Ahhh, Sindria is warm.

It's a breezy, balmy sort of warm, not the gross, dripping humidity surrounding the Kou Empire's main palace. The placement of the palace in Sindria is especially nice, welcoming the ocean breeze and through Sinbad's window, Judal can really feel it, particularly when he collapses onto the man's bed to wait for his return.

He felt Sinbad conquer that seventh dungeon already. He should be back at any time.

'Any time' turns to an hour, and Judal starts getting not only bored, but sleepy. Sinbad's bed is comfortable, and smells like him, besides, and that's enough to slowly put him to sleep in and of itself. A little nap won't hurt, Judal supposes, even if he knows wriggling down into the sheets will end up wrinkling his clothes-ah, to hell with it. He'll be presentable enough, and the ocean breeze is almost chilly now, so under the blanket is a better choice, with his face buried down into a pillow.

Sinbad drops his things in a trail, starting at the Palace's outer door and proceeding up to his room, like breadcrumbs of things he's too weary to carry any more. The whole way back, he's heard nothing but that voice echoing in his head, telling him there are no more dungeons, that he'd bled and fought and worked for so much so fast only to find that he hadn't really needed to. He could have taken his time, prepared for years, because then at least he'd have had something to look forward to. Now he might as well cut off his own legs, and his arms as well, just be a head fit to do nothing but give orders and sit on a throne.

The dark thoughts swirl in his mind as he finally reaches his own bedroom, dropping the last of his clothes to the ground before he hits the bed. A second's pause, and his frown turns into a weary smile as he curls his body around the warm lump. At least he still has Ja'far. "You waited for me," he murmurs, eyes closing in bliss. "Gave me something nice to come home to."

A little shift, and the lump stirs, cracking open red eyes into the now rather dimly lit room. Ahh, he'd really overslept, hadn't he? But with good results, by the sound of it. Judal squirms, rolling over underneath the sheets, and promptly butts his head into Sinbad's chest, burying himself close and breathing in the scent of him. It's much better, like this. The real thing is always better than just a pillow.

It feels obscenely good, relaxing and comforting and stable, to have Ja'far in his arms. The warmth of him, the weight of him, the smell of him, all combining to soothe Sinbad to-


The thing about Ja'far, the really odd thing, is that even when he's been running all day, when he hasn't bathed for a week because they were in the desert, or ten minutes after trying on a perfume, he has no smell. Sometimes one will cling to him for a few minutes, but it's an odd natural quirk, and something that Sinbad finds somewhere between annoying and endearing.

The person butting against his chest has a smell, and it's familiar, too.

Ah, damn, he'd so enjoyed the thought of going to sleep with someone he liked. "Judal," he says quietly, keeping his voice calm-hell maybe he'll be able to get out of this alive, and he's far too tired to fight- "what are you doing here?"

That's not quite the greeting he wanted. Judal grumbles, and his hands reach out, grabbing for Sinbad's arm, wrapping around it tightly as he sleepily peers upward through his lashes. "I was waiting for you. You conquered that dungeon, right? I raised it for you, it was a present."

Sinbad sort of wants to quit. He's tired, his heart hurts, he's been walking for ages and damn it, he knows full well how mercurial Judal can be, and right now he looks like there's nothing he wants more than to be petted and coddled and…

Fine. If he kills me later, at least I'll sleep first.

Sinbad squeezes, pulling Judal tightly against him. And it'll be a comfortable sleep. "Very powerful," he agrees, yawning, then nudging his nose against the top of Judal's head. "Just for me?"

Judal purrs, a low, rumbling thing as he buries his face back into Sinbad's chest, sighing long and slow as he's pulled close. "Mmhm. Just for you. The Kou Empire doesn't know, you shouldn't tell them," he murmurs, and a leg promptly flops its way over Sinbad's hip to insure that they stay as close as humanly possible. "Wanted to see if you could do it first."

Like this, clingy and affectionate and not...stabby, Judal reminds Sinbad of how he was on their first meeting, and he can't help but wonder if Al-Sarmen had tinkered with him to make him more like that again. Ah, gods, he's too tired to deal with that now, too tired to deal with anything but snuggling against the warm body in his arms, working his fingers into thick hair to gently scratch. "I could tell it was yours. All of yours feel the same. They like to...play."

