Authors: elysium_fic and ambientwhispers, art by the absolutely and always brilliant, DragonReine (be sure to check out the art at her gallery, dragonreine (dot) deviantart (dot) com (slash) art (slash) The-Champion-and-His-Warden-265965211
Characters: m!Warden (Garrick Chance), m!Hawke (Gavin Hawke)
Summary:In the dream realm known as the Fade Bar, human commoner Warden, Garrick Chance, and future Champion of Kirkwall, Gavin Hawke, find one another and explore pleasure and love together. But a tragedy in Garrick's waking world prompts Gavin to take things further than they've ever gone before, to give Garrick comfort and relief.
If you wish to download this, or any of our other works, in a format suitable for a portable/e-book reader, you may do so at rcd_anon and ambientwhispers
Authors' Notes:This story was originally written for the Kink Big Bang, a project which, unfortunately, appears to be defunct, judging by the lack of updates and responsiveness from the moderator. Therefore, we are posting it here instead. Since our beta was supposed to be assigned by the KBB moderators and they never did that, it is, unfortunately, unbetaed. Hopefully not too many errors have slipped through.
The characters are taken from the Dragon Age-themed quasi-crackfic RP that goes on over at FormSpring and on IRC, in which multiple Wardens, Hawkes, and their respective NPCs, come together in the Fade.
CONTENT WARNINGS (please turn back now if you are squicked by any of the following!): Rough sex, biting, bruising, humiliation play/name calling, "forced" exhibitionism, begging, fighting, face-slapping, hair-pulling, facials, anal fisting, breath play, whipping.
Behind him. He had to find a way to put it behind him.
That was Garrick's only thought as he went up the stairs with Gavin.
Gavin? He paused, frowning. That... wasn't right. He knew a Gavin, or... he'd knowna Gavin. Gavin Hawke, the man with whom Garrick had spent only a few fleeting moments at Ostagar and Lothering, at the beginning of the Blight. But where Gavin was now, Garrick didn't know. It had been over two years now, since they'd met in passing.
Pausing on the stairs, Garrick looked around, realizing they were in some sort of tavern or inn. But that couldn't be. His last memory had been of drinking himself into a stupor in the Vigil while awaiting word of whether or not Varel would survive. Outside his window, the soldiers and servants of Vigil's Keep had been working late into the night to build pyres for the peasants who had been killed in the attempt to revolt. He couldn't be at an inn, and most certainly not with Gavin.
He looked up into Gavin's face and another piece fell into place. His lover. Yes. Gavin was his lover. A dream, then. This was a dream, of the man he'd known briefly back then, and sometimes wondered about, now.
It didn't matter where Gavin Hawke truly was, in the waking world. All that mattered to Garrick was that he was here, now, in this dream, this place in the Fade. And in that strange way dreams had of making the impossible seem commonplace, Garrick knew that they regularly came together here, that they had become lovers in the fullest sense, not merely two men who had shared a passing encounter once. He knew Gavin as completely as he knew himself.
Nodding acceptance of this, the sense of surreality about the dream faded, and it finished taking form, becoming real. Garrick took his hand, and let Gavin lead him up the stairs to their room.
He heard tales of Garrick, sometimes, even here in Kirkwall. The Hero of Ferelden, they called him, now. He'd ended the Blight, the sole surviving Grey Warden. Bodhan Feddic spoke highly of him.
Gavin dreamed of him, sometimes. More often that he should, perhaps, considering they'd barely known each other. Just long enough to exchange favors in the frigid morning on the edge of the Korcari Wilds. A final release, before a hopeless battle. It had been Garrick's first time, and Gavin had thought it a pity for the unassuming Grey Warden to die never having touched another person.
Sometimes he could still hear the moans Garrick had made, as Gavin took him into his mouth. And sometimes he could feel the warmth and softness of Garrick's lips, when he'd returned the favor days later, when they met by chance a second time in Lothering.
So it didn't surprise Gavin, to find himself here again, looking into Garrick's wounded eyes on the stairs.
In this dream, he'd known from the moment he'd seen Garrick that something was wrong. He'd greeted Gavin too sedately, without the joyous smile he normally gave. He'd recounted what had happened with the peasants who had revolted in his keep too calmly, in a near-toneless recitation. That still impassivity worried Gavin. He knew Garrick, knew that behind all that deliberation and unflappable reserve lay a near-bottomless pool of feeling. He knew how Garrick doubted himself, blamed himself, interpreted everything that went wrong as a failure on his own part. He'd seen Garrick react more strongly to far less significant events.
He'd considered pushing, trying to coax Garrick out of his withdrawal into admitting how powerfully the event had affected him. But when they got to their room, Garrick turned suddenly and kissed him, and there was such urgency, such need in that kiss that Gavin let it go. He sunk his hands into Garrick's hair, gripping firmly, and returned the kiss full measure.
Perhaps Garrick simply needed to wait before he could admit how badly it had hurt him to kill his own people. Or perhaps he needed to deal with it in a different way.
Garrick's need drove Gavin to a urgency he hadn't intended to use, in light of what Garrick had been though. He'd meant to be gentle and comforting, but Garrick was having none of that. His hands clutched at Gavin, gripping and squeezing, fervently seeking every inch of flesh he could find. His hips pressed against Gavin, his cock hard within his trousers, creating an unspeakably torturous friction.
Growling, Gavin pushed Garrick away, shoved him toward the bed. "Strip," he demanded, quickly unlacing his own trousers and pushing them down his legs. Garrick's hands shook as he obeyed, but that tortured, haunted look was gone from his face.
Gavin strode across the room to the bed, standing before Garrick, threading his fingers through Garrick's hair again and pushing on his head slightly.
Without hesitation, Garrick sank to his knees. He took Gavin's cock in his fist and dipped his head down to it, letting the musk of Gavin fill his senses. Maker, he smelled good. Pulling his fist toward the head, he gathered Gavin's foreskin around the tip of his cock, and gently began running his tongue around the cowl it formed.
Gavin groaned, and Garrick licked a little more firmly, taking small pinches of the skin gently between his lips and sucking gently upon it. Then he dipped his tongue inside the cowl, lapping the slippery fluid from the slit of Gavin's cock while the skin cupped around it. Once again, he licked at the rim, daring to introduce his teeth, nibbling with exquisite care.
Gavin gave another long groan and slowly, slowly Garrick slid the foreskin back, exposing the head as though unveiling it, the motion of his fist aided by the glide of the skin down Gavin's shaft. He ran his tongue around the flaring ridge at the bottom of the crown, teasing at the sensitive spot where the back of the shaft met the head. Stroking up and down with his hand, he opened his mouth wide and took the head inside.
He loved the taste of Gavin even more than the smell. Salt and something indefinable teased his tongue, and he moaned around the head of Gavin's cock, never easing up the stroking of his fist on the shaft. He ignored the bucking of Gavin's hips, wordlessly demanding more, and began to suck, teasing the slit with his tongue.
"Yeah. Like that." Gavin's hands stroked his hair, petting him, and Garrick wished he'd be crueler, more demanding. Anything to take away the memory of clanging steel and dying screams.
He took Gavin deeper, sucking harder, moving his fist rapidly up and down Gavin's shaft. He'd make Gavin cut loose, drive him to the brink where gentleness and consideration were the last things on his mind. Removing his hand, he gripped Gavin's hips, his fingers digging slightly into the muscles of his arse, drew a deep breath, and took Gavin all the way to the root.
"Maker! Garrick!" Gavin's hand tightened on his hair again, and that was better. That was good. When the need for breath drove him to pull back, he set a hard, rapid rhythm, moving his mouth up and down Gavin's shaft, his tongue working and stroking, one of his hands sliding between Gavin's thighs to cup his bollocks, kneading gently, a single finger occasionally sliding behind them to tease his hole.
It wasn't long before Gavin was moaning loudly, his hips bucking, thrusting minutely to meet Garrick's mouth. His thighs began to quiver, his cock grew harder, swelling in Garrick's mouth. And finally, it began to pulse and jerk, splashing seed over Garrick's tongue.
Garrick swallowed it down, then rolled his eyes up to meet Gavin's, seeking something, anything to distract him from the torrent of memory and grief that was waiting to sweep him away if he let himself think for too long. Above him, Gavin stood trembling and panting for a long moment, then looked down as Garrick gently let Gavin's softening cock slide from his mouth.
"What do you want, Garrick?"
It was a simple question, and one with which Garrick was familiar. Early on, when they'd first become lovers, Gavin had asked it a lot, teaching Garrick to put his desires into words even back when he'd barely known enough about pleasure to know what he was asking for. It should have been easy to tell Gavin what he wanted, now, but only a single sentence occurred to him.
To forget. Make me forget.
He couldn't speak that. If he said it, it'd be the same as admitting the dispassion with which he'd described the events at Vigil's Keep was nothing but a sham. And then Gavin would worry. Or worse, Gavin would want him to talk about how it made him feel. A big one for talking about things, was his Gavin. But Garrick didn't want that. He wanted to put it behind him and leave it there.
He shook his head, shrugging mutely.
Doubt assailed Gavin, doubt he couldn't let Garrick see. This wasn't about his powerlessness to help Garrick, or his frustration over Garrick's inability to admit when he was hurting. But Garrick's continued reticence troubled Gavin deeply, leaving him uncertain whether to push or to let it lie.
Letting his eyes slide farther down Garrick's body, he saw Garrick was still erect, rigid with need, and gave a nod that was more mental than physical.
First things first, then. If Garrick wanted the distraction of pleasure, Gavin would give him all he could take and then some.
