Tangible Schizophrenia


The Hunt III: Cornered

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Kink, kink and more kink.
Pairing: Robert Parks/Owain Chasser
Feedback: If you think it deserves it.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: AU of Gosford Park that assumes the movie happened a few years earlier, during the 1920s. This part references The Castle and The Delta. Owain Chasser is an original character that looks like Ioan Gruffudd. Micah is one that looks like this. Supernatural stuff.
Summary: Dealing with a few loose ends.


Outrage put Robert on his feet before the importance of shotguns and rifles in the room quite registered with him. But even so, he only hesitated a moment when Jacques swung towards him. “I think you’ve got a wrong impression.”

“Robert…” Owain’s expression was trying very hard to lift off his face, and his eyes kept flicking back and forth between Robert and the other two men. “That’s nice of you, but it’s a little more complicated—”

“No. No, I think it’s just simplified itself.” Turner studied Robert for another moment, then relaxed and tucked his cane under his arm. He laid a hand on his companion’s shoulder. “Jacques.”

Who continued to aim his rifle at Owain while the two of them communicated some kind of tense agreement. Then they both lowered their guns at the same time, though Owain remained much more wary than Jacques, who ambled around Will to exit the room. Meanwhile, Turner’s gaze on Robert was slowly becoming more…appreciative in its assessment, which didn’t seem to please Owain at all.

To be truthful, something about Will was intrinsically disturbing to Robert, who gratefully took the opportunity to move towards Owain. He wasn’t quite sure as to where to stand, given the unfamiliar etiquette that seemed to be operating here, so in the end he stopped by Owain’s right side and occupied himself with lighting a cigarette. Nevertheless, he didn’t cease watching Will’s cane and hands.

“Well, this is a morning for wake-up calls. First Budd, and now you.” Stone-faced, Owain shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. It didn’t get rid of the coiled set of his shoulders, but it apparently signaled some lessening of hostilities, because Will likewise lowered his hands. “Jacques, was it?”

“He is the horse of Legba, who oversees the roads. Of course, this is on the edge of our territory, but it was hard not to notice.” The other man dipped two fingers into his pockets, then slowly drew out a deck of cards, which he began to shuffle without looking. “Your…that is, Bill’s car exploded about twenty miles from here. It would seem that Bill has his own dowser.”

The rifle cradled in the crook of Owain’s arm looked about to fall, and he kept covertly shifting it to resettle its weight. But when Robert tugged at it, the other man startled and tugged back before finally letting Robert take it from him. Owain was nervous.

And strangely enough, Robert thought he could feel it as well as see it. There was a jangling in him that wasn’t his, since when he was worried, he tended to freeze to stillness.

“I left New York Friday, and I haven’t been in—well, real contact since. Locke’s dreaming with the fishes.” Owain tilted his chin to look at Will on a slant, clearly calculating something. He shot a glance at Robert, then reached out and took the cigarette from Robert’s lips. Dragged on it and carefully slid it back, thumb curving to graze against Robert’s jaw as it left. “I’m not planning on going back.”

Will minutely but promptly sagged in relief. He glanced down at the cards he had, then put those away and nodded to himself. “Good. Arthur called Friday night. If he didn’t hear from his cousin by tonight, he was going to send some of his men over.”

“So I’ll call him,” Robert said, forcing himself to pay attention again. He straightened and sucked in smoke, concentrating on the acrid sweet tang of the nicotine swirling through his lungs. Beside him, Owain was lighting up his own cigarette with sharp, tight movements of hands and arms. “I was meaning to do that anyway.”

“It’d probably be a better idea if you did that from Nouvelle Lune. Gaspar’s all over the countryside here, and Jack thinks it would be best if we saw to the man away from the city. Jack would also like a word with you,” Will replied, gaze first on Robert but then quickly shifting to a tight-lipped Owain. A faint, amused smile appeared on Turner’s face, but he turned away before Robert could identify the other emotions wrapped up in it. “I wouldn’t worry; we’re not in the habit of resisting the inevitable.”

Long strings of smoke trailed after Owain as he picked up their bags and followed Will out the door to a large cream-colored car, against which Jacques was leaning. It was obvious that Owain and Robert weren’t going to be traveling on their own for the last leg of the trip, and it was equally obvious that Owain disliked the idea. But he didn’t protest when Jacques opened the trunk for him to stow the bags, and he didn’t bat an eye to see that the other man had been busy transferring the rest of his belongings from the other car.

When Will opened the door to the backseat, Owain motioned for Robert to get in first. Before he did likewise, he paused and gave Will a hard stare. “Jack does realize I had nothing to do with my father’s business, and he had nothing to do with mine.”

“Of course.” Turner was playing his fingers over the silver skull that headed his cane, which insistently drew Robert’s eye. “By the way, Micah’s in town. Temporarily with us, actually. For some reason, he still remembers you fondly.”

Then the other man rounded the car to the front passenger seat and left Owain to pull the door shut on his own, but it took a moment for that to happen. When Will had spoken, Owain had gone very still and cold so his jaw and eyes looked almost glassy. After a second, he jerked himself inside and scooted over so his hip dug against Robert’s, but he kept his hands folded neatly between his knees.

For the most part, it was a long, silent drive. Occasional snatches of conversation passed between Jacques and Will, but those were low liquid murmurs in a language Robert didn’t understand. As for himself, he only whispered once: “They didn’t disarm you.”

