Disclaimer: Entreri, Calimport and whatever else you are familiar with in this story are not mine, only the OC is. Slash.
A/N: Thanks to my beta reader Chi, who also helped me a great deal with the ending of the story and with the summary. :) There's a longer author's note at the bottom of the page, for those who are interested in why I decided to write this. I just didn't want to put it here and annoy those who don't care and just want to read the story.
Coming to Terms
Summer days in Calimport were unbearable. Despite the closeness to the sea, the heat was sweltering, and it made the stink in the narrow, dirty streets even worse. The main streets were not much better, due to the omnipresent smell of sweat and of rot. Not to mention the constant noise of a city full of thousands of beggars, merchants and whores, and a myriad different languages always filled the air. The City of Glory it was called by some, thanks to the beautiful facade of the rich quarters, the City of Slaves by others.
With a disgusted sigh Artemis Entreri closed the window, shutting out the stink, the heat and the noise as well as possible. He had lived in the streets himself, he knew what it was like, and he had no desire to think too much about it. But comparing the average life of most people in this city with his comfortable, although not big room in the Basadoni guild house was a reminder of how far he had come.
He had just turned seventeen, but he was already a lieutenant in one of the city's most powerful guilds. He was a capable fighter, thief and assassin, and he knew that many of his colleagues in the guild already feared him. He was better than many men twice his age, and he was sure that he had still much more potential. In addition to his personal qualities he had already built up a respectable network in the city, and Pasha Basadoni considered him his personal protégé - although Artemis Entreri was far from needing this protection by now.
For once the young man found no satisfaction in this thought. He felt like he was losing more and more control over his body, and this prospect was deeply frightening for a man who relied on his self-discipline to survive.
Entreri despised any form of luxury and of pleasure, convinced that it would make him weak. In his first years at the guild, he had refused to sleep in a bed, and although he had changed his mind after a while, he still did not want any more comfort than strictly necessary. He never touched the pipes and weeds rich Calimshites were so fond of, and even his consummation of alcohol was fairly limited.
But the desire that had been disturbing him for quite a while now was not one of these pleasures that could be so easily dismissed. It was, and there was no point in denying it, simply lust.
That in itself would not have disturbed Entreri - he wasn't a naive child, hadn't been one for years. What made him so uneasy was that he could neither suppress this lust nor satisfy it, and not for a lack of trying. Basadoni had offered him, when he had seen the boy become a man, unlimited access to his personal harem, and after long hesitation, Entreri had taken up on it.
His short tryst with one of the harem girls had been a complete disappointment. Although he knew that she was incredibly pretty - he had chosen her himself, after all - he just had not enjoyed touching her, being touched by her. Despite his physical release he had felt no real satisfaction, neither with her nor with the two or three other courtesans he had taken to his bed afterwards. Then he had simply given up.
Entreri had been deeply disturbed by the lack of pleasure he had felt with those courtesans. He was a man, he should enjoy sleeping with such beautiful, skilled girls. But they had bored him rather than anything else. During the last weeks Entreri had slowly come to realise what the problem was. His lack of desire was not general, it was just a lack of desire for women.
The realisation had hit him after he had watched a sparring match between two guild soldiers - when one of them had taken off his sweat-drenched shirt after the fight, revealing a perfectly honed torso, a jolt of excitement had run through Entreri's whole body, and in the following weeks the image of this trained, strong male body had inspired him whenever he touched himself.
Unlike in some of the more rigid Northern societies, a man would not be spurned for fulfilling his desires with boys in Calimport, but relationships between two grown-up men were still seen with suspicion. Consequently, only young boys were a common sight in harems, and Basadoni's was no exception to this.
Entreri's shock at the discovery of his preference had not been due to any cultural taboos, but to his own experiences. He had disdained and hated men who desired mere children for his whole life - the memory of his own father still haunted him. A father who had abused him before he had been old enough to even understand what was done to him. A father who had used him as his toy and even let his uncle play with him. A father he had run away from just to find himself in the hands of a merchant who hadn't treated him any differently on their journey from Memnon to Calimport.
