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The dinner had gone well, Damen thought, or as well as any dinner could go while Laurent was in a foul mood. He had no idea what had provoked it, but then again, anything could provoke him. It had to be something relatively enormous, in Laurent’s estimation, because his language had been its vilest, his violence quick to snap at the nearest person, regardless of rank or perceived offense.

Damen resolved to press the issue and bear the brunt of it, as usual, as he trailed Laurent to their chamber.

As soon as he stepped inside, he found his plan instantly derailed — also as usual.

“Oh, you’re capable of walking again. How blessed am I, your long-suffering nurse of weeks.”

Damen knew it was not the time to say anything.

“I think,” Laurent said, just before his boot found its familiar place on Damen’s heart, “that it is far past time.”

“Time?” Damen echoed, as Laurent pushed him back onto the bedsheets and made short work of his little clothing.

“You know what I mean.” Laurent rolled his eyes at Damen’s dumb silence. “Recall our conversation while I was on top of you? Or is the fact that I brought you to climax simply by rubbing against you so forgettable?”

“Oh. Yes,” Damen said, wanting to say that Laurent conveniently left out the part where he also brought himself to climax simply by rubbing against Damen and talking about this, “I mean, no, of course not forgettable, but yes, I —“

“Shut up,” Laurent said, and pinned Damen below him with hands and knees.

“Our firsts.”

“You’re as horrible at following orders as ever.” Laurent kicked off his boots, unlaced his collar and sleeves, and pulled his jacket over his head. He tossed it aside, quickly, not as he had before, when he had wanted Damen to watch, to be seduced — which meant that Laurent was quite flustered.

A smile tugged at Damen’s lips as his hands slid under Laurent’s shirt. Damen kissed Laurent’s exposed skin, suckling tenderly at the point where shoulder became neck. He removed Laurent’s shirt and licked at a nipple.

Laurent suppressed what promised to be a beautiful moan. “You needn’t seduce me. I am sufficiently aroused.”

“But you like to be seduced.”

“Well,” he said, and after a long, slow kiss to his neck, “yes.”

A pause. A smile. “Sufficiently aroused from the thought alone?”

Laurent flushed. “I have been made to wait.”

Damen thought. And realized it had been some time since that last time, which hadn’t involved anything going into anywhere. Oh, they spent time together, but not this quality time. Damen took weeks to heal, and with the politics of kingdoms uniting, why, it must have been…long-suffering weeks.

“So. You’ve been thinking about it ever since.”

“Haven’t you?” Laurent retorted, coolly, smoothly. Snappily, Damen noted with pleasure. This was the source of his pent-up rage. Not having Damen.

“And in the meantime, you touch yourself while imagining being inside me?”

Laurent’s bodily reaction confirmed this, as did his spitting the words “That’s enough of you trying to be smart,” before kissing him, and biting at his lip between pearly teeth, and saying “I never would have before you ruined me.”

“Not ruined,” Damen said softly, a hand on Laurent’s cheek.

“Not ruined,” Laurent agreed, with a twitch of a smile. “But I won’t say more.”

“We are both new to this. It deserves to have waited for these pure, uncomplicated times.”

“Exactly the sort of thing a sentimental idiot would say.”

“I love you,” Damen said, without realizing that was a first, too. When Laurent stiffened, he did realize it, and waited to see which sort of stiffening it was.

“You —” Laurent said, his face flush, his hands digging into Damen's shoulders. He leaned in, as if questing for the words, needing Damen to carve them into his flesh. And so it was the sort of stiffening that unlocked the first layer of Laurent’s tense guard.

“You forgot the ‘I love,’ first,” Damen supplied, helpfully.

Laurent hooked his thumb in Damen’s lip. Sighed as Damen drew fingers in with his tongue.

Dear, darling hypocritical Laurent — at least he did not deny it, blushed and turned away every time Damen teased the truth.

Damen twined a hand in Laurent’s glorious golden locks and brought their faces together. Laurent removed his fingers from Damen’s mouth to caress his chest. He nuzzled into Damen’s hand with a long look down his nose at him.

“Would you have liked me without this coloring?”

“I would have liked you if you had purple hair and green skin.”

“Purple? Perhaps I should color it. Everyone would be irate and blame you. I would enjoy it immensely.”

“Don’t you dare.”

