time to unlace your own ties. Your bulge finds his nook somewhere around the time his finds hers, and it’s all a glorious blur of warmth and pressure and this whip-thin miracle of a boy moaning “Lord, my Lord, please--”
“Gamzee,” you murmur. “My name. Gamzee.”
“Gamzee,” he sobs. “Gamzee, Gamzee, oh god, Gamzee!”
“Are you mine, then, to beg of me so?” you ask him. “I could do with you, boy, I really could.” You roll your hips up under all the hot, wet weight and he screams and Terezi looses a giddy, triumphant peal. Her claws fist your sleeves for balance as she rides his desperate, uncoordinated bucking out. The three of you make for an ungainly heap but the throne is well cushioned and has been designed to be very, very hard to fall out of and thus you manage.
“Yours,” he begs, “yes, anything, I’ll be yours, hers, anyone’s--”
Terezi bites his one shoulder, and you sink teeth into the other. A perfect seal. He jolts between you as if run through with lightning and spills between your interlocked legs in a whimpering, breathless disaster of a climax. Poor puppy, poor little plucked starling, the things you’ll teach him about himself.
You kiss the red ring you’ve left in his flesh, and he only shudders faintly. On the other side Terezi is doing much the same thing. It’s a seal, bound in his wax-bright blood. His head lies heavy against your chest, his hands rest soft against your scalp. He is a miracle, this boy, a wonder that he has grown even as old as he has, carrying such a terrible mutation beneath his skin. You feel a tremendous stirring of pity for him, a hunger. You lick his crimson blood and you smile to yourself against his skin.
Pyrope makes a hiss of frustration, digs her nails into your scalp. You reach around to between Pyrope’s hips and your boy’s -- she’s still working herself against his soft diminishment, jerky with anger and need, and she sighs from relief when you catch the hungry twist of her bulge between your fingers. You stroke her just the way she likes, brisk and relentless, and she murmurs approval and twines fingers through the boy’s hair. He’s pinned beneath her, still bulge-deep and oversensitive, strung out on too much pleasure between you and her. His eyelids flutter, his lips work, and when Pyrope snaps her hips down against his bulge and your hand he gasps soundlessly.
“I can’t,” he murmurs, “C-can’t again, Lord, I d-don’t think I-I--” But despite his protestations you can tell by the feverish wash of sweat along his temples, across his lust-stung chest, that he has more than kindled to a second go of things.
“You asked for more, we’re giving you more, you can take it, love, pet, you can manage,” you sooth him, gentle him, press kiss after kiss to the red-pink ring of broken flesh in persuasion. “We’re going to fuck you down to your bones, brother.”
You press into him farther, hold him close. He is tight and quivering-sensitive to every little press of your bulge inside of him, and he pants heavy and open mouthed against your throat, his head lolled back like you’ve already broken his neck. His eyes show a wide ring of gold all around his irises, and he holds himself as if astonished at his own capacity for pleasure. Terezi devours the splayed-wide scape of his body, subsumes him piece by piece. She is implacable: she will have what she wants, and she is so beautiful as she gets it. Terezi rides him as punishingly fast as she does anything, a blaze of skill and ferocious joy. Her grin is a terrifyingly beautiful thing to behold, and when you spare a hand to cup her cheek she rolls her tongue against your palm and laughs with what’s left of her breath.
“Come for me, Captain,” you urge her, and she does.
At the teal spill across his thighs and yours and your boy goes tense all over, rakes claws through your hair and gasps out “Fuck, oh fuck,” and comes a second time. Your breeches are a hilarious mess of brackish purple, teal and red soaking into the violet velvets. Your boots are a ruin. You can’t remember the last time you had this much fun. When Terezi pulls off him you drop a quick, fond kiss to her cheek and then turn the boy around in your lap, till his trembling legs are on either side of your hips, and you taste that red-flushed mouth of his for yourself.
“Come on,” you coax him, breathe into his raw and gasping mouth. He moans continuously, drowned in sensation: a wobbling, rising plea for clemency that you have no intention of granting. His bulge moves slow and sluggish against his thigh, overslick and hardly stirring against your touch, and he shakes with exhaustion.
