It was pity. Nothing more than that.

And perhaps a little curiosity, at first. One night while still researching how to construct his crystal the stars had whispered something new to him, a tale of something frozen in the unending darkness, something eternally both sleeping and screaming, and Nephrite had wondered. Wondered if he could do this thing and more importantly, wondered if he dared.

In the end he couldn't turn down the challenge and each time the ritual became easier, although he had to be very careful to keep from attracting too many prying eyes. This night was no different; Nephrite stepped back as the plume of green smoke formed in the center of the casting circle and watched as it coalesced, expanding until it formed the shape of a man. For an instant there was the spectral outline of a crystal surrounding the form but it faded with an audible pop as the energies of the spell came together and Jadeite dropped down to the stone floor.

He watched Jadeite moan softly for a few moments before pushing himself up on shaking arms, failing once. Nephrite knew from experience an offer of help would only be met with resentment and stayed back, wondering (and not for the first time) just why it was he kept doing this. Jadeite finally managed to get to his knees, doubling over as he shook so hard Nephrite could see it from across the room. "How long this time?" he forced out, his cultured voice reduced to a dry croak.

"Two weeks."

Jadeite let out another moan at that, looking up with something like betrayal despite them both knowing Nephrite owed him nothing. "Why so long?"

Nephrite shrugged. "I've been occupied." With that he strode over to Jadeite, hauled him up by his uniform jacket and kissed him, a hard, demanding kiss Jadeite first tried to flinch away from. Nephrite held his head still and forced his lips open, backing Jadeite against the wall and pinning him there. The first time Nephrite had successfully cast the spell Jadeite had kissed him, had assumed that had been Nephrite's purpose for summoning him in the first place. It hadn't been, Nephrite hadn't consciously had a purpose beyond finding out if he could do it but he hadn't seen any reason to challenge the assumption. He doubted Jadeite would accept any gentler explanation anyway.

It was like kissing a statue and Nephrite pulled back, feigning disgust he didn't really feel. "It always takes you too long to recover."

"S-sorry to-to inconvenience you," Jadeite hissed, his teeth chattering so hard Nephrite could barely make out the words. He said nothing else and let Jadeite cling to him, his craving for any kind of warmth forcing him to bury his face in the curve of Nephrite's neck. He knew Jadeite hated this humiliation more than anything else Nephrite could do to him, this desperate need turning him helpless. Nephrite felt him sob and wrap around him tighter, icy hands slipping under his uniform.

All Nephrite could do was kiss him again and this time Jadeite returned it, making it almost vicious as he scraped his teeth against Nephrite's lip. "I know what's been occupying you," he said, his tongue trailing along the curve of Nephrite's ear. "I hear things out there in the dark. Voices. Thoughts." With that mocking edge back in his voice he almost sounded like himself again, for all that he was still shivering so hard he could barely stand. "I know what your crystal found," he said and Nephrite felt the words curdle inside him. "I never gave the mousy little thing a second look but maybe I should have. Is that why you could go two weeks without calling me? Something else occupying you-?"

Nephrite grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the wall. He'd never had any patience for Jadeite's games. "Do you want me to send you back so soon?" he said, keeping his voice dry and even. Jadeite had a talent for bluffing but he'd always been poor at reading Nephrite; he held Jadeite there until the nerve drained out of his eyes and he shook his head No. He let the moment stretch on longer until panic began to creep in and Jadeite shook his head again. No. Please, no.Nephrite leaned in very close. "Know your place."

Jadeite nodded. "What...what would you have of me?" he said, the mocking tone not entirely gone from his voice.

Nephrite just threw Jadeite to the ground and backed away, his arms crossed over his chest. Jadeite knew what was expected of him. He'd been the one who'd decided this was what Nephrite had wanted in the first place, after all.

Jadeite finally began stripping his uniform off piece by piece, his still trembling hands making the task take longer than it should. Sometimes Nephrite undressed him and he didn't know which Jadeite hated more, being watched and appraised as he was now or being exposed by another's hands. Either way, Nephrite could never miss that no matter how much Jadeite seethed he was always hard by the time he was finished. In fact Nephrite could tell he hard already and felt his own erection strain against his trousers as grey uniform slowly gave way to bare skin.

When he was finally naked he looked up at Nephrite, his lips curling up into a rueful, sneering expression. "Happy now?"

Nephrite decided just for that he wasn't going to disrobe himself. Not yet, anyway. He walked over to Jadeite and trailed one hand down the length of his spine, taking in the contrast of Jadeite's skin against the white of his glove. Then he opened his jacket and undid his trousers just enough for access; Nephrite wrapped one arm around Jadeite's waist to pull him up, letting Jadeite feel his erection press against him. Then with a whispered word of magic to ease the way Nephrite slid inside him with one quick motion.

Jadeite cried out, his whole body jerking against him. Nephrite thrust into him again before he could relax and he screamed again, his hands clutching onto Nephrite's clothes. He wondered when Jadeite had developed the taste for being roughly used; when he tried to brace himself against the wall Nephrite pulled him back by his hair and Jadeite let out a moan that had nothing to do with pain. Jadeite leaned against him instead, his arms reaching up to circle his neck and his head leaning back against Nephrite's shoulder. The height difference was just enough that Jadeite had to push himself up on his toes to thrust back onto him and Nephrite found he liked the way that forced Jadeite's body against him. He leaned against the wall himself and let Jadeite rock his hips against his cock; Nephrite busied himself with running his gloved hands down Jadeite's body in soft, teasing caresses. That just made Jadeite try to press closer, his head tossing as frozen nerves came back to demanding life. Every touch drew out a moan, each caress answered by a shudder. Nephrite thrust into him and Jadeite rocked his hips back harder, demand more, faster.

