Taking Inventory

Copyright March 1-5, 2005
by Matthew Haldeman-Time

I am writing about men having sex with other men.  You must be eighteen or older to read my fiction.  This site is for consenting, responsible adults only.

animated banner by Leslie Lee

Author's note: How you read this story is up to you.  You're more than welcome to take it as set in the realm of fantasy.  In my head, it takes place in a videogame.

            “We should camp here for the night.”

            Troi’s determined, long-legged stride never slowed.  “There are too many sentinels around here.”

            “There are too many sentinels everywhere.  We’re in Grenora’s territory.  Until we get to the Black Tower and back, there are going to be sentinels.  Since it’s going to take us three days to get there and three days to get back, at some point, we’re going to have to sleep.”  Jix’s points sounded reasonable in his head, but voiced, they just sounded bitchy.

            Then again, maybe he had reason to sound bitchy.  They’d been trying to find the Ancient Suni Orb for weeks, to return it to the Temple before the Festival of Fire.  Just when he’d thought that they were close, the prophet had told them that they had to get the key to the Underground Castle, which just happened to be in the Black Tower.  Jix had been trying to maintain a reasonably positive attitude, but they’d been battling Grenora’s sentinels all damned day, and he wanted to sit down somewhere and eat something and maybe even sleep for a few hours.

            But, no, that was too much to ask.  Troi was in one of his never-say-die moods again, the kind where he ended up taking on three fire-breathing dragons bare-handed.  Which, for the record, usually didn’t turn out well.  For the dragons.

            Jix smiled, remembering.  It was safe to smile; he was a brief half-step behind Troi, trotting along just behind Troi’s shoulder, and his expression wouldn’t be seen.  Things weren’t all that serious, anyway.  Troi was just out to prove something because Jix had almost died again.  Troi apparently had this thing about seeing Jix unconscious on the ground in a pool of blood.  It didn’t do much good to explain about the whole self-healing thing; Troi had to go super badass for a few hours before getting over it.

            Except Jix didn’t have a few hours.  He wanted to stop power-walking and eat something and sleep before one or both of them passed out.

            Besides, Troi was hurt.  If he’d hold still for a minute, Jix could heal the wound on his thigh.  Call him a wimp, but Jix didn’t like seeing open wounds on his best friend’s body.

            Troi was used to doing everything his way.  That probably had something to do with the fact that he was from an ancient royal lineage and would have been the Crown Prince if his great-grandfather hadn’t been overthrown by the vicious and vile Lord Morturant.  Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that he tended to be the smartest, strongest, fastest, deadliest, wealthiest, and best-looking person everywhere he went; although when Jix was around, it was a pretty damned close call.  Regardless, he was used to getting what he wanted, and he wasn’t used to being contradicted.

            Except by Jix.  He’d probably even learned to expect it by now.

            “We’re stopping here.”  To prove he meant what he said, Jix stopped walking.  “I haven’t saved your ass ten times a day every day for the past two years just to watch you die from starvation, dehydration, and sleep deprivation.  Not to mention the fact that if you don’t eat something or rest, you’re going to get slow and stupid and weak and make mistakes, and then you’ll not only die, you’ll jeopardize my safety.  I happen to have a world to save.”

            Troi turned to face him, heavy cloak swirling with the motion.  “We can’t afford to lose time.”

            “You can’t afford to lose much more blood, either.”  Troi had the nerve to look confused; Jix gestured to his wound.

            “Oh, that’s just a scratch,” Troi said.

            “You’ve been limping,” Jix said.

            “I’m fine,” Troi insisted.  “If we keep walking-”

            “We’ll prove how stupid we are,” Jix said.  Now that Troi was standing still, Jix took the opportunity to heal him, casting forth a warm blue light that surrounded Troi and, when it blinked out, took all injuries with it.  Jix couldn’t heal a moving target, which made healing Troi mid-battle frustratingly difficult; Troi’s self-preservation instinct wouldn’t let him hold still when axes were swinging at his head.