“Can’t,” he moans, “Can’t, Lord, please, I can’t.” He has no idea, he truly is no one’s whore, or else he’d know what he can do, what his body can do for him. You have seen whores fuck themselves to death, spill by spill till they’re ash-gray shambles, pushed past all endurance by the demands of their flesh; you have seen Lords and Ladies slip under with their hands still outstretched for another partner. He can come a third time and he will, and even as slight as he is against you, you have no intention of allowing him to succumb to it. He is entirely too lovely to snuff out in such a callous manner, not this boy: this boy should blaze.
You stroke the vulnerable curve his flushed cheek, thumb the loose plushness of his lips. He bites your finger, presses his face to the crook of your neck, and you stroke the bases of his horns. They’re short enough as to be intensely sensitive, and you coax out the most fantastic keening wail as you toy with their modest lengths. He works his hips stutteringly against yours, his bulge stirring into questing need once more against the rumpled velvet of your doublet, and his hands are too busy clawing up your back to give himself any attention. You do it yourself, stroke his wet flesh in counterpart to the rhythm against one of his horns, and in sweet harmony with the twine of your own bulge inside his body. He is a beautiful mess and he sings sweeter than any starling for want of more of the pleasure you are feeding into him. You feel your climax building stroke by stroke, an unbearable surfeit of delight that sets your pulse racing and your mouth burning for another kiss, another taste of his gutter-warmth, and sends your hands racing eagerly across his flesh. He is easy to use, easy to hold, easy to love: he wants it so very badly.
He comes apart a third time as you hold him close and rock gently, implacably into the trembling warmth of his body. And that’s enough: you find your climax too, soft and sweet, and relax back against your throne. You are sticky, overwarm, and utterly at peace. Your boy lies against you in a huddle of sodden desperation, gasping for air as if he thinks he will never get enough of it, and his face fits your throat as if he were made for it.
You cup the back of his head and he hardly twitches.
“Good boy,” you praise him. “Beautiful. You did so good, brother.”
“Karkat,” he says.
“My name. I’m-- I’m Karkat.”
You kiss his temple, his crooked nose, the shy snarl of his mouth
“Pleased to meet you, Karkat,” you say. “Let’s get cleaned up.”
He staggers when you get to your feet, and he nearly drops back to his knees. You wrap an arm around his thin waist and he takes one shaky step, then another, a fawn learning to walk. His eyes are wide and dazed, and he looks at the world as if you have painted it entirely afresh. His bare legs are a riot of color, his shirt is utterly ruined. You have made a masterpiece of this callow boy and he clings to you in an utterly gratifying manner. You are awash with a strange and miraculous tenderness.
“I want dinner,” you say, stretching till your spine crackles. “Do you want dinner, brother?”
He looks up at you. His mouth works soundlessly for a moment, and then he giggles.
“Yeah,” he says. “Okay, yeah, sure.”
Cleaned up and poured into another clean set of clothes-- an overlarge shirt, serviceable breeches -- he could be a guild apprentice, bright-eyed and cocky, with sturdy hands and a confident smile. He perches on your knee, gone bold as brass, with his bit-up knuckles wrapped around a goblet of spiced wine and a savory crust of fresh grubloaf dripping with jam.
“No,” he babbles, his face flushed, his grin a wide white challenge, “Listen to me, listen! Your so-called Communi is a crockful of shit. What do you guys even decide up there in your senates, your houses of Lords? Bullshit rules. Bullshit! There is no single law any of the families follow, so you’re pretty much arranging-- uh, daisies, okay, you are fussing over the flowers while the table’s goddamn burning down underneath you. This City cannot fucking work while none of its constit-- con-- constituent factions are at each other’s throats. And so all is chaos and you can’t get from one side of this City to the other without bending over and taking it up the waste chute for half a dozen different systems of tariffs and the very lifeblood of this City-- the merchants, the money, they all leave more and more each sweep and come back in fewer and fewer numbers, these endless stupid assfuck squabbles that you all call a governing body, are, ha, are a cancer! Cut them out. Cut them all out, before they poison us all entire.”
He slurps his wine like a peasant. Pyrope looks as if she wishes to snatch the cup from his careless fingers and stave in his thinkpan with it.