If Entreri touched these boys in Basadoni's harem, boys who were even younger than he was, he would be no better than his father. Not to mention that these skinny, delicate creatures left him as cold as their female colleagues.
Entreri had already started to accept his fate, telling himself that he would just have to suppress these thoughts for the rest of his life, or maybe hope that it was just a whim that would go away soon. He would rather forego these carnal pleasures, just like he abstained from other luxury, than do to any child what had been done to him.
But then he had heard of one of the most expensive houses of pleasure in the city, a place reputed to have whatever a man could desire. Entreri had - as decently and stealthily as possible - gathered more information about this place, and to his excitement he had discovered that it did not only offer boys, but also adult men.
These news had delighted him immensely, giving him hope that he might yet get what he desired - after all, trying to ignore his arousal was far more difficult for a young man than denying himself simple comfort and luxury.
Still, he had hesitated for a while, afraid of his own lack of experience. He hated situations in which he did not know what to do, situations that made him feel more like a child than like a man.
This fear of failure was the only reason he was still pacing through his room on this late afternoon instead of doing what he wanted, what he needed to do. But then again, Artemis Entreri had never been a coward, never one to turn away from a new challenge. In addition to this he could hardly concentrate with these desires clouding his mind, and that was far too risky for a man in his position.
With the usual determined scowl on his features he fastened his weapon belt and put on his boots. Before he left the room, he stopped almost involuntarily before his mirror, and a very odd thought crossed his mind. He wondered if he was attractive. He knew that this thought was ridiculous - he was paying, and he would get from a whore whatever he wanted, no matter if he was handsome or ugly - but it still preoccupied him at this moment.
It was quickly joined by another, even more disturbing question. Do I look like my father? Entreri's eyes widened, and he closely examined the man in the mirror: his features still showed the last softness of youth, although his dark mood and his experiences had already hardened them considerably and made him look older than he was. The first stubbles on his cheeks and chin were always carefully shaved off, and this - together with the calm expression in his dark-grey eyes - gave him an aura of control and discipline. Nothing like the quick-tempered violence that had always been obvious in his father's bearded face.
This certainty calmed him and led him quickly to the conclusion that he was, while not beautiful, at least not repulsive.
Not allowing himself to spend any more time on his futile brooding he finally left his room and the guild, his face such a perfect mask of dismissive calm that no one had a reason to suspect that anything was wrong with him.
Entreri quickly made his way through the city, using the roofs whenever he could to avoid stepping down on the filthy, stinking streets. He was sweating when he finally arrived at his destination, mainly due to the heat, but his excitement might just have its share in this as well.
The two doormen at the entry of the brothel - an enormous, elegant building that displayed the whole beauty of Calimshan architecture - cast him a suspicious glance. The plainly clad young man looked hardly like the average customer of such a high-class establishment. They let him pass, however, when they saw his face - a face that had become, over the last years, quite well-known in the underworld of Calimport.
This recognition filled Entreri with pride, for a moment, although it surprised him that the men had not made him any difficulties at all. Sure, he was by now quite wealthy, but he was also an assassin, who might come for business rather than pleasure.
His thoughts were interrupted when he entered the mansion and was immediately received by a scarcely clad, black-haired girl. She led him quickly to an office near the main hall, presenting him the matron of the house, a Calimshite woman who had lost her youth, but not her beauty.
"Artemis Entreri," she stated with a smile when the assassin sat down, feeling more uncomfortable than he had in a long time. "My house's reputation must have spread wide if it even attracts men like you."
"Why did your guards let me pass?" Entreri replied, trying involuntarily to lead this discussion on a ground he was familiar with. He ignored the glass of wine the girl had brought him.
"Why not? They aren't stupid. They know that you can pay, and they know that you wouldn't take the front door if you wanted to assassinate me or anyone else in this house," the matron answered with a laugh, disconcerting the young assassin even further. "So I am sure that you are not here to finish a job, and if you wanted information, you would not be so uneasy. That leads me to assume that you are here for the same reasons as everyone else who comes here."
