[Co-Author: Andy][IchijixTaln] Ichiji is a mage in a world that now frowns upon magic. He ends up helping Taln at a local festival and they become entangled.
Taln turned onto a main street, and then went to a storage shed. One that was rented out to whichever tenant could pay the price. He unlocked the door and led Ichiji inside. "You won't be able to handle more than one barrel....they're pretty big..." He rolled the empty one into a corner and lept onto one of the carts to ease one of the full barrels down the ramp.
Looking to be at ease even amidst the unfamiliar setting, Ichiji merely stood back to watch Taln once they were inside. He was blinking rather owlishly all the while, but listened without question. After Taln began unloading his one full barrel, Ichiji chose to smile, speaking up in a diffident tone of voice. "You know, there's probably an easier way of doing it... At least... I'd prefer not to handle those bulky barrels that way myself."
"If you have a better idea-" Taln's voice sounded strained, "-please tell me."
The innocence Ichiji smiled with was so complete as to almost border on smug, and yet he wasn't gloating. "I don't like this kind of work," he said simply. "It's not the sort of thing I do when it ISN'T fair-time, and look at me now..." Still murmuring under his breath about manual labor, Ichiji climbed up onto the cart with some grace, perching on it's edge and waving idly towards a barrel with an imperious, single-handed gesture. Wobbling slightly, the barrel slowly rose a bit in the air, rolling itself down the ramp, with Ichiji neatly JUST out of the way.
Taln tried to conceal his surprise, "I didn't think mages roamed the streets anymore..." he managed. He continued to roll his barrel down the ramp, of course.
"They don't," Ichiji said, rather shortly, probably pushing the envelope on whether or not his tone would be considered smug... or perhaps it was then bordering on condescending.
"Ah...I see...Well then..." Taln pushed his barrel to the entrance and waited for Ichiji to follow.
"And I was getting comfortable, up here on the cart..." Ichiji murmured under his breath, before hopping down to follow Taln and his errant barrel, which began to roll again when he touched it, giving someone not paying full attention the illusion that Ichiji was actually PUSHING it. Conversationally- "So, you just lug these things back and forth all day?"
"Not all day...but this is the job I get stuck with when we're in towns."
"Sounds like a fun life," came Ichiji's mildly cheerful rejoinder, as his fingertips continued to graze the rough wood of the barrel; it really WAS too bad he couldn't just sit on it and levitate the foolish thing properly... THAT might cause a right scene...
"It's not bad. And it's a profitable business." There was a bitter tone to Taln's voice.
"Hnn. I bet it is." His tone was light, but the look in his eyes seemed to be comprised of equal parts concern and curiosity, both begotten by Taln's own bitter tone.
"The same old trade routes get boring when you follow them time after time," Taln added, "And talking about wine prices. And which merchants are cheating bastards..."
Now Ichiji smiled; he was no merchant, but he knew of their grievances, and this he understood. "What would you rather be doing?" he asked, tone still light and question only partially out of the blue. "What's your secret little dream?"
"I don't know...I've never really thought about it. Something with fewer rules... I don't ever want to be any place more than twice...that'd be so nice."
"But you don't want to merely stay in one place, either?" Ichiji said, and it was a statement, not a question, Ichiji's smile still in place. "Merchant or no, I guess you're just the adventurous type."
"No...well...maybe just a little. I've never learned to use a sword very well." Taln sighed, "I wonder what being a mercenary is like..."
"Hnn. I wasn't even thinking of the gold and glory sort of adventure," Ichiji admitted. "I was thinking more of an exploratory thing- you'd be adventurous in that you want to see new places. Then again... If that's what adventure makes you think of... Maybe it's a path you'd like to walk down for a bit?"
"Yes...it would be much better than rolling barrels." They were nearing the tavern, and Taln slowed a little bit. "So where all have you been? What have you seen?"
"Seen?" Ichiji echoed, possibly betraying his unwillingness to answer merely through the lack of emotion his voice held, as opposed to resistance. "Nothing much of interest, actually. You're the one who pointed out how mages don't just roam the streets these days. I suppose the world is a safer place for normal people... But it certainly isn't as interesting."
"So are people as violent to mages as I've heard?" Taln asked, slowing his barrel to a halt it made it clear that his questions held top priority.
"I wouldn't know," Ichiji answered pointedly, beginning to wonder whether it would have been easier to merely submit to the idea of manual labor and push the barrel by hand- or better yet, to have denied Taln his assistance in the first place. If he'd done so, clearly he wouldn't be having this conversation. "I've made a point of not getting into a situation where I might find out. And even if they are?
"I'm a MAGE. I'm sure I could handle it."
"So can you hurl fireballs and all that?" Taln wanted to know.
"Of course not," Ichiji said calmly, although his tone was a disdainful one, almost condescending, even. He allowed a pause, then continued- "I'm no arsonist. I'd rather flay their skin from their flesh with a thought and a word, leaving bodies like plucked birds bleeding and raw in my wake." A sadistic smile was then flashed, before the undesirable emotion again melted into blandness.
Taln shivered, "You'd do that? Don't you think that would go a bit far for self defense?"
Ichiji blinked, once again looking just a bit owlish. "Oh," was all he said at first, sounding truly lost. "We WERE talking about self defense, weren't we?" He waved one hand in a gesture less imperious than the earlier wave of a spell being cast, stirring the air lightly as he attempted to dispel Taln's unease. "No, that might be just a bit over the top." And Ichiji was no longer lost; the usual calm tone of voice had returned.
Taln nodded weakly and pushed his barrel the rest of the way to the tavern's back door. He rapped smartly upon the wood, and waited for the barkeep to arrive.
Ichiji squinted at Taln as he began to walk away, looking for all the world as if he truly did not understand what he'd said that might disturb a person so. Shrugging it off, Ichiji followed with what Taln might have considered unmerited cheerfulness, considering the topic of discussion just left behind.
When the door opened a burly looking ill-kempt man emerged, "About time! I almost ran out of alcohol and the guests are consuming more by the hour." He growled.
"Friendly character, isn't he?" Ichiji recklessly chirped, only further reinforcing his resemblance to a bird. However, the chirp wasn't the cheerful one of a songbird- it was more akin to the sleepy, purring coo of an owl.
The barkeep glared at Taln, "And the whelp has a friend." He sneered. The man seemed all too eager to pick a fight, and Taln noticed this with a squirm. "Are you just his keeper, or something else?" The smirk was a perverted one.
Ichiji's large eyes blinked again, the emotions contained within remaining friendly despite the odds. Any verbal blows would be directed towards Taln, after all, and for this reason Ichiji spoke to Taln as if the barkeep wasn't even there. "Now, when he says 'keeper,'" Ichiji began conversationally. "He WOULDN'T be implying that I would be-" Ichiji offered an airy, encompassing wave "-KEPT, would he?" Ichiji's eyes narrowed just slightly- and it didn't seem to be the hintings of "something else" bothering him.
Taln was starting to look more uncomfortable. The barkeep snickered, "The way you keep talking to him instead of me...one would wonder."
Ichiji's eyes snapped back to the face of the man, head swiveling cleanly on his neck as he leveled the barkeep with a superior look. He displayed no concern whatsoever for Taln's comfort. "I suppose if the regular servants at the most MINOR of court gatherings grew positively DESPERATE... Then you MIGHT have been hired to assist at the gathering, and you MIGHT have been put into a position to know how a true noble might treat a bed-slave... But apparently such an event never occurred, for you clearly misunderstand. I won't even go into why I'd be unfit as a slave- I'm sure your feeble mind couldn't possibly comprehend- and I'll skip to telling you that were I Taln's, I would now be DEAD.
"A master or mistress would never permit his or her slave to speak in public AT ALL. Least of all to another servant. Such a crime would be punishable by death. On the other hand... Said master or mistress would doubtlessly choose to speak to their own slave before addressing the slave of ANOTHER. A nobleman- or noblewoman- would not lower him or herself thus. Comprehend? I doubt it."
The barkeep indeed looked confused, but mostly angry. "Shuddap. Just give me the wine." He growled. "I didn't come out here to make idle chitchat."
"This is what I get, isn't it?" Ichiji moaned in a low, beseeching voice, although it was doubtlessly unclear as to whom he spoke. He pushed his barrel towards the barkeep before turning away, leveling Taln with an annoyed look, and then wiping his face clean of expression. "I don't care if he decides that I slept with you," Ichiji said loftily, as if talking about nothing more important than the weather, or the price of a glass of wine. "But I will NOT consent to having that FOOL misunderstand who I will and will not submit to, who I BELONG to."