            Some people were silly that way.

            “Thank you,” Troi said.

            “You’re welcome,” Jix said, and dropped down onto the grass.  Ignoring whatever Troi’s reaction was, Jix opened the bag at his waist and withdrew a food pack.

            “We can’t sleep here in the open,” Troi said.

            “We won’t get to the Mystic Forest until tomorrow evening,” Jix said.  “Until then, being out in the open will have to do.  The moon’s bright, the sky’s clear, we’ll be able to see any sentinels long before they get to us.”

            “Not if we’re asleep,” Troi said.

            That was a good point.  Jix didn’t bother to reply.  Feeling stronger now that he’d eaten, Jix removed his gear and unrolled his blanket, spreading it over the cool grass.  Lying back, he let his eyes drift shut.  It was nice to have even a moment of stillness and peace.  They-

            “One vial of light.”

            This wasn’t happening.

            “One defense necklace.”

            Jix gritted his teeth.  “Don’t do this to me.”

            “One book of spells.”

            He sat up, glaring at Troi.  “Do we have to go through this every damned night?”

            “Three silver keys.  Four brass keys.  One gold key.”

            This was one of the most pointless rituals Jix had ever been subjected to.  Every damned night, Troi had to sit down and drag out everything they had with them, searching bags and emptying pockets, just to catalog everything they carried.  “Since when does a sorcerer prince do inventory?”

            “I’m not a prince,” Troi said, and his voice was calm but his eyes flashed a don’t-push-me warning.  Troi was very proud of his heritage, and very determined to take back the throne before he died.  Ultimately, that was what this quest was about.  That was what every mission was about.

            Jix shut up, since that was what Troi wanted.  He sat and watched Troi count fire arrows.  Troi sure as hell looked like a prince.  A sorcerer warrior prince, maybe, but a prince nonetheless.  Troi’s long hair was a dark, rich purple that fell halfway down his back, and he still practiced his family’s custom of taking a few strands here and there and braiding them with thin lengths of silver.  Whether by the sun, the moon, or candle, the silver caught the light, shimmering in the dark purple.  Troi’s eyes were the same shimmering silver, which some people said made it hard to look at him.  It made it hard for Jix to look away.

            “One Lundi flute.  One glass shard.  Five ice circles.”

            Troi was only one inch taller than Jix at the most, but broader through the shoulders.  Jix’s short, spiky blue hair wasn’t nearly as regal as Troi’s rich purple, and blue eyes weren’t as interesting as silver.  Jix’s clothes weren’t as fancy as Troi’s, either.  Troi’s wardrobe was furred and bejeweled, made of the most luxurious fabrics possible, and his armor was the best that money could buy.  The only good stuff Jix had was what he’d picked up on the battlefield - - a pair of boots here, a shield there.

            Troi was willing to buy him better gear, better clothes, but Jix didn’t want to take anything from Troi.

            Jix watched strong, pale hands sort amulets in the moonlight.  The night was silent, except for Troi’s soft muttering.  Silver sparkled in the darkness as one of Troi’s braids fell forward; Troi distractedly tucked it behind one ear.  “Do you have the maps?”

            Belatedly, Jix realized that he was supposed to reply.  “Yeah.”  He broke from his reverie to pull a short stack of maps from his bag, handing them over.

            Troi sorted through them.  “Tower map…temple map…forest map…lunar map…”

            Jix buried his face in his hands.  “It’d be great if we could just go to sleep.  I’d like to get twenty minutes of sleep before we’re attacked again.”

            “One red sacred scroll.  One blue sacred scroll.”

            “One pain in the ass,” Jix added to the list.

            “Five Bruku seeds.”

            “One really irritating anal-retentive obsessive-compulsive-”

            “One ancient Jamorin idol.”

