Actions

Work Header

Agape

Work Text:

In the six months that he spends in Coldridge prison, Corvo sleeps, and he dreams. There is, after all, not much else to do in a small, damp, eight-by-twelve-foot cell, not much else with which to distract his mind and body from hunger, from pain, from grief. In between erratic bouts of torture and the stale, often moldy bread that comprises his irregular meals, Corvo finds himself sleeping twelve to sixteen hours a day by his best guess, though so much sleep and the constant flood lights outside his window make it difficult to reckon time with any real faith in his accuracy. The sleep serves to conserve his strength and shield his mind, or so he decides in his rare lucid and uninterrupted moments, ever practical.

Regardless of the purpose it serves, sleep brings dreams, and the dreams are a welcome comfort.

Corvo relives peaceful days on Serkonos, the challenges and the rewards of his training, the secret and often awkward but always pleasurable courtship of Jessamine, playing tag with Emily. Even the frequent, vivid nightmares that replay his final moments with Jessamine are welcome; in the confines of his own mind, he can do more, can change what happens, even if only until the dream restarts.

Oddly, the dreams that become perhaps the most welcome are empty and unfamiliar. An endless blue expanse into which he can easily project his most beloved and treasured memories without fear of context, of remembered pain. Corvo conjures over and over again and the memories fade, like sand slipping through his fingers the more tightly he grasps. More and more often, his other dreams become flat and surreal, as though he were glancing at a mirror in the darkness and seeing only a head without the corresponding face; the dreams are bland and disquieting, empty without the flesh of the memories they should evoke.

In his cell, Corvo is limited to eight feet by twelve feet, less when rain floods the sloped floor nearest the window. In the Void, he wanders limitlessly, and even aimless emptiness feels like freedom.

And Corvo does know enough to call these dreams what they are, knows enough of the old legends and wives’ tales and bedtime stories to know his retreat as the Void. He cannot bring himself to care. Almost unwittingly, in the most wretched moments of his torture, Corvo finds his mind calling out for the Void, and finds some small measure of comfort; it is enough. Weeks become months, and his silent pleas to the Void become pleas to its God, though the mysterious Outsider has never made itself known and he expects no answer.

And so begins Corvo’s heresy.

--

Corvo can hardly believe his own senses when he receives a note and a key with his daily serving of stale bread. Even as he slips past and through Coldridge’s defenses, as he creeps through the sewers towards what a series of notes promises to be his salvation, he cannot bring himself to believe. It feels all at once familiar and alien, like something half-remembered and all too dream-like as he watches from afar as his body avoids guards and rats alike, seemingly divorced from his conscious mind. Surely, he must still be dreaming, must still be sleeping fitfully on a thin mattress with no company but the rats and flies and his abusive captors.

And yet… what he sees is too vivid to be a memory, and no blue seeps at the edges of his vision. Abstractly, Corvo recognizes this as his new reality. When Corvo clasps the hand of the old boatman, Samuel, to be helped into the dinghy waiting on the river shore, it finally becomes concrete. Samuel either does not notice him weeping, or is too kind to mention it. Corvo rather thinks it’s the later, and spends the better part of the boat ride struggling to regain his composure.

When they arrive, the Hound Pits Pub and the assembled loyalists are not what Corvo expects of a secret coup, though he is unsure precisely what he might have been expecting. Strangest of all, though, is the tower that has already been outfitted in the anticipation of housing Emily. The welcoming stove, the soft mattresses, the girlish decorations, the make-shift walkway to and from Corvo’s quarters; they all seem as though the plan is much farther along than it actually is. For a moment, Corvo feels that Emily has just stepped out to play on the river bank and could return any moment to tug on his hand, pleading that he teach her that Tyvian chokehold like he had promised so many months ago. The concrete physicality of the little room pulls at his heart in ways that none of Admiral Havelock’s grand words had. For the first time in six months, Corvo feels hopeful, and with a silent prayer of thanks on his lips, he heads to bed.

