It was meeting Bilbo's eyes by chance that stopped him, and held him where he was, faltering. Bilbo looked cross and frustrated, which he might have stood to meet with only cold resolve; but Bilbo also looked frightened, and tired and desperate and as though he tried to swallow some unbearable sorrow, and that Thorin found he could less readily endure. The look of it seemed to pull him back inside his own shape, back into his skin, as though he had for a time been wandering some other plane untethered and unseen. It was only for a moment - but it was long enough for him to wonder, troubled, what had been inside his mind a moment ago, to let him cause Bilbo to look at him that way. The stone was of vital importance, of course, paramount in fact, he could not for an instant let himself be turned from its course, and yet...
"Shifts," he repeated. It was dubious on his tongue, but something in it also seemed to let Bilbo's shoulders drop an inch or two, his breath release.
"Yes. Just - just so. Not stopping, just - some looking, some going to rest, and take meals, and so on." Thorin watched him and did not answer, and at last he pushed on, agony buried in his hopeful smile. "Tired eyes don't see as much as those rested. Any hobbit knows that."
Thorin looked at him a moment longer: doubt, unease, and urgency mingling in his own over-weary mind. He could not seem to think well, lately, and sometimes not at all.
"Very well, then," he said at last; "if you think it of aid." He turned away from the relief that wrote itself so plain across Bilbo's face, to turn his voice ringing down the steps into the treasure-hoard instead. Not wanting to think too hard on any of it. "Dwalin, Bombur: search on. The others: take your rest. Change shifts in two hours' time, for whichever two are ablest."
He looked over their faces then, peering up from the gorgeous sea of treasure, for their understanding. The numb, grateful surprise he found there instead annoyed him, even as it chilled some corner of his heart he could scarcely recognise.
"Go!" he snapped, his voice booming huge into the hall. And at last they moved, after a beat of pause as though shaken awake. All those he had released passed between him and Bilbo without a word (although some with a look exchanged with Bilbo, or a quick hand clasped on his shoulder, although he chose to take no notice of this as well). All except for Balin, anyway - who stopped and stood a moment on the step below Thorin, so as to find and hold Thorin's downturned gaze.
"And you, Thorin?" he asked - measured, as though braced against any reply. "Will you rest as well?"
"When the Arkenstone is found, we all will," Thorin said. It was no answer, and the flash in Balin's eyes said he knew it. But in the end, what breath he had taken to speak again he let out in a sigh; and he only moved past them and away up the stairs, at a limp that spoke of why he did not linger to insist.
"So you're staying here?" Bilbo asked, quietly, enough after that all the echoing footsteps had begun to fade away above. Thorin glanced over at him, and then his eyes turned back to the gold.
"This is my place."
"Well, that's unfortunate." Thorin looked at him again at that, frowning, and found Bilbo watching him with a different sort of smile: shyer, though no less uncertain or less hopeful. He pitched his voice even lower still, keeping it from carrying. "I had, ah... hoped you might take this chance to show me that bedchamber you mentioned before."
And that, again, gave Thorin pause: made the here and now come flooding back in around him, and the world widen out beyond only the stone, the stone. He turned to face Bilbo fully after a long look, a smile beginning to play at the edges of his mouth that firmed Bilbo's in return. "Do you say so?"
"I do," Bilbo said. His cheeks were flushed, but his eyes sure and brazen. Not to be stirred at the sight would have taken a dwarf of iron, and Thorin was not he. Especially not with such sweetness recalled to mind, from hours hence: Bilbo's body plowed open beneath him, his voice fair and breaking on Thorin's name, his prick spilling as soon as Thorin's hand was laid upon it.
He hesitated a moment longer, but in the end, with Bilbo here beside him, the temptation was too great. Taking his eyes from Bilbo only slowly, he turned to call out again over the treasure hoard: "I will return anon. Will all be well here in my absence?"
If he had harbored misgivings about taking his leave while the work went on in others' hands, they were soothed somewhat by the surprised approval he could see in Dwalin's raised face, even at this distance. "Aye, and no need to hurry," he called back as he paused, scrubbing one sleeve across his bare head, and Bombur also raised an amiable arm in agreement. There was a weary stoop in both their shoulders, but they worked on, and Thorin thought he heard no lie in the words. "With luck, when next you come, we'll put the stone straight in your hand!"
Thorin nodded his pleasure, as much at that consuming thought as any of the rest. And then Bilbo was turning to climb the stairs back up to the fortress proper, innocent as could be; and he was drawn along behind, soon to lead the way.
