"A Debt Owed"
Disclaimer: Jareth and the Labyrinth don't belong to me, but everyone and everything else in this story certainly do.
Distribution: ask first
Characters: OMC/OMC (Cirollan/Julian)
Content: m/m relations, language, angst
Originally posted in 1995
Julian flung open the heavy doors with a dramatic flourish, his heart hammering with suppressed excitement as he paused in the doorway of the Great Hall. He smiled to himself as silence fell abruptly upon the multitude of rainbow-garbed wizards gathered within, knowing that all eyes were on him as he sauntered into the Hall. He ignored them all, focusing on the dark figure seated on an austere silver throne on the dias at the far end of the Hall. For all his flippant air, he couldn't suppress a pang of joy as the familiar emerald eyes lifted to meet his, a surprised smile matching his sudden grin.
"Julian! You've returned!"
The joy in his beloved ruler's voice sent a wave of hope through Julian. /Perhaps my absence made 'Lan realize how much he actually cares for me. Maybe some good came of it after all./
He approached the throne, highly conscious of the striking appearance he presented. His blond hair fell just past his shoulders, startlingly pale against the black cloak he wore. His white shirt was open at the throat, revealing a sliver of pale skin, the baggy sleeves gathered at his wrists. Black breeches were tucked into black leather boots, and a vest of the same color hung halfway to his knees. Silver edging on the vest and a dark grey sash provided the only slashes of color in his outfit.
Cirollan rose from the throne as Julian climbed the few short steps to the dias. Julian swallowed, staring unabashedly at him, his throat suddenly dry. /Gods, he looks better now than he did when I left six months ago,/ he thought, his cerulean eyes hungrily drinking in the sight before him.
Cirollan's black velvet robe clung to his slender body, blending into his ebony skin. His white hair created a natural cloak of ivory that hung past his knees, and his jade eyes sparkled with joy as he opened his arms to receive Julian in an enthusiastic embrace.
Julian groaned silently at the sight, his overwhelming desire shaking him with its force. He stepped into 'Lan's embrace, steeling himself against the sweet torment he knew it would bring. He tried desperately to ignore the heat radiating from 'Lan's body as it pressed against his, fighting to suppress his desire as he hid his face from the surrounding faces.
As Cirollan laid his head briefly on Julian's shoulder, Julian's hand moved up involuntarily to tangle in 'Lan's hair, as intimate as he dared to get in such a public gathering. He longed to throw his arms around 'Lan and cover him with kisses but he restrained himself, afraid to make too much of a simple greeting.
Finally, Cirollan released him and he stepped back, trying to regain his mental balance. He was aware of Cirollan's eyes upon him, studying him, a curious glint in their jade depths. He flushed and looked down, hoping that Cirollan wasn't aware of the reason for his sudden embarrassment.
"I've missed you, Julian," Cirollan murmured, his voice pitched so that the watching crowd couldn't overhear.
Julian smiled slightly, regaining control of himself, and replied just as softly, "And I you."
'Lan returned his smile, then reached out and lifted a lock of his hair. "Your hair's grown, Julian." He paused, and Julian lifted a puzzled eyebrow, wondering why Cirollan was toying with him. 'Lan let the hair drop and added, "It suits you."
Julian inclined his head at the compliment, then wondered aloud, "You've missed me, eh? What of Alean? Hasn't the Elf maiden kept you too busy to miss anyone?"
Cirollan's lips quirked in a half-smile, and he shook his head. "Alean? She's long gone, my friend."
Julian smiled, relieved. "And who have you hanging about now?" he prodded, his teasing tone a mask for the dread that underlay the question.
Cirollan shrugged, his face bland. "No one, now."
Julian kept his smile on his lips, hoping that the elation he felt wasn't visible to Cirollan.
Then 'Lan leaned closer to Julian and whispered conspiratorially, "But there is a delightful Myrmidon youth that I've been eyeing for nearly a month now. Perhaps you could aid me in my hunt, now that you've returned."
Julian's heart wrenched at the playful smile on Cirollan's face. He laughed dutifully, keeping his jealous anger hidden. /Dammit, will he never stop? Every time I blink, he's got another lover. Gods, he's as bad as Jareth ever was! But at least Jareth isn't as blind as his brother is,/ Julian thought ruefully. /He's known for years how I feel about Cirollan-- not that it ever mattered to him, of course. I think he tried even harder after he discovered it--pushing people at 'Lan and then watching to see how I'd react, how well I'd hide my hurt. Thank the gods 'Lan isn't that cruel. If only he weren't so damned oblivious!/
Julian's thoughts were dragged back to the present as Cirollan exclaimed, "But what am I thinking? I haven't even welcomed you home yet!"
