[+18] Choke-Collared: Chapter Four

The dinner is over, but the night stretches ever onward, and Quincy’s already tenuous self-control with it. Dark gaslamp fantasy/romance(????) series.

Start with Chapter One here.
Chapter Three is here.

Content warning: explicit discussion of sexual assault, ugly trauma. More nightmarishly thick vernacular. Also we’ve reached the first pornographic scene of the series! Couldn’t let us get 25k words in without some!

Further Sentinelwise down the block, there’s the clamor of a parade. Most everyone has gone to watch it pass, so the streets are near empty as Quincy and the rest leave the Swan and Cygnet. Just a few drunks curled up in the mouths of alleyways, a few staggering away from the parade, all partied out.

Neri yawns and stretches theatrically, lifting herself damn near out of the shelf of her bodice and corset. Westyard, as bloody energetic as he was during dinner, is dozy now. His desert was alcoholic, a syllabub with so much brandy, it made Quincy’s eyes water from across the table and it was a miracle the cream managed to peak. Even though Falak drank full half of it, that on top of the multiple shots of Continental Clear (and Neri’s gin, the prick) must have finally caught up with him. Sickening.

As they wait for the tram back to Fountainpool, Westyard glances down the street, in the direction of the parade. He puts his hand on Falak’s shoulder, gestures toward the noise.

“Oi, lass, shall we…?” His actions may be looking a bit slurred, but his voice is still clear.

“No, we shall not,” Falak says. “You shall go to bed.”

If he’d like to argue, which Quincy is sure he would, it gets swallowed up in his yawn, and then the tram car is pulling up. It’s so full that Falak and Neri end up smashed chest-to-chest, Neri’s back to the crowd to prevent any of the drunks from grabbing at Falak, and Quincy and Westyard have to hang onto the sides. That’s fine by Quincy. Inside is sweltering with breath and body heat and the stink of liquor. The night air is cold, and though the tram isn’t especially fast, it’s enough to ruffle through his hair. He leans out far enough to see down the curve of the track. The tram’s engine rattles in his joints. That’s fine, the strain feels good after so long being forced to sit still.

They pass the parade. All the drunks, Westyard included, cheer uproariously, wave at the parade-goers out the windows. A mummer on four stilts, dressed as a specter from the wastelands run through with a dozen ribbon-decorated spears, wheels and bucks, shaking his antlered mask in their direction. The wailing bagpipes could almost be a specter’s howls. The mummers pretending to be the hunters throw their wooden muskets in the air and catch them, the drums emulating gunfire as they drive the specter back from the tram and toward the crowd.

Another mummer handsprings toward the tram and spits purple-toned fire at them. They’ve got a bottle clutched in one hand, but in the wildly-flickering, multicolored light, it’s impossible to tell if it’s blue or not. So the jury is still hung on whether or not Continental Clear is indeed the fuel. Al-Wadi dancers with their bell-skirts and gauzy scarves whirl toward them. Men hoot and reach through the windows as though to grab them, fingers clawing at the air. Of course, the dancers stay what seems a hair’s breadth out of reach.

Quincy shrinks back and presses tight to the metal side of the tram. He stays there until they’re back in the mostly-quiet, mostly-abandoned streets. Neri doesn’t seem to have noticed. She’s dozing on her feet, kept upright by leaning on Falak. Falak couldn’t notice even if she wanted to, face smushed against Neri’s decolletage. But Westyard, of course it’s bloody Westyard, is giving him a weird sideways look. Guess he didn’t listen when Quincy told him to mind his own fucking business. Course he didn’t.

The tram stop isn’t too far from the resort, so it’s not a long walk to their apartment block. Even so, Quincy loosens one of his knives, gets it ready to throw. You wouldn’t think it from the proximity to the resort, and certainly they’re not Westyard, but Fountainpool is rough enough to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with even Ironwharfs and Middleharbor. Something about the sea makes the people… rowdy. Hm. That’s a gentle way to put it. Bloody lunatics is a bit more fitting.

Neriette yawns again, slaps herself briskly on both cheeks a few times.

“Ta ta, my friends, and Vhatair since you’re here too,” she trills.

“Oi.” Westyard isn’t even looking at her. His gaze is active, sweeping up and down the street.