            “No,” Jix said, raising his head.  “I gave that to the…”  He stopped speaking, since the small statue was sitting on the ground right in front of him.  “Didn’t I give that to the priest?  I gave that to the priest,” he insisted, but since the idol was still with them, doubt started to creep in.  “I gave something to the priest.”  Jix met Troi’s eyes.  “What did I give to the priest?”

            Troi smiled, clearly amused by his sudden anxiety.  “At this point, are you sure that there was a priest?”

            “I gave him something!  What don’t we have?  Why didn’t you tell me that we still had this?”

            “You would’ve known, if you’d gone over our supplies with me,” Troi pointed out.

            Troi’s voice was reasonable, but his pretty smile was smug, and that was just irritating.  “You were there, you heard me talking to him.  What did I give him?”

            The sound of Troi’s laughter made Jix’s skin as warm as it always did.  “You offered him the idol, like you were supposed to, but he didn’t want it, so you gave him the ivory spears.”

            The ivory - - the ivory spears!  He hadn’t lost his mind after all!  Right, the ivory spears, right, okay, Jix remembered now.  “He told me to take the idol to the temple.”

            “Of course he wouldn’t say why.”  Troi sounded irritated, but they were both used to being given vague instructions.  They’d become adept at working from half-coherent scraps of information.

            “At least we know where to take it,” Jix said.  He hated carrying around seemingly random objects, without knowing when they’d come in handy or if they ever would.  On their last quest, he’d dragged a small Pongorian trunk all through Upper Xalfa, thinking that they might need whatever was inside it to battle Tattra’s demons.  They hadn’t.  The damned thing, once he finally got it open, had been filled with dragon scales.  Dragon scales.  He hadn’t even bothered to sell them; he’d just left the chest where it was, for the next sucker to find.

            Finished taking inventory, Troi was tucking everything away again.  “Are you okay?” he asked, briefly making eye contact.

            Surprised, Jix tried to remember Troi asking him that when he wasn’t bleeding from five different wounds.  “Yeah,” he said.  “I’m fine.”  He was both touched and concerned; he knew that Troi cared about what happened to him, but since their lives were in danger every ten seconds on most days, if they expressed concern over every little massive head wound, they’d never stop blubbering.  So, they tended to play it cool.

            “You don’t usually forget whom we’ve given what,” Troi said.

            More accurately, he never forgot.  But he had an excellent reason for the lapse.

            “If you’re having trouble with your memory-”

            “I’m not having trouble with my memory.”  Trust Troi to overreact.  When they were facing ten rabid plegoes, Troi acted like it was no problem whatsoever, but let Jix get knocked unconscious and bleed to death, and Troi got all overprotective.

            “You’ve suffered some pretty severe blows to the head lately,” Troi said.

            “So have you,” Jix said.  “That’s what happens.  If I went a full day without practically having my skull bashed in by some evil force, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.  I think that it makes my brain function normally, at this point.  If I went a day without it, we might all be in trouble.”

            Troi didn’t look amused.  “You forgot what happened with the priest.  You’ve never forgotten anything like that.  This could be serious.”

            “It’s nothing,” Jix said.  Troi’s solemn expression didn’t change, so Jix sighed.  “I was distracted.”

            “Distracted,” Troi said.  He wasn’t buying it.

            “Oh, right, I’m the most focused guy you know,” Jix said, rolling his eyes.  “You know I can’t keep my mind on one thing at a time.  He was talking too slowly, about copper medallions and ancient runes.  I got distracted.  Okay?  Can we drop it?  I’m not suffering from brain damage.”

            “Distracted by what?” Troi asked.

            Damn.  Troi was using his stubborn voice.  It didn’t matter if it took ten years of waiting; Troi wasn’t going to budge until Jix spilled.  “It was nothing,” Jix said.  There was no way he was actually going to admit the truth.

            “Nothing,” Troi repeated.  “I’ve seen you meditate in a sandstorm.  I’ve watched you scan a crowd of hundreds and spot a woman with jade earrings.  You were talking to a priest about the sacred temple and the prophecy, and you got distracted?”

