Author's Note: This is an Artanis/Zeratul short story from Artanis' pov. It's been rated M for explicit adult content.

Experience to Share

A Student and His Teacher

Standing over everything that I oversee now, I feel it difficult to truly grasp the extent of how far I came in such a short time. As the Hierarch of the protoss, it is my duty not only to maintain unity between the tribes, but to serve and rule over my people with care and consideration for all. Youth hung over me in the beginning, more so than even now, and inexperience and uncertainty plagued me, making me uncertain in myself despite my desire to hold the high position. Were it not for my teachers, I may have never advanced to a point suitable for maintaining this leadership. I owe a great deal to the hero of my youth—Tassadar—but I owe yet more to his master, now my master, the noble Zeratul.

Zeratul taught me everything I know about the Void, and about leading with confidence and strength. I taught him about the Khala, about the deeply intimate emotional and spiritual connections available to all protoss. He taught me to take it to a more personal level, one with only one other. We bound our souls, hearts, and minds to depths I previously only imagined, and we return to that union frequently now to nourish our spirits. We have indeed become close, and it is no secret that I love and admire my teacher with everything I am. I know that he too cares for me. I sense his boundless pride in me with every glance he spares.

Aside from such intimate lessons as those we share emotionally, from him I have learned more of my physical self. Within the Khala, one knows of sexuality and knows its purpose, but in one as young as myself, it can at times be an awkward discovery, at least when pertaining to one's own body. It is always present in the threads of the Khala, but accepted and largely ignored as a base concept serving primarily to preserve the species. Typically scholarship, heroism in war, and training to protect or maintain society hold the high altar when viewed by our people. Sexuality is never focused on as more than what it is—necessary to survive.

Truly, I too avoid considering it as much as possible, and it rarely crosses my mind even now. Still, as a young male under the influence of hormones most distracting, it affects me at times. From Zeratul, I learned not to fear myself in that regard, nor to hate it, but to embrace it. Perhaps he teaches differently than Khalai do because he is a dark templar. Or perhaps he simply views it as a part of life, and therefore beautiful. Either way, I accept his attitude, and his teachings. He has shared with me many things that I marvel at, even today.

My first such experience embarrassed me as much as it surprised me. Though I was not scheduled for training, I found it impossible to rest, despite needing it. I therefore left my citadel and made my way to the gardens, where Zeratul often meditated when not instructing students. I hoped to find him there and practice some arts of the Void which proved difficult for me to master. I located him, as expected, alone in the shadows of the fruit trees and flowering vines. At first I missed him, for he partially masked his presence, but when I sensed him, I looked again.

I froze, wondering if I should leave. I had expected him to be in meditation, but not of this sort. He was, by himself, lost amid a haze of thoughts regarding the late Matriarch, his dearly beloved Raszagal. Reliving vivid memories of intimacy, he allowed himself the brief additional pleasure of his hands. Feeling flustered, and extremely intrusive on such a deeply personal moment for my master, I uncomfortably wished to leave him to himself. Yet for some reason, I was unable to retreat. Though embarrassed, I knew he hadn't noticed me, and I quickly edged my way back into the huge shade- providing leaves of a tropical shrub. I fell back into a sitting position, and wondered what to do. Again, the thought that I ought to leave darted across my mind, but again I found strange resistance to it. Instead, I discovered myself watching Zeratul in silence, against my will.

Soon enough, I even forgot my intention to leave altogether. Zeratul intrigued me enough that I lost focus on anything else. He was admirable. His solid masculine organ, erect and full in his powerful hands reminded me simply of the sheer might within him. I personally felt somewhat insignificant, or at minimum lesser than he, but such was often the case in many things. I found myself idly wishing I could be like him, as I often did. Catching myself in that thought, I scolded it abruptly. I knew pride and confidence in myself ought never be replaced by envy, but even in my envy I could not help but admire his power. This was my master. I shuddered slightly under the awe inspiring thought.