"More fun that way," Judal sighs out, rubbing his cheek against Sinbad's chest as his eyes flutter shut. "Wanted to kinda make up for being a jerk the last few times," he tiredly mumbles, voice muffled as he shoves his face more firmly into Sinbad's chest. "But you don't seem that happy. Guess it wasn't good-sorry."

"Mmm, no, it was good." God, it had been good, hadn't it? He'd thought it would get the better of him a dozen times, and there was the fierce pride in knowing that it didn't, that it hadn't, that he'd bested it not by trickery and deceit but by his own strength and cunning. "Probably the best I've ever gone through." He brushes a kiss against the top of Judal's head, inhaling that exotic spice as he tightens his arm. "Thank you."

That's definitely pride that makes him shiver, and maybe a little bit of relief, too. "Good. Then I can stay?" Your bed is comfortable, don't make me leave.

Sinbad huffs out a breath, tugging the big blanket over both of them. "You're warm and you smell good and I like the way you feel in my arms. Don't go." I'd keep you forever if you were always like this.

Good. Really good, much better than being kicked out the window that he came through and sent home after being scolded like a child. Kouen's bed is nothing like this, and Kouen doesn't hold him like this, doesn't even really want to touch him at all, not like Sinbad, at least. Sinbad seems to like holding him and kissing him and everything else, not like Kouen who only cracks a smile if he starts chattering about magic or battle…

Judal sort of wants to tell Sinbad that he had dressed up for him, smelled extra good on purpose, even, but he's too sleepy, and Sinbad's too warm, and probably too tired as well, by the way he acts. In the morning, he dimly tells himself, and thus settles down with a pleased little sigh.

Sinbad sleeps in much later than Kouen does, too.

Maybe it's the whole just-conquered-a-dungeon thing, but Judal doubts it. They're a tangled mess when he wakes to the morning sun pouring over them, and it's with a grumble that he rolls atop Sinbad completely, trying to tug his braid free from where the man half flops over it, to no avail. "Stupid king," he mumbles, and he collapses down as if he's boneless, pouting as he sets his chin atop Sinbad's chest to stare at him while he still sleeps. Ah, he's stupidly, annoyingly handsome. Not so much unlike Kouen, but it's still different-not anywhere near as cold and the lines are still softer, besides…

Something is on him.

Sinbad can sleep through quite a lot-noise, light, heat, cold, none of those bother his slumber in the slightest. But when someone flops down on his chest, resting a pointed chin there and kicking his legs back and forth, it doesn't take him long to crack his eyes, no matter how his body aches.

Ah. Right. He'd gone to bed with his arms around Judal.

Well, in for a draught, in for a queen, and Sinbad smiles, reaching up to tug gently on a loose lock of hair dangling around the magi's face. "You look pretty in the sunlight. Good morning."

"You're lying on my hair," Judal petulantly points out, even as his head tips forward, nudging into Sinbad's hand in a clearly attention-seeking gesture. "Mm, but your bed is really comfortable to sleep in, so I'll forgive you this time."

Being around Judal makes him stupid. It has to, because he knows that the last time he took Judal to bed he wound up with stab wounds soon after, and yet his hand still curls into that soft dark hair as he shifts, being careful not to yank too hard as he frees the long braid. "My apologies. I'll brush it for you to make it up to you, if you want."

The idea is a nice one, for sure. Sinbad is always good with his hair-none of the Kou brothers are at all, and the princesses just as useless. "Later," he agrees as he wriggles down, letting his already sleep-wrinkled and tousled robes slink further down his shoulders. "It'll just get messed up again at this rate, though." Judal pauses, and spares a frown over his shoulder in the direction of the door. "Freckles isn't gonna come in anytime soon, is he?"

Now that is an idea that chills Sinbad instantly. He never prefers it when Ja'far comes in while he's bedding someone, but something tells him this would be far, far, far worse than if Judal were just some random girl he'd picked up at a festival. It twists in his chest to make him think he's being so dishonest (and when did I start lying to Ja'far anyway?), but a flare of magic turns the lock with an audible click. "Just you and me," he murmurs, and in order to distract himself from the betrayal, he buries his face in Judal's neck, sliding an arm down to sling around his waist.

Judal grins, slinking down to nuzzle into Sinbad's neck in turn, his lips parting to lightly nip before his head tips to catch one golden hoop of an earring. "Good," he sighs out with a light tug. "Mmn-after I came all this way, I'd expect your undivided attention." A squirm, and Judal settles his knees neatly to either side of Sinbad's hips, his fingertips tracing the line of his collarbone. "My dungeon didn't hurt you too badly, did it?"

