"You didn't want to kiss your crown prince goodbye?" Kael asked when they'd entered the house. Thiel stiffened. The door had barely shut behind them when Kael had spun around and thrown that at him.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Thiel snapped. "How about we talk about the fact that you knew Kova was coming today? And about how long you've known my real name?"

Kael didn't look nearly as impassive now as he did before. He paced in front of Thiel, fists clenched at his sides. Finally, he pointed a shaking finger at Thiel.
"You said you'd never yielded before yet you must've to Kova – don't tell me he defied convention and let himself be the bottom." Kael's words were caustic, dripping with scorn.

"What are you talking about?"

"Do you love him?"

Thiel frowned. "Of course I do! He's my brother and the closest friend I've ever had; I would do anything for him."

"Brother?" Kael stopped pacing, staring at Thiel.

"Not literally, but he's closer to me than my real brother. Wait – were you jealous?"

Kael clenched his jaw and Thiel laughed when he saw the truth in Kael's eyes.

"You thought I was fucking Kova? Ew, you're gonna make me vomit. That is just… yuck. What would make you think that?"

Kael was looking a bit embarrassed now.

"And why the fuck would you set me up like that?" Thiel snapped before Kael could reply, immediately angry again. "You knew he was going to be there and you knew who I was! Am. Whatever!"

"The Umbra forbade me. He's the one who worked it out and he wanted to see your reaction. However, I do admit to being curious as well. You said you trusted me yet you said nothing about your real heritage? I didn't know what to think."

"It didn't mean anything," Thiel snapped. "I'm no longer bloody Althiel Voc'Yanna, that all means nothing to me now."

"Does it still mean nothing to you with your Crown Prince back?"

"Althiel Voc'Yanna is dead," Thiel said with a vehemence that surprised even himself with its intensity.

"Not for long," Kael said. Thiel just gave him a bewildered look and Kael sighed. "Everyone heard what the Umbra said at the end and I know exactly where your mind jumped. I can imagine that you've already told the Crown Prince to come back over here once you've convinced me to help him. Yes?"

Thiel looked guilty. "Well… yeah. You've guessed that pretty perfectly. So? Does that mean you will help him get back on the throne?" he asked eagerly, guilt forgotten. This was everything to him now.

Kael sighed. "I knew you were trouble when I first took you in. Yes, I will help you. I figured that you weren't going to give me much of a choice."

A big smile spread across Thiel's face, despite the huge array of emotions he'd been through today. He felt himself relax for the first time that day. A thought occurred to him and his grin widened. He walked up to Kael, uncaring of his limp in his presence, and pushed him back until Kael stumbled down into one of the couches in the living room. There were no candles lit in this room but the light from the hallway allowed them to see enough.

"What are you doing, Thiel?" Kael asked cautiously, his face guarded. Thiel straddled Kael's lap, knees on either side of his hips as he pressed into Kael. Kael's eyes widened then became hooded, his hands coming up to rest on his hips. Thiel wrapped his arms around Kael's neck and kissed him, tongue licking deep. Kael responded quickly, one hand dragging down to rest on Thiel's ass. Thiel was hard and he could feel Kael getting harder beneath him, the pants becoming too restricting. He dipped a hand between them, shoving down the waistband of Kael's pants enough so his cock came free. Kael moaned into his mouth when he grasped the hardened shaft and began stroking, then abruptly stood up. Thiel let out an undignified cry as he slipped off, barely managing to get his feet under him.

"What the fuck, Kael?" he demanded, not liking the feeling of being denied. Angry and horny was not a pleasant mix. Kael grabbed onto his wrist, pulling up his pants with his other hand as he tugged them out of the room and up the stairs.

"I'm not having sex with you on a couch, Thiel."

"Why not? We've done it before."
"We at least had oil then."

"Spit works just fine," Thiel said sulkily as he was pulled into the bedroom.

"No it doesn't, you'd get hurt."

Thiel made a face. When they got close enough to the bed, Thiel pushed him down on it again. Quickly, Thiel threw off his shirt and pants. He took pride in the way Kael's eyes darkened as they ran down his body, not even caring about the scars he despised so much. Warmth spread through him and he smiled as he grabbed the oil off the side table and straddled Kael again. This position put a bit of strain on his leg, but that was the last thing he cared about at that moment. He placed the oil in Kael's hand as he leant down and kissed him. The man pulled back, lips slight swollen.

"You're doing this to pay me back, aren't you?" he said flatly.

Thiel rolled his eyes.

"You are so sensitive about being paid back for things. Yes, I am grateful to you and yes, this is my way of showing my gratitude to you. But I'm also doing this because I want to and not because I feel like I have to. Okay? Just stop thinking."

