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How to deal with your Veretian prince during summertime (you don't)

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Nikandros could start at the crack of dawn by reciting all the reasons why he didn't sign up for this and get to sunset without being halfway through the list in his mind. If he doesn't do that it's only because he knows that it would be pointless – nobody ever listens to him anyway – and he hates to do pointless things, which is ironic since his life lately has been nothing but an endless string of those.

He is the Kyros of Delpha and best friend of the king of Akielos, two things that should provide him with honor, glory and the remarkable luxury to order people around. But Damianos is an uncommon king – an uncommon everything, really – and it's hard to be around him and not being involved in weird things. Like, for example, helping the prince of an enemy kingdom fight off his usurper uncle and take back his throne, in fact consolidating his power and stabilizing said enemy kingdom. Or, overseeing the union of your homeland with the enemy kingdom – which is no enemy anymore all of a sudden – because your king can't see nothing past the blonde hair and creamy white thighs of the prince mentioned above.

Or, as in this specific case, pitching tends to prevent those creamy white thighs to turn red at the first ray of warmer sun.

Nikandros knows his geography, so he's aware that the Akielos summer must be hard to weather for someone as fair as Laurent, who honestly seems better suited for the northern lands, not even for Vere. He is sympathetic with the man – at least as much as he can be sympathetic with that annoying piece of ice – but it's not Nikandros' job to keep his skin from burning.

Laurent could, for example, go back wearing all those Veretian clothes he used to wear before, which would also solve the problem of Damianos getting distracted every time he happens to pass by. Or he could go back to Vere until winter and they could pay a messenger to ride back and forth to bring messages. Akielos breeds good horses and trains good messengers. That could be arranged.

But no, the man wants to spend the summer here, officially because he's supervising the building of their palace on the border, unofficially because Damianos fucks him stupid every chance he gets. And he insists on wearing Akielon clothes, which would be fine for Nikandros if they didn't force him to pitch stupid tends for him. Not that Laurent asks for them, but he lets the sun burn him, so Damianos can follow his tan lines into the blissful depth of his pleasure. And then, Damianos gets worried about the health of Laurent's precious skin and so he asks Nikandros to take care of the tends.

As a special favor to me, you see. Nikandros hates it when he says that, because he can't refuse.

“There, it's done,” he announces, cleaning the sweat off his forehead. The fabric is taut and the two entrances are carefully left open, the nets rolled up and fixed at the sides, to let the fresh air in. The tent is in the shadow now, and it will remain in it at the turning of the sun as well, thanks to the nearby scrub of trees. He's proud of himself and filled with satisfaction, as he always is when he looks at a job well done.

“It's certainly a good spot,” Laurent comments as his eyes linger on the tent. Nikandros can't get over the fact that he always seems to look at things as if they disgusted him at a very deep level. “It would be extremely useful if I were actually going to stay here.”

“You are not?” Nikandros asks, carefully.

Laurent smiles. “I really admire you, Nikandros,” he says. “It must be really hard to be so high in the ranks and grasping so little of what's being said to you. You work really hard despite your limits, and that's commendable, although completely useless.”

Nikandros closes his fists, preventing himself from starting another war. “The construction plans said they were going to work on this portion of the building.”

“I'm sure Damen will teach you how to read those if you ask him,” Laurent says, before turning around. “Now, take down this tent and pitch it where it's supposed to be all the way over there.”

And as Nikandros hammers the tent down, drenched in sweat, Laurent takes his damned creamy white thighs away, as fresh as he hadn't been outside all day.