Julian froze, his mind whirling madly at 'Lan's words. /Oh, gods, no. Not this. I'd been hoping he'd forget . . ./ But deep inside, Julian admitted to himself that he'd been secretly looking forward to this as Cirollan placed a hand on either side of his face and bent his head to give Julian a gentle kiss, his traditional welcome for his cherished lieutenant. At the first touch of Cirollan's lips against his, a wild surge of desire overtook Julian and he hoped desperately that his reaction wasn't obvious either to Cirollan or to those watching. Only with difficulty did he manage to keep his hands at his sides as Cirollan drew back, instead of flinging his arms around him and kissing him--really kissing him--right there in front of the entire court. Cirollan didn't even notice his tenseness as he returned to his throne, drawing Julian up to stand beside him. Julian groaned inwardly as he took his place, his desire to be near 'Lan and his exhaustion warring within him. The exhaustion won, and he leant over to ask softly, "'Lan, could I just leave now? I just got back, and I'm exhausted . . . all I really want is to go to my room and collapse . . ." /. . . beside you,/ he amended silently, with a wistful smile.
"Of course, Julian! Gods, what was I thinking?" Cirollan said softly, his eyes widening in apology. "I'm sorry," he said, smiling gently. "My joy at seeing you again after all these months overwhelmed both my common sense and my courtesy. And I, the one who sent you out in the first place, to forget how long you've been gone . . ." Lan's smile widened ruefully as he made a small shooing motion towards Julian. "Go, rest!" He placed a hand on Julian's arm and murmured, "I'll come by later tonight and see you, all right?"
Julian nodded speechlessly, his heart leaping at 'Lan's words. /Could he possibly . . . No, of course not. He'll probably be keeping company with that Myrmidon tonight. He just wants to make sure that I'm all right./ His heart settled back into its accustomed place, a bit heavier than normal, as he bowed slightly to Cirollan and moved away, towards the shadowed exit behind the throne.
As he pushed the heavy tapestry aside, he glanced back at the throne, hoping to see 'Lan's eyes on him, watching him leave, but only a stray lock of hair, glistening blackly in the witchlight, caught his eye. He sighed, and turned back to the shadowy doorway.
He chuckled self-mockingly as he entered the torchlit hallway beyond, letting the tapestry fall back into place behind him. /Wonder what he'd do if I told him how I was feeling? Maybe I should, just to get him to finally react to me!/ But even as the bitter thought crossed his mind, he knew he wouldn't do it. He wanted Cirollan to finally wake up and see how much he meant to him . . . Gods, Jareth had known for years. He'd even hinted to Cirollan . . . who, of course, hadn't even noticed.
Julian's lips twitched upward slightly as he ruminated on the gentle thoughtlessness that characterized his oldest and dearest friend, not noticing as his steps led him along the darkened hall to his rooms. He stopped abruptly, struck by a sudden thought. /But . . . why am I so afraid of telling him myself? Why am I playing this game? All it's doing is hurting me . . . If I know that he's too damned oblivious to ever wake up and see the obvious when half the court thinks we're lovers already, why shouldn't I tell him? Why should I have to keep swallowing my pride and watch 'Lan with his continual string of lovers?/ Julian's mind tumbled furiously, all the years of his frustrated passion merging into one thought. /Why haven't I said anything?/ he wondered. /It's not as though I'm afraid of losing him if he knows. . . I know he's attracted to me . . . And I'm not afraid to speak my mind to him about anything else. . . . Even the talents of his lovers./ A smile quirked Julian's lips at the memory of that long-ago voyeuristic episode. He sagged against the wall behind him for support, hoping that the chill from the stones would help cool his suddenly raging blood. /Why am I so afraid to tell 'Lan that I love him?/ Julian froze as the thought crossed his mind. /I love him . . ./ And suddenly, he knew. /Because I'm afraid he doesn't love me! Gods, I sound like a schoolgirl with her first crush,/ he thought, disgusted with his own cowardice. /We've been friends for years . . . I know he's attracted to me . . . and I know I mean more to him than a mere friend. I just don't know how much more./ He frowned. /Maybe tonight . . ./ he thought, a smile playing on his lips. He stood, a newfound determination filling him as he strode down the corridor.
An hour later, Julian tossed restlessly in bed, unable to sleep as images of Cirollan filled his thoughts. He threw off the bed covers, only a sheet over him as he turned onto his back, staring sightlessly at the canopy above his bed. He pictured Cirollan lying beside him, his robe undone, his hair spilling across the bed and onto the floor . . . He groaned and flung an arm over his eyes, willing himself to think about something else, anything else . . .