There was still a slight frown on Kael's face but Thiel placed both his hands on Kael's cheeks and kissed him until the tension melted out of his frame. Then he reached over and took the oil from Kael's hand, his other hand working to push down Kael's pants again. Thiel broke the kiss to pour some oil on his hand and work it over Kael's shaft, making the man's head fall back as he let out a deep breath. Thiel smiled, incredibly aroused just by seeing the beautiful man in front of him in pleasure. He poured more oil over Kael's shaft before throwing the bottle onto the bed and sitting up. When Thiel was lining himself up, Kael's eyes opened and widened.

"Thiel, you're not ready—"

"Just shut up and hold me open," Thiel snapped, biting his lip as Kael's blunt head began pushing against his tight ring of muscle. It was slippery, thanks to the oil. Thiel relaxed as much as he could and pushed out. When Kael's hands came down and gripped his ass cheeks, spreading him open further, the head of his cock slipped in. Thiel held his breath at the pain but it was easily bearable. He rocked forward slowly and took Kael's cock deeper and deeper, until Thiel could feel the other man's balls against his ass.

"God, Thiel," Kael gasped and Thiel looked up with a sly grin. The man was staring at him with lust-clouded eyes and Thiel felt powerful knowing it was him that had put that look into his green eyes. Thiel grinded down experimentally and smiled wider when Kael let out a moan. As much as he secretly – or not so secretly – loved Kael having control, he quite appreciated having this much power over the other man. Especially since Kael was so heart-achingly beautiful. Hands on Kael's shoulders, he pushed him down and took his mouth again as he slowly rose up and down. He enjoyed the feeling of fullness and how Kael's hands gripped him tightly, obviously fighting not to get back in control.

"Do you like that?" Thiel breathed, smirking as he kept up the slow movement. He rose up just enough so the head of Kael's cock only just stayed in him, stretching that ring of muscles deliciously before sinking back down.

"You little imp," Kael groaned, narrowing his eyes at him. Thiel grinned and pushed himself up again, grinding down and focusing on Kael's reactions. Kael's head fell back as pleasure zinged up Thiel's spine. Sitting up properly, the only way to balance himself was to clutch onto his thighs with a white knuckled grip. He rode Kael, giving in and going harder. He couldn't help but let out a moan as Kael thrust his hips up, making him go even deeper. His eyes slid shut of their own accord, the sounds coming out of Kael's mouth sending his arousal soaring.

"By Ira, you're so gorgeous, Thiel," he murmured and Thiel's eyes opened.

"Are you close?" he asked, slightly out of breath as his hips rose up and down.

Kael nodded, his breath coming out in a hiss when Thiel tightened around him, swivelling his hips harder. Kael's hand rose up towards Thiel's own leaking shaft, but he knocked it away. He shifted forward, holding down Kael's arms.

"Nuh uh, this is all about you," he said. He smirked when Kael started writhing beneath him, his breath coming faster. Thiel rocked back harder against Kael, groaning loudly when Kael brushed against that sweet spot inside him.

"I-I'm gonna come," Kael moaned, hips stuttering beneath Thiel's.


"But not without you."

Thiel leant down and nipped at the side of Kael's neck, sucking on it afterward.

"I want you to come inside me first," he breathed into his ear, tightening those muscles deep inside himself. Kael let out a hoarse shout and Thiel's felt his cock pulsing inside of himself. The other man's body shuddered beneath him, gasping for breath as he came. He twisted almost violently beneath him and Thiel shivered at the feel of Kael spurting within him. He moved slowly through it then came to a stop when Kael went lax, breathing deeply. Thiel was still incredibly hard, but that took a backseat to seeing Kael like this. He looked so incredibly beautiful and vulnerable it made Thiel's heart hurt. What made it hurt worse was the knowledge that he had done this to Kael. After a time, Kael's eyes fluttered open and he blinked up at Thiel.

"That was amazing," he murmured, then his eyes darted down to where Thiel's own erection was pushing against his belly. He frowned, then glared up at Thiel. "I wanted you to come first."

Thiel smiled, rising up off Kael so his half-hard cock fell out of him.

"I don't care. I wanted to take care of you for once." That warmth in his chest was back again as he looked at Kael. The man looked so incredibly disgruntled as the post-coital bliss faded away.

He reached down a hand and ran it down Thiel's shaft, making him gasp and his hips stutter.

"We can't have this," Kael murmured, giving him a sly look, green eyes bright. He easily pushed Thiel to the bed beside him, rolling on top of him and slithering down his body. Thiel let out a loud moan when Kael took him into his mouth, sliding him all the way down his throat.

Kael stayed there for a moment before lifting off and saying, "I like it when you're loud."