“Thank you for dinner, Neri, you are so kind to us.” Falak embraces her, since apparently she didn’t spend enough time in the tram with her cheek to Neri’s cleavage. Neri laughs, pats the back of Falak’s veil as though stroking her hair.

“Nothing too kind for you, my dear.”

“Aye, them mussels was bang up, Neri, thanks,” Quincy says.

Westyard steps forward, hand extended. Neri takes it without hesitating, shakes it three times, then pulls him toward her for a one-armed hug. They slap each other on the back exactly twice, and split after the appropriate three and a half seconds.

“I am glad you’re back home, Vhatair,” Neri assures. “And not just because Falak fretting over you was becoming oh so very heart-wrenching. I do like to know I can keep an eye on you.”

“And the same to you, Neriette. Back to the birdhouse with you, then?”

“Well, one always knows where to find me. Goodnight, everyone.”

She inclines her head in Quincy’s direction, and when the gesture is returned, twirls on her heel and heads Beaconwise up the street, toward Ms. Fastidia’s Parlor, an exercise in ironic naming if there ever was one. Westyard watches her go for a moment or two, then turns back to Falak.

“Right then, my girl, what now?” he asks.

“I told you, yes? You are going to sleep. Are you not tired?”

Westyard yawns, then shrugs.

“Oh aye. But I’ll sleep when I’m dead or whatever.”

“You will sleep now. After all that you did today, the begging and the telling for everyone that you were back, and you think you can last? I cannot carry you home, Vhatair, you must carry your own self.”

“Fine, fine, fine. What about you?”

Falak’s mouth twists, and she puts her fingers up under the rim of her coif. Her grimace is exaggerated, but not by much. She’s as fastidious as a gentleman’s pet rat about cleanliness, and a quick wash up in the basin after the day she’s had is not enough.

“Quincy and I are going to go to the baths.”

Westyard blinks, good and slow, and he puts his hands in his pockets like he’s trying to be nonchalant. Literally nobody could be fooled by such a piss poor act. His scarred mouth twitches wildly.

You what.

Falak tilts her head, then moves closer to the other side of him.

“The baths, Vhatair, I said we are going to the baths!” She speaks louder and slower than before. “Did your artillery ear get worse in prison?”

“I can hear you perfectly bloody clear, Falak—” His voice is harsh, getting a little close to a snarl, a little close to a shout even with the pounding waves to help drown it out. Falak shifts forward, her own fists clenching, and this little movement seems to be enough to knock the sense back into Westyard. He exhales hard through his nose, straightens his posture. “Ah, we’ll talk about it later.”

Oh you will, will you? The hilt of Quincy’s knife is solid and comforting between his fingers. Sweat beads on his upper lip, the tang of it sharp on his tongue. But Falak has relaxed, all the anger seeping from Westyard into the chill night of little concern to her, so Quincy slips the knife back into its sheath before Westyard can realize he’s drawn it. Darkness and his cloak are fine cover, but if light chanced to glint off the blade, Quincy would be well and truly buggered.

Truthfully, Westyard would buggered, not he. On account of Quincy would bury his knife in his chest when he started to raise a fuss. But Falak would be very upset with Quincy so that’s about even, he thinks.

“It is only a bath, Vhatair,” Falak says, a little miffed, as though she is scolding a child.

“We’ll talk about it later.” He cracks his neck, starts scanning the street again. “For now…”

“For now, goodnight is fine.”

“Aw, goldfish.” He opens his arms, crooks his fingers expectantly. “You make me think you hardly missed me.”

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? What’s with that fucking expression? How entitled do you have to be—?! Quincy digs his nails into his palms, but he doesn’t look away.

It’s Falak who closes the distance, so Quincy can’t even be mad at Westyard over it. She presses herself flush to his chest, wraps her arms around him. Westyard does the same, arms tight, chin on top of her head, one hand clutching her shoulder and the other quite a bit closer to her waist than Quincy approves of. Falak’s narrow fingers curl against the back of his coat, the fabric too thick and stiff for her to twist.

His eyes are still open. Falak, who throws herself one hundred percent into every single thing she does, has shut hers, looks almost like she’ll cry as she hugs her friend. But Westyard’s stay open, looking out at nothing.

