There were indeed only a few coins in the knight’s pouch. So the good news was that he probably wasn’t a liar, and the bad news was that even if he was sincere, he wasn’t much use with only the clothes on his back. Who could have conceived that a man with such a station would be so poor?
Levin explained, somewhat abashedly. “It is traditional that a knight, when first conferred with his duty, not be given much in the way of private resources, to better aid the formation a bond between him and his charge.”
None of which made much sense to Fisk. If the knight was meant to be his protector, the main things he needed protecting from were freezing and starving, and some coin was the best way to do that. Fisk felt himself finally beginning to believe that the knight honestly meant to help him, albeit only because the old man had felt a little generous after he saw a cow plummet to its death in his place. Eventually the mistake would be realized, but there was nothing, surely, to stop him from taking advantage until then. Besides, looking at Levin’s tall, lithe form, he couldn’t deny a flash of avaricious desire. Imagine having such a man by his side, if even for a night.
They were shown to a small room with a narrow bed, a table with a chipped basin and ewer, and no fireplace at all, just a single grudgingly provided candle stub. It was barely warmer than the night air outside. Fisk set his rock on the table, feeling rather embarrassed at his behavior so far. The rough gray rock seemed to symbolize his stupidity, the unwieldy, lumpy shape of his own obstinacy in the face of inexplicable charity.
Broth and bread constituted the meal, and it was most welcome. Fisk consumed his portion with haste and thoroughness as Levin brought in his saddlebags, dumped them against the wall, and then cast his rolled blanket onto the low bed. Looking up from his nearly empty bowl, Fisk saw Levin surveying their small, cell-like room. Surely this knight could not really be happy with his current assignment, and there was no need to make it harder on him. It would only drive him away sooner. Finally daring to look at Levin directly, Fisk felt drawn to him so strongly it scared him. Like a moth to a flame -- and likely to produce similar results
“Come here,” Levin said, looking at the rock but choosing, it seemed, not to comment. “Let us get some of the grime off you, at least.”
“Sir, please. I can clean myself.”
“Fisk, please understand. I am going to do something for you today, even if it has to be against your will. So resign yourself to giving me some small measure of cooperation.”
“You paid for the room and this food.” Fisk sat on the bed and drained the last drop from his bowl before setting it aside. Getting any closer to Levin was a prospect that scared him more than it drew him, although he felt a good measure of both impulses.
“If your preservation of Albreck’s life must be attributed to your god, then paying for the room is courtesy of my order and my goddess, not me,” Levin said archly. “Now, come over here.” Levin grabbed him by the arm and began to strip his clothes off rather presumptuously. “Consider it a favor to me, if you wish,” Levin said. “If we are going to be sleeping in the same bed, then I want to be certain I won’t be waking up smelling of swine.”
It seemed like it would be marginally less humiliating to submit than to wrestle over the issue of staying soiled. Fisk knew he had to set some limits to his own irrationality. He winced as a wet cloth was scrubbed over his body. The knight seemed rather thorough in his attentions, and Fisk only managed to fight him off when it came to the more intimate areas. He bashfully took care of that himself as Levin combed through Fisk’s hair with his fingers. It was confusing -- there seemed to be an element of interest in Levin’s eye, but also a sort of dispassionate efficiency to the way Levin touched him. Fisk was terrified that if Levin touched him down there
, he would respond in a way that would probably embarrass them both, just as they had reached some tenuous kind of understanding.
“It looks like they beat you more than they fed you at that keep,” Levin remarked, standing back. “But until we can acquire some kind of respectable clothing, this will just have to do. Make sure you are thorough with that.”
Fisk looked down at his body; he had never given it a great deal of thought. It served him well enough most of the time. He had tried, with limited success, to keep it fed, warm, and in one piece in return. Most of the time it was too occupied with work or too exhausted to make many sexual demands -- and even if it had, there was never anyone to whom he could turn to satisfy them. No one had ever shown the slightest lascivious interest in him, and he had come to assume nobody ever would. Let alone… No, that was just his own bizarre fantasizing, for sure.
“I really have cleaned up for myself,” Fisk said. “It doesn’t seem right.”
“I’m not taking the chance that you would be less than thorough. It does seem that there a few areas that have been passed over in your ablutions for an extended period.”
