Through The Never (Part III)

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Notes and Disclaimers:

WARNING: explicit male/male sex

A/N: Big thanks to those who made the effort to leave a review, it is very much appreciated. I am glad the story is enjoyable so far and the characterization works. Yes, it was Elfsong where Elaith had his brush with death. No, Entreri's appearance isn't just fangirl candy:). While I do not intend to explore his relationship with Elaith in detail and he won't be appearing much, he does have a part to play.

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1 Kythorn, The Year of the Silent Death (1395 DR)
Waterdeep

The marble floor was hard and cold beneath his back, the sword jabbing at his throat remarkably well-honed. If he sat up, Elaith thought, the motion would drive the point right through, and that really might be for the best. He didn't, of course. But the sheer fact that the thought had entered his mind was curios, in a disturbing sort of way. His convalescing body needed the exercise and he'd refused to work around Zaknafein's disrupting presence in his life, so he'd gone to the training room, fully aware the dark elf would be there. He'd thought himself prepared for the unavoidable lessons in humility. Apparently he'd been wrong.

The sword withdrew and a booted foot poked at his ribs. "Get up."

Elaith swallowed, unable to move or breathe. It wasn't the ache with which the welter of bruises and cuts responded to the prodding; that, he could ignore. He hadn't known, until today, that he was capable of such deep, all-consuming resentment. After centuries of careful numbness this intensity of feeling was excruciating.

Zaknafein was looking down at him, eyes lit up with amusement, mouth quirked in that faintly sardonic way of his. "Get up, Darthiir."

There was a moment where Elaith leapt to his feet, barreling into the dark elf and hitting him in the gut, hard, watching him double over, waiting until he straightened and hitting him again. But before that moment could come to pass Zaknafein sauntered to the middle of the floor and stood there waiting, grinning at him, arrogance incarnate.

A kind of calm fell over Elaith then and he got to his feet and gathered his swords. The dark elf's grin broadened, became a smirk, the white flash of his teeth visible in the dim light. Elaith saw him take a prowling step forward, the deadly grace making the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

They circled each other, one coldly furious and one amused, their feet making no sound on the marble floor. Elaith sensed the drow's stance shift and struck first, taking the offensive for the first time that day. Metal gleamed, rang out across the room in a sudden violent clash and Zaknafein laughed, a low delighted sound, the attack skittering harmlessly off his blades. Faster than thought his swords swept upward, driving Elaith back a step. Elaith recovered, not shifting to a defensive position, not giving ground, and his own weapons lashed out again. Zaknafein blocked with insulting ease but, by good fortune, Elaith's leading blade slid along one of his, then skipped off a bracer, rending leather and flesh.

Elaith saw the cut was deep across the drow's hand and felt it like a fire in his blood, urging him on. It wasn't enough to make the dark elf lose his grip, though, and Elaith watched him warily, expecting… anything. Anything but the utter, almost comical astonishment written all over Zaknafein's face as he took a backward step, both weapons down, and stood staring at his hand. Puzzled, Elaith looked too. Jagged lines of blue light raced down the forearm, a shimmering tracery of veins and the outline of bones visible under the chain mail. Zaknafein remained very still, the astonishment on his face giving way to something Elaith didn't try to decipher. Instead he watched a radiant succession of blue sparks flicker across the wound, linger there for a short while and die away, the whole bizarre spectacle ending at once.

Like most of his people he had the ability to sense magic and had carefully honed those senses in the past, when they'd been very useful, before powerful artifacts became scarce. At the moment the residue of magic in the room was plain enough that he didn't even have to focus to detect it. Definitely with Zaknafein himself as its source but there was also something odd about it, like an off-key note in an otherwise perfect harmony. Elaith frowned, recalling how the wandering magelights had swarmed around the dark elf on their journey through the city. The veiled presence of strong magic had to have been there all along, even if it hadn't occurred to him then because the drow clearly disdained it.

It made sense, all of it.