            “Yes, I got distracted,” Jix said.  “I got distracted, and I stopped paying attention, and I started running on automatic.  It happens.”

            Silver eyes narrowed.  “How often does it happen?”

            Oh, hell.  Jix was going to have to tell Troi the truth, before Troi decided that he was too feeble-minded to stay on the quest.  Averting his gaze, Jix tried to figure out how to phrase his confession.  He’d rather take on a flaming, two-headed spider.  They weren’t that bad, actually.

            “How often?” Troi insisted.

            Jix lowered his head, studying his fingers.  “Once.”

            “Why?”  Troi sounded frustrated and maybe even bewildered.

            “Your hand.”  No way was Jix making eye contact now.  He’d spend the rest of his life with his head down.  “You were touching me, your hand was on my back.”

            “What?” Troi sounded surprised.

            “You were touching me,” Jix repeated irritably, growing defensive to cover his embarrassment.

            “Jix, if this-”

            “Don’t start,” Jix warned, already blushing fiercely.

            “We agreed that we could handle this,” Troi said.  “You said that it wouldn’t be a problem.”

            “It wasn’t a problem until you started touching me!” Jix snapped, raising his head to glare at Troi.

            “If I had my hand on your back-”

            “Your hand wasn’t exactly still,” Jix said.  “You were…”  He didn’t know what to call it.  The light drag of fingernails.  The slow, rhythmic caress of Troi’s thumb.  The warm, even rubbing over his spine.  “You were petting me.”

            Silence reigned over their tiny camp.

            Jix rubbed his hands together, knotting his fingers.  They’d agreed that they could put aside their sexual relationship during the quest, and Jix thought that he personally had been handling the situation admirably, until Troi had started stroking him, reminding him of more intimate, fiery moments.  Troi could deny it all he wanted, but-

            “Well, what do you expect when you stand that close to me?” Troi asked.  “I’ve been going crazy not touching you, and when that priest started droning on and on, I noticed a little tear in the back of your cloak, and I touched it, just to…”  Troi’s voice trailed off.

            Now Jix really couldn’t look at Troi.  They’d agreed, they had a pact, they weren’t going to let anything interfere with the quest.  All of that extra stuff, the heat and the sex and the passion and the feelings they acted on but couldn’t quite voice, was on hold for later.

            “It felt so good to touch you again.”  Troi’s voice was hushed, but filled with need that vibrated through Jix’s blood with a fierce suddenness.  Jix hadn’t heard Troi sound like that since their last night making love together.

            Fingers threaded through the blue spikes of Jix’s hair, intimately brushing his scalp.  “So,” Troi’s breath came in a low shudder, “good.”

            Jix’s skin was hot, his dick hard, his insides tied in shivering knots.  Exhaling sharply, he struggled to push down on the needy, eager rush of lust racing through his body.  They’d sworn.  He’d been fighting his urges, because he hadn’t wanted Troi to think that he was weak; he hadn’t wanted Troi to think that he’d let his personal desires interfere.

            But this touch, Troi’s slow caress, was making his heart pound and his dick stiffen.  Memories flickered like candlelight, memories of Troi’s hands on his thighs, Troi’s lips brushing his chest, Troi’s tongue tracing around his nipple.  The fall of Troi’s hair, the sound of Troi’s demanding moans, those appreciative groans, Troi’s ass tight around his dick, Troi’s erection filling his mouth.

            “We,” Jix couldn’t speak clearly when his dick was this hard, “agreed.”

            “We agreed,” Troi said, but his palm cupped Jix’s chin, lifting his face.  Troi’s pale skin and soft pink lips and sparkling silver eyes were as captivating as always, and being this close to Troi when Troi’s gaze was this hungry set a predictable ache of desire in Jix’s stomach.  “Tell me you don’t want this,” Troi said, and kissed him.