Entreri gritted his teeth, but he nodded. He shouldn't be surprised, though - a woman who led such an important business in a city controlled by criminal guilds and who managed to remain halfway independent from them had to be clever. And discreet.
"Just tell me what you are looking for, and you will have it. Of course, no one will ever learn of your visit here," she assured him as if she had read his mind. Entreri just nodded again and fumbled for the purse on his belt.
Only a few minutes later the girl led him to a room on the first floor of the mansion, where she left him. Once the door was closed behind him, Entreri found himself facing the most beautiful and arousing sight he had ever beheld in his whole life.
The furniture of the room was rather simple compared to what he had seen in the main hall, but still luxurious. The windows were opened, but as the house was in the city's more expensive part, the air was much fresher. An enormous bed stood in the middle of the room, and on the black, gold-bordered sheets lay what the matron had called, after he had told her what he wanted, the 'perfect man for him.'
And indeed, the young assassin forgot for a moment to breathe when he saw the man sprawling on the bed. A bit older than Entreri, maybe in his early twenties, and obviously a Northerner: tall, blond, and with slightly tanned skin that still seemed incredibly pale to the Calimshite. He was well built and masculine, but not too heavy, and his delightful body was hardly covered by the dark-green silk clothes.
He got up in one smooth movement and went over to Entreri, who had hardly stirred at all since he had entered the room. The assassin couldn't help but stare at the young man, and it took him a few moments to gather himself enough to speak.
"What's your name?" he asked hesitatingly, not sure how he was supposed to act in this situation.
"I'm Dyon," the Northerner answered in a soft baritone voice, and a smile played about his lips. "Can I offer you a glass of wine first?"
Entreri just shook his head, tense and uneasy. He hadn't hesitated like this with the courtesans in Basadoni's harem, but none of them had overwhelmed him as much as this man.
Dyon didn't seem to mind, though. He just started to take off Entreri's coat, leather vest and weapon belt before he lightly kissed him on the corner of the mouth. Entreri shivered, and he willingly followed him to the bed. Dyon kneeled before him and took off his boots, his continuous smile a silent promise.
Entreri felt strange, letting someone else undress him, but it wasn't really uncomfortable. Still, he felt his heart beating frantically in his chest, and he trembled slightly when Dyon sat down beside him, laying strong arms around his slender body and pressing his lips softly against the assassin's.
He hesitated for a moment, but then he simply gave in to the sensations. Wrapping his arms around Dyon, he pulled the taller man close to him, returning his kiss with all the pent-up lust of the last months. Dyon felt great in his arms, strong and secure, not as weak and dainty as all those women or boys. His lips were sweet and soft, but his kiss was so much more passionate than everything Entreri had known until then. It would be easy to lose oneself in the feeling of those strong, experienced hands that were sliding under his shirt, caressing his body.
But Entreri was still too restrained to relax completely and give up all control, so he pushed the young man on his back und straddled him, kissing him passionately. His nimbleness benefited him quite a lot now when he quickly undressed him, before he took more time to explore the finely honed body with eyes, hands and lips. Entreri already realised in these moments that he had indeed found what he wanted - touching this man sent waves of pleasure through his body that none of the beautiful courtesans could have created.
Although he knew that it was part of Dyon's job to pretend to like whatever was done to him, Entreri couldn't help but feel that the other enjoyed his touches, and that he liked what he saw when he started to undress Entreri further.
The assassin tensed up for a moment when he felt Dyon's hands on his waistband, but he quickly forced himself to calm down. This was something he wanted, something he had chosen, something he could control and end whenever he wanted. He had paid to have this beauty do what he was told, and he had no reason to be afraid of him. He couldn't allow the man who had destroyed his childhood to steal this from him as well.
Entreri took a deep breath and nodded slightly, nuzzling against the already naked body below him as soon as his trousers had been pulled off his hips.