Sheathing his weapons Elaith reached out and took Zaknafein's hand in his. Worn leather glove, palm open, and beneath it flesh and bone. Nothing strange about it except the cut had gone, sealed without a trace of a scar. He touched the place where it had been and felt something like a long welt under the skin, a little hot to the touch. Zaknafein jerked, as if he hadn't been aware of the contact until then, and violently yanked his hand free. He left the training room without a word, tension palpable in every line of his body.

Elaith followed him shortly, intent on finding out more before the dark elf could drink himself into a stupor. He had a fair guess about what he'd just seen and Zaknafein's shocked reaction to it really peaked his curiosity.

The drow took his sweet time with the bath but he wasn't going to complain about that. He gave it an hour, then returned to the guest suite next to the training hall that Zaknafein had appropriated. The door had no locks and Elaith pushed it ajar without knocking. This was his home, after all, and an uninvited guest was not a subject to the rules of hospitality, as far as he was concerned.

Zaknafein was in the bedroom, lounging on the bed, chain mail and boots and all, arms crossed beneath his head. He sat up, squinting at the magelight Elaith had conjured, and shot him a look of affronted disbelief. Elaith's own irritation, always present in his company, sharpened considerably but he turned the light down. He hadn't come to antagonize the drow.

"You've no idea what that was, do you?" he asked without a prelude.

Zaknafein scowled, then shook his head. His sheathed swords were placed over the covers, within immediate reach. Predictably there was a bottle of wine on the side table, although it appeared he had yet to begin the drinking spree.

"I think I do," Elaith told him as he crossed the floor. "Let me see your hand." He leaned down and without waiting took hold of it.

Zaknafein drew a sharp breath, nostrils flaring, and for a second he looked as if he wanted to smash that hand into Elaith's face but he controlled it with a visible effort. They stared at each other, joined by Elaith's grasp. Elaith kept a stranglehold on his patience and wondered if they should make it through the next hour without seriously trying to kill one another. He didn't understand this anger, and he was damn tired of walking on eggshells and feeling helpless. It made him shaky, his own temper ready to erupt.

He blinked.

Anger was easier than fear.

He looked at the drow, then, really looked, and it was as if an unsolved mystery clicked into place with a sudden insight. For the first time he saw Zaknafein not as a representative of a people he'd been raised to despise, or an infuriating disruption to his affairs, or a supernaturally undefeatable opponent, but simply another mortal being, a sentient conglomeration of life. There was darkness, and danger to spare - reflexes honed to perilous sharpness that mocked what he'd thought of as skill; abiding paranoia, brutally conditioned to become second nature; and the inevitable cruelty and violence. But for all that the dark elf was only a person, not invulnerable, scarred, with his own needs and fears - a person, no more than that, as fundamentally alone as Elaith himself.

A shift of perception, almost like looking at someone else, someone different, and Elaith found the calm he'd been striving for the whole day without success. "Just give me a few moments, will you?" he said to the drow. "Then I'll tell you about it."

It took Zaknafein some time to consider the genial tone, head turned to the side in a now-familiar gesture, but in the end he nodded. He hadn't spoken since the incident, not that Elaith really minded.

He started at the spot where the cut had been but found nothing there; even the welt beneath the skin had disappeared. "Take that off," he ordered, plucking at the torn glove. When Zaknafein complied Elaith pointed at the chain mail. "This too." The drow glared at him coldly at that, so he explained, "There was magic used in the crafting and it will get in the way."

He saw the hesitation, the uncertainty. For a long awkward span of moments Zaknafein didn't move and his face was shuttered, wary, eyes watchful. Eventually he unclasped the bracers and slid them off one by one, working open the buckle and discarding his belt, pulling the chain mail off over his head. The shirt he wore underneath got caught in the armor and he took that off too, evidently not caring to extricate it.

He was really quite beautiful, Elaith thought, disconcerted at noticing. But it was hard to miss the animal grace of the body revealed, the purity of line, and whatever else Elaith might be, his core sensibilities remained elven. Aesthetics mattered a great deal.