Taln pushed his barrel forward, "That's 40 gold pieces, plus tips." He muttered, trying to ignore Ichiji's angry monologue. The barkeep pulled a pouched from his pocket and counted the money, "Now get out of here." he snapped, handing the money over to the teenager.
"Happy to oblige," Ichiji put in pertly, refusing to let the man have the last word. He wasn't oblivious, either; he could tell that Taln wasn't entirely pleased with the way he'd acted- and he didn't care. Still facing away from the barkeep, Ichiji simply began to walk away, taking it for granted that Taln would follow- follow, and lead him back to the cart with the barrels, if necessary.
Taln weighed the gold pieces in his hands before putting them in his own money pouch. He followed Ichiji quickly enough to catch up within seconds, "Why did you do that?" He asked, his voice not betraying any emotion.
Ichiji cocked his head to the side, just slightly- looking as owlish as ever- and looked at Taln out of the corner of his eyes. "Do what?" he asked airily, as if he didn't know.
"Ignore the barkeep, act arrogant, and give us both lessons on how pleasure slaves are kept." Still no emotion.
Ichiji paused a moment, taking in Taln's emotionless state, and marking it off as silent anger, or something of that ilk. "I didn't act arrogant, for one thing. I _am_ arrogant. You're the one who asked me for my assistance in this little business of yours. And as said arrogant bastard, I figure I'm entitled to ignore people like him. That barkeep is scum, pure and simple. I don't care if he's one of your paying customers- that isn't my problem. I refuse to treat scum with respect. And the last?
"Purely for your enjoyment." Sarcasm. But just at the end.
Taln shook his head, a small smile graced his face, "You're funny...or perhaps odd is the best word." After a while he added, "We've only got a couple more stops...and then...well...what do you want to do? The festival goes on all night...not that you need to hang around that long."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Ichiji said airily, to the first- although he didn't sound at all superior this time; any such superiority was canceled out by the light dancing in his eyes. "...What do I want to do?" Ichiji hummed, apparently thinking it over. "Guess I haven't scared you off yet. So I'll leave that up to you to decide, assuming you'll be joining me."
"Sooo...are you a noble then?" Taln asked.
"And how do you know so much about pleasure slaves?"
Ichiji arched an eyebrow, but smiled diffidently at the same time. "You'd like to know, wouldn't you?" From most people, that line would have been teasing; from Ichiji, it was somehow merely a question. Ichiji ignored Taln's first question completely.
"Of course I'd like to know, that's why I asked the question." Taln replied, choosing to take the question literally rather than a jibe.
Ichiji's diffident smile remained in place for a moment, before his intention to answer was revealed. "I'm a mage, correct? Mages are quite close to being scholars, you know. We pick up on a lot of things."
Taln chuckled, "I can't think of scholars who'd have pleasure slaves...but then I suppose you'd know better if you were in intimate contact with them..."
"That wasn't quite what I was getting at," Ichiji admitted, shaking his head. "I merely said that we both LEARN things. Not that we both keep pleasure slaves!" He shook his head, figuring there was no use in pressing the point.
"Ah..." Taln remained silent until they returned to the wagon laden with barrels.
The last bar they visited had a somewhat more well-mannered barkeep. It was an elvish bar of good repute, and the barkeep happened to be a silver haired elvish woman.
"So...where to next?" Taln asked his companion.
"I don't usually join in on the festivities," Ichiji admitted, a bit absently. "Your choice is as good as mine, really. I'd much rather see what you'd like to be doing, than to make the decision myself..." The tone of the last was a bit off, somehow, although what was wrong with the sentence was hard to place.
Taln shrugged, "I've been in the noisy crowds all day. The city park might be quiet, and I want to ask you some questions."
Ichiji just shrugged, like a bird ruffling its feathers, seeming all right with the idea. "I don't have any problems with that. I do rather prefer the quiet myself, after all."
"Sooo...can anyone use magic? Or is it something you have to be born with?"
"Not just anyone can use magic- the Talent _is_ an inherent trait, although one doesn't necessarily notice its presence right away... Usually if a child has the mage-Talent, someone notices around their eighth, ninth, tenth birthday... Which is when they would be evaluated, taught... All that good stuff. The problem nowadays is that so few children have the Talent. It makes things more difficult."
"Ah...and that's how it happened for you?" They were nearing the park, Taln could see it's quiet green shelter from the walkway they were using.
"Not really," Ichiji said, with the same easy tone as before. At first it might have seemed like he would go on, but he said no more, drifting into silence instead.
"Go on." Taln said quietly.
His voice was still mild, but when he continued, there was a hint of something else... Disdain, perhaps? "What makes you think I was going to say more?" Ichiji asked. "No matter. The age is about right- I was probably eight or nine. And I was evaluated. But you see... I was also being... Evaluated... For other things. So I was never taught." He shrugged, leaving it at that.
"What sort of other evaluation do you mean?" Taln's curiosity was getting the best of him.
"Hmm?" Ichiji merely murmured, making it apparent that he was less-than-interested in answering such a question, but also that he wouldn't be rude and flat-out refuse. "I don't think you know enough about me for it to make sense," he said instead, voice deathly quiet.
"Oh... All right." Taln observed a woman leading her male companion into the park ahead of them. Both of them were all over each other, and the teenage youth couldn't help but make a face. "Hmm... Maybe we should go somewhere else."
"Don't worry about them," Ichiji said dismissively. "They're young. They won't want to be bothered. And I rather doubt you'd want to bother them, hmm?" Traces of a smile caused the corners of Ichiji's mouth to twitch upwards, as he leaned back, looking quite comfortable.
"No...I've always been a little...disgusted by that sort of thing..." Taln wasn't sure exactly what he meant, but it came out that way.
"Hmm?" Ichiji hummed, leaning over. The expression on his face was part curiosity, part amusement. "Disgusted by two people in love, hmmm? ...Or..." -distinctly teasing- "...don't you think what that girl is doing is _particularly_ obscene?" Apparently, Ichiji was enjoying teasing Taln, the evidence being the grin on his face.
"Girls in general...I don't mind people in love. But I can't help but think that having a wife someday is going to be an endless chore."
Ichiji smirked at that, his amusement growing. "You do know that you don't necessarily _have_ to get married some day, correct?" he asked, a teasing glimmer in his owlish eyes.
"My parents seem to think I have to. To continue the family and all that... That's one of the reasons I'd rather get away... I don't want to get stuck with some merchant's brat daughter."
"Then don't. It's YOUR life after all, not theirs- they shouldn't be controlling it. I didn't let my family control MY life. As a matter of fact... I really don't know what's become of my father. And I don't CARE." The look accompanying the last was black.
"So...you didn't get along with your parents?"
"Parents?" Ichiji asked coolly, arching a brow. "Parent. One father. Lost touch with the man when I was... Ten? Eleven? Somewhere around there, I'm sure. And I'm glad of it."
"Ah..." Taln cast a glance over at some bushes, one shook violently without warning which made the boy jump. The boy wasn't sure, but he thought he could hear someone moaning on the other side.
"Distracted?" Ichiji murmured lowly, voice teasing once again- teasing, and bordering on taunting. He'd much rather pester the other boy than reminisce over less-than-pleasant memories.
Taln made to shove Ichiji before hearing another moan. It sounded vaguely masculine. The teenager was suddenly aware of some hardness in his pants.
"You sure act distracted," Ichiji continued, voice still low, and silky-smooth. He slid over on the bench, one arm over the back, mouth grinning. "Perhaps you'd like to go somewhere quieter- less distractions? Or perhaps you'd like to stay right here. With me?"
Was his friend coming on to him? Taln was distracted, and by now he was pretty horny, "Here is fine...I guess." It was a pleasant if somewhat wicked feeling....
"Option two," Ichiji observed with a grin. "It's too bad, in a way- there are some _very_ nice places to pass the time around town... Although I must admit, it _is_ easier. And Taln?" He smiled, tone of voice becoming a bit teasing once more. "You wouldn't happen to be any sort of a _exhibitionist_, would you?"
"Exhibitionist?" Taln managed from his haze.
Luna PRINCESS 07: Ichiji shook his head once; either Taln was just a bit naive, or he was out-of-it. "Don't sweat the small stuff," he said indifferently, before pressing his free hand, the hand not resting on the back of the bench, to Taln's chest, pushing him flat back against the wood, and smiling deviously. "Although you might want to answer the question while you're still at least _partially_ able..."