Zeratul seemed still not to notice me, too wrapped up in his own pleasure to bother seeking me out. Even so, I purposely masked my presence now, just to be sure. Safe in hiding, I studied him without fear. His large hands steadily stroked his hardened shaft with gradually increasing pace. His head fell back for a moment, and he closed his eyes. From where I was, it was difficult to see anything but crude motions. Yet what I witnessed, to my surprise, triggered my own excitement. Zeratul's pleasure was quickly becoming my own, and though I tried to ignore it, it rapidly became painfully distracting. Then Zeratul began impulsively thrusting into the motion of his hands, and I easily sensed it was entirely an unconscious action, automatic and brought on by his intense need for relief.

With that I found I could not restrain myself any longer. Though never before having engaged in self-pleasure, I followed Zeratul's lead. First laying my hand on my now full erection under the cover of the cloth in my lap, I trembled with pleasure at even so faint a touch. Still watching Zeratul, I at last moved my loin cloth aside and took myself into my hand, experimenting with different positions and motions until my entire body went rigid with pleasure. Then, I copied Zeratul, still fully watching him even as I fell into a frighteningly enjoyable rhythm. My male form, not so impressive as Zeratul's but still admirable, throbbed in my hands almost painfully as I pushed myself closer to ecstasy. I ignored the clear fluid trickling down the head of my shaft and concentrated solely on the heat that seemed to rage through my entire body and the tremendous pressure building up.

Zeratul's now unprotected thoughts reflected his moment of climax. I sensed in my mind as he cried out, shoulders stiffening and back straightening as he released his essence in several streams onto the cool, green grass. A sensation of amazingly intense, almost electrical pleasure surged through me in that instant, and I felt myself ejaculate suddenly. The hot semen splashed across my abdomen and chest, before reducing to an intermittent flow, running down my masculinity and over my fingers. Overcome by peace and satisfaction, I fell back against the rough trunk of the shrub I was sheltered under and was grateful for its concealing shade. I stole a glance at Zeratul again, who also was resting across the garden and staring back at me. My heart stopped, I am sure of it, and in my sudden fear, I sat up, quickly covering myself. I grimaced in shame and tried to hide the evidence of my own experience, but something told me it was too late. I, like Zeratul, must have failed in completely masking my presence once I was lost to the moment. I glanced in his direction again, feeling terribly abashed. He, however, simply tilted his head, then got up and left.

Confused as to what had just happened I too rose to my feet, and I wondered: had he seen me? It seemed certain that he had, yet his content expression seemed to conflict with that idea. I expected him to be shocked or even angry at discovering me. Yet he wasn't. I left the garden that day, perplexed.

Over the next several days, bleeding into a couple of weeks, I found that I couldn't put the memory out of my mind, nor could I find the courage to bring the situation up when in Zeratul's presence. In fact, I could scarcely look him in the eye when around him, being so embarrassed. He seemed oblivious, or else gently ignoring my discomfort for my sake. Eventually, though, I worked up the courage to mention the strange experience.

It was late in the evening, as the stars over Aiur twinkled to life, pouring their nourishment upon our skins. We were resting atop a plateau, overlooking the city and temple in the distance as the golden structures melted into the green surroundings. The day had been spent training, and now came time to reflect on life and the teachings of the day. We talked of simple things, and I guided the conversation tentatively, until I found a good place to interject the thoughts that had bothered me so long.

I apologize. I sent to him, nervously, knowing he'd sense what was on my mind without difficulty. The memory fluttered through my mind quickly, but brightly enough that he'd catch it.

He quirked a brow at me, and suddenly tilted his head, chuckling warmly. You, the one so inclined to emotional bonding, are ashamed of physical pleasure and intimacy?

Not so. I allowed him to know, somewhat defensively. I simply feel that I…intruded.

I have already shared my deepest soul. What left is there for intrusion upon? Already you know me to the depths of my soul. His eyes smiled at me, somewhat amused, but more gentle than anything. This is a part of life, nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary, for its beauty is a gift to all life. I am not ashamed that I could share something special to me with you, my student.

So he had noticed me.

Indeed. He nodded softly. But your fears are unfounded. Nothing have we to hide from one another. You have brought me from awkwardness in emotional exchange into comfort in knowing I have you to turn to. Might I ease your discomfort the same way?

I stared at him in surprise, probing his thoughts carefully to make sure I understood him. This is…not something I am used to even communicating about.