“They wouldn’t need to,” was Owain’s terse reply. He glanced at Robert once in near-fear, once in hot possession, and then he turned to glower at the back of the front seat. His hand did eventually slip over to splay over Robert’s knee, but it was more of a reaffirmation than a spark to anything.

Despite that, Robert was secretly relieved. Enough so that he let the reference to ‘Micah’ pass until later.

* * *

Jack Sparrow kept one hell of a house. Or, to be correct, a Southern mansion of sprawling verandahs, thick veils of ivy and too many damn whispering shadows to put Owain at ease. Not to mention Robert was being very well-behaved, which so far hadn’t been a good sign.

After they’d come to a stop in the long gravel driveway that curled around the house, Turner twisted around to wave Owain and Robert out. He led them into a large, sultry courtyard that circled thick leafy vegetation and flamboyant flowers about a central clearing of fine brown dust; Owain’s father had told stories about what went on in this place, but Owain had never believed in those till now. It just looked the part, all muggy hazy color and languid airs.

“Wait here,” Will said, pausing by a statue half-hidden in some kind of blooming ivy. He waited long enough to see that Owain had gotten the message, then accompanied Jacques inside the house.

Hands in pockets and eyes up, Robert was slowly turning about to take in the whole house. After a moment, he whistled low and impressed, then glanced at Owain. “This is the heart of the city, isn’t it?”

“You can feel it, then.” So could Owain, and he was of two minds about that. On the one hand, he had blood around here so it wasn’t as if he felt excluded. But on the other, he’d left this place, and he’d been perfectly happy elsewhere while Nouvelle Lune had sauntered its own way. It definitely wasn’t the same city he remembered, and he didn’t know what effect that might have on things.

Robert frowned and started to say something, then cut himself off when someone stepped onto the nearby end of the porch.

Owain turned about to see who it was, but a warning tingle caught him midway and he tumbled Robert to the ground just in time for the pot of greenish liquid to go over their heads. It crashed a few feet away, spray coming within inches of them, and then spilled its smoking contents so the puddle was flowing dangerously close. So Owain dragged Robert back and glared at the thrower. “Goddamn it, that’s why I left in the first place!”

“You fucking bastard. It is you.” Resplendent in pinstriped trousers and coat with no shirt beneath, Micah slouched against the verandah railing so the evening light dappled his…tattoos. They rippled and gleamed so they almost seemed alive, a patchwork bestiary all looking to come take a bite out of Owain. “And how nice, you brought a friend. Robert Parks? Sparrow would appreciate your presence inside right now. Just you.”

“I hope he also appreciates the fact that I don’t work for him,” Robert replied, words grating smooth as a glass knife. His fingers were tangled in the hem of Owain’s coat, and he was making no move either to let go or to get out from under Owain. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, I’m sure.”

That took Micah wonderfully aback; the jackass had probably expected Owain to go downhill after him and start trawling in painted trash. Moron. And now Owain had had the breather he needed to collect himself, thanks to Robert. Deliberately lazy, he grinned and bent down to play a licking version of connect-the-dots with the purple-blue marks on Robert’s cheek and jaw. Kept his eyes on Micah so he could see the hot anger and the tightening of jaw as Robert sighed and arched into him.

Too bad Micah didn’t number lying among his flaws, since that meant Robert really did have to go in. Owain reluctantly climbed off Robert and tugged the other man up, then pushed him towards the door behind Micah. “You’d better go. I’ll be after in a minute. Need to…wrap up unfinished business with Micah here.”

“Is that what they’re calling it now?” But Robert was walking away before Owain could do more than note the surprisingly pure vitriol in that little bit of sarcasm. It didn’t sound like Robert—or it did, but like the man had been before Owain had fucked him nicer.

When Robert went up the steps, Micah moved out of the way, but pointedly pivoted to lock eyes with him. Though Owain was gratified to see that Robert didn’t give an inch, but instead did that lovely hauteur that could make an elephant feel like a mouse.

Once Robert had went in, Micah turned back to put on his best smarmy face for Owain, who had to will himself to stop staring at Robert’s back. One problem at a time, he reminded himself. “Micah. Never figured you’d—”

“—come back here after you’d left? I’m not an empty-headed dummy, you know. I don’t need you.” Owain’s old boyfriend ambled down the steps, scattering bitter poison like an evil reflection of Johnny Appleseed. His chin was up, his shoulders tense, and his expression much too casual. “Anyway, in a coast city there’s always going to be someone wanting a water man.”

For a moment, Owain thought Micah was going to stop in front of him, but after a brief lean-in, the other man detoured around to dabble his fingers in a birdbath. The water leaped in small arches and traced miniature gazebos above his hand, hanging in air till he flicked them back into the normal laws of physics. A slight, almost nostalgic smile touched Micah’s mouth. “Sparrow’s got just enough errands to keep me out of trouble. And he does keep a pretty crowd around him.”

“That was always what tripped you up.” The hostility naturally resulting from being attacked was starting to die down, and in its place Owain was feeling a little regretful. He and Micah went back a ways, much farther than their first fuck, and he owed the man a bit for helping to get him used to Nouvelle Lune during his first days in the city.

Of course, Micah still owed him a car, so it probably evened out. Owain had been about ready to commit murder when he’d finally given up on the other man’s temper tantrums, and he’d stayed angry for a long, long time. Long enough so that for a while, he was checking monthly that he and Micah were at least five hundred miles apart. But now, Owain looked inside himself and he couldn’t find that rage any more. It was probably still there, but its main target wasn’t Micah any more.

