“Master Saeed?”

It was far from the first time he’d heard those two words together; indeed, over the past few weeks, he rather thought he’d got used to them – at least so far as the combination no longer sounding bizarre and foreign. Yet this time, they gripped his attention more than usual. Not by volume – or, at least, not by great volume; that they were spoken so softly was, in fact, part of what seized his attention. He hadn’t heard them said so hesitantly since the first few days.

Nor had he ever heard them used here.

He opened his eyes and turned his head. The one who’d spoken lay on his side, facing away from Saeed – that much was not unfamiliar, but there was a tension to him now… “Kashmir? Whatever is the matter?” He’d not insult the young man by asking if something was the matter, when it was so plainly the case.

There was such a silence that Saeed was about to reach out, to draw the youth into an embrace, when finally he said, “Do you… truly desire me here?”

The question was so unexpected, it felt not unlike a kick to the gut. Why would he be asking such a thing? Had Saeed been too harsh with him? The sabrecat racked his mind, but it wasn’t as though he’d had much call to scold Kashmir – the boy had genuine talent, a keen mind, and a great will to please. Or did it go back farther than that? “Kashmir… I know I was, at first, not very graceful about your presence…” But to be fair, Kashmir had been trespassing at the time, and Davarim had changed Saeed’s mind in the space of minutes. He’d thought he’d made plain since that he was quite pleased with the young man’s progress, and that was without in the least considering how useful were the wisps of unicorn fur and mane that he’d offered…

Kashmir drew a deep, ragged breath. “No, not that. I understand, I… did not come as I should have. You’ve been nothing but kind since…”

And there was a label that Saeed’s three fellow apprentices would have chortled to hear used without irony…

“…But it’s here I mean.” Kashmir’s fingers tapped against the furs.

Oh. “Here in my bed,” Saeed hazarded. “Not, here in my home.”


Sweet gods, now Saeed was even more confused. And concerned. He rolled onto his side, nuzzling into Kashmir’s mane, and gave the youth’s shoulder a squeeze. “Kashmir,” he breathed, “whatever have I done that would give you the impression otherwise?” He’d invited the younger man here, not as an apprentice, but as a lover. And while Saeed was older and more experienced, he’d thought Kashmir had joined him as an equal to be welcomed, not as a subject to be commanded.

Kashmir trembled under his fingers. A few weeks of proper eating and grooming had helped him to look less of a child, and more like his seventeen summers; but now, shaking with whatever fear or doubt plagued him, curled up somewhat, he seemed all too young and vulnerable. He didn’t answer quickly, despite taking a few ragged breaths; Saeed did not press him, just held him close.

Finally the black unicorn sighed. “When I am near you like this… when I see you, or Davarim, or others before, unclad… it makes my heart race. Even if it’s not a proper time and I know it isn’t, my blood sings and my… my manhood stirs. Davarim, too, I think is easily excited by – by you or me. But yours…” A pause; a sigh; then, in a still smaller voice, “Yours I must always coax. And you’ve given me no cause for complaint, but…”

Saeed clutched him close, mind racing. “Oh, Kashmir…” At least the youth wasn’t so far gone as to recoil from his touch. He trembled, yes, and let out a ragged breath that might all too easily have become a sob; but he pushed back into the contact, and, perhaps, relaxed ever so slightly.

Still, how could Saeed possibly put these doubts to rest? That Kashmir had mentioned Davarim cut off the simplest explanation, that of Kashmir’s youth – while Saeed had never actually asked just how old Davarim was, he was rather certain the white unicorn was little younger than him, if at all. If he was not, in fact, the eldest of their triad. In that light, however could he convince the younger man – not just tell his mind, but let his heart see the truth of it – that Saeed did find him appealing, did enjoy his company, and did, even now, ache to abandon this unpleasant conversation, to let his hand stray down to Kashmir’s manhood, coax it, if need be, to full attention, and feel the youth contort in pleasure against him – not because it meant his ward was pleased, or not only that, but because it made his own heart race?