It's far easier than it should be to let go of the guilt. Oh, well. He can always feel guilty tomorrow, he supposes. Yeah, that sounds like it's for the best. "Not too badly," he agrees, smiling at the affectionate little touches, hands wandering up and down Judal's back, slowly stroking over the soft skin. "You put it damned far away, though. Took me forever to get there. Not all of us can fly."

"Soooorry," Judal huffs, his nails flexing in for a slow, pleased knead at the slide of Sinbad's fingers down his spine. "I didn't want the Kou Empire to snatch it up, so it had to be a good ways away. Aren't you glad you didn't have competition?"

"I had some competition," Sinbad protests. "Lots of local boys. They didn't make it out, obviously." Most men who go into a dungeon don't. He leans up, placing a soft, sweet kiss on Judal's lips. "No princes, though. Thank you for that."

"That's not competition for you, though." Judal's teeth gently scrape over Sinbad's lower lip, his eyes lidding as he exhales a breath that's far more a purr than anything. "No one is now, when you have seven dungeons conquered."

Seven. The number sounds so final. Sinbad has to wonder if Judal knows, knows about the djinn's words and how much they ache inside him even now, has to wonder if that's why he's here. It's the very limit of his magoi, something he can't train or work at or cajole, something that's simply over, and a little bit of the helplessness and rage he'd felt yesterday comes back, no matter how he tries to push it away. "Do you think a man of seven dungeons very powerful?"

"There's no one else in the world like you," Judal readily tells him, and he nuzzles his face into the crook of Sinbad's shoulder, unable to stop from biting, just a little, at bared skin. "The only other person to conquer multiple dungeons is Kouen… but, ah, he only has three, so it's not the same…"

Sinbad hisses a little, a spark of heat flashing through him at the scrape of Judal's teeth, pooling low in his abdomen as his arms tighten around Judal, dragging him closer. So, Kouen's conquered another dungeon, hmm? That doesn't worry him much. Even on the slight chance that the mysterious Kouen's magoi is greater than his own, the man's only a year younger, and hasn't half as many djinn. "Nearly as rare as a Magi," Sinbad murmurs. "Both of us are scarce."

A quiet, but no less eager sound rumbles from Judal's throat, and he nips again, biting harder this time and sucking as his eyes flutter with the arch of his back and the downward wriggle of his hips. "Mmhm… which is why we should stick together," he breathes upon releasing Sinbad's skin, and it's hard, really hard not to let his next words turn into a whine. "Let me choose you."

A spark of something dark flares in Sinbad's chest. He could do so much with Judal at his side. It wouldn't matter how many dungeons he could conquer, he'd have a Magi as a resource, and only two others in the world could say that, and possibly not even two.


But there's still that mad gleam in Judal's eyes, no matter how he wriggles like a kitten, and Sinbad would bet gold to garbage that he's no more willing to give up Al-Sarmen than before.

So instead of breathing, "Of course," Sinbad murmurs, "Pleasure before business," and rolls them over, kissing Judal deeply before he has a chance to protest.

He wants to whine, to kick and protest and tell Sinbad to decide already, because he wants it so badly that it hurts. Sinbad is a dozen times better than Kouen, both to be around and in strength, but he won't say a simple yes when Kouen pesters him at Al-Sarmen's cue to choose him already.

Judal doesn't want to.

He doesn't mention that Al-Sarmen is impatient, annoyed with him for even trying to lure Sindria's king, no matter how powerful. They know, of course, if he chooses Kouen, that it doesn't matter how powerful Sinbad is-Kouen will be stronger, and that's the end of it. It makes them angry that Judal doesn't want that, especially not as much as he wants Sinbad's mouth kissing him like this, or the weight and heat of his body pressing him down into his soft, soft bed, and ah, god, that's nice, to be able to spread his legs and wrap his thighs around Sinbad's hips, rather than having his face shoved down like he's not even something that need be seen to be fucked…

"Please," he begs, and he's certain it's less about sex, no matter how breathless he is, than it is about Sinbad saying yes, I'll be your king, you can be my magi. It twists in his chest, makes him claw at Sinbad's back and drag him down to keep him close.

How perfect would it be if Judal could be his, his alone?

Just one thing flares in his mind as he kisses, hands wandering down to caress the soft flesh at Judal's thighs, to hike his ass up, squeezing and kneading at smooth, perfect flesh.