Actually, Owain was worried about what the hell Sparrow and Robert were doing inside. He suddenly noticed that he couldn’t stop glancing at that doorway.

Micah still had sharp eyes, because he caught on as well. Then he shook his head and let fall a rueful, jealous, surprised laugh. “My God, you finally got caught.”

“It happens.” Owain patted himself down for his cigarettes, then discovered he was missing both pack and lighter. And Robert’s hands had been…the man never stopped surprising Owain, who was really going to have to do something about that. He was also going to have to reassure the other man, because he knew damned well how badly jealousy could fuck up shit, and that was absolutely the last thing he wanted.

“He is a dish. Big enough for a few courses,” Micah said, lewdness a little too appreciative for Owain’s taste. That must have showed, because the other man flopped a dismissive hand and walked over to the spilled…soup? Spell? Whatever it was, it was changing colors. “Oh, don’t. I only do one at a time now, and I’ve got my…I’ve got something.”

He knelt down beside the brownish puddle and started stirring it into the dust with a stick, muttering all the while. The back of Micah’s neck was a beautiful familiar curve, and for a moment, Owain felt a faint shadow of what had kept him putting up with infidelity and screaming for nearly a year. It had been fun, and sometimes slamming Micah’s drunken, sex-reeking body into the nearest wall had ended up almost as contentment. But neither of them had really been around enough to know what the hell they’d been doing, other than going with the first impulse, and it’d been just plain shit the rest of the time. They hadn’t fit together, and they hadn’t had a clue how to work around it.

“Hey, Micah…I…that wasn’t really the best way to stop,” Owain finally said, swallowing down his awkwardness. “I mean, if I had to do it again, I would’ve—still left, but not the way I did.”

“Changing the locks on me and then sneaking over state lines before I found out was a bit petty,” Micah agreed. He finished neutralizing whatever he’d thrown and retrieved the pot, grimacing at the large new dent in it. “Fuck. But honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t just break my neck. God knows no one would’ve blamed you.”

Grinning, Owain took the pot from the other man and flicked into the center of the dent, which promptly smoothed itself. Then he passed it back to Micah. “I thought about it. A lot. But…well, you got lucky. I thought being petty would make you suffer more than just dying.”

“Nice to see you’re still twisted. And to judge from a few minutes ago, I see that that suits Parks.” Micah gave Owain a look-over, then dusted off grass and dust from Owain’s coat. Head tilted, he drifted his hand further over Owain’s chest and pressed in a little so his breath coasted past the side of Owain’s neck. Whiskey and sweat and something prickly-sharp scented his hair, which…was blond and spiky and rather coarse, if Owain remembered right. He wasn’t willing to check for himself.

Very slowly, Owain backed up so Micah’s fingers gradually fell from him. “Sorry.”

The other man looked vaguely disappointed, but didn’t move. “Not even one for old times’ sake? You still are the best I’ve ever had.”

“And again, sorry. I’ve got a…I’ve got Robert.” Owain did his best to keep from looking too smug as he turned towards the stairs.

He had his hand on the doorframe when Micah called out to him one last time. “Owain? Just…what’s the difference?”

A quick, stupid answer came readily to Owain’s tongue, but he snapped that down and rocked back on his heel, thinking. “It’s not…it’s not like living with someone. It’s just having them.”

No reply to that came, but he could practically feel Micah thinking it over. And Owain genuinely wished the man luck with that—although he wasn’t planning to have any more prolonged conversations with him. What Micah had been just didn’t have any place in Owain’s life now.

* * *

Thankfully, Arthur was a discerning, diplomatic man and seemed to understand what Robert meant without Robert having to use explicit expressions. His cousin simply wanted to know that Robert was satisfied with his situation in America, and that no one had to be “handled,” as Arthur so delicately put it. At that point, a male voice had snickered in the background, and Arthur had had to excuse himself to do something that involved suspicious rustlings. Guinevere had taken over, but she’d mostly had questions about the political circumstances that Robert couldn’t answer, so he’d handed the phone back to Sparrow.

Most people probably would have called that man eccentric, but he exuded the same kind of jangling, beating menace that Turner’s cane had. It was enough to make Robert careful not to brush against the other man as he went into the hallway. Frankly, he was trying to touch as little as possible in the house because even simply standing in it was difficult to ignore. This place had a long, long history. And Owain clearly was part of it.

Robert had just begun to brood on the implications of Micah’s appearance when he rounded a corner and nearly ran into Owain. Startled, Robert backstepped and consequently stumbled into a darkened room.

There wasn’t any chance of recovery because Owain walked in immediately after and, hands on Robert’s chest, kept pushing till Robert’s knees were knocked forward by the edge of a sofa. All around them, candles suddenly flared alight. The door silently, softly swung shut.

“Did you do that?” Robert’s skin was crawling, not completely in a pleasant manner, and he found himself instinctively leaning closer.

Owain had moved his hands to Robert’s shoulders, and he pressed down on them so Robert had to sit. With a shrug, the other man straddled Robert’s thighs. “The candles, yeah. Couldn’t do that before—oh, fire? Well, that makes sense of a lot…but the door was the house, I think.”

“The house?” Robert repeated, trying to stand up.