"I said here was fine...and what are you doing?"
"Either you completely didn't understand the question-" Ichiji said, just a hint of exasperation in his voice. "-or you are completely naive." With the second, he swung a leg over Taln so he was more-or-less sitting in the other boy's lap, straddling him, with one hand on the back of the bench to either side of Taln's head. In such a position, it would be impossible not to notice any incriminating bulges in Taln's pants; Ichiji noticed, smirked, and ground his hips down against Taln's, breathing warm breath on the other boy's face. "I really don't think the second is possible."
Taln gasped and did his best to grind back. So good...it felt so good. "Why are we doing this?" was all he got out before letting out a small groan.
"Why not?" Ichiji countered, lips by Taln's ear, seeing as he'd leaned forward- forward and UP, tauntingly, using his knees on the bench to either side of Taln's legs to lever himself far enough above Taln to deprive the other boy of the friction caused by the grinding. Ichiji himself was much less desperate, much more patient. Innocently, and with surprising coherency- "You don't want to?"
Taln stopped the grinding when he realized the other man had pulled away. "I want to...stop teasing me." Using what little body weight he had he tried to pull the other man down on top of him. The reason for his sudden boldness was not known to Taln, farther than the knowledge that this felt better than anything else ever had. It also oddly made never being interested in girls not such a problem anymore.
"So long as you're sure," Ichiji said sweetly, then, "wouldn't want to FORCE you." The last had a bit of venom in it, but then he was pressing down against Taln once more, distracting the boy with hips, with hands sliding up and down his sides, pushing the worrisome material of the shirt up and out of the way- and with lips, nibbling at Taln's earlobe, trailing kisses along his jawline, then meeting lips with his own, purposefully, slipping his tongue between them and sliding his tongue into Taln's mouth.
Once his shirt was off Taln wrapped his arms around the other man's shoulders. He continued to rub until the distraction of Ichiji's tongue occupied him. The idea that other people could have been watching hadn't crossed his mind. Presently he began to tug at the mage's shirt, not bothering to break off the kiss before doing so.
Upon feeling the tugging, Ichiji slipped out of the shirt with relatively surprising speed and skill, leaving the fabric to rest around his neck as he pulled away from Taln for a moment, kissing Taln on the cheek, pulling the shirt over his head, and dropping the article on the bench beside them. That accounted for, Ichiji slid down off the bench, trailing kisses down the side of Taln's neck, down his chest, as he did.
Taln watched the other man, apparently fascinated by his actions. He didn't move to do anything else, content to watch and anticipate.
Ichiji smiled up at Taln, amused and charmed by the boy's entranced look, a devilish gleam in his eyes. He spared a moment to flick his tongue out over one rosy nipple, worrying the bud of flesh lightly with his teeth for a bit before swapping over to the other nipple, then continuing his downward descent.
Taln let out a whimper as Ichiji played with his nipples. His erection was becoming almost painful as the other man continued to play with him. Slowly he reached down to ease off his pants, wondering if Ichiji would object.
Ichiji made no move to stop Taln; he _did_ have a slight sadistic streak, and had he known Taln longer, he might have tormented the boy, told him to wait, but Ichiji felt that doing so now somehow wouldn't be fair. That in mind, he kissed and licked his way down to Taln's navel, flicking his tongue over Taln's bellybutton, but going no further. Instead, he lifted his mouth away- looked up at Taln- smirked.
Taln paid his pants just enough attention to get them off. All he left on was a loin-cloth of sorts, which he loosened. Wanting to try something himself, he slid off the bench and began to lick Ichiji's collarbone before working his way up to the neck.
Ichiji tilted his head to the side just a bit, figuring he might as well offer Taln better access- and also meaning to speak into the boy's ear. "Hmm. I suppose you're NOT so totally impatient after all, hmm?" His tone is teasing, but at the same time he has one hand on Taln's back, the other pulling away the loincloth completely.
Taln didn't reply. He was too engrossed in Ichiji's taste, and nibbling his neck and ear seemed more appealing than bothering to reply. Knowing that the other man was willing to sate this incredible need was enough to make him take his time.
Ichiji smiled at Taln's single-minded-ness, finding himself rather charmed by it all. It was... Different, to say the least, but it was definitely good-different- nothing bad there. Absently, he ran the fingers of one hand through the boy's hair, his other hand tracing ghost-light circles on Taln's back.
Finally Taln stopped to pant and rest his head against Ichiji's bare chest, "Is there more?"
"'Is there more'?" Ichiji echoed, almost incredulously. The same words could have been malicious, could have been cruel, but in that instance, from his lips, they weren't. Ichiji grinned, a grin that was half smile, half leer, one hand still resting against the back of Taln's head. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Does it go any further than this...?" Taln moaned. He needed more...his erect cock should have been sign enough to the older man.
Ichiji, being who he was, figured that he couldn't let this little jewel of a sadomasochistic thought pass him by. He'd let Taln off before, but the boy had delayed very intentional advances, then actually had the audacity to ask if there was MORE. "Does this go any further...?" he breathed out slowly, voice once again soft like cascading silk. He reached long, slender fingers down between Taln's legs, stroking his erection from shaft's base to head's tip, touch feather-light. "Depends how generous I'm feeling."
Taln practically meowed. His panting hitched a couple times while he held on to Ichiji's to keep himself upright.
Ichiji smiled again, although with the way Taln was leaning on him, the boy wouldn't possibly see. Such strong responses to even the slightest of caresses... In that sense, Taln was even more of a gem than the question he'd asked just moments before. He stroked Taln twice more, more teasing him than anything else. "You like that, Taln," he asked somewhat roughly, a bit of an edge to his voice. "You like the way that feels, Taln? You like the feeling of my hand on your cock?" He paused. "You want me to take you in my mouth? You want me to suck you off, Taln?" Ichiji wasn't entirely certain how the language would affect the boy... But he _was_ curious to find out.
Taln's body shuddered. When he lifted his face it was flushed, and his breath was irregular. He managed to nod before leaning back to offer access.
Ichiji smirked, taking in every blush, every quiver of Taln's body caused as a result of something he'd done, stored them all away. He was smirking, and might have worried about what Taln would have thought, but he was already ducking his head down and he doubted his mouth was visible. Ichiji's fingers were still wrapped lightly around the shaft of Taln's erection, and Ichiji leaned down, flicking his tongue out and swirling it around the head of Taln's erection, swiping his tongue down the shaft, fingers dancing out of the way, before licking back up slowly, laboriously, teasingly. At that point, Ichiji chose to stop tormenting Taln, instead taking his erection into his mouth, forcing his throat muscles open wide, and sucking hard, fingers still stroking the base of Taln's erection with ghostly lightness, as Ichiji built up a rhythm of sorts*
Taln's head fell back, his hands tangled into the grass as he tried to display some self control. His choking gasps got closer and closer together as the boy got closer and closer to going over the edge. Sweat beaded all over his body. "Ichi...ji...oh...gods...."
Had his mouth not been otherwise occupied, Ichiji doubtlessly would have smirked; he was considerably more coherent than the gasping, moaning Taln, and therefore elected instead to continue with his ministrations, coaxing the other boy closer and closer to the release he desired, but each time tugging him back right before said release could be obtained.
Through the muggy heat of near-orgasm Taln was barely aware that Ichiji was playing with him. When he did realize it he merely groaned, too far gone to protest or say anything.
With relative spontaneousity, Ichiji redoubled his efforts, relenting and deciding that he'd taunted the poor boy enough with the "prize"; it would be best to allow him to experience what he desired.
Taln came in Ichiji's mouth. Collapsing soon after he could only whimper quietly.
Ichiji sat up so he was where Taln could see him, wiping his mouth with one hand and swallowing the wad of Taln's seed as if it were no big deal. Despite Taln appearing to be utterly exhausted, Ichiji didn't look anywhere near as winded; he leaned over Taln, kissing him full on the mouth, taste of salt and semen still lingering. "Sorry, Taln, but that's really not the end..."
Taln quivered a little. He had spent most of his energy being overwhelmed...and now... "I don't get a break?" he murmured playfully, although there was a vulnerable note in his voice. Taln seemed to understand that he couldn't stop Ichiji if the mage wanted to continue.
