Author's note: This is, quite shamelessly, a PWP I wrote for my own amusement, and decided to share. This is set about twenty years after the conclusion of Kushiel's Mercy, which should become obvious as you read. All credit for the setting, and what little backstory is mentioned, goes of course to Jacqueline Carey.

Word traveled fast in Valerian House. By the time I left the Dowayne's chamber to view the adepts she'd readied for me, I could tell the House was fair buzzing with excitement. The halls, normally discreetly empty, seemed inordinately busy, and every adept that passed shot me a daring glance under lowered eyelids, hoping they would catch the Prince's eye. I ignored them, striding down the marble-tiled hall, feeling the lust and challenge of their eyes on my back, and smiling to myself.

In the viewing room, Dianne had readied only one adept. The young man stood in the center of the room, eyes downcast, hands clasped behind him. He was shorter than I, slender but well-muscled, with dark hair that fell in a tangle of waves to his chin. I shot Dianne a glance; she only raised her eyebrows, and I approached the adept.

I could see his breath quicken as I came close. I stopped before him, placed the tip of my finger under his chin and lifted it. His eyes were a deep, deep blue, nearly black. "What is your name?" I asked softly.

He lifted his chin a bit on his own. "Michel, my lord."

"Do you know who I am?"

"You are the Prince Raniel, my lord," he breathed.

"Good boy." I traced the line of his jaw with my fingertip, watching him shiver in pleasure. "Is it your wish to take me as your first patron?"

His dark blue eyes flashed as he glanced at me, before turning his gaze to the floor once again. "Yes, my lord, if you will have me."

I smirked, and turned away abruptly. "He'll do," I said to Dianne. "You'll write up the details of the assignation and send him to the Shahrizai quarters as soon as possible?"

"Of course, your highness. Shall I arrange for a meal to await you there?"

"That will not be necessary, my lady Dowayne," I said. "I should like to visit Kushiel's shrine before the evening grows late." She nodded in agreement, and I let myself out of the viewing room, making my way toward the shrine.

----

When I entered the rooms that were reserved for the Shahrizai family's use, Michel was already there, kneeling, naked, in the center of the stone floor. I didn't know how long he'd been waiting. I paused inside the door, watching him, enjoying the obedient bent in the lines that composed his shape.

A sideways glance in the mirror told me what he would see: My mother's dark eyes, Cruithne eyes; and my father's waves of blue-black hair, half-scattered through with tiny braids, in an homage to both my Shahrizai ancestry and old tales of my foster-grandsire, Joscelin Verreuil. A body that was my own, well-formed and strengthened by hours of sword-training, clad in a simple but elegant shirt of white cambric, dark doeskin breeches, and tall boots of supple black leather that hugged my legs. I looked different here, somehow; confident and dangerous. I smiled a little, knowing that was exactly what the adepts of Valerian House wanted to see.

The terms of the assignation had been written on a parchment and laid on the table behind Michel. I strode to the table, ignoring him, and scanned the contract, finding no surprises. A bottle of fine Namarrese wine had been set on the table; I poured myself a glass, enjoying making the kneeling adept wait.

I took a sip of the wine -Elua, it was good!- and walked unhurriedly back to Michel, stopping behind him. The muscles in his shoulders tensed, as if he expected me to hit him from behind. I let him wait a little longer while I sipped my wine and gazed at his slender back, bare of any marque.

"Do you know why I wanted a new adept, Michel?" I asked finally. My voice sounded startlingly loud in the otherwise silent room.

"No, my lord," he replied, rather automatically. I frowned.

"Surely you must have some idea, some guess. You may voice it; I would hear your thoughts."

He hesitated. "When a patron specifically requests an untried adept, it is usually because he or she intends to embarrass Valerian House." A note of proud defiance crept into his voice. "And that is always the only aspect of the assignation that disappoints them, my lord."

I chuckled, dropping one hand to stroke his hair. "Well said," I praised him. "And very... diplomatic. Have no fear, Michel; I know for a fact that Valerian House never has cause for embarrassment from its members, be they the youngest unmarqued adept or the Dowayne herself." My own voice grew deeper as I spoke, until I hardly recognized it. Michel leaned into my hand, and a shudder ran through him at my words. Ah, Elua! My slow-burning desire suddenly threatened to overwhelm me, and I drew in a long breath to calm myself.