Neri’s goodbye was friendly enough to be polite, over and done just as soon as it was proper. This goes on for a long while, long enough to make Quincy squirm. Then, Falak pushes herself back, peels Westyard’s hand from her waist, and kicks him in the boot. Not playfully, either, but a good solid kick that makes a satisfying noise. Westyard frowns down at her.

“Begone, you,” she orders. She waves her hands in his face to shoo him away. “Go and sleep! You are dead on your feet! Hurtful to look upon! Will you continue to harm me in this way, Vhatair?”

“I get it, I get it! Mother of the bloody sea, are you a girl or are you a gull? I’m off!”

Westyard stalks off down the road toward their apartment block. Falak, confident he’s done as she asks, smiles and starts toward the bathhouse, Quincy at her heels. But he does glance back over his shoulder, and sees Westyard standing beneath a lamp. In the light, gold and almost greasy, nothing of his eyes remains, and the shadow of his high collar and his hat devour most of his face. All there is is the twisting of his scars and the tension beneath his eyes. Even with his eyes shrouded, Quincy can feel his stare.

Looking away first is an agony. Now he’s gone and lost ground. But, well, better to lose ground by losing a staring contest than to lose ground by tripping on a loose cobble and busting his ass.

The public baths around here aren’t half bad. There’s clusters of bathhouses all over Beinchann Fountain, wherever a spring bubbles up, but some of them are a bit cold and some of them are weak, the springs gone dry with the centuries. Around here, the water may be cloudy, practically opaque in truth, but that’s good for you health, right? And, being so close to the Sentinel, the water gets hot with hardly any heating, so they’re cheap, too.

Their favored bathhouse has a blue tile facade in a Glasreord approximation of the al-Wadi style, and a simple, tarnished brass sign that reads “B TH S – UN SEX – FR E T W LS” in rusty letters. No working theory on why the vowels have fallen off and left the consonants in place, but the world is full of mysteries, most of which really don’t need solving. Anyway, you can bathe in one of the public pools for four pence and in a more private one for a shilling, which is not so bad considering they give you towels and only ask that you return them in mostly one piece. Soap’s a bit more expensive, but considering the bath down Sentinelwise doesn’t even offer it and makes you pay for towels, Quincy has enough goodwill toward the owners that he doesn’t much mind.

The baths are gated, as to prevent people from running and jumping in, or from making off with towels. They have to be opened from within a closed-off booth, where an attendant with the towels and the soap waits on the other side of the glass. Tonight the attendant is Meridan, which is unusual because shouldn’t she be out in the ocean with the rest of her congregation this time of night? It’s approaching midnight, so you’d think a pious lady such as her would be attending the second ceremonial procession of Springtide.

Ah, money is money, and the landlords don’t care if it’s Springtide or not. Perhaps her old mum’s back is troubling her again and they need the extra shillings.

“Hallo, Falak, Quincy,” Meridan greets. She’s young and unmarried but she still wears a veil, tartan and tied in the Glasreord fashion around her shoulders. Her fringe of curly red hair pokes out from under it. “You’re in awful late-ish, you is.”

“There was much to do during the day, but now I am free,” Falak says, fishing through her pocket for the money.

“I can see! All done up pretty, and Quincy, you look smart too. What’s the occasion?”

“Vhatair got out of jail.”

Meridan’s mouth goes very thin and white for half a second. Falak pretends to be engrossed in her money-search, but there’s no way she missed it, Meridan is making no effort to be coy.

“I see,” Meridan says after a moment. “How nice.”

“Yes. He has gotten his job… a job, at least… back from Master Kaldraegh and is already well-situated, I am thinking.”

“So it’s back to business as usual?” Meridan’s voice has that ‘I’m very upset but I’m trying to act like I’ve got it under control so you feel more sorry for me’ tremble that, usually, would get on Quincy’s nerves. Now, though, he feels solidarity.

Of course, being a church lady, Meridan took nearly all these eight months to get used to Quincy and stop sniffing at him, so probably he shouldn’t be so trusting of her judgment.

Falak finally finds the money, and forks out the coin for two baths and a vial of soap. Meridan gets them set up with a basket to hold the towels and soap, pulls the crank to open the gate. Her entreaty to enjoy their bath is a lot more mechanical that usual. Don’t make the mistake of enjoying that, Quincy tells himself. He and Falak go to one of the public pools, the one on the far side of the building. It’s usually less crowded.

