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The Keepers and the Kept

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When they finally released him, it was almost dusk. Alexios stomped all the way back to Alkibiades' house, his foul mood clearing people from his path almost as if he'd shoved them out of the way.

"You asshole," Alexios said with feeling, when he finally found Alkibiades dozing on a couch on his terrace.

"Now, darling," Alkibiades murmured. "Not so loud. I have a head fit to make Titans cry."

"Not so loud?" Alexios repeated incredulously. "You're lucky I don't shout it from the rooftops. You set. Me. Up."

"Really," Alkibiades sighed, reaching for a jug that had been left on the low table by his head lifting it to slop water into a cup like he didn't particularly care that he was soaking the rugs underneath the table. He looked a little grey, so he probably wasn't fibbing about his aching head. "Whatever makes you say that?"

"Zeus' balls, you're not even trying are you," Alexios sighed, and moved to flop himself down onto the couch opposite the one Alkibiades was occupying. He glared at him across the space. "Do you know, I just spent all day getting questioned at the local guardhouse over the deaths of three cutthroats and a member of the boulé. The cutthroats jumped us at an address you gave me, an address I might add which was not where your guest in fact lived, much to my surprise. They thought I was one of the murderers! I'm lucky I still have my head attached."

"Darling, if your head is still attached," Alkibiades murmured, pushing himself up and taking another large swallow of water, "we're all lucky. What did you tell them about my involvement?"

Alexios knew him well enough now to know that question wasn't quite as casually framed as it seemed. He thought about torturing the bastard with suggestions that he'd told them every damn thing he knew, but they'd both be aware that if he had, soldiers would probably already have the man in chains. This was the third job he'd done for him, and he'd already realised Alkibiades wasn't as frivolous nor as ignorant, nor even half the time quite as drunk, as he ever made himself out to be. He'd begun to suspect after that thing with the signature, and had been certain after the delivery to that commander in Korinth. Alkibiades was moving players around a board with the kind of subtlety of the gods, and while Alexios couldn't see to what end, he knew it was a dangerous game the man was playing.

"I said I found him in the street and he told me where to take him," he admitted grudgingly. "I didn't mention you at all. Somehow, I thought I shouldn't. I have no idea why."

"I may be hungover," Alkibiades said, and put the cup down, "but that was sarcasm, I'm fairly sure."

"You used me," Alexios accused, and if he sounded like a child it was because he had been treated like one.

"Only a little," Alkibiades admitted, smiling fondly at him. "And for an excellent cause."

"I don't care about your causes," Alexios said, sulkily.

"And I do so enjoy it."

"Is that a joke? It had better be a joke."

"I wouldn't mind doing it again right now, in fact," Alkibiades added silkily. "Use you, I mean. Slowly and rather thoroughly, I think. You seemed to enjoy it well enough the last time."

Alexios dragged a hand over his face. The man was impossible. And insatiable. And Alexios was not getting a little hard under his chiton just at the memory of being pushed up against that alter and-

Damn it, he was.

"What if I'd managed to save him?" he asked plaintively. "What if they'd killed me instead? Would you have even felt the briefest moment of regret?"

"Darling," Alkibiades said again, a little softly, a little impatiently, and damn Alexios but he somehow liked it when Alkibiades called him such in either tone. "You are not some run-of-the-mill, two bit mercenary." He said it like it was a bad taste in his mouth he was trying to get out. "You are, I am starting to believe, blessed by Gods. Now, we all know that having the attention of the Gods is not precisely as wonderful as it sounds, but at the very least they have a purpose for you that I cannot begin to fathom. You would not die at the hands of scum such as that."

Alexios sighed, a sound of defeat. Alkibiades was right, of course. He wouldn't die in a pointless duel with some thugs. No, he was probably going to die at the hands of his bloodthirsty sister and the insane cult that had created her.

"And yes," Alkibiades continued, rising to his feet and stepping gracefully over to stand before Alexios. "Had the world somehow turned against will of the Gods, I would have had far more than a moment of regret," he said, reaching down to brush his fingers lightly across Alexios' chin, gently encouraging his head back to look at him more directly. "If it has escaped your notice, let me make it quite plain: I like you. And to be perfectly frank, that's not a particularly large club in which to belong."

Alexios stared up at him, still not entirely willing to forgive him but affected all the same. How the man could party all night, nurse a hangover all day and in the evening still look like Adonis and speak like the poets was more of a mystery than Alexios could fathom.

"You're just saying that because you've a use for my sword."