I know it. He assured me. The Khalai have their own ways of looking at things. So base a necessity is sexuality that it gains as much attention from them as breathing. It's a fact of life, nothing more, and oughtn't be focused on for its pleasure, for that is wasteful of time. Correct?

I nodded slightly. It seemed right to me, at least. Never having been truly instructed about it, I had to make my own inferences. These seemed to be most accurate from what I derived out of the Khala.

I see things differently. Zeratul continued. It is something to be enjoyed as a part of life. It is natural, and therefore beautiful. Although intimate and more suited to a productive situation, it is also expressive. Since you and I have already shared so much, you've no need to be ashamed of physical expression any more than emotional. Why should one be ashamed of their own life? Of their own body?

I had no answer, but Zeratul knew I was still uncertain—uncertain as he had been when I gently guided him through the Khala. Lost in my own thoughts, the feeling of Zeratul's hand taking hold of mine firmly startled me. I looked at him in my surprise, and his eyes just smiled at me. His thoughts, calm and relaxed as I'd ever seen him, told me he was willing to teach me more. I tensed, again feeling somewhat awkward, but Zeratul's reassurance eased my spirit. This was just between us, like many of our other shared moments. Knowing that, I closed my eyes and pulled myself as far out of the Khala as possible. Zeratul guided my hand to him, and laid it upon his lap. I felt a slight firmness under his clothing, and knowing what was coming, my own body responded in ways I attempted to hide. Zeratul knew though, and he encouraged me gently.

Though I felt awkward, Zeratul's confidence in himself and I helped me grow comfortable with the situation—a sharing of experience, a lesson, and a confirmation of how extensive our friendship was. Soon enough, I relaxed too, and let myself simply learn from him. When the breakthrough was reached, he slowly moved aside the draping clothes covering him, exposing himself to me. He took my hand and again placed it on him. Tentatively, I wrapped my fingers around his body and marveled at how heavy and substantial his masculinity was. More obvious now than in the garden, I felt pride in him, knowing he was my master. I began by stoking him slowly, following soft mental nudgings which guided me to serve him in ways he greatly approved. He sat back, to allow me to do so, but he kept a soft mental communication going between us, soothing me and reminding me that he was happy to teach and share this with me.

His shaft, growing harder and fuller as he began pushing into the movements of my hand, pulsed under my fingertips. His body radiated heat, and his pleasure flowed through me as readily as it did though him, enticing my own manhood to fullness with desire. Lengthening and quickening the strokes of my hand along Zeratul's form, he pushed harder, and I worked him to a state where pleasure engulfed him. I captured hints of his excitement as he chose to share, and it only served to drive me to work harder, anticipating the opportunity to relieve him.

It didn't take much more. His entire body suddenly shuddered and then relaxed, as he lost his ability to hold out. He unloaded a large amount of semen into my hand as it reached the top of his shaft and lightly stroked the head with a thumb. It streamed down my wrist and arm as he continued to ejaculate, and he fell back into the grass quietly.

I withdrew my hand after a moment, and looked to his face. Nothing but a look of contentment lay in his expression, but I personally now suffered immensely in need of relief from the aching hunger building up in my lower body. Zeratul opened one eye to look at me, and he chuckled slightly. The distinct impression that it was my turn suddenly surged through my mind, and Zeratul casually reached over to return the favor. By now, however, I was so excited that, as he pulled aside my loincloth and took me into his warm, powerful hands, I almost instantly released everything onto Zeratul's muscular abdomen. Unable to control it, I simply thrust deeply into Zeratul's coiled fingers with every new surge of pleasure. An intense mental groan arose in my mind, and I looked down at myself after a moment. I felt Zeratul's gaze upon me, and looked away, yet again embarrassed—this time by how easily I'd come.

My teacher just chuckled warmly again and reached up to give my shoulder a squeeze. That was enough to bring a smile back to my eyes, and finally I looked at him sheepishly. He tilted his head in return, and all I could see in his eyes and feel in his heart was tremendous pride and satisfaction.

After that, we comfortably shared everything, without inhibition. For many years, nothing physical or emotional embarrassed either of us any longer, and we grew closer, learning from and teaching one another in everything. Zeratul's pride in me never ceased growing, and my admiration of him, too, saw no limits.