He was unceremoniously slammed back down, and then Owain had Robert’s wrists pinned to the back of his neck so he was bent up towards hungry lips. All his concerns and thoughts instantly telescoped to collapsing against the couch and opening for Owain.

Some undetermined time later, Owain pulled back and chuckled dark and silky along the curve of Robert’s strained neck, nibbling gently on the many sore spots he ran across. His grip on Robert’s wrists was firm, but wasn’t hard enough to do more than remind Robert that yes, those were still aching-tender. “You just can’t help yourself, can you?”

“No.” Robert let his head fall back against the couch and tilted it so Owain had free rein at his neck. “You seem to provoke that kind of response in people.”

Owain stiffened and sank punishing teeth into Robert’s collarbone. “You could fucking come out and say what you mean sometimes. It’s not a bad thing, talking in understandable words.”

“Do I need to? With you?” The bite rippled threads of pain outwards and downwards, and Robert let his hips move with it. Bowed up so his rising cock just brushed a similar bulge between Owain’s legs, and then willed himself limp again. Eyes half-closed, he scrutinized every tic and shift in the other man’s face.

After a second, Owain resumed bathing the various marks he’d made with soothing tongue-swirls that were entirely too little. His hand slid from Robert’s wrists to unknot his tie, which he slowly pulled off so Robert could watch. But Owain didn’t immediately do anything with it, and instead completely let go so he could sit back on his heels.

Without moving his hands, Robert lifted his head to maintain eye-contact. “Micah?”

“Old boyfriend.” As he said that, Owain didn’t blink, change tone or alter the rate of his breathing. He might have been a statue if not for the deep, somber plea in his eyes. “I’ve had a couple, obviously. Never had one as crazy as you, though.”

“Really?” That was relieving in a backhanded way, but Robert still kept his expression blank. “If I remember correctly, our arrangement doesn’t provide for much beyond superficial loyalty.”

Eyebrow up, Owain drew in a slow, considering breath. His fingers ceaselessly played with his tie so it was a colorful, distracting flicker on the edge of Robert’s vision. “I’m not your father.”

“Good. Because I’m not my mother,” Robert hissed, bringing his hands down and dragging the other man in by the shirt.

They fell over sideways with Robert nearly cracking his head on the couch-arm, but that soon changed. Silk snapped tight around one of Robert’s wrists and he gasped, but had that shoved right back into his throat by Owain’s tongue. Meanwhile Owain’s hands were deftly peeling his away and forcing them upwards towards the sofa arm. One Robert managed to free and tangle in Owain’s hair, trying to yank the other man so close air couldn’t pass between them and leach away any of Owain’s taste, but the other wrist Owain bound to the sofa. And then the other man shoved a knee between Robert’s legs and made them splay. Brought down his weight on that thigh that was now rubbing frustration into Robert’s stiff cock, grinding out moan after moan from him.

With an effort, Owain propped himself up on his elbows and pulled Robert’s free wrist to the arm, binding it there with a few efficient jerks. “Am I going to have to gag you every single time?”

“I don’t know, sir. Does the house muffle screams as well?” Panting and squirming, Robert nevertheless retained enough self-control to deliver that with the appropriate degree of tease. He hooked his leg over Owain’s and pressed up, rubbing his cheek against Owain’s shoulder in a frenzy that approached delirium, and he couldn’t have cared less. Owain had as good as said that he was staying, and what he felt like was forever, knotted up in one complex, twisted package that had well and truly trapped Robert. “Fuck me.”

* * *

Owain blinked. “Say that again?”

“You said you preferred direct language, sir?” Robert purred, nuzzling Owain’s jaw like a demented, beautiful, too-fucking-good-at-this cat. But come hell or high water, Owain wasn’t going to let this one off the leash. “Fuck. Me.”

Maybe he should look into that. But then he snorted and shook his head, telling himself he could dream later. For the moment, he had a whining, wriggling, wanton bastard beneath him that really needed his mouth closed before Owain’s dick just exploded.

“God, you’re like nothing else,” Owain murmured, running his hands over Robert’s chest and sides. He bent to press the heels of his palms in a little harder, reacquainting himself with all the previously-visited spots by the way Robert’s gasps and bucks changed rhythm whenever he hit one. Flicked at Robert’s nipples through the shirt, briefly thought about the fact that Robert was really running out of shirts and then decided he didn’t give a fuck. They could always buy more.

The gleam of the knife caught Robert’s attention and turned him deathly still. But even though his eyes tracked every move Owain made with it, they never lost that half-glaze of lust. The implicit belief there stopped Owain for a moment. But only for a moment, because shit, he wasn’t a nice man and he didn’t worship things. He held onto them and fucked up whoever even thought about trying to take them away.

Little snicking sounds accompanied the removal of each button. Then Owain carefully slid the tip of the knife beneath each half of Robert’s shirt and used it to flip the clothes out of the way before he set the knife aside. Gave it a thoughtful look as he sat up and stripped Robert of belt, trousers, socks and shoes. “You know, it’s Nouvelle Lune tradition to tattoo your lover. You saw the ones peeking from Jacques’ sleeves and collar?”

Robert’s pupils briefly refocused some hazy envy. But before that could solidify, Owain leaned forward and dragged his tongue in one continuous move from the underside of Robert’s chin to the end of Robert’s breastbone. “No, I didn’t give Micah his. Have no idea who did. And I really don’t give a shit.”

“Tattoos…I’ll think about it,” Robert breathlessly muttered, twisting and pulling at his wrists. When Owain bit into his right nipple, he arched into it and tried to spread his legs even further apart.