Alkibiades' eyes crinkled at the edges, a sure sign he was about to say something outrageous that generally only amused himself, and yes, Alexios too, but damned if he was going to encourage the man.

"Now, wait, as hungover as I am this fair evening, I'm easily confused – which sword are we discussing again?"

Alexios eyed him dubiously. "If you're that bad, I doubt very much that it matters."

"Perhaps I should conduct a search?" he mused, and despite himself, Alexios laughed a little.

"You're welcome to," he said, and Alkibiades smiled a very particular smile, and said, "Lie back for me, darling?" in a smoky dark voice that Alexios only associated with the most intimate of pleasures already shared between them. He wet his bottom lip, weighing up the merits of letting Alkibiades distract him so obviously against the fact of that honey dark tone, and then slowly, very slowly eased himself back on the lounge.

Alkibiades smiled again, a little like Alexios had already done something to please him, and eased himself to his knees between Alexios' spread thighs. Alexios felt himself harden a little further at the sight, at the anticipation of an act he already knew Alkibiades was very, very good at, but instead of Alkibiades' hands sliding up his thighs under his skirts, one of them slid down again, and then Alexios' leg was being lifted a little and Alkibiades' fingers were pulling at the buckles on Alexios' boots.

"Ah," Alkibiades murmured. "Here's one sword already." Alexios lifted up a little to look at the dagger Alkibiades had slid out of the sheathe in his boot while he was undoing them.

"That's a knife," he almost laughed.

"How disappointing," Alkibiades sighed, dropping the weapon somewhere off to the side. "Still, I'm sure I can find something bigger if I keep looking."

Alexios flopped back down with a little snicker and let Alkibiades keep going. Soon both boots were off and Alkibiades' fingers were cradling the backs of his bare knees. Alexios lay staring at the stars just beginning to twinkle in the early evening sky above and felt Alkibiades' talented mouth on the inside of his knee, surprisingly sensitive skin that made Alexios sigh and spread his legs a little more.

"And, here, it seems, is another," Alkibiades announced as he moved on, and now his hands were at Alexios' waist and the second dagger he kept tucked there. As the blade slid free, Alexios tensed, almost reacted. He wanted to think it was a natural response to unsheathed blades being too close but he also had the sneaking suspicion that trusting Alkibiades entirely might not be completely sensible. Surely if Alexios became a bothersome loose end, Alkibiades would have no difficulty doing away with him and disposing of his corpse.

"No," Alkibiades said, and if he'd noticed Alexios twitch, he was ignoring it, much the same as he seemed to be ignoring Alexios' now fully erect member beneath his chiton that parted the leather pteruges of his waistband. "Still too small, I think. Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places?"

Alexios felt his momentary tension dissipate with a laugh. "If you need some guidance…?" he began, trying to sound suggestive, but Alkibiades merely clicked his tongue.

"No, I am a clever man, as you've pointed out before. I’m sure I can work this out. Turn onto your front for me."

Alexios laughed again, a little breathlessly this time, and did as he was bid, draping himself over the couch with his knees on the rugs, Alkibiades still pressed between his thighs.

"That's more like it," Alkibiades sighed, leaning over him, pressing his groin to Alexios' rear, and even feeling the hardness against him there, Alexios was still only slightly sure he was referring to his comical search for Alexios' 'sword'. "This one is much bigger. Oh, no, wait, there are two of them!"

Alexios laughed outright this time. "That's a spear," he corrected, and felt Alkibiades release the straps that held the sheathes to Alexios' cuirass. He had noticed Alexios flinch before, because he left both weapons where they were and removed the harness entire, before putting them aside.

"I'm sure it is, but, no," he sighed, fake disappointment. "Still not quite what I was looking for. The hunt, it seems, continues."

Alkibiades then proceeded to continue to strip Alexios of every piece of armour and clothing he wore, his hands brushing and the occasional lingering press of his mouth against Alexios' skin until Alexios was exquisitely bare to the evening air and panting a little with desire, his head bowed against the couch as Alkibiades' hands finally, finally, smoothed down his back and over his rear.

"Where on earth could it be?" Alkibiades pondered, now openly teasing. "I could have sworn it was here somewhere. Should I look more closely, do you think?"

"I think," Alexios began roughly, "that yo- Ah!"