Falak would use the private baths if she had the money. Her hands shake as she undoes the knot on her veil, and, as she pulls away her black coif, Quincy sees that her ears have turned maroon. Even after all this time in the city, she’s a good, modest girl. Quincy stands between her and the rest of the bathers, waits for her to be in the water before he takes her clothes to the bar along the wall meant to hold them. As for him, any shyness about communal nudity was sandblasted from him years ago.

Besides, it’s late, so there’s really nobody in aside from street girls and crooks. A big man covered in pox-scars and knife-wounds starts to leer at Falak, but after Quincy flashes his teeth—and the man gets a good look at the prison tattoos—he decides to mind his own business. Judging by the way Falak shrank down into the water, it’s scant comfort.

It must be hard for her, having come from a harem, probably, to the teeming streets of some foreign country. Maybe in her home country she’d have been comfortable being on display, something strangers could lust over, but she can’t trust the people around here won’t just pounce on her. Without the protection of her father’s walls, she has to make do. Her veil and modest dress are her walls now. Nobody gets to see the whorls of black, black hair, her smooth dark arms and shoulders. Usually nobody, at least.

The baths don’t really count by Glasreord reckoning. Everyone is naked so it’s nothing remarkable. If that’s not the case to the al-Wadi, it doesn’t matter, because here Falak still has a veil, one nobody can get through. Quincy.

(Even fresh from the Pit, there was enough ragged shreds of chivalry still clinging to his scraped bones that he liked the idea. He’d be like a knight, like in the stories. A knight protecting a pretty lady. Standing up for her virtue, chasing away the villains who might accost her, accepting her favors.)

(Life isn’t a story—the knight is a devil from the Pit, the pretty lady a foreign sorcerer—but he likes being a protector for once all the same. And he gets all the favor anybody could ask for in the form of sweets, so that’s nice.)

People make all sorts of noise about baths, about how erotic or some-such it is to have a woman’s hands rubbing on you, cleaning you. Quincy ain’t sure about that. From where he sits, another set of hands makes things efficient, not sexy. Sounds like the delusion of people who got too much time. Probably the sort who do calling cards.

Once Falak’s hair is washed he does her braid back up for her, fingers quick. He didn’t know how to braid hair when he got out of prison, but he’s gotten damn nippy with it. Falak is full capable of doing it herself. But Quincy likes doing it for her. They switch positions so Falak can wash his hair next. What little fuzz he can call hair, at least. Falak rubs circles into his scalp, he can tell she’s smiling even if he can’s see her face.

“Your hair is getting so long, my dear,” she comments. “So pale! Pretty boy.”

Quincy goes cold in the hot water, the blue tile turns to dingy stone and the big man from before into someone else, equally big, not yet bled to death. The scar tissue-filled holes where Quincy’s front teeth were twinge. It all passes a second later, disappearing between two heartbeats, but it still leaves him reeling. Falak winces.

“Oh. Oh, Quincy, I—forgive me,” she says, breathless and remorseful, so remorseful, the only person who has ever regretted hurting him.

“It’s… fine.” He clears his throat. “Honest it is, Falak, it wasn’t so bad as it usually is, I’m fine. I didn’t even wanna puke or nothing. Just a jolt. I’m fine.”

Probably the exhaustion. He’s been low-grade burning for so long that there wasn’t enough fuel left to explode. He supposes he’s grateful for that.

He bows down so he can get the soap out of his hair. Don’t want it running into his eyes, that’s all he needs right now. He turns and leans against her, head on her shoulder and gangly arms looping around her chest. He’s eating real good these days, and not so long from now he’ll be twenty years, but still, he’s wiry, the bones narrow like bird’s bones, the muscle lean like an eel. Falak’s hands are daintier than his and she’s got a narrow throat to match his, but otherwise, she’s broader than him everywhere. All of her is soft.

She’s utterly unlike any of the men who called him ‘pretty boy.’ Grizzled, starving men they were, longtime residents of the prison system and with more lives ruined than even Quincy can boast. Still, the words bleed from his memories into Falak’s voice, making her say things he knows she could never say. Giving her intentions she could never have.

The words come unbidden to his mouth and slip out between the gaps in his teeth before he can catch them. He’s so sleepy, feels like he’s been awake for years instead of just hours, and the day seems intent on dragging on longer. His self-control is too slow to react.