Dyon willingly spread his legs, an aroused expression on his handsome features and in his blue eyes. Either this whore did his job amazingly good, or he did indeed enjoy the company of a man who was probably younger and more attractive than most of his customers.
In that moment, Entreri really stopped to care.
Entreri stood at the open window, enjoying the evening breeze on his face. He sipped his wine and stared into the space, his eyes unfocused and his face grim.
He wasn't bad-humoured, though, quite the contrary. The last hour had been most satisfying - like every moment spent in Dyon's arms. Entreri had been coming regularly to him for two weeks now, too overwhelmed by these newly discovered pleasures to remind himself of his usually austere way of living. Dyon was worth every piece of gold.
And still, Entreri was confused. No matter how good Dyon was at this, he couldn't have been able to hide all the pain Entreri would have expected him to feel. Being taken like this had to be painful, and yet Dyon always moaned and writhed as if it was the most beautiful thing in the world. Entreri doubted that anyone could fake so much lust if he were really in pain.
"Don't you want to come back to bed?" The seductive voice wrenched him from his brooding. Entreri turned around to look at Dyon, sprawling naked on the sheets, a lewd grin on his face. Entreri couldn't help but become aroused again at this sight. He drained his glass quickly before he put it down and returned to the bed, lying down beside the Northerner. Dyon immediately drew him in another kiss, but he stopped when he noticed that the musing expression still hadn't left the younger man's face. He didn't dare to ask, though, it wasn't his place. Instead, he just caressed Entreri's cheek tenderly, waiting - it wouldn't be the first time for a customer to start talking afterwards.
"Do you ... really enjoy this?" Entreri asked after a moment of hesitation, his usually cold eyes filled with confusion. Had anyone of the Basadoni guild been able to see him now, they would hardly have recognised this insecure young man as the strong, uncompromising lieutenant they knew.
"Of course I do," Dyon replied with a smile, and for once he wasn't even lying about it. He had been quite happy when Entreri had told him after their first night that he would be back - the assassin was amazingly considerate compared to many other men.
"But it must hurt," the assassin objected, even more confused by Dyon's honesty. He was usually very well able to read people, but he couldn't detect any lie in the Northerner's voice.
"You aren't brutal, so it doesn't hurt. Actually, it can be amazing, it can give you a very special kind of pleasure," Dyon explained patiently, his fingers playing with Entreri's black hair.
The Calimshite bit on his lip, his thoughts running wild. He had believed that he had finally overcome his bitter childhood memories after the first night in Dyon's arms, after he had proven himself that he could enjoy such pleasures despite his father's abuse. And still, he wasn't entirely content.
Since this night two weeks ago the thought of switching roles, of letting his partner take the lead had excited him, and at the same time it frightened him deeply. But would it not be a sign of weakness to allow his memories once again to decide in his stead, especially now that he had almost overcome them? And why should he still hold back? Dyon was in no position to hurt him.
"I want you to ... do this to me," Entreri whispered so quietly that he wasn't even sure if Dyon had heard him. But he had, and he didn't even look surprised. He had expected Entreri to be more one for the passive part, and his ability to assess people's character rarely failed him. Like many men who had to be in control of themselves and their surroundings all the time, whether they wanted to or not, Entreri had some need to give over control, even if the young man was probably not yet completely aware of this himself.
Dyon just nodded and kissed him again, whispering an honest promise that he would make it pleasurable. Entreri still trembled slightly - he wouldn't back out now, not after asking for it, but he was still frightened, and not even Dyon's soft caresses on his whole body could change anything about that.
"Turn around," the Northerner whispered after a while, smiling reassuringly, and Entreri complied, although he looked definitely uncomfortable. Instead of immediately doing what he had been asked to do, Dyon just started to give him a massage, softly kneading the strong muscles of his back and shoulders.
"What are you doing?" Entreri asked confusedly. He didn't know what he should have expected, but it was definitely not this, as good as it felt.