I have to make him love me more than he fears them.

For all of Judal's protestations about wanting the best teachers, he is capricious, mercurial, and he surely wouldn't mind leaving his teachers behind for his king, would he? Not unless he fears them, and Sinbad knows enough about Al-Sarmen to think that perhaps Judal isn't as stupid as Ja'far wants to think.

Mind-games in bed. Gods, is that what he's come to?

Sinbad's arms curl around Judal, hefting him up into his lap like something precious, kissing him like he's something Sinbad needs. I'll make it happen. Whatever it takes, I'll replace them in his heart, and he'll be mine.

Judal's eyes are beautiful, for all their madness. Please be mine.

Judal knows he's over-eager as he lurches up, wriggling his way into Sinbad's lap with breathy sighs and soft, panting moans, his arms draped around his shoulders, fingers lacing through his hair. He can't help it, though-not when it feels so good, not when Sinbad is so warm and wants him, and that's the biggest relief he's felt in what feels like ages, especially when the last time they were together, he'd lost his temper and thought for sure he'd ruined all of this.

He was wrong. Thankfully, he was wrong.

He's the one fumbling at his own clothes, uncaring if it makes him look like a harlot for all his desire to be undressed faster, and he's glad at his choice of dress this time, because robes are easier to just open and leave partially hanging, an aesthetic that he knows even Kouen likes. You probably do, too. I hope you do. You're touching me like you do, I think? Judal huffs, his face burying its way into Sinbad's neck as he hesitantly reaches one hand back, pawing at the tie at the end of his braid, and shaking it out shortly after that, the mass of it tumbling loose. This, though-this is just for you.

There's a plan.

Sinbad tries to remember that there's a plan.

It's ridiculous, impossible, because Judal is warm and wriggling and happy on top of him, and that eager little smile, those pawing hands, the way he bares so much skin because he needs so badly-

Sinbad is sure there had been a plan.

Whatever it was, he finds himself kissing trails down Judal's throat, biting and nipping and making bruises, claiming hard. He hopes the plan had something to do with getting his hands on every part of Judal he can reach, grabbing it closer and kissing it, urging him to wrap those long, teasing legs around his hips. "Want you," he mutters against Judal's neck, trailing into a growl. "Want you so bad, need to be inside you."

That makes him shudder, makes his pulse jump and quicken faster than anything, and Judal whines, mewls as he arches his back and squirms, his head thrown back with a breathless groan as he twists his hips and pulls at Sinbad's hair. "Fuck me." He sounds pitiful, probably, whining like he is, his breath so fast that he has to close his eyes and swallow hard to try and calm himself down. "Please, p-please-" I missed you.

There's something brutally honest about Judal. Maybe it's the stark, incapable honesty of an ignorant child, as Ja'far seems to think. Sinbad doesn't know, right now doesn't care, only cares that the hungry, aching need in the boy's face is for him. "Shh," he murmurs, drawn inescapably, helplessly forward. He kisses the boy's face, kisses his neck, and a hungry growl wells in his throat as he eases Judal's legs as far apart as they'll go, rubbing the slick head of his cock against that pretty little hole. Judal is no wilting maiden, he's a creature of need and desire, and Sinbad is only as gentle as the fire in his chest allows, thrusting up hard, biting down and groaning as he does.

Judal sobs, voice breaking to shriek, too, he thinks, though it's ragged and breathless at best, his hands clawing at Sinbad's back and his body twisting, thighs clamping tight about the man's waist as he hiccups and moans. It hurts-tense, tight, not slick enough at all and it just makes him tremble all the more, to know Sinbad wants him so badly he couldn't even wait. He can take it, though; he tells himself that, at any rate, no matter the hot, thick stretch of Sinbad's cock that makes his eyes flutter and cross when he pushes down, drawing another broken keen from his throat as he mindlessly writhes.

God, it's good, though.

No one fucks him like this. No one grabs him and hauls him down and shoves him and pins him to the bed and kisses and bites him and marks him like they want everyone to know where he's been like this. Judal blinks hard, and his vision smears with tears as he pants hard, arching his back to better shove himself down, no matter how he bites his lip and his legs shake so hard that they just fall open again, helpless and begging.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Sinbad blames his exhaustion, his raw need for the boy for forgetting, hurried as he was, and he lurches forward, lowering Judal onto his back as he pulls out, just for long enough to slick his cock with aloe. "Sorry," he mutters, "I'm sorry, I couldn't wait, you're-"

Judal is perfect around him as he slides back in, slick and tight and hot and perfect. Sinbad plants his knees on the bed, pressing a hard sucking kiss to the boy's neck as he moves, groaning at the squeeze of it. "Perfect," he pants, finishing a half-forgotten sentence.

