A/N: M for boy/boy. Unbeta'd. Don't like it? There's a back button—use it~

If not, here we go; I rarely write smut (and I don't quite think this qualifies as smut…) but the idea for this story struck me when I found scandalshipping and it wouldn't leave my poor brain alone until I wrote the damned plot bunny. So we arrive here: a romantic piece between cousins that… well, turned out okay I suppose. Not AU per say, but this assumes that after Atem's coronation he had time to build and entertain a relationship with Seth.

Enjoy, and leave a review?

Note: "Kemet" was believed to be what the Egyptians referred to as their land during ancient times. The translation is "black" due to the fertile soil that was caused by the flooding of the Nile. Fascinating, no? Also, inter-family relations were quite popular during ancient times as well as two men being in a relationship, if not hidden. Regardless, since this is YGO, and therefore somewhat-kiddie safe depending on the version you've watched/read, this deals with some matters readers may be uncomfortable with—namely, two male cousins being in an intimate relationship. Read at your own discretion.


guilt by association


Atem runs a hand along the curtains, the near-night sun casting an orange glow over the room.

Obscuring reality and blurring awareness with something akin to dreams and nightmares, the curtain buries the truth, the wrongness and the feeling of righteousness. What courses through his body with every beat of a traitorous heart.

Atem has always thought the golden and ruby curtains blend nicely with the rest of the room, hanging around his bed that's far too big for one person. Warm, balmy air coats the sand floor and licks the walls; the red star paints the silhouette of the pharaoh as he sits amongst the window, watching the village below and wondering, not for the first time, what they would think if they knew their leader was participating in something strangely horrific and terrifyingly exciting.

Atem doesn't think long, however. There's a knock on the door and he absently fingers the necklace dangling by his torso before standing up and stretching. It's been three days since the visitor has stepped foot into the magnificent room and a thrill of—of what?

Adrenaline, sin, guilt, exhilaration, have we set our lives on this never ending path?

Runs through his veins, making his blood pump and physical want overtake his senses.

He opens the door to reveal a brown haired man with stunning blue eyes that remind Atem of the Nile and sapphires. He's not smiling but he's not frowning, either; there's a rather contemplative look in the depths of his eyes that says he knows what they're doing and he knows the repercussions.

(And Atem has lost count of how many times he has seen this look.)

"Pharaoh," Seth begins, bowing to his king. When he rights himself, Atem is holding out a hand, and the priest takes it quickly before he steps through the threshold. The pharaoh leads them both to the cavity in the wall, sweeping a hand across the grand expanse that is Kemet.

"These are my people," Atem says, black lashes lowering over saddened eyes. Seth has heard this speech many times, but he doesn't mind the repetitiveness; Atem is still gripping with golden hands. "I am their king."

The sun is beginning to set in the distance, a rich hue blanketing the people that Atem commands. Seth finds it haunting and stunning, as he does every time.

(And he's lost count of how many times they have done this, whether it's in the silk sheets of a king's bed or beneath a burning sun on burning sand.)

They stand like that for many minutes, staring out into the remoteness and just a bit lost. They are silent, too caught up in a world of passion and regret to find much air for speaking. It's when Atem's ringed fingers tighten their hold on Seth's that they move away from the ignorance of the sky and land, slowly moving towards the too-big bed in the center of the room.

Atem is not wearing his head piece.

Seth finds he looks more human without it.

Are we monsters? He wonders briefly, taking a seat on the edge and waiting for the push off the precipice. It doesn't come easily.

Atem agonizingly removes the necklace from around his neck, the upside-down pyramid being placed off to the side to remain blissfully unaware of the happenings in the room. Seth frowns slightly, noticing the red marks on Atem's tanned skin from the rope; it pains him to see but he knows Atem has become immune to such things.

The pharaoh reaches over to tug off the priest's head piece, running a warm finger underneath the golden choker that adorns the man's neck.

"Are you sure?" Seth breathes as he always does. Both out of respect and apprehension, because he knows how this may turn out. Atem nods weakly at first, a thumb trailing along the brunette's jaw line, before he nods more firmly.

It's the same every time.

"I am sure."

Those words spark a burning of lust in blue eyes and Atem smiles, placing a gentle kiss to Seth's parted lips. He takes a seat beside his priest, hands getting caught in sandy strands, eyes closed. Seth moves expert fingers beneath the white skirt, his hands roaming gradually, leisurely, because others know not to disturb the pharaoh at this time.

They do not know why.

A soft moan erupts from Atem's throat as he's pushed back against soft sheets and softer pillows.

Seth is careful and kind, eager but limited. He is not surprised when Atem switches their position so the priest finds himself against soft sheets and softer pillows, navy cloak being removed immediately and near-expert hands travelling the length of his torso and his back. Every illegal touch burns his nerves and every kiss Atem places on his neck, his chest, feel like feathers of a bird; it's enticing and intoxicating.

Deadly.

Seth reaches a hand up to remove the earring on the pharaoh's left ear, right ear; he drops the gold off the side of the bed and Atem chuckles, his tongue sweeping across the priest's lower lip for entrance. Seth easily complies, forgetting about golden jewelry as a not-so-new but just as wonderful sensation swathes his body. Atem presses deeper into the man beneath him, Seth grabs one of the pharaoh's hands, and they move together in a steady but spastic rhythm.

Seth has always found it strange how it's Atem that elicits such responses from his body, how it's Atem who occupies Seth's thoughts when they are apart.