Corvo finds that sleep escapes him. Too much has changed too fast: the cot is too soft, the room too large, no boots click evenly on cement floors. He feels ridiculous, to be so anxious when he is finally free, and so he distracts himself by pacing the length and breadth of his attic room, carefully counting his steps, repeatedly trying and failing to convince himself that this new twenty foot by fifteen foot space is real and safe and his.

When Corvo does finally exhaust himself into sleep, he is surprised to awaken immediately and dreamlessly. He feels rested, feels better than he has in months, as though the aches and pains from torture and malnourishment and lack of exercise have dissolved entirely. He stretches languidly and sighs at the unfamiliar but welcome comfort of a real bed, stands, and walks to the door of the stairwell. Only then does he notice the blue seeping at the edges of his vision and in through the attic windows. There has never been quite so much substance to the Void, Corvo thinks, eyes wide. Where previously he had conjured images and objects into the emptiness, the bed behind him still feels distinctly and effortlessly solid, soft and still body-warm when he turns to double check. And when he opens the door that ought to lead out to the cramped stairwell of the pub, there are broken walls and a ramp and stairs of stone disrupting the endless blue with which he had thought himself so familiar. In the distance, Corvo can just barely make out yet more displaced structures, though the curious streams of water falling upward somewhat disorient him.

He follows the stairs upward, heeding a call that seems to mingle with the persistent whale song, a force tugging at him from just behind his sternum. When the dark haired and darker eyed youth appears before him, there is no doubt as to who he is. Corvo falls to his knees and listens mutely to the smooth, even words, receives the Mark like a benediction even though it burns as harshly as a branding iron. Corvo Blinks and stumbles through the dioramas that the Outsider has plucked from reality for him; marvels and weeps at the long forgotten details of Jessamine’s face even as she lies in a cooling pool of her own blood; presses close to the unmoving Emily and pretends he feels warmth. These visions must be, are surely gifts.

But no other gift quite matches that of the Heart. Corvo’s memory of Jessamine’s voice had faded long before that of her face. He cups the organ in both hands like something precious, delighted by its warmth as it flutters in his palms, and listens carefully as she explains things that she had neither reason nor means to know of in life. It’s selfish, Corvo knows, to wish her there with him even in such a form, but he is not yet ready to part with her voice. He follows her to a shrine of blue fabric and yet another gift.

The Outsider’s deliberate pronunciation of the word interest as Corvo reverently strokes the hissing rune sends a shiver down his spine.

Corvo awakens in the attic room sometime around dusk, and his old aches fall heavy on his shoulders. He is almost surprised to see that the Mark remains even in the waking world, blacker than black and impossibly dark against his own dark skin, and he presses the back of his left hand to his lips in thanks and silent prayer.

--

The Heart, too, remains in the waking world, real and surprisingly heavy in Corvo’s hand. He listens closely as she whispers secrets, and diligently follows her direction to new runes and charms. The mark and its magic are invaluable to his mission, and the whale bone artifacts with their private songs make him stronger, faster, more capable, for which he is endlessly grateful. Corvo accrues quite the collection, and wonders sometimes what the box of carved whale bone that he hides under a loose floorboard beneath his bed would look like to another person, if his collection would be the largest the overseers have ever seen were they to find it.

But what most draws him, what he seeks out most fervently, are the shrines of driftwood and whale bone, swathed in rich indigo brocade and bathed in the blue light of whale oil lanterns. The runes become secondary.

Corvo basks in awe at the crude constructions that seem somehow grander than even the High Abbey, at the distortion in space and time that seems to cling to the Outsider’s shrines even in the absence of his actual presence. Standing before these altars, Corvo feels envy and jealousy. In moments of relative peace, he imagines what it might feel like to build his own shrine, carve his own rune, create a space that would invoke this same awe in others. In weaker moments, he considers destroying every shrine he finds until only he can experience the Void. But he knows both wishes are unrealistic; he has no doubts that even the Loyalists would balk at harboring such an obviously practicing heretic, especially with the arrival of Teague Martin, and he knows that the Outsider’s influence is no small thing that can be hoarded by one man, however marked.