Not with silence. He took a breath. “I do desire you, Kashmir. I promise you that. I’ve rested easier and better on those nights you’ve been with me than when I’m alone. If Davarim could rest with me like this, if I didn’t still need to call him to our time and greet him with anticipation already quickening in me, he too would find my body slower to react than yours, or his own.” He sighed over the youth’s neck. “My body is most attuned to women, I suppose. But my heart finds both of you delightful, and if I could give to myself that natural eagerness, I would. Truly, I envy you for it.” How long had it been since the mere sight of someone had made his blood quicken, before his thoughts could even begin to imagine the possibilities?

Too long by far. And in his life as it was taking shape, he might be doomed to ever do his lovers that disservice.

Kashmir sighed, giving Saeed’s hand a squeeze. “It’s foolish, then, all of it.” An anxious pause. “But… but I can’t make that doubting voice be silent.

Saeed tried to imagine how he might feel, if he’d had cause to believe that Kashmir had not come to his bed wholly willingly. If his presence here, and all his enthusiasm beyond the pure physicality of his response, was for Saeed’s benefit, just an effort to please his master.

Even with this conversation making plain that it wasn’t the case, that it was Kashmir who thought his affection unrequited, the very thought made the cat feel unclean. Vile.

Pleasuring his smaller partner with his fingers might have been exactly the wrong course. If the younger man fretted that all of this might only have been out of some misguided kindness, an act that focused only on his pleasure might have inadvertently reinforced that doubt, rather than easing it.

No, he needed to take the first opportunity to prove that Kashmir did excite him. And in a clearer manner than quietly growing aroused by his ward’s pleasure.

Tilting his head to bring his fangs past the youth’s shoulder, he brushed his lips against the base of Kashmir’s jaw. “I’ll not call you foolish,” he murmured. “Nor dismiss those concerns out of hand. Your innermost demons are ever the hardest to banish, and the damage they can do to you is potent and often underestimated.” He laced his fingers with Kashmir’s, giving the unicorn’s hand a squeeze in turn. “But if words and reason cannot chase them away… I don’t want to give you the notion that I’m stifling an inconvenient discussion, but I would rather work to prove my desire than to have you suffering from fear of its lack. Especially on a night that I called you here for some shared pleasure.”

Kashmir’s soft huff of breath could have been a quick laugh. He turned his head slightly, offering Saeed a crooked smile. “I will… try not to let those worries get in the way, if you’re game for another bout.”

Oh, that youthful energy could be a challenge to keep up with – or maybe part of it was a unicorn’s natural vigour and good health. But they’d been quietly dozing together for a good half hour – or Saeed had been dozing, at least – and that was time enough for some excitement to return. He drew back slightly, easing Kashmir onto his back and swinging over to kneel astride the younger man.

His first thought was to press in close, muzzle to mouth and flesh to flesh, and let Kashmir feel him harden, but then another thought struck him. One that would see him aroused without one direct touch given his manhood, yet keep him actively involved in the entire process.

He curled to nuzzle at Kashmir’s collarbone, the sides of his fangs pressing for a moment against the younger man’s ribs; then he straightened, reaching over for the flask on his nightstand. It was only half-full by now; the past few weeks had been… intense, in spite of, or perhaps due to, how hard he and his apprentice had been working. Seeing that flask in his hand, Kashmir started to shift under him, to draw his knees up toward his chest.

Saeed grinned at him and pushed one thigh back down. Perplexed, curious, and excited – and not only in the sense of the rigid obsidian flesh rising over his belly – Kashmir lowered the other one as well.

Saeed had at first been sceptical of this sort of thing. But Davarim had plainly enjoyed it – Kashmir as well – and when Saeed had swallowed his objections and given it a cautious try with the older unicorn, he’d found it to be not only bearable, but intensely pleasurable. So now he pulled the stopper free, poured some oil onto his palm, and curled his fingers around Kashmir’s manhood, stroking and twisting to spread the slick stuff about. Kashmir’s eyes widened with understanding, then slid shut, the youth arching into the touch with a moan of need – for the moment, at least, his anxieties were well and truly forgotten.

Saeed stoppered and set aside the flask, and eased forward somewhat. It was awkward – Davarim had been the one guiding things, before, and while Saeed knew roughly what needed to be done, getting the angle right from this side of matters was not so easy as the older unicorn had made it seem. But he knew, from the spike of sensation that surged through him, when he’d guided Kashmir’s manhood to the right place. He leaned back a touch, feeling that surge heighten, and a swell of tension along with it – that wouldn’t do. Licking his lips, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to let that tension bleed out of  him even as he tried pushing back again.