"Turn around. Kneel facing the bed and bend over."
Garrick obeyed without a demur, as he almost always did when Gavin showed the slightest inclination toward commanding him. Only when Gavin pushed at the desires which Garrick was troubled to realize he possessed, did he rebel and push back. For a moment, Gavin found himself wishing this was one of those times, wishing Garrick would give vent to some of his turmoil with a physical struggle. But instead, he simply obeyed.
Soberly, Gavin reached for the pot of viscous oil they kept beside the bed, and gathered a generous dollop on his finger. Garrick sighed as Gavin smeared it across his entrance with a single finger, stroking the knotted ring for a moment before carefully sliding a finger in.
Immediately, Garrick pushed back with his hips, seeking to drive himself upon that finger, and Gavin laid a hand on his back.
"No. We're going to do this slowly. We're going to do this at my pace. I have my reasons, love. Trust me."
Garrick went still, and turned his head to look back at Gavin questioningly.
"No, Garrick," he said, not quite a sternly as he sometimes did when they played this game of control and surrender. He would be gentle, loving, if Garrick would allow it. "Don't look at me. Close your eyes and rest against the bed. Relax. Let yourself feel it, feel what I'm doing to you."
He pressed his finger in all the way to the third knuckle and then began withdrawing it, spreading the oil inside and out. Garrick sighed again, arching his back ever so slightly to open himself a bit further, encouraging more without actually demanding it.
When the muscle no longer twitched, seeking to expel Gavin's finger, he added a second one. His movements were slow, deliberate, inexorable. He knew what he intended, and he would not be hurried or distracted. When Garrick attempted to push back against him, Gavin stilled him with a hand on his back again, working his fingers in and out, slowly picking up the pace. Garrick's sighs became soft moans.
"Please. Maker... oh, Maker, Gav... need you..."
Gavin let himself smile at the plea. Of course, Garrick would assume Gavin intended to take him. This... this was something he'd never tried with Garrick before. He doubted Garrick had ever even actually considered it possible.
Gavin intended to teach him otherwise.
He brushed his fingertips across that spot inside Garrick and smiled a bit more savagely at Garrick's resulting groan. "I love it when you beg," he murmured, spreading his fingers carefully apart as he withdrew them, coaxing Garrick's muscle open still further. "You love it when I use you."
Garrick moaned again as Gavin put his two fingers together and pushed them in again. "I do! Maker, Gav... please!"
"In my time, Garrick. My time."
He spread his fingers again on the withdraw, and gathered more oil before adding a third. Garrick shuddered, arching his back again, but his moan was slightly bereft.
"What, Garrick?" he taunted, leaning down, so close that his lips brushed Garrick's ear as he murmured. "Did you think I was going to fuck you barely prepared? Take you while you're still tight? Make it hurt a little?"
Garrick groaned, his hips moving as Gavin's fingers stretched him slowly and unrelentingly. "Please..." he whispered.
"My time, Garrick. Mine." Gavin withdrew his fingers and slid them back in, as deeply as they could go, massaging that spot inside Garrick as the muscle loosened. "But don't worry. I have every intention of using you as roughly as you could possibly wish for. Just... not... yet..."
He once again spread his fingers on the withdraw, only very slightly, then closed them and drove them back inside as hard as he dared. It wouldn't do to make Garrick too sore just yet, even if he did have every intention of Garrick feeling this endeavor tomorrow.
Garrick began to beg again. "Please, Gav... please... oh, Maker... need you... please."
"You want more?" Gavin asked calmly, watching the play of muscles in Garrick's back for tension as Garrick moved and writhed.
Gavin withdrew his fingers, and added a fourth, sliding them back in slowly and with far more care than before.
Garrick went still, surprised by this development, and once again Gavin smiled slightly. "You thought I would take you?" he asked again quietly, still watching for tension or signs of pain, but there was only Garrick's trembling stillness. "No. Not yet. You're going to work for that privilege tonight. Before I fuck you, you're going to take my whole hand up your arse."
Garrick's head came up off the bed, turning once again to look back at Gavin, and Gavin let his voice grow colder, more stern. "Don't.Turn back around. I don't intend to warn you again."
He pressed his fingers deeply, slowly into Garrick until they were nearly to the knuckles, and then withdrew them, working them in and out as Garrick groaned, the tension that had crept in beginning to seep away as he pressed his face against the bedclothes and shuddered.
"Just relax, Garrick. Trust me."
"I... do... Maker..." Garrick's hands fisted in the coverlet beside his face, as Gavin rotated his wrist, twisting his bunched fingers back and forth.
"You'll tell me when you feel ready for me to go faster," Gavin said, still calmly, but adding that note of instruction or command that Garrick liked so well. He continued to move his fingers in and out, and Garrick continued to loosen around them. Still an exquisitely tight vise, but one that offered a bit more yield than it had before.
After a moment, Garrick whispered, "Please... now..."
Gavin picked up the pace, using his voice to arouse Garrick still further. "Your arse feels so good and tight around my fingers. I love it. It looks amazing, seeing you take them. I wish you could see. I can't wait to have my whole hand inside you. Can't wait."
Beneath his hand, the skin of Garrick's back grew damp and slick with sweat as the perspiration of exertion, and though his hips occasionally rocked uncontrollably, he knelt there, pliant and receptive.
"Maker, Gav... feels good... please..." Garrick's begging drifted off into an incoherent gibberish, gasped and moaned as he rubbed his face against the coverlet.
Gavin spread his fingers, testing the resistance Garrick's arse offered, thrusting them back in. He stroked across the spot within Garrick, pushing as deep as he could go, all the way past the third knuckles to where the webbing of the thumb caught. He twisted and rotated his hand over and over, inserting it at all angles, until the ridge of his knuckles passed with only minimal resistance through the tight ring of Garrick's arse.
And through it all was the ever-escalating chorus of Garrick's moans.
Garrick's responsiveness, his receptiveness, his utter trust fueled something savage in Gavin, something that hungered to see just how far he could push Garrick. Even knowing these encounters to be dreams, he'd been cautious when he first learned how much Garrick enjoyed it when he asserted control, gradually working up to new things to try.
Garrick had never hesitated. He'd only balked occasionally, and then only for the thrill of resisting and seeing how Gavin would respond to his resistance. He had plunged headlong into the exploration of pleasure with a determination that seemed that was as strangely at odds with his reserved demeanor as Gavin's caution was to his own brashness.
He was already getting hard again, despite his release in Garrick's mouth only a short while ago. Seeing his fingers disappearing into Garrick, seeing Garrick opening to him, accepting him... it was a powerful vision, and that savage something revelled in it. To have that power over Garrick, to condition and compel his body to receive that which it was never intended to receive... it was a heady, triumphant feeling.
Gavin withdrew his hand, coated it with more grease, and folded his thumb into his palm. He heard himself groan softly as his fingers disappeared into Garrick once more, the sight of it made more powerful by anticipation. He placed a hand on Garrick's back, pressing downward, urged him with soft commands to arch his spine, to bear down and push back. Garrick obeyed, rocking back slightly, and the widest part of Gavin's hand slid into him, and Garrick's body began tuggingat his hand, drawing it deeper inside, all the way to the wrist, gripping him like an exquisite vise.
Gavin's startled exclamation was drowned out by Garrick's wail, his entire body shuddering powerfully. And then, almost abruptly, his moans and pleas stopped.
There was no word to describe the sensation. "Stretching" was pale and inadequate. "Full" didn't begin to touch it.
Possessed, Garrick's mind whispered.
Yes. That was it. It wasn't just Gavin's hand filling his arse, it was Gavin, himself, filling Garrick's entire being, taking him over as though he were no more than a puppet on a lead.
He wondered if mages felt the same way, the moment they surrendered to temptation and let demons take them over.
But instead of corrupting him into an abomination, Gavin was freeing him, releasing Garrick from trouble, from sorrow, from duty and obligation and responsibility, turning him into a creature of pure sensation. It was almost as terrifying as it was exhilarating, but Garrick couldn't bring himself to stop it. He was floating, drifting, soaring. He heard moans and wails and knew they were coming from his mouth, but they didn't matter. All that mattered was this disconnected, trance-like state where he belonged to Gavin, body and soul.
He'd felt peaceful before, letting Gavin take control, but it was nothing to this sense of euphoria.
"Gorgeous," Gavin murmured softly behind him. The sound of his voice kept Garrick anchored, tethered to the present.
He felt Gavin's hand withdraw and slide back in, a bit faster, harder, deeper, more sure. He gripped handfuls of the coverlet, his mouth open and gasping, biting on the bedclothes from time to time when the overwhelming sensation became too muchand he wanted to get away from it, win a reprieve. But he couldn't. With the bed before him, bent over it as it was, be couldn't crawl forward, or lie down or make any move to escape. He was trapped, pinned between Gavin and the bed.
All he could do was to surrender. Receive.
Suddenly he heard the clash of steel on steel. His hands began to tingle, as they had the first instant his sword bit into the wooden handle of a pitchfork. Garrick's eyes flew open, and immediately Gavin's hand within him stilled. Only then did Garrick realize he'd gone stiff with tension.
"Are you hurt?"
How did he answer that question? It ached, being so completely stretched, and it had been uncomfortable, when Gavin's hand had worked it's way into him. Garrick knew he'd be sore in the morning, but no, it didn't hurt in the sense Gavin meant.
And he didn't want to tell Gavin what had truly jolted him away from that place. To tell Gavin would be to begin to experience it again, and all he wanted to do was forget.
