Kris stopped taking slaves to his bed after his father died; he let them think it was grief, and then he let them think it was the burden of ruling, but he'd hated it all along. His master of house tried to tempt him with especially beautiful concubines, slave boys with downcast eyes that glanced up at him hopefully. Kris treated them all gently, because he was allowed to be kind to them, the way he wasn't allowed to be kind to his enemies, or his soldiers, or his court. But he didn't want their service, soft tentative voices asking him what he wanted, what they should do, reminding him with every syllable that he held their lives in his hands, that they weren't free to want anything from him.
The bard came as part of a gift from a strange country far to the north, along with jewels and horses and woven cloth; he glanced up at Kris while kneeling, blue eyes through blackened lashes, with an oddly wistful look. That stuck in Kris's head along with the voice that silenced the court, rising in foreign melodies, and then in some familiar songs as well, with a strange but not unpleasant accent.
He called the bard to his room that night to sing for him some more, and talked with him about his own country. "I suppose I might get homesick eventually," the bard said thoughtfully, with a casual candor that would probably have thrown the master of house into a frenzy if he'd been allowed to overhear it. "But I've always wanted to travel far away, and your palace is beautiful. And everything in it." He smiled at Kris, with a spark of amusement in his eyes—not quite flirting, but somehow hinting that he'd have liked to.
Kris hadn't ever felt awkward or shy before: it was hard when everyone around you cowered politely as a matter of course. He wasn't sure he liked it. He swallowed and dismissed the bard, and almost immediately wished he hadn't; he called him back again the next night.
And the next, and the next after that, and the next, until he was walking along his balcony one afternoon and overheard the master of house saying, "If the emperor should wish to take you to his bed, you will—"
"Wait, that's allowed?" the bard interrupted, and Kris halted in dismay, looking down over the railing: the bard was looking at the master of house interestedly. The master of house was gawking back at him, saying, "Anything the emperor wishes is allowed!"
"No, no," the bard said, impatiently, "obviously, but do you mean I can seduce him? Without offending a thousand local customs or—"
Kris fled to his chambers, scarlet, and needed to plow through twenty-three documents of excruciating boredom and importance to get his composure back. He was all right by nightfall, though, and he arranged himself determinedly on the divan, breathing deep, before sending for the bard. He'd put an end to this himself: the bard would ask, would offer, and he'd say a plain and simple no, and not to ask again. And then they could go on talking of music, and other lands, and poetry, and he wouldn't have to be on edge waiting.
But the bard didn't ask. He came in with a small bowl from the kitchens, a fragrant sweet smell rising, and a plate of fruit. He set them down on the table and smiled at Kris, heat in the curve of his lips that made Kris shiver a little, and then the bard dipped a slice of orange into the bowl and raised it out, dripping glaze, and bit into it with his even white teeth. Kris stared helplessly: the glaze slicked the bard's mouth with a shine that he licked away, and then he was holding out the other half of the fruit, saying, "They eat this for dessert in a country I know to the west. Try it."
Kris opened his mouth dazedly. The glaze was honey-sweet and hot on his tongue; the bard's fingers trailed over his lips and lingered, thumb stroking back and forth, wiping away a drop from the corner of Kris's mouth and carrying it back to his own. Kris half-mesmerized watched the bard lick his thumb clean, the flick of the pink tip of his tongue, and when afterwards the bard leaned in closer and murmured, "I'm going to kiss you now," Kris didn't seem to be able to say anything at all.
He sank back blindly against the cushions under the weight of kisses: hungry, biting kisses that sucked and licked at his mouth and his throat and his collarbone as the jewel-choked neckpiece came open and his robes slid apart and down his shoulders, slow and silken. "Oh," Kris said, dizzy, wanting to protest—wanting to want to protest—but the bard's hands were on him with their lute calluses and strength, coaxing his body into arching up for him, for his mouth traveling slowly down.
Kris couldn't help it: it was too much, to feel all of this; he said helplessly, "Yes; suck me," yielding, even though he knew he would be sorry after.
And then the bard laughed and took his mouth away and pressed it to Kris's throat and his cheek and his ear and whispered, "Not yet."
"What?" Kris said, blankly; no one had ever said no to him, to any command, ever, and he barely understood—"I want—" he tried, in confusion.
"Yes," the bard said, nipping at him again. "But in half an hour, you'll need."
And then he dipped his fingers in the bowl and lashed a streak of hot sugar across Kris's chest, shaved smooth for the summer heat, one drop catching the nipple with a startling-sharp burst. Kris heard himself cry out and clutched at the bard's shoulders, trembling all over.
"Maybe not even half an hour," the bard murmured, low and dark and pleased, and bent his head to set his teeth on Kris's nipple, teasing it to sore hardness, and his hands were sliding over Kris's naked thighs.
Kris was shocked at first, or would have been if there had been time to feel anything but desperation, writhing under the bard's hands. "I don't, you, what are," Kris said, meaningless words running together like water out of his mouth, nothing like what he meant to say, but he couldn't find the right words for that until the bard kissed him again and said softly, "Please," as an instruction.
Then suddenly Kris could say exactly what he wanted to: please, over and over, begging shamelessly; please, and Adam, after the bard told him his name. That was enough for everything he felt as Adam pulled him up and dragged him to the bed and flung him down and covered him, heavy and hot and pinning Kris's wrists and hips to the silken coverlet.
"Please," Kris said, struggling, "please, Adam, please," as Adam speared him open, oil slick everywhere between his legs, because he did need; he needed desperately to ask for mercy and receive none, to know that none would come, that he was utterly naked and helpless and used as any of his own slaves might be, that he could weep if he wanted to without being alone.
"Shh," Adam murmured over him, nuzzling away the tears that were streaking Kris's face. "Yes, darling, yes," and took him: thick enormous cock pressing into him without relief, painful and perfect, while Kris lay back gasping against the pillows, his thighs carelessly spread wide and aching under Adam's broad hands while Adam's hips pumped into him.
"I'm going to spend into you," Adam said, and did, and afterwards stretched out beside him in the bed and made Kris touch himself between his thighs and feel the juices dripping from him, his own fingers exploring the soreness. "Press in," Adam said, and Kris ducked his head against Adam's shoulder, squeezing his eyes shut in gratitude and humiliation while he pushed his fingers inside himself and felt how open and tender he was, soft and bruised and wet on the sheets, his own neglected cock hard against his belly.
Adam took hold of it and stroked it lazily, and then gave it a little pinch just beneath the head; Kris jerked helplessly in his hand and moaned open-mouthed against Adam's shoulder. Adam squeezed him again, hard, and Kris was trying helplessly to thrust, his own fingers still inside him while Adam handled him roughly, kissing him the whole time, saying, "Oh—Kris, Kris, look how beautiful you are," while his mouth stole away all of Kris's breath and bruised Kris's lips as he came, arched like a bow.
In the morning, Adam ate with him, eyes properly downcast in front of the servants, and only a single glance and a low secret smile just for Kris as he left the room, to promise it hadn't been a dream, that there would be more. The master of house hovered anxiously until he was gone, and tried nervously to ask if Kris had been satisfied, tried to say that Adam could of course be sent away—
"No," Kris said, cutting him off, and hoped he wasn't blushing.
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