« Will you stop with my hair ? I already barely look like myself anymore.
- Stop fussing about. It’s for your own good. »
The elevator was purring gently around them, carrying them up to the reception. There, in that large ballroom overlooking the empire new capital city, the first official meeting between the old empire and the new Heinessen government would take place. History would be made at this moment.
Yang sighed. Things would go at least mildly well, he knew that already . The young Heinessen had no interest in rekindling the bloody, wasteful forever war and the rejuvenated Empire, despite its status as undisputed victor, was still licking deep wounds. Of course, there was still hard work to be done to massage out a stable peace, but probably not by him. He wished he could have done more, even if he knew he’d done his part to push fate in the right path.
My part as a sacrifice, he thought. Why did I agree to it. I could be standing on the other side, instead of having chosen to live under...
Yang chased away Reinhard’s fussy hands from his tangled hair. He heard protest. He ignored it.
Reinhard had turned out to be an odd man, even odder than he’d pictured him to be from afar. Driven, noble and incredibly talented on one side, childish, insensitive and temperamental on the other. Especially when it came to personal relationships, Yang had been on the bad end of his brattiness enough times to know it intimately.
The most striking example was his marriage : Reinhard clearly loved and respected Hilda, recognizing her as the person coming close to his level. But their relationship was still skewed, unbalanced, even cold at times. Sometimes, Yang wished he could give him advice, but he knew he’d refuse. Not that Reinhard would admit it, but Yang very presence near him was probably what was causing much of the strife between him and Hilda.
I suppose I should be flattered, Yang thought. That he likes me so much that he’s ready to risk his marriage to just keep me close to his heart. Or at least, he added to himself, that’s what Reinhard must be thinking.
He felt familiar finger press his scalp again. Reinhard still wanted to flatten his hair. As Yang could see, glancing to the elevator mirror, it was a fruitless battle.
« Face it. Once again, I remain undefeated, » he smiled.
There was a moment of silence. Suddenly, Reinhard pulled on his hair. Yang yelped despite himself.
Brat, he thought, massaging the back of his head.
« I guess your bad hair won’t be that big a deal, » Reinhard mumbled before craning his neck and kissing him on the cheek.
« I can never tell when you’re mocking me and when you’re being honest, » said Yang.
A weak smile was Reinhard’s only answer.
For an such a momentous occasion, the opening party was almost too ordinary. Grey, navy blue and beige tones all over, sun-starved potted plants for ornamentation, civilians dressed in inoffensive suits and unsurprising military uniforms. Yang’s heart jumped less high than he thought it would at seeing the barely modified uniforms of the FPA. All of those were worn by shadows, unknowns or people he had been quite happy to be away from. At least there was an open-bar full of old friends, in easily accessible liquid form.
Yang knew he should be feeling elated rather than morose. In a way, he’d gotten what he’d wanted : peace, for a few decades. A short respite built on millions of bloody, beaten and exploited bodies.
Including my own, he thought.
He downed his glass.
I wished I wouldn’t feel so sad and guilty about things so far beyond my control, Yang thought, in a moment of vague self-awareness.
Reinhard arrived, passing through the crowd as if it was nothing, looking so much more vibrant than anyone else. Even the ambiant grayness couldn’t dull his unnaturally bright aura. He put a confident hand on Yang’s shoulder.
« Aren’t you proud ? It’s all you wanted. »
Yang nodded in response, then looked away. He couldn’t really stand the sigh of Reinhard intense blue eyes right now, of his smug but fully-earned satisfaction. Still clutching his glass, Yang scanned the crowd, in the vague hope that he’d missed a familiar face, but there was nothing.
I guess the imperial press wasn’t lying about the purges, he mused. I wonder what happened to those I left behind. Why aren’t they here. Maybe they’re dead. Maybe they’re ashamed of me. Maybe they got caught up in something, something that I could have stopped...
His mind fogged up at the thought. He heard a woman’s hurried voice repeating « excuse me » behind him. She probably wanted to talk to Reinhard, the guest of honor, the liberator, the beacon of hope and change...
Then, he recognized the voice.
His heart skipping a beat, Yang turned around. Reinhard noticed his sudden energy. His mouth twisted ever so-slightly, his fist tightened, a calm mask placed itself on his face.