“You do that,” Owain whispered back, taking a nip with each word. He trapped the nipple between his teeth and his tongue, then flicked at it till it was red and swollen and burning to touch. When he did that—hell, even just breathed on it—Robert would suck in a breath so hard Owain thought the man had to choke on it, but Robert never did.

The other nipple Owain didn’t spend as much time on, just because he knew the asymmetry would eat at Robert. And it did, making the other man whine and push the neglected bit at Owain as he moved away, but Owain ignored that and soothed Robert with a firm hand around Robert’s prick. Not that he had any intention of ending now.

Conveniently enough, there was a candle on the table beside the couch, and so Owain could pick it up while savaging Robert’s neck till the bruises there were fresh again. Robert was healing rather fast—faster than Owain had back when he was alone—which probably had something to do with the road-power that Seth had been talking about. In which case, as long as they kept moving…

“I’m going to take you to Rio, and fuck you in an alley during Carnivale. And then maybe we’ll hit Paris in winter—not so many fucking tourists, and if we’re lucky, I can fuck you in the snow against some dead man’s statue.” Owain paused to hear the ragged rawness in Robert’s whimper, then squeezed Robert’s cock harder and slowly pulled his hand up it. Then down and loosen to make Robert groan and twist in frustration, fingertips just grazing nails over the thin skin of tense balls that weren’t going to get to relax just yet. “And maybe North Africa—my friend Seth’s there, and I need to have a few words with him.”

“God…” Robert’s eyes alternated between wide-open frantic stare and squint-shut. His hips were rolling, trying to push his cock against something, work up some relieving friction that Owain wasn’t allowing him.

The candlestick holder was one of those antique massive old-gold deals, pretty and useful since they could double as a skull-crusher in a pinch. Hefting it, Owain leaned back and considered his work for a long, appreciative minute.

Wrists hanging slack from their bonds leading to arms mottled with blue-black that blended with the loose flopping strands of Robert’s hair. His eyes were a brilliant wet shade of green that wanted to sear holes in the air, and his mouth was open as far as possible in constant whines. That put his neck into a gorgeous bared curve that displayed a well-marked length, the dark red of the bites contrasting well with the rumpled white shirt and the black coat. His chest heaved every so often so the gleam of sweat on it would bead into drops that rolled over tender nipples, finger-bruises and more teeth marks.

And there Owain had to stop, because fucking God, part of him still couldn’t believe he’d finally gotten something like this. Lightheaded, not really aware of his surroundings or even the intricate little plan he’d been following up till now, he raised the candle and tipped it so the first drop hissed down about an inch right of Robert’s left nipple.

Robert threw back his head in what would’ve been a hoarse shout, if he’d had the breath to make it. Then he flung his face sideways and panted, fast and shallow, while Owain dribbled more wax. It went in circles, looping down towards the prick that looked painfully hard so Robert’s eyelashes would flutter and he would suck in air, then up at the last minute. Trailing close to nipples, and then—Owain bit his lip—onto one. He had to pause there because Robert was jerking around so much. And when the other man settled, Owain decided to just go ahead and dribble on the other one, so as to be fair.

One long, shuddering buck, and Robert came over Owain’s stomach and thighs. Then he slowly melted into the couch and stayed that way while Owain put down the candle and scraped off the dried wax.

Eventually, Robert looked up. “You didn’t fuck me.”

“Stop pouting. I’ll get around to it.” Owain leaned over and untied the other man, then sprawled in the other corner of the sofa so his untended erection was pointedly apparent. “Besides, it wouldn’t work if I did what you told me to do.”

“With all due respect, sir, you’re a bastard.” Robert stiffly turned himself around, absently rubbing at his still-red nipples, and stretched out along Owain’s leg. He rested his cheek against the inside of Owain’s knee for a moment, then slid it up to the first splatter of come, which he carefully sucked off the fabric.

Owain’s trousers were dark, so the wet patch left behind couldn’t be seen, but he could definitely feel it. And Robert hadn’t looked down, but had kept his eyes on Owain so every flicker of mock-innocence and lazy taunt in them could be clearly seen. He moved smoothly on to the next sticky drop, and then the next and the next, working his way up Owain’s leg and then across Owain’s stomach so his lips were a hot ghost-graze through Owain’s shirt. Then Robert went down the other leg and too. Fucking. Slowly. Circled in on the spray that had landed on Owain’s fly.

His mouth came down and licked off that as carefully and thoroughly as he’d treated the other spots, and Owain just dug his nails into the sofa cushions, lip now bloody because he’d been savaging it so hard. They were both bastards, and it was fucking perfect. “Green-eyes, as much as I’d like to fuck you broken every day, you do need time to heal up.”

“And you’ll make up for that, I presume.” Robert was still staring challengingly at Owain. “Sir.”

Owain started to curse and grab for Robert, but the other man already had Owain’s fly open and was working on swallowing. It was messy and took a bit, since Robert was still learning to not gag, but damned if it wasn’t better than a top-flight whore. Because one of those didn’t give a shit about anything except earning the money as fast as possible, but Robert was taking his time trying to get it right, to tease the fuck out of Owain and just…Owain threaded his fingers into that thick black hair and just let his hips ride it. Occasionally he’d mutter advice when Robert went too far too fast and started choking, or when there wasn’t enough teeth for Owain’s taste, but mostly he let Robert figure it out. The man was good at that, after all.