Damen appreciated these rambles of insecurity, because they gave him concrete places to shore Laurent’s ego without making him feel patronized — although the complexities of shoring Laurent’s ego in one arena certainly spilled to those he was overconfident in.

Sensitive hypocrite, fishing for flattery and baiting Damen every time, knowing he could never refuse him, knowing he would be mocked if he asked the same. Laurent tugged his own pants off, slid the remaining bits of silky fabric from Damen's lap.

Hot hypocrite, he amended when Laurent pushed him onto his back and pressed a thumb into the tip of his cock, sending a shock of heat curling through Damen's core, and unamended back to sensitive when a bare brush from Damen’s thumb across his nipple made him shiver. Damen found himself also sufficiently roused, which Laurent clearly noted, hand leaving his exposed shaft and sliding up through the beading sweat on Damen’s chest.

“I like you oiled,” Laurent said, “and not just for aesthetics.”

Damen grinned and slid a hand up Laurent’s thigh. “No wonder you couldn’t bear to look at me after the games. Too roused by my sweat?” The pads of his fingers ghosted along the side of Laurent’s erect shaft.

Laurent’s breath shuddered. “You possess not an ounce of subtlety.”

“And you possess so much that you push your lust down until not even you can feel it.” His thumb ringing the tip, discovering the satisfying bead of wetness.

“Trust me, I feel it quite acutely, and if you don’t stop that this is going to end extremely preemptively and I am going to be very displeased.”

Damen removed his hand and slipped it around to Laurent’s buttocks. “And so I’m right, and the only thing that saved you from discovery that day was your stupid lacings and tight clothes.”

“You’re always right,” Laurent snorted, and poured an excessive amount of warm oil on Damen’s stomach.

Damen’s stomach contracted at the surprising contact, then settled and glowed as Laurent spread the oil up to his chest and shoulders and down past his waist. Laurent’s hands left him. Damen pushed himself onto his elbows so he could get a better view of, he presumed, Laurent rubbing hot oil into himself, a sight he sorely needed.

“No,” Laurent said, and pushed Damen’s thighs apart, “You’ll be serving me.” He thrust himself up along Damen’s shaft, just as they had been last time.

Damen dipped a hand into the reservoir that his stomach had become and happily obliged. Laurent made a small, sweet sound at the warmth of oil and hand slicking their cocks together.

And then Laurent took his hot, wet fingers and tested them against Damen’s entrance. Damen breathed slowly, relaxed, hard and needing this, his hands moving to become a guiding pressure on Laurent’s waist.

For one moment, Laurent looked up at him with his usual hesitation of a first, his constant resistance to imperfection, his embarrassment at his inexpertise. When he met Damen’s eyes, he smiled with utter trust, joy, and devotion. The moment melted, as it never had before.

They were equal in this.

And one of Laurent’s perfect, aristocratic fingers slipped inside. He began to methodically prepare Damen, who welcomed him heartily, and Laurent laughed with soft, breathless gratitude as he explored virgin territory.

“Too slow,” Damen managed, and Laurent caught his lips in a kiss.

Laurent broke the kiss and slid back down Damen’s body, positioning himself. “You want me now,” Laurent murmured, eyes hooded, lips parted, not quite a question.

Laurent’s hot, slippery cock slid against his entrance. Damen swallowed, and said “Please.”

Damen felt the first press of Laurent inside of him, a ghost of a pressure. The jolt of it sent flames and cinders ribboning through his blood.

“Oh,” Laurent breathed, an exhalation of pure bliss. He held Damen’s gaze, shuddered as he slid inside, eyes wide, pupils dilated to blackness. “I like this.”

That, thought Damen, his body sparking beyond physicality, was the biggest understatement in the history of lovemaking.

A surprised laugh of pleasure, subsumed by a gasp as Damen tightened himself around him, and a small, explorative thrust — Laurent was utterly overwhelmed by the sensation. “I like this,” he repeated, his body undulating, voice full of the joy of discovery — and Damen remembered Laurent was only beginning to allow himself to learn what he liked.

“Touch me,” Damen said.

“Touch yourself,” Laurent said, the momentary honey swapped for venom, his voice a shrug undercut with ragged breaths. “Since you talk like an expert on the matter.”

Damen knew it was revenge for guessing exactly how Laurent had been filling his nights while Damen recuperated.