He breathed in, blinked, but before he could parse the sensation of breath on his skin, Alkibiades took firmer hold of his buttocks and murmured, "Be still for me, darling," and then his face was there, between Alexios'- And his tongue was-

"Oh Gods, oh fuck," Alexios gasped, and gripped the couch harder as Alkibiades' tongue pushed against his asshole and kept pushing, opened him and thrust inside and kept thrusting. Quite abruptly it was no longer a game. Alexios spread his legs wider, his head a fever of sudden, shocking sensation. He trembled, and could not determine whether it was with the need to get away, or somehow get Alkibiades further in.

And then, when Alexios was almost sure he could not stand it any longer, Alkibiades used his fingers as well, two of them, pushing in hard and smooth. Alexios whined and felt his hips roll of their own accord with the thrust of them. He'd be embarrassed about it later, perhaps, when he didn’t feel quite so hot or dripping wet down there, and he wasn't sure he would ever be able to look at Alkibiades' mouth again and not harden right there on the spot.

"I thought I told you to hold still." Alkibiades' voice was deep, rough, so different it was almost unrecognisable. His teeth grazed the curve of Alexios' arse and Alexios shuddered.

"I-" Alexios tried, but gathering his thoughts, with Alkibiades' fingers still in him, thrusting slowly now, rubbing as they went in and sending fire bursting through Alexios' hips, was an impossible task. I was, he thought. I was trying. What instead came out was, "I think. You should give up. The search. And just give me your sword instead."

Alkibiades paused for just a moment, and then his laughter pealed out across the terrace like a bell.

"Oh, you delightful man," he said brightly. "You divine creature." There was the rustle of fabric – Gods below, he was still dressed – and then his surprisingly strong hands were on Alexios hips and his sword in question, that Alexios had been thinking about ever since that delivery contract, was pushing into him. It was a tighter fit than Alexios wanted it to be with no oil, and he grunted in dissatisfaction, raised his head, looked around in desperation. There, on the floor on the other side of the couch was a tray with the remains of a light mezethes – a broken piece of bread, a few olives, some salt, vinegar, and most wonderous of all, oil.

"Wait, stop, here," Alexios gasped, scrabbling out of Alkibiades' hands far enough to reach for the tiny bowl and pass it back. Alkibiades looked at it, and then at Alexios, and then he took the bowl and craned over his body and kissed him.

Alexios forgot for a moment everything; everything except Alkibiades' mouth, the hot, lingering mastery of it. Even his taste barely registered, for they had never… Alkibiades had not before…

"Mmm," Alkibiades sighed. "Breaking my own rules, yet again." And then he let Alexios go, leaned away, tipped the bowl's contents into his hands and reached down. Alexios expected to feel his fingers again, but instead, after merely a moment, Alkibiades' hands were back on his hips and his cock was pushing back into him.

Alexios groaned softly in satisfaction, for it was still a tight fit but no longer discomforting, and Alkibiades had no qualms in moving Alexios into whatever place he pleased, which for some reason pleased Alexios even more. When Alkibiades thrust again, it was near perfect, and the moan Alexios uttered then was entirely involuntary.

"Louder," Alkibiades commanded breathlessly, thrusting again. "I want the whole of Athens to hear you."

The terrace wasn't terribly many floors up; the whole of Athens probably would.

"You want louder," Alexios challenged, "you'll have to do it harder."

He'd barely gotten the words out, when Alkibiades got one arm under one of Alexios' thighs lifted it a little and hammered into him, and then kept hammering, and it was exactly as hard as Alexios had wanted it. He gripped the couch with one hand, reached down to brace against the floor with the other to keep the couch from jumping forward, and quite shamefully quickly lost the battle with his determination to make Alkibiades earn it.

By the time Alkibiades stopped – for a breath, possibly, as he was still hard and large inside Alexios – Alexis could hear people down in the street laughing and calling up. He heard applause and what sounded like invitations both and his face felt hot with embarrassment, but he was so hard he probably could have done some hammering of his own, had he been pressed against anything solid.

"That was just about loud enough," Alkibiades decided, thrusting lazily now, like he was going to go all night. He paused, as one particularly vocal listener in the street below made a very lewd suggestion. "What do you think?" he added laughingly. "Should we invite some of them up?"

"What?" Alexios panted. "No!"

"No," Alkibiades agreed, folding himself over Alexios' back and causing his next slow thrust to sink even deeper. "I find I like having you all to myself. I find, in fact, that I have to keep talking myself out of all the ways and means I could contrive to keep you. Apropos of nothing, how do you feel about collars?"

The question wasn't apropos of nothing, of course, and the words easily evoked an image, and the image made Alexios shiver, despite himself.