Their tongues dance a macabre dance of sin and when they part they are both short of air and reaching for more, desperate for touch yet needing oxygen; it's a rather strange combination of feelings. Atem runs a tanned hand over the dip in Seth's neck, his fingers moving deftly between the clothes that the priest is wearing. After a few torturous minutes, Seth finds himself growing impatient—he grabs Atem's hand, kisses it softly, and switches their position back to the beginning. The pharaoh doesn't fight for dominance because Seth's lips are trailing his jaw, his collarbone, lowerlowerlower

Until he feels the warm air of the room caress his stomach, Seth tossing aside the white shawl. Atem's breath hitches, panting; he moans as his priest's digits flatten against his chest and his other hand roams just below the waistband of his skirt, so close yet so far.

"Seth…" Atem breathes, his eyes half-lidded and blurred. He can see his priest smile, however, small and far too intricate for a man who is hardened by the years of work.

(And Seth rarely smiles unless he's with Atem, sitting or watching or touching—)

The priest works his way down the pharaoh's chest with his lips, leaving tiny bites and butterfly kisses. Atem is already flustered when Seth's hand finally reaches down to his arousal, exploring and stroking and soaking up every sound, every word that is uttered by the man beneath him.

"Seth…I…"

Seth nods, his lips meeting Atem's in a chaste kiss that leaves them both breathless.

(Because it's romantic no matter how corrupt their guilty pleasure is, and it makes it so much harder to quit.)

Atem closes his eyes as Seth sucks on his neck, distracting from the pain of the sudden but careful prodding and stretching of his entrance. The sun over the desert has set, leaving a dark sky in its place as it blankets Kemet in absolute blackness. The stars are buried behind drifting clouds and the candles are burning out at last, the room fading into an ethereal glow.

"Are you sure?" Seth whispers, once again, because he doesn't want any regrets. Atem nods. "Are you ready?"

The priest is pulled down into a hasty kiss and needy hands roaming everywhere and tugging off the white cloths, pitching them over the bed and gods, Atem is perfect

They're both exposed, tangled within soft sheets and resting against softer pillows.

"Hands," Seth grounds out, blindly grabbing tanned fingers and squeezing gently. Atem understands and returns the pressure, much harder, as Seth lines them both up and slowly, ever so slowly, enters. The pain is bearable but Atem clutches tighter anyways because he loves the feel of Seth's hand in his own.

It's difficult but they've done this enough times to know what to do; Atem whimpers with mingled pleasure and pain as Seth finds the one spot that has him nearly going over the edge right there; his priest gradually pulls out before starting over. Once, twice, three times and Atem is itching for more and his body needs the contact.

"Faster," Atem breathes out through pants, letting go of Seth's hand to wrap his arms around the man's neck. He smiles in response and picks up the speed considerably and soon they're covered in sweat, creating a fractured pulse of movement and heated breaths, panting and moaning and clinging to each other tightly, tangled in soft sheets and ruining softer pillows.

Seth knows he is close the point of no return, but Atem has him beat as he topples over the delicate precipice, Seth's name dripping from his lips as he lets himself go completely. Seth is not far behind, the absolute wonderful feeling of Atem's warmth and the sound of his voice tipping him as he releases inside of the man beneath him.

They are obscured by the hazy pleasure, Seth rolling off of Atem to lay beside him, bringing the body as close to himself as possible. Atem smiles, laughs; he snuggles into the warmth, silent and content.

"Someone shall be returning soon," Seth murmurs, knowing the conviction of his words mean nothing as he lays in the bed.

"We have time," Atem replies simply, placing a kiss to Seth's chest. "When will you…?"

"Soon." Seth buries his nose into the tri-colored mop that is Atem's hair. "But for now I will stay."

The pharaoh is contemplative, but the priest already knows what he's about to say.

"We shouldn't do this… again," he says sadly, innocent and guilty all at once; Seth can't help but speculate if it was he who took away what remained of the pharaoh's already shortened youth. But he nods anyways, knowing there's no conviction in his action and none in Atem's words. "I think… he suspects something."

He being one of the guards, the one who stalks the pharaoh's quarters by night and excuses himself through the day. Seth has no tolerance for the man yet he can not bring his plea to light for fear of the truth.

"He laid with his sister just the other day," Seth says instead, running a hand over Atem's muscled back. "I hardly think he's one to judge."

"Gossip? Surely even you know rumors can not be trusted."

Seth laughs, a deep, shaking laugh that has Atem following along soon after.

"Yes, my king, but he was telling the rather descriptive story to a fellow guard only a night afterwards. The walls have eyes and ears."

Footsteps echo down the corridor and though they will never reach the room, Seth knows it is his cue to disappear from the pharaoh's quarters and return to his own. He sighs heavily, breathing in the scent that is Atem, before kissing his forehead, releasing him, and sitting up. The silk sheets fall around his waist but he pays no mind, feeling empty as per usual. He swings his legs over the edge and finds his garments.

"Tomorrow is a new day," Atem begins, sitting up himself and wrapping his arms around his torso, bunching the blankets around his legs. "And tomorrow night…"

"Is too soon," Seth says softly. He finishes dressing and turns to face the object of his twisted affection. "A few days at most, but not tomorrow."

The pharaoh nods, understanding.

(While he is the king, Seth is the strategist. When they are together, Atem does not mind relinquishing his power.)

They glance at each other momentarily but it is enough to convey the message, one that has never been spoken aloud for the heavy unease of forbidden relations.

Smiling sadly, Seth leans forward and places a gentle kiss on his lips before walking towards the door and heading out into the empty hallway. Tomorrow they will be pharaoh and priest, returning the their respective roles and ruling a country. Atem sits on his bed, fingering the now-soiled sheets, questioning all the while if he will ever be able to end the circle of madness they've entrapped themselves in. It leaves him cold and horribly sad; he leans back, pulling the soft sheets over his aching body and rests his head on the softer pillows. Closing his eyes, he dreams of sand-covered streets and heat-flavored kisses.

For they are sinners in a world of gods.

I love you.

Atem wonders if he'll die a traitor.