"Perhaps it would be in my own best interest to let you rest for a bit- recuperate," Ichiji said loftily, although he was smiling rather bemusedly as he did. "After all, it wouldn't be NEARLY so much fun if you're so completely worn out. And it IS only your first time- correct?" The second half was said with more of a wicked, teasing air, and the light in Ichiji's eyes turned playful.
Taln sighed, and nodded. "Yeah...it is...listen...could we go someplace a little more...private? Now that I know what sorts of things we'll be doing?"
"You really know JUST how to spoil the mood, don't you?" Ichiji asked, and while there was annoyance in his voice, he didn't sound like he was TRULY bothered by Taln's request. "I _did_ ask you before if you wanted to go somewhere quieter... So what sort of place do YOU have in mind?"
"One of the carts we have locked up...it had a bed in it...and there's pillows and stuff." Taln sounded as though he thought he had ticked off his would-be lover.
"Don't sound so excited about it," Ichiji teased shamelessly, noting Taln's ever-so-repentant tone. "It'll be fine, I'm sure."
Taln grinned and kissed Ichiji, pushing his tongue into the other man's mouth before pulling away to put his loin cloth and pants back on.
Ichiji shook his head, pulling his shirt back over it and shaking it back into place, so that the fabric hung comfortably. That done, he turned to Ichiji.
Once he was done wrestling his clothing back on Taln stood and looked awkwardly around the park. "Sooo...umm...we go now?"
Ichiji laughed lightly, unable to help himself. "Only if you'd rather not stick around, of course..."
Taln wanted to remain in contact with the older man, but he simply led the way instead. When they reached the storage shed he unlocked the door and waited for Ichiji to go in first so he could lock it again after going in himself.
Ichiji slipped through the doors, smiling quirkily as he did, before turning around with his arms stretched over his head, waiting for Taln to follow.
Taln did so, and the lock shut with a click behind him. It was pretty dark in the shed, but local street lamp's light filtered through the small cracks in the board walls. "The cart is over here..." Taln said, leading Ichiji over to a cart that was larger than the others.
Ichiji followed, silent, willing to let Taln take the lead in this.
Taln flopped down on the bed in the back, which was no better than a mattress with a few blankets across it...but it served the purpose. "So...would you explain to me how this goes farther?" he asked.
"Explain?" Ichiji asked curiously, arching an eyebrow. "Taln, you _aren't_ saying...?" Ichiji shook his head, finding it hard to imagine that Taln would let him suck him off, but wouldn't have even HEARD of anal sex. Sure, he might not have thought about it beyond deciding it'd be an activity he'd probably never participate in... But still! The idea was almost too much to Ichiji.
Taln squirmed a little. "Yeah...my parents never...explained that sort of thing to me." He didn't feel like adding that he'd never thought two men could have sex together.
Ichiji rather wondered, in a private corner of his brain, how far he could push Taln by teasing him about this particular tidbit... But in the end, he decided against it. After all, teasing wasn't exactly what they needed to "set the mood." Still... "Are you asking me to explain sex to you, Taln?" Ichiji drawled, voice slow and smooth like poisoned honey. The corner of his mouth turned up, and he smiled, just slightly.
"I'm not asking you to tell me...I'm asking you to show me." Taln grinned in the darkness.
"But of course," Ichiji agreed, hints of amusement in his voice. As he did so, he slid over towards Taln on the bed. "Whatever else might you have meant?" The words were teasing- but almost dangerously so.
Taln shivered a little. Ichiji was undoubtedly sexy, but he also scared the teenager. It mattered little, because Taln was discovering that he had a masochistic side. In spite of this he moved to take off his shirt, mostly to avert his eyes from the advancing figure.
Ichiji relaxed where he sat on the bed; his night vision might not be as excellent as that of the owls he resembled, but it WAS exceptionally good- and using this enhanced ability to see in the dark, he'd be damned if he didn't take a moment to watch Taln in his undressing. Smiling a bit to himself, a smile that was part true grin, part leer, he kicked off his shoes and slid out of his shirt, dropping the lightweight article to the floor with his shoes before returning his full attention to Taln.
Taln got his shirt off, and was working with the buttons on his pants. Realizing that Ichiji was watching Taln fumbled a couple times, by the time he got his pants off his hands were shaking.
Ichiji's grin only grew as the shaking in Taln's hands grew worse, but he WOULD have to feel a bit of pity for the boy. It was never a help to have eyes on you, when you were nervous. "Come here," he murmured instead, voice soft, coaxing, as he patted a spot on the bed beside him- rubbed his hand around in an inviting circle.
Now in his under wear Taln gratefully scooted over to the bed next to Ichiji. Soon after he wrapped his arms around Ichiji's neck and gave a light squeeze. Touching the other man was oddly soothing, and while Taln would never admit it, he had been getting increasingly nervous.
Ichiji smiled, kissing Taln lightly on the cheek, wrapping his arms around the boy's middle, and moving one hand in soothing, circular motions around Taln's lower back. He wasn't sure how well Taln might think he was hiding it, but to Ichiji, Taln's nervousness was growing more and more apparent. He liked to tease... And yet that didn't mean he was incapable of soothing, of frightening away one's fears, when necessary. "Calm yourself," he crooned, still stroking Taln's back as he pushed the boy down onto the bed. "Nothing to be afraid of." That said, he took his mouth from Taln's cheek, moving to kiss Taln full on the mouth instead.
Taln shivered, trying his hardest to relax. The problem was that he didn't know what was to come. The boy did his best to occupy himself completely with kissing back...which wasn't too hard.
Ichiji could feel Taln's conscious efforts to control his nervousness, feel him focusing instead on the kiss. He deepened the kiss, forcing his tongue into Taln's mouth, swiping it around, stroking Taln's tongue with his own. He waited patiently as Taln seemed to relax, at least to a degree, before withdrawing. "Open your mouth," he whispered, the words like a line from a soft melody, like siren-song, persuasive and enticing. The hand not on Taln's back had come up to rest against his cheek during the kiss, and Ichiji lifted it away, the first two fingers bent slightly away from the rest.
Taln let out an admittedly frightened sound. He'd begun to figure out what was going to happen. He kissed back in an almost violent manner, determined not to back out.
Finally the command sifted through Taln's haze, he pulled back. "What for?" He asked, before finally opening his mouth and sticking out his tongue a little.
"You'll see," Ichiji said, gently enough, although without revealing anything. He moved the hand still hovering by Taln's face, slipped the first two fingers into Taln's mouth, over his tongue, swiping them about. When he pulled his fingers out, a narrow, glistening strand of saliva trailed after, shining in the dim light. The strand broke, and Ichiji shifted, moving his other hand from Taln's back to one of his shoulders, holding him in place. The saliva-slicked hand moved to hover between Taln's legs, and Ichiji finally hesitated. "It'll hurt at first," he cautioned, as a cool, damp pointer finger pressed against the ring of muscle that was Taln's opening- not penetrating, not yet. "Try not to tense up too much- you have to relax for it to stop hurting." Warnings given, Ichiji slid just one finger through the tight ring of muscle, only holding it there, unmoving.
Taln bit his lip to keep from yelping. At once he tightened around Ichiji's finger, "Alright." He gasped. "So...your fingers...it doesn't stop there?"
"No..." Ichiji crooned, almost deviously. "There's more- it gets better much better." His eyes seemed to glaze just a bit, even in the near-darkness, and they filled with a look that was part mischief, part fantasy. Returning to the real world, he slowly slid his finger in and out, presented with a bit of difficulty due to Taln's tenseness. "But there's no more until you relax, Taln..."
Taln willed himself to relax...at least his lower half. His hands kneaded and rubbed Ichiji's back as the teenager tried to concentrate on something else. Already he was getting pretty hard...again...
Ichiji shook his head just slightly; Taln was charming, really he was, but was the boy impossible? There were only so many things Ichiji could do at once, as far as multitasking went, but Taln seemed to have his bases covered. Instead of worrying, Ichiji returned his attention to the business of stretching Taln out. "I'm going to insert another finger," he said calmly, as if this was no big deal- and it wasn't, although it would be kind to warn the inexperienced Taln. "Try not to tense up; just relax, as before." Good as his word, Ichiji slid his middle finger in as well, sliding both in around in the tiniest of circular motions, trying not to cause Taln to tense up too far.
From his waist down Taln's body was completely limp...well save for his erection. Closing his eyes he just held on to Ichiji and allowed the other man to stretch him. It didn't hurt so much...at least not sharp pain. Just the dull throbbing sort that stopped soon after it started.
