©Pelaam: February 2008.
The Farris sailed cleanly through the azure ocean. A good wind was in her sails and the sky was a cloudless cerulean. From his vantage point on the ship, Afzal stood watching his baby brother. The younger man, as was his wont when not working, was reading. Afzal's smile became softer, reflecting the love he had for his younger sibling. Fahim was as beautiful as he was intelligent, if somewhat of a dreamer, and had grown into a fine young man. Afzal had taken responsibility for the six-year-old when their parents had died some fourteen years earlier. At that time, he had been just a fifteen-year-old cabin-boy to their more famous seafaring cousin. However, he had proven so quickly adept as a mariner, that he had been given charge of the Farris just four years later, taking Fahim as his own cabin-boy and had never looked back.
Fahim's dark hair held more of a wave than Afzal's own, reaching his shoulders in an untamed tumble. His youthful face was clean-shaven, unlike Afzal who kept his beard trimmed with a precision that bordered on obsessive. However, the younger man sported more hair on his breast than either his brother or the other man who regarded him so intently. Afzal's smile slowly became mischievous.
Bahadur was tall, powerfully muscled and clean-shaven with jet-black hair restrained in a high ponytail. His skin was the colour of dark honey, a few shades lighter than either Afzal or his brother, and his eyes were as blue as the ocean. He was also the man that Fahim had confessed to his brother that he had lost his heart to. Bahadur was a noble, as well as talented, warrior and Afzal was proud that he had chosen to serve under his command rather than his cousin's.
Afzal knew Bahadur had previously favoured women when they caroused after a successful voyage. However, over the last couple of months, Bahadur had not joined them with courtesans, choosing to return to the ship after drinking with the rest of the men. As a caring brother, he had seen it as his duty to get the warrior drunk and ascertain his intentions towards Fahim. The older man had admitted to having more than just platonic feelings for him, finding him more entrancing and quick-witted than any woman he had ever bedded. But in part the big man was uncertain his suit would be welcome and in part he had never felt that way for another man and it made him hesitant to take the final step.
Afzal had no such doubts regarding Fahim's acceptance of the warrior's suit and would be agreeable himself, but he could not reveal his brother's secret confession. Instead he made sure they spent as much time together as he could engineer and encouraged Bahadur. He was pleased to find that not long after Fahim's hesitant confession and his 'chat' with the warrior the two men seemed to be growing steadily closer. He was certain Bahadur was going to make his move soon. The looks he gave Fahim, when he thought no one could see, were both incendiary and yearning in equal measure. Afzal decided it was time to make his own move and give them another small push.
Using the ropes from the main mast, Afzal swung easily and athletically to come up silently and unseen behind Fahim. He laughed uproariously at the less-than-dignified yell from the slighter man as well as the ineffectual battering he took from a scroll wielded as a weapon rather than a tool of instruction. Finally both men collapsed laughing to the deck at the conclusion of their mock-battle.
"You read too much," Afzal said affectionately, as he tucked a wayward curl behind Fahim's ear, their tussling over.
"*You* don't read enough," Fahim countered. He smiled lovingly at his older brother. When he had been just a child, Afzal had been parent, teacher, hero, nurse; just about everything Fahim had needed, whenever he had needed it. Even now they still shared a cabin, neither man wanting to lose the closeness they had enjoyed for so many years.
As they slowly stood, Fahim gave another undignified yelp as he was easily lifted off his feet and wrapped in strong arms, and Afzal laughed once more.
"Do you wish me to clap him in irons for daring to strike the ship's Captain, Afzal?"
The voice was deep and melodious and Fahim felt his stomach flip over at the sound as well as at the realisation of whose strong body he was now held securely against. He felt himself melt in the embrace and hoped it was not so obvious to the older men. However, he retained his feistiness in other ways.
"Both you *and* my brother are over-muscled oafs, Bahadur," he retorted, without even craning to see who was behind him. If he was honest, Fahim knew if he looked in those devastatingly blue eyes, all his intellect would vanish.
"Indeed?" Afzal said, a devious smirk playing about his lips. He watched surreptitiously as Fahim was lowered to the deck, but Bahadur's arm remained snaked around his brother's waist.
