He's vowed never to touch someone sexually unless they ask for it. He remembers what it's like, being forced out of bed in the middle of the night by someone bigger and stronger than him. A hand on his arm that crushes him, fingers so strong they leave black and blue marks. Grabbed by the hair and dragged if he tries to escape. The horrible pain. The anger that he wilted in the face of, that made his insides quake, and the prayers that were never answered. Cynicism and tears, in that order.

But he survived. He reminds himself that, whenever he feels afraid. Whenever he feels…tempted. He refuses to go back there, to that world. He fought for respect, fear, power. He carved out a small space of discipline in a chaotic world. Dangerous leaders came to him, for his services.

And giving in to temptation would smash that world. In the face of others' mockery, he maintains absolute control. Sometimes the effort drains him, and he gets so tired. But he forces himself to go on, denying himself what he really wants.

Because he fears that giving in will mean he is weak.

Yet, every time Jarlaxle looks at Artemis Entreri, he wonders what would happen if he just let go of his control and allowed himself to feel. Love.