“Are you mad at me, Falak?”

Falak goes still. Stays still for a time that’s probably not that long at all, but scrapes across Quincy’s brain like a dull blade.

“Two fist fights interrupted is not what I had hoped for,” Falak says at last.

Quincy splashes water on his face so he doesn’t have to follow up. It makes sense. Of course she was hoping they would all get along. It’s a stupid thing to hope, but Falak is full of such dreams. All sorcerers are mad on some level.

Falak moves slow and purposeful, gives him plenty of time to realize what’s happening before she takes him by both shoulders and dunks him into the water. When he comes up, spitting and sputtering, she’s smiling again.

“It is not so bad, sweet,” she says. “I… I will not say I am not disappointed.
But it is not as though you alone acted. It is not a fist fight unless both men are swinging. This is true. I will talk to him when the time comes.”


He wants to say sorry. And he is, sorry for disappointing her, for dashing her hopes, ridiculous as they were. He’s not sorry for the fights that almost were. He wishes they’d started in earnest, wishes he could have broken another crook in Westyard’s already-crooked nose, given him a new scar. Wishes that if he took out his knife and stab stab stabbed Westyard into bleeding ribbons, Falak would still love him afterward.

He says nothing, and lets nothing show on his face. Within a few minutes, he’s doing up the back of Falak’s dress, getting ready to leave. Meridan bids them goodbye as Falak returns the towels and basket, and Quincy catches her gaze following them all the way to the door, her brow creased by concern.

Flickering lamplight guides them across the uneven cobbles on their way back home. The Sentinel is probably gonna erupt again soon. Some places that were concave are now beginning to swell. It’s been some odd centuries since the Sentinel’s flows hit the city, and the Dike is still maintained in case they do, but Quincy dislikes eruptions even so. The earthquakes were always bad in prison, and sometimes the water would turn hot and sulfurous from mineral seep when the Sentinel was dreaming.

The apartment is cold; the oven went dead while they were out, and the stove in their bedroom as well. Falak sees to the bedroom stove while Quincy loads the oven back up with coal and gets it lit. By the time they’re in bed, it’ll be warm again, but for now, Quincy wants under the blankets as fast as humanly possible. He’s out of his waistcoat and shirt in record time, his boots tossed near enough to the stove that in the morning, they’ll be warm.

Quincy’s nightshirt is shoved under the pillow on his side of the bed. He grabs it while Falak is struggling out of her stays, kicks his trousers away while she carefully folds up her dress and sets it on her chest. Next to the bed, there’s a row of hooks, where she keeps her veil, and Quincy keeps the holster with his snub-nosed revolver, the sheath with his scout’s knife. Quincy also keeps a knife on under his nightshirt. You can never be over-prepared for violence. Falak agrees, she’s said things like ‘better to be a soldier in a garden than a gardener in a war,’ which sounds like something a clockwork fortune-teller would say but he finds pithy nonetheless.

She’s asleep faster than usual, her breath rustling the hair at Quincy’s temple. She’s right, it is getting longer. He thinks he’d like to grow it out. It was always buzzed short in prison, at least once he got to be in a position to make that decision. He’s not vain, exactly, but his hair is very light, so pale a blond it’s almost silver. It’s… pretty.

Quincy would very much like to be pretty without the knowledge making him feel sick. So he will grow his hair out and repeat the word ‘pretty’ to himself until the teeth have been worn from its mouth. Quincy bites harder than anyone, than anything, even these garbage responses. He’ll chew this neurosis to shreds and swallow it.

(There are bone-deep sicknesses he has. Things that can never be fixed. And so he will fix the things he can, so at least when Falak’s silly fancies are smashed, he can say, ‘we did our bests.’ He’d like Falak to call him pretty and to be pleased with the compliment, instead of knocking her sweet intentions out of her hands, splattering her love like an upended dish across the floor at their feet.)

Quincy snuggles in closer, hoping her breathing will lull him to sleep. Ever since he started living with her, he’s been sleeping way more regularly, practically five nights a week at present. And he is tired, every breath weightier than lead as he heaves it through his lungs. Falak puts her arms around him. It made him uncomfortable at first, too much like being held down, but after no time at all he got used to it and now has the opposite problem. When she’s not there, he has nightmares, he needs the weight of her to hold him in reality, in the now instead of the back then.

