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“Hm, careful,” says Esca, and he backs away quick as he can manage with Marcus’ mouth chasing hungrily after his. Esca touches his lower lip with a fingertip, is unsurprised when it comes away smeared red.

Marcus doesn’t get it for a moment, still staring at Esca’s mouth, and then his gaze ticks down and he sees Esca’s fingertip. “I hurt you,” he says, stricken. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Just think, wasn’t so long ago you turned your nose up at raw meat. I awakened your taste for flesh, I see.”

It’s not always easy to tease Marcus — Marcus isn’t accustomed to teasing any more than he’s used to sleeping rough or keeping his eyes downcast — but like many things between them, it grows easier with practice. Marcus’ troubled brow clears a little as he reaches out and tugs down on Esca’s lip, checking for himself. His hand is gentle; he lifts it up a moment later. “It’s your funny Pictish teeth,” says Marcus. “Pointed every direction like a bad fence.”

“Not like you and your Roman mouth, teeth like paving stones,” Esca says, even though he knows his teeth are every bit as straight as Marcus’. He gets Marcus by the jaw and holds him steady for a moment, taking his turn to examine and inspect. Marcus has a strong chin, perfect white teeth, yes, and lashes under his eyes that are dark and pointed and thick-clumped. Esca feels Marcus twitch under his grasp, feels Marcus force himself into stillness, and then after that, feels Marcus drop into actual soft trust. Esca strokes a thumb the wrong way up the stubble under Marcus’ ridiculously heroic legionary chin, ducks in and presses mouth to mouth.

Marcus doesn’t startle this time, and doesn’t give over into the wolfish thirst that curtailed their first attempt. He stays inside the bounds of Esca’s hand and waits, opens his mouth softly, breathes out, lets Esca kiss him. They’ve time, now, they’ve time and space and neither of them hurts anymore.

Marcus tips his head a little and lets Esca in deeper. Esca kisses Marcus, and outside the villa a small herd of sheep go bleating by. It’s homely and simple; Esca kisses Marcus until Marcus is half-reclined onto this little couch they’re sharing, until Esca’s almost lying over him trying to keep even with his mouth.

“I don’t”— says Marcus when at last Esca pulls away for air. Marcus is flushed and kiss-dazed. His short hair is darker than usual at his temples, the nape of his neck, damp with perspiration. “I don’t know how this works, for you, for your”—

—“It works however we want it to, Marcus,” Esca reminds him. “If you want to bite me until I bleed, I’ll oblige you.”

Marcus looks gratifyingly startled and then even more gratifyingly amused. “No,” he says, “no, I’ve had enough of raw flesh for a lifetime, thank you.” He reaches up and draws Esca back down, settling Esca on top of himself rather decisively, and not a little rebelliously. “Will you put your hand on me — and suffer me to put my hands on you?”

“Oh, I suffer greatly, but in the service of your,” Esca starts to say, because everything sounds all the more ridiculous in Latin. He can’t finish, though, hasn’t the heart for it with Marcus under him, pink-cheeked and earnest and touching Esca’s shoulders and back so softly. Esca slips a hand up Marcus’s thigh, the good one, the sound one, and grins to find Marcus bare under his tunic.

Marcus jumps, grins shyly, and then exhales low and pleased as Esca closes a hand round him. He’s half-hard already, and it doesn’t take much encouragement to work him up more. Marcus’ grip on Esca’s shoulders goes tense, and for a moment Esca thinks he’s the one being clumsy, but no — Marcus is just tipping back into that nearly-angry lust that seized him at first. “Close, are you,” Esca guesses, and kisses Marcus so he doesn’t have to answer. Marcus grinds out a panicked sound but he kisses back, a little roughly, and then works a hand between them to steady Esca’s wrist as he spills sudden and hot. His tunic’s hem is wet, and Esca’s hand, and the short soft hairs on Marcus’ muscled belly.

“I come fast, sometimes,” Marcus says, like he’s not sure if it’s worthy of pride or embarrassment. Mostly he seems pleased with himself, with the mess he’s made of them both. His fingers are slippery when they come up to touch Esca’s mouth again, which is — interesting. Esca wasn’t a slave long, but long enough to know that Romans don’t generally think of mouths and — well. Unless it’s a sort of punishment, a degradation, which Esca thinks is perfectly mad, and therefore perfectly Roman. But here’s Marcus’ come-wet fingers touching Esca’s mouth, like he’s been thinking about it.

“Is that what you want?” Esca asks. “For next time?”

Marcus nods, looking away, ears red; then he’s pushing up on Esca’s chest and sliding to the floor next to the couch, scrabbling at Esca’s tunic.

“I didn’t mean,” Esca says hastily, “Marcus, you don’t need to,” but there’s only so much to say in argument when someone is really determined to put their mouth to your cock, and Esca finds himself touching his fingertips to the little arrow of hair at the nape of Marcus’ solid bowed neck, trembling and dizzy. Marcus is inexpert, of course he is, but he’s eager and he’s got a soft mouth, keeps his teeth well enough away this time. Esca shakes and concentrates on not lifting his hips, shows Marcus how to wrap his hand around the bottom of his cock because it’s easier. Marcus casts him a look up through his dark thick lashes, a steady grateful look, and Esca has to nudge Marcus away hastily. He comes into his own cupped hand while Marcus kneels back and pants, winded.

“Will you kiss me again,” Marcus says a moment later, as if unsure of his welcome.

Esca quite literally falls to the floor in his hurry to get to Marcus and show him exactly how ready he is to kiss Marcus, Marcus’ soft cock-sucking mouth and sharp white teeth and those big steady shoulders that slump with relief under the touch of Esca’s hands.

The sheep bleat again, farther away now; Esca lies on his back in the middle of the floor, pulls Marcus down over him, and lets Marcus kiss him, slow and trusting and steady.