"Good boy," Ichiji crooned further, scissoring his fingers inside of Taln, sliding them in and out and searching without too much diligence for the boy's prostate, and kissing him full on the mouth, deeply, at the exact same time.
Taln did his best remain obediently limp, although sometimes his excitement would get the best of him, and he would tighten painfully around the probing fingers. Meanwhile he responded to the kiss wondering dazedly why Ichiji had chosen him out of all of the people at the festivities.
Deciding that Taln was stretched out enough, Ichiji slipped his fingers back out of the opening, continuing to kiss Taln as a distraction as he did so, tongue sliding back into the boy's mouth. He moved that hand from between the other boy's legs to the fastening of his own pants, sliding out of the loose material with an ease so fluid it would appear to HAVE to have been born of practice. Still kissing Taln, Ichiji hovered over him, repositioning the boy's legs to offer better access, and then slowly thrusting into him.
Taln groaned, purposely tightening when Ichiji was inside of him before loosening. "This isn't so bad..." he panted, once again he was already sweaty.
Ichiji smiled just a bit deviously, not wanting to say anything. One hand found Taln's erection in the dark, fingers circling around it- loosely at first- and beginning to stroke in time with Ichiji's thrusts. The first time Ichiji pulled out was slow; he'd already decided he would be gentle with Taln, and he WOULD. However, each successive thrust was a little bit faster, a little bit harder, until it was less a pattern of "in, out, in, out," but more of a pattern along the lines of "in, in, in, in."
Taln felt overwhelmed almost at once. Unable to concentrate, or even see his surroundings properly he shook his head from side to side moaning quietly and digging his fingers into Ichiji's back. Every time the other man's cock touched his prostate he came closer and closer to- Taln went limp as his seed spurted onto Ichiji's stomach.
Ichiji kissed Taln a bit distractedly, first on the cheek, then the corner of the mouth, and finally the lips. He'd quietly removed the hand that had been stroking Taln off, wiping it unobtrusively on the bed, still focused on other things. With Taln's release and subsequent relaxation, Ichiji was deprived slightly, just slightly, of the hot tightness he felt around his erection. Still, he continued to thrust, and himself came deep inside Taln just shortly later. Waves of pleasure rolling over him, Ichiji tensed up, before relaxing entirely, pulling out of Taln, and kissing the boy once more on the mouth.
Taln used his remaining strength to kiss back and pull himself as close as he could against Ichiji. With last of the orgasm wearing off he felt tired and cuddly. "Mmmph." He moaned happily without breaking off from the kiss.
Ichiji smiled fondly through the kiss, drawing back evasively, teasingly, not thoroughly severing the kiss, but maintaining contact so as to suck on Taln's lower lip instead. Meanwhile, he wrapped arms around Taln's back, holding the boy close and allowing him to cuddle- he'd just lost his virginity, for goodness' sake, he would want something like that. Warmth. Fully breaking the kiss, Ichiji nuzzled Taln's cheek, moved his mouth over towards the boy's ear. Still teasingly- "You did good, Taln- for a first timer." And again- an easy smile spread across Ichiji's lips.
Taln sighed, "I'm going to be sore tomorrow." He whispered, sounding a little embarrassed. "That was still wonderful though..." Oddly enough the last part had a bitter edge to it. The boy continued his snuggling.
"Mmm?" Ichiji murmured, tone half questioning, half assenting. He wondered at the slight bitterness, and figured he had a reason to... But he didn't say anything straight out. Ichiji gave Taln a squeeze, tightened his hold briefly. Things were good for now; he didn't have to say anything.
"My family is going to leave either tomorrow morning...or tomorrow evening...and I don't want to go with them." Taln explained.
"You don't, do you?" Ichiji echoed, voice bearing traces of amusement, lips bearing traces of a smile, visible even in the dark. "Not going to 'sever all ties,' are you? Sort of... Sort of like what I did?" With the last, a bit of nostalgia combined with the amusement, creating a tone of voice that was strange indeed.
"I don't want to do that exactly...I don't like the rules they lay down, but I do care about my parents..." Taln pulled away from Ichiji suddenly to sit cross legged on the bed beside him. "Leaving them without an explanation would hurt them, wouldn't it?"
"Yes, yes it would," Ichiji agreed- shortly, but not coldly. "So what will you do instead?"
"Just go with them. Maybe we can meet up next year at the next festival?"
"There isn't much of a chance that will actually happen," Ichiji said rather carefully, words neutral and empty of emotion... but not purposefully unkind. Nonchalantly- he _had not_ been looking for a lifemate at the festival, nor did he really _know_ Taln- "Your decision."
Taln wondered how attached he sounded. Ichiji had that wary tone of someone who was trying very hard not to harm a fragile child. He himself wasn't even sure if he was interested in a relationship of any kind, but he knew he wanted to see Ichiji again. "I know it's my decision." he said miserably, "And that in itself in extremely unfair."
"Unfair?" Ichiji asked, arching his eyebrows despite the dark and allowing his voice to take on a teasing tone. "To ask you to start making decisions entirely for yourself? Sounds more fair than having anyone else do it. Sounds like someone's trying to turn you into an adult- into someone who can care for himself."
Taln turned away in a mock pout before asking, "What do you think I sure do? At least offer me advice." He pulled a folded quilt from its place beside the bed and played with the edge absent mindedly.
"Advice?" Ichiji asked in bemusement. "Taln, what advice would you give in my position? How old do you think I am? Keep in mind, you never even asked. And think of what sort of... Financial troubles... Someone like me might have. Should you really be TRUSTING advice from someone like me?"
"We just had sex...and now you ask me if it's a good idea to trust you?" Taln pulled the blanket open and went back to Ichiji in order to cover them both with it. "And I don't know...how old are you? You don't look like you're over thirty."
Ichiji had the good grace to look indignant at that. "Goodness, no! I'm not a cradle robber. And I'm hoping I'm not mistaken in not being offended, either... But Taln, I didn't ask you if you thought it was wise to trust ME-" a bit of a tricky smirk "-I asked you if it was wise to trust whatever advice I might give."
Taln crawled over to Ichiji and sprawled across him, resting his head on the other man's chest. "Fine...I'm not sure if I'll follow it, but I do trust you, and probably whatever advice you'll give me." Cocking his head to look up at Ichiji's face he added, "And don't keep me in suspense; how old are you?"
"Glad you trust me," Ichiji murmured, pressing a kiss to the hair on the top of Taln's head. "And I haven't ever had a birthday, so-" and Ichiji said this as if he was almost _proud_ of it "-hmm. No one ELSE has told me my age since I was eight. How old am I? Well... The evaluation... And the training... And the presentation... And- ugh- the ending. Then... ten? Twelve? I'd say twenty-four, I believe. Oh- give or take a year." Ichiji grinned through the dark, now _definitely_ sounding proud, having made his way through the math.
Taln remained quiet for a while. His only motion was to bury himself closer to Ichiji's chest and yawn. "So, what's your advice then? You've beaten around the bush enough to know by now."
Ichiji smirked outright. "And you call yourself merchant-get. I never would have known- all this time we've spent haggling, and you never bothered to 'seal the deal.' Whenever did I say I even had advice to give? My advice is to simply do what you feel is best, Taln. Cliché as it sounds, you _shouldn't_ be making life decisions based around people you've only just met. But just so you know, you _won't_ see me here next year, if you come to the festival again.
"This isn't my hometown, Taln. By then I'll be gone."
It could have been something else, but it sounded like Taln had just sniffled. "Let just sleep, okay?" I'll make my decision in the morning."
"As you please," Ichiji murmured gently, shifting beneath Taln. Sleep sounded wise in his mind- he didn't want to hurt Taln, even if it was "just" emotionally.
Taln didn't stir until morning, but he didn't get very much sleep. Most of his dreams were mostly disturbing, and mostly including having sex with Ichiji, only to be dragged away by his family close to orgasm. Soon he gave up sleeping, and in order to avoid the bizarre dreams, he occupied himself with thinking about what he needed to do...
Ichiji, on the other hand, didn't have such a troubled time sleeping. He was a light sleeper under normal circumstances, and that fact held true even while sleeping with Taln. Not only that, but Ichiji was anything BUT a morning person. He would have slept much later, but the light coming in from unusual places woke him, and with Taln the only even somewhat familiar thing in a strange place, and Taln feeling uneasy... Even with a sleep-fog still clouding his thoughts, Ichiji didn't fall back asleep when he first woke. Instead, he turned to Taln, figuring he might as well talk to the boy about his unease, his decision, and perhaps even leaving to get some breakfast, if Ichiji was lucky.