"Indeed," Fahim nodded emphatically, relishing the feel of the warrior's body behind him and inwardly rejoicing as Bahadur's arm remained in place.
"I think I have a far more suitable punishment for him," Afzal said, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Instead of loafing on the beach tomorrow with his oh-so precious scrolls, Fahim can do some *real* work. He can accompany you to find fresh water."
The smile from his brother, as well as the grateful look from the warrior, told Afzal more than any number of words. He silently prayed that *this* would be the time the warrior finally confessed his feelings to the younger man. He watched as the two men walked away, discussing their needs. He grinned widely. Although Bahadur's arm was no longer around Fahim's waist, his hand was at the smaller man's back, the gesture as possessive as it was protective.
Bahadur and Fahim walked companionably together as the rest of the crew relaxed on the beach. They knew when they returned with the location of water, there would be cooked fish waiting and men would sing or tell tales long into the night. The water would be collected by a group of them the next day. The land they currently traversed was light woodland and scrub, with rocky hills rising to their right. Ahead, however, there was a more dense forest that Bahadur was certain would have a stream or river. It was his lightening-swift warrior instinct that reacted as Fahim stumbled in a hidden pot-hole.
It seemed to the warrior that time stood still whilst he gazed into eternity as his eyes locked with those of the younger man in his arms. It had felt such a long time that his heart had directed him one way, whilst his mind had proven reticent. Looking into those fathomless, limpid pools, he saw only the offer of love for which he had long-yearned. He refused to let his fear dictate his action. It seemed as though Fahim was able to read his very thoughts. As the warrior moved, so did the younger man, his lips aligning for their first kiss.
Slowly ... reluctantly... their lips parted. Bahadur ran his tongue over his own to ensure he had tasted all of Fahim's sweetness. He looked at the man he held. Fahim's eyes were still glazed and his normally pink lips were reddened and swollen. The warrior decided he liked that look on the beautiful youth. Seemingly of their own volition, his lips recaptured Fahim's, however, this time he licked at their seam, silently demanding access. He delved deep, duelling briefly with Fahim's shyer muscle, tasting and touching every nuance of the warm, wet cavern. Fahim's clean male scent appeased his nostrils and he could have stayed this way for hours, if it were not for the necessity of breathing. This time as they parted their heads remained pressed together, their mouths so close to one another it seemed they shared the same breath. Bahadur briefly wondered what it was he had ever feared.
"I never knew ... never dreamt it could be so," Fahim panted softly, caressing Bahadur's lips with his words.
Bahadur frowned slightly at the implication of the words. Surely Fahim had...
"Your brother must have taken you to sample courtesans," the warrior said. "Or is it just you have not kissed a man?"
"I have never kissed another in passion," Fahim said, his cheeks beginning to darken in colour as he made his admission. "My brother may be my Captain, but even he cannot steer my heart. I made the choice not to share my body until I found the one I wanted to share my life with. To that person I would offer my heart, my body, my very essence. I would offer myself to you, Bahadur," he concluded, his voice so quiet, the big man was uncertain he had heard all correctly.
"You ... You are ... untouched?" One part of the warrior's brain struggled to comprehend the magnitude of the gift he was offered, the other wanted to roar in primal triumph. None had known this beautiful young man and none, except he, ever would.
"Are you displeased?" Fahim asked, misinterpreting Bahadur's lapse into silence.
"No, no, no," the warrior assured, peppering tiny kisses over the anxious visage. "I have never been offered such a beautiful and precious gift," he added, as his kisses deepened. "However, I must confess that I have no experience in pleasuring another man, although I do know the ... mechanics... involved."
"I have ... um ...read... um... things," Fahim said, his cheeks now ablaze.
"Then perhaps your scrolls were of use after all," the warrior teased, hoping to alleviate some of Fahim's embarrassment.
Fahim pressed his face into the solid shoulder of his lover-to-be, but the big man could hear the soft laughter.
"I can teach you what pleases me," Bahadur offered. "And I will demonstrate on you. His lips once more sought those of his mate. Slowly, he urged Fahim to the ground, his lips and tongue ceaselessly caressing the younger man. He unfastened the ties of the silk shirt that inhibited his touching of the youthful breast. He gazed into the deep, fathomless depths of Fahim's eyes, silently seeking permission. At the small nod he gazed proprietarily at the coffee-coloured skin, its light dusting of dark hair, growling approvingly at the sight of the large dark discs haloing small dark nubs he wanted to sample. Slowly, he licked his tongue over one then the other to an impassioned cry from Fahim.