“What do you suggest then, commonborn brat that you are?” she asks. She is peeling grapes, one by one, and feeding them to you. Half of them get snapped up into Karkat’s grinning maw instead, and he licks her pretty fingers like he knows exactly how much she hates him for it. He is enjoying himself, beside himself with delight and disbelief. In the space between the fall of the blade and the connection, in his mind, he is utterly free to sass you both.
Worse than that, he’s actually making sense. Fucked loopy and riding high on a cup and a half of strong wine, he’s holding his own against Pyrope better than any twelve Princes with their horns tied together.
“One body,” he says now. “Whole, healthy. Not at war with itself like it is now, cut into all these sick little pieces. One single law that we all follow.” He presses his hands together, spills the rest of the wine into his lap. “Oh fuck. But. You know what I mean, right? Crush the families like you crush a snake, at the head, like you lance an infection-- assassination, framed scandals, I don’t give a fuck, but you need establish a single order under one Lord. One rule.”
“And who would you suggest to head this state?”
Karkat leans back against you, gives you a friendly, over-familiar headbutt under your chin.
“D’you know your guards are incorruptible?” he asks. “‘S why I came in, your guards -- anywhere else, any other Lord, there was an in, a price, I could have been accused of bribing my way in which, of course, woulda been impressive enough for a gutterscum piece of completely broke fuckmeat as I am but this is, this, is beside the point. Your guards, everyone knows, Captain Terezi Pyrope di Makara can’t be bought, her arms can’t be bought, you, sir, foppish feckless fool that you be, cannot be bought. If I could have snatched a prize from under your nose...” He spreads his hands. As an afterthought, he pops the last of the jam-smeared grubloaf into his mouth. “Anyone woulda taken me after that. Any gang. I coulda had my pick.”
Karkat laughs, giddy and too loud. He pulls the rest of the wine bottle over to him and drinks straight from it, his elbows resting unsteady on the table. The red-violet spills down his lust-marked throat and you think of pushing him down in front your chair, his head between your thighs, the sharp acid of his tongue turned to a baser pleasure than politics.
You stroke his head and he arches up into your touch. It makes you smile.
“What do I care?” he asks. “What the fuck do I care.”
He is lose and lovely against you, and his eyelids flutter with exhaustion. His wide, wine-stained smile hurts your heart in an indefinable way.
“Are you going to kill me now?” he asks. The bottle tips over and he watches the dark stain spread between his fingers, spill off the edge of your dining table. He turns his mouth into your chest, nuzzles into the velvet of your doublet. “I mean, you can, I don’t care, but I’ll-- I’ll still be right. You know I’m right. Even if I’m dead. Still.”
You cup the tender wine-drenched hollow of his throat, the rose-petaled spots of your love-bites.
“Sleep, pet,” you say.
His eyes shutter closed, and he sighs, soft and sweet, and goes still.
“One law,” Pyrope says, turning the words in her mouth. “Incorruptible.”
She is thinking of the world beyond your villa, beyond your courtyards and your holdings, she is thinking of the whole of the City laid out before the toes of her boots and the reach of her shining silver blade. You can smell the spark of ambition catch within her breast, you can smell her begin to burn.
When you wake the next evening your arms are empty and the slime of your recuperacoon is cool. You search out all the corners, but he is gone.
Your Captain is sitting at your windowsill, her hairbrush in her lap. Her mouth is a strange, small shape. You sit beside her, take her fingers in between your own. Your signet ring has been pried from its accustomed place, and there is only the gray groove of it remaining. She kisses where it should be, and smolders with a quiet, hurting hate.
You gather her into your arms, hold her close. You can smell her sadness right through her skin.
“He’ll be back,” you say. The words taste sour in your mouth. “He’s ours now.”
She only sneers, and stalks away to the wardrobe.
The rest of the night proceeds in anxious fits and starts. You eat too much at breakfast, drink too much at lunch. Pyrope patrols needlessly back and forth with her squads, puts the fear of god into the new recruits, holds an execution. One of her officers has come under suspicion of harboring sympathies to a rival house-- Serket, perhaps, or Zahhak. Pyrope cuts her head free with her own blade, and presents it to you in your reception hall. The guards stand very straight. Everything is in perfect order. You want to scream.