"Julian?" Julian froze as Cirollan's voice floated through the darkness to him. "Julian, are you awake?"
He whimpered softly, then caught his breath, hoping that Lan hadn't heard him, and sat up, drawing his knees up to his chest. "I'm awake. I'm right here," he replied in a hoarse whisper, his voice breaking as the pale glow of witchlight appeared, highlighting Cirollan's dark face. He looked up, brushing his tousled hair away from his face, and his breath caught in his throat at the sight of Cirollan's intense gaze taking in his disheveled appearance. He'd stripped off his vest and tunic and gone to bed wearing only his black breeches. Now, under that unexpectedly piercing gaze, he felt exposed.
After a momentary pause, Cirollan smiled and asked, his tone artificially light, "Mind if I sit down?" He indicated the side of the bed beside Julian. Julian swallowed, his throat suddenly dry, and shook his head silently, his hair covering the flash of hunger in his eyes.
He stared down at the sheet, tracing its patterns over and over in his mind until he felt the weight of Cirollan's body settle on the bed next to him. He glanced up, and nearly moaned aloud at the passion evident in 'Lan's avid gaze. 'Lan blinked, breaking Julian's gaze, and when he opened them again, it was as if a veil had dropped over them, masking his emotions. Julian sighed silently, then shifted to make more room for 'Lan.
"How was your journey?" Cirollan asked, turning to face him more fully, apparently oblivious to the heat Julian could feel building up on his face.
Julian groaned and rolled his eyes, seizing on Lan's question to distract his wandering mind from its errant thoughts. He leaned back against the headboard, his mind resuming its more normal orderly track, and Cirollan chuckled quietly at the frown on Julian's face. "That bad, eh?"
"You don't know the half of it." Julian gave Cirollan a level gaze as he folded his arms behind his head. "You'll need to do something about the baronies soon, 'Lan. Some of them are muttering about the Shadow King, especially the border lords--and some are doing more than just muttering. Baron Gaise wouldn't even let me inside his castle. Something's happening, and it's serious."
Cirollan sighed heavily and closed his eyes, an almost visible weight dropping over him. "I don't know what to do, Julian." The underlying helplessness in Lan's voice caught at Julian's heart as he watched Cirollan's face gain an unaccustomed grimness. "The outlying barons have never been very loyal to me. I suppose I can't blame some of them-- they didn't choose me as their ruler. I have my father to thank for their suspicion of me." Cirollan shook his head, weariness creasing his brow as he stared down at the floor and said heavily, "The tensions lately between the High King and my brother--and my father--haven't helped, either."
Julian peered suspiciously at Cirollan as 'Lan rubbed a fatigued hand across his eyes. "How much sleep have you been getting lately, 'Lan?" he asked sharply.
Cirollan glanced at him, raising an eyebrow in some surprise. "I don't know. I think I slept about four or five hours last night."
"And the night before that?" Julian prompted, frowning.
Cirollan shrugged indifferently. "I don't know--maybe more, maybe less. You're not the first of my messengers to report back to me about the barons," he answered, his careless tone not masking the weariness in his voice.
Julian sighed, and placed a hand on Cirollan's shoulder. "Lay down, 'Lan," he commanded softly, his heartbeat soaring at the thought of 'Lan lying beside him.
Cirollan shook his head and started to stand, shaking off Julian's hand. "No, I can't. I have to . . . "
Julian interrupted his protests. "Lay down. I'll tie you down if I have to, but you're not leaving this room until you get at least an hour's sleep." /And what fun that would be . . ./ Julian thought, a wicked glint in his eye.
"I can sleep in my own room," Cirollan protested weakly.
Julian shook his head in amused exasperation. "Where everyone can find you? You wouldn't even make it down the hall to your door, and you know it. Now lie back." Julian pulled him down beside him. He whispered, "Don't worry--I won't bite. . . . Unless you want me to," he added, laughing internally at the alarm that appeared on Cirollan's face. /I think I can persuade you to change your opinion about biting, 'Lan. Just wait and see,/ he thought to himself with a small smile.
"But what about you? You need sleep, too," Cirollan murmured, his voice already drowsy.
Julian lay back and sighed. "Don't worry. I couldn't sleep anyway." His reply was lost to Cirollan, already fast asleep. Julian watched 'Lan sleep, his face open and relaxed, a smile on his sleeping lips. He smoothed 'Lan's hair away from his dark forehead, reveling in the feel of his smooth skin. At his touch, Cirollan whimpered slightly and twitched, and Julian raised an eyebrow as a pang of longing shot through him. /I wonder if he's dreaming of me?/ he wondered. /It would serve him right-- I've dreamt of him often enough./ Julian threw the sheet over Cirollan and stretched out beside him, their bodies not quite touching. He lay there and listened to Cirollan's quiet breathing, slowly drifting off to sleep.