He didn't waste any time, swallowing Thiel's cock back up and reaching around to Thiel's hole. He was loose and wet, from the oil and Kael's come. Kael circled his hole before pushing two fingers easily in. Thiel was not going to last long, not with Kael's throat working around his shaft and Kael's fingers moving inside him. When Kael pushed deliberately against that spot inside him, Thiel came, muscles bunching up and head thrust back as he cried out Kael's name. His fingers bunched in the sheets as the waves crashed through him, stars bursting behind his eyes. Kael swallowed it all down and by the time Thiel came back to his body, completely lax, Kael was just licking up his cock. He shivered at the over-sensitised skin and Kael rose off completely, smiling at Thiel.

"I told you I'd take care of you," he said, his voice deep and lips shining and red. Thiel etched the sight into his mind, willing himself to not forget this moment.

"You're too good with your mouth," Thiel said, his voice hoarse. Kael's smile widened and he climbed up Thiel's body to kiss him gently. Then he disappeared. When he came back with a towel, Thiel hadn't managed to move a muscle, still too drained and sedate. Kael smiled gently at him and moved him under the sheets after he'd cleaned him up. He threw the towel in the corner and climbed in next to Thiel, nuzzling up against his neck.

"You are full of surprises, Althiel."

Thiel stiffened. "My name is Thiel." Even though he liked it when Kael said it.

Kael placed a soft kiss against Thiel's neck and he had no choice but to relax back into his arms again.

"They are both your name. But Althiel is pretty."

Thiel turned so he was scowling into Kael's eyes. The other man had a slightly smug smile on his face, affection shining from his eyes. Thiel grew warm but steadfastedly ignored the feeling.

"If you say it's pretty like me, you can sleep by yourself tonight."

"Fine. It is beautiful like you." Kael's smile was so smug that Thiel couldn't be angry. He just huffed and rolled his eyes.

"Call me Thiel," he mumbled, getting comfortable on the pillow and making sure his legs were entwined with Kael's.

"Whatever you say," Kael said, his voice carrying strings of amusement. Thiel was too tired to retaliate.


Kova kept his word and showed up Kael's place the next day, bodyguard in tow. They were both dressed to blend in, in plain, poor clothes. A hood was incredibly obvious during the day so he had a cap pulled low over his eyes with dirt smudged into his face. Thiel had to blink a few times to connect this man to the Kova of only last year, who always looked so sharp and just plain clean. However, Thiel was sure that Kova was having the same trouble with himself – Thiel had changed in so many ways, inside and out.

Thiel embraced Kova tightly. He was still finding it difficult to wrap his mind around all of this. Yesterday had been a whirlwind of revelations and Thiel was trying to catch up with it all.

"Prince," Kael said, standing with his hands behind his back and his face impassive. "We should take this into the library."

"I appreciate you doing this, Kaelin," Kova said when they were seated. "Even if it is for more Thiel's sake than mine."

Kova glanced between the two of them, making it clear to Thiel that he didn't really know what to make of them. Thiel hadn't had a chance to explain it and what would he say anyway? Kael had taken him in and they were now sleeping together until Thiel outstayed his welcome. And Thiel might actually really like Kael? Maybe it was better that he hadn't tried to explain it before now.

"You're right that this is more for Thiel than anything else. However, I can see the signs. This war that Calix is trying to start will not benefit anyone but himself. Plus, I don't like the number of soldiers in the city, particularly when Calix is allowing them free reign at my brothels."
Thiel appreciated the mention at the beginning, but it was obvious to anyone which of the issues was more important.

"So we can both agree that we have a problem. Let me repeat that while I do appreciate your help, I'm not naïve enough to think that it doesn't come with a price. I know how the Kai Yuen works. So what is your price, Kaelin Bane?"

Kael's face was the same even though Thiel studied him intently. It was so damn frustrating that Thiel couldn't tell what the other man was thinking.

"Only that when you become king, you do not allow your soldiers or anyone free reign over my brothels. That is my domain and mine only."

Kova's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"I can do that. I can give you a lot more than that but I just have one stipulation. Once this is over, the debt between yourself and Thiel is done, and he is free."

Thiel's head shot back to Kova so he missed Kael's reaction, if there even was one.

"I don't think you understand the situation you're in," Kael said, sounding lightly amused. "You are in no position to be making demands."

Kova's jaw was set tightly.

"I understand that but I will not have Thiel indebted to the Kai Yuen for the rest of his life. I don't know how long he has been working for you so far, or even the details of it all, but I can't stand seeing him in this position."

Kael tilted his head slightly.

"I think you would make a fine king, Kova Tenryon, except when your emotions get involved. You've just given yourself away. I now know that you will do just about anything to free Thiel."

"What is your price?" Kova asked stiffly, eyes flaring.

Kael smiled slowly.

"If you win the throne, I will free Thiel from the Kai Yuen. In payment, you will owe me a favour that I can take up whenever I want."

Thiel couldn't sit silent any longer.

"Kova, no, he can demand whatever he wants—"

"I accept," Kova interrupted.

