It turns out that Jupiter does, in fact, have an alcazar. Seraphi had fifty-seven houses in her time, most of them on resort planets or near refineries, but only one that could be properly called a home, and it is this one that is officially part of Jupiter’s inheritance: a modest little place in the Canubulum system that was apparently Seraphi's favorite on account of its lack of ostentatiousness. "Modest" according to Seraphi's standards, not Jupiter's. It has seventeen bedchambers, a library, an entertainment viewing room, a grand dining hall, a smaller dining room for more intimate affairs, a garden, a staff of Chamber presences and Splices to maintain the place, and a place to dock her spaceship (she has a spaceship).
When she finds the bathroom, her jaw drops. "Is that the tub?"
Calling this thing a tub is like calling the Titanic a boat. It’s the size of a small swimming pool, carved into the floor and lined with shimmering blue opal. There's about fifteen different gold spigots, and the wall behind it is lined with shelves stocked with bottles and jars filled with soap and bath salts.
"Queen Seraphi came here often to relax," explains Thana. She's a parrot Splice, with colorful clothes to match the feathers emerging from her long blonde hair. "Our bathing attendants are at your service as well, majesty."
"Uh, I don't need any- Thank you, but I think I can bathe by myself." Jupiter looks sidelong at Caine and Stinger. "Mostly, anyway."
"Is it all to your satisfaction, your majesty?" Thana asks, blue-grey eyes wide with what looks like fear. Maybe she thinks Jupiter will fire her if she doesn't need her.
Jupiter nods vigorously. "Totally. Though, if you could, I'm very tired. And I'd like to check out the bathing facilities in more depth. Privately."
Thana looks at Jupiter, then to Caine and Stinger, then back to Jupiter. "Of course, your majesty. I understand perfectly. I'll show you the rest of your alcazar tomorrow?" Her tone is carefully polite, and briefly Jupiter wonders what - or rather, who - Seraphi did in the privacy of her alcazar.
Jupiter smiles at her. "Of course. You've been amazingly helpful so far, thank you."
Thana's feathers flutter a bit. "Thank you, your majesty," she says, and closes the door behind her.
Jupiter's at the spigots before the door has finished closing. The various labels include "hot," "cold," "mineral," "soothe," "rejoice," and "Regenex," (this one Jupiter ignores entirely), and a few other ones like "blue" or "snargjil" that have no indication as to their use or meaning. She turns on three or four that look interesting, and throws in a round, sweet-smelling ball that is apparently Orous' answer to the bath bomb. It dissolves into rose petals and pink glitter, and Jupiter lets out a whoop.
"Enjoying yourself, majesty?" asks Stinger, not even bothering to hide his smile.
"I live in a house with nine other people and one bathroom," Jupiter says, stripping down in a hurry. "It's a miracle if I can get hot water in the morning, let alone this!" She gestures to the bath, which is rapidly filling with pink, glittery bubbles. "And if I have to be a queen," she says, shimmying out of her underwear, "I'm going to take the little things when I can." She slides into the pool feet first, sinking into the perfumed water with a rapturous sigh. At its deepest, the water comes up a little higher than her waist. "Come on in, it's sparkly."
Stinger moves towards the bath slowly, removing his own shirt with military efficiency, but Caine takes a step backward.
"Uh," he says. "I'm fine."
"You okay?" Jupiter asks.
"I'm fine," Caine says again. "I just- I don't need to take a bath right now."
"Well, you don't need to," Jupiter says, "but it's, you know, fun." She stirs the water around a bit to demonstrate.
"I'm fine," Caine repeats. "I'll just stay out here-"
But now Stinger is looking at him with the same concerned look as Jupiter. "Caine," he rasps, "is it the bath?"
Caine's glance darts around the room, anywhere but their faces. "Yeah?"
Stinger sighs and turns to Jupiter. "Legion showers," he explains. "Not a good place to get used to being wet, even if you like it, which, well-" He tips his head towards Caine. "Dogs don't."