He shook his head, hiding his face, his eyes, in the bedclothes, and pushed the sound of clanging swords and screaming peasants from his mind.
"No. 'M all right. Don't stop. Please."
Gavin pulled his hand back slightly and thrust it forward softly, and Garrick moaned, his entire body going limp. Memory fled before the onslaught of sensation. He gripped the coverlet, his fists twisting in the fabric as he nearly sobbed at the intensity.
Beneath him, his cock — which had started to wilt when he had been jerked out of that place of surrender — surged painfully back to life, rigid and dripping. Maker, he wanted... oh, if he could just spend like this, with Gavin's hand filling his arse, stretching him.
One of his hands untangled from the bedclothes and began a slow descent toward his groin, and the motion of Gavin's hand inside him stopped again.
"No, Garrick." Gavin's voice was soft, but unyielding. "You don't come until I say you can come."
It was a torment in its own right, to leave his cock untouched, unstimulated, so painfully hard while Gavin's hand thrust within him. Gavin moved slowly at first, and steadily picked up his pace, getting more cautiously demanding. Garrick heard himself groaning, crying out, overpowered, overwhelmed by the feeling of Gavin's hand stretching him, of the motion that ran back and forth across that spot inside him.
It seemed to go on forever, Gavin's hand filling him, fucking him. His cock throbbed, his balls tight and aching. The slightest brush would bring him, he thought wildly, desperately. He rocked his hips, seeking friction blindly, but there was nothing to give him relief.
Finally the motion of Gavin's hand slowed, and he pulled it slowly out of Garrick. Garrick gave a moan that was equal parts desolation and relief, the emptiness far more unbearable than the fullness had been.
And his cock still ached, the pressure in his balls explosive.
"Please..." he whispered brokenly, the undulation of his hips unrestrained without Gavin's hand inside him. His cock bobbed as he moved, desperate for touch. "Please..."
"That's it," Gavin murmured, reaching for a cloth and wiping his hand. "Beg me."
He tried. He tried to force his tongue to form the obscene supplications Gavin wanted to hear, the depraved and undignified pleas he would never utter except in these moments of extremis, but it wouldn't. All that rose to his lips was that single word, please, over and over. The ache of his knees for kneeling on the hard floor so long was an afterthought. All that mattered was finishing this, ending the torment of unsatisfied arousal.
The motion of his hips grew more urgent, his moans almost frantic as he began to fear Gavin might withhold fulfillment for his failure.
"That'll do... for now." Even as he spoke the words, Gavin knew he shouldn't be letting Garrick off the hook. At best, it shattered the illusion of control. At worst, it jerked Garrick out of that place he went in his mind when Gavin began to exert control over him. He'd made that mistake once or twice, early on, when they were still learning each other. Garrick liked a firm hand.
But as Gavin thought of what Garrick had been through in his waking world — strange, these dreams felt so real that he could think of it that way — he realized he didn't wantto be pitiless. He wanted to offer Garrick comfort and reassurance, rather than cruelty. If only Garrick would let himself accept...
"Please... please... please..."Garrick muttered desperately over and over, his face buried in the bedclothes.
"I believe I made a promise to take you as roughly as you could possibly wish for," he gloated, and a shudder ran through Garrick's entire body. His spine arched, his buttocks pulling apart slightly with the motion, spreading himself for Gavin.
"Please... Maker, please..."
In a single continuous movement, Gavin lined himself up and plunged into Garrick's oiled and stretched arse. Garrick let out a moan that was nearly a wail, and Gavin knew he must be tender. But he clawed and bit at the bedclothes, still groaning that refrain.
"Maker, yes... please, Gav, please..."
Sometimes it still astonished Gavin how Garrick, the reserved, unassuming virgin he'd met at Ostagar years ago, had such a penchant for pain and brutal pleasure. It was as though all those things he held in check behind that unflappable facade came out under duress and rough handling.
That flash of insight startled Gavin for a moment, made him pause when he was buried to the hilt inside Garrick. He'd been going about this all wrong, he realized suddenly. Gentleness and comfort wasn't going to get him through Garrick's reserve to the turmoil within.
"Ah, Maker! Please... please..."
With a growl, Gavin cut loose the last of his own reserve, driving into Garrick, making up for the stimulation that was missing due to the lack of tightness with sheer force. Each slap of his hips against Garrick's arse jarred him, made his balls swing and slap against Garrick's with near-painful force.
"You like that?" he snarled, seizing Garrick's hair and jerking his head back at an uncomfortable angle. "Admit it, Garrick. You like it when I hurt you, when I use you with no more consideration than I'd pay the lowest whore."
A wordless moan, muffled by the bedclothes, was Garrick's only response as he began to rock, driving himself back upon Gavin, seeking more. Gavin knew Garrick had to be sore, and agonizingly aroused, and yet still he repeated that single plea.
He drove into Garrick until sweat poured off both of them, making it difficult to get a grip on Garrick. He drove into him until his own muscles, hardened by years of battle, trembled with exhaustion. His voice was a harsh, breathless rasp as he asked,
"Do you want to come?"
"Maker! Yes, please..."
"Not... until I'm... done with you!" he growled, and slammed into Garrick a final time, groaning as his own release surged up from his balls and pumped deep inside Garrick's arse. Garrick wailed again, a bereft sound, and Gavin curled a hand around Garrick's hip and brought him with a just a few firm pulls, spurting into Gavin's palm.
When it was over, they both hunched there, sweating, panting, exhausted and still but for the occasional twitch or shudder.
It took a long moment, to summon the energy to move, to force his voice into that cold, stern tone Garrick liked so well.
"Feel that? Feel my spunk dripping out of your arse?" Gavin drew out of Garrick, leaving a slimy trail of mingled oil and seed across his buttock. He reached around Garrick's ribs and rolled one of the small, hard nubs of Garrick's nipples between his fingertips before pinching firmly. He increased the pressure until Garrick's body tightened, his spine arching. "You like it, don't you? Like feeling all wet and filthy, like some gutter-dwelling whore? Like me leaving it behind in you, using you as nothing more than a hole to come in?"
He pinched Garrick's other nipple even harder, and Garrick writhed, stopping just short of struggling.
"You should thank me for it," Gavin murmured. "Thank me for letting you carry my seed inside you."
Garrick shook his head, and Gavin pinched his other nipple again, his fingers clamping down until Garrick cried out. "Can't. Please!"
He soothed Garrick's aching nipples with his palm. Garrick whimpered, low and soft, shivering.
Behind Garrick, Gavin frowned. Normally, by this point in a game, he'd be so far gone he'd recite the Chant of Light backward if Gavin demanded it of him.
Gavin wrenched Garrick's head back again and thrust his hand, covered in Garrick's own seed, at Garrick's face.
He forced his fingers between Garrick's lips, smiling grimly, as Garrick sucked them clean.
And still Garrick didn't speak, beyond the barest necessary courtesies. Gavin took him to the bath and cleaned him of sweat and seed, then tucked him into bed and held him for hours, and still there was a reserve to Garrick. He hadn't managed to break through, and it troubled him.
Garrick was a calm and quiet man, but this brooding reticence wasn't like him at all.
In the strange way of dreams, time passed, hours speeding by in a single minute. Somehow, suddenly it was the next day, and Gavin's lips were soft and warm on Garrick's shoulders, as he trailed teasing fingers down the length of Garrick's torso.
"How are you feeling?" he asked smoothly, and Garrick could feel pressure where Gavin's hips nestled against his arse. It awoke a corresponding tugging in his bollocks as he began to stiffen, even as he shuddered.
"Sore." Garrick chuckled, forcing aside the melancholy turn of his thoughts that came with thinking about his life as a Warden. Last night he'd come to this dream-place distraught, the screams of dying peasants — his people — echoing in his ears as they fell under the blades of his soldiers, cut down in the futile revolt he hadn't been clever or convincing enough to talk them down from.
More people dead due to his failure.
This place was his escape, his haven in a world turned unspeakably bleak. Gavinwas his sanctuary. Here, lying beside him, he could let all that go, and just be Gavin's.
Sore. He was sore. Sore from Gavin's whole hand inside him, stretching him. Sore from the way Gavin had driven in to him, over and over, afterward.
Maker, he loved that ache.
"Good." Garrick felt Gavin move, shift, and then his mouth was against the side of Garrick's neck, teeth lightly scraping over bruises and bite-marks several days old and fading. Garrick shuddered, releasing a needy sigh. "I may need to mark you again soon."
"Please..." Garrick whispered, craning his head, baring his neck for Gavin's teeth. The pressure that had just begun to mount in his bollocks suddenly leapt into full-on arousal, his cock filling and tightening with almost painful speed.
"Please, what?" Gavin asked, a gentle, taunting note in his voice. This was his favorite game, making Garrick beg, making him spill desperate confessions of the shameless things he wanted to do, and the shameful things he wanted done to him. Out in the waking world, he was still a virgin, save for those fleeting moments at Ostagar and Lothering. But here... here he could spin out a near-endless stream of debauched desires.
Except today he couldn't. Today, he shook his head mutely, unable to put into words what it was he wanted, even though it was a simple thing. A thing they did frequently. Gavin's teeth on his neck, hurting him, biting hard enough to leave bruises. Gavin's mouth, sucking on those rings of impressions until the skin was mottled red and purple. With these marks did Gavin claim him, possess him, let everyone they encountered know that Garrick was his.
For some reason, though, Garrick couldn't speak that desire. Every time he opened his mouth to try, he heard the clashing of steel, screaming of slaughtered peasants who had looked to him for protection, and felt anger surging up within him.