"It's-" Fine, better than fine, really, really good, Judal wants to tell him, though his voice breaks again and he's sure he's sobbing all over again, though he can't quite hear it over the pounding of his own pulse. If it was good before, no matter that aching, agonizing burn, this is a dozen times better, hot and slick and enough to make him whimper with each deep slide. His fingers curl, splaying over Sinbad's shoulders, and his mouth falls open with the next, deep press of Sinbad's hips. "Ah-hah, there, please-" There's still that tense little edge to everything, but god help him if he doesn't love how far Sinbad can go inside of him-enough that Judal is sure he can't breathe sometimes, enough that his eyes just roll back and all he can do is rock his hips down, wanting more.

Sinbad can hardly breathe.

There's nothing that feels as good as being buried in Judal, nothing that makes his heart pound like this, as Sinbad wraps his arms around the boy, pulling him as close as two people can possibly get. It's easier, from this angle, to lean back just a bit, to nip at a collarbone and dig his hands in right as he thrusts just so, and what he doesn't know about fucking men he makes up for by watching Judal's exquisite, expressive face. No matter how he tries to be gentle it won't be enough, so he doesn't try very hard.

"Show me," he breathes, tugging on an earlobe with his teeth, sliding in hard and fast and hungry. "Show me that face, when I've got you…"

Judal hiccups, whines, boneless when Sinbad slides in so perfectly. He doesn't quite hear Sinbad, but he knows his face twists in something like ecstasy, his cock so hard that the slightest drag of Sinbad's hands over his hips, the touch of his teeth and wash of his breath, are all enough to make it throb that much more.

It hurts because it's so good. He sobs as he comes, chest heaving and eyes glazed, his brow knitted from the tension that suddenly makes him squeeze and tremble even more, and god, that just makes him come harder, spilling slick and messy between them as he writhes his way down onto Sinbad's cock, clinging to his shoulders and shivering, quivering with every little slide of heat that keeps slithering up his spine.

Usually, this is the part Sinbad likes the most.

When he's served his bedmate well, when someone's clenching and breathless on his cock and then goes boneless and grateful and clinging to him, and he can take what he wants-that's the best part, usually.

With Judal, who has the time?

It's too much, too intense with the squeeze of it, the clench and spasm of tight muscles as the boy squirms on him, panting and whining and god, there's nothing Sinbad can do but lose himself bare seconds later, burying his cry into Judal's shoulder as he spills, flooding the boy wet and hot and full. He pants out his breaths, sweat-slick and trembling against Judal as he slumps over with slow, satisfied relief.

God, that's nice, too.

Nice, and really obscene, if he thinks about it, to know he's so full, and that if Sinbad pulled his cock out right then, he'd be dripping and making even more of a mess than he already has. The thought makes Judal shudder, his arms splaying over Sinbad's back as he drags him down, liking the weight of him against him, no matter how sticky and sweaty they both are. "Really, really missed you," he mumbles, nudging at Sinbad's shoulder with his nose. It's easier to say it, when he's achingly sated.

"Mm. Missed you too. Missed this," Sinbad adds, and even if he's sated beyond the point of rolling over, he brings his hands up, threading gently through that thick mass of soft darkness splayed across his pillows. His body aches, but he ignores it. If he can ignore it to fight, he can ignore it when he's on top of someone gorgeous.

Judal sighs, his eyes fluttering shut as he simply flops his head back into Sinbad's hands. "'s been too long," he grumbles, letting his hands flop down, too, because it's too much effort even to hold onto Sinbad's back at this rate. "Your rukh's even weirder now…"

Sinbad blinks. Scheherezade had made some comment about the state of his rukh too, months earlier, though he hadn't paid it much attention at the time with everything else he'd been working on. He combs slowly through Judal's hair, frowning in thought. "What's weird about it? Did it forget to shave or something?"

An amused snort follows. "No, it's just… hmm." Judal lazily tilts his head to the side, rubbing against one of Sinbad's hands. "There was just a little bit of black before… like one wiggling around in a big sea of white. But now, maybe like… a third of it is like that. I wonder if it's because you're around me, that it's that much clearer now."