« I’m sorry, but who are you ? » he asked, almost too politely for it to be natural.
Frederica faced him, both of her feet firmly planted on the ground. She was wearing the same type of outfit as the rest of the guests, a bland cream-colored suit with a skirt that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a middling office worker. It badly contrasted with Reinhard’s overly refined military uniform and customary white cape.
They both smiled, far too widely.
« Frederica Greenhill-Yang. Emissary from Heinessen. Newly elected senator. Ex-military.
Reinhard remained still. An air of grim determination passed over Frederica’s face. Yang smiled.
« Also, your concubine’s wife.
- Ah, so that’s what your name was. »
You know very well what she’s called, thought Yang, stung despite recognizing the taunt.
A vague rumor swirled in the crowd that had gathered around them. Yang could hear shock. He was he bit surprised by the crowd’s reaction. When he and Reinhard were seen together in public, people usually refused to acknowledge the most obvious reason why Reinhard would keep him so close, even at the expense of his and Hilda’s union. It was a nice change of pace.
Frederica walked up to Reinhard, staring him straight in the eyes even as he loomed over her. Yang couldn’t help but gaze at her, familiar yet different, noticing every little change. She’d gotten steelier in his absence, less warm, less soft. The lines on her face ran deeper than he remembered. Her unassuming suit looked like a disguise on her. Somehow, all that made her even more lovely.
Forcing his hands behind his back, he thought of how much he wanted to hold her, kiss her. They’d both run away from that suffocating crowd, then they’d both want to make up for lost time. She’d kiss him ravenously, grab his hair, guide his hand in-between her legs...
Her cutting voice snapped him out of his reverie.
« You’re quite shameless, exhibiting him here in front of everyone, like he’s your trophy, your property. Like he’s spoils. »
Reinhard scoffed, then smirked.
« You should know better than to base your opinions on unfounded and frankly raunchy rumors, emissary. »
Yang glanced at her, his smile turning grim, and Frederica had her confirmation.
« I don’t know why, but I’m starting to think that despite all your speeches, reforms and promises of change, the only thing you thought was wrong about the previous regime was that you weren’t the one in charge. »
Reinhard face twisted. Yang’s smile widened.
« Whatever you want to believe, Greenhill. No, if you excuse me, I have better things to do. »
That lacked some subtlety, Yang thought.
He left without adding anything, the crowd thinning with his departure. They stood motionless for a second, staring at each other just the time to catch a breath. Then Frederica rushed to his side.
« Are you okay. », she asked, her voice suddenly going soft.
Her fingers first caressed his cheek, then went up and messed with his hair. Yang could feel himself almost melt under this casual, insignificant touch. All the memories he’d buried, all the feelings he’d denied himself came flooding back in an indescribable rush.
« Where are the others, » he asked, grasping at her hands.
« We’re all alright, » she replied, clasping back. « We did things as you would have done them. We tried, at least. You’ve missed a lot...
I didn’t know I needed that this much, he thought, letting the feelings of relief wash over him.
It was like a steel weight he’d forgotten about had fallen off his back. With time, hardships and denial, he’d thought his feelings had been dulled into dust-like insignificance. He’d been wrong, and the results were overwhelming.
Breathless, he leaned forward. Frederica parted her lips, shivering with anticipation. Slowly, they came closer and closer to each other.
Suddenly, Yang felt a sharp, familiar pain in his scalp.
He’d almost forgotten him.
Reinhard’s hand was in his hair again, aggressive but disciplined. Yang felt Frederica fists tighten. He himself was ready to just slap Reinhard’s hand away.
« I’m sorry, but I have to borrow your compatriot. You can always see him later. If he still wants to.»
Without giving either of them the time to react, he grabbed Yang’s wrist and roughly dragged him away from the party. Yang turned away, hoping to catch a glimpse of Frederica, but her face was already lost in the crowd. Finally, they stopped in front of a plain elevator, different from the one they came in before.
« Why did you do that, » Yang asked, out of breath.
Reinhard, still holding him with a tight grip, refused to face him.
« Not right now, » he half-whispered, fiddling with a plastic hotel key.
He’d stayed stubbornly silent, letting Yang simmer in intensity and confusion.