"Cirollan?" Julian sat bolt upright in bed, startled awake by something. He turned to the still-warm spot beside him in the bed, but Cirollan was gone. "Cirollan? Are you still here?" he called softly, knowing that 'Lan had already left. /That's probably what woke me--the door closing. He was probably trying not to wake me. He never could move quietly,/ Julian thought wryly. He sighed. /Oh well. At least now I can truthfully say that we've slept together./ He smiled slightly at the thought.
/I wonder what time it is . . ./ He stood and stretched, yawning, then padded over to the window. /Gods, it's late. Or is it early? I never could get that straight. It must be the middle of the night . . . morning . . . whatever / He stood there for a few minutes, gazing out at the stars, flung across the heavens as if someone had scattered handsful of diamonds over a velvet cloth. /I wonder if 'Lan's seen this? I know he loves to look at the stars./ Julian smiled, remembering the last time he'd gone star-gazing with Cirollan and . . . /What was her name? Toine, or Trone, or something like that. Now that was an educational night./ He smiled at the memory, then cursed softly as the memories reawakened his sleeping desire. /Damn. Now I'll never get back to sleep./ He paced for a few minutes, mentally reciting the multiplication tables, the nine different categories of spells, the scientific names of the four families of mushrooms that could be used for spell components, and anything else he could think of. /This isn't working,/ he thought darkly. He stood indecisively in the middle of the night-darkened room, staring sightlessly at the door. /Maybe I should just quit trying to fight it, and do something about it./
He shook his head and resumed pacing, but the thought remained. He stopped again and looked at the door. /No, I can't. What if I go to him and . . . Dammit, I went through this once today, and I'm not doing it again!/ Julian thought, his frustration turning to anger. /To hells with this--If Cirollan wants to play, fine, but I'm not going to do it anymore!/ Julian started for the door, his mind made up. He paused long enough to grab his deep blue robe and shrug it on, then opened the door and stepped out into the hall. He walked down the long hall, strangely silent at this late hour, his bare feet making soft slapping noises against the stone floor. As he walked through the darkness, he began to worry again. /What if he's not there? What if he laughs? What if . . ./ Julian shook his head sharply, trying to clear it of any lingering doubts. /He'll be there. He won't laugh at me--hells, he probably won't even throw me out,/ Julian thought harshly, his fingers curling into a fist as he fought his tensions.
/I don't care what he says--I'm going to end this tonight. If he can refuse me, then I'll let it go. If he can't . . . If he can't, this is going to be a night neither of us will forget,/ he vowed silently.
He came to a stop in front of a large oaken door inlaid with a glittering silver moon. He gazed at it for a moment, his heart rapidly reminding him that he was afraid of 'Lan's reaction, no matter what he might tell himself. He paused only for a moment, his determination spurring him onward. He lifted a hand and pushed the door open, stepping inside. He glanced around the room, Cirollan's sitting room. Ignoring the area other than to verify that Cirollan wasn't in it, he strode to a doorway on the far side of the room, one with a rich velvet curtain instead of a door.
Julian stopped, and stood staring at the long curtain in front of him, his heart suddenly churning with fear and desire, his anger drained away. He raised a hand toward the curtain, then hesitated.
/Maybe I shouldn't have come here after all. He's always denied me before--why should tonight be any different? Maybe he really doesn't want me. Maybe his kisses are just play . . ./ He shook his head, angry with himself for his doubts, his fears. He pushed his long, pale hair back from his face in a sudden nervous gesture, his deep blue eyes reflecting the storm in his heart. He drew a deep breath and looked down at himself one last time, smoothing an imaginary wrinkle from his azure robe as he gathered his courage. With a small moan of worry, he pushed aside the scarlet curtain, its color almost black in the darkness. His throat suddenly dry, Julian stepped into the shadowy room, letting the velvet fall softly back into place behind him. His nervous gaze swept the room, making out the shape of a large, four-poster bed, and a window seat. Both were apparently empty, the illumination from the bright starlight not revealing the shape Julian desperately hoped--and feared--would be there.
"Cirollan?" he called softly, his voice breaking softly. He cleared his throat, wondering if Fate herself had decided to play a cruel joke on him by making Cirollan absent on the night he'd finally worked up the courage to go to him. "Cirollan? Are you here?" he whispered, peering into the dark corners of the room.