And so Corvo satisfies himself with seeking out shrines built by others and indulging in a few precious moments of worship.

Or at least, just that is enough to satisfy him until he overhears a deranged survivor, driven mad by proximity to a rune without the Outsider’s blessing, muttering something about runes and seed. Corvo should just dismiss it as the ravings of a madman, grab the rune responsible, focus on retrieving Sokolov. And yet… Something settles hot and low in Corvo’s belly and he can’t help but be curious.

He kneels at the shrine, caressing the rune first with fingers, then with lips. He has no real plan, not even any particular desire, but maybe this is another form of worship; anything to please his black-eyed God, who gave back everything he had lost, and more. Before he can lose his nerve, Corvo acts on impulse and wets the palm of his marked hand with his tongue, reaching down to his waistband with the other. He’s already half hard when he grips his cock, just this side of too tight, hissing through clenched teeth. Corvo pushes away all thoughts of the face and body that pleasure often calls to mind, instead focusing only on the physical senses. Blue floods his vision, the rune’s hissing song fills his ears, and the rough texture of its carving in his right hand focuses the entirety of his attention. The hand on his cock cannot be mistaken for any but his own as he chases pleasure, stroking himself deliberately and roughly. This is not about him.

Arousal coils tight but it’s not quite enough, not until the Outsider appears before him, floating in the air above the shrine with his legs and arms crossed just so, as though sprawled in a throne. His shoes are at eye-level. Corvo imagines supplicating himself and licking them clean of salt and grime and rat guts alike, and comes with the phantom taste of ozone on his lips.

Corvo looks up and puts himself to rights with stiff, jerky movements, his cheeks burning. Belatedly, he thinks this may not have been the best idea. The Outsider’s voice is as even as ever as he maligns Sokolov, as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened, and he disappears without so much as a word regarding Corvo’s unseemly behavior. The whole situation is confusing and mortifying. Corvo does his best to put it from his mind as he makes his way across Kaldwin’s Bridge towards Sokolov’s estate.

His best efforts are not quite enough when he reaches the safety of his own chambers. His sleep deprived mind conjures over and over again the Outsider’s careful enunciation of interesting; wonders what fascinating would sound like caressed by his voice. And most of all, Corvo wonders if maybe he hadn’t merely imagined that the Outsider seemed pleased with himself, even smug, at the shrine that evening.

--

When Corvo next encounters a shrine, not even a full twenty four hours after the last, he is sorely tempted to ignore it, as he has been trying to ignore the heated memories, the color that rises high on his dusky cheeks. Immediately after, Corvo had been mortified but so sure that his worship had been received, had been appreciated. But now…

Regardless, Corvo now finds himself stumbling back to the once-opulent apartment, now mildewed and rat-infested, that he had determinedly ignored earlier, ripping off his mask and falling to his knees before the driftwood altar.

The Lady Boyle’s blood weighs heavy on his hands and his blade, and thoughts of the future he has cut short weigh heavy on his heart.

It hadn’t taken much poking around, among both the exasperating nobles downstairs and the notes and diaries upstairs, to ascertain that Lord Brisby was little more than a stalker with intentions that were dubious at best. If Corvo had been to deliver the unconscious Lady to him, as requested, Corvo has no doubt that she would have awoken to a fate worse than a quick and painless blade to the throat. She would have been alive, but life and men alike are rarely kind to women. He was certain that she had known little, if anything at all, of the Lord Regent’s plot and was only guilty of using the methods of advancement available to her. But the Loyalists were right; as an obstacle, she had to be removed. And when the options were death or that… Yes, Corvo tries to convince himself, her death had been a mercy.

It still weighs just as heavy on his shoulders and her blood still seems to stain his hands.