Zaknafein's eyes grew sharp when he saw Elaith was studying him. Turning away he grinned fleetingly, the barest quirk of his mouth, and stripped off the remaining glove. The grin flustered Elaith more than a little, even if he consoled himself with thinking the drow had probably just found wearing the one glove ridiculous.

Annoyed, though mostly with himself this time, he sat down on the edge of the bed and once again clasped Zaknafein's hand in his. Running his fingers gingerly upward, concentrating, he found what he was looking for on the inside of the arm, near the bicep – a swirl of dotted lines shaped almost like a glyph of some kind. "There," he said, brushing his fingertips over it, certain now, slowly tracing the strange pattern. It wasn't tangible of course but he could sense the magic, its power and the taint in it, without much effort. "There's your spellscar."

Zaknafein freed his arm from Elaith's grasp, without rancor but looking dubious and uneasy, and began to feel at the spot.

"You cannot find it by touch," Elaith said mildly. "It isn't physical. It is a… a wild magic of sorts. That is, a magical anomaly induced by exposure to the Spellplague. Sometimes it disfigures, sometimes does nothing. In rare cases it grants special abilities. Yours clearly does. The good news is those are always beneficial, as far as I know. What's more, I've never seen or heard of a spellscar that would heal without a conscious effort. Normally it takes a great deal of knowledge and quite a bit of experimentation to master the energy - "

"What is this 'Spellplague'?" Zaknafein interrupted. He sounded vaguely curious.

Elaith stared at him, feeling as if he'd somehow missed several important points in the conversation. "You know nothing about the Spellplague. The murder of the goddess Mystra, the collapse of the Weave… No?" He couldn't help a small incredulous laugh. "Where in the Abyss have you been for the last ten years?"

Something flickered across the dark elf's face, gone too fast to be read before he controlled his expression. He reached over to pick up the wine from the side table but didn't open it, only toyed with the bottle, rolling it between his palms, looking thoughtful. Elaith watched him out of the corner of his eye, distractedly fascinated with the fluid ripple of muscles, unable to stop himself.

A long measuring stare seemed to take him apart. Elaith started, glancing up involuntarily, pulse skipping. Zaknafein was observing him through narrowed eyes.

This was really becoming absurd, and fast, Elaith acknowledged ruefully. He gestured at the drow's armor and clothes. "You can put that back on."

One eyebrow raised a fraction, Zaknafein shifted on the bed, with solemn grace resettling cross-legged, summarily ignoring the suggestion. The movement released a faint scent, bath soaps and something else, unidentifiably unique, irrationally alluring.

Acutely aware of the dark elf's nearness Elaith rose abruptly to his feet. "There are books in the upstairs library if you care to read about the Spellplague," he said, with an effort managing something close to his usual asperity. "Some of them are in Common, I believe. As for the spellscar, since it obviously does not interfere with normal functions it is, at worst, a lot of untapped potential. I would advise that you try and explore its properties."

"No," Zaknafein said categorically, setting the bottle back on the table with a thud, as if to add finality to the word. Elaith couldn't tell whether it was apprehension or the professed general dislike of magic.

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11 Kythorn, The Year of the Silent Death (1395 DR)
Waterdeep

Elaith finished off the letter, reread it and signed his name. Staring blankly at it he sat and contemplated his choices. He could go to the training room or he could get barking drunk. The latter might be preferable, at that, but he'd done it for a couple of days already and the novelty was beginning to wear off. The wine cellar had definitely taken some major damage as of late.

He was thankful he no longer employed elven servants and equally as thankful the help he did employ didn't actually live in the manor, else he'd probably have none left. This way he had the meals prepared on a regular basis, at least, and someone cleaned up the mess and made the beds.