The room Reinhard pushed him into was somehow both tacky and anonymous. A bed with faded sheets, a desk with a subtly mismatched chair and an outdated old lamp and a small window with a grey view that didn’t provide enough light. Peeking over his shoulder, Yang could see Reinhard sneer at the sorry sigh.
« I thought you disliked ostentation, he said wryly.
- It doesn’t mean I have to tolerate mediocrity. »
Slamming the door close as gently as his mood allowed it, he pointed to the unmade bed.
« I want us to fuck on that, he stated as flatly as he could.
- Why ?
- Because I feel like it. »
Quietly wrenching Reinhard’s hand off his arm, Yang took the time to examine his face in more details. His feet were tapping, he was frowning, his lips were trembling ever-so slightly : he looked both upset and aroused. In a strange way, that amused him.
« That’s because of Frederica, isn’t it.
- Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. Could you hurry. »
Used to this routine, Yang took off his clothes and laid naked and prone on the bed. The sheets were still warm in spots. Someone had slept in that room not that long ago.
That’s probably Frederica’s room, he thought. He’d do something like that.
Despite his muted disgust at Reinhard’s actions, excitement kept growing in him. He wondered why he felt that want, that need, for the man who had torn him and Frederica apart once again. Then, it hit him.
Transference, he thought. Damn me and my messed-up brain. All those feeling have to be dealt with somehow.
He’d read about in a book somewhere during a library binge, back when he was still a student. If his fuzzy recollection were right, he would redirect all that boundless passion, no matter how ironic or paradoxical the target. The fact that the room had been in use so recently was only the icing on a deranged and perverted cake.
He felt hands on his shoulders. With no warning, Reinhard flipped him over and they found themselves face to face. Yang only had time to catch one breath before Reinhard plunged down and kissed him possessively. He responded in kind, biting the other man’s lips and clawing at his clothes. Reinhard, surprised by his enthusiasm, backed away for just a second. Taking advantage, Yang kicked him off him and turned back on his stomach, embracing the bed, searching for traces of her smell.
The room was suddenly calm. He waited here for a moment, his eyes closed, hearing the sounds of Reinhard’s clothes hitting the floor right next to him. His mind wandered again, back to Frederica.
Where is she now, he thought. She’s probably rousing some trouble upstairs. Wait, no, she’s too careful. Even if she has changed, she can’t be that different now...
Suddenly, he felt a too heavy weight on his back, the burning sensation of sudden skin-on-skin contact and of strong hands grabbing him. Reinhard was forcing him to get on his back again. Yang flailed and protested but it was all pointless. He could see Reinhard looming over him, backlit by the desk lamp’s flailing light. Stubbornly, he turned his head away and closed his eyes shut. Reinhard grabbed his jaw one-handed, forcing Yang to face him.
« Look at me. »
A pathetic tremor in Reinhard’s voice forced his eyes open.
« I’m the one who’s going to fuck you. Not her. »
Is he going to cry, Yang thought, wry.
He bit the hand that was holding his face down. Reinhard yelped and lost his balance. Yang used the occasion to wrap his legs around his waist and rolled him to the over side of the bed. Now on the bottom of their embrace, Reinhard grabbed him by the hair and pulled hard.
« Why don’t you get it, » he snarled with the awful, broken voice of a creature.
Pushed by a dark instinct, Yang wrapped his hands around his throat and pressed. His fingers tight, he could feel him breath in and breath out. Held down, he stopped struggling. Yang saw a flash of panic in Reinhard’s eyes. Then, as the grip around his throat stiffened, he smiled.
Yang felt a rush, of arousal maybe.
Damn me, he thought. Maybe I do like him. Not for who I imagined him to be, but who he really is.
He let his arms go limp. Slow and careful, Reinhard put his hand his, caressing each one of his knuckles. Still smiling, he kissed them tenderly. Then, Yang let him push him on his back again, his head near the other end of the bed. They could see the tiny room’s door from here.
Reinhard leaned down to kiss him on the neck. At the same time, he gently pried open Yang’s legs. He decided to work with both hands, this time. One working his dick, the other fingering him, preparing him. Hard and oversensitive, Yang let out a deep moan.
« Not yet, » Reinhard whispered in his ear.
He sat up, leaving him spread and exposed, then turned over to grab the usual packet from his discarded pile of clothes.
I shouldn’t revel in my own powerlessness, Yang thought, laying prone and vulnerable.