"Please, what?" Gavin's voice grew harsher, and yet oddly quieter, as his hand slid into Garrick's hair and jerked, tugging his head back. Garrick met his stern eyes helplessly. Maker, why couldn't he just ask for it?
The sound of clanging swords was his only answer.
Garrick felt anger welling up within him; anger at himself for not being able to speak the words Gavin required of him. Anger at Gavin for pushing him again. Anger at the world for forcing him over and over into situations people died because he was too inept find a way to save them. His rage boiled and churned inside him, and he forced it away, shoved it aside. He was here, with Gavin. Gavin would protect him. Gavin would make him feel wonderful again, if only he could let all that go and just be Gavin's.
He shook his head helplessly, pleading with Gavin with his eyes, the words reluctant upon his tongue.
"I don't intend to mark you again until you beg for it," Gavin said, his tone strangely tender and at odds with the distant coldness of his expression, after studying him for a long moment. He released Garrick's hair and stroked his throat. "These bruises here will fade, and no one will see how you're mine. Is that really what you want?"
Garrick shook his head. "Please, Gav..."
Gavin tipped his head toward his shoulder in a careless shrug. "If you want it, beg me for it."
He tried. He did. His mouth worked wordlessly, but all he could hear was the clashing of swords, so loud it drowned out any attempt to speak.
Gavin pushed on his shoulders, rolled Garrick onto his belly, kissing his way down Garrick's spine. "Get up on your knees again."
With a groan that was half-anticipation and half-dread, Garrick obeyed, drawing his knees up, hugging a pillow to his chest as he lifted his arse up. He gave a small whimper as he felt Gavin's hands close hard upon his buttocks, spreading him wide, exposing him with a bruising grip. Gavin's breath brushed across his tender hole.
"You want to feel my tongue on you, don't you?"
Garrick squirmed beneath those hard, gripping hands. "Yesss..." he breathed softly, desperately afraid that, like the marking, this was something Gavin would deny him if he didn't beg for it. Luckily, that didn't seem to be what Gavin had in mind.
Maker, the feel of Gavin's tongue on his arse while it was still sore... Ten times, a hundred times more than he normally felt it. Garrick moaned loudly, gripping the pillow beneath him tightly as Gavin swirled just the tip of his tongue around Garrick's aching arsehole, teasing.
It felt so good. And in that pleasure lay forgetfulness. Something he could lose himself in. A place where the screams of dying men and women who just wanted protection from the darkspawn and grain to feed their families couldn't follow him.
Gavin's tongue probed a little more firmly, his hands releasing Garrick's arse cheeks, only to seize them harder, spread them more insistently.
"Mine," Gavin growled behind him, gentling his licks again. Garrick felt something in him loosen at the word, felt himself sinking into the feel of Gavin's tongue and hands, yielding.
"Yes," Garrick sighed, his body undulating, rocking to meet and then retreat from those teasing flicks of Gavin's tongue. "Maker, yes. Gav..."
The sudden crack of Gavin's hard hand against his arse, on that tender spot where it met his thigh, drew a startled yelp from Garrick.
"No. Not 'Gav.' Not today." Gavin's voice was calm. Cold. Each word deliberately and precisely enunciated. No one would ever know he'd grown up on a farm outside Lothering. No one would ever guess how tender he could be.
Garrick settled after the smack, relaxing by slow increments. But though Gavin's breath once again blew across his arse, there was nothing more.
He was waiting.
"Hmm." Gavin seemed to ponder it, stroking his fingernails over the warm, tingling patch where he'd slapped. "No. Not that, either. You need to remember just who you belong to. Belong to, Garrick." He drew back, and his other hand fell on the other side, harder than the first blow had been. "Mine. My property. My possession.Mine to use. Mine to hurt."
Garrick moaned softly, shuddering. "Yes... Master."
Gavin leaned in close, and his tongue passed firmly over Garrick's sore arsehole in a long, slow, broad lick. Garrick writhed, moving helplessly in his pleasure.
"If you're so eager to belong to me, ask me to mark you. Beg me for it," Gavin taunted, cupping Garrick's buttocks again, pulling with his thumbs to draw Garrick open as his tongue flicked and probed at the tender ring.
"Please..." Garrick whispered, arching his back, spreading himself still further. But further words, the words Gavin needed from him, continued to elude him.
Gavin thrust his tongue roughly against Garrick's tight, aching hole, pushing firmly, pressing it into him. It was the perfect mixture of pleasure and discomfort, soothing and warm even as it awoke the residual ache from the night before, leaving Garrick melting into the bed, whimpering and moaning helplessly.
His cock was hard beneath him, dripping, brushing against the bedclothes as he rocked and shifted, seeking more.
Gavin let out a soft growl as he continued to thrust his tongue hard into Garrick. He knew how intense it would feel to him, knew how much it had to be driving him closer to his limit.
He drew back, stroking his tongue broadly over Garrick's opening again once, twice. He was rewarded with a loud moan, but no more.
"You will notcome until you've been properly marked, Garrick." Gavin carefully kept his voice cold, detached. He couldn't let Garrick hear his concern, couldn't let Garrick know he was worried. "And you won't be marked... until you beg me for it."
There was a long hesitation again. "Please..." Garrick breathed, and Gavin knew how close he was by the thready, desperate sound of that single word. If he were to reach around Garrick's hip at that moment and take him in-hand, Gavin knew it would be only a few strokes, a few more licks across his hole, before Garrick erupted all over Gavin's hand again.
Even as he watched and waited, Garrick arched his spine again, shifting to rub his cock against the bedclothes, seeking friction.
Gavin sat up, drawing his hand back and letting it fall hard upon the same tender spot again. "Did I say you could do that? You will notcome, I told you." He cocked his head to the side slightly, considering his options.
"Get your trousers. We're going downstairs for breakfast." Gavin stood up from the bed, fetching his own and stepping into the legs. "You'll need your energy for today, I'm sure."
There was a hint of resentment, rebellion, in Garrick's eyes as he pushed himself up off the bed. His movements were abrupt, jerky, his jaw tense. What had begun as Gavin trying to coax unwilling words from Garrick's lips was quickly becoming a contest of wills. He'd seen Garrick like this before — locked in his own thoughts, unable to submit without first putting up a struggle. Never this badly, though. Garrick dressed in silence, lacing his trousers over his erection, his expression almost mutinous.
Good. The harder he fought back, the more he'd let go when Gavin finally managed to break him down.
Gavin opened the door, turning back to give Garrick a decidedly cruel smile. "After you. I want them all to see just how worked up you are." This would be the next game he'd play, forcing Garrick to show himself off. The being forced to make an exhibition of himself was something he knew aroused Garrick, even as he fought it every step of the way. It would be perfect.
Again, Garrick gave him that mulish look, striding out the door quickly, the bulge in the front of his trousers rampantly evident. Gavin had to walk fast to keep up with him, and when Garrick reached the bottom of the stairs, Gavin saw just what form his mutiny was going to take.
This dream-place where Gavin imagined himself with Garrick took the form of a tavern or an inn. Downstairs, there was always food and drink ready for those who wished to serve themselves. The common room was always crowded, and in that vague, indistinct way of dreams, the people were all familiar. Laica, Lilian, Julian, Olivia, Kathil... Many of them called out greetings and offered smiles and acknowledgment as Garrick and Gavin entered, but Gavin's attention was on Garrick.
He folded his hands before his groin, hiding the bulge until he reached the trestle table where the food was spread out. Garrick lingered behind its concealment as he filled dishes for the two of them, which was his usual habit. They didn't often call it service, or remark on it. For Garrick, it was simply that he liked taking care of Gavin.
Retrieving the coffee was much the same. He used the activities to distract from his arousal, to keep moving so that no one got a good look at him, until finally he sank down on a bench at a rough wooden table.
Gavin shook his head firmly. "Stand up. You're not going to hide that. Take off your trousers. I meant it when I said I wanted everyone to see just how hard you are."
Garrick glowered as he slowly pushed himself up from the bench, perched right there on the edge of refusal, before finally pulling on the laces of his trousers and finally slipping them down his hips. This was exactly what Gavin wanted—he wanted Garrick to wantto fight. Once Garrick stepped out of the trousers, Gavin bent to pick them up, folding them and tucking them under his arm.
Maker, Garrick was a breath away from pushing back, Gavin could see it in his face, in the anger flashing in his jade-green eyes. Why wasn't he fighting yet? Gavin wondered. Probably some aspect of Garrick's odd, stiff-necked pride that only Garrick understood. He'd be more shamed by letting the others in the common room see him rebel against Gavin than he would be with them seeing him obey. He took pride in his submission, even when he struggled with it. Especially when he struggled with it. The harder it was for him to do it, the more he wanted it. He considered being unable to give in, or fighting against it, a failure.
A dark red hue had crept up from his chest, spreading over his shoulders and suffusing his face, as he removed his trousers. He was humiliated, standing before all the people around them, nude and rampantly erect. It didn't matter that, in this dream-place, such displays went unremarked, but for the occasional furtive or admiring glance. Gavin knew that for Garrick, it was the exposure, the inability to disguise his need, that truly shamed him.
Yet still he knelt, obeying in spite of his urge to rebel.
Gavin sat down on the bench in front of where Garrick knelt, turning to pick up a slice of bacon. He would push Garrick's limits today, here in front of everyone. Garrick would fight back; he'd make sure of it.
He broke off a small piece, holding it in front of Garrick's lips. He remained silent, and he knew that Garrick would know what he expected of him.