And he let Owain look into his eyes, all the way until the black snapped down and then up. With a sigh of pure satisfaction, Owain tugged Robert up by the hair and thoroughly kissed him, tasting what Robert had. He ran his hand down Robert’s back to cup and fondle one firm buttock, watching how Robert shivered and tucked his face into Owain’s neck.

A few minutes later, someone knocked on the door. “Owain?”

Turner, sounding as if he was deeply, deeply amused. “Yeah?” Owain called back.

“Your room is the second one down this hallway. Left side. Jack’s putting off his meeting with you till tomorrow, out of respect for the…tiring trip you’ve had.”

Footsteps sauntered off, while Owain mentally made all sorts of rude gestures.

Robert snorted and nipped a soft-wet kiss behind Owain’s ear. “We aren’t staying here, are we?”

“No. I told you, I don’t have a city. I’ve got the roads. We can go wherever—” Owain stopped, then growled and made himself be realistic. “There’s not as much power in the roads because it’s spread out, but we’re not tied to one place like they are. But I may have to…it’s a little complicated. My father was a jackass and rebelled with Barbossa against Sparrow. I ran away from home and wasn’t even part of that stupid war, but…it’s just tricky.”

“I want to be there when you talk to Sparrow,” Robert said, lifting his head to show a serious, concerned expression.

Grinning again, Owain pecked him chastely on the lips. “Sure. Don’t see why not, now. You wake up early enough and I can fuck you against the wall while we’re waiting for him.”

“I was a servant, as I keep telling you.” With a wince, Robert got off Owain’s lap and began putting on his trousers. “I’ll wake up.”

* * *

Robert woke up at the crack of dawn, almost beating Owain, who smirked down at him. “Servant or not, you can’t beat a drifter.”

“I’m not a servant now,” Robert muttered, doing up his shirt. He noted that the bruises—even the ones from last night—had almost completely faded away, which he didn’t think was entirely Owain’s doing. His dreams had been rather bizarre, involving invisible but apparently friendly watchers that had given him the impression of helping, and even now, the house felt oddly aware to him. “I’m…your familiar. But not a servant.”

“Hell, no. I never could stand a doormat,” Owain replied, facetiousness somewhat muted. He drew the back of his knuckle across Robert’s cheek, then pulled Robert down for a lingering kiss while Owain knotted Robert’s tie for him.

When they were near the kitchen, Owain suddenly stopped and about-faced. “Wait there a second. I forgot something.”

So Robert leaned against the wall and patiently waited, though the man that came walking down the hall a minute later was hardly what he’d wanted to arrive. Micah was in shirt-sleeves and tan trousers, looking and smelling as if he’d spent the night rolling about a dockside bar. The moment he saw Robert, he paused and smiled. Nastily. “Well, hello. It’s the butler.”

Owain showed up two seconds after that, busy tucking his cigarettes into his coat-pocket so he almost tripped over Micah. He looked down at the prone man, then looked up at Robert, blank-faced.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for years,” Robert casually commented, readjusting the amount of cuff that was showing from his sleeves. “Smart-mouthed Americans are irritating beyond belief.”

The other man absorbed that, then returned his gaze to Micah. “You’re an idiot. And I thought we settled this last night.”

“It’s usually a good idea to check twice,” Micah wheezed, slowly rolling back onto his feet. He rubbed at his left cheek, which Robert was pleased to see was already turning dark red. In a few hours, it would make an impressive bruise.

Rolling his eyes, Owain side-stepped Micah and came up to Robert’s side. “Come on. Micah, when you’ve got your brain back, feel free to buy me a replacement for that car of mine that you trashed.”

After breakfast, Jacques dropped by to show Owain and Robert onto a second-floor balcony, which contained Sparrow. Robert swallowed his disappointment and aggravation and leaned against the wall while Owain and Sparrow talked. He was only slightly placated by the hand Owain slid between him and the wall, which drifted up and down his spine.

Sparrow appeared to playing knucklebones. He was squatting by the rail over a spread kerchief, over which he would throw and rethrow what Robert thought were sheep’s knucklebones. Then again, somehow it wouldn’t surprise Robert to find out that they were human.

“It’s the loa,” Owain whispered, swaying in so he could run his hand from Robert’s back to between Robert’s legs and then up again. “Calm down.”

“Oh, sorry. I do forget about that.” A grin flashed up, but Sparrow made no move to stand. Though he had done something, because suddenly the presence around him had considerably diminished. “Can’t say as La Sirène’s very enthusiastic ‘bout fire round her, though.”

With just a touch of arrogance, Owain pivoted to face the other man and drew out a cigarette at the same time. He slipped it between his lips, but instead of reaching for his lighter, just snapped his fingers near the tip. It glowed red, then cooled a little and began issuing a white thread of smoke. “With all due respect, I can’t help what I get tossed at me.”

“Nouvelle Lune’s you are not,” Sparrow agreed, sweeping up the bones in one hand. “Still, your family was. An’ you’ve caused me no amount of trouble in the past few days. Bill threw out Gaspar.”

“I figured.” Smoke curled behind Owain to creep up Robert’s nose. It offered a moment of relaxation, but then Owain was withdrawing and ambling up to Sparrow. “Bill blew up his own car to get at me.”