"Why, then? If I may ask, my lord," he dared to ask.

I truly didn't know, myself. It had been a whim, at first, an idle fantasy- and for what was the Night Court, if not the indulgence of fantasy? But truly why? I was not sure yet. "Perhaps I shall tell you when we are finished," I told him. I downed the rest of my wine and then clenched my fist in his hair, drawing his head back sharply. He drew in a startled breath as I bent down, bringing my lips to his ear. "In the meantime," I murmured in a low voice, "You will not disappoint me in any aspect of this assignation, will you, Michel?"

"No, my lord," he whispered in a shaky voice.

I let him go and turned away, going to the cabinet that housed the flagellary. I set my wineglass down and perused the contents of the cabinet, settling on a slender, supple lash with a handle of pressed brown leather, finely made. There was little else I wanted, I realized; I was more interested in exercising dominance than inflicting pain, this time. I closed the cabinet and strode back to Michel, tapping the coils of the lash against my boot top.

"What is your signale?" I asked him, walking in a slow circle around his kneeling form. I could see his phallus growing hard, darkening with blood; it was gratifying to know he enjoyed our little mind-games as much as I did.

"Shadows, my lord." It matched the word in the written contract. I made another circuit around him.

"I want you to understand two things, Michel," I said, struggling to keep the desire under control. "The first is this: Tonight, I am more interested in the games of obedience and dominance than those of pain and violence." I followed the line of his jaw with the coiled whip. "Though I will indulge in them as well, a little." The whip slid under his chin, lifted his head to gaze up at me with his dark, dark blue eyes. "Is this acceptable to you?"

"Yes," he said simply, his voice tight with desire. A sudden vision of him sweating beneath me, gasping, burned itself against my eyelids. I pushed the fantasy away.

"Good." I made my voice go back to the dangerous one, the deeper one. "Then the second thing you will understand is this: You belong to me tonight, boy, and you will do whatever I tell you to do. Do you understand?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Good boy," I said again. "Then you may start by pleasing me where you are, on your knees. Show me what manner of training Valerian House provides its adepts, Michel."

He moved to obey at once, rising onto his knees and sliding his hands up the slick leather boots that hugged my thighs. He unfastened my breeches with deft fingers and freed my aching phallus, drawing it into his mouth without hesitation. Elua, it felt good! His mouth was hot and wet, and though he lacked some of the practiced grace of an experienced adept, he made up for it in enthusiasm. The thought that I was his first was a goad to my pleasure, as well. I stood motionless, with the whip in one hand and my other hand in his hair, gazing down and watching him perform the languisement with my lips parted. I forced myself not to move, not even to guide him, until the end, when I clenched my fist around his hair and held him hard to me as I climaxed.

I let him go, then, stepping away and re-fastening my breeches. There was a certain sense of power to be found in remaining fully clothed while he was nude, and I was enjoying it. There would be time to undress later.

"Stand up," I said harshly, and he did. I bent my head and kissed him, roughly, bruising my lips against his, forcing my tongue into his mouth, tasting my own seed. He responded eagerly, pliant in my arms, and let out a soft moan. I deepened the kiss, and he moved involuntarily, thrusting against me, grinding his erection against my hip.

I smiled inwardly, even as I jerked away, wrapping my hand around his throat. "You dare to think of your own pleasure, Michel? To try and take it from me, without my permission?"

His eyes widened. "My lord-"

"I shall have to punish you for that, boy," I said, in a menacing voice. I brought the coiled whip up to caress his cheek again, then trailed it down across his chest, his abdomen, and lower. "Are you ready?"

He shivered. "Yes, my lord."

I shoved him away. "Then go," I said, sending him stumbling toward the X-shaped whipping cross that stood across the room. He went with alacrity, positioning his front against the wooden beams. I followed more slowly, tucking the lash under my arm and fastening his wrists and ankles to the cross.