            Oh.  Yes.  Jix’s mouth opened for Troi’s tongue, starved for Troi’s kiss.  Possessive fingers buried themselves in Troi’s thick hair, and Jix rose onto his knees, pushing forward as Troi fell back easily before him.  Warm hands cupped Jix’s ass, urging him forward and down until he was stretched out over Troi’s body.  The moment his hard-on brushed Troi’s through their clothes, Jix found himself grinding against it, tangling his fingers through Troi’s hair and making aroused, near-grunting noises.

            Nothing got to Jix like Troi did.  Nothing got inside his heart like Troi, and nothing snared his libido like Troi.  Troi’s body was pure masculine perfection, rippling with muscle in all of the right places, skin smooth and rich as satin, nipples the perfect shade of darkest pink, dick long enough and thick enough to make him ache and drool.  The first time that Jix had seen those defined abs and that purple treasure trail, he’d almost dropped to his knees, mouth open, tongue ready.

            Jix didn’t care that they’d agreed to stop screwing.  He didn’t care that they were out in the open.  He only cared about the heat of Troi’s body and the way Troi was massaging his ass and the way rocking against Troi’s hard-on made his lust burn.  Feeding from Troi’s hungry, wet kisses, Jix unfastened laces and tugged at layers of rich fabric to get to Troi’s naked flesh.

            He didn’t bother to strip Troi naked, simply pushing clothes out of the way to bare Troi from nipple to knee.  The last time they’d made love, they’d taken their time with it, drawing out every sensation to unbearable peaks, saying good-bye as intimately as they knew how, saying I love you without ever speaking the words.  This time, Jix’s throbbing dick was so hard, he didn’t have time to prolong the experience.  All he needed was-

            Shit!  Lube.  He didn’t have any lube.  What the hell were they supposed to use?  All of that damned inventory, and the one thing they actually needed, they didn’t have.

            Troi’s quick, strong hand reached between their bodies, squeezing him through his pants, rubbing over his hard-on restlessly.  Jix’s dick pulsed heavily in response, rock-hard and straining to get to Troi.  Jix twisted, tugging his pants down, and his dick leapt into Troi’s hand, the head leaking desperately as Jix’s hips rocked to drive his erection into Troi’s welcoming fist.

            The generous fullness of Troi’s lips and the demanding sweep of Troi’s tongue reminded Jix of exactly why they tended to make out for hours.  He swallowed Troi’s muted, compelling sounds of need while his hands traveled Troi’s thickly muscled thighs, stroking and spreading.  Through all his missions, quests, and adventures, he’d never felt anything as intense as the sheer ecstasy of burying his dick in Troi’s perfect ass, and the urge to experience that euphoria again was gripping.

            Troi’s hand found Jix’s, pressing something into his palm.  Recognizing it by touch, Jix groaned, quickly unscrewing the lid one-handed while eagerly anticipating the tight welcome of Troi’s body.

            There was a brief, tangled moment of confusion while they tossed their clothes aside fully, coming together in a more intimate embrace.  The sensation of warm skin against warm skin was incredibly erotic, and Jix used the oil quickly while Troi’s moans vibrated with barely contained bursts of pleasure.  His fingers rubbing and slicking, stroking and stretching, Jix mated their mouths the way he was on the verge of mating their bodies, taking over Troi’s lush mouth with steady strokes of his tongue.  When the need was unbearable and his body was shuddering with want and his dick was so hard his toes hurt, Jix broke away from Troi’s lascivious kiss and pressed his erection to Troi’s ass, finally thrusting in.

            Groaning, Jix fought the urge to come, driving in deep, burying himself in the glorious haven of hot, tight, slick, contracting muscle.  He couldn’t fully feel the impassioned grip of Troi’s hands or hear the rough, fervent moans from Troi’s throat; his entire being was centered in the ache and throb of his dick, spitting and twitching, pistoning in and out of Troi’s delicious ass.  Jix was so focused on fucking that he barely remembered to breathe, panting harshly as he slid back and rocked forward over and over again.

