Paid For

It was three days later, while Xand was tending to and being tended by the gaunt, pale, exhausted Master Tynan, that a courier from Master Jack arrived. An armed courier. The man said to Tynan, “My Master insists on another payment if you are to keep the toy any longer.”

“By all means,” Tynan replied, and airily waved another servant to hand over a heavily clinking pouch. “It is well worth it.”

* * *

Two days after that, Xand was bathed by Tynan himself, polished and well-groomed, nuzzled and pleased — long and sweet and hard. Tynan grew more tender, with time, adoring, allowing Xand to sleep with him all the time, to rise late. Tynan fed him, cared for him, and asked for little save companionship. He still slept in fits, waking occasionally in terror, but the fear subsided almost instantly.

What was new was the way his breathing grew heavy and hoarse, rattling, until Tynan coughed and choked, clutching pillows and bedsheets. He seemed only unhappy to have Xand see him in this vulnerable state, and occasionally shook off comfort when he seemed ill, preferring to have a servant please Xand while he watched, and drank a bitter tea, until he was feeling restored.

A day after that, another courier came, asking for money, which Tynan gladly gave, seeming content.

The next day, other servants began to treat Xand with fear approaching anger, but never within Tynan’s presence. Xand overheard two of them discussing the fact that Tynan was growing more and more ill, and that he would certainly die soon, and what would become of them?

“You’re sick,” Xand whispered. “The help thinks you are dying.” Carefully, precisely, he kissed down the man’s chest.

“The help doesn’t think,” Tynan said, pursing his lips as he pulled Xand close and licked his throat. “Ignore them. I’m ill, but I’ve been ill this way for much of my life. It’s nothing to worry about,” he whispers. He made love to Xand, again and again, that night, as though to prove he was fine.

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