He had not been in the king's chambers since their arrival, not since his youth, and the massive gilt doors opened only with groaning reluctance under his hands. He led Bilbo through the receiving room and sitting-room, vast mausoleums of dry fountains and furnishings tall as tombs, and at last into the bedchamber. Bilbo made some soft, involuntary sound at the sight of it, and Thorin could only smile, well satisfied. Its most central furnishing was canopied and draped in silks and furs, vast enough for ten dwarves to fit comfortably side-by-side; its walls were veined with gold, every surface and chest overbrimming with gold, and where once he would have felt uneasy to look upon it all, now it brought a fierce hot pleasure surging in his chest. This had lain here, out of reach, while he and his people had slept shivering in the dirt, eaten scraps when they could eat at all. Was this not their due - his due! - for all that they had borne? Why should he not claim for them every coin, in answer for every hardship, every degradation and privation?
"It's amazing," Bilbo said, coming further within - his voice soft enough he might have been trying not to disturb the air. "This was your grandfather's room?"
Thorin nodded, looking it over at length before turning to face him. "The chambers of the King Under the Mountain. And now, mine by right." He watched Bilbo's face a moment, as he looked over it all, and then smiled and stepped closer. "Like you."
That made Bilbo turn to look up at him, startled; and then he laughed, and dropped his gaze, even as his fingers crept up to take hold of Thorin's coat. "You never needed to be king for that!"
...He thought Bilbo might even have believed that true, to some degree. But no matter. Thorin seized the small of Bilbo's back and clapped him in tight, enjoying his gasp even as he steeped on him for a fierce kiss. "Still your flatterer's tongue," he growled when he broke back, across Bilbo's parted lips, "and undress yourself. If you would have me, show me with your haste."
Bilbo appeared to reel for a moment when he was released, but found his balance quickly; he began tugging out of his coat with an eager trembling speed, and Thorin paced back to sit at the end of the bed and watch. He was amused at first to see the neatness with which Bilbo folded and piled each article on the long plush bench by the entrance, from coat to shortclothes - and then his smile darkened as Bilbo turned back toward him, gaze sweeping over all his flesh bared. Bilbo's prick pushed already flushed and randy from his soft nest of bollocks and golden curls, tip cresting from its sheath, and he watched its proud weight shift as its owner came back to him. When he had, Bilbo knelt straddling over his lap on the bed and smiled with lust-dark eyes, his breath quick and hot, and set to the fastenings of Thorin's own Lake-town rags. Thorin let himself be divested, watching and moving only to shrug out of sleeves or free trapped fabric, until his chest was bare. Bilbo paused there a moment, his breath catching, and even if Thorin had not followed his gaze then the touch of his fingers would have told the tale: tracing the faded lines tattooed on Thorin's chest and upper arms. Marks that were cousins of those that ringed Dwalin's head and hands, brethren to the defiance that had been writ plain across his own father's face.
He did not much want to be reminded of them now, and could not have said why.
But for now, he only gripped firm handfuls of his burglar's arse and pulled him in to kiss him again at greater leisure, if with no less force. He satisfied himself he had thrust his tongue to every corner and claimed every inch before they parted, and kneaded the flesh under his hands, pressed close so Bilbo's heavy prick lay and dragged against his belly. Bilbo's mouth fell from his lips gasping, his fingers sunk in the hair of Thorin's chest, and he scrambled his way back to his work at Thorin's waist with a hot urgency Thorin might once never have imagined of him. Still, he got only so far as undoing the lacings of Thorin's breeches before coming up short, leaning back on Thorin's knees to peer down, and then lifting apologetic eyes back to Thorin's own even as he panted his breath.
"I've really no idea how those work," he said, glancing at Thorin's boots, with a slight trembling laugh in his voice. Thorin caressed his rump once more before gripping his hips and shifting him off to one side, and bent to unfasten them himself. He rose when he was done, to kick them aside and strip his lower half, leaving trousers and underthings both heaped on the floor behind. Bilbo's hungry stare on his skin was a most satisfying sight, and so too the pliant way he lay back on the bed as Thorin prowled over him, with thighs already apart and eyes heat-hazed.
"Look at this sight," Thorin said, his voice in his chest like great stones in the deep, his hand spreading over Bilbo's chest and then stroking down him. "You, laid out on the King's bed, spread open for His cock." Bilbo's eyes fluttered, breath hitched, his body arching under Thorin's hand. Thorin drew back and his hand followed, sliding downward, diverting sideways around Bilbo's cock (he smiled at the whimper) and along the inside of one hip as he shouldered between Bilbo's legs. One drew upward around him as though helpless, and Thorin clasped its outside, brought the inner thigh to his lips to kiss its skin. He could feel Bilbo's twitch against his side and under his hand.