            Jix had been denying himself this ecstasy for so long that now that he finally was experiencing it again, it was too much for him to handle, and he quickly became overwhelmed, coming too soon, his pleasure cresting in a mad rush as his seed spilled inside Troi’s hot, willing body.

            The moment had been such a wild plunge through erotic fire, when it was over, Jix wasn’t sure how it had begun.  When he put his hand down to jack Troi off, his fingers encountered a sticky wetness before finding Troi’s gradually softening dick.  It had all gone so quickly, and he’d been so consumed by his own needs, that he hadn’t even noticed Troi getting himself off.

            Now Jix didn’t know whether to linger in Troi’s embrace, or rise and dress.  Avoiding Troi’s eyes, he stroked adoring fingertips down the center of Troi’s chest.  He didn’t know what to say.  They didn’t talk a lot when they made love.  Talking might lead to confessions, and Jix wasn’t ready to admit everything to Troi’s face.

            Slow, hot hands stroked up from the backs of Jix’s thighs, over the tight curves of his ass, up his back.  Jix shuddered as heat swelled in his groin, and lowered his head to lick at one small, hard nipple.  The feel of the tight nub against his tongue made Jix’s grip tighten, one hand on a naked hip, one hand on Troi’s shoulder.  Troi whispered his name in yearning tones and pushed one strong thigh between his legs.

            Mmm, yeah.  Jix crawled up a few inches and kissed Troi’s waiting mouth, quickly falling into a hungry rhythm, stroking Troi’s broad chest with one hand while wrapping the other in soft, thick hair.  Troi rolled their bodies over; on his back, Jix raised his knees, planting his feet on the grass, welcoming Troi between his thighs.  Troi’s hair fell forward around their faces, obscuring their kiss from public view, but nothing could hide the passionate joining of their bodies.

            A full twenty-four hours later, Jix hadn’t died all day.  It had been a pretty close call, back there with the owls, but he’d managed to heal himself quickly enough to keep fighting.

            He now hated owls with a grand and fiery passion.

            Speaking of passion…  Jix glanced at Troi briefly enough to avoid getting caught.  Troi hadn’t said one word about how last night they’d given new meaning to the term “insatiable lust.”  Every time Jix let his mind wander, he was right back there, on his stomach, half on the blanket and half off of it, crying out and clawing weakly, pulling up fistfuls of blanket and grass, while Troi moaned in his ear and sucked on the back of his neck, hands tight on his hips, Troi’s dick driving slow and deep and rhythmic into his body.

            Bloodstains on their blankets, fine.  Mud, sure.  Now there were cum stains.

            Troi was comfortable with silence, so most of the time, Jix was the one starting conversations.  He didn’t know how to start this conversation.

            Could they fuck again tonight?

            He wanted to fuck again.  One glance at something as innocuous as Troi’s hand and he remembered that hand on his naked flesh, remembered his body arching into its touch, remembered it wrapping around his pulsing dick.  Yeah, he wanted to fuck Troi again.

            But the quest was their primary focus.  All of their attention had to be on it.  Jix’s sexual desires and the need to get off weren’t as important as returning the Ancient Orb to the Temple before the Festival of Fire.

            And now they were in the Mystic Forest, with possessed owls and enormous wolves and troops of murderous trees.  Not the safest place for a little lovemaking, or for a lot of wild fucking.

            Jix maintained his usual half-step behind Troi.  He was supposed to be scanning the forest for enemies, but his gaze kept returning to Troi’s shoulder, and the soft, thick, glossy hair falling over it.  If he reached for the shimmering strands of silver in the nearest braid, if he stroked the silver and then tugged on the braid, Troi’s head would turn, and-

            Jix realized that Troi had stopped walking a second before he slammed right into him.  So much for warrior’s reflexes.  Quickly, he looked for danger, wondering what had alerted Troi to stop.

            He saw nothing.