Corvo is unsure what he expects when the Outsider appears, called by Corvo’s hesitant touch to the singing rune, but if his private desires had included comfort and validation, he is sorely disappointed. Instead, the Outsider mocks him, dismissively accuses him of dreaming of hedonism in those long months at Coldridge when they both know full well what he dreamt, what he still dreams in his too-large attic room.

“I suppose she had to go,” the Outsider declares impassively, with perhaps the barest hint of disappointment, and Corvo has had enough.

“If you think her death was a punishment, then you know nothing of mercy,” Corvo hisses back. If the Outsider minds or even notices Corvo’s interruption, he shows no sign of it. For the space of several breathes, both are silent and utterly still.

“No, it wasn’t. How interesting that you can see so clearly. Few mortal minds are so flexible as to imagine a fate worse than death, engrossed as they are in their own fleeting lives. Fewer still in your position would retain the kindness to spare her that future,” the Outsider tilts his head and eyes Corvo almost quizzically. “I wonder if the same consideration was made when you spared your previous marks. You continue to surprise, my dear Corvo.”

The endearment curls tightly around Corvo’s throat even as the gentle validation of his reasoning eases the ache in his chest. Corvo thinks of Campbell and the ostracizing brand that now condemns him to a slow, agonizing, humiliating death; of the Pendletons with empty mouths and broken spirits buried a mile beneath the earth. He thinks of how these victories were sweeter by far than simple assassination. And he thinks of how it all would have been impossible without the Mark on his left hand.

He wants to breathe apologies for his outburst, words of thanks for everything else into those pale drowned-blue lips but his chest is too tight and his tongue too heavy to form the words, and so he lists forward from his kneeling position to mouth them into a clothed calf, eyes closed and burning as he presses his cheek into the waterlogged fabric.

The touch is allowed for far longer than Corvo expects. The Outsider should have long vanished, had never remained silent and present for so long. Corvo breathes in deeply the scent of sea-salt and ozone and wet leather for several calming moments, and wonders at the fact that this is permitted. His mind wanders back to the last shrine, to the smug set of the Outsider’s black eyes and bitter tang melded with the smell of sea-salt, and he’s already so close…

It takes little thought for Corvo to lean that slight breadth forward and nuzzle against and between the Outsider’s legs. This, too, is worship, he thinks, offering himself wholly before an altar, on his knees as though in prayer. He is ever so thankful when his offering is accepted, when the Outsider drifts lower and strokes one hand softly through Corvo’s disheveled hair, leaves it there and presses. It’s such a simple thing, to undo the buttons and peel aside the soaked fabric, to press close to the revealed flesh. Corvo wonders at how convincingly real the Outsider seems in that moment, the inhuman chill where he should find warmth and the unyielding strength of the hand in his hair the only signs that the being before him is anything but a man. As he coaxes steel into velvety flesh, Corvo wonders if this is an idol or truly his God incarnate, dismisses the thought as he swallows him down. It doesn’t matter.

The Outsider is cold in Corvo’s mouth and utterly still beneath the hands grasping his hips, and Corvo imagines breathing warmth and life into cold stone, imagines his own life leaving him to warm the Outsider by even a fraction. His mind conjures faint memories of illustrations he’s seen of stone altars found in ruined Pandyssian temples, conjectures of blood rites and ritual sacrifices. A shiver runs down his spine. He hums low in his throat in satisfaction; perhaps, when his task is complete and Emily has no more need of him, Corvo will ask as such.

The Outsider’s hand flexes, clutching briefly at Corvo’s hair, and an unneeded breath is drawn.

“You offer yourself so sweetly, dear Corvo. Would you really give yourself over so completely?” The Outsider’s usually even tone is tinged with wonder, and he strokes a hand down Corvo’s face, cups his hollowed cheek. “So many before have also sought the pleasures of this flesh, but your intentions are so curiously different. Where they wished to possess, you wish so intently to be possessed that even now the very Void sings with it. What an interesting creature you have proven to be.”