Damen had no problem with this course of action. Probably a good idea, considering Laurent’s reactions and Damen’s memories of his first few times inside someone — he knew how to get himself there in time with Laurent.

Damen wrapped a hand around his shaft and slid. Laurent swallowed, the flush climbing down his neck, his pulse a butterfly’s wings.

Damen was far too pleased that this intimate voyeurism affected Laurent so, after his years in the horrifying desensitization of Vere.

This is nothing like Vere, he thought, with absolute satisfaction. Soon, as Laurent would have his way, Vere would be nothing like Vere. And neither would Akielos.

You like me like this, Damen intended to say, coyly and with his hand reenacting Laurent's favored techniques on himself, but just then Laurent angled his hips and Damen saw stars.

He must have made quite a sound. Laurent stared down his nose, half surprised at his prowess and half pleased with himself. “Ah. I’ve hit it. And you had no idea how it would feel. Now I’ll never get you to fuck me again,” he not-quite drawled, his face betraying his utter desire to do nothing other than fuck Damen into the ground for the rest of the night, and maybe, perhaps, allow Damen to return the favor, before flipping him onto his back again, as he always did.

“I could say the same,” Damen said, because that preposterous statement was wholly untrue, but — if he had known it would feel like this — well, he certainly wouldn’t have waited for Laurent, and not sharing this as equals would have been unbearable, and so —

That line of thought was shattered with another precise thrust from Laurent, and clearly Laurent was beyond euphoric inside Damen. He’d abandoned himself entirely, in a delectable combination of his lust and wicked mouth and petulant mood and boundless need for Damen. Insults turned endearments spilled from Laurent’s sweet, full lips at the sight below him. Filthy, at Damen’s moans, depraved, at his splayed legs, slut, at Damen’s hands working furiously over himself.

And yet also, Laurent couldn’t keep from spilling his heart, on this night of firsts, their first time with everything righted, and suddenly, he melted, truly lost, truly softened. He was kissing Damen, muttering his name through the kisses and rambling in Veretian, it’s too much, I can’t hold on, how do you hold on for more than a second, you giant animal, this with helpless, lust-drenched adoration, Damen, Damen, Damen; Damen responded in kind, Laurent, please, come inside me, I can’t tell where I end and you begin, please, I didn’t know being full felt this good, how do I, how, and Laurent, despite his earlier qualms, wrapped his hand around Damen’s shaft and worked with him; nevertheless, Laurent came first, because how could he not, slicked and inside his tight, hot, overwhelming King of Akielos, and he said, choked, ardent, desperate, I love you.

Damen, drenched in heat and spiraling manifest fantasies of Laurent’s pleasure and the sweet, simple words, came thickly into their joined hands.

Because Laurent came first — still thrusting through the aftershocks, not willing to give up being inside Damen just yet — and because he was Laurent, he carefully watched every second of Damen’s climax, and Damen knew it, and it only made it better.

Laurent lifted his hand to his lips and licked it clean, eyes on Damen, managing to smirk through it all.

Damen found his fingers buried in Laurent’s hipbones, his entire body tingling with fire from lips to toes. He blinked. “Wow,” he said.

“Wow,” Laurent agreed, and drew Damen into a sweet, open-mouthed kiss.



After he meticulously cleaned the rest of it, Laurent, as always, devolved into shy sweetness, his golden hair a halo, his cheeks and lips rouged with dizzying satisfaction, his cheek pillowed on Damen’s chest. “Did I hurt —“


“I don’t just mean that,” shyly, “My tone was —“

“No.” A kiss on the nose. “I like what you said.”

“And the way I said it? Crude and offensive?”


Laurent pressed a kiss into Damen’s cheek. “You spoil me.”


“I’m just — so often unsure, compared to you, and I can’t help but—“

“I know. But this was equal.” Damen’s arm wrapped around Laurent’s waist. “It was a perfect first of many.”

“Idiot,” and Laurent was sweet and mollified and tender.

Damen brushed a sweat-dampened lock of Laurent’s hair from his forehead. “Do that again.”

“Do what again?” Laurent retorted, in what he must have regarded a marvelous impersonation of Damen.

“Fuck me.”

“Is that an order?”


Laurent laughed, all charm and innocence. “I like when you beg.” His hand drew lazy, decadent, indulgent circles on Damen’s thigh. “But I was going to anyway.”