            “What?” he whispered, keeping his voice soft as breath, hand on the hilt of his sword.

            “Here,” Troi said, and Troi was turning, shedding pack and weapons.

            “Here?” Jix repeated, wondering what Troi was doing, getting a pretty clear idea when Troi pulled him into a strong embrace and he felt Troi’s arousal against his stomach.

            “We’ll make camp here,” Troi said, and kissed him with fierce possessiveness, groping him with greedy hands.

            Back in the Mystic Forest again.  They had the key to the Underground Castle; it was safely tucked into an inner pocket of Troi’s vest, which was lying crumpled on the forest floor, where Troi had tossed it before letting Jix fuck his hot, firm, muscular ass.  They were fucking every night now.  They were fucking in the daytime, too; in the Knights’ Hall in the Black Tower after a battle, and on the massive staircase outside leading to the entrance to the Black Tower, under a bright sun in full view of the entire world.

            The constant sex didn’t seem to be having a negative effect on the quest.  It didn’t even make them more determined to save each other’s lives.  Jix had always felt white-hot fury at the very idea of anyone causing Troi even the slightest amount of danger or pain.  He’d always been in love with Troi.

            He couldn’t remember not feeling this way about Troi.  From the moment they’d met, he’d been infatuated.  It wasn’t all of the surface stuff, either, although it didn’t hurt that Troi was a warrior-sorcerer-almost prince with exotic beauty.  But there was more to Troi than that.  Troi was cautious and careful, neat and tidy, obsessive-compulsive and anal-retentive.  Why that was sexy and incredibly adorable, Jix couldn’t figure out.

            Troi always checked their inventory.  Without fail, every night.  Even on nights they fucked first, he’d still get up and start counting fire arrows.  If Jix had known that “Kinnevan oil” was another phrase for lube, he might have been more interested.

            Troi’s caution was a good thing.  Jix tended to get impatient and want to rush into a situation; he was confident that he could handle whatever problems arose, even the deadly ones.  But with Troi’s steady patience and willingness to wait for the right moment, deadly situations were avoided altogether.  Troi didn’t fight unless he had to; and if he had to, he wanted to approach from a position of strength.  That was wiser than Jix’s tactic, which was to jump right in from any angle.  If that even counted as a tactic.

            Jix had always thought that since he was a great warrior and a great healer, he could handle himself in battle.  Strategizing beforehand and holding back to survey the situation just delayed the inevitable.  If he thought about what he was doing, he might get nervous; it was better to storm right in, right away.

            He was the impetuous one; Troi was the guarded one.  There was great fire inside Troi, but outside, he was calm strength and irritating peace.  He had the majesty and grace of royalty, the knowledge and mystery of sorcery, the ferocity and passion of war.  He knew when to wait, and when to strike; when to display his zeal and when to hold himself in check.  Troi was too intelligent, too careful, too exacting to act without reason.

            Then why was he dragging Jix into his arms every night?

            They weren’t making camp any earlier than usual.  They continued to push through the night until it became unreasonable to move another step.  But, instead of quietly eating, taking inventory, making plans, and going to sleep, they were ripping off each other’s clothes and feeding hungrily from each other’s mouths and mating with a needful, feral intensity.

            They couldn’t get enough of each other.  Even when the fucking was over, they remained in a close embrace, stroking each other’s bodies, caressing each other’s faces, kissing whatever skin was in reach.  Once their sexual appetites had been satisfied, there was still deep pleasure to be had in touching, petting, kissing, lingering over each other.

            Jix was lounging on Troi’s firm chest, gazing into Troi’s face and running his fingers back through shimmering hair.  Troi looked the way a prince was supposed to look, flat-out beautiful, aristocratic, the finest of his people.  Jix brushed a kiss over the elegant arch of one eyebrow and then another over the sharp rise of a cheekbone.