Corvo doesn’t bother to question how the God before him knows the confines of his mind. Instead, he moans, unbidden, around the cock in his mouth; his tongue presses a silent affirmation into the chilled flesh, and his eyes slide open to gaze upwards, to catch a glimpse of black eyes half-lidded and a smug smirk on blue lips. His own hardness presses achingly against rough fabric and he redoubles his efforts, adjusting the angle of his head and swallowing roughly around the intrusion as he buries his nose in wiry black curls, as sea-soaked as the rest of the almost-body above him. An instant or an eternity later, the Outsider sighs softly, and bitter mingles with salt on Corvo’s tongue.

Corvo leans back, but does not move to stand. Before him, between one blink and the next, the Outsider once more looks unruffled, clothes in order as though nothing at all has happened. Uncertainty grips Corvo’s heart and he averts his eyes, tries to ignore his discomfort as physical reality reasserts itself; his knees ache from so long spent pressed into the hard floor and his own cock is still painfully hard.

The cool hand has not moved from his cheek.

The Outsider leans down and presses chilled lips against the crown of Corvo’s head, “We shall see.”

Corvo remains kneeling for several silent minutes after the Outsider has vanished, eyes closed, despite the protests of his legs. This time, when he finally adjusts himself and stands to leave the empty apartment, there is no uncertainty.

--

Corvo has no intention of avoiding the shrine that the Heart directs him to in the basement of Dunwall Tower, as he had the last one. Once again, he falls to his knees before the altar with blood on his blade; this time, he knows that he is seeking comfort where none should be expected.

The blood does not belong to Hiram Burrows. He will have to live with what he’s done, will have to face trial. Let the courts execute him if they must, but Corvo will have no part in it; ruining him was more than enough. Corvo’s disgust at the contents of the Lord Regent’s unintended confession would only have been compounded had his blade also been sullied.

No, the blood belongs to a certain “Royal” Torturer.

Corvo is no stranger to killing, recognizes it as an unfortunate necessity when unavoidable. And Morris Sullivan was no innocent, did not weigh on Corvo’s conscience as the Lady Boyle had. Yet the bloodied hands that peel away his mask continue to shake as he kneels before the altar. For the first time in Corvo’s life, he has killed in a heated moment. Memories of hot pokers and pliers and hammers had clouded his vision with red, and his sword had been used not because he had to, but because he wanted to. It had felt like murder.

When the Outsider appears, hovering above where Corvo clutches at the rune, he is at first unusually silent, merely watching Corvo shake before him. It is several long moments before he eventually speaks.

“If you could see all of Morris Sullivan’s possible tomorrows, as I can, I suspect that you would not feel such guilt, dear Corvo. Though you acted in anger, you have spared more lives than you’ve ended. The Torturer was too fond of his activities here not to continue elsewhere, had he been spared and released.” The Outsider drifts lower until he stands on solid ground, lifts Corvo’s chin with one slender finger, rubs at a smear of blood when Corvo finally meets his eyes. “Many noble men have killed in anger, Corvo. It is unimportant. I think no less of you.”

Corvo wants to argue, wants to point out that his intent was not to save some faceless future victim, that he only intended revenge and pain. He also knows that intent must be meaningless to a being like the one before him. When all of causation and consequence, intended and not, unfolds before you as plainly as a map, subjectivity must be foreign and fascinating. Instead, he focuses on the even tone of his God’s voice, on the implications that he imagines hover unspoken between and behind the words; on the intent, and Corvo does not miss the irony. It’s not quite what he wanted to hear, but it is enough.

Corvo stands, at eye-level with the God for the first time in all of their meetings. Though no longer kneeling, the slump of his shoulders and the tilt of his head remain deferential as he reaches out, slowly, asking silent permission. The Outsider remains still and silent, allows Corvo to cup the damp hair at the nape of his neck, to draw him forward until their foreheads rest against each other.

“Thank you,” Corvo breathes out.

“I should be the one thanking you, Corvo. What a show you’ve put on.” Cool breath ghosts against Corvo’s cheeks, lips, in a silent huffed laugh. “How surprising that the Lord Regent still lives, despite all he’s done. The exquisite terror of all his careful planning come crashing down around him, and now he has to rot in prison while awaiting trial, like a common criminal; like you. How poetic.