More black in his sea of white? That doesn't sound particularly encouraging, but given what he knows about Judal's rukh, what he's seen of it, an adverse reaction wouldn't be terribly welcomed. "Maybe I'm just drawn to you. Maybe I always would be."

"So be my king." Judal stares up at him unwaveringly. "Even if your rukh turned completely black like mine, I'd still want you."

I wouldn't want me. Sinbad avoids that steady gaze, so wanting, so oddly trusting. "You know it isn't you I have a problem with. It's your….friends. But I'd rather not fight today if we don't have to." God, he's tired.

Judal's lips immediately twist into a pout. "They don't want me to pick you, either. They think you're too hard to control. They think you're the reason I've…" Been avoiding the Kou Empire, leaving whenever I can, avoiding their summons, not listening to their plans.

Sinbad nudges his nose against Judal's shoulder, then presses a firm kiss to it. "My advisors don't think I should keep seeing you, either. You've stabbed some of my friends, I've stabbed some of yours, but that doesn't mean we can't lock the doors for a while, hmm?" Just don't go. I'm not ready to lose you again, not yet.

"… Sounds like one of those books you write. Even in the Kou Empire, everyone talks about them," Judal mutters, and he sighs, flopping a hand over the back of Sinbad's head. "If you ever write one starring us, I wanna read it."

Sinbad grins, scratching gently behind Judal's ears. It's like bedding a big cat-a really big cat, the kind that could turn and snap his neck at any moment, and all the more beautiful for it. "That's quite an idea. You probably won't have seven horns and breathe fire like Ja'far, though." Hell, maybe he'll make Judal into a girl in the books. That would sell, forbidden romance always does.

"I better not. I'm way prettier than he is, anyway." That shouldn't feel so good, but god, it does, and Judal just sags into the bed, lips parting with a shaky exhale. "I don't want him in it at all, if you write it."

"I'll write him out of those scenes," Sinbad promises. A fire-breathing horned demon really has no place in a boudoir novel. At least, not the ones he writes. "Maybe you can be a seductive dark-eyed dancer."

"You've never even seen me dance," Judal points out with a sigh. "Doesn't seem very accurate."

That's fair enough, even if Sinbad frowns. He's never seen Ja'far breathe fire either, never been in the same room with half of the things he's written about. That's just good storytelling. "Goatherd?" he suggests, remembering what he'd suspected the night of their first encounter. Or, maybe, "Concubine?"

Judal nearly wriggles free to kick him at 'goatherd' before he wavers, just a little. "… Mmnn, that's not bad. I'd be your concubine, if you wanted me to be."

It's almost certainly bad, how Sinbad gets a slow heat in his chest at the thought. "Maybe I'll make you another man's concubine, and I'm the brigand who stole you away in the night," he muses, burying his face in Judal's hair, pressing little kisses to his hairline.

"Yeah," Judal sighs, flopping back with a luxurious stretch. "Really good. I'd let you steal me, too. Oh, make sure you keep my hair really long, I'll get mad otherwise. I've never cut it, you know."

"Never ever?" Sinbad grins, combing his hands through, careful not to snag anything. "I can believe that. Maybe I'll tell everyone you're a bit older too, so they don't think I'm a lecher."

Judal snorts. "What's it matter? I'm fifteen, not five. It's plenty old. How old are you, anyway?"

Sinbad hesitates, then nods. He has a point, and his agent had said something about putting in a young love interest, giving the little girls something to hope for. "Twenty-five," he says, fighting down the urge to mutter the last syllable. He misses being a prodigy, shockingly young for someone in his position, not simply a bit young for someone in his position. "What do you think, should I make you my bride? Or just toss you over my shoulder and chain you to my bed?"

"Ah, you are old," Judal muses, a little flicker of surprise going across his face. "You don't look it, though. Kouen looks older. And you can do both, I'll marry you and then you can chain me up and play with me."

Sinbad rolls to the side, hands still tangled in Judal's hair no matter the little huff he lets out. Old, pah. Between Judal and Ja'far's talk of grey hairs, he really has no friends left. What beasts they are.

Still… "You'd be a pretty bride," he muses, dancing down a dangerous path of conversation. "All in...hmm, red maybe, and golden chains all around your head."