Shame. Shame so deep it made him feel sick. So deep he wanted to weep with it, or rage against it. That was what churned within him, as Gavin offered him a piece of bacon.
And yet he couldn't quell the words that fell from his lips in an anguished, humiliated whisper. "Please, Gav..."
Please, what? Garrick wondered, unsure what he intended to ask. Please, don't make me do this? Or please don't stop?
He should fight. He knew he should fight. No man of pride and self-respect should want to be treated this way, or be so agonizingly hardas it happened. That was the worse part; that his cock still stood erect, a chilly bead of fluid leaking from the head, making a lie of every bit of rebellion, every protest.
Gavin's face and expression grew cold. "Whatdid you call me?"
Garrick's face crumpled slightly, and words caught in his throat. Gavin seized his jaw in the hand not holding the bacon, squeezing, his fingertips digging in to Garrick's cheeks.
"Address me properly," Gavin said slowly, each word precisely enunciated for extra emphasis.
Fight, or give in? Once again, Garrick hovered there on the brink of choice. To fight, before all these people, was somehow unthinkable. Because he knew, if he fought back, he'd lose. Not because Gavin was quicker, or stronger, or tougher, but because Garrick wantedto lose. Even that, even fighting back would be a lie, and everyone would know it.
"Please, Master." The words came out in a whisper, and still he didn't know what he was asking for.
Gavin once again offered the piece of bacon as he relaxed his grip on Garrick's jaw.
"You'll eat from my hand today, like a mabari bitch sitting at her master's feet," his smooth voice taunted, and again Garrick felt that white-hot flash of shame searing him from the inside, making his eyes burn even as he reluctantly opened his mouth for the proffered bite.
Gavin alternated, feeding himself and offering Garrick bites, while Garrick knelt there, his face burning with shame, feeling the eyes of everyone in the tavern watching him. Exposed. Degraded. And still so hard... Maker, so damned hard. Each bite he had to force himself to accept only made the ache tighter, more insistent.
Each bite became a little easier, a little more peaceful. His thoughts grew still, more calm. The world narrowed to Gavin and this strange mixture of humiliation and contentment. This was what he'd wanted, even as he warred with it in his own mind. For Gavin to take him away, take care of him, make him feel safe...
... Make him forget.
But Gavin was watching him, and Garrick felt uneasy beneath that sharp, assessing gaze that somehow seemed displeased despite his obedience. It was almost as if Gavin wasn't happy with the fact that Garrick was obeying, accepting. Gavin barely looked at the plates as he continued to feed Garrick bite after bite, until the eggs and bacon were gone.
Gavin cocked his head to the side slightly, his eyes seeming to search over Garrick's face as if he were looking for something. Slowly, he turned and rose off the bench. "Take out my cock, Garrick."
Garrick blinked, staring up at Gavin, some of that peaceful, cared-for feeling falling away. Not here, not like this. Not today. He looked off to the side, at the other denizens of this dream-place, as their interest in the proceedings grew more acute.
Gavin's voice grew colder, more stern. "Take out my cock now,Garrick."
Garrick swallowed hard, his attention drawn back to Gavin. The air felt cold where it brushed the damp tip of his cock, still hard and ready, even now, even with rebellion welling up in him. He crushed it down, mercilessly. Not today. If he let himself go that far, released control enough to fight back and let himself be beaten down, it would all be over. He couldn't. He couldn't.
Hanging his head, he unlaced Gavin's trousers and took his cock out. Normally, he might try to stroke it, or slip some sign on eagerness into his way of handling Gavin. Today, he simply waited, both aroused and wretched.
Gavin reached forward and ran his fingers through Garrick's hair, stopping the motion at the back of his head and grasping a rough handful. Slowly, he drew Garrick forward until his lips were touching the head of his cock.
Again, he felt another surge of rebellion, and again, he squashed it ruthlessly. Maker. It was like Gavin wanted to drive him into putting up a fight. What he was asking... somehow it was harder, than just taking Gavin into his mouth and sucking. In sucking, in giving Gavin pleasure, he retained an element of control. But kissing Gavin's cock... It was like an obeisance. There was a subservience to what Gavin was demanding, something that wasn't there in mere pleasure. It was harder to make himself do.
And still he did it, forcing himself to obey, struggling against himself, rather than Gavin. He heeded that tug on his hair and laid his lips on the crown of Gavin's cock, knowing he looked ridiculous and worshipful to the onlookers as he did so.
"Look at that. So eager to do exactly what I say, aren't you? Even with everyone watching. They can see it, you know. They saw how you kissed my cock like you couldn't wait to have it in your mouth, like you love every second of this." Gavin taunted, smoothly. He tugged hard on Garrick's hair again. "Show them what an eager cocksucker you are."
Maker! It stung, that shame, that burning humiliation, made even more potent by Gavin's mockery. Before he could control the gesture, Garrick found himself shaking his head in denial, both of the words and the truth behind them. A momentary flare of resistance, as he glared up at Gavin.
The corners of Gavin's mouth turned up in a cruel smile. "You can't deny it, Garrick. I know how much you love having my cock in your mouth, and I know how much you love doing it in front of everyone. You lovepeople knowing how much you enjoy sucking me—even how much you love having my cock rammed down your throat. Would you rather I did that instead?"
Too much, too much, the idea of letting these people seeGavin do that to him. Garrick surged to his feet, shoving Gavin back, glaring angrily.
Gavin's eyes narrowed dangerously as he stepped toward Garrick. For a long, silent moment, he stared at Garrick, pulling the laces on his trousers closed, knotting them quickly. "So nowyou'll fight back? Good." He once again took a handful of Garrick's hair, pulling him closer by the grip. "If fighting back is what you have to do before you'll suck my cock, then that's what we'll do." He yanked Garrick back roughly, moving toward the stairs and dragging Garrick behind him.
Garrick stumbled helplessly after Gavin, seizing the hand that was tangled in his hair at the wrist in both of his own hands, but able to free himself without ripping his own hair out. He fell once or twice, on that interminable trip up the stairs, agonizingly aware of the eyes upon him, the other inhabitants of the tavern witnessing the spectacle he made. Gavin stopped when he fell and hauled him back to his feet roughly, shaking him by that grip in his hair and taunting him for not being able to keep up as they gained the top of the stairs.
Gavin practically slammed Garrick against the planks of the door to their room, gripping his face in a brutal grasp that would leave bruises on his cheeks. Garrick thrashed, snarling at Gavin, pushing against him, trying to shove him away, but he couldn't break that grip on his hair.
"You want to fight me? Then fight me.The harder you fight, the more ready I'll be to shove my cock down your throat when you're beaten." Gavin paused to force a kiss on Garrick's unresponsive mouth. As he drew away, Garrick thrust against his chest, with both hands, managing to drive him back a few inches despite Gavin's leverage. It didn't do him much good, other than to make the grasp of Gavin's hand in his hair more painful. Immediately, Gavin drove forward, crushing Garrick against the door and driving the breath from him in a rush.
Gasping and panting, Garrick continued his futile struggle. Pinned, unable to escape, he snapped at Gavin, missing biting him only by virtue of Gavin's swift reflexes.
His hand flashed out, rocking Garrick's face to the side as the crack of his hand against Garrick's cheek rang out in the hallway. Gavin bared his teeth in a savage grin.
Maker help him, he loved this. Loved that momentary flash of shock, of disbelief and humiliation and yes, even fear, whenever he slapped Garrick. It's why he didn't do it often. He didn't want it to get old, or commonplace. He wanted each time to be as startling as the first time had been.
He reined in his surge of feral glee at the melting look of vulnerability in Garrick's watering eyes, there and then gone in a fleeting instant before his eyes narrowed into a glare. A patch of red was blossoming across his tanned cheek, filling in imprints that had blanched briefly. That, and the burning of his fingers told Gavin how hard he'd actually struck him. Harder than he ever had before. Too hard?Gavin forced himself not to bite his lip as a moment of uncertainty nagged at him. No. Garrick knew what to say to stop this, if it became too much.
And that glare, so full of bristling defiance, said Garrick wasn't nearly done fighting yet. Garrick flinched as Gavin's hand shot down, but Gavin merely smiled calmly and turned the doorknob, sending Garrick sprawling into their chambers as the panel swung open abruptly.
Gavin stepped over Garrick's legs, looking down at him for a long moment and assessing his level of defiance. He'd looked shocked that Gavin had let him fall, but that had quickly passed and he was once again glaring at Gavin, his eyes tight as he began to move, rolling to push himself toward his feet.
Gavin bent at the waist, roughly grabbing another handful of Garrick's hair and pulling hard. "Get up."
He was unprepared for the flurry which which Garrick launched himself at him, almost managing to catch Gavin around the waist and tackle him. Gavin nearly lost his grip on Garrick's hair, and Garrick cried out in pain at the resulting pull his effort had caused. Gavin managed to brace against the lunge, catching Garrick's wrist in his hand and driving him back toward the wall.
"That's it. That's it. Fight me."
Garrick snarled again as Gavin slammed his hand against the wall, pinning it by the wrist. His free hand lashed out, but he pulled the blow, not quitedaring to go all out and actually hit Gavin. Gavin smiled mockingly, knowing that with that unwillingness to commit himself fully to resisting, Garrick had resigned himself to losing.
"I'm not stopping until you beg me to mark you. None of this stops until then. You can fight as long as you please, and you can beg me to stop all you want, and I won't." Gavin tightened his grip on Garrick's wrist, still giving him that mocking smile. He reached for Garrick's other wrist, catching it in an equally rough grip, slamming it against the wall on the opposite side of Garrick's head.