As the warrior tenderly suckled at one virgin breast, he gently caressed the other. He spared a few seconds to wonder what it was he had ever feared. All he could see and feel was the deep and abiding love offered unconditionally from the gentle beauty in his arms. He momentarily regretted taking so long to reach that point, but immediately resolved to make up for the time they had lost.
"Bahadur please, I ... I ache," Fahim moaned, tossing his head restlessly.
The big man's eyes roamed lower, to the crotch of the voluminous pants the younger man favoured. They were tented with the hard evidence of his mate's arousal. Slowly, the warrior placed his hand over the bulge and squeezed to another fervent cry from Fahim and the bucking of slender hips.
"Hush, my beloved," Bahadur crooned as he undid the sash and then the ties to Fahim's pants. He drew them apart, exposing the slender rod jutting from a nest of dark, wiry curls and Fahim whimpered.
"May I touch you?" the warrior husked. He wanted to touch... to taste... to experience everything with this special young man.
"Please, please," Fahim begged. His hips were rising and falling, seeking to bring relief. He was not so chaste as not to have touched himself, but he had never felt the intense need that Bahadur seemed to have engendered, setting his very blood ablaze with the fire of unbridled passion. His eyes were locked on the bigger man's. There seemed to be no blue left, just a glittering blackness that beckoned enticingly.
The warrior grasped the elegant erection, squeezing and pumping gently, not wanting to overwhelm his lover, yet knowing Fahim was too aroused to last long. His own weapon throbbed achingly, trapped within the confines of the black leather pants that Bahadur preferred. He bent to pepper kisses once more as his hand increased in speed and then pulled back in time to watch Fahim's face, transported by bliss, as his seed arched from his shaft to adorn his chest and the warrior's hand.
Bahadur stared at the precious silver anointing him. Courtesans had often taken him in their mouths and he had found it a most pleasurable experience. Hesitantly he brought his fingers to his lips and licked tentatively. It was salty, yet with an underlying sweetness and something that was pure Fahim. He licked the rest of the crème from his hands and rasped his tongue over Fahim's chest, cleansing him. He straddled Fahim's boneless frame, unfastening his pants.
"Touch me, my love," he pleaded, as his flesh finally sprang free. Bahadur knew he was well endowed, but was still both pleased and proud at the gasp from his young lover.
"So magnificent," he breathed. "Does this touch please you?" Fahim added as he began a gentle stroking motion.
"Like this, beloved," the bigger man encouraged. He wrapped his hand around Fahim's to demonstrate the harder, faster touch that would bring him rapid completion. There would be other times for more leisurely lovemaking.
With a roar, the warrior bucked his seed onto Fahim's chest, marking the young beauty as his. As primitive as the gesture was, he could not resist rubbing his glistening trails into the warm, soft skin. He then settled himself at Fahim's side to indulge his new lover in as many kisses as Fahim craved.
"Bahadur?" Fahim's voice was soft and uncertain, his face now pressed into the warrior's shoulder. "You are so gloriously built; although I have read ... your size ... will you fit?" Fahim asked, his embarrassment reflected in his disjointed words.
The older man gazed down at the sweet innocent in his arms and tilted Fahim's face to look up at his own.
"There is no rush to consume our love in that way. When the time is right, we will share our love and I shall be so deep inside you that my flesh will touch your heart."
"You have already touched my heart," Fahim whispered. "It is no longer mine but yours."
"As mine is yours," Bahadur vowed, leaning down to steal another kiss from the red, swollen lips of his mate. His heart thrilled to know how beloved he was and knew he loved Fahim with equal intensity and ardour.
All too soon, the lovers knew they had to continue their search. Bahadur used Fahim's sash to dry his mate's skin after washing him clean. He regretted that the beautiful body was once more hidden from his sight but knew he would jealously guard Fahim's nakedness before any others; that sight was for him and him alone.
"I hope we find water soon," Fahim smiled as Bahadur draped a possessive arm around his shoulder whilst they walked on. "I want to get back to camp. I want Afzal to know of our love and give us his blessing."