Judal sprawls himself out, shifting to pull a good mass of his hair out from underneath himself and push it in Sinbad's direction instead. "I'd wear whatever you wanted me to, you know. I'll do that now, even if I'm not your bride."

The thought is certainly intriguing, and Sinbad goes through a mental list of things that entice him and things he has available in this room. He slides his hands down Judal's waist to his thighs, then back up. "I'd like to see you draped in silks," he murmurs, "and gauzes, something fine that I can see through. Like a concubine of one of the great kings of old."

"Aren't you a great king now?" Judal breathes, his eyes lidding as he shivers beneath the touch, drawing one leg up and pointing his toe to gently drag it along the side of Sinbad's hip. He likes being talked about like this, like he's something precious and treasured and not just a tool to use. "It sounds fitting, to me, especially if it's for my king."

Sinbad smiles, running a long finger across the edge of that foot, relaxing back onto his pillow and Judal's hair. "I'd like to be," he admits. "Like one of the old wise ones that everyone tells legends about, you know? Where they forget the details, only that he was beloved and just and ruled over most of the known world, and honey and gold flowed like water. And of course, surrounded by the beauty of the world," he adds, walking his fingers up Judal's calf.

So let me make you my king, once and for all.

It's on the tip of his tongue, but then he remembers that Sinbad doesn't want to fight about that right now, and there's a little twist of fear in his belly, that Sinbad will stop petting him and touching him and make him leave if he asks again.The struggle plays over his face as clear as day, and Judal slinks down into the mattress, pouting instead as he twists his head, pressing his cheek into a pillow. "You could be that. Easily."

Something in Sinbad's chest twists, some anxiety-maybe this time, Judal won't let it go, will be more accurate, and Sinbad will die naked in his own bed before he's twenty-six. Actually, the dying young bit doesn't sound bad, except for the fact that it might be right now. Delicately, he slides his hand down, brushing over the tip of each toe in turn as he turns his head, biting Judal's nose softly. "When I write about your beauty," he murmurs, hoping the subject can stay easy and light like this, with Judal wriggling under his touch, "no one will believe me."

He's right-Sinbad will make him leave if he pushes it.

It makes his mouth twist again, and Judal sniffs a little, his toes curling slowly. They're right after all. This king doesn't want him. This one, with the warm bed and kind hands and those eyes that look at him like he's something special

Then again, Judal's seen the way Sinbad looks at his advisor-thing, and that's a lot nicer.

"You don't have to embellish it so much." He shuts his eyes, sighing. "Am I even your type?"

"Why does everyone ask me that?" Sinbad grumbles, and rolls, flopping across Judal's body to better bury his face into sweet-smelling skin. "My type is someone lovely that wants me between their legs. You've just got that...fire. I want to get close even when I know I'll get burned." Speaking in cliches, and he can't help it. How can he, when Judal looks at him like that?

Judal cracks an eye open, brow furrowing. "I don't wanna burn you, though. Actually, I'm pretty awful with fire magic still, but you didn't hear that."


Sinbad bites his tongue, not a moment too soon. "Never mind, then." And as he nuzzles his head against Judal's neck, he adds for good measure, "Don't freeze me, either. I like to keep, uh, everything, in good working condition."

"I don't like freezing you. But sometimes it just kinda happens…" That's one way of putting it. Judal sighs, flopping his arms around Sinbad again. "I wanna just stay here."

Like walking a tightrope over a patch of thin ice, Sinbad thinks, even as he pulls the boy closer. "I'm not kicking you out. You can stay as long as you want, I mean it."

"… But you will." Judal's shoulders hunch. "I really want you to be my king, and you won't, so eventually, I have to leave."

Sinbad sighs. They're talking about it, apparently. "I want you to be my Magi," he explains for what feels like the hundredth time. "I want to be your king and spoil you rotten and take over this part of the world with you. I just can't work with Al-Sarmen, they're my sworn enemy."

"I know. You've said it a lot." Judal's teeth worry into his lower lip. "But you know, even if I did decide to leave them, it's kinda the same thing. My rukh is black. It's not gonna change or anything, they told me that awhile ago when I was a kid."

"I don't really care about black rukh," Sinbad says honestly, and runs his thumb over those soft lips. "And I don't care what they told you. If you leave them, whenever, whyever, I'll have you. I'll want you." His smile is a little sad. "That goes forever."