He started as a pale glow appeared in front of him, revealing a dark figure, its stark white hair a startling contrast to the blackness of its skin and robe. Julian calmed his racing heart, thinking, /He never tires of that trick, does he? Something he got from Jareth, I think./
"I'm right here, Julian." Cirollan cocked his head at Julian, an odd glint in his emerald eyes as he asked, "Now, what could be so important as to bring you here in the wee hours of the morning?"
Julian stared at him, the faltering words he'd planned to speak freezing on his tongue as anger suddenly filled him at Cirollan's bemused words. "What brought me here?" he repeated, staring at his friend in disbelief as his hands clenched into fists at his sides. "You should know as well as I, 'Lan!" he spat as he continued, "After all, it was you that came to me, earlier. . . " The rest of his words were swallowed as a warm mouth covered his, sending a wave of desire rippling though him. He groaned hungrily, all anger fled as abruptly as it had come as he wrapped his arms around Cirollan's lean body, returning the kiss with a fierce passion, burying his hands in 'Lan's hair. One hand slipped down to Cirollan's waist, pulling him closer as Julian moaned, his mind awash with sensation. As he lifted his head, barely coherent thoughts of his love and passion swam crazily through his mind in a maelstrom of desire and he opened his mouth to let them spill forth.
Even as his lips parted, however, Cirollan pulled away from him with a gasp, his brilliant green eyes shuttered from Julian's gaze. Julian stared at him in dismay, his bright thoughts shattering into pieces as he watched Cirollan back unsteadily away from him. He whispered hoarsely, "Curse you, Cirollan. You always do this to me." Lifting his eyes to meet Cirollan's wide-eyed gaze, he spat, "You tease me like this, then back away when it gets too intense for you and claim that it was only play. Play! If it were only play, 'Lan, I wouldn't have come here tonight. You know that." His voice cracking with the force of his emotions, he said plaintively, "Admit it, just once, 'Lan. It's not play. Admit that you feel something for me. Admit that you return my feelings!"
Cirollan bowed his head, his breath escaping in a broken sigh. He turned hastily away from Julian, staring out the window into the night sky as his muffled voice floated back to Julian. "You're right, Julian. It isn't just play. It never was." His voice wavered as he continued, "I find that the more you are gone, the more I think of you, till I can think of nothing else. You entice me with your presence, then torment me with your absence."
Julian could see a shudder wrack Cirollan's form as he spoke and he took a half-step towards him, hesitating as 'Lan brushed a hand across his face. He stood gazing at Cirollan for a moment, only able to clearly make out the curtain of white hair that fell to Lan's knees, his mind suddenly overcome by doubts. /I shouldn't have come here. It was selfish of me. I forced 'Lan to admit he feels something for me, but look at the pain I've caused him!/ Julian's anguished thoughts whirled frantically through his mind. /Was it worth it? Gods, I wish I knew what to do. I want to touch him, to embrace him, to protect him against the world . . . gods know he needs to be protected sometimes. But does he want me to protect him?/
His thoughts tumbled in a whirlwind of anguish as he watched his friend's shoulders shake with poorly concealed sobs. /But . . . he did admit that he wanted me as more than just a friend. I know he cares for me. He's just afraid to admit it--I wish I knew why. . . . Oh, gods! I can't stand any more of this, I don't care how it hurts 'Lan right now. It'd just hurt both of us more if I left now. Dammit! Why did he have to push me to this?/ Julian's doubts disappeared, swept away by the wave of frustration and anger that swept over him as he considered his limited choices.
"Dammit, 'Lan! I know that you want me, even if a kiss is all that you'll allow between us. Why do you deny me?" he whispered hoarsely, years of frustration revealing themselves in his voice.
Cirollan flinched at the harsh words, but remained silent, his unexpected sobs quieting. Julian's frustration increased as he stared at 'Lan's still figure, willing him to move, to say something, anything to him, even if it was to tell him to go to hell. He cursed, equal amounts of desire, doubt, and frustration meeting inside him in a head-on collision, and he moved forward, suddenly decided.