It had, all in all, been a wretched tenday. Elaith had contacted Calimport several times but hadn't bothered Entreri, just spoken with the same freckled woman who, with unchanging politeness, informed him that Jarlaxle was still unavailable. He'd left the Blackstone manor only once since Zaknafein had taken up residence there. He'd had some business with the Thieves Guild, so he'd simply gone to attend to it. He hadn't caught sight of the dark elf, though he'd been looking, until at the doorstep of the guildhouse. He couldn't rightly argue with Zaknafein in view of the peepholes - not that doing it elsewhere would have produced better results - so he'd had no choice but to bring the drow with him. In the end it had turned out to be beneficial because Zaknafein's scowling presence had frightened the daylights out of the halfling guild leader and the negotiations had gone very smoothly after that. But Elaith, who was generally good about learning by repetition, hadn't tried to go out anymore. Business could wait.

It wore on him to be tethered to the manse he didn't really like to begin with and never used for long. But it was the lesser of the two evils when compared to having a highly unpredictable deadly drow trail after him wherever he went. Not to mention said drow was actively sought by the City Watch.

For years now Elaith and the Captain of the Watch, a wily, pedantic, straight-laced human who had the tenacity of a terrier and by no means lacked intelligence, enjoyed a special kind of friendship. The human knew Elaith was behind most of the shady business that went on in his town, and Elaith knew that he knew, and the Captain knew that Elaith knew that he knew. There was never any proof, of course. For his part Elaith quite delighted in the chase; the human, not so much. He'd piss himself silly from sheer joy if Elaith were caught out at something, anything - and there was Zaknafein, conveniently wanted for murder. Of the Watchmen, no less. Not that this whole thing should be anything to really worry about but it would make for another headache to deal with, and not a minor one.

The worst of it was that, if he were honest with himself - and Elaith usually was - he'd have to admit his problem was largely self-inflicted. Zaknafein might be the greatest fighter on the face of Toril but he was one drow. Elaith had more than enough resources to have one drow removed from his life permanently and in a variety of ways… had he wanted to.

To put it plainly, it was his cock. Ever since the affair with the spellscar he couldn't quite get it under control. If he'd thought the training sessions supremely uncomfortable before, this had taken it to a whole new level. Add a fair amount of self-deprecation into the mix, and there was the recipe for perfect misery.

He'd never suffered from the ridiculous compulsion to deny himself the pleasures he desired but his life was generally well-ordered because he knew which whims to allow and which to resist. This one definitely belonged in the latter category. That aside, he'd never hesitated to take what he wanted, either, or at least make an effort at it. But this scenario was wrong on so many levels Elaith found himself not really caring to think on it too closely, much less act.

His tastes generally ran toward the opposite gender, although that part he could put aside easily enough. The fact that this was a drow, while disturbing, he could also deal with - when all was set and done, attraction had nothing to do with reason. Elaith understood that. But this wasn't just any male drow. This was someone around whom he felt, to be blunt, rather… out of his depths, and there had simply been no experience in his centuries of existence that he could draw upon for that.

For his part Zaknafein was perfectly aware of the probability simmering between them, Elaith was sure of it, and the dark elf by no means baited or enticed him. But he point blank refused to dance around Elaith's compunctions, just like he'd done during that discussion about the spellscar in his rooms, and seemed content with the impasse. He went about the business of bruising Elaith's body and pride with dismaying consistency, and if he wanted anything more he didn't show it except for the heat he radiated whenever the spar brought them close together.

The eventual outcome, Elaith had decided, would be one of the two – they'd either fuck each or kill each other. Possibly both. Hopefully not at the same time. He was in no particular rush to arrive there.

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12 Kythorn, The Year of the Silent Death (1395 DR)
Waterdeep

They were rolling over and over, grappling, weapons discarded, the dark elf's body first on top and then beneath his. Shock gave the drow the opportunity to reverse their positions again and Elaith found himself pushed flat on his back and held against the floor. He really had no idea why Zaknafein had knocked him down in the first place; the only warning had been his legs going out from under him. He looked up into a smug, amused face and snarled, "Get the fuck off me!"

Zaknafein's face was inches away, unsmiling now, eyes glinting with something other than magelight. Elaith sucked in air and struggled to breathe evenly as some primitive part of him, deep and hungry, responded to the scent of sweat and musk. He closed his eyes, not wanting to look.

A strong thigh pressed between his own.