"I am certain he will," the warrior replied, remembering each opportunity their Captain had given him to realise his love for the younger man. "Let us aim this way," Bahadur decided, leading them out of the small copse to cross a clearing and towards lush greenery that suggested a plentiful supply of water.
Bahadur's stomach tightened as he saw the riders on the crest of the hill. He could make out four of them, wearing some kind of livery and pointing in their direction. He gave a mental growl of anger. They were caught in the open, equally distant from the woodland to which they headed and the copse they had left. Either of them would have furnished a measure of protection. He stopped to push Fahim back in the direction they had come, preferring to send his love towards his brother and their fellow crewmen.
"When I say 'run', you must take flight and not look back," the warrior murmured, glancing up at the horsemen who matched them whether walking or standing still.
"I will not leave the man who is my heart," Fahim said determinedly. "I can fight, too."
"I know, beloved," Bahadur murmured. "We are both of the Farris. But I am a warrior by profession and it is my duty to protect her men. More still, I would defend to my dying breath the man I love more than life itself. If you stay I would be watching your back rather than my own." The warrior hated being manipulative, but having just found love, could not bear the thought of Fahim being harmed in any way.
A shout from the riders, preceded their racing down the hillside.
"Remember I love you, Fahim. Now run!" Bahadur commanded, shoving the smaller man towards perceived safety and unsheathing his twin saifs. He watched as Fahim sped away and then turned to face the riders. His heart clenched as a hitherto unseen fifth veered away from the main group looking to run his lover down. As he was surrounded, Bahadur could only pray Fahim reached safety.
Tears burnt at Fahim's eyes, blurring his vision, but he ran on. He knew Bahadur's argument was sound. If he could reach his brother and the men of the Farris, they could return and rescue his lover. He was aware of the sound of horse's hooves thundering closer and tried to run faster, but already his legs and throat burned. He gave a wordless shout of protest as he was scooped to lay face down in front of the rider who captured him. He kicked frantically, earning a stunning blow to his skull for his troubles. Dazed, he felt the horse wheeled around to head back.
Bahadur was confused by the riders. They remained mounted, their swords ready, but simply circling him. He kept his own saifs raised, uncertain what it was they wanted. He hoped that as they had made no attempt to attack, he would end up as nothing worse than their prisoner. If they were looking for some kind of ransom for his freedom, he knew Afzal would meet it.
"If you value the young one's life you will put down your weapons," a harsh, hoarse voice demanded.
He risked a glance in the direction Fahim had taken and his stomach knotted. His beautiful young love was draped over the fifth horseman's mount. He knew resistance was futile and lowered his arms accordingly. His hands were quickly bound behind his back and a rope tied from his waist to one of the rider's saddles. As bad as being forced to run to keep up with the cantering riders was, it paled into insignificance as he watched the rider's leader take unwelcome liberties with Fahim's helpless body.
Fahim's hands had also been bound behind his back, but he remained draped over the leader's horse. The rider's hands slid between Fahim's legs or over his buttocks, stroking and squeezing, eliciting fruitless struggles from the younger man. Only Bahadur had the right to touch Fahim in such ways and the warrior was certain he could feel his teeth fracture as he ground them furiously together. He silently swore to avenge Fahim and himself on the coarsely laughing man.
It did not take long before the riders entered a small city and headed towards a walled palace. Sentries outside bore the same livery as the riders, however, Bahadur noted that the city's dwellers had looked at the riders with dislike, fear, even open hatred. His instincts told him that there was more going on here than just the enslavement of innocent travellers.
The two men were taken inside and immediately found themselves in the palace dungeons. The place was dark, damp and evil-smelling. Bahadur reacted furiously when a struggling Fahim was taken away from him, his threats laughed at by their jailors.
The rider's leader returned minus his livery. He eyed Bahadur as though the warrior was no more than a prized piece of animal flesh. A scar ran down his face and across his throat, giving him a menacing, ugly appearance. His look changed as a still-struggling Fahim was returned, minus his shirt, and with a metal ring affixed around his throat.
"Your boy is now one of my slaves," the scarred man rasped. "Take the warrior and ring him similarly," he ordered.