She still smells, however lightly, of camphor. He breathes it deep, tries for sleep. Gods he is tired.

No time at all passes before he gets out of bed. He’s gonna start tossing and turning if he doesn’t, wound up despite all his tiredness. No sense in waking Falak. She’s got work tomorrow. His footsteps are silent as he goes to the door, opening it slow to keep it quiet as well. It clicks just a little when he closes it, barely a whisper, something that, even if Falak were awake, would be lost in the sound of her breathing. He’s very good at being quiet.

In the main room is a lot brighter, on account of the un-shuttered window. He crouches down by the window, peeks over the windowsill at the sea. From his present angle, all he can see is a sliver of ocean, the yellow moon festooned by wispy clouds. He opens the window just a crack, props it in place with the beach cobble Falak has just for that purpose. The smell of sea filters in, the roar of waves steady as Falak’s breathing is. She’s asleep, he reminds himself. Fast asleep and none the wiser, so long as you’re quiet.
Quincy closes his eyes, rests his head against the wall. Slides both palms up the insides of his thighs. Digs his fingers in hard, not enough to bruise but enough to pretend that it might, and breathes shakily out his nose as his prick twitches.

His fingers still taste a little minerally from the baths. He has to shove three in his mouth to get the feeling he likes—tattooed and bloody his fingers may be, but they’re still very slender—and the taste means he has to imagine harder, something he, quite frankly, does not have the mental energy for. Things’ll pick up when he’s got his drawers down, but for now it’s just another frustration. It’d be nice if he was able to groan or huff. Quiet, quiet, he tells himself. You’re already making enough noise sucking on your fingers.

It’s not like he wants to go back to the streets. Gods no. He may scathingly think of him and the rest of the residents of Fountainpool as gutter people, but, having slept in a literal gutter for the first month and a half of his freedom, he’s fine keeping that metaphorical. But having a female roommate makes certain things difficult to manage. In the gutter, so long as he kept his cloak over himself and didn’t go about hollering, he could toss off in peace.

Falak already handles the fact that he’s hard in the mornings with sainted grace and ironclad denial. She doesn’t need to deal with him abusing himself. Especially not in the way he does. It would distress her. On multiple levels. And gods be good, it would distress him.

(There are bone-deep sicknesses he has.)

(The biggest prisoner took him in his lap once and told him that a man is truly a man when he can freely indulge in his vices. Might could be. But Quincy is fairly certain he was talking about vices like cigarettes, or liquor, or murder. Not like this. He wouldn’t have been able to be the Devil of Cellblock 12 if anyone had known of this vice. It would have damned him, no matter how sharp his teeth or the lessons he delivered were. It was hard enough keeping his reputation enough to make up for his skinny legs, his little waist and the way a man’s hands look on it, his white skin.)

He undoes the tie on his drawers and shuffles them past his knees. They’d be more comfortable to kneel on than the hardwood floor, but he’s trying to keep them from getting dirty, so he takes the discomfort. It’s not the worst he’s going to experience tonight. His fingers are pretty wet by now, but he keeps sucking just a little longer, holds them between the peaks of his fangs to avoid biting them. The edges aren’t nearly as sharp as the tips, else he’d probably not have the tip of his tongue anymore. That’s where you taste sweetness, right? He’d rather lose a few fingers, maybe even a foot, than lose that.

Flexibility is one of his strong suits. Even moreso than being quiet, which is great up until you’re actually in a fight. He reaches back and presses two fingers to his hole. Doesn’t push ‘em in just yet, but his prick jerks like he had. His breathing is getting a little harder to control.

Ah, he’s already tearing up. Pitiful. That’s just gonna make things even more difficult.

(There are things in him that can never be fixed.)

His thighs are quaking as he takes his cock in hand, and it has nothing to do with strain. It aches, badly, but he stops himself from stroking, keeps his hand still and loose. He takes one deep breath, then another, to steady himself. Then he pushes both fingers in at once, up to the first knuckle even though all he’s got is spit. The burning stretch of them claws up his spine, claws down the length of his prick. His next breath is a sharp one, more a gasp than a breath, loud enough to startle him. Shut up, shut up!