“You are an unstoppable force, it seems, and unpredictable. I’ve lived a long time, and these are the moments I wait for. I chose well with you, Corvo.”

This time, it is the Outsider who leans forward. It’s simple, the barest press of lips for the space of a breath, before he pulls away and dissipates like so much smoke. Again, Corvo thinks of the unspoken implications, imagines what the word favorite might sound like spoken from cold lips that he imagines he can still taste when he wets his own with his tongue. It doesn’t seem so farfetched.

When Corvo moves to leave, mask back in place, his hands are steady and he easily slips past guards as he makes his way towards where Samuel is waiting.

--

On his last night with the Loyalists, Corvo wakes in the Void much as he did on the first. The circumstances are otherwise quite different; instead of falling gratefully into a soft bed, he stumbles and collapses to the floor in a drugged stupor. He wakes briefly as Samuel drags him out to a raft, sets him adrift towards the flooded district, where he finds masked assassins and Daud instead of safety.

He shouldn’t be surprised. Men that resort so quickly to bribery, blackmail, and assassination don’t have much further to sink, and power is a powerful motivator; far greater, it seems, than loyalty. The Heart had warned him, even. That Havelock had killed for sport, that Martin was an ambitious snake of a man, that Treavor was cruel and weak-willed. He should have known better than to trust these people with Emily’s safety, could have Blinked to Cecelia’s bolt-hole apartment at the first signs of poison, would have…

Should have, could have, would have. There’s no use in wondering what if.

Still, Corvo is surprised. He had wanted so badly to believe, to hope, that he had willfully overlooked evidence that, in hindsight, seems so clear. As he drifts among the debris of the flooded district, he recalls how sincere a gesture Emily’s tower had seemed when he first arrived at the Hound Pits Pub, what feels like ages ago. His last thought before the Void takes him is for her safety.

When the Outsider greets him, there is regret in the set of his black eyes and the tone of his voice.

“Here you are, Corvo, in a drowned and ruined world, betrayed yet again by those you trusted. Curious, how there’s always a little innocence left to lose. I wonder what you’ll do now, what lengths you’ll go to for Emily’s sake; if the Loyalists, too, will suffer your particular brand of mercy.” The Outsider doesn’t bother to hover before Corvo, instead stands on ground as solid as can be managed in the Void. Corvo stands firmly with strength he knows would be sapped by poison were he awake, finds himself a hair’s breadth taller than the avatar before him.

“Whatever else he may be, the Admiral has long been an honest man; to see him choose the way of poison and subterfuge is surprising for one who so prefers the blade or the bullet to subtlety. And what a shame it would have been had he succeeded.”

“Because your show would be over?” Corvo bites out.

“Do you really think so little of me?” The Outsider seems genuinely curious rather than offended, head tilted to one side, and Corvo slumps slightly, unable to hold on to his anger.

He is silent for a long moment before asking, “Would you have interfered, had Samuel not acted as he did?”

“What do you think my answer will be, and what do you wish it were, I wonder? The truth is that I would not have needed to. There was no future in which the goodhearted boatman did not halve the poison, is no tomorrow in which you succumb.

“But the truth is not always what is most honest. To answer the intended question rather than its particular phrasing, I had… already taken measures of my own. The mark you bear grants some measure of resistance to most poisons. You will wake soon, with no lasting ill effects.”

The Outsider stands, silent and impassive, as though he hasn’t just admitted to interfering with events in order to preserve Corvo’s life, as though the admission were of no particular significance. It feels significant to Corvo, feels like the closest to favorite he’s ever been, and his breath catches in his chest.

An icy hand reaches out to press where Corvo’s heart beats wildly against his ribs.

“Of course you are my favorite, Corvo. How could you not be, when out of all the lives of mortals, it is yours that burns the brightest? How could I not be fascinated?”