Drawing closer, he placed a gentle hand on Cirollan's shoulder, exulting in the simple feel of the velvet under his fingers. He slid his fingers along Cirollan's shoulder, onto his neck in a gentle caress, feeling a surge of pleasure as Cirollan shivered at his touch. Leaning in closer, he brought his other hand to Cirollan's other shoulder as he swept 'Lan's mass of hair away from his neck. Cirollan's body tightened at the touch, and Julian smiled. He slowly bent his head, inhaling 'Lan's musky scent, and planted a soft kiss beneath his ear. Cirollan shuddered, the simple movement delighting Julian. Julian moved in front of him and he looked away, but remained where he stood. "You try to pass your kisses off as play, but I know better, 'Lan. I've been patient. I've watched you with your lovers, and I've never said a word. I'll be silent no longer. If you don't send me away now, I'll seduce you tonight--and you'll be my willing partner." Julian's voice was low, harsh with suppressed emotion, his blue eyes steady as he placed a hand under Cirollan's chin and forced him to look at him. "I will have you tonight, 'Lan," he murmured, trailing a finger along 'Lan's cheek. He smiled in satisfaction as Cirollan's eyes drifted shut, a low moan escaping him. He let his hand fall from Cirollan's face, to trail down his neck to his robe. Moving quickly, before Cirollan could realize what he was doing, he unfastened 'Lan's robe, sliding the simple fastener down to 'Lan's waist. He drew in a shaky breath, staring at 'Lan's smooth chest, suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to see all of him, to touch him. He slipped his hands inside the robe, running his fingers down 'Lan's sides. A sudden tremor wracked 'Lan's frame, and Julian smiled again, his heart overflowing.
/If a simple touch can affect him like this, what of other things?/ He brushed his fingers across Cirollan's hip, eliciting a sharp gasp.
As he brought his hands up to slide the robe off 'Lan's shoulders, 'Lan flinched away, seizing his hands in convulsive grip. "No, Julian." The words were little more than a strangled gasp, but Julian understood them well enough. He took a step back, Cirollan releasing his hands, bitter disappointment welling up inside him as 'Lan refused to meet his gaze.
"Gods damn it, 'Lan! Why do you keep tormenting me? Tormenting both of us? I know that you want me!" Julian cried, his frustration and pain bringing tears to his eyes. He watched Cirollan wrench his robe shut, aching to reach out and grab him and kiss him until his resolve crumbled and he lay moaning in his arms. After a long moment of tense silence, Cirollan spoke, his voice quivering with unnameable emotions. "Julian, I . . . I do want you. I want you so much it hurts. But . . . I can't. We can't. We've been friends for so long . . . Julian, you're the only friend I have." Cirollan squeezed his eyes shut, avoiding Julian's gaze as he continued. "What if . . . What if we do become . . . more than friends, and . . . something happens--and you hate me?" Cirollan blurted, whirling around to hide his face from Julian, his hands covering his tearing eyes.
Julian stared, astonished. After a moment, he voiced his thoughts, his disbelief evident. "Hate you? How could I ever hate you, 'Lan? We've been friends for so long, and yet . . . " His voice trailed off as something occurred to him. He drew closer to Cirollan and asked, his voice soft with sudden understanding, "You've never realized, have you?"
"I've never realized what?" Cirollan's voice shook, and Julian nearly reached out to him, aching for his friend's pain, yearning to take him in his arms and kiss his hurts away . . . His frustration with Cirollan's blindness spilled over as he cried, "I love you, 'Lan! I always have. How could you not have known? Do you know how hard it's been for me to watch you with your lovers, not able to touch you, wishing I was in their place, dreaming of your touch, wondering what it would be like to share your bed, unable to sleep night after night, because my body cried out for you?"
Cirollan hesitantly looked towards Julian, his eyes wide with wonderment, still damp with his tears. His voice was low, quavering as he asked, "You . . . love me? Not as a friend, but actually . . . love?"
Julian raised his eyes heavenward, asking the gods for patience as he wondered what he'd done, that he deserved to fall in love with such an idiot. Looking to Cirollan, he replied, his emotions welling up in his voice, "Yes! Yes, I love you! How many times do I have to tell you before you believe me? I . . . Oh, damn it!"
Julian seized Cirollan, feeling him tremble in his embrace, and kissed him with all the passion he'd held inside him, his hands tangling in Cirollan's hair as he felt 'Lan's lips part under his assault, 'Lan's hands wrap tightly around his waist, 'Lan's hips pressing urgently against his own, further inflaming his passion. He devoured Cirollan's mouth with a desperate hunger, exulting at 'Lan's equally passionate response. As he lifted one hand to smooth 'Lan's hair away, his other hand slipped down inside 'Lan's robe, gently tracing the muscles on his chest, his abdomen . . . Cirollan stiffened and moaned into Julian's mouth as Julian discovered the solid proof of his desire.
Julian released Cirollan's mouth and smiled at him as he lowered his head to trail a series of kisses down 'Lan's cheek and neck. He pressed an open-mouthed kiss into the hollow of 'Lan's throat, the feel of his racing heartbeat sending a bolt of joy into his heart.