However, the one moment more intimate and more unforgettable than all others to this day reminds me more than any other that I have a friend and teacher for eternity in my Patriarch. We met together one evening, after he returned from a scholarly journey across the stars. He told me of his discoveries, and I listened intently, as always eager to learn. But somehow, in the joy of seeing him again, a pain emerged in my heart and soul, knowing that one day he may leave and never return. To not see him again, I knew, would be more painful than receiving the mortal wound all protoss one day hope to receive while protecting their people. I told him how I wished I would not have to say goodbye to him…how I wished I could perish first.

That is not the way of things. He reminded me gently. It is only right that my time come before yours, young one.

But…how will I go on without you? …Know you not how I need you?

I do indeed. He tilted his head gently. And I am honored to hold such a place of value in your life. Know this, though: Even when I am gone, I shall not leave you forever. Khala or not…my spirit shall remain with you.

The words, so simple but so powerful, struck my heart and pulled my agony and gratitude to the surface. I fell against him, and he held me as I reached into his soul for strength. From there, it seemed but a blur as to how things came to be. All I remember is his affection, his gentleness, and his reassurance bestowed upon me emotionally, but physically as well. He held me; he cradled me. My face rested in the crook of his neck for a long time as he rubbed his cheek against the side of my face and let feelings of soothing comfort filter into my mind and heart. Before I knew it, I became lost in his emotional and spiritual presence…one of my favorite places to be.

As we dwelled in that sacred place, he extended more to me, physically. We touched. Before I knew precisely what was happening, we'd cast aside all superficial garb, and come to indulge completely in our senses on every plane. Unhidden and unrestrained by cloth, we rested, side by side. I draped my arm over his chest and leaned into him. He lay still, allowing me to find comfort in him. I soon noticed that he was aroused by the closeness and the physical embrace, although he chose not to think on it. His state of excitement, of course, caused my mind to dwell on it and my body to respond accordingly. I gave into it, for the first time without being mentally bidden by him, and I rose from my position beside him, pulling myself over his body.

He raised an eyebrow in amusement, and I could see a smirk in his eyes. He didn't protest, just watched to see what I would do. I knew then that he was comfortable, and would allow my advances, perhaps even eagerly in addition to his curiosity. I braced myself with my arms, and shifted my weight on my legs until my stiffened feature rubbed against his. He closed his eyes, and I moved my hips in rhythm to the drive. He soon joined in, and we rubbed against each other until we tired. In times of rest, we took pause, and I would stroke myself and him intermittently, as he obliged to do the same for me. In tune with one another, deeply connected in spirit as well as enjoying the physical attention, we shared the exact same sensations, which bolstered our enjoyment exponentially. The heat of his abdomen on my body, when I lowered myself to move against his skin, warmed me, intensifying my reactions and building my urge to expel. He felt my need, and it increased his own. He reached up his hand and wrapped it around the base of my shaft, pushing hard against my body with each thrust, even as I moved against him. We came, together, covering each other simultaneously. His seed splashed warmly on my hardened body as mine mixed with his and slowly streamed down over his skin, dripping from me steadily as I released onto him.

Overwhelmed at that moment by comfort and the soothing presence of my master, I lifted away from him and collapsed at his side. He looked over at me, and his eyes narrowed in that gentle, accepting way he always showed when he was pleased with me. He rolled onto his side, hugging me tightly. I returned his embrace, overcome "almost to tears" as the humans say. I knew at that moment, without even thinking another coherent thought between us, that he would keep his promise. His spirit would be with me, always. From that point on, I no longer feared his death. Now, I simply relish the time we have together—learning, teaching, sharing. Together, we fear nothing.

He holds a place in my heart never to be given away, and I shall never forget the teachings he bestowed upon me. Nor will I forget the confidence I have now because of him. While our physical encounters seem so far less intimate than those we have shared together in emotion and spirit, they are yet valuable. My awareness increased under them, and my appreciation of sexuality is far greater than it was. Additionally, I cannot deny that on some level it strengthened our bond every time we shared such experiences. My teacher and I, we shall remain a part of one another for as long as our spirits traverse some part of this multidimensional universe in which we live.