Out of the morning silence came the noise of someone unlocking the padlock on the door, and pushing it open with a sound of wood grinding on the stone floor. This woke up Taln, who promptly let out a frightened whimper. Not having too much sense in his sleepy sleep-deprived state he buried under the blankets to hide. Meanwhile a couple of men had entered and were talking about the profitable night they had had.
Ichiji froze like a deer in headlights upon hearing the first sounds of wood against stone- upon hearing the first indication of people entering. Hearing the voices and having his suspicions confirmed, Ichiji swiftly decided to gauge Taln's reaction to their arrival, in deciding how he himself might react. Hearing Taln whimpering, Ichiji bristled, looking like nothing so much as an indignant owl with its feathers rustled. He figured a swift and silent departure would do Taln the most good, but he knew no way to pull such an act off. It might be in his best interest to get dressed, on the other hand, but he would not be pulling on trousers when the men saw him. Instead, Ichiji elected to wait and let things play out.
"So yeah... Tyran, it looks like your son did a good job getting all of those barrels out to the customers last night... Wonder where he went though. You said no one saw him after he left to do that last night?"
There was a chuckle, "He probably used his tips to buy some love from a brothel girl. About time he started acting like a man... Hold on a minute while I get a clean pair of breeches, a customer managed to splash beer on me..." This particular voice was moving toward the cart holding the two.
Ichiji listened quietly as the men conversed outside their cart. After a moment, he decided that it might not be in his own best interest to be caught in his birthday suit, so to speak. Changing his mind, he slipped back into his clothes with speed that was most definitely practiced, considering the articles' various locations.
Taln opted to peer out from under the blanket. Thankfully Ichiji was mostly dressed when Tyran, Taln's father, came into view. The man did a double take upon seeing Ichiji, "Excuse me..? How -did- you get in here?"
"I came with Taln, of course," Ichiji replied calmly and matter-of-fact-ly enough, taking the question at face value, rather than reading anything into it.
"Taln?" Taln sat up when his father addressed him, his embarrassed expression seemed to key his father in as to what had happened. "Taln, you will explain to me what happened, and you will do it quickly." His father growled. The teenage youth averted his eyes and remained silent.
Ichiji sat back on the bed- looking for all the world like he had EVERY right to be there- and realized that he might have forced Taln into deeper waters than Taln had already waded into. At least now Taln would decide as he saw best. He could stay with his family or do as he pleased. Ichiji wouldn't interfere.
Finally Taln broke the silence, his voice wavered at first before becoming a little stronger. "He helped me roll the barrels last night...and then we..." Taln licked his dry lips and swallowed, "...we slept together." It wasn't the greatest explanation, and it seemed to only infuriate his father. "You mean to tell me that you had sex with some random man, in the family cart?" the man said, his voice low and dangerous. Taln nodded dumbly.
"This is feeling distinctly like deja vu," Ichiji murmured quietly, just short of mouthing the words under his breath, but other than that he was silent, leaving father and son to themselves.
"That disgusts me, I thought you had more sense Taln." Tyran said. "We leave in a couple hours, and I want him out of here when your mother arrives. I won't speak of this to her, but I want you to know that I'm very disappointed." Which was when Taln broke his silence, "You're disappointed in me? After laughing about how I must have been off fucking some whore? Why the sudden change in attitude?" It was pretty clear that the boy was getting worked up, "I don't care if he's a man, I'm not ashamed of what we did last night!"
[In between this and the next bit, Taln argues with his father, is disowned, and then runs off with Ichiji. Yay! They talk about getting breakfast- pies- and Taln leads Ichiji to a vendor he knows of.]
Taln found the pie seller he had spoken of with relative ease. The woman was small, gray, and withered with age. She also had a slightly insane look about her, although she could have just been senile. "Pies dearies?" She giggled with a strong accent that garbled her words.
Ichiji turned in Taln's direction upon seeing the pie vendor Taln had located, raising a brow as if to ask what Taln could POSSIBLY be thinking in taking them to such a madwoman for food. Nevertheless, he flashed the same senile old woman his best charming smile, before giving his assent and asking the price per pie.
The hag squinted at Ichiji. She then looked at Taln and her face cracked into a huge grin, as though she could read something more from their appearances. "Five silver for the small ones, and one gold for the large ones. I have apple, cherry, mince, cherry, and apple."
Fishing the little leather bag containing his money from his clothing with a bit of a flourish, Ichiji turned to Taln once more. The way the woman was grinning at Taln was a bit unsettling, as was the way she repeated the contents of her pies in a fashion Ichiji deemed to be unnecessary, but he decided to let both things slide. "So, Taln," he began instead, tone a mild one. "What'll it be for you? Since it's my treat and all... Take your pick. Anything."
Taln took an involuntary step back as the woman tottered toward him, "Um...small cherry?" he offered. A second later the woman had his hand in hers, "Let me take a look at this..." she mumbled. "Let's seee... Good life line... You won't ever have children... And ahah!"
"I take it the fortunes are free with the meal, hmm?" Ichiji asked teasingly, not really expecting an answer out of the hag. She seemed a bit too focused on whatever secret she'd found hidden in Taln's palm. Still, he was more than amused, thinking that this was a bit like Taln getting his "comeuppance" of sorts for choosing such an unsavory person to purchase their breakfast from. He wasn't about to interfere in the fortunetelling- watching bore much more of an appeal.
The woman's free hand suddenly crackled with energy. She brought her hand down on Taln's wrist and there was a bright flash followed by the smell of burning flesh. During the flash the woman seemed taller, and younger. There was a powerful magical aura as well, which dissipated with the bright light.
Even with the bright flash of light, Ichiji resisted flinching away- either he resisted, or wasn't as bothered by the brightness as he should have been. The smell, too, was less than pleasant, but only a wrinkling of Ichiji's nose indicated that he was displeased with the burnt flesh smell. When the light faded, he stood where he'd been before the woman's little display, patiently waiting to see what the whole thing was all about, as if he was SURE he WOULD end up seeing something by way of confirmation of the woman's purpose.
Taln's reaction was completely delayed. Biting his tongue to keep from screaming he staggered backward. His other hand had instinctively clutched the burn- not a good idea- and when he drew it away silvery runes and designs had woven their way from his wrist to his elbow.
Still a spectator to the hag's little play of sorts, Ichiji slipped closer, peering down at the newly-made silver markings delicately laced along Taln's forearm. With the careful way he moved and the way he remained silent, it was rather as if Ichiji had become a spectator by choice- he wasn't making any movements to help Taln when he could surely do SOMETHING; instead he was studying the effects of the burn, conducting himself with a scientific air.
Taln whimpered audibly before his eyes rolled back into his head and he passed out. When Ichiji would turn back to the old woman, it would become evident that she had disappeared.
Sympathetic at last, Ichiji moved forward as Taln slumped, unconscious, using his air magics to help buoy the boy up- it certainly wouldn't do to allow Taln to crack his skull on the ground RIGHT after burning his arm in some magical accident of sorts. The fact that the woman was nowhere in sight didn't seem to disturb Ichiji much; he merely helped himself to a pair of the larger cherry pies she'd been selling out of her now-vacant cart, totting Taln along behind him magically as he sought out a place where he could sit down and investigate the extent of... Of WHATEVER the woman had done.
Taln's eyes remained rolled up into his skull. His skin was beginning to pale, although he was not dead. He stayed motionless even as Ichiji levitated him away.
Entering one of the many small parks scattered throughout the city, Ichiji maneuvered Taln through the air above the path, until they came to a wooden bench, where he carefully floated Taln down so he was lying lengthwise across it. Perching on the end of the bench by Taln's feet, Ichiji held the cherry pies off to the side, leaning over the other young man and studying his ashen face. Beginning to seem a bit worried, Ichiji murmured a few things under his breath, to himself, before patting Taln on the cheek, speaking to him, trying to wake the boy up from the trance of sorts he'd fallen under.
Taln's breathing was quick and shallow, and his forehead was a little warm. Sweat beaded on his brow. At the same time the runes on his wrist were fading into a delicate set of artful scars. With a little gasp Taln came to, nearly falling off the bench and into Ichiji as he did so.