Cirollan groaned and pressed close against Julian as his trail of kisses led lower, down his chest. The taste of Cirollan's skin inflamed Julian, his kisses growing more urgent. The rising tide of long-denied passion swept through Julian in waves, spurring his caresses to ever-increasing ardor as he slid Cirollan's robe off to spill onto the floor in a dark puddle. Cirollan sighed as Julian's mouth followed his hands, discovering what pleased him most. He whimpered as Julian withdrew for a moment in order to divest himself of his own clothing, but he quickly silenced 'Lan with another kiss.
Julian pressed 'Lan back onto the bed, following him down. Then they were skin to skin, bare flesh rubbing against flesh in a rising tide of passion.
Their urgency grew, until at last, their bodies twined together, they reached a place where time knew no bounds, and the stars went on for eternity.
Julian woke slowly, his mind fuzzy with sleep, struggling to remember where he was. Then he became aware of the body that lay entwined about him, of his pale arms draped across midnight skin, and the events of the past night burst in upon his memory. /Oh, yes . . . I finally seduced 'Lan last night,/ the thought bringing a smugly satisfied smile to his lips. He yawned and shifted, then groaned as the soreness in his muscles made itself known to him. Cirollan moaned softly, coming awake himself.
"Good morning, 'Lan," Julian whispered tenderly, smiling at the confusion in 'Lan's sleep-fogged eyes.
"Wha . . . what . . . " Cirollan stammered, frowning in sleepy bewilderment. Julian's smile widened. Cirollan had never been much of a morning person.
"Do you remember this?" he asked softly, kissing 'Lan. Cirollan made a soft, moaning sound, and Julian lifted his head to stare down at his lover, his overflowing emotions making his eyes misty. "I love you," he whispered to 'Lan. Cirollan's eyes widened as memory flooded back over him.
His lips curved suddenly into a smile heartbreaking in its sweetness, and he traced Julian's cheek with a gentle finger. "I love you, too, Julian," he murmured, his voice still husky from waking.
Julian's heart leapt at the words, emotion overcoming him, and Cirollan frowned at him in bewilderment. "Why are you crying?" he asked, his emerald eyes crinkling in worry.
Julian laughed through his tears and clutched Lan close to him and replied, his voice choked, "Because you've never told me that before."
"Oh." Cirollan frowned again, his sleep-fogged mind working through some thought, then regarded Julian with a twinkle in his eyes. "Then I suppose I'd better say it again. I love you, Julian. I always have." His hands curved around Julian's face, tugging him down gently, and Lan brought his lips to Julian's in a kiss that nearly made Julian's heart break in happiness.
Julian hugged 'Lan to him tightly, pure joy sweeping through him. "Do you know how long I've waited to hear you say that?" he asked, his voice husky, finally releasing his dark-skinned lover.
Cirollan smiled softly and replied, "I was always afraid to admit it. . ." Julian returned the smile, and told him, stroking Lan's face with soft caresses, "It took you long enough to admit it. You know, your brother knew how I felt years ago."
Cirollan's eyes widened as the statement sank in and he pulled away from Julian's loving caresses in a sudden angry movement. Julian raised an eyebrow at him, rather alarmed at the sudden change in his mood.
"Jareth? Jareth knew?" Cirollan's voice was tight with anger. Julian nodded. "But then . . . why did he . . . why didn't . . . " Lan stuttered, finally breaking into silence.
"What are you trying to say, 'Lan?" Julian tried to pull Cirollan back into his arms, but he resisted, his angry eyes making Julian flinch a little.
". . . Damn Jareth!" Cirollan finally spat. Julian stared at him, shocked at the sudden inexplicable outburst. Seeing Julian's confused stare, Cirollan muttered something under his breath and sat up. "Jareth knew how you felt for me?" he asked.
Julian nodded again. "Yes, but why . . ." 'Lan ignored him, muttering what seemed to be vaguely obscene statements about his brother's parentage and sexual preferences under his breath. "Dammit, 'Lan, tell me! What are you so angry about?" Julian pressed, finally exasperated.
"Jareth knew that I loved you! I told him when I was fifteen!" Cirollan finally blurted, not quite looking at Julian. Julian stared at him, his mind racing.
"Jareth knew that we loved each other years ago, and never did anything about it?" Julian said slowly. Cirollan nodded reluctantly, fairly obscene mutterings still escaping him.
After a moment, Julian chuckled.
Cirollan stared at him in stunned amazement.
The horrified, how-can-you-laugh-at-this look on his face made Julian laugh harder, until he was almost crying.
"What are you doing? What could possibly be funny about that?" Cirollan demanded, bewildered, grabbing Julian's shoulders and shaking him in his frustrated confusion.