"How I craved this," he murmured, lips brushing soft flesh and gingery down of hair. "How I feared it would never be mine. But you are mine." He shifted his weight onto both elbows, still stroking Bilbo's outer thigh, to stare his naked hunger up at Bilbo's flushed and panting face. "Never to part withal. I would strike off any other hand that touched you." He stretched his thumb from the hand on Bilbo's hip and stroked it up the line of his straining prick, hard callus on soft silken skin, and anything that might have been in Bilbo's eyes was gone as they dropped shut and his head fell back onto furs. "I would craft you chains of gold in which to bind you to me, and hew a pedestal on which to set you safe on show: sweetest of all my treasures under the mountain."
Bilbo did not answer that for a curiously long time. He only lay and breathed a moment, fast and hard enough to feel in the bed; and when he did speak, though it was breathy and broken, there was a sort of nervous laugh in it as well. "I - fear you overestimate my value," he said, shakily, without raising his head again. "Not to mention my intent to fly you."
There was something in his tone that gave Thorin a moment's uncertain pause - even as his thumb lingered where it was, sweeping upward and back again. He shook it aside in the end, with only a slight frown. "The one, perhaps," he said, and let go Bilbo's thigh to push himself up on that arm, to where he could again meet Bilbo's eyes. "The other, never." And then, precluding any answer, he had wrapped his hand around the base of Bilbo's prick, and covered it with his mouth.
A shocked, stuttering gasp was his reward, and a jolt that seemed to course through all of Bilbo's body, end to end. "Thorin -- " squeezed from his lips with no voice inside its breath, and one small shaking hand fumbled to Thorin's head, to cradle its curve. When he dragged his mouth back, however, rubbing with his tongue at the exposed head, that hand clenched convulsing around a fistful of his hair. He rumbled his approval as his head sank down again, and around him Bilbo hissed and twitched.
He took his time and pleasure there, drawing out all manner of writhing and desperate sound (who would have thought someone so generally small and unassuming could be so noisy! and how welcome the surprise). The weight in his mouth grew stony-harder even as Bilbo shivered and moaned, and at last both Bilbo's hands braced round Thorin's head, as he gulped for breath to speak. "Thorin - Thorin, please, I can't, I'll come too quick - " Thorin looked up to meet his eyes, found them staring half-open but fever-bright down from his hot flushed face. "I want you in me, please."
Asked so sweetly, Thorin could do nothing but release him (making Bilbo's eyes wince shut at the loss in spite of himself), and growl his favor as he climbed back up over Bilbo, a bridge over his body. "Then so you shall have me," he said on quick hot breath in Bilbo's ear, and then pushed up and twisted around to lean overside of the bed, fishing from his clothes that vial of oil that had served them so well at the apothecary. "And in any other way you wish. With you laid for me, a welcome-feast, I shall dine at my leisure."
"Now I've got you always talking of food," Bilbo said, on a short cracking laugh with no breath, and actually surprised Thorin into one of his own.
Once slicked, he pressed two fingers into the cleft of Bilbo's arse, bringing his breath up short. Then slid them inside, when he felt him ready - and could not resist bending in to lap again at his prick, while he hovered there. Bilbo keened like a wounded thing, his back arching hard off the bed; his hips ground in a yearning circle, into Thorin's hand, into his tongue. Thorin could feel the pulse heavy and racing under his mouth, the warning tightening of flesh, and could have been content to stay for those surely brief strokes that would have driven him past the edge... but he had been begged otherwise, and was not so cruel a tyrant as to refuse. He withdrew and left Bilbo gasping, clutching tight tangles of the bedding in both fists, and made ready his prick instead. Lifting both thighs to either side in his hands, he spread and pushed them forward almost to Bilbo's chest, then left one braced over his own shoulder as he took himself in hand. And pressed slow into the stunning heat of him, his head falling forward on a heavy groan that mingled with Bilbo's broken gasping breath, as Bilbo's hands pawed up to clench around his bracing arm and tangle in his hair.
He buried himself hilt-deep, and found through the roar of his pleasure that he needed hold Bilbo's legs aloft no longer; they had wrapped him of their own accord, high and tight, feet braced on his back. Hands freed, he grabbed instead around Bilbo's wrists and pushed them to the mattress, pinning them as he rocked with slow, deliberate strokes inside. Bilbo writhed under him, all undone and wanton, his face streaked with sweat and eyes only cracked open despite their hunger. Much though Thorin had meant to keep his pace measured, to tease, he could not long leash himself in the face of such a view, and the hot gripping slickness that surrounded him. His hips soon drove harder on every thrust, and their breath and sound mingled in a chorus of two, entwined with that hungering rhythm.
"Mine," tore from his chest as he began to near his peak, before he knew he meant to speak at all - but though Bilbo could seem to find no voice, his trembling mouth shaped Yes, and Yes again. Thorin's groan this time was more like a shout; he pounded in with such force he would have feared it was too much, but that the cry Bilbo let out had nothing like hurt in it. They shook the bed beneath, Bilbo using his bracing feet to grind up into him just as hard as he did down. "When the stone is found, I'll have you in every room of Erebor - every corner - " His voice shook on the words, cracked, and he all unmindful. " - spread you on my treasure floor and paint its gold with the spend of our fuck..."