"For a tenday you've been asking for it. I grow tired, Darthiir." The words were whispered with tingling intimacy against his skin as his hips were pulled upward and Zaknafein ground into him, slow and hard, drawing out hunger.

Elaith jerked involuntarily and felt his face flush. It was happening, he thought with a mixture of dread and relief, and something reckless stirred in him that didn't care about what was safe or sane. He opened his eyes. There was less than a breath of space between them.

Zaknafein's lips were shockingly soft when they touched him.

He didn't fight the fingers tangling in his hair, roughly turning his head to the drow's desire, and opened for the hot brazen tongue. Zaknafein bit his lower lip until it stung and licked the marks with quick light strokes that both maddened and soothed. Feeling like there was nothing in the world but that sinful mouth Elaith almost came when his cock was seized through the leathers and the sudden crude squeeze brought him to clamoring arousal. Shuddering like a horse under a whip he ran his hands over the tight muscles of the drow's ass. Zaknafein laughed softly as if he'd expected just that and the pressure of his weight eased off.

Elaith pushed himself up on one elbow, panting. A grip on his arm urged him upward. He went, heart pounding, and watched Zaknafein unbuckle his belt. The chain mail and the undershirt followed before the dark elf unlaced his leathers. His eyes gleamed like twin coals as he took Elaith's hand and brought it down to his own cock, folding the fingers firmly around it.

Elaith inhaled a sharp breath, doubly aroused and panicked at once. The backs of his fingers brushed a flat stomach, the skin there warm and silky-smooth. The cock was hard and heavy in his hand. He recognized the greedy hunger in it and his own hunger was too powerful. He tightened his grasp, feeling the pulse of blood against his palm. Zaknafein made a faint sound and pushed into his hand, leaning forward, his mouth hot against Elaith's throat. Demanding fingers tilted his head back, baring more of his throat to the melting heat, and he gave way, nearly blind with the sharp stinging pleasure of the graze of teeth over his skin.

A death grip on his wrist jolted him out of it. He let go, realized distantly that he was being backed up against the wall, and put his hand out to steady himself against the drow's shoulder.

Once he started to work on his belt Zaknafein bent down to undo his own boots and, when they were off, stripped the leathers away. Looking perfectly at ease he stood and watched Elaith struggle out of his armor. The light glanced off the dark skin, rendering his muscles in high relief, hips and thighs drawn in powerful lines. It made Elaith's mouth go dry and his breath catch in his throat. He tugged off the rest of his clothes with purposeful efficiency.

He wasn't prepared to see the answering flash of response, the drow looking as suddenly breathless as he. Zaknafein moved, closing the distance between them, and took his mouth with blunt, insistent urgency. Elaith spread his hands across the strong back. His cock was heavy and throbbed with every glancing touch. Their tongues met and he drew out the kiss, parting only long enough to gulp more breath.

Callused fingers closed on his shoulder and dug in, demanding that he turn around. When he didn't yield to the silent command Zaknafein broke the kiss. The heat in his eyes had iced over, becoming in an instant something darker, more dangerous, like the hard glitter of a weapon's edge. Before Elaith knew it he was slammed into the wall with bone-splitting force. While he was relearning how to breathe he was caught around the waist and in a blur of motion spun about, Zaknafein's weight behind him pinning him there. Cold with shock and furious, his cheek resting against the cool marble, he shoved back, trying to buck the drow off. The smooth surface gave him no purchase to brace his hands and he got slammed into it again for the effort. His arm was seized and twisted ruthlessly behind his back and his legs kicked wide apart.

A hand wedged itself between his thighs and cupped his balls, rolling them slowly in their sac, sadistically erotic. Elaith's breath stuttered. Any thoughts of resistance eroded under the renewed arousal. He stopped struggling and bit his lip, steeling himself to bear it. Once it ended he leaned gratefully on the wall and made a concerted effort to keep his breathing steady. A finger traced from the back of his neck down his spine, slipping into the cleft between his buttocks, almost teasing. His cock was taken in hand at the same time as the finger pushed into him, ungentle. He gasped, tensing, strung out between apprehension and want, but the finger moved deep inside him, hunting down the place that responded with a sharp thrilling surge. All the breath left his body in a rush and he writhed, needing to push forward and backward at once.