"Right," Jupiter says. Her expression moves from concerned to thoughtful. "What's wrong with them?"
Caine shivers a bit, remembering. "Cold. Cold and, and really high water pressure. And the tiles are slippery, and the soap smell overpowers everything, and it's a disgusting smell, it's-" He tries to think of a word to describe it and fails. "Thick."
"Okay," Jupiter says, slowly. "I won't make you, but... do you think you could try anyway? The water's warm," she adds, "and I don't think this smells too bad."
"But I can't smell you under it," Caine says in a small voice.
"That's because you're not close enough to smell me," Jupiter says. She holds out her hand. "Just try it once?"
Caine looks furtively around for an exist and settles on Stinger's face. "I don't..."
Stinger looks to Jupiter, then back to Caine. "What's your safeword?"
Caine blinks at the non sequitur. "What?"
"We have a safeword, Caine," Stinger says, a bit of strength seeping into his tone. "What is it?"
Caine looks confused, but answers, "Stop. Sir," he adds as an afterthought.
"And if you're uncomfortable but can keep going?"
"Hold, sir," he says, comprehension dawning.
"So if you try it and don't like it?"
"I tell you so, sir."
"That's right," Stinger says. He turns to Jupiter to confirmation, who nods.
Caine's hands are still shaking as he takes his clothes off, but he keeps his gaze on Jupiter, who's still in the pool, arms outstretched and waiting for him. He keeps his wings protectively tucked in, furled to a fraction of their size and flat against his back. The water, when he gets in, is warm and smells strongly of roses, but there's enough of Jupiter under it to keep him calm. Not enough, though. He shudders a bit, the water rippling around him.
Stinger stands behind him. "What do you need?" he asks.
Caine swallows. "Uh... you could... maybe hold me?"
Stinger chuckles. "Should have brought the cuffs with us," he says over Caine's shoulder to Jupiter, who laughs.
"What if they rusted?" she says, getting out of the tub. She drips over to the bath supply shelves, not caring at all for modesty.
"There's alloys that don't rust," Stinger says.
"Really?" Jupiter sounds intrigued.
"Some made especially for our purposes, in fact. You should kneel." He directs the latter sentence at Caine, who drops to his knees without protest. Kneeling, the water comes up to his chest. If he relaxes his stance-
"Hands behind your back. Whatever's comfortable." Stinger stands behind him, legs spread, and plants both hands on his shoulders, drawing him backwards. As he is, he's slightly off-balance: it's easier to lean into Stinger than fight him. It's not an effective hold, by any means. Caine could stand up if he tried to. His arms aren't held by anything except his own willpower. But the strength is still there, Stinger warm and wonderfully solid at his back, with the reassurance that he could escape quickly if he wanted to, and he feels a bit better, though his heart is still pumping erratically in his chest.
Caine flinches. "Good."
Stinger is holding him up. Jupiter is coming back soon. Nothing is going to happen. "All clear, sir."
Jupiter flings a natural sponge into the water to soak and gets back in. She's holding a couple of bottles in each hand, each labeled with their intended purpose. "Got a preference for smell?" she asks, holding them to Caine's nose.
He sniffs a couple of bottles before indicating the green one in her right hand. Green apple, nothing fancy. She puts down the bottles in favor of the wet sponge.
"Tip your head back," she says. "Close your eyes." Obediently, Caine does so.
She squeezes the sponge over the crown of Caine's head, letting the water soak into his hair. It's not a new sensation, his hair being wet, but it's different from the relentless pounding of the barrack showers.
"Now shampoo," Jupiter says softly. She squirts a bit into her hand and rubs it between her palms, then sinks her hands into Caine's wet hair. It's a bit awkward, trying to do it from the front, but she manages, working it into a lather with her fingertips and massaging the back of his head and behind his ears.
"Oh," Caine says, sounding surprised. "That's-"
"-like getting petted?" Stinger asks.