He keeps twisting them in, deeper and deeper, the bite makes it better, makes it throb in his spine and stones. Sniveling as he is, though, that’s not remotely enjoyable. He takes his hand from his prick to shove the bottom hem of his nightshirt in his mouth. There’s already a few holes in it, so should he tear new ones, probably Falak won’t notice.

Okay, that’s a very stupid thing to think, of course she’s going to notice, she notices everything and she does his laundry. In his defense, nobody is smart when they’re getting buggered.

His fingers reach the spot inside that make this entire exercise worth it. It doesn’t take the pain away or anything like that. Just knocks the breath from his lungs, makes him want to fall forward on his face, arch his back. It’s a response he can’t help anymore than his response to being called ‘pretty.’

(”Aw, Quincy, my pretty little pet.”)

It feels good enough that thinking about all doesn’t immediately soften Quincy’s prick. No, it’s harder than ever in his grip, red and angry even in the moonlight. The tattoos on his thighs squirm as the limbs shake, the skull staring up at him with empty sockets, the snake burrowing through the meat with its head surfacing about level with his cock. He thought that was funny when he got it, though at this point his sense of humor has developed far enough past dick-based puns that it’s mostly embarrassing. On the first knuckle of his index finger, hastily done over the scar from the bad infection, ‘12,’ adorned with tiny, crude skulls to either side.

Quincy closes his eyes. He’s done thinking about that place for today. Absolutely fucking finished with it.

He doesn’t mime thrusting with his fingers. Pressing against the spot will do fine for tonight, he’s in a bit of a hurry. His other hand is ruthless on his prick. He doesn’t need gentle treatment. Wouldn’t know what to do with it if he ever received it. Probably wouldn’t even enjoy it. His body has its wants. The stretch, ah, and that pressure. Deep and intrusive and perfect.

It makes his breath catch. Makes him choke on sobs he can’t let get past his fangs and the nightshirt shoved in his mouth. The cotton sucks the moisture from his tongue. That’s fine. His cheeks are plenty wet. Tears drip from his jaw, get lost in the shirt just like the noise. The only sounds are the strangled breaths coming through his mostly-stuffed nose, and his foreskin slipping back and forth over the head. Everything is wet and drippy. Sweat trickles down his spine.

The whole scope of the world narrows to the thrumming in his spine, the ache in his cock and that rush from his fingers. He can’t even hear the ocean anymore, his ears filled by pounding of his pulse and the slick, filthy sound of him stroking himself off. All the nervous seething energy that’s, somehow, beating out exhaustion, it all turns to want—to need, he needs it out, he needs to come, he needs, he needs—

Wind tickles along his neck like breath. Quincy seizes, and barely gets his hands in position to catch the mess as he comes. The thin, high noise he makes is muffled in the shirt, but he wouldn’t care if it wasn’t. In his defense, nobody is smart when they’re coming.

He licks the cum from his fingers, his palms. What else? Use the kitchen towel? Falak uses that towel. For a moment after he swallows the last of it, the sour taste of seed is stronger than the taste of metal. Once that taste abates, the tears do too. He blinks what’s left of them away and scrubs viciously at his cheeks with the backs of his wrists. It hurts, but that’s what he gets, crying like that. Pathetic.

Ah, but that’s just how it is. No sense self-flagellating over it. He done enough self-flagellation for one night.

He washes his hands, now that all that’s on them is spit, in the kitchen basin, too sleepy to mind that the water is ice cold from the oven going out. He dries them off on his drawers, and creeps back into the bedroom. Falak is none the wiser, dreaming all peaceful and ignorant under the blankets. She doesn’t stir as he worms back under the covers with her. It’s disgusting of him to hold her after what he just did. He does it even so. She makes this happy noise and wiggles closer.

“Quince,” she mumbles, followed by a string of lilting syllables that trail into nothing.

Shameful as it all was—is—Quincy gets what he wanted for the first time today. He’s out in moments, and sleeps like a rock, so deep that he doesn’t even dream.

I really struggled finding a header for this chapter! Shockingly enough, no early photographs of parades in the middle of the night exist, and no parades like the one described exist as creative commons images. Oh well… consider that a picture of the parades from the afternoon.

People sure are wrapped around the axle over the return to ‘business as usual.’ Surely that doesn’t mean anything ominous though…

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