"This is ridiculous—"

"Then we have a deal," Kael said, his smile widening. He was relaxed in his seat, tapping his fingers lightly on his crossed legs. Kova, on the other hand, was ramrod straight with his anger visible. "I will do all I can to get you onto the throne and in return, you will leave my realm to me. I will additionally free Thiel for a favour to be taken up anytime, anywhere."

Kova nodded stiffly.

"Excellent. Now onto business."

"Unbelievable," Thiel muttered, slumping back in his chair. These two were the stubbornest men he had ever met and he knew a lost cause when he saw one. He grinded his jaw anyway and glared at Kael, who looked completely unaffected. Kael even cocked an eyebrow slightly at Thiel. Thiel scoffed, standing upright and clenching his fists at his sides.

"I'm going to get food off Leelavati," he snapped, already striding away. Well, as well as he could with his leg. Even worse, he could feel Kova's eyes on his limp. It took a bit of convincing, but Leelavati eventually let him carry the tray of mixed fruit back himself. The two were deep in discussion when Thiel moodily plunked the tray down and sat back in his chair.

"Well?" he said. "What's your magical plan?"

Kova shot him an exasperated look, so like the old times it made his chest hurt.

"The prince's best chance lies with the people. He's only managed to amass a small number of soldiers so far, making a forced invasion impossible. Not that that would have been the best bet anyway. Thiel, with your great strategic mind, can you guess where this is going?"

Thiel shot him an unimpressed look.

"Don't be patronising, I can beat you at chess any day."

Kova laughed.

"Ah, I'm glad he's found someone else to beat every other day. I refused to play with him, although it took me something like five years to admit I'd never win."

Thiel ignored him, saying, "You'd need to focus on the people and show them the truth. Shake his very foundation. If the very people are revolting, that's many times better than trying to raise an army and avoid Calix's detection. They can pretty much do it for you, if we can get them worked up enough."

"Exactly. And this is where you come in, Thiel."
"What?" Thiel and Kova both said at the same time.

"This is what I was referring to last night. It is time for Lord Althiel Voc'Yanna to return. And for you to get that disgusting dye out of your hair."

Thiel gaped at him.

"You can't be serious!" Kova cried. "Half the city is after him and you just want to hand him over? Put him back into that dungeon?"
Kael shot Kova a slightly irritated look.

"Don't be ridiculous. Thiel, who is believed to be dead, can announce that he and the Crown Prince are still alive."

"Why should Thiel make this announcement when I can do it myself?"

Thiel glared at Kova, snapping, "You don't need to protect me."

"I can provide much better protection for Thiel than I can for you. The Kai Yuen would defend Thiel, but not you."
"And where would this grand announcement take place?" Kova asked, derision lining his voice.

"At a party the Duke of Pontirae will be hosting. We can upset and divide the nobles while the servants will help the gossip spread like wildfire. From then on, Thiel can appear throughout the city and disappear easily with the help of the Kai Yuen."
"And I'm sure you have a reason for why the notoriously reclusive Duke of Pontirae would be holding a party," Kova said, staring at Kael disbelievingly. "What, does he like to hire little boys or something? Tie them up? What kind of blackmail do you have on him?"

Kael looked completely unimpressed as he said, "He's my father."
"Ira Almighty," Thiel groaned, leaning forward to rest his head in his hands. "One more revelation and I'll have a heart attack."

"Please tell me you're joking," Kova said.

"My mother was a whore who accidentally – or maybe not so accidentally – got with child when she serviced the Duke of Pontirae. She tried to contact him to get money off him by using me, but died before all that could come to fruition. The Duke found me years later and as it happens, he owes me one. So he might not know it yet, but he will be hosting this party. And since it is him, 'notoriously reclusive' as you put it, all the nobility will be clamouring for an invitation."

There was a pause for a moment as they both took this all in.

"How is it that Thiel has the protection of the Kai Yuen? I was under the impression that he is just your messenger boy, not any kind of important member. I highly doubt they give such protection to someone who, until a few nights ago, was known only as a homeless beggar."

"You don't need to worry about that," Kael said, smiling thinly. "Just know that he is well protected."

"Honestly, I don't like working with you or any of the Kai Yuen. Your plan, however, is a damn sight better than anything we've been able to come up with."
"Why, thank you."

"Before this goes any further, though, I will need to bring in my second-in-command. Is that okay?"
Kael shrugged.

"It doesn't bother me," he said.

"Excellent. Then, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to have a word with Thiel before I leave. Alone."

Kael was still for a long moment and Thiel thought for a moment he would object. Instead, he stood up gracefully, nodded at Kova, gave Thiel a long look, then left.


Wow I am so sorry for disappearing for months and months! How did the time pass so fast? I guess I just lost motivation for a bit – I was really struggling with one scene and then just lost all inspiration. Reading through this again reminds how much I truly love this story!

Thank you for all the gorgeous reviews, they make my day!