One shoulder lifted and dropped, jangling strange ornaments and rustling the wide sash Sparrow wore. He didn’t look up at Owain, but instead bent even farther, nose only a few inches above the floor, and flicked at one bone. “It would set right with him if I killed Gaspar, and London took me in kind for not being capable of protecting their own. My credibility’s tipped a bit, I believe.”

Owain nodded but didn’t answer, eyes fixed on Sparrow. It seemed as if the coded conversation had nearly concluded.

“Hope you weren’t looking forward to a real grand homecoming. I’m always one for celebratin’, but…you and Nouvelle Lune will have to part ways, I’m thinking. Soon.” Sparrow finally deigned to acknowledge Owain’s presence, flipping a bone up at him. Then he bundled the rest into the kerchief and stood, clapping a hand on Owain’s shoulder as he swerved around Owain. “Bonne chance,” Sparrow called over his shoulder, walking back inside.

“Merci,” Owain muttered, but not sarcastically. After putting out his cigarette, he held up the bone to the light and studied it for a few seconds before carefully setting it down on the windowsill. Then he came and took Robert’s arm to lead them in as well. “Come on. I think we’ve been officially banned from the city.”

Robert frowned. “Is that—”

“No, that’s good. About as good as we can get. I left for a few reasons, and most of them are still hanging around. Besides, I can tell you’re not liking here, anyway.” They rounded a corner, but while Robert straightened out, Owain continued in a sharp, fast whirl to slam Robert up against the wall. His hand shot down to cup Robert’s suddenly attentive prick, curling and squeezing. Grinning all the while, Owain leaned in and kissed-muffled all of Robert’s gasps. “Plus I’m not feeling the need to watch Sparrow rip through Gaspar. He will—Spanish jackass was okay as long as he stayed north, but now that he’s on Sparrow’s home ground? Not a chance.”

“What about Bill?” Robert said breathlessly, letting his hips ride up into Owain’s hand. After a moment of fierce effort, he unclamped his hands from Owain’s shoulders and drew them suggestively down the front edges of the other man’s coat. Owain brought up a hand to cup Robert’s cheek and Robert lolled his head into it, then caught Owain’s thumb between his teeth. Watched Owain’s breath go short as Robert sucked.

The thumb tugged out. The hand on Robert’s cock gave one last hard squeeze, then patted his arse. “Bill?” Owain said, pulling them along as if the last five seconds hadn’t happened. “Bill’s not got New York yet. We’ll check once we’re far enough off, but I’ve got a feeling he’ll be too busy to come after us. Anyway, he’s a smart man—both London and Nouvelle Lune know what he tried to do now, and he’s not going to want them both on him.”

“And what about—” But before Robert could finish, Owain yanked them through a doorway and kicked it shut.

It was their bedroom. Robert did have enough time to see that before he was back up against the wall. This time Owain’s hands were pinning Robert’s to his chest, their only point of contact because the other man kept leaning just close enough for Robert to feel body heat, then jerking away whenever Robert tried to move forward.

“I said I’d get around to it. Don’t you trust me?” With a laugh, Owain darted in and nipped out a whine from Robert’s mouth. His fingers were tangling in Robert’s tie, tangling Robert’s in it, and then Owain slipped away to leave Robert’s bound hands dangling from a reknotted tie.

An experimental tug showed that it wouldn’t strangle him. Though now it did look a good deal like a collar…Robert pressed his back more firmly against the wall and slid down to sit with knees splayed apart. He looked up at Owain and deliberately ran his tongue over his lips. “Get on with it. Sir.”

Owain took one step, and then another until he was standing between Robert’s legs, shin rubbing just a little against Robert’s prick. He leaned down to ruffle Robert’s hair, then dug his nails into the back of Robert’s neck and pulled Robert over onto his stomach. An arm went around Robert’s waist to keep him from falling too far forward, to hold his hips back so he could feel a long searing hardness against his arse, and then fingers were none-too-gently working at Robert’s belt. Fly. He bucked and twisted to make them brush longer against him, shoving back so Owain got some benefit from it as well.

“You are so damned…I really can’t believe no one’s just held you down and fucking had you before. Just your fucking mouth.” Owain cut a nail behind Robert’s balls, tormenting the tissue-thin, sensitive skin there. He rolled it back and forth, a little deeper every time.

Robert dropped his head to the floor and took a mouthful of carpet to block his half-scream. His knees were trying to pull together, but Owain’s were in the way, and then the nail scraped over so a soft thumbpad was rolling across the new soreness instead, too damned close and too damned far from stabbing into Robert. Then his knees went limp, apart, and Robert dimly realized he was scrabbling at the carpet.

The coarse fabric scratching his buttocks was suddenly replaced by hot smooth skin as Owain finally stripped himself, and Robert moaned. Rocked back, angling himself as best he could to trap Owain’s prick in the cleft of his arse, trying to make the other man hurry up. He was already shaking, tasting blood from his own lip in his mouth, and every touch Owain made was hard and hot and sank straight down into Robert. The man’s breath prickled the back of Robert’s neck, made him bend it to present it better.

“Sir. You and your fucking sirs,” Owain hissed, running his teeth around Robert’s shoulderblade. It went through the coat, through the shirt and felt like fire being traced directly onto Robert’s skin. Then Owain’s mouth skated up, bit sharp into Robert’s nape. Ringed every bump of the spine with punishing nips, then marked up the side of Robert’s neck and raked into the tender spot behind Robert’s ear. “Those sound good, yeah, but you don’t really mean them. You are such a twisted fuck.”