Julian gasped for breath, trying to stop laughing. "I'm sorry, 'Lan. Just . . . wait . . . all right?" Julian gasped, still giggling. After several minutes and several hiccups, his laughter died away and he faced his lover, whose expression sent him back into fits of giggles for several more minutes. Finally, he recovered his composure.
"I'm sorry, love," he apologized, trying not to smile. "I know that you're angry with Jareth, but . . . you can't say he didn't do his best to get us together." Julian smiled inwardly at the completely befuddled expression that crossed Lan's face.
Cirollan stared at his fair lover, and said, "What are you talking about? Jareth never did a damned thing, except try to keep us apart. Every time I worked up my courage to tell you how I felt, he dragged me into some other improbable pairing."
Julian nodded, then shook his head. "No, think about it," he urged, a smile threatening to break out over his face. "Jareth knew that we loved each other. He also knew that we were both terrified of admitting it to each other, because we were both afraid that the other didn't return the feeling. He couldn't very well just come out and tell one or both of us, now, could he? We'd never have believed him if he told us singly, and if he told us together, we would've denied it to our last breaths . . . just because it would be him telling us."
Cirollan nodded reluctantly, confusion still clouding his features. "I still don't see what's amusing about it--he could have done something," he muttered.
Julian grinned, the smile finally breaking free. "But he did. Don't you see?" Cirollan stared at Julian as if he'd grown another head. Sighing, Julian explained, "If he couldn't tell us, and we wouldn't tell each other, the only option left wasfor him to somehow, indirectly, force us to admit it to each other. He did the only thing he could think of--he kept throwing obstacles between us, hoping that one of us would finally get frustrated enough to just blurt out our feelings. "And it would have worked, too," Julian said thoughtfully, gazing at his lover. He reached for Cirollan, who was again staring at him, and kissed him gently. "You see, I was all ready to seduce you fifteen years ago--I was going to do to you what I did tonight," he explained gently.
'Lan frowned in bewilderment and asked, "Then why didn't you?" Julian looked down, remembering how heartbroken he'd been at the events that had transpired fifteen years before. "Because Fate decided to intervene. The thing that finally made me angry enough to face my feelings for you was that last stunt that you and Jareth pulled with the twins. Remember?" Julian watched Cirollan's face as comprehension slowly dawned. "Yes. That was when Jareth convinced me to . . . deflower Seanrau's twins . . . " Cirollan's voice trailed off as he realized where Julian had been leading.
"And that was the same event that finally pushed your mother to send you to your father's domain," Julian finished quietly, watching him closely. Cirollan withdrew into himself at the mention of his torturous exile, and Julian pulled him close, hugging him tightly. "By the time you returned, you were so different . . . It scared me a little, and I wasn't sure how you felt about me." Julian explained softly.
Cirollan looked at him curiously, his anger fled, and asked, "What made you angry enough to tell me now?"
Julian laughed. "Truthfully? That damned Myrmidon you told me about."
A beautiful smile crossed Cirollan's lips, a twinkle appearing in his eyes as he leaned forward, his lips nearly touching Julian's ear.. "Truthfully, then, my love--I never wanted that Myrmidon," he whispered into Julian's ear, the heat of his breath sending chills down Julian's spine. Julian's eyes widened, and Cirollan's eyes gleamed wickedly at him. "I think I was hoping that you would do something rash--and you did," he admitted with a small shrug, sinking back down into the thick pillows. It was Julian's turn to stare wide-eyed at Cirollan, who merely smiled mischievously back at him.
A slow smile crossed Julian's face as he loomed over his lover. "You tricked me, eh? I'll have to keep that in mind," Julian whispered mock-threateningly.
Lan murmured contentedly, "Please do," then gasped as Julian bit his neck sharply. He twisted to look into Julian's eyes and said teasingly, his eyes glowing with reawakened passion, "I'll have to remember to keep you jealous."
Julian nipped his ear and growled, "You'd better not--you don't want to know what I'd do to you."
Cirollan smiled wickedly, and twined his hands in Julian's pale hair, pulling him down for an increasingly urgent kiss. After a moment, Julian pulled back, his face flushed, and smiled breathlessly back down at him. "So, my love, just think. You owe this--me--to your brother. I think you owe him a favor," he whispered, his hands roaming eagerly across Lan's soft skin.
Cirollan groaned as heat swept through him and reached for Julian, whispering hoarsely, "I'd rather think about what we owe each other for the last fifteen years."
Julian moaned, any answer he might have had cut off as Cirollan's lips closed over his, shutting off his voice in a wave of ecstasy.
~ Fin ~
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