The bed definitely smelled like her, but it was a poor substitute. Staring at the ceiling, he listened to the wet sounds next to him. He couldn’t help but identify a tinge of guilt in his mouth.
« Don’t worry. It’ll be fine. »
He hooked the other man’s legs over his shoulders and leaned down to kiss him. He was stopped about halfway through by the creaking of bones. His feet way too close to his head, Yang winced.
« Sorry, sorry... » Reinhard mumbled, leaning back.
They heard another cracking sound, this one coming from behind the door.
« Almost there. » Reinhard whispered to himself.
Suddenly, he grabbed him by the sides and pushed him halfway down on his cock, without teasing. Yang let out a cry. Reinhard smiled.
« You love me, don’t you. » he breathed out.
The door opened and Frederica entered the room.
Yang felt every bone in his body freeze and shatter. Panic taking over his brain, a million pleas and excuses ran through his head. He looked up to Reinhard, who seemed very satisfied with himself.
« You’re despicable, Yang whispered.
- Say it louder. » he replied in a smug tone.
The other man pushed in quickly and fully. Yang tensed his whole body. They both gasped, in both pain and pleasure. Not taken aback, Reinhard started fucking in and out slowly, chasing his own bliss. Intellectual disgust mixing with physical delight, Yang pulled his eyes away, his gaze finally falling on Frederica.
She looked both horrified and unsurprised at the same time. She was staring, like one stares a speeding train about to hit them. Still with the same expression, she pulled out the only chair in the room and sat down, unable to stop watching.
It’s my fault, it’s all my fault, thought Yang, all his buried guilt oozing back up to the surface.
A sharp pain coming from his bent legs pulled him out of his spiral.
No, he corrected himself. I did my best, and so did she. He’s the one who should feel that guilt.
He felt Reinhard’s body tense over his, and he tensed with him. Then, that familiar full-body shiver, that sticky sensation, that delightful feeling. For a second only, he forgot all about his awful situation.
« Was it good for you too ? » said Reinhard, with bashful honesty.
Yang could have spit in his face.
Grinning and satisfied, Reinhard pulled out and laid on his side, his own softening member hanging down proudly. Yang just laid there, spent and boneless. He tried his best not to feel broken or tainted, his mind coming back to Frederica.
How does she feel, he wondered. Angry, betrayed, probably. Does she pity me ? No, that would be the worst...
Overcoming the weight of his shame and humiliation, he peeked at Frederica. She was standing up straight, her head staring down at the floor, her hands made into tight fists.
Suddenly, her whole body relaxed. Still standing, she lifted up one of her legs and slid down her panties. He watched her, entranced, as she slid it down the other leg then put it away in her dress breast pocket. Slowly, she moved toward him, leaning over him, brushing his lips with a stern finger. He’d have embraced her, if she’d let him. Instead, she lifted up her skirt, revealing modest garters. Dazed, he wondered if she’d borrowed them, and who from. Smiling sweetly, she straddled him, lifting her skirt even higher, showing a familiar blonde bush. Then, as she was moving closer and closer to his face, he understood.
That wasn’t the mouth I hoped to kiss, he thought, but it’ll do.
The pressure of her tights on his cheeks was warm and familiar. Her short pubic hairs were still curled and soft, just as he remembered. Tentatively, he darted his tongue toward the wet and quivering lips hovering over him.
I’ve missed this, I missed this so much, he thought, listening to Frederica high, hurried moans above him.
Feeling more and more light-headed, he let himself think for a moment that he was back home. He pictured a lazy afternoon in their blooming spring garden, both of them just enjoying the other’s body, knowing no one could see their shamelessness. They weren’t fucking in a subpar hotel room, under a foreign sky, being glared at by the most important man in the universe.
Still working his tongue, he peeked to the side. Reinhard was slouching, inhumanely still, staring at both of them, his mouth twisting and his fists clenched in a full-body expression of both rage and mortification. Yang couldn’t help but smile at the impotent display. He looked up to Frederica, gently stroking the edge of her waist from under her rolled up skirt. She smiled back, full of warmth.
« I hope you’re ready, » she half-whispered, stroking his messy hair.