And finally, finally slick fingers were corkscrewing their way into Robert. Two at once while he whimpered through the burn-stretch-itch, trembling and struggling to get away, to get toward, to do he didn’t know what. They stabbed mercilessly forward and he was suddenly sure he couldn’t quite—but Owain was cooing wordlessly at him and licking his ear, bathing his cheekbone like a cat would her kittens. Robert exhaled a tight, ragged breath and took it.

“That’s better. That’s right.” The hand over Robert’s stomach was stroking his shuddering muscles, teasing them into an excruciatingly slow rhythm. Once that had been done, they wandered down to dance over his prick. Flicked at the tip, snapped a painful raw moan from him, and then wrapped hard around his cock. Owain kept up a steady rippling pressure that was just a hair shy of being enough. “Fucking beautiful. You go apart, and you come back together every time. Ready and waiting for me to tear you up again. Whore.”

Third finger, and now Owain was playing around, pulling out to the first joint and pausing so Robert had to fuck them back in himself. The fingers sank into the knuckles, but felt like they were sinking deep into the center of him, wrapping into the strings and tugging so his cheek stayed rubbing the floor, so his lips wouldn’t close even though his mouth was so dry it seared to breathe. He fought to keep his eyes open.

“No, that’s not right. Whores do it for money. Sluts do it because they fucking love it.” Each consonant licked out of Owain’s mouth to slither along Robert’s skin because Owain was kissing as he talked, sucking the sweat from Robert’s hairline. “Christ. You think I’d look anywhere else when I’ve got this? You’re fucking eating me—I can’t—”

Robert closed his eyes and clenched. Rocked against the other man’s harsh groan. “Please…”

Owain seemed to stop breathing for a moment. And then he ripped his fingers out and there was cock instead, burning Robert from inside out, and Owain had to stab nails into Robert’s hips so it was fucking and not just frenzied collision of flesh. There was warm stuff running from beneath Owain’s hands over Robert’s hips—Owain was drawing blood—and Robert thought he could taste that in his mouth. “Please,” he repeated.

“All right. All right. Quiet.” As raspy as Robert’s voice was, Owain sounded nearly as bad. He was clutching at Robert like he wanted to ram their bones together, and his breath was so ragged it almost was sobbing—or perhaps that was Robert.

It wasn’t distinguishable anymore. It was just rise and roll, spread and be fucked. Be slammed back so Robert’s cheek went skidding over the carpet and flamed hot, be taken apart bit by bit by a ripping, ghost-faint and whiskey-sweet voice that was talking to him in languages he didn’t understand but that he knew. That he could read just by how the words slipped and crashed in time with the fast, faster drive of prick into him and fingers around his cock, working it until finally it all came together in one white-hot second of everything.

Owain came two heartbeats afterward and then subsided on top of Robert, a long warm sink that slowly pulled Robert back to where he was supposed to be. “Fuck. Fuck,” Owain panted, wolf-grin thoroughly satiated. He hooked a finger beneath the sodden, twisted tie and ran it around Robert’s neck, provoking a bit of sting from the chafed skin. “You’re going to kill me.”

Robert caught just enough breath to speak and nuzzled at the other man as best he could. “Oh, I think you can take it.”

For a second, Owain stared. Then he shook his head, snickering, and pointedly jerked his hips so Robert keened and trembled, going breathless again. “Bastard,” Owain affectionately said. “Where do you want to go first?”

* * *

There was a half-bottle of bourbon between his legs, a gun snug under his arm, and a green-eyed, sore son of a bitch contentedly curled against him. Every so often, Robert would stop smoking long enough to nibble at Owain’s ear, silently begging for a quick petting. So Owain would switch to reading the newspaper one-handed and run his fingers through the man’s still-sweaty hair. “Gaspar’s dead. They’re calling it a freak car explosion.”

“Hmm.” Robert stabbed out his butt in the car ash-tray and nestled back. Then he walked his hand down Owain’s front to the bottle, which he extracted with much teasing. His tongue flicked pink around the rim once before he took a swallow, half of which he kissed into Owain’s mouth.

“And it looks like yeah, Bill’s got internal troubles.” Owain flipped the page before accepting another warmed helping of bourbon. “Your cousin might have an heir on the way.”

This time, a tongue sneaked in along with the booze. “I’ll send a congratulatory telegram,” Robert murmured, mouthing at Owain’s jaw.

“You wanna go, I take it.” Not particularly unhappy about that, Owain folded up the newspaper and tossed it into the back. “Well, I’m done with Chicago. How about Madrid? Seth’s there, and he says I could come in on a job with him if we want.”

“Madrid? You could fuck me during siesta. If you like, sir.” When he swigged the bourbon, Robert allowed a provoking little dribble to run down his jaw, which of course meant Owain had to chase it. He let Owain take away the bourbon without protest and settled his head in Owain’s lap as Owain started the car. That was a yes, then.

As they pulled away from the curb, Owain put his hand out the window and snapped. A yellow burst of flame dropped from his fingers to a glistening trail on the sidewalk, which caught and flared lightning-fast into a nearby warehouse.

They were a good mile away when it blew, and far out of town before people even thought about looking for the culprits. Not that they’d find the right clues—not even any local psychics short of the city head, since Robert had rewritten all the traces of their presence to point to someone else. Of course, Owain had been working for the city lord to begin with, so that was covered as well.

Yeah, it was a fucking good life. And they’d just gotten started.


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