And then he shuddered, a heavy groan ripping free of his throat, as the unicorn’s manhood spread him open.

Gods, it wasn’t nearly as easy to take charge of things like this as Davarim had made it look. More than once, Saeed had to pause, panting, and let his body adjust. But then, finally, the effort paid off, Kashmir’s hips resting firm under Saeed’s thighs, the heat of his manhood nestled deep under Saeed’s short tail. His throat was already a bit hoarse from the gasping, panting, and moaning he’d done on the way down, and they weren’t even close to done.

But one other thing had been accomplished as well.

Saeed leaned forward, breathing hard, shivering a little at the shift inside him – and gripped both of Kashmir’s shoulders. “Now,” he husked, “feel for yourself, hmm? Not you nor I have laid a finger on it, and yet…”

Kashmir’s emerald eyes flew open. For a moment the youth just stared up at him, panting; then his gaze swept down, and Saeed straightened his arms, pushing up and out of the way as much as he could without breaking contact. Trembling fingers wrapped around his own rigid arousal, giving it a few light strokes as though their owner scarcely dared believe it was there.

Then, joyously, Kashmir laughed. “Hard to ignore such as this, certainly.” His thumb swept upwards, catching some emerging slickness and smearing it over Saeed’s crown.

The cat lacked the coordination to do much more than rock in place – another thing Davarim had made look so easy, rising and falling along Saeed’s manhood, that as yet was beyond him. But it was enough to keep his pleasure surging higher, to keep him fidgeting, squirming atop the other male, bucking now and then into his grasp. Their tails twined together, the tuft capping Kashmir’s longer tail coming about and teasing over Saeed’s toes. He squeezed the cat’s length between his palms, then slid one hand upward, rubbing over Saeed’s heaving chest, while the other kept stroking.

With so much being done to him, a swift climax was inevitable. It bubbled up deep inside him, then exploded through his being, a bellow tearing free of his jaws as his head flung back. He shoved down against Kashmir’s hips, taking into himself as much of that wonderful heat as he possibly could, while his chest heaved with his breaths and his heart hammered against his ribs.

When the force of his climax subsided, he lowered his head and forced his eyes open. The Fates had blessed him with what was, for him, a quite forceful release; streaks of white marred Kashmir’s inky pelt up as far as his breastbone. And even if both the unicorns had managed well more than that, Saeed’s more modest norms had not escaped Kashmir’s attention; he caressed Saeed’s spent but still rigid member with something approaching awe.

But something was incomplete about this pleasing little tableau.

The cat curled inward, fangs wedging between Kashmir’s shoulder and jaw as the cat nipped at the side of his neck. “We’re not done yet,” he growled, trying to imitate the way Davarim had shoved against and squeezed around Saeed, when the unicorn had ridden him. “It’s your turn now, isn’t it?”

They pulled apart long enough to turn over, to give the unicorn a bit more leverage. But Kashmir at least knew what he was doing, well enough to keep Saeed from being left empty for long. The cat wasn’t so flexible as his lovers – all he could do was pull his knees in and hope it was enough, not use arms and legs alike to pull his lover in close. But Kashmir was more than willing to do the rest, now, thrusting in and out of him. And it wasn’t at all long until he lurched forward, gasping, his mouth seeking out Saeed’s as his manhood jerked and pulsed.

Kashmir was still trembling in the wake of his release when they rearranged themselves, Saeed lying flat with his smaller lover stretched out atop him, his hands against the unicorn’s waist. Neither spoke at first; the slowing cadence of Kashmir’s deep breaths communicated enough for both of them.

At length the unicorn swallowed, carefully nuzzling at Saeed’s jaw – no errant poke of his horn against the cat’s brow this time. “Thank you,” the younger man breathed. “I… think I can work through the doubts, when I at least know they’re not true.”

“Do let me know if you need another example,” Saeed purred, grinning. “And in a case such as this, I think it’s appropriate that I not only admit to, but boast of some selfish intent, hmm?”

Laughing, Kashmir kissed him.