Nephrite felt Jadeite's hands go tight in his hair, his breath starting to shudder. He wrapped his arms around Jadeite and held him completely still, pinning his arms to his sides. "No," Jadeite moaned, trying to break his grip.

Nephrite just held him tighter. "I'm not ready for this to be over," he whispered, his lips against Jadeite's ear. "Shh," he said when Jadeite struggled again. "Be still."

Jadeite's whole body trembled as he tried to obey. Nephrite let the seconds tick by and first Jadeite started to moan, soft little sounds he couldn't fight back. Finally he started to twitch and then to writhe in Nephrite's arms; that he rewarded with a single, hard thrust that drew out a frustrated sob. Nephrite continued with the occasional thrust, not in any rhythm but just enough to keep Jadeite on the edge until he started breathing so fast Nephrite knew he would be hyperventilating were he human.

And buried underneath all of those desperate gasps was a single, desperate please.

Nephrite wrapped one hand around Jadeite's cock and smiled at the ragged moan of relief. Jadeite climaxed with a cry seconds later, going all but limp; Nephrite's own climax soon followed and while quieter was no less overwhelming. He slumped against the wall for a few moments, holding Jadeite against him, then dragged him across the room and dropped him on the furs he'd heaped by the open fire. He'd learned the first time they did this how quickly the benefits wore off and was always prepared afterward; as Jadeite burrowed into the furs Nephrite took the time to strip off his uniform and slid in next to him, letting Jadeite have all the skin contact he wanted.

Jadeite wasted no time pulling Nephrite on top of him; the shivered started again soon but it was mild, easily handled by tucking the furs more closely around them. Nephrite knew that were they still human they would probably fall asleep now, but it had been so long Nephrite hardly remembered what that had been like.

It wasn't very long at all before Jadeite began rocking his hips again and Nephrite could feel he was back to halfway hard. "Already?"

"It's...it's the only time I don't feel it," he whispered, not willing to look at Nephrite as he said it. Jadeite's pride was such that it surprised Nephrite he was able to admit that much. He supposed all four of them were prideful in their own ways, or they would have made different choices.

Without another word Nephrite drew back; Jadeite didn't seem inclined to move so Nephrite simply spread his legs and knelt between them, angling up his hips for a better position. He couldn't get as much penetration this way but from the way Jadeite sighed as he entered that didn't seem to matter. For a few minutes there was no sound in the room aside from the crackle of the fire and their mingled breathing; this time Jadeite seemed content to let Nephrite fuck him this way, not demanding anything else. But then, Jadeite had always been more than happy to lay back and be adored.

Jadeite turned his face to the fire and Nephrite could see nothing but bliss in his expression now, the hard lines of suffering and servitude wiped away. It woke hazy memories long buried, of when they'd still had blood in their veins instead of magic and their greatest concern had been finding an empty cloakroom at a ball.

Nephrite leaned forward and kissed him, their lips barely brushing. Jadeite's eyes flew open and the illusion shattered; there was nothing but suspicion there, Jadeite's green eyes as hard as his namesake. Nephrite didn't know what else he'd expected to see.

They Jadeite closed his eyes again and rolled his hips, a slight, gentle movement that Nephrite matched. He stayed leaning over him; the position trapped Jadeite's cock between them and Nephrite could feel it against his stomach every time they moved. They kept it like that, slow, deliberate movements until moans edged Jadeite's breathing, his lips parted as he drank in all the warmth both Nephrite and the fire could give him. He twined Nephrite's long hair around his fingers as his head tossed back, waking another memory Nephrite wished he could bury, then he came with a single, full body shudder. Nephrite kissed him again, the way Jadeite moaned against his mouth pushing him over his own edge.

A few magic words was all that was needed to clean up; Nephrite could feel the seconds of the summoning ticking down and knew the time was short. He dressed himself again and then dressed Jadeite, too. "Has there been any progress with making this permanent?" Jadeite asked as Nephrite stood him up, not daring to meet his eyes.

"No."

"But you are trying. You said there was a way."

"Yes. I'm trying." There was no way. He couldn't even counteract the spell enough to let Jadeite leave the summoning room. He would have to be a match for Beryl's power to undo the Sleep and Nephrite knew he was nowhere near. He didn't know why he always lied.

Jadeite nodded. "I just need one more chance," he said, panic running his words together. "I know who two of them are. I can kill them, I just need the chance. I won't fail again."

"Of course not." There didn't seem to be anything else to say.

Jadeite's composure always broke right before the end, no matter how much he clung to his dignity. He pulled Nephrite close and kissed him, clutching on tight as if that could give him a chance. "Don't wait two weeks again," he said, his voice raw and pleading. Then he was gone, fading back into smoke with an agonized, fearful sob that rushed through Nephrite like a thousand knives. He told himself it was just because if he wasn't careful he could share that fate someday.

He stared into the dissipated smoke for longer than he would care to admit. Nephrite snuffed out the fire and drew the curtains over the windows. If the stars had any wisdom for him they could keep their peace for tonight.