“Life is very hard, sometimes,” you muse. The dead eyes are green and still faintly shocked. You feel entirely, uncleanly hollow.
Pyrope runs her tongue uneasily over her teeth, then kneels by your side. You lay your hand between her horns. Your own horns throb-- you have had laudanum far too early, and feel rather ridiculously sick.
“Good work,” you say thickly.
“We could do better,” she says. “Have you been thinking--”
You laugh until you nearly want to vomit. “I’m always thinking, sister. Round and fucking round. You just watch me-- no. No. Get the fuck out.”
Your hand falls back to your lap and she looks at you anxiously. Her nose creases ever so faintly. She rises. She bows. She stinks of concern.
“I’ll see you this morning, Lord. Be well.”
You order more wine -- rose wine, pearly-pink in the moonlight.
Life proceeds. You buy yourself a few whores, have them escorted to and from the gates to your villa. You eat too much, you drink till you must be poured into your respite block in the mornings, and in between the peaks of your dissolution you start to draw plans with your Captain, quiet plans.
The Famiglia of Makara is on the rise, and you are invited to attend certain parties you hadn’t been before. You acquit yourself carefully, a smile on your face and a goblet of strongly adulturated wine between your careless claws and your beautiful Pyrope, deadlier than both of them, balaced lightly on your arm.
You are invited to certain meetings.
You get a new signet ring done up. It sits on your desk in between the time you use it to seal missives. Eventually the groove in your finger fills back in.
He has fit your ring down over his thumb, the only digit of his large enough to hold it. This is the first thing you notice. The second is that at some point in the last two perigees his nose has been broken again, and the third is that you have seen skeletons who have looked healthier. He stands square in the middle of your respite block and drinks your most expensive wine straight from the bottle and there is a terrible manic gleam in his pale pink eyes that you would trade a great deal of your personal fortune away to sooth.
He shakes like he is dying.
“You came back,” you marvel.
He throws the bottle at your head-- you duck just in time.
“Fuck you!” he screams. “Fuck you, you fuck, you should have killed me! It would have been slower, it would have hurt less, why didn’t you just kill me!?”
“Hey, now,” you say, “hey, come on now, come on--”
He paces like a ship in a storm, listing to one side and then the other. His clothes are roughspun rags. He’s lost a fang. His nails have grown into ragged claws. Your heart aches as if he has run you through with each of them.
You cup his face and he nearly sags into you, his fingers clutching at your doublet.
“No one would take me,” he mutters. He’s feverish. Restless. A firestorm rages beneath his skin, inside his braincase. He claws dirty furrows down the velvet across your chest. “Not one pus-sucking motherfucker out there, I had the ring, I showed them, I had-- no one fucking wants me.”
“I want you,” you say.
He laughs, bleakly, and sags to his sharp knees in front of you. “Sure!” he says. “Sure, why the-- why the fuck not. Sure. Yes. I’ll be the cheapest goddamn whore anyone ever got, shall I?” His claws sink into the ties of your breeches.
You pat his face, sharply. “Shoosh,” you say firmly. You kneel on the floor next to him. He sits with his wide eyes and his fingers still clutching at you, and he looks utterly lost.
You tip his chin up and kiss him slowly, lingering on just his lips. When he opens for you you lick inside, bit by bit, until he’s gone all ragged and sad for you. Until he starts to cry.
Then you tuck him up against your chest and stroke his back.
“You cry, boy -- Karkat,” you say. You cup the back of his head. He still fits against your shoulder like he was made for you. “Karkat, love, pet, my boy. Mine. You just go and cry.”
He ruins your doublet. It seems as if it might be a thing, with him, he’s terribly hard on your clothes. You don’t mind. You stroke his hair till the storm has passed and he curls worn-through with sadness in your lap, warm against your bare skin, cried all empty and something like cleaner from it. He smells of scars and sorrow and also like hope, a fragile creamy-pale light shining against the inside of his skin.
“Now what?” he asks.
“You tell me, love,” you say.