"Yeah," Caine says faintly.
"I think this is putting him under," Stinger says in an undertone to Jupiter, who nods.
"Bathtime-induced subspace," she says at the same volume, not slowing the movement of her hands. "Yay."
She rinses out the soap, taking care not to get it into Caine's eyes, and starts to squirt the bottle of conditioner into her hand. In pressing up against Caine to get at his hair again, however, she notices something else against her leg.
Caine is getting hard under the water.
"Didn't realize the bath was affecting you that much," she remarks.
"It's not- it doesn't," Caine stammers, twisting his head so that she can scratch a particular spot at the nape of his neck. "It just-" He shudders, breath catching in his throat.
Jupiter lifts the sponge again, rinsing the conditioner out. She shields his face from the water with one hand and combs her hands through his hair with the other. Caine's eyes are open this time, looking into hers with a silent plea.
Damn puppy eyes.
"Caine," she says, "stand up."
He does, moving with Stinger, who shifts his weight to account for the new position. Stinger threads one arm between their bodies and wraps the other around Caine's chest. It's not a hold, not really. It doesn't hurt, for one. But it makes it harder for Caine to take his hands from behind his back or move his upper body, and he again feels that closeness that means safe. Stinger's got a hold of him. Jupiter's near him. That's how things are supposed to be.
”I think,” Jupiter says, reaching for his cock, “that you’ve been very good. You know, not freaking out in the bath and stuff.” She gives it an experimental pull and Caine gasps.
”I agree, your majesty,” Stinger says, grinning. “Excellent conduct. Courage in the face of fear.”
”So help me,” Caine says, “if I think about this every - nng - every time I get a Legion commendation-”
”It’s only fair,” Jupiter says, moving her hand faster. “You’ve officially ruined baths for me.”
”Can’t say the same,” Caine gasps. He’s truly pinned now, between the two of them.
”I see now,” Stinger says, his mouth to Caine’s ear. “Here you were, whining about not liking baths,” he moves down Caine’s neck with his lips, “when all I’d’ve had to do was fuck you in the Legion showers and you’d go twice daily, no complaints.” He bites, not gently, where Caine's neck meets his shoulder, and Caine bucks in his hold, feet struggling for purchase on the slippery opal floor of the bath.
"You okay?" Jupiter asks, a bit facetiously. He's clearly enjoying himself, and he’s probably not going to last long like this. She twists her wrist on an upward stroke, then does it again just because she can.
Caine throws his head back to rest on Stinger's shoulder, exposing his throat to her. "I- oh, please!"
"Shhh," Jupiter says. She reaches up with a wet hand to cup his cheek. Water runs in a rivulet down the curve of his neck. "You're doing so well, Caine."
"You gonna come for us?" Stinger asks. Jupiter pumps her hand faster, licking a wet trail up his neck and sucking hard at his pulse point.
Caine nods frantically, shuddering in Stinger's arms. "Please, can I, pleasepleaseplease-"
"Whenever you want," Jupiter says. Caine rocks into the loose grip she has on his cock, fucking her hand as well as he can with his arms pinned. "Whenever you want, Caine, it's okay."
Caine moves up into her fist, once, twice, and then he slumps back against Stinger, gasping. Stinger adjusts for the change in weight, his arms still locked around Caine, holding him up instead of holding him back. "Think you can stand to have a proper wash now?" Stinger asks. It's just this side of mocking, but there's a real question behind it. Caine's face is flushed, his chest heaving, but he nods. He straightens, wobbling a bit, then stretches his wings out. Fully extended, the tips of his feathers dip into the water and brush against the edges of the pool.
Stinger adopts a sage expression. "Well, if we're bringing wings into this," he says, in exaggerated tones, "maybe we should run a fresh bath. Different soaps. Different faucets."
Jupiter grins. "We should change the water anyway," she says to Stinger. "This is dirty."