"Fight it, Garrick. Fight me. Get out of this. You know you want to, don't you?"
Garrick glared at his, his eyes glinting furiously... and with a touch of desperation. He tried to jerk his arms away from the wall, but Gavin had the advantage, able to use his weight and leverage to keep Garrick pinned. "Fuck you!" he grated, his breath harsh between clenched teeth as he once again attempted to lunge out of Gavin's grasp.
Gavin relaxed his grip on Garrick's wrists only long enough to allow him to pull back from the wall, then he swiftly twisted one of his arms up behind his back, slamming him forward into the wall again. He leaned forward, chuckling darkly before dragging his teeth along the shell of Garrick's ear. "You know how to make this end, Garrick. You know what you have to beg for."
Garrick pushed with his free arm, forcing himself away from the wall, but Gavin only wrenched the arm behind him up tighter, dragging an involuntary groan of pain from Garrick's throat. Gavin shoved Garrick forward again into the wall, throwing his whole weight into it, grinding the bulge in his trousers against Garrick's arse.
"Feel that? You're going to swallow that before we're done here."
Garrick pushed away from the wall again, but his efforts were weakening. Gavin had to grip Garrick's wrist tighter, his grip slipping due to the sweat that slicked his skin. Gavin thrust against his arse in a mimicry of fucking, taunting Garrick with the fact that he could no longer feel the ache he'd awoken with.
"You ready to give up yet?" Gavin whispered, biting gently at Garrick's earlobe. He allowed himself a small smile as Garrick shuddered at the feel of Gavin's breath on his ear, but quickly grew stern again. "Ready to beg me properly to mark you? Ready to kneel in front of me like a common whore, for me to shove my cock down your throat?"
Garrick groaned, a sound that was far less defiance than needful, desperate pleasure. The tension ebbed out of his body, until he rested limply against the wall, panting, but otherwise pliant. Gavin seized his hair again, dragging his head back at a nearly painful angle, and only then releasing his arm.
"Turn around and kneel," he commanded when no renewal of Garrick's rebellion was forthcoming. Garrick was still for a long, trembling moment... and then he obeyed, turning to face Gavin and sinking to his knees.
Gavin looked down at Garrick, kneeling before him, and pulled back hard on Garrick's hair to turn his face up. "So you are just giving up, then? Just like that?" he taunted, in an effort to test Garrick's compliance. It wouldn't do for Garrick to still be resisting once he moved forward—the risk for injury was far too great, and he didn't particularly want to explain to a mage why he needed thathealed.
"Or... are you really that hungry for my cock in your mouth? All I have to do is tease you with the idea of tasting me, and you're on your knees and ready." Gavin bent down and kissed Garrick hard, pulling firmly on the handful of hair he held in his fist. "You really are a greedy whore."
Garrick moaned, his lips clinging to Gavin's, his hands lifting as though he would touch Gavin and didn't quite dare. They hovered for a moment, then fell to his sides. There was a finality to their fall, as though only then was Garrick's surrender complete.
Gavin smiled against Garrick's lips before straightening again. Perfect. "Go ahead, then. Take out my cock again, Garrick."
His hands shook as he complied, the familiarity of performing this task in no way lessening his arousal. Maker, it ached, the pressure in his cock, as he knelt there nude and defeated, knowing he belonged to Gavin utterly. He opened Gavin's trousers and drew his erection out again, breathing deep as Gavin's musk surrounded him.
Gavin dropped his voice slightly, still retaining the stern overtone. "Open your mouth, Garrick, and put out your tongue. I think you've earned the privilege of me using your mouth."
Garrick shuddered again, swaying slightly there on his knees. This... Maker, this... Gavin had only done it once, demanding he present his mouth this way. Garrick's brow furrowed, his humiliation profound. It was one thing to know he was beaten, to know he'd be taken; it was something else entirely to offer himself up for it.
With a moan of abject shame, he let his mouth fall open, and extending his tongue for Gavin to lay his cock upon.
Gavin stroked his hand over his cock a few times, a small smile beginning to curl the corners of his lips. "I can't wait, Garrick. I love using you, and here you are, just presenting yourself to be used." He pulled Garrick's head closer by his hair, dragging the head of his cock over Garrick's exposed tongue.
The waiting was an agony, there on his knees, the salt of Gavin's cock tingling his tongue. With each stroke, each breath, each taunt he felt himself sinking further, yielding more to Gavin. It was peaceful and even a touch exhilarating, but also terrifying, for he knew what would come with this surrender, this relinquishing of control. When the shame and heady pleasure had passed, there would still be the horror of his people, screaming and dying under the blades of his soldiers, and he would have no defense against it.
He closed his eyes against the burning in them, and continued to wait as Gavin teased him.
Gavin tightened his grip again in Garrick's hair, holding his head firm as he slowly pressed his cock further into his mouth. He began to thrust, first gently, then with increasing speed and force. Gavin's free hand slid around to grip the side of Garrick's head, fingertips digging into his scalp as Gavin began to tug on Garrick's hair to bring his head forward to meet each brutal thrust.
"Just like that, Garrick... take it. Take allof it."
Though he struggled to make himself relax, tension began to creep in with each desperate gasp of air, each effort not to gag. Maker, it was good, the struggle to receive, to endure, when every instinct screamed to fight for survival. The tension only made it harder to endure those merciless thrusts, so completely without concern for his comfort or pleasure, and that was even better. This was the odd and unfathomable truth of what happened when Gavin did this to him; that the more he suffered, the more difficult it was to accept, the freer and more peaceful he felt.
He felt himself coming untethered, drifting, and everything was safe and peaceful even as his body struggled and suffered and sobbed for breath between thrusts that battered their way into his throat. Tears escaped his eyes each time he choked and gagged. Gavin pulled back periodically to let him cough and suck in another sobbing breath, and then jerked his head back to resume.
Without warning, Gavin thrust hard and deep, holding Garrick's head firmly in place as he growled softly. "Your throat feels so damn good around my cock, Garrick. Love how it feels. Love how you struggle against it, and you can't do a damn thing about it. I control this, not you."
Gavin held him there, the head of his cock filling Garrick's throat. Unable to breathe, his throat and lungs convulsed, heaving futilely for air. His hands came up without volition to Gavin's thighs as though he would try to push away, but then they fell away, and he surrendered even that.
After a moment that felt like forever as his lungs heaved and burned, Gavin drew back, still holding his head firmly as he sucked down a few gasping breaths. Gavin pulled him forward, thrusting hard into his mouth again as his own breath began to grow ragged, hissing from between his clenched teeth. It was obvious he did his best to hold back for as long as he could before he had to give in.
His voice sounded strained when he finally spoke again. "Keep your eyes closed."
The instruction startled Garrick out of his drifting state for a moment. He actually peered up at Gavin for an instant before slamming his eyes closed again, keeping his mouth open and waiting, but Gavin did not lay his cock on his tongue again. A few seconds later, he felt Gavin moving with rapid jerks.
He knew those jerks, that rhythm. Garrick's hand had done it a thousand times on his own flesh, and he roused a bit further from that dreamy state to wonder why Gavin was masturbating, when he had Garrick there, on his knees before him. Then Gavin released a loud groan, and a scalding torrent splashed across Garrick's skin, followed by another, and another. A stringy stream of Gavin's spunk splashed across his mouth and tongue, salty and bitter, and more across his cheeks, and yes, even on his eyes, so that when they flew open in utter shock, his vision was blurred by a cloudy film that clung to his eyelashes.
His eyes began to burn again, tears of utter shame and wretchedness welling up, and Garrick had to stifle the sob that tried to break free from his bruised and battered throat. He felt filthy, degraded. Even the lowest gutter-dwelling strumpet was treated with more dignity than he was allowed, kneeling there with Gavin's spunk dripping down his face. He squeezed his eyes closed, his entire body shaking with the effort not to burst into sobs.
He saw it, the first crack in the dam, that repressed sob as Garrick's stubborn pride struggled with the insult it had been dealt. This... this, Gavin knew, was why humiliation would always be one of the most powerful tools in his arsenal with Garrick. Garrick was too self-conscious, too aware of himself and his dignity. He could never truly surrender until he'd been taken beyond that; there would always be a part of him that held back, even under the most extreme physical duress.
Gavin had no interest in eradicating that pride; it was part of what made Garrick who he was. It was a strength, that quiet dignity, that surety Garrick possessed about who he was. No, he merely wished to quiet it for a while, freeing Garrick from his own sense of himself.
It was a chink, though, not a full breech. Still, Garrick did not give vent to that vast reservoir of emotion he kept dammed up within him. And so Gavin decided to do something else he'd never done before. They'd been working toward it, slowly, gradually, incorporating small spankings into their pleasure. But he'd never beaten Garrick.
Now, it was time. It was past time.
He looked down at Garrick's upturned face, criss-crossed with strings of Gavin's congealing seed.
"Look at you, kneeling there with my spunk on your face, like some filthy trollop in the seediest dockside whorehouse," he taunted, and Garrick's shoulders spasmed with another repressed sob, his chest and face crimson with humiliation. Gavin dropped his voice to barely a whisper. "You're lower than that, even, Garrick. If you were a whore, I'd pay you and leave. I wouldn't stick around and beat you."
Garrick's eyes flew open, his eyelashes crusted with Gavin's seed, and Gavin slapped him again, hard, rocking Garrick's face to the side. "Did I say you could look at me?"