"You're tense and nervous; it will only hurt if you don't relax," Dyon said and playfully nibbled on his earlobe. These words made Entreri tense up even more, but he couldn't withstand the other's skilled hands for long. He was slowly getting limp under his care, more relaxed and unwound than he had been in a long time.
When Dyon's hands moved lower, the tension returned, but now in an entirely pleasurable way. Entreri whimpered softly when a slick finger entered him, but the pain was washed away by complete arousal. Dyon took his time to prepare him, perfectly attentive to every single sign of pleasure or pain the assassin's body sent out. Fortunately, Entreri let himself completely go.
He hardly flinched when Dyon eventually took him, and gave a loud groan, bucking his hips up in a desperate plea for more friction. He didn't have the slightest idea how Dyon managed to trigger these sensations in him - it was indeed a different kind of pleasure than anything Entreri had experienced so far. Not that he had already many experiences in this domain, but it was still mind-blowing.
Dyon complied obediently with Entreri's silent begging and increased his pace, nonetheless still careful not to hurt the young man. But Entreri was obviously beyond the point where he would have been able to tell pleasure from pain, beyond the state where reason or memories had any power over him.
Entreri didn't move when he felt Dyon's fingers slowly trailing over his back. He hadn't planned to stay in the other's arms once satisfied, but right now he was too exhausted to get up - and if he had been honest to himself, he would have admitted that Dyon's caresses felt quite good, and the Northerner's chest and shoulder were too comfortable a pillow to be left so quickly.
He felt no pain, only satisfaction and sleepiness. However, even in his current state, Artemis Entreri was too cautious to fall asleep in a whore's arms - it was simply something he would never do. After a few minutes of rest he finally forced himself to sit up. Just as he wanted to leave the bed, Dyon softly nuzzled against his back, running one hand over Entreri's chest.
"Are you all right?" Dyon asked, his voice slightly concerned. Entreri didn't lean in his touch, but he didn't stand up either. He turned his head slightly to look at Dyon, but for a few moments he just seemed to ponder this question, as if it wasn't easy to answer.
He wasn't in pain - and that was what Dyon wanted to know - but was he "all right"? He doubted it, doubted that he would ever completely forget what had been done to him. He would probably never be able to trust anyone, but then again, he had no desire to do so. But he knew now that he could at least take care of the lust that had been plaguing him for so long - and even he could maybe allow himself a bit of pleasure every once in a while.
Finally the corners of his mouth twitched upwards and he nodded simply - his thoughts were none of Dyon's business, he just needed to know that he had done his job well.
Entreri kissed him fleetingly before he finally disengaged from him and got up, quickly dressing again. He nodded to Dyon and left the room, his stride showing perfect calm and self-assurance.
And why not? He had finally killed the ghost of his father, the one target he had always wanted to eliminate since he first became an assassin.
A/N: Now, if you want to know why I wrote this ... If you don't, just ignore this A/N.
I came up with the idea for this story while I was working on Kindred Spirits. I had noticed that, concerning Artemis' sexuality, there were basically two versions of him out there: one showed him as completely traumatised by his childhood experiences, and the other as perfectly "normal" and having much fun in bed (with women or with men, depending on the story ;)). I more or less used the first version in Out of Control (Artemis freaking out because Kimmuriel wanted to be on top), and I didn't want to repeat that in Kindred Spirits. I wanted Artemis in that story to be a man who has come to terms with his past and who has accepted his sexual orientation. But given that he was raped as a child, this was hardly self-evident, and so I decided to write a scene about a young Artemis and the problems he might have had with this. That's all. I wrote this basically to justify my personal vision of Artemis. ;-)
Of course, I could have made this much longer and more complex, but I don't have enough time to turn every idea into an enormous story, and I doubt that it would have been very interesting to write/read several chapters of angsty introspection. ;) So I preferred to simplify it a bit.
Anyway, I hope you liked the scene. Reviews are as always most welcome. I tried to keep Artemis in character and still consider the fact that he's about fifteen years younger than in his first appearance in RAS' books. Please tell me what you think. :)