Though it still seemed to have no voice, Bilbo's mouth worked in shapes easy to read: desperate words, begging words, and Thorin's name. When at last he let free Bilbo's hands, however, they only shot up to grab tight round the back of his neck, pulling him down to where straining up could let him be caught in a kiss. Nipping and sucking at Bilbo's mouth, fearing his own extremity already too close, Thorin braced on one arm on the bed and gripped his other hand around Bilbo's cock between their bodies. It was wet and eager, and his fingers shifted skin over its shaft as he set to fast, firm strokes. Bilbo's breath hitched and huffed against his mouth, and then he had fallen back on the bed, his head straining back amid his sobbing breath and hand shaking with its fierce greedy grip on Thorin's arm.
Then he trembled, moaned high and hard and breaking, and spilled in Thorin's hand - with enough force to stripe his belly, crying out in full voice and clinging to Thorin with every inch of him. And Thorin could scarcely hold out through his throes before spending himself as well with a rumbling roar, in an endless-seeming torrent that scorched his body and tore away his mind in a single, merciful stroke.
He panted back to slow awareness of Bilbo's hand caressing his forearm, in a small mindless to-and-fro, and opened his eyes to Bilbo's looking up into them heavy-lidded, a small curious smile shaping his parted lips. Thorin met his gaze a moment, then moved to withdraw himself with great care (although he still heard a soft measured breath hiss through Bilbo's teeth), and pushed back up along Bilbo's body to kiss his lips with all gentleness he had lacked before. His mind felt heavy, confused, strangely and pleasantly empty. He was content. He could not quite seem to remember what it was, only some hour ago, that his mind had been bent to with such burning urgency.
But as he rolled his weight off Bilbo's body, of course, the Arkenstone's shadow fell across him again: like a caul upon his face, or like a shroud. He had a great need, a desperate need, and it had not yet been filled, no matter how sated and heavy his fleshly shell might feel. The stone, and the gold in which it hid - they were all of a piece, and though both were his to defend unto death, still they must with all haste be parted. He had already been away from them too long.
"Are you going?"
It startled him out of the run of his thoughts, brought him back suddenly into himself. He had already pushed up on his elbows to sit up, and now he turned to see Bilbo watching him from where he lay on his side, pressing a warm timid hand to Thorin's nearer shoulder. The look in Bilbo's eyes, he found, he could not long bear without dropping his own away.
"Now?" He risked a look at Bilbo's face, and found his eyes turned down now as well, an empty smile forced on his lips. "Dwalin... said there was no need to hurry, didn't he? You could stay, just for a while. ...Sleep a bit."
Irritation pricked at his chest - but some dim part of him, even now, knew the true venom in its sting for shame. He swallowed both, in the end, only sighed instead and reached to cup his hand around Bilbo's cheek. "My duty lies below, with the search. You know this."
"I do," Bilbo said: his lips turned into Thorin's palm, and half-muffled there. "And I would not ask you to abandon it. Only..." He took a breath, and then pushed closer inside the circle of Thorin's arm, curling up to his chest and laying a hand upon it. "Stay. Please. For a while."
Thorin did not answer, for a long space of silence. Then, at last, he stroked Bilbo's cheek and hair again, and turned close to press a kiss into his forehead. "Rest," he murmured, into the skin, and dug around them for pelts to drape over them both. "Amid gold and jewels, where you belong."
The shoulders curled inside Thorin's arm shook with what might have been a snort of laughter, though if so Thorin chose to ignore it. Bilbo's eyes were closed already, at any rate, his cheek pillowed in the hollow of Thorin's shoulder and hand loose and lax on his chest. It did not take long before the pinched lines of worry and dismay smoothed out of his brow and mouth, and his warm breath on Thorin's skin grew steady and even and slow. His hand twitched where it lay, and then presently, he was entirely still.
Thorin lay watching him for a time, and then at last turned his eyes upward, to the vast veined arch of rock that faded into shadows overhead. He stayed like that for some while more, one absent hand smoothing the curls of hair under its fingers, thinking little. Feeling all at once close to some understanding of all this, and of himself, that he did not in the slightest want to find.
Then at last he eased his arm and chest's slow way from beneath Bilbo's weight, and let him with all care and gentleness to the mattress instead, making him stir once but never wake. Slid out of the bed, out of its tangle of furs, to set his bare feet on cold stone. There was still a trickle of water to be had in the bathing-room, and he washed well before making his way to the vast wardrobe of his grandfather's old finery: where gilt diadems and jewelled robes lay displayed, atop rotted satin and beneath thick dust, and waiting only for living flesh to bear them hence again.
And who could rightly oblige them, if not he?