He kisses you. You kiss him back, not too hard, not too eager. He melts beneath your mouth, sinks down to back, all splayed-out desperation. He strokes down your chest with his gritty fingers. You don’t want to think about what he’s dirty with. You touch him back, his dusty warm hide, pocked with bones and bruises. You will wash the last of this street-filth, this obscene wildness, you will strip it from his body and he will never want for more, this you know like a prophecy. You rip the rags from his shoulders, his legs, cup between his bare thighs. He wraps his arms around your neck. He’s so terribly thin, and he shakes like a leaf.
“Please,” he says. “I’m just--”
“Beautiful,” you say.
You press your nose to the stiff tangle of his hair, up against the base of one horn. “You know what they say about me is true, brother,” you tell him. “Lord Makara, they all whisper, he can see into your head, he can smell your shadows, I can, I do. I walk men’s day-horrors and make real good friends with all their faults. Me and my fire-eyed Pyrope, we do get on.”
He is shaking beneath you, his breath catching on all his jagged pain. You gather him close, pulling your breeches down your hips, and sigh as you feel his bulge catch against your own, a warm slick twining. It sings satisfaction all through you.
“You’re beautiful,” you repeat, and kiss his dull horns, his greasy hair, his dirty face. “You’re beautiful, you funny little thing, you are, full of stardust and miracles, you are, you have no pain I can’t make do with, no faults as any other man in the world wouldn’t call their proudest strengths, you are full well fucking gorgeous, my boy, and one day you will believe me.”
He snuffles, hard, against your shoulder, and his hands clutch at your back. You cover him as gently as you know how, your bulge sliding slow and languorous alongside his, setting a soft building rhythm of pleasure that he can follow. He pushes back, clumsy and unpracticed, his hips unsure of themselves but determined, chasing out what pleasure he can get from your body, and you oblige him.
He doesn’t have much stamina. Exhausted, starved, you barely have to kiss the pink-pearl ring of scars you’d left on his shoulder before he shudders and spills between your legs. His eyes are heavy-lidded and dazed, and he still doesn’t let go. You rock against him a few more times as his bulge diminishes, then pull back.
“Sorry,” he mumbles. His hand strays vaguely to the mess he’s made of himself. “I.... sorry.”
“No apologies, brother,” you say. You kiss his eyelids, cup his cheek, guide his hand to your own bulge. To use his body further would be a reckless cruelty, but he can manage this, it will do him good to try. His hand is rough with grit and callus but slick and burning-hot, and he works you through the waves of pleasure with a heart-rending sort of determination. You let him roll you to your back, gaze up at him in fond delight. He won’t meet your eyes. His face is flushed a beautiful rose-wine pink.
“Come on,” he growls, squeezing you a little too hard, “I’m jerking you off, look, what more does it actually take?” and he splays his free hand on your chest as if you were a table; as if he needed leverage. It is unspeakably endearing. You pull him down for a final kiss and spill all across your joined stomachs.
He grimaces a bit at the stickiness, but settles down into the circlet of your arms. He puts his head awkwardly against your shoulder.
“How was I?” he says gruffly.
You laugh. “You are no one’s fucking whore,” you assure him.
He goes all taut with pain and fear, though, and you kiss his dirty cheeks with haste, hold him through the wash of terror.
“You are my brave and clever love,” you say, kissing him, patting him, “and I have far better uses for your hands and your heart than whoring, brother.”
His claws dig into your sides, and he makes a tiny stifled hiccup of fire-bright emotion. You are not sure if you are up to letting him cry on you a second time, so you climb to your feet, tuck him under your arm, and go to find a cleansing cloth. A handful of sopor and a few judicious scrubs across the thighs and chest and the two of you are somewhere along the lines of clean enough for sleep, and you dump the precious sack of bones into your recuperacoon.
Pyrope bursts into your chambers.
“He’s in here somewhere!” she shouts. Her sword is a slice of lightning, her brilliant blind eyes are chips of ruby, her snarl is a magnificent ivory deathtrap. You burst into helpless laughter, till you have to lean against the cocoon. You can feel her scenting out your nakedness, and, perhaps, that of the boy’s.
“You just missed him,” you hiccup.