Corvo lets out a strangled noise from deep in his throat as his breath finally dislodges from behind the chill of the hand on his chest and lurches forward, both hands clutching at the lapels of the Outsider’s soaked jacket. There is nothing simple about the second kiss they share. Corvo pours out his desperation, his devotion, his adoration as he presses lip and tongue and teeth to cool flesh. Presses the full length of his body against the Outsider, as close as possible and never close enough.

If Corvo were more coherent, he might be surprised when the Outsider returns in kind. As is, he can only moan and submit himself sweetly when the Outsider devours his mouth, too-sharp teeth gentle against first his lips, tongue, then jaw, the pulse-point of his neck. The Outsider slides a leg between Corvo’s own, takes on the full weight of Corvo’s slack body as easily as if he were carved from immovable stone, and Corvo is lost in the friction, helpless to do much else other than spread his legs wider and press against the Outsider’s thigh through too many layers of cloth, to pull helplessly at the Outsider’s jacket and hair with hands that flex spasmodically. The Outsider’s own hands rove over Corvo’s body, laying claim and pushing aside clothes so that he can nip at a scarred collarbone, lave at the marks with a cold tongue. 

“You’re mine, entirely, Corvo,” the Outsider mouths against heated skin. “My favorite.”

Corvo keens at the praise and possession he hears in the Outsider’s voice and can’t help a stuttered thrust of his hips, achingly hard cock against the thigh between his legs. He is met by a matching hardness and a growl, is drawn impossibly closer by possessive, clutching hands. They don’t quite find a rhythm, hips slotted with hips and cocks grinding together artlessly; Corvo pants against the Outsider’s mouth. It’s messy, and surprisingly visceral, and it doesn’t take long for Corvo to come with a wordless cry, shudder and slump bonelessly against the Outsider’s chest. One hand falls from where it had curled into the Outsider’s lapel to palm at his still-hard cock as Corvo mumbles quietly against his collar.

“I’m yours, all yours, anything you want. Please.”

Corvo is soft and pliant, clinging close as the Outsider lowers him to the ground. He hums in satisfaction at the Outsider’s weight bearing down on him, welcomes the slim hips that insinuate themselves into the cradle of his thighs. When cold hands move to unbutton his trousers and jacket in turn, Corvo does his best to cooperate from where he lies pinned, kicks off his boots, wriggles free of loosened pants and under things, shrugs out of his damp coat and shirt. He doesn’t reciprocate. Waits to see what is allowed, what the rules will be.

The Outsider raises himself for a moment, glances down Corvo’s body. Corvo imagines he must be quite a sight: his pupils must be blown so wide that they threaten to consume the surrounding ring of brown; the flush that creeps down his cheeks, neck, faint against dark skin, spreads across his chest, heaving with breath; the mess he’s made of the underclothes has smeared across the v of his hips and down his thighs. A feast, or perhaps an offering.

Corvo suspects it might be for his sake that the Outsider remains purposefully heavy and real; instead of allowing himself to float, bolstered by the Void, he shifts his weight to rest fully on one arm and reaches down to undo the buttons of his pants, push them aside, stroke himself back to fullness. The one concession he makes to the unreality of the situation is to conjure something slick and wet—and disturbingly blue, which Corvo notices out the corner of one eye and does not want to think about. The Outsider strokes himself once, twice, with a slick hand, makes a brief pass over Corvo’s uninterested cock. Corvo is too far past his youth to be ready again so soon, but nonetheless spreads his thighs further, eagerly, when the Outsider slides his hand lower.

The touch is as cold as Corvo expects, cold fingers and colder oil, and the intrusion of one slim finger is at first far too much so soon after coming. He squirms at the discomfort and the Outsider nips his collarbone in admonishment, just short of breaking through skin. One finger becomes two, stretching him, and he struggles to keep still against the pressure. The Outsider is thorough, working Corvo with two fingers until he is comfortable enough to press back, silently asking for more. The Outsider adds a third finger, curls all three upward to press against Corvo’s over-stimulated prostate, earning a whimper.