She strengthened her grip and dropped down. His head wedged in-between her inner thighs, he let her familiar taste invade his mouth, washing away bitterness. Feeling himself hardening again, he clumsily snaked his hand away from Frederica’s hips to stroke himself. She guided him with her own confident hand, intermingling their fingers to ensure he’d get the best relief. Trying to get a flash of her reddening face as she was pressing him down harder and harder, he could have swore she was staring back at Reinhard.
Maybe it’s an improvised tactical decision, a form of dominance, he thought. To show him there’s still things he can’t fully own...
He looked to the side again. Reinhard was staring back, his mouth now a fine line, his eyes intense. He could smell the helpless jealousy coming off of him.
The rational part of his brain was saying to him ‘This is fucked’. The other one, the darker, more primal one only felt blessed. Blessed to be loved, to be owned so physically, to be such a nexus of affection for those two people he admired or had admired for so long.
He came violently. He had to restrain himself from bitting down. Trembling above him, Frederica carefully laid down on his bare chest. He could feel her beating heart through her thick, scratchy suit jacket. He’d never heard it beat so fast before.
« Was it good for you too, » she asked, blissful.
Yang could only respond caressing her lips, pearled with sweat and giving her a simple, long waited for kiss.
Suddenly, they heard a loud, strangled noise coming from the room’s only other occupant.
The three of them suddenly froze, as if they’d finally fully realized what had been happening since they barged in. Reinhard turned from seething to serious, Frederica turned red from head to toe and Yang just laid down, fully exhausted.
As Frederica got off of the bed, hurried by Reinhard cold gaze, Yang rubbed his still dripping lips. They felt red and painful, but he couldn’t help but press down on them. He wanted to remember it, the weight, the taste, her presence.
« I’ll see you at the conference, » Reinhard said icily, as Frederica adjusted her skirt, halfway in the exit door.
« I hope I see you to, » she mumbled in a as respectful a tone as she could manage.
Reinhard almost spit as she closed the door. Emitting a strange, frustrated noise, he paced around the room. Yang was to tired make the effort of laughing at his behavior. Finally, Reinhard rolled in bed next to Yang. He laid down next to him, refusing to look him in the eye, but still touching his skin. They just leaned on each other in shared silence, basking in the room’s uncomfortable smells.
« Do you want to talk, » Yang finally asked, as softly as he could.
He heard a grunt and turned to Reinhard. He was almost pouting. The childish affectation would have been amusing if it had come from any other man.
« Why are you so angry.
- It should be obvious, he spat out, reluctant.
- You’re jealous of her. »
Yang wished he could smile at that.
« That’s very funny. »
Reinhard face twisted at the reply.
Sometimes, he thought, you really can be the childish brat everyone thought you to be. Did you really think I’d stop wanting her after you’d ripped us apart. Did you think it’d be that simple, that I’d just forget.
« Didn’t you say you thought of passing me around before. As a reward, for those deserving. That you’d watch it, and that you’d like it, Yang taunted.
- Never would I have let any of them hurt you. It was just an empty threat, he stated flatly.
- Are you so sure. »
Reinhard turned away from Yang’s judging eyes.
« Maybe I would have done it, he admitted, guilt tinting his words.
- Because I annoyed you.
- Yes. »
He’s decent enough to feel ashamed, Yang mused. As usual. That’s not enough.
« Then why are you so angry, seeing me with Frederica. Someone I love and who loves me back. Someone who would never abuse me. »
Suddenly, Reinhard turned face him. Swift but messy, he captured his lips, desperately pinning him down. Then, he trapped Yang in a strong, inescapable embrace, not even letting him wriggle out of his hold.
« You must understand, how precious you are to me. How I wish I was precious to you too. How I’d wish you’d want me and only me, » he whispered in Yang’s ear with a trembling voice.
Exhaustion replacing anger, he reached to stroke Yang messy hair.
«... I want you to be as guilty as me. »
Pensive, Yang wondered if there had been a time when things could have turned right between them. After all there was a time, before he’d even touched him, before he’d even seen him, before he’d even heard his voice. When Reinhard was more a legend being born than a man of flesh and blood. Then, he’d loved him. Loved like one admires a bright, distant star. A thing one should never touch.
« Maybe if you were a better man. »
Reinhard face didn’t fell. He knew all that already. Yang leaned to whisper in his ear.
«I wish you understood how much I wished for you to be better.»
Reinhard kept on holding him, for far too long.