Her eyes narrow. She sheathes her sword with a deliberate, sulky rasp, and turns on her heel. In the recuperacoon, Karkat is already asleep.
“I’ll be keeping an eye out,” she says slowly, testingly. “Outside your respite block. All day.”
“Hey,” you say, stride over to catch her wrist before she leaves. You are smeared with grit and sopor and you are still a bit pinkish around the legs. Her nose wrinkles, and her stern frown softens.
You kiss her cheeks, gently, chastely, with infinite fondness. She goes ever so faintly teal across the nose, drops to one knee, and kisses you back where you used to wear your signet ring.
“Pale for you, Pyrope.”
“And you, you enormous disaster,” she sighs. “Sweet dreams, my Lord, and may your bulge drop off you in your sleep. I’ll be keeping you safe from anything else.”
You laugh, ruffle her silky hair right between her pointy, pretty horns, and slouch back to your recuperacoon and your latest, most wondrous miracle.
When you wake, the recuperacoon is cold and empty.
You search out each corner, though your stomach feels hollow and sick and you know the feel of absence more intimately than anyone would ever like. Your signet ring is back on your finger, and you wonder why you ever expected him to stay. It had felt-- it had felt as if he was yours. You had never been so sure, but now your claws are empty and your insides feel as jelly-thin and cold as your slime.
You wonder if you can send Terezi on a hunt after him. Perhaps if you are very lucky, she will bring him back in just a few pieces, and you can construct him a nice little cell. A comfortable, padded one, because you’re so terribly fond of him -- fond enough that you won’t hang him, though you know you should -- but one with a good strong lock. Iron, black and cold. You could keep him caged up till it rusts shut.
You feel like breaking something. You feel like breaking everything.
You heave yourself up over the rim of your recuperacoon, ready to tear your respite block apart, ready to go make war upon the world entire -- and you stop.
Karkat is perched on your window seat with Terezi, holding a silver fork as if he is not quite sure whether he should be stabbing anyone with it. His hair is cleaned and combed, his horns are scrubbed to a high gloss, his meagre frame has been artfully polished to a whippet-sharp smartness beneath full sleeves and clever embroidery. Heavy rings line his thin fingers, a thick gold chain hangs from his neck. He could be any young Lord, were it not for the furious rusty flush to his sharp cheekbones.
Were it not for your sigil, stitched in crimson, across the rich black velvet of his doublet.
Terezi is leant against his shoulder, holding a heaping plate of candied dates. Her snarl is a lovely shard of determination, her face has gone blue from ear to ear, her hair is an unbrushed disaster. She has four small puncture wounds in the side of her hand, as if from being stabbed by a fork.
“We cannot simply kill Prince Ampora,” she is hissing.
“Well, no, duh, he’s a seadweller, getting to him is going to be kind of complicated,” Karkat says. He spears a candied plum with his fork, twirls the utensil neatly between his fingers, then stuffs the whole fruit into his mouth. “I mean, you can’t get a fishface to drink poison, it don’t work, and believe me I have seen it tried. So what we do is--”
“Shut the fuck up, you arrogant jumped-up piece of fuckmeat. I meant, think of the power vacuum! And don’t chew with your mouth open, I will gouge out each of your teeth.”
He flashes plum-stained fangs at her in a challenging, dirty sneer.
“I am thinking of the power vacuum,” he says. “Evidently one of us needs to be doing the heavy mental lifting, sweetmeat, because I don’t know if your dainty little thinkpan is quite up to the challenge.”
She hisses. “Do go on,” she growls. “How, exactly, is the utter dissolution of any regulation to our City’s trading port in any way a good thing?”
He grins, pops another plum into his mouth with just his fingers. His nails have been lacquered the same crimson as your Captain’s fire-eyes. The high collar around his neck fails to hide the rose-petal lovemarks you have left just under his jaw, as your Captain’s collar fails to hide the bloody mess of welts he has left beneath hers, and they are just so utterly beautiful. Your haggard hawks, your loves.
Behind their bowed-together heads, the moons are rising over your City.
You rest your arms on the lip of your recuperacoon, and as they turn to regard you, you laugh and laugh and laugh.