            His body sated from lovemaking, the day’s exhaustion setting in, Jix rested his head on Troi’s muscular shoulder, his eyes closing drowsily.  His fingers curled in Troi’s hair, then relaxed in sleep.

            Possibly only a few minutes later, maybe longer, Jix felt Troi begin to roll him aside.  He knew what would come next; Troi would get up and start counting maps.  He tightened his grip on Troi’s hair and murmured, “Don’t go.”

            Troi tensed against him; once they started kissing, groping, and removing clothes, they never spoke to each other until the clothes were back on and they’d stopped touching.  Oh, they moaned each other’s names, and they said things like, “harder,” “yes, yes, fuck me,” and, “don’t stop oh god don’t stop,” but they never had anything like rational conversation.

            Troi’s voice was too calm, that reasonable calm that everyone else always fell for but Jix knew was a lie.  “I have to take inventory.”

            “I know what we have,” Jix said, eyes opening.  He locked his legs through Troi’s so that Troi couldn’t go.  “We have maps, shields, amulets, scrolls, and keys.  We have quests and tasks and missions.  And we have lube, Troi, why do we have lube?  It’s not part of this quest, is it?  You bought it at the merchant’s stand in Sheyale, I remember that, you were making purchases and I was looking at the stealth necklaces going, ‘Ooohhh, look, shiny!’  You bought Kinnevan oil and I didn’t even think about it.  What did you buy it for?” he demanded in a low voice, curling his hand around Troi’s bicep and looking into eyes that sparkled even in the dark, sparkled with knowledge and desire.

            “So you could fuck me,” Troi said, his voice soft and intense, his hands sliding down Jix’s back, flaring heat across Jix’s flesh, cupping Jix’s ass and urging their bodies closer.  “So I could fuck you.”

            “You said that we shouldn’t,” Jix said.  “You said that it would be dangerous during this quest, unwise, a bad idea.  You told me that we shouldn’t, and I agreed with you, I did what you wanted, I cut myself off from-”  Jix snapped his mouth shut, biting back the words, not willing to declare himself.

            “Maybe I was wrong,” Troi said, hands massaging, kneading, cupping and squeezing.  “Maybe I was right.”  He lowered his head, testing the tendon in Jix’s neck with his teeth before sucking at it, gently, making a suggestively feline sound against Jix’s throat.  “I don’t care.”

            “You always care,” Jix said, trying not to choke over the words as a moan rose from deep inside.  “Troi…”  He had things to say, arguments to make, but they were all disappearing into vapor under Troi’s sensual assault.

            “I have to have you,” Troi whispered against his neck, kissing slowly up to his jaw.  “I have to have you, Jix, and you know that.”

            God, he did, yes, he did.  Jix groaned as Troi’s hands slid up his chest, tilting his head back as Troi licked up towards his ear.  He, he wanted, he needed, god…

            “You have to have me, too,” Troi breathed, and Troi’s lips were against his, Troi’s tongue sleek in his mouth, Troi’s hands pushing him onto his back and spreading his thighs.

            The screaming and roaring and violence of battle still ringing in Jix’s ears, he dropped to Troi’s side, pressing impossibly steady hands to Troi’s chest.  Healing blue light rose and fell, and Jix dropped onto Troi’s body, collapsing with a shaky exhalation.

            Troi’s hand rose, fingers stroking through his hair.

            Jix didn’t want to fuck.  He didn’t want to get up and gather their scattered belongings and keep going, either, although he knew that they would, in another minute.  He just wanted to stay, and feel the steady pumping of Troi’s heart, and simply be.

            “I love you,” Troi said.

            Jix pressed closer.  They’d find the Orb.  They’d return it to the Temple.  They’d fulfill this mission, and a dozen more, a hundred more.  He wasn’t worried about that.  He never worried about that.  They always did what they set out to do.  They always found a way.  To the goal, to the end, to each other.  “I love you.”

            They’d have to swing by Sheyale on the way back and find that merchant again.  It’d be a shame to have their supplies run low.

Short Stories