Garrick shook his head, his face crumpling, his shoulders slumping as he whispered wretchedly, "No."
Another slap, backhanded this time, his knuckles rapping against Garrick's cheekbone, smearing his seed. "No, what? Speak up, you worthless slut."
"No, Master!" The next sob was louder, Garrick's shoulders convulsing with it. But still, it did not herald the torrent of emotion from Garrick that Gavin was seeking.
"Get on the bed," Gavin commanded, forcing his voice to be cold and uncaring, ruthlessly quashing the desire to take Garrick into his arms and comfort him.
Not yet. Not yet.
It didn't trouble him as much as it used to, that he was already feeling the stirring of arousal again, his balls tightening pleasantly when he struck Garrick, when he insulted him. Initially, he had resisted enjoying this, denied it to himself. Now, he gave into it, surrendering to that bestial cruelty every bit as much as Garrick did. He rode it, let it turn him into something he normally wasn't.
Garrick tried to push himself up to his feet, and Gavin slapped him hard enough to send him back to the floor. "Crawl,Garrick. Crawl like the bitch you are."
Miserably, his head hanging, Garrick made his way on hands and knees to the bed, crawling up onto it. "Hands and knees," Gavin instructed, once Garrick was on the bed, and Garrick obeyed, positioning himself on all fours in the middle of the bed. Ignoring the nervous racing of his own heart, Gavin crossed to the bureau and retrieved a wide leather belt, folding it double in his hand as he approached Garrick.
"You disobeyed me, Garrick. Disobeyed your master. And for that, you'll be punished," he said calmly, swinging the belt to flick it lightly against Garrick's arse. Barely enough to tingle, but Garrick gasped and shuddered. "And when you're properly punished, you'll beg me to mark you. And then, maybe, if I'm feeling generous, I'll let you come."
Garrick nodded mutely, his head still hanging down, and Gavin almost missed the whispered response, "Please."
He smiled cruelly. "You'll beg far more than that before I'm done," he replied, and swung the belt again. Another light stroke, hard enough to warm the skin, without actually being pain. And then another. Garrick shifted and wriggled slightly, but otherwise evidenced little sign of discomfort.
"Impatient for more?" Gavin added a bit more force, setting a swift and steady rhythm of light blows until the skin of Garrick's arse began to turn pink, and his started making small gasps. Even these light blows, done over and over again on the same area, would have a cumulative effect, feeling harder than they actually were as the nerve-endings in Garrick's skin awakened and became sensitized.
He increased the force again, hard enough to burn but not hard enough to make the skin blanch and welt. Garrick's gasps became soft whimpers. He picked up the speed, making his rhythm less steady, less predictable, making anticipating the next blow as much of a torment as the blows themselves. The shifting and wriggling of Garrick's bum became more energetic, as he found himself dodging and cringing from blows he anticipated which didn't materialize, only to have them land an instant after he'd let his guard down.
The pink color of Garrick's arse began to deepen to a sunburnt red, and still Gavin continued, ignoring the fact that his arm was beginning to feel the strain, until that red shade went covered every inch of Garrick's arse from the base of his spine to the tender backs of his thighs.
And still Garrick's moans continued to escalate.
His skin sizzled, every nerve ending alight, ablaze. Each stroke of that heavy leather belt was felt more keenly than the last, until it was agony, the heat, the anticipation, the false starts as he moved to evade a blow that never came.
He knelt there on his hands and knees in an odd in-between state, not floating as he'd done when Gavin had taken his mouth so brutally, but not fully connected with himself, either. That floating, drifting feeling was there, just out of reach. He knew it. But the pain and struggle wasn't keen enough for him to reach it.
Or so he thought — until Gavin began to lay into him in earnest.
The first sharp crackof the belt across his arse was as shocking as an unexpected crash of thunder from a fast-moving storm. Garrick howled, feeling as though his backside had been crossed with a hot branding iron rather than a leather strap. It burned! Maker, it burned, searing, white-hot agony that went on and on. He pushed up off his hands and knees, his hands flying instinctively to his arse to shield himself from any more, and immediately Gavin's hand was in his hair, driving him back down onto the bed, grinding his seed-crusted face against the coverlet.
"You daretry to cover yourself from me?" he spat harshly against Garrick's ear, and Garrick knew fear, genuine fear. This man hurting him was not the tender lover he knew. He didn't know who Gavin was, now, only that he was as fearsome and unstoppable as that same swiftly oncoming storm.
"I'm sorry!" Garrick gasped, and there was a frightened, blubbering note to his own voice that made his shame even more acute. He sounded as close to tears as he felt, and he knew it.
Gavin lifted his weight off Garrick's head only enough to let him turn his face to the side to breathe. Then he pinned him down with his face and shoulders to the bed and his arse in the air, and swung the belt again with his other arm.
Garrick howled again as it slashed across his arse and wrapped around his hip. He writhed and his arse shifted back and forth as though to escape the burn, but it was inescapable, branded into his skin. Gavin ran his hand over the welt, briefly, then struck again.
On, it went, and on. His howls transformed into screams, and still Gavin did not relent. His entire ass was crossed with burning welts, each one laid atop the other, the agony doubled where they intersected. And then Gavin began on the backs of his thighs, where the skin was tender, far more sensitive and far less prepared.
Was it possible that shrieking, like a wounded animal, was his own voice?
The screaming ended on a choking sob, and suddenly he was weeping, unable to hold back the anguish. It felt like an eternity, that those searing blows fell, on and on as Gavin held him pinned there. His body went limp beneath them, no longer writhing or trying to evade the strokes of the belt. The only movement was the heaving of his chest, the hitching of his shoulders as he sobbed, over and over, torrents of tears running down his face and soaking the bedclothes under his cheek.
He heard Gavin's voice, but he was unable to make out his words. The tone was coaxing, soothing, reassuring, even as the belt continued to fall.
"That's it. Let it go, love. Let it go."
He didn't register, at first, when the strap stopped, or that Gavin had tossed it away. He was too caught up in his own anguish, the endless suffering. It wasn't merely about the pain anymore. He sobbed for the people who had fallen beneath his blade the day before, the peasants he'd been sworn to protect, until they had rioted. Gavin moved onto the bed and drew Garrick into his arms, rocking him as he wept, and eventually his tears subsided, leaving him weak and limp in Gavin's embrace. When Gavin had coaxed him to lay down and wrapped himself around Garrick, he didn't know. The friction of the bedclothes against his welted arse was a mere afterthought.
He felt drained, wrung-out, and yet incomplete. Beneath him, his cock was still hard, still aching, despite all that had happened. As awareness returned, he realized they weren't done yet.
It took some time to force words past his throat, bruised by Gavin's cock and raw with screaming.
"Please, Master. I beg you to mark me."
Gavin did his best not to let the triumph he felt show on his face.
It was an effort, to force himself to keep his expression neutral. This had been about Garrick, about breaking through his reserve and offering him catharsis, not about Gavin's own desires.
Even so, Gavin couldn't help but savor the victory over Garrick's stubborn pride, relish his ability to break him down.
He sat up enough to kiss Garrick gently, and trailed nipping kisses along his cheek and jaw as Garrick tipped his chin back to expose his neck. Slowly Gavin kissed down the length of Garrick's neck, teasing with the smallest brushes of his teeth.
Each scrape of his teeth along Garrick's skin elicited another soft, hoarse groan, and it only spurred him on. He punctuated each kiss with an increasingly firm bite, holding each for a greater length of time before releasing.
Garrick's body was pliant beneath him, unresisting. He barely tensed or shuddered when Gavin began to bite harder, hard enough to leave impressions, white rings of teeth-marks that then became red. He laved them with licks and kisses after he made them, then closed his mouth over then and sucked hard on the skin, bruising it.
There was an almost ritualistic precision about the act, for this was something they did regularly. In some ways, it was this marking which had led them to where they were now; if not for the first time he'd marked Garrick, gently, tentatively, they might never have really begun exploring domination and control in their lovemaking. But belonging to him, at least here in this dream-world, gave Garrick a sense of peace and security, a respite from a world where he so frequently felt inept and at-fault.
As Gavin increased the force still further, Garrick began to move, tensing against the pain, moaning more loudly. Gavin knew better than to bite hard enough to break the skin, but before he was done, Garrick's neck and shoulders would be covered in bruises made not by the suction of his mouth, but by the pressure of his teeth.
"You are mine,Garrick." Gavin growled the words against the blossoming bruises as he slid his hand up Garrick's arm, around to the back of his head to pull it back further to expose more skin of his neck.
Garrick's body undulated beneath him, rising and falling as his arms came around Gavin, drawing him closer despite the pain of the bite. "Yes..." Gavin heard Garrick whisper rapturously, his eyes closed and his expression blissful. "Maker, please... yes."
Gavin began to move further down Garrick's neck, continuing his routine of biting, soothing, then sucking. The closer he moved to Garrick's shoulder, the longer he held each bite; the more he stretched out each bite, the harder he suckled the skin. He kept Garrick's head pulled firmly back and paused his marking to trail soft kisses back up his neck, lingering over particularly darkened spots.
"So gorgeous to see fresh marks on you. Wonderful to know that everyone will be able to see that you belongto someone. To me." Gavin couldn't help but smile as Garrick shuddered slightly, though he wasn't sure if it was because of the words or his breath blowing across his ear.
He took Garrick's earlobe between his teeth gently before dragging his lips back down his neck. "Mine," he growled, before biting into the junction between his neck and shoulder hard.