"Delightful man," Alkibiades growled, in way of answer to the response of Alexios' body, and thrust again a little harder. His arms moved, came around Alexios' waist and he pulled, until Alexios was off the couch and in his lap, his back pressed to Alkibiades' warm, sweaty chest and his cock jutting out, achingly hot and leaking moisture from the tip.

"I know full well I can't keep you," Alkibiades breathed in his ear, and one of his hands dragged up Alexios' chest, pinched a nipple briefly and dragged further on until his fingers were sliding about Alexios' throat, a light press of flesh where a collar like the one he was suggesting would sit. "But perhaps we will play at it, one night. Would you like that?"

Alexios shuddered this time, unable to get enough air even with Alkibiades' hand so light around his throat.

"Yes," he moaned and Alkibiades turned his face into the crook of Alexios' neck and moaned as well, almost as if he hadn't meant to. His body trembled under Alexios' and his other hand came between Alexios' thighs and finally, finally gripped his cock. Alexios near shouted then.

"Move," Alkibiades grated. "Fuck yourself on me."

Alexios near sobbed, and began to move.

It really didn't take so very long after that. By the end, Alexios was sprawled face down on the rug, his legs as wide as he could get them, Alkibiades limbs twined about him, spreading him, his cock spearing him, his breath panting harshly against his skin, and Alexios was almost there, so close. He focused on the glorious, the magnificent feel of that hard cock inside him, of the breath whining out of Alkibiades, of him saying, I want to keep you, and reached back with the hand that wasn't engaged in bracing his body so he could thrust back, until he could slide his fingers into Alkibiades' hair and pull his head forward. Alkibiades moaned, and bowed his head and opened his mouth on Alexios' shoulder and bit, thrusting sharply as he did, and Alexios tipped over that edge suddenly and with a shout, shuddering as Alkibiades pulled on his cock and spent himself with a shaking groan inside him.

Alexios managed to keep himself mostly upright until Alkibiades had finished, and then collapsed down with another groan. The carpet beneath him was wet and viscous but at this point it was fair to say he did not give a fuck. He didn't even care that Alkibiades was lying on top of him, and the man wasn't a lightweight for all that he gave the impression of a butterfly sometimes.

"Beautiful man," Alkibiades sighed after a long silent while where their breathing and hearts returned to quietness. "You're going to be the death of me, I'm sure."

"If we fucked like that every day," Alexios mumbled into the rug. "Then probably." He sighed too as Alkibiades stirred, climbed off him, but didn't move as he listened to him get unsteadily up and then collapse back down on the couch where he'd started this whole thing from in the first place.

"Here," he told Alexios, and Alexios managed to turn his head to look. Alkibiades brandished a cup in front of his face, and Alexios grudgingly rolled over and took it, then pushed himself up with great effort to sprawl back against the couch behind him and drink.

"I don't, you know," Alkibiades said after a moment, and it was the seriousness in his voice that made Alexios finally look at him. "Fuck like that every day."

Alexios thought about that, about what Alkibiades, a man to whom debauchery seemed second nature, was saying with it.

"I would stay," Alexios said quietly, and stared at the water in his cup for a moment. "If I could." He did not mean right now, but Alkibiades likely knew that.

"Perhaps it is better for us both if you don't," Alkibiades said, with only a hint of his normal lightness in his tone. "It would probably make the gods too nervous to continue to ignore."

Alexios let out a laugh at that. "Your looks, my talent," he agreed, teasing, for it was Alkibiades who could claim both those gifts. "Alkibiades, you… did something… before, which perhaps the gods will continue to overlook if you so chose to do it again."

"Oh?" Alkibiades murmured, his expression soft.

"And if I asked you to…"

Alkibiades rose again from the couch, and walked back over to Alexios and crouched down beside him and looked at him, and Alexios held a breath through the whole action, until Alkibades' hand came up to cup the side of his face, and he smiled very softly, and said, "This?"

He leaned forward and kissed Alexios again, not in the throes of passion but softly, sweetly, lingeringly, and Alexios' hands itched to hold him to him, but if Alkibiades could not keep Alexios, neither could Alexios keep Alkibiades.

"Yes," Alexois breathed, when Alkibiades drew back a little, and Alkibiades smiled again.

"You needn't ask, my delight. Why don't you stay for tonight? Let me keep the illusion of keeping you for a little while longer. Come and lie with me and sleep in my arms and we will be like lovers are until tomorrow, where we will go back to who we are and what we must do, and no one but the gods and we shall know."

"Yes," Alexios breathed again and if it was any kind of lie at all, it was one that Alexios for now wanted to believe.