"… You're not going to wait that long," is the grumble to follow, and Judal parts his lips to gently bite Sinbad's thumb as he looks up at him. "You're already talking to that lady Magi, I heard about it."

Ah, damn.

Sinbad twists his thumb, a rueful grin on his face. "Scheherezade isn't interested unless I want to move to Laem," he murmurs, "and I won't leave Sindria, so you needn't worry. Besides," he adds, "your dungeons are a lot more fun than hers."

Judal's nose wrinkles, even as he nips again before languidly sucking Sinbad's thumb into his mouth for a brief, albeit thorough lave of his tongue. "Laem is boring. She's boring. I'd raise more dungeons for you, but… the djinn say you can't go in anymore. Annoying. Good thing you're already so strong."

That pain twists, a sudden stab to the gut worse than any icicle. Sinbad closes his eyes, the djinn's words echoing in his head, and he rests his forehead against Judal's shoulder. "So you know."

Judal blinks, his head tilting a bit to the side to come and rest against Sinbad's. "Mm, I could feel it once you came back." He lifts a hand, carefully trailing it over the back of Sinbad's head and through his hair, figuring if he likes being petted like that, then Sinbad probably would, too. "You already have seven djinn, though. That's more than anyone else, and they're all really strong. I made sure."

It's strange, feeling those soft hands, uncalloused by any work in his life, threading through Sinbad's hair. It's comforting somehow, and he swallows hard, trying not to think about just how comforted he is, and how sort of nice it is to lay his head on Judal for a while. "You aren't disappointed in me?" he asks, not even aware that he'd been worried until he asked.

"Most people can't even get one djinn, you know," Judal huffs, and he drags his fingertips down the back of Sinbad's neck in a slow, methodical stroke. "Plus, I usually have to lead people right to the door of the dungeon. Annoying. You're special. The djinn like you, they want you to have their power… they tell me so, and it's why I could pull up some of the strongest ones for you in particular. So no, I'm not disappointed… well, maybe a little disappointed that I don't get to show up like this and congratulate you and stuff, but…"

"I didn't know there was a limit." It's a little embarrassing maybe, but how was he to know? No one had ever conquered a dungeon before him. Before him, they'd said it couldn't be done. Certainly no one had ever said anything about limits. "I thought I could just...go on collecting them forever. Keep doing this forever."

"Normal people have ceilings, ceilings." His fingers curl through Sinbad's hair, giving a light tug. "You have way more magoi than most, but you're still not a Magi."

"I don't like being just a normal person," Sinbad grumbles, feeling childish and not caring a whit. "I've been better than normal people my whole life. I always thought that if I trained hard enough, I'd be able to hold more magoi, or something."

"Mm, but you're still not really normal, because you do have so much," Judal muses. "If you were normal, I wouldn't be here, after all."

It's a relief, sort of. It's not enough, but it's a bit of a relief. "I want to be more than special," he says, eyes seeing far beyond the walls of the room. "I want to be...beholden to no one. I want to built my country more on ideas than land. I want everyone in the world to know not just who I am, but who my people are, and what I am."

Judal butts his head into his shoulder. "The greatest kings have had Magi at their side, you know."

Sinbad has to wonder just how many of those words Judal had understood, or even really heard. He yawns, uncaring of how early it is when he's so comfortable, and nuzzles into Judal's side. "Be mine alone and I will, too."

"… I want to," Judal sighs, and he drapes his arms loosely about the other man, snuggling against him. "I like your bed a lot."

"Whenever you say the word," Sinbad murmurs, inhaling deeply at the swirl of oriental spices. "I'd keep you in my bed all the time. I'd feed you...what do you like to eat?"

The thought of food is good. Really good. "Peaches are my favorite," Judal readily answers. "But I hate vegetables so don't even try."

Sinbad snorts. "Why would I try feeding you something you don't want to eat? I have peaches, you can eat your fill."

"I eat a lot," is the immediate warning.

"What kind of king would I be if I didn't have plenty?" Sinbad asks, carelessly. He's got to have at least a dozen peaches in the kitchen, not to mention...well, plenty of things that aren't vegetables, probably. Then he buries his face. "Whenever you want to leave the bed. Otherwise I'll have to leave, or call a servant in here." And it might be Ja'far who answers, is the unspoken addendum.

"Don't wanna leave." Food can wait… ah, well, for at least a little while longer, judging by the rumbling of his belly. "I'd almost like seeing that advisor of yours feed me on a gold platter, though."