"Careful, Taln-love," Ichiji murmured, sounding calmly amused- which should have been surprising, considering the events that had just occurred and what he had seen Taln undergo. "You wouldn't want to fall and knock yourself on the head, would you? But really... I do wonder what was up with that woman and the pies... Speaking of which- hungry?" Ichiji paused in his musing, holding a hand bearing a large cherry pie out to Taln, and flashing him an entreating smile.
Wordlessly Taln took the pie, "No...I guess not." he said a little distantly, still trying to sort out what had happened. "What happened anyway?" he asked before beginning to dig into his messy breakfast.
"What do you mean, 'What happened'?" Ichiji asked, answering a question with a question in that damnably annoying fashion some people possessed. His tone was carefully neutral, which only served to indicate that he was truly curious as to whether Taln had blocked more of the odd... Event... From his mind than would be expected based on the time at which he'd passed out. "Do you mean to say that you don't remember... Don't... What do you remember?"
"I remember the woman...the pie seller. She grabbed me, it hurt...that's about it. How long have I been out?" Some red stain was dribbling down his chin as he attempted to eat the pie without getting it all over himself. He smiled apologetically at Ichiji.
Ichiji reached out, smirking slightly, resting his finger under Taln's chin and swiping up and over, wiping away some of the cherry juice and popping his finger into his mouth, sucking it clean. "Messy," he murmured, in an almost chastising tone of voice. Then he continued on to answer Taln's question, as if he'd taken no other action at all. "You haven't been out long; don't worry. I really don't know what was with that woman, either, but it seems like she burned you- and not just any ordinary burn. I couldn't tell you what it means, but..." Ichiji trailed off, and then shook his head lightly. "You passed out from the pain of the burn, no doubt. So I brought you to the park, woke you up, and here we are..."
"Hmm..." Taln murmured through his last mouthful. He must have practically inhaled the pie, since only a few crumbs remained. He started to get up, nearly falling over as his legs crumpled beneath him. "I think it's more than the pain...even if it still hurts a little." Taln managed weakly.
"More than the pain?" Ichiji echoed, wondering at what, exactly, Taln might have meant by that. "You don't suppose that the burn, seeing as it's source was doubtlessly magical, had other effects- in addition to burning and scarring your arm? Other adverse effects?"
Taln drooped noticeably on the bench, "Whatever it did, I feel like I haven't slept in ages." He gave Ichiji his best pathetic look, "Ichiii, do you know where I could rest?"
"Ah..." Ichiji murmured, considering his options. "Honestly, I regret to say that I don't have any idea where you could rest. Truth of the matter is, this isn't my home town, and I didn't take up permanent residence anywhere. I'd been staying at a local inn- only I'd planned on leaving town yesterday evening, so my rent is finally up..."
"Damn." Taln gave up looking adorable and moved to lie down on the bench again. Yawning widely he watched Ichiji for a while before asking what the woman had done after he passed out, "How couldn't she have offered an explanation?" he wanted to know.
"Sorry," Ichiji said first, offering an apologetic smile. "And really... If I don't know why she grabbed you in particular, I doubt I'd be able to guess at why she didn't offer you an explanation. You might guess that she's senile... But..." Ichiji trailed off, his expression thoughtful, before he seemed to 'come to,' shaking his head lightly to clear it.
Taln had meanwhile rolled onto his back and was inspecting his arm. "Can you make heads or tails of this? This sort of thing ought to fall into your department of expertise..." he winced as he accidentally rubbed one of the fading lines with a forefinger. "If you can't you should go find that old bird...maybe she can be persuaded to tell us stuff."
"Hey, I know you kinda blacked out or something..." Ichiji began slowly. "But that crone is gone. Vanished. And mage or no, it's highly unlikely that I'd be able to track her down for you. After all, my magic is air-based. I suppose there are a few things I could do with tracking... But nothing that would help... And the knowledge I've gleaned as a mage of air doesn't have an awful lot to do with old alphabets- which is probably what this pattern on your arm consists of."
Taln sighed and lay back on the bench to look up at the clouding sky, "Maybe she's back at her pie stand. Crazy old women like that probably don't follow the standard 'disappear never to be seen again' trick."
"Hey, if you're feeling all right and you think she might be there, by all means lead the way," Ichiji said simply, apparently willing to take most any suggestion of Taln's right after the boy's hand had been significantly altered, and in a painful manner, to boot. That said, Ichiji rose from the bench, gesturing for Taln to rise as well, if he would.
Taln stood in a shaky manner, at once latching on to Ichiji for balance. "You sure you couldn't find your way back on your own?" he asked weakly as he wobbled.
"What, you mean leave you here all by yourself, and then go off looking for that old hag?" Ichiji asked, something in his tone of voice teasing, for some reason. "Personally, I don't think that's the best of ideas. I don't think we're really in much of a hurry, so just try not to fall on your face. I'll help you." That said, Ichiji wrapped an arm around Taln, so as to help hold him up, and headed off in the direction of the pie vendor's cart.
While they walked Taln kept his head resting against Ichiji's arm, "I think I'm hallucinating." He commented, "There are all of these blurry shadow things that keep floating in front of my eyes."
"Probably a side effect of that whole burned-on pattern," Ichiji pointed out easily- too easily, considering that said blurry shadows could very well be hazardous to Taln's health... Or something. "Does your arm still hurt? I mean... Maybe it's just from the pain- a physical reaction, nothing more. Then the shadows'd probably go away soon enough." Ichiji shrugged.
"No...my arm's num-" For a second time Taln fainted. The markings on his arm glowed white for a second before going dull again.
"Oh for the love of the Gods..." Ichiji muttered, tone of voice half exasperated, half grim. It wouldn't be doing either of them any good if Taln kept fainting all over the place the entire time those markings were on his arm- especially since Ichiji doubted they'd be going anywhere anytime soon. With his arm already around Taln, Ichiji managed to keep him from falling, and watched silently as the markings flared, then dimmed. Curious. Shrugging it off, he once again turned to waking up Taln, crouching down and leaning the other young man's limp form against him, finding it an easier way to support Taln's weight.
"Hmm... That's strange." The old crone's voice was raised so Ichiji could hear her above the bustle of the crowd. She suddenly appeared behind to his left, and leaning on a walking stick she peered at the boy, "Must've been exhausted or he'd have shaken it off by now." She gave Ichiji a knowing look (or at least the back of his head got one,) "I don't suppose you'd know anything about that?"
"If he was exhausted, then how long might it take for him to 'shake this off'?" Ichiji asked, countering with a question so as to smoothly avoid answering the one he himself had been asked. "And if you don't mind, we'd rather like to know the point of this design. It's not an alphabet or pattern I've seen before, and I haven't a clue why you'd choose to burn such a thing into Taln's flesh. Care to enlighten me?"
The woman didn't seem too interested in giving Ichiji any answers. As if he hadn't spoken she hobbled around to Taln and began poking at him with a knurly finger. "He is a pretty one though." she murmured to herself, "Pity." Suddenly she began talking to Taln as if he were still awake, "No dearie, you'll live. Yes, yes... Now why do you ask that? Don't you worry yourself, I'll leave your... Friend... Enough money to get you two a place to rest. So don't worry yourself over trivial things like a magical scar." She dropped a bag into Taln's limp hand before hobbling back to the pie cart.
"...not like I didn't see that coming," Ichiji muttered, not bothering to follow the woman and try to get more answers- he was already sure that such an effort was futile. "Seeing as I haven't been gifted with the ability to talk to the unconscious," Ichiji murmured, directing his words at Taln, "It would be rather helpful if you woke up again. Although we really didn't need that woman's money..." Shaking his head, Ichiji shook Taln lightly, hoping he wasn't completely out cold.
Taln's eyes opened slowly, "Where am I?" he asked drowsily, as though he'd been sleeping. Not bothering to wait for an answer he cuddled against Ichiji and made to sleep some more.
"Nuh-uh," Ichiji murmured firmly, making to hoist Taln to his feet and shaking him again as he did so- as if to knock the sleepiness out of the boy. Given, he didn't shake him too hard- wouldn't want to hurt Taln- but he still jerked Taln a bit. "What's the last thing you remember?" Ichiji asked, rather than answering directly. He wanted to know if Taln had blacked out again, or if he was forgetting things, or what.
"We were talking in the park." Taln managed, "I'm really tired...why are you shaking me?"
"So you don't fall asleep on your feet in the middle of the road," Ichiji replied promptly, as if it were obvious- and were Taln to glance around, it probably would be. "Trust me; this isn't the best place to rest. C'mon, we can see about finding a nice inn that's not about to rob us blind with room prices, and leave town tomorrow. It'll be easier."