Garrick went tense, rigid with pain as he whimpered loudly, his hands clutching Gavin harder. Still, Gavin held that bite, until Garrick succumbed to it, his tension bleeding away into acceptance, into surrender. His moans trailed away when finally Gavin eased off, kissing the ring of bruises. Against Gavin's thigh, he was still hard, still dripping with arousal, and it came to Gavin suddenly, what he needed to do to end this with the release he'd promised Garrick.
Gavin pushed himself up from Garrick and settled himself on his knees, then reached out and took Garrick's hand in his own before guiding it to rest on his shoulder. "Keep your hand here. No matter what, do not move it."
He held Garrick's hand in place as he moved to kneel by his waist, then moved his hand to rest loosely over Garrick's mouth, fingers and thumb to either side of his nose.
"Take a deep breath."
He knew exactly what Gavin intended; they'd done this once before. But still Garrick felt a surge of fear, as he always did. It pierced that hazy, floating state somewhat, widened his eyes, made his painfully hard cock twitch and pulse. The last time they had done this, he hadn't been in this wrung-out, melted condition. He'd been more aware, less exhausted.
This was different. He was nearly helpless now, so much more completely at Gavin's mercy, and he knew it.
He stared up into Gavin's unyielding eyes, dark and filled with terrible, pitiless love, and another wave of that peaceful feeling washed over him. There was nothing he wouldn't do for Gavin, nothing he wouldn't suffer, nothing he wouldn't trust Gavin with.
He closed his eyes and drew a deep breath.
Slowly, Gavin pressed his nostrils closed between thumb and forefinger before sealing the palm of his hand firmly over his lips. Try as he might, he could not draw breath; Gavin had utter control of even this, his most basic need.
He felt Gavin's hand wrap around the base of his cock then slowly slide the foreskin up with his loose grip to glide over the head. He let out a muffled whimper against Gavin's hand; the sensation against him was intensified a thousand times by how long he'd been waiting, how long Gavin had dragged it out. It was nearly painful, and he loved it.
The seconds seemed to stretch out into eternities while Gavin smothered him, and his lungs began to burn, his chest heaving with involuntary efforts to breathe. The discomfort was exquisite, amplified as it was by the lazy motions Gavin's hand made along the length of his aching cock.
Gavin released his nose and he exhaled hard, sucking in desperate breaths as best as he could with his mouth still blocked.
He realized only after catching his breath again that Gavin's hand had stilled on his cock. Perhaps Gavin intended to draw it out, to bring him to the brink only while he could not draw breath, just as he had the last time. He let out a soft whine, and Gavin gave him only a cruel smile in return.
"No, Garrick. You'll come when I decide you'll come. Breathe."
He took in a deep breath as commanded. He'd barely managed to finish inhaling before Gavin sealed his nose closed again between thumb and forefinger, and again he felt a little freer knowing Gavin once again held all control.
He groaned softly once he felt Gavin's hand moving again along the length of him, his grip a little more firm, his pace a little more insistent. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he was aware that his hips were rocking up to meet each stroke of Gavin's fist; in this moment all he was acutely aware of was how he needed to absolutely focus upon keeping his hand planted on Gavin's shoulder, where he had been ordered to leave it.
His lungs burned, his body struggling for survival as his mind surrendered even control over life and death to Gavin. Beneath him, his raw arse rubbed against the coverlet with each push of his hips, but the discomfort was an afterthought, something to add just that much more sweetness to the ordeal.
Gavin was attentive to his need for breath once again and released his nose when the heaving of his chest grew more frantic. He sucked down greedy breaths as soon as he was allowed, moaning softly on each exhale as he continued to buck into Gavin's now-stilled fist.
Gavin once again sealed his nose between thumb and finger, and he was much more aware of the feel of Gavin's fist gliding along his length again. Maker, each time Gavin started the movements again it was more intense, and he could feel the arousal building faster.
He ignored the way his arse cheeks burned as he thrust his hips up faster, ignored the way the welts crossing his flesh rubbed against the bedclothes beneath him. He dug his fingertips into Gavin's shoulder as he groaned deep in his throat, feeling his peak approach.
So close... he was so close...
Gavin released his nose again and the rush of breath he let out sounded more desperate than anything else. Gavin had stopped the movements of his fist again, and the look in his amber eyes said that he knew exactly what he had just done.
"You'll come when Idecide you'll come, I said. Not a moment sooner."
When Gavin pinched his nose closed again, he let his eyes fall shut as he thrust up into the firm ring of Gavin's fist. Gavin held nothing back this time as he stroked the full length of Garrick's cock faster than he had before, curling his hand just the smallest amount around the head.
He could feel the pressure that had been lingering just behind his bollocks all day burgeon, felt just how he began to swell in Gavin's hand. He couldn't yet, he had to hold himself back. Gavin hadn't given his command.
He whined wordlessly against Gavin's palm again, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes, pleading as best as he could without breath or the ability to speak.
Gavin's fist never stopped moving as he murmured the words Garrick was aching to hear. "Come for me, Garrick. Let me see just how badly you needed it."
He let himself go as soon as he registered the words, his back arching as his body froze even as his ribs heaved involuntarily. He felt like he was flying; the sensations of this orgasm, the fruition of hours of buildup, combined with the light-headedness he felt from Gavin depriving him of breath to give him a euphoria he didn't often achieve.
Gavin removed his hand from his nose and mouth entirely and moved it to the side slightly to cup the side of his face, stroking his thumb over his cheek even as he milked the last drops of his seed from his suddenly too-sensitive cock.
He stared up at Gavin, his eyes wide and shocked, as he sucked in desperate breaths, his hand finally falling away from Gavin's shoulder. And then astonished both Gavin and himself by bursting into tears again. Not the heartbroken sobs of before, no. These were more gentle, cleansing tears, as his mind and body struggled to come to terms with the ordeal they had just endured, the agony and the elation. Gavin laid down beside him and drew Garrick into his arms, and Garrick curled against him eagerly, his head pillowed on Gavin's shoulder, his leg thrown across Gavin's thighs as he clung to him and wept softly, his trembling subsiding.
Gavin stroked his hand over Garrick's hair, smoothing it down as he held him close. When they had begun to play this game, when they were both inexperienced and had started learning together, he had felt guilty when he reduced Garrick to tears like this. Now, however, he understood it was a necessary part of the process; understood that it helped Garrick cope with coming back to reality.
He simply held Garrick and murmured soft reassurances into his hair even as he continued to run his hand soothingly across the top of Garrick's head. He made no effort to encourage Garrick to speak, knowing that he would open up in his own time, once he was ready.
When Garrick's tears had quieted and he lay there silent and half-asleep, Gavin rose and filled a basin from the ewer on the bureau, bringing it to the bed. Wetting a cloth, he began to wash Garrick, cleaning away the crusted seed from his face and belly, the dried sweat from his shoulders and chest and back. Garrick whimpered softly when Gavin gently passed the cool cloth over his welted arse, making Gavin smile a bit ruefully. How he would love to bury himself in Garrick right now, to take him while he was still red-arsed and sore. But that would have to wait for another time; Garrick was in no state for it.
Where he washed, he kissed, slowly easing both of them out of their roles and back into a place of parity, a place where Garrick was his lover, rather than his possession. When he was clean, Gavin filled a cup with water and made Garrick drink, and then he stripped off his trousers and crawled into bed beside Garrick, drawing the covers over them.
Garrick, for all his stiff-necked pride and self-sufficiency, let himself be cared for.
All this passed wordlessly, but when he was pressed against Garrick's back, his arms surrounding him, and Garrick's breathing already beginning to take on the slow, even rhythm of sleep, Gavin kissed his shoulder and whispered a single, short sentence.
Garrick's sleepy, mumble was half-incoherent, but his arms tightened over Gavin's in a squeeze.
"Love you, too, Gav."
And with that, Gavin closed his eyes and let himself rest as well.
On the dusty streets of Lowtown, Gavin looked at Sergeant Joanna sharply.
"What did you just say?"
He barely heard her response, except for the mention of the Warden-Commander, and the description of the assassination plot hatched by the Amaranthine nobility to kill him.
As Sergeant Joanna continued to describe the conspirators and provide information on where they could be found if Gavin wanted to make some easy coin, he heard Garrick's voice speaking words he knew they'd never spoken to one another at Ostagar or Lothering.
'Course, wouldn't have happened is not for that bitch Esmerelle an' her lot. Bleedin' nobles. Wanted to distract my men so they could slip Antivan Crows into the Keep. Those farmers... wasn't a noble there gave a damn what became of them. They stirred 'em up an' used 'em as a sacrifice for a game not a one of those farmers understood.
"Tell me," Gavin asked conversationally, trying not to give any indication of the sudden chill that was raising the hair on his arms and the back of his neck. "Wasn't there some other disturbance in Amaranthine, not long ago?"
"You mean aside from the darkspawn sacking the city?"
Gavin shook his head. "Something about peasants revolting."
Joanna gave him a bitter, humorless smile. "Rumor travels fast across the Waking Sea, apparently. Yes. Hiring mercenaries for assassinations to hunt down his enemies isn't usually the Warden-Commander's style, but he's making an exception in this case, and that riot is the reason why."
Gavin nodded once, calmly. He would have taken the job anyway; anything for coin, after all. But now there was a small part of him that was tempted to refuse, to stay far, far away from it. the idea that he'd dreamedof what was actually happening with Garrick, there in Ferelden...
... He didn't know what to make of it.
He stood there silently for a long, pondering moment, then smiled grimly and met Sergeant Joanna's eyes.
"I'll take the job."