He jerked and drew in a hissing breath when the first blow of the lash fell across his back. It opened a long, red weal across his shoulders. I stepped forward to press my lips against it, feeling the flesh already growing hot. "Remember your signale, Michel," I breathed in his ear. "Do not hesitate to use it if need be." He nodded wordlessly, eyes shut tight, and I backed away, plying the whip again, and again.

It went on for a long time; I didn't hit him often, but drew it out deliciously, goading his desire and mine. I would stop to drag my tongue along the welts I left on his flesh, feeling him squirm, or I would press my hips against his backside with slow, unhurried thrusts, teasing him with a taste of what was to come. Once I wrapped the lash about his neck, drawing his head back, and whispered all the unspeakable things I wished to do to him. I could see him grit his teeth against desire then, and I smiled to myself.

When I'd had enough, I tossed the whip aside and went to loose him from the cross. His back was shuddering like a fly-stung horse. I wanted to see that slender, muscled back, marked by my hand alone, writhing under me as I had my way with him. I forced myself to patience, and control, and pulled him away from the cross. "Sit on the bed," I ordered, and followed him there.

To his surprise, I sat on the edge next to him. "Lie back." He did, gingerly, and I laid my hand on his bare thigh. He flinched. His phallus was still ready, hard and thick, nearly brushing against his abdomen. I wanted, very badly, to touch him, and indulged myself, trailing my fingertips up his thigh, across his abdomen, and down his other thigh. "Tell me," I said softly, drawing a line with my fingertip from the base of his rigid phallus to its tip, watching him tremble at the woefully inadequate contact. "Does the training for adepts include any... practical application of skills?"

"N-No, my lord," he replied breathlessly. "We are never touched."

"What a pity," I said, in a sympathetic voice. I bent and pressed my lips to his hip, circling my finger around the tip of his phallus as I did so. "So no one has ever performed the languisement upon you, as you did for me so skillfully?"

"No," he whispered, almost a plea.

I moved, reversing the path of my finger, and made as if to kiss him, pausing with my lips hovering over his tip. I glanced up at him, let my breath ghost over his skin as I asked, "What do you want, Michel?"

He made a half-strangled sound, staring down at me with wide eyes. "You, my lord."

I smiled up at him, a predatory smile. "On your stomach."

He let out a moan of frustration, nearly inaudible, and rolled obediently onto his stomach. I moved to straddle his legs, running my hands up the backs of his thighs, grasping his buttocks. "How badly do you want this, Michel?" I asked quietly, kneading at his firm flesh. "Badly enough to beg?"

"Elua, yes, my lord! Please!" He replied immediately, writhing under my touch. I swatted at him; the sound was a loud crack in the quiet room.

"Lie still," I ordered him. "And beg, boy. Plead for what you want, and perhaps I'll have mercy on you."

He did, his voice strained under the desire that wracked him; he begged and pleaded desperately, while my hands roamed his back and thighs. I was fully aroused once more, hard enough that it ached, and the abject submission in his pleas only drove my desire farther. Soon, soon, I told myself.

When I'd had enough of his pleas, I lay over him, stretching my entire length along his, pressing my hips against his backside and kissing his neck lightly. He went absolutely still, though I could feel him trembling faintly. "Mmm... very good, boy," I murmured, running my tongue along the ridge of his ear and smiling as it made him shiver. "You've done well, and I'm minded to give you your wish." I rocked my hips against his buttocks, thrusting my still-clothed phallus against him. "But there is one thing to attend, first. Lie still and keep quiet."

He nodded wordlessly against the sheets, and I left him there, going to the flagellary and pulling out the small jar of ointment. It was a formula well-known to Valerian and Mandrake Houses, and served two purposes, making it ideal for the Night Court. I set it on the edge of the bed and undressed myself, letting my clothes fall where they would.

Michel was breathing raggedly when I approached him from behind. "On your hands and knees," I ordered him, and he shifted to obey, tensing in anticipation of what he imagined was to come. He twitched in surprise when I began to smear the ointment on his lash-marks instead.

I smiled, watching him endure wordlessly, head drooping, as I tended to each weal with careful precision. The stuff stung like fury when applied to open sores, I knew, and his back would feel afire by the time I'd finished.