There was a filthy chuckle in his ear. "No longer angry, are you?"

Elaith could spare it no mind. The hand stroked him and the finger worked him from the inside and pleasure rose and spread all over, thick and sweet. He could feel the warmth of Zaknafein's body all along his back and the solid heat trapped between them, nudging at his ass. When teeth sunk into the taut muscle at the top of his shoulder, the flare of pain was as good as the pleasure burning along his nerves. The finger pulled out abruptly and it drove him over the precarious edge. He cried out and came in one long fluttering pulse, spilling himself into Zaknafein's hand.

Before the shockwaves of it smoothed out a cock slid into the warmth between his buttocks, riding back and forth with the deliberate shift of the drow's hips. Elaith was still staggering along from one moment of awareness to the next when the cock tucked up against him, barely slick with his own cooling come. His pulse leapt as it breached him and he let out a whimper, nothing he could have controlled. The blunt pressure was uncomfortable, terrifying, and Zaknafein's hands caught his hips in a grip like a vice and stayed poised in case he didn't submit to the cock forcing its way into his body.

He'd long since forgotten how to relax for this and it hurt like Nine Hells and worse. One hand tilted his hips, steadying him, no quarter given, and there was nothing he could do except be still and try to endure. The drow's breathing was harsh and ragged in his ears. By the time Zaknafein buried himself balls-deep inside him Elaith could scarcely breathe but he turned his face blindly for the kiss that was offered. The mouth was lush and soft, almost tender. It helped, stealing his attention until the muscles cramped around the cock in his ass finally relaxed.

When the pain went he sighed into the kiss and the mouth abandoned him. Zaknafein flexed and moved, pulling out, then thrust in again, and again, angling Elaith's hips, and the next stroke set off a burst of annihilating pleasure, as abrupt and sharp as the pain had been. Delirious with it Elaith stifled a sob and pushed back, shaking, his own cock hard once again.

Fucking him in a slow, easy rhythm that made him greedy for more by the moment, firing shocks of searing heat through his body with each thrust, Zaknafein whispered into his ear, "Ask me now." The voice was silky, merciless with knowledge.

Understanding came. Elaith stayed silent, fighting it. The game was intimately familiar but never before from this side.

"Ask, Darthiir."

The thrusting stopped.

Elaith rocked back against the body that strained behind him and tightened his muscles, dizzy with triumph at the resulting moan.

Zaknafein froze. Swore, hoarse and strangled but still controlled. Breathing in deep he grabbed one of Elaith's hands and pulled it behind his back, then the other hand. Elaith almost howled with frustration when the cock filling him withdrew to its tip, some unknown and unsuspected hunger prodding at him.

Zaknafein laughed low against his skin. "Say it."

For an timeless time Elaith was held immobile, quivering with unspoken need, unwilling to voice it even if it was written all over him. In the end it subdued him, seduced him, beguiling his complicity in his own undoing. "Fuck me," he said, choking on the words.

After that it was hard and rough and perfect. Zaknafein's muscles worked against the backs of Elaith's thighs, the throb of pleasure unbearably exquisite where the cock was hitting the nerves inside him again and again, almost like a deep ache. Zaknafein was making exposed, breathless sounds with each advance, clearly at the end of his restraint, and Elaith was astonished that the drow had the care and the presence of mind to reach over and close a hand around his cock.

The grip was strong and sure, bringing a focus to the haze of want. Elaith rocked into it and the fingers tightened, sliding up then down his length, satisfying a hunger that had seemed unappeasable. Gasping he surged against the taut body behind him and felt his muscles clench as pleasure crested, inexorable, taking thought and breath. He was still coming, sweet and endless, wailing his relief to the ceiling when Zaknafein cried out too, thrust into him one last time and went still, biting hard into Elaith's shoulder, throbbing sharply deep inside him.