‘Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?’
Flynn had no trouble fending off Moriarty’s childish jabs, none at all.
Moriarty was smart, granted, but Flynn was anticipating every move: a left feint here, a stronger push there. He countered every one. Every time. He was just getting warmed up, dancing through the grass, actually starting to have something like fun. There was no danger to it. They wouldn’t have freed Moriarty from the stocks if he meant them harm. Eve had convinced Flynn that having Moriarty on their side could be useful. Moriarty had promised them that he wouldn’t attempt to kill Shakespeare again.
Now he was just trying to irritate Flynn and giving him that smirk, that cheeky… woah, that was close. Flynn tensed his muscles, using the force of Moriarty’s attack to his own advantage, turning it into a jump backward instead of getting pushed off-balance. He grinned in challenge, expecting the next stab. He wasn’t disappointed.
He brushed away Moriarty’s hands again and laughed. “Every time.”
This was fun, he could do this for hours. He skipped back lightly. It almost felt like sparring with Excalibur, although of course nobody could fight like Cal. By extension, nobody could fight like Flynn. He missed exercising with Cal. It had always been the high point of his day.
In hindsight, thinking of Cal was probably not such a smart idea. The distraction had been just what Moriarty needed. Flynn tried to bring up his hands again, but he was too late. Moriarty grabbed onto the lapels of Flynn’s vest and held on tight. Flynn tried to dislodge Moriarty’s extended arms, but they were stronger than expected, immovable from such close distance. Moriarty simply stepped forward and shoved Flynn along, his knuckles pushing against Flynn’s chest. He had no choice but to let himself be pushed. He struggled to throw his weight forward and failed, his shoes skidding on the grass. There was a knowing grin on Moriarty’s face now. His eyes sparkled with amusement as he marched Flynn across the lawn, closer and closer to the shallow pool behind him.
“Every time?” his eyebrows rose mockingly.
Flynn huffed and tried a quick lunge to the left, but Moriarty anticipated him. Before he could try another move, Flynn’s heels hit the flat stone step at the edge of the pool. He threw back his arms, flailing, but to his surprise, Moriarty was holding on fast. He leaned away from Flynn with all his weight, his grin getting even wider. It took Flynn a second to realize that he wasn’t going to fall, and he completely missed that Moriarty was now pulling instead of pushing. Flynn crashed forward, trying to brace himself, but Moriarty was pulling him so close, all he could do was avoid hitting him nose-first. Flynn’s arms ended up wrapping around Moriarty, gripping his back, trying to find his balance.
They were way too close now. Flynn tried to scramble away, but Moriarty’s fingers curled tighter into Flynn’s vest. The smell of Moriarty’s leather jacket filled Flynn’s nose, and sweat, and traces of cologne, and he forgot what he’d been trying to do. There was a strange current running between them. He was shivering, completely unable to move, just breathing in the overwhelming smells. Every hair on his body stood on end. Something seemed to change in Moriarty’s stance. There was a sudden skip in his body tension, and he started leaning forward in slow motion. Flynn’s eyes were stuck on the damp curls behind Moriarty’s ear as he watched him come closer and closer, until his high collar pressed against Flynn’s cheek. He whispered into Flynn’s ear, “Did you feel that, too?”
Moriarty loosened his fists, his eyes lingering on Flynn’s face in an uncharacteristically puzzled look. He finally dropped his eyes and let his fingers trace lightly across Flynn’s throat. Flynn could have sworn it was deliberate.
Moriarty turned and walked away without another look. Flynn was left standing at the edge of the pool, breathing hard, weak in the knees, and helplessly aroused.
The afternoon was a challenge to get through. His thoughts kept running away from him while the three of them were combing the gardens, looking for Shakespeare. Eve was worried they’d miss Prospero turning up and insisted on them keeping an eye on Shakespeare at all times. But while they’d gone to free Moriarty, assuming Shakespeare would not leave the stage all day, Shakespeare had done exactly that and now was nowhere to be found.
Whenever Flynn didn’t pay attention, his constant vague jealousy of Moriarty and this incomprehensible new emotion clashed and struck sparks. Moriarty stayed out of sight as much as possible, which just made Flynn expect him behind every tree. He caught himself watching for Moriarty more than for Shakespeare. He’d never thought of Moriarty as anything else than devious, someone to watch out for because he was trying to seduce Eve. Now that image mixed with spicy smells, fighting skills, and insufferable smirks directed at Flynn himself… The result was unsettling, to say the least.
What had that look been? He didn’t think Moriarty had actually been trying to seduce him. But there had been something magnetic about his fingers on Flynn’s skin, like he couldn’t let go. Maybe Moriarty had been trying to make him uncomfortable at first, but then the plan had backfired. It made Flynn feel better to think he wasn’t the only one who was completely blindsided.
Even though Flynn was unable to concentrate, it wasn’t his fault they couldn’t find Shakespeare. They found out where he was, they just couldn’t get at him. He was attending a private dinner with a patron of the Royal Theatre. Reports ranged from King James himself, over various lords, to wealthy businessmen. Flynn didn’t really care who Shakespeare dined with, but they didn’t have a choice but to postpone their plans until morning.
They arranged to meet again for breakfast, and Flynn and Eve went back to their room at the inn. This was already their second night there, but he had a feeling it wouldn’t be as easy as last night. It had been surprisingly easy, in fact…