Taln nodded, but was still trying to cling to Ichiji as if he couldn't see properly. "Are we there yet?"
'Gods... I completely did not bargain on having to play nurse to anyone after that festival...' Ichiji thought to himself rather dryly, shaking his head and continuing to support a large amount of Taln's weight. "I guess we're not going to be shopping around," he murmured, looking to either side of the road for a place to stay. There were streets in town lined only with taverns and inns, but they weren't on one of them. Meaning they'd either have to walk to one of those streets, or discern an inn from the other buildings lining the road on which they walked.
Taln was trying to be tough, but walking was rapidly getting harder and harder. "Please tell me we're close." he groaned, trying to blink the shadowy things from his vision.
Ichiji just kept walking, turning off the main road and onto a smaller street, continuing to tote Taln along until he reached a building designated as an inn- at which point he opened the door and dragged them both inside. Still supporting Taln, he moved over to a desk beside the door, where a skinny little man with graying hair sat, a rack of room keys behind him.
Taln tried to straighten up so as to not look like a complete invalid or drunk. As he nearly collapsed he gave up on this and clung to Ichiji some more.
The man behind the desk stared at Taln oddly, before redirecting his attention to Ichiji- guessing rather correctly that Taln wasn't exactly in a condition that would enable him to pay for a room. "Want to bed with me?" Ichiji murmured, as the gray-haired man recited the room rates. "It's cheaper, anyway..."
"Hmm? Yeah... Sounds like fun." Taln muttered. The inn's cat padded over to them and sat a distance away from Taln giving him a look that mirrored that of the keeper of the keys.
"Fun?" Ichiji murmured, echoing Taln's words. The look he offered Taln then was an odd one, although it did contain some amusement. He turned back to the gray-haired key-keeper, repeating their desire to pay for one room, one bed, one night. And yes, dinner and breakfast would most likely be appreciated, although they would be trying to leave early that next morning. Ichiji handed over their money, and was presented with a numbered key in exchange. That task completed, he glanced at the number- 204- and headed for the stairs going up to the building's second floor.
The cat followed as Taln was dragged up the stairs. It was an extremely small dust color animal, which looked like it had been born the runt of the litter and never bothered to grow. It jumped up each step quietly, keeping its yellow eyes always on Taln and Ichiji.
Ichiji didn't really pay the small animal any mind, seeing as he was much more concerned with getting Taln up to the room before the boy fell asleep right there in his arms. Stopping to pet some little kitten wouldn't get Taln lying down and resting. On the second floor, Ichiji looked around a moment, before moving to the door to their room, unlocking it, and tugging Taln inside.
The cat followed and rubbed against Ichiji's leg once they were inside the room. Taln saw the bed and began to tug at Ichiji as he showed surprising strength as he tried to get over to it.
Ichiji almost laughed at Taln's insistence to get over to the bed, but carefully resisted, considering how helpless and weak Taln seemed at the moment. Likely, he didn't enjoy feeling that way. Complying with Taln's wishes, Ichiji led the boy over to the bed, seating him on its foot before reaching down to scratch the little cat's ears. If Taln was going to sleep, he could always play with the kitten, to keep himself amused...
Taln curled up on top of the sheets and quickly began to breathe as one who was deeply asleep. The little gray cat lept onto the bed; its purr was already loud enough to hear from a couple of feet away.
Shaking his head, rather bemused by the antics of both Taln and the cat, Ichiji sat down on the foot of the bed himself, scooting backwards so as to put the cat within "petting distance." "I guess I'll just have to wait here, huh, kitten?" Ichiji asked the cat idly, not feeling at all strange to be talking to the pet. "Not much to do in this room though, is there?"
The cat didn't reply. Instead it climbed into Ichiji's lap, and started to drool happily.
"Well, there's an unwanted answer for you," Ichiji muttered dryly, although he continued to keep his voice low, lest he disturb Taln. Even with the cat drooling on him, Ichiji didn't stop petting the little creature. "Come on, kitten, isn't there anything to do around here?"
The cat rolled onto its back so as to get its tummy rubbed. It gave a quiet meow. The animal was clearly just a normal creature, and didn't intend to speak in the common tongue.
Long after dinner Taln stirred. Rolling over he looked at Ichiji and smiled tiredly, "What time is it?"
"Late," Ichiji replied simply, indicating their one window, which was dark save for the glow of the stars and the moon. "We paid for dinner, but you slept through the regular meal in the little dining hall they've got. Still- you want me to have something brought up?"
"That'd be great." Taln hadn't eaten since breakfast, and now that he felt fine he was extremely hungry. When the gray cat lept into his lap, Taln began to pet it dutifully.
Ichiji slipped out of the room at that, although he reappeared with some speed- and empty-handed. "They'll bring something up," he said offhandishly, seating himself back on the bed where Taln was petting the cat. "So- plans? Maybe? I take it we're still leaving in the morning, but after sleeping all day... I rather doubt you'd be able to sleep through the night as well."
Taln blushed oddly, "Yeah... I'm not tired... At all." Suddenly he looked oddly at the cat, "What did you say?" The cat continued to purr, but apparently it had replied because Taln stared at the little animal.
Ichiji merely gave Taln the beginning of an odd look, before a knock at the door indicated the arrival of whatever meal had been prepared for them. Ichiji shook his head lightly, moving to the door, greeting the kitchen girl, and taking a platter consisting primarily of bread, cheeses, and fruits from her. He brought the food back to Taln, re-seated himself, and then eyed the cat once more, oddly.
"I can talk to this cat." Taln said, taking the platter. "She wants to know why I slept so long." He petted her some more while munching on a piece of bread that he had picked up in his free hand.
"Well then," Ichiji murmured speculatively, trying not to sound too surprised. The thing of it was, to a mage, the idea of communicating with animals- such as the inn's cat- really wasn't so far-fetched... Ichiji merely hadn't expected Taln to possess such a... Talent. Teasingly- "I guess I'll have to envy you, then. I tried talking to her the entire time you were out, but either she can't understand me... Or I just can't understand her. Would've kept me amused, to say the least..."
"She doesn't have much to say. Mostly that she's hungry and that I need to keep petting her." Taln took only another ten minutes to finish wolfing down the food.
"Hey, that's still more interesting than all the talking you were doing," Ichiji pointed out, a bit teasingly. He reached out and snagged a roll from the platter, chewing on the bread in silence until Taln had finished his meal. "Y'know..." he mused lightly. "You might not be tired at all, but if you don't sleep today, you'll be tripping over your feet when we go to leave, tomorrow."
Taln put the platter on the floor next to the bed (unseating the cat as he did) and made to sit in Ichiji's lap, "I'll sleep at least half the night." he promised.
"All right, just so long as you aren't falling asleep on me in the middle of the road again," Ichiji agreed. He pushed Taln gently off of him when the boy attempted to seat himself in his lap, but only in favor of scooting up to the head of the bed. That way, he could lean back and be supported, even as he pulled Taln into his lap again, wrapping his arms around Taln's middle.
Taln shut his eyes, if only to savor the feeling of being cuddled. He only pulled away to take off his boots and socks. "Sooo...what are we going to do until you get me to go to sleep?" he asked innocently.
"Brat," Ichiji admonished lightly, absolutely certain that Taln's innocence was a ruse. Dropping his voice so that it became a seductive purr, as opposed to his usual light murmuring, Ichiji asked, "Why don't you tell me just what you want to do, hmm? All things considered, I'd say you probably have a very well-defined idea of what that might be."
Taln decided that "throw me down and shag me rotten" would be a little too blunt. He turned to kiss Ichiji's jaw, "Well...some more of last night would be appreciated." he murmured.
Ichiji turned his head to the side, catching Taln's words before catching the lips kissing his jaw with his own, nipping gently at Taln's bottom lip before moving to pry the boy's lips apart with his tongue, deepening the kiss... But pulling away before Taln was given a chance to truly respond. "That would probably be a successful enough way of tiring you out, hmm?" Ichiji murmured, pressing his forehead against Taln's, tone of voice lightly teasing.
Taln looked mildly disappointed when the kiss was broken off. "My thoughts exactly." he said with a grin when the question was asked. He rubbed himself against Ichiji, managing to hump his leg a little.
(AN: Sorry it ends off at a bit of a cliffhanger. We lost a big chunk that came after this and decided to put the RP away.)