He bore it without complaining, remembering my last injunction to keep quiet. When the last welt had been cared for, I swiped more ointment onto my fingers and used it to draw a slick trail from the end of his spine to the cleft of his buttocks. "Now," I breathed, my voice rasping, "You will not finish until I tell you to, do you understand, Michel?" I slid my finger into him without warning, and he gasped aloud, jerking his head upward.

"I- understand..."

"You forget to whom you speak, boy," I said, putting menace into my voice and thrusting a second finger into him. "I will ask you again: do you understand?"

"Yes, my lord!"

"Good." I withdrew, watching him shudder a little, and applied the ointment to myself, slathering it over my phallus and mingling it with the fluid that had already leaked from its tip. I positioned myself behind him, kneeling on the bed, and fit the tip of my phallus against his entrance.

I thought about asking him if he were ready, and thought better of it; it was obvious that he was just as ready as I. Instead, I gazed at him a moment longer, taking my time.

"This will hurt, boy," I said simply, and pushed myself into him.

He drew in a hissing breath as the tip of my phallus entered him. Gods, he was hot, and tight, squeezing tightly around me... I waited a moment, then pushed forward again, burying another inch inside him. "There, boy, yes," I breathed. "A little more, every inch... This is what you wanted, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes, my lord!" He gasped out, as I closed the remaining distance, filling him as deeply as I could, my hips pressed against his buttocks. I paused there, letting both of us adjust before I began to move again.

I was gentler with him than was my wont. Somehow, I felt almost protective- an absurd notion, to be sure. He bore it well, obeying my command to remain still while I held his hips and moved back and forth, in and out with slow, hard strokes. There was something about knowing that I was the first man to take him this way, knowing that he was completely under my control and that his first true impressions of Naamah's service would be formed by me, that threatened to send me over the precipice of desire if I dwelt upon it for too long. So instead, I didn't dwell on it, but only moved, slowly and rhythmically, digging my fingertips into his flesh.

I don't remember when he started to beg, to plead for release. It goaded me, and I had to fight back the urge to move more quickly, to drive myself into him without mercy. I let him go on for a moment before I leaned forward, laying across his back and seizing a handful of his hair, pulling his head back. "Quiet," I snarled, and he fell silent but for the hitch in his breathing each time I thrust into him. I reached down and grasped his wrist, waiting for him to readjust his balance before guiding his hand to his own phallus.

"Touch yourself, boy," I ordered him breathlessly, in a low voice. "And do not stop until I tell you to spend."

He let out a low moan and obeyed, taking himself in hand. I rose back up and resumed my slow, teasing rhythm, watching my own thick phallus easing in and out of his body. I couldn't see his hand, but I watched the muscles in his shoulder working, and knew that he moved in tandem with my own thrusts.

He didn't last long before he began to beg again, shuddering all over with the effort of restraining himself. I leaned forward again and pulled his head back once more. "Didn't I order you to be silent?" I hissed, punctuating the words with a sharp, deep thrust that surprised him.

"Please-" he whispered brokenly. I smiled, a twist of my lips, and brought my free hand around to grasp his phallus, wrapping around his fingers as well.

"Now, boy," I ordered, thrusting forward hard and clenching my hand around him.

He spent himself with a wordless cry, quivering beneath me as he spilled his seed across the bed. "Good boy," I praised him, and raised back up, resuming my earlier pace. I didn't wait for him to recover. "You're lucky, Michel," I said, breathless with the effort of speaking. "Not many patrons will choose to let you find your pleasure before they find their own. Now, put your head down."

He did, his arms folded under his head, so that only his backside was raised up, still taking my phallus in leisurely thrusts. Only then did I permit myself to lose control; I drove into him hard, ignoring his cries of pain. If he had spoken his signale, I would have heard it and stopped immediately; but he did not, and his prostests merely incited my desire further. I no longer cared about his pleasure, only mine, and ah, Elua, it was good to give myself over to the hunger that burned within me. Over and over, I slammed the entire length of my phallus into him, as deeply as I could, hard and fast. "Who do you belong to, boy?" I demanded at the end, my voice grating tightly in my throat.

"You, my lord!" He cried, and I let out a gasp, thrusting forward once more, hard, and holding his hips immobile as I spent myself inside him.