Fisk was stung by the comment even though he knew it to be true. With only the well to clean by, being fastidious was hard once it started to get cold. “So when do we get to the part where a protector is not a servant?” he said sullenly.
“Tomorrow, when the money runs out and I sell you to a slave-master for boat fare back to Crescent,” Levin replied. After a moment he added, “That was a joke, Fisk. It is considered polite to laugh.”
And with that slight attempt at informality, within a private room, Fisk felt himself relax a little. After all, what could happen with just the two of them there? Levin was a strange knight, but there was no denying, really, the sort of man he was.
“Even if that’s true, I guess at least it can’t happen until tomorrow,” Fisk said tentatively. And Levin did
laugh, even though it wasn’t entirely a joke.
Fisk crawled onto the sleeping pallet. Levin unrolled his blanket roll and laid it over the top. He looked down at Fisk with a sort of contemplative half smile and then turned and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” Fisk asked, trying to hide his alarm.
“Just a couple of things to see to. I’ll be back soon.”
A couple of things to see to, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere? Truly, Fisk was pretty sure that he didn’t want to know what that entailed. If it was all some evil plan to sell his flesh for sausages, he just hoped Levin would be good enough to kill him quickly while he slept. He curled up his knees and tried to tuck the blanket in around him to trap the scant heat his body could generate. Levin left the room, and Fisk half suspected to never see him again.
The candle had burned down and guttered when the knight finally returned. Fisk edged over in the bed till his back was pressed against the wall. Levin slid in beside him, and a brush of skin was enough to show he was naked too. Fisk’s mouth felt dry. He didn’t know why it was so important, but he had assumed a man of some standing, like Levin, would wear a nightshirt to bed.
“I thought at least you would have warmed up the bed some,” Levin whispered. “Is there no blood in you at all?”
Fisk didn’t reply, although it was rather too late to pretend he was asleep. Levin just reached out and presumptuously turned toward him. Fisk lay stiff, feeling every touch -- the arm burrowing behind his head, chest against his arm, knee casually over his thigh. Heat slowly built beneath the covers. Heat was also curling inside him in response to that apparently incidental touch. Fisk tried to lean away to conceal his growing erection. Silently he cursed the sleep he would lose, unable to ease his arousal. A lot of the hands had been shameless about working their cocks if they wanted to, but Fisk’s father had been stern in his condemnation of what he saw as bodily sins. Fisk had never quite managed to cast off that feeling of shame.
Levin yawned and shifted, closing the gap between them again. “You should get some rest, Fisk. Relax.”
“You’re a knight, Levin. How can I…like you are one of my little brothers or…”
“Until we have you set up in a temple to the god of whatever that you serve, where everyone has a great curtained bed, I think you will simply have to disregard what you perceive as our differences in standing. They hardly apply when we are lying down.”
Levin reached his other arm over, laying his hand lightly on Fisk’s chest. “I do know one guaranteed way to get a man feeling sleepy and changing the direction of his thoughts.”
His hand slid down Fisk’s abdomen. It hardly seemed likely he was offering that
, but Fisk was tolerably warm and comfortable, fed, and certain parts of his body were clearly…up for it. He lay still, feeling the knight’s touch drift lower, with a mixture of horror and incredulous anticipation.
“I…you…what?” Fisk said with a distinct lack of aplomb.
“It would also seem to be a way to get over this disproportionate…well I wouldn’t call it respect, more like suspicion, that you have for me. It rather seems like the two are closely linked in your mind. You must, like most young men, have had this done for you. Something you’ve done with friends and comrades or, failing that, livestock.”
With that, he brushed his hand over Fisk’s cock. Fisk froze, but it was more in fear that Levin might stop than that he would go on. Levin’s hand on his cock was firm and, if anything, rather dispassionate. Fisk’s attention was quite literally seized, so he was not really heeding what Levin was saying. He felt the crease of Levin’s palm slide against him, slightly wet with spit, slightly coarse, like a man’s hand should be.
“I also think,” Levin added, “that you might need to release a little of your natural energies. So I’m asking you to accept me enough to let me do this for you.”
The knight’s thumb eased back the skin at the head of Fisk’s cock. His balls tensed. Levin seemed to tease him with his gentle touch.
“I thought you’d already done that ‘one thing’ for me today,” Fisk said faintly.