Water splashed tepid against Zevran's face. He peered in the mirror and his reflection. The taint of his latest mission stuck stubbornly to his skin. Blood, sweat and other fluids clung sticky and rancid bringing back memories of his youth – thoughts he kept tucked deep away in his mind beneath a carefree smile and a roguish swagger.

In his reflection he saw a boy of five, the ritual just conceived – all together too hot water, soap and hard bristle brush necessary to the practice. He would purify himself in the heat and the fat of the soap. It was always the same. He would clean away the evidence and present himself fresh and new until the cycle would repeat.

In his reflection he saw a man of eighteen, an Antivan Crow. The title was fancier and came with better clothing but still his will was often not his own. He was a tool to be used at the whims of his masters. Jobs were assigned; no choice in the matter provided. Money changed hands but never with his. And as always, the mess and slop of the deed landed squarely on him. He rolled in the filth and completed these tasks. The lure of his voice, the swipe of his blade, whatever methods required he used to do what must be done.

These marks were almost always fat, smelly and greasy – over-fed cows ripe for the slaughter. The looks on their faces as he drew them into private and secluded places were all too familiar. Hungered and slimy they appeared all too ready to consume him should he allow it. Those days of surrender were over, however. A boy of five he stood no longer. The faces of these men were varied. But they all represented the same thing to Zevran – debts from the past he planned to claim. In their blood, he found reparations. In their blood, he found pleasure.

He would leave their bodies to be found later. They were often men that others wished to make examples of. The jobs entailed no degree of finesse or subtly. Grab and stab he had jokingly called them. And they always left him feeling as if he needed a bath.

Unfortunately, the small flat he shared with Taliesin lacked that particular luxury. It was a modest abode at best and ratty at its worst. The only real benefit it offered was it allowed them both to leave the Crow barracks -- stink filled cesspools rotten with the promise of lack of sleep and stolen possessions. Instead, if he wished to get clean and wash away the stain of his duties, he made due with a cracked clay basin that seemed to leak water more than it held.

Soap slicked across his skin. It smelled of putrid and foul but it did the job. He smeared the film over his face and neck before picking up the brush. Hard bristles were drug firm against his flesh, leaving a path of red in their wake.

As he lowered his face into the basin, he felt hands take possession of his waist and tug him back firm, and commanding.

Taliesin.

It was a game they played – dominance glided back and forth between the pair in a constant battle of wills and strength. The first to fully submit, the first to draw blood as they called it was loser.

Arms wrapped possessive about Zevran's waist as Taliesin leaned into the elf. Heated breath and the tickle of a tongue found the sharp peak of an elfin ear. Taliesin murmured, "Did you have to let this one touch you?"

What residue remained on Zevran's face was washed away with another splash of water. Hands tugged at Taliesin's, pulling them away. He would not play the subservient elf, not this time. In this matter, his will was his own and beholden to no other. "No." A turn of the body and he leaned his backside against the table supporting the basin. Fingers curled along the edge, bracing himself.

Chest pushed against chest, the small space between Taliesin and Zevran narrowed further. Nostrils flared, the larger man leaning again into the elf and sniffing at his hair and skin. "I can smell another man on you." The words came mocking and cruel. A rook to his rook. Zevran's move.

Another piece was put into play. A fraction of their secrets they had shared in a moment of weakness for them both one night during their tenth years. The knot inside Zevran was twisted mercilessly in simplicity of the statement. Anger flared deep in his chest at the callous injury inflicted upon him. Emotions were kept at bay, swallowed down and hidden behind a smile slick with self-satisfaction. "You say the sweetest things, my dear Taliesin. It's no wonder the masters do not send you out more." Insecurity in his skills and jealousy at constantly being compared to his elfin friend jabbed sharp Taliesin. Weakness for weakness, they traded their barbs.

Fingers rose to twist vicious with silken strands of blond hair, tugging Zevran's head back with a harsh pull. The wince that wished to form was bitten back between the ever increasing spread of his grin. Zevran's stab had been precise and hit its mark. "The masters know I am no..servant," Taliesin sneered.