“You’re so pretty like this, Corvo, laid bare and open for me. So good, so obedient,” the Outsider leans down to breath into Corvo’s ear as he pulls his hand away to slick his cock, guide it to Corvo’s opening.

Corvo whines, more from the praise than the sensations, as the Outsider’s cock presses into him, reaches up to try and ground himself by clutching at sturdy shoulders. The Outsider clicks his tongue, uses one hand to raise both of Corvo’s above their heads where the ground obligingly vines around Corvo’s wrists. Above Corvo’s prone form and pressing down with his full weight, the Outsider is utterly still, the head of his cock an unrelenting pressure. Between the stone at his wrists and the firm hand that has slid down from above to still his hips, Corvo feels helpless.

“Please, just…” Corvo moans, straining at the stone binding his wrists and arching his back as much as he’s able, “Please move, do something, anything.”

The Outsider plunges the rest of his cock into Corvo’s willing body in one motion, “Begging suits you so well, Corvo.”

Corvo grunts as the Outsider sets a rhythm and gradually increases his pace. A slick hand has moved to join the other at Corvo’s hips, pressing him down and holding him open as the Outsider ruts against him. The Outsider is silent, makes no effort to drown out the wet sounds of smacking flesh with honeyed words, and Corvo has to look away. He turns his head to one side, feels cool stone press against his cheek. A cooler hand—the clean one, Corvo thinks gratefully—gently grabs his chin, turns his head until he meets the Outsider’s eyes.

“What has you so dejected, I wonder? You have everything you wanted, exactly what you asked for. Of all those I have Marked thus far, you are my favorite, a rare blessing indeed. And yet…” The Outsider leans down to kiss away tears that burn at the corners of Corvo’s eyes with cool lips, “You still turn away from me. Why?

“And what of those yet to be marked? When will I be abandoned, as Daud has been abandoned?”

“When will you abandon your cause, abandon Emily? When will you become nothing more than a tool for others, use the abilities I have given you only for profit?”

“Never! I would never…”

“That is the closest I can come to a promise, Corvo.”

Corvo gasps, wishes his hands were free to curl into damp, dark hair as he surges up to meet cool lips with his own. He pushes his hips up into steady hands, urges the Outsider to go faster, harder. The Outsider obliges, meets Corvo’s tongue and lips and teeth and hips in kind. It doesn’t take long for the Outsider’s hips to stutter, for him to bite down on Corvo’s collar bone—savagely enough to draw blood this time for sure, but Corvo can’t bring himself to care—and come, shaking apart above Corvo. He collapses on top of Corvo, letting go of some of the effortful weightiness he had maintained so carefully earlier in his haze. Corvo doesn’t mind, especially when he realizes that his hands have been freed, allowing him to pet through wet hair, cup cold cheeks, wrap his arms around slender shoulders. His own ignored cock is half-hard, but he doesn’t care in the slightest; he is more than satisfied in other, more significant ways.

Both are silent for several moments, basking, before the Outsider speaks.

“We are out of time, you must awaken soon. You will have to make your way through the part of the flooded district that Daud and his pet assassins have claimed for their own. You will confront him.” The Outsider stretches languidly, rights himself enough to kneel before Corvo, who raises his torso on his elbows to watch as the Outsider puts himself to rights with slow, deliberate movements instead of simply willing it so. “I know how you so love your mercy; I’ll give you a hint:” The Outsider leans forward to speak in low tones next to Corvo’s ear, “The Admiral will poison his co-conspirators. If you wish for them to live with the consequences of their actions, you must be quicker than ever. I will be watching, with great interest.”

Corvo jolts awake, fully clothed and sore only from sleeping uncomfortably in Daud’s improvised holding cell. As the Outsider had promised, the poison has not affected him unduly and he slips out into the flooded streets without being seen by the assassins standing guard. He knows what he must do, knows that his beloved God is watching him, and makes his way swiftly and silently towards Daud, towards Havelock, towards Emily.

It should be a good show.