"How silly of me to have forgotten my place lapping at the heels of my human superiors." It was more a taunt than a belief. To bring up Zevran's race was an insult of the lowest common denominator even for Taliesen. The upper hand had been gained by Zevran. "And what would you have this servant do?" The elf would bide his time and take his opening when it came. He would play the role expected. It was a role he was all too familiar with. It was a role his Crow masters loved for him to play.

The challenge had been set upon the field. Taliesin's grip upon Zevran's hair strengthened, jerking Zev's head back to expose the length of the elf's neck. The bristle of his unshaven stubble scraped against the blond's neck as tooth and tongue made prey of exposed skin. "It's not my heels I want you to lap at. I expect you to play the part you were born to play and be my little elfin whore."

The roughness of bristle against freshly raw scrubbed skin brought a heave to Zevran's chest. Submission, however, was not an option. "And if I say no," Zevran asked derisive.

More hair spiraled about the length of Taliesin's fingers as he knotted his hand further into what had once been a meticulously styled coif. He tugged downward with little warning, jolting Zevran to his knees before him. "You won't." Determination rang true in Taliesin's expression. There was little doubt that he meant for Zevran to obey and concede defeat. First blood would be Taliesin.

Pain shot quickly through Zevran's legs as he collided with the ground indelicately and with little grace. Always with the hair and always with the roughness, Taliesin was becoming predictable. But concessions were not to be given. White flags were not to be flown. The sparring would continue and Zevran had every intention of coming out on top. He reached for the sides of Taliesin's pants, allowing fingers to slide between skin and fabric and scratch at the slope of the other man's hips.

A blond brow peaked curious, his voice slid into a sultry tone, "I take it this is what you had in mind?"

Triumph twisted Taliesin's grin. A victor's posture overtook him. "It is a good start."

Hands grab possessive at Taliesin's hips. The grip upon Zevran's hair loosened slightly, affording him enough leeway to lean forward and brush his mouth against the lacings of Taliesin's pants. Teeth bit into the leather ties and began to carefully work them loose. And when they were undone just enough, one hand raked ragged across the skin of the other man's stomach before edging into the pants.

Tender flesh fell prey to the well practiced ministrations of Zevran's digits. His gaze drifted up, finding Taliesin's. Sweet and docile, the looks Zev could form in a flash. He played his part as he imagined Taliesin would like it, the obedient elf ready to service his master in any way he should desire. It was enough to make the other relent in his malicious assault upon Zevran's head and instead withdraw his grasp to bestow a condescending pat on top of the elf's head as if he was his pet. "Now, that's a good little Dalish whore."

There was a trick that Zevran played with his index finger and thumb. He had jokingly called it his family legacy, having learned it from his whore of an adoptive mother. Taliesin's length grew under Zev's attentions. He had the other man where he wanted him and took the opportunity to make his move. That precious trick, his little legacy, was employed. Finger and thumb pressed firm and pernicious. And the human fell to his knees in a breathy cry. Another pinch, another exchange of power and Taliesin went from his knees to his side. His chest heaved in keening gasps.

Venom touched words edged in rasp from Zevran's mouth against the fallen man's ear, "I do know what you like, my dear Taliesin." Cruel fingers ripped away from Taliesin. Zevran shifted atop the other man, a knee digging into the human's back as his own hand drifted toward a boot. Metal glinted bright, a dagger withdrawn. Cloth gave way under the sharpness of the blade, the material of Taliesin's pants shorn into crooked pieces, exposing his naked backside.

The human bucked against the elf but it only spurned Zevran to dig his knee further into the prone man's spine with a sinister twist of the hip. "Stay," he commanded.

Saliva slicked against two of Zevran's fingers before he dropped his hand to Taliesin's bottom. The wetness of his touch against bared skin brought a shiver to Taliesin. Fingers glided within, a low groan emanating in the back of the prone man's throat. "As I said, I know what you like. And I do believe first blood is mine, no," Zevran asked in a whisper.

A defeated groan accompanied Taliesin's surrender; the white flag waving about in the air with a low cry of pleasure and assent. "Yes."

It was the way of their game and the elf had won. "Perhaps we should move this somewhere more comfortable such as the bed?" There was a reward to be claimed after all.


AN: This piece goes out to Lit. 3 you. HUGE thank yous go out to Midnight Strike and NotLaura for support.