Let the Light Touch You
The soft warm breeze was ruffling his hair, getting it into his eyes, but he didn’t care. He was sitting between two richly painted columns and although the weather was warm outside, he had a thin blanket wrapped around his skinny body. His cheeks were hollow and there were dark circles under his empty-looking eyes that stared into nothing. The blanket was to try warming him up as his body’s been cold for a week now. He still had no sense of time, but that’s what Sutan’d told him. He always announced the days and chatted about the latest gossip even if he knew Tommy wouldn’t reply or react.
He never came too close to him though. He made that mistake once when he wanted to hug Tommy once he was back, but the blonde shied away from his touch, seeking shelter between Taylor’s arms. Now Sutan kept his distance even if it was killing him a little each day.
It was still just Taylor who could come close to him and touch him to tend his healing wounds. Even so he slept on the bed with Adam. It was big enough to keep a safe distance and the king made sure it was kept as he didn’t want to freak Tommy out. Tommy had missed the pained expression the first night when bedtime came and without thinking Tommy slid on his knees next to the bed offering his mouth for the male in front of him so he could fuck his face like Vito, Carlo or some of his men used to do.
He was confused for a moment when he wasn’t used like that just led to his side of the bed and tucked in. But he was convinced he did something wrong or wasn’t desirable or the male just wasn’t in the mood. He didn’t recognize the change of his surroundings yet. He just saw that his Master, Vito wasn’t around him anymore. He thought the tall male was just one of his other men or he was borrowed to some noble man.
But at least his fever was gone thanks to some strange tea he had to drink and Taylor swore it’d help on him. He didn’t care about his wounds but it was nice not getting knew ones for a while now. He could deal with the physical pain by then, his mind became experienced in protecting itself from it so he could just feel empty and detached from his own body. He spent more and more time in that headspace and it was convenient. But it was harder and harder to come back each time something snapped him out of it. So he just stayed. This was the longest time he’s ever been there, but he stopped caring. Stopped having his own thoughts. He was just a tool. A useless piece of meat. A pretty liar.
But something was different that day. The change was subtle, nearly undetectable.
Tommy turned his eyes from the clear blue sky when he heard singing. A lot of people were singing. It was a sad melody and it touched something that was left of himself deep inside. For a while he just watched the mass of people slowly gathering on the curling streets under the palace and the stairs that led up to the higher levels of the building. There were people carrying a plank full of fragrant lotuses which surrounded a motionless male body. It was covered by a thin white fabric, a bow and an arrow placed below the legs. They were slowly carrying the figure down the stairs, people dressed in bright white following them.
It took Tommy quite some time until his numb mind made him realize that he was watching a funeral. He stayed motionless but his eyes followed the march descending on the stairs to the singing people. Everyone was dressed in white, which could be a bit strange for someone who wasn’t used to the customs of the Sand. They looked at death from a different perspective. Here the dead were mourned but celebrated at the same time as they believed that death was only one step of someone’s life and spiritual growth. That’s why they were all dressed in white instead of black. It symbolized a new beginning just as much as the next step in the funeral.
The body and the grieving family were followed down the streets by countless people. From his spot Tommy could see that they were headed towards the river bank. A part of it with lush palm trees and plants that somehow struck him as familiar, although he couldn’t remember why. For a while he didn’t exactly know what was happening but then he saw the body appear on the water in a small boat. It was pulled by four other slightly bigger boats into the middle of the river Sesen and the body was lit on fire. White smoke curled towards the horizon where the sun was about to set and that’s when thousands of white spots appeared on the water – more lotuses on the river which’s name meant purity and rebirth too.
Tommy’s eyes followed the burning boat accompanied by the four others and the flowers until his eyes could see. Time after time the wind brought him the sounds of singing as he watched the sun make the sky and the city bleed from yellow to red then dark blue as the night arrived. There were torches lit everywhere and feasts all around Oudjat and in the palace in honor of that man. Tommy had no idea who it was, but he figured he must’ve been an important person to have the whole city attend the funeral.
His mind didn’t dwell on it for too long. He just relaxed back into his chair and watched the night slowly take over the city, the different sounds melting into background noise.
This was probably the hardest day of his life so far. He and his family had to give his baby brother to the gods. He could feel the intangible presence of Aset, but this time Adam didn’t try to search for her. He just murmured a silent prayer and a thank you for her support. He followed the march silently, not looking at anyone or singing like even his parents and Miriam did. He was rendered speechless and he could only press his lips together not to completely fall apart.
He didn’t let any teardrops escape his burning eyes either. He was the king and although he knew everyone would’ve understood it, he just couldn’t afford it. Not anymore. Not after all that has happened. So he watched his brother’s burning body slowly go down the river from the very spot where they used to bathe together as kids. Their favorite spot by the river. A gift from their silently crying mother who was being held by Eber.
After the priests’ chanting and rituals he said a few words about the devoted prince and brother they’d lost, Adam just stood there silently, grieving on the inside until it was time to head back to the palace. He had no appetite but he had to stay on the feast for a while.
But the first time it wasn’t considered rude to excuse himself he did and headed back to the royal chambers, leaving his parents and Miriam to handle things downstairs. He knew he should have stayed longer, but he just couldn’t. Despite his mother’s soft and reassuring words from earlier, Adam was still blaming himself.
He bumped into Taylor on the corridor and asked him if there was any change, but he just shook his head and retreated for the night. He was staying by a nearby simple room in case his help was needed with Tommy at night, but that didn’t occur until now as the blonde was rarely asleep or when he did, he stayed just as quiet like through daytime.
Adam quietly entered the chambers and walked around the corner to see Tommy already curled up into a tiny ball on his side of the bed. He was so close to the edge that Adam was sure he’d have rather slept on the floor by the foot of the bed. Sometimes when Adam woke during a bad night and didn’t see Tommy on the other side of the bed, he knew he could find him curled up by the foot of the bed like he used to do in that terrible place. Then he had to pick him up and put him back in bed. At those times he couldn’t help but wonder what awful methods and emotional terror Vito must’ve used on his husband to put him in such an awful state.
At times – a lot of times, actually – it felt as if the Tommy he knew was completely gone. Like the blonde had lost all of what he used to be and only an empty shell was left of him. It hurt Adam beyond words to see him like this. There were days when he thought he won’t be able to take this too. There was a lot on his plate and he felt like going crazy because of not being able to help at least on Tommy.
This was one of those overwhelming days because his brother’s funeral just added to that pile. He was beyond tired, sad and lonely. He missed his mate, his husband to whom he could talk about these things or who could just hold him and tell him everything was going to be alright.
Things were far from alright.
He quietly and slowly undressed until he only had his undergarments on and slid into bed. He turned on his side, facing away from the motionless thin body.
At least he saw the little healthy signs of gaining weight on Tommy. He was so fucking thin and fragile-looking compared to his already slim built. A week ago Adam had a little doubt that Tommy’s system would be strong enough to fight off that fever. But now slowly he was looking a bit healthier thanks to Taylor. The young king didn’t know what he’d have done without that boy.
But now his head was full of other things. Memories of his little brother. He was absolutely not in the mood to stay downstairs and go through these memories in the presence of others and strangers. He wanted to do this alone. And now he felt utterly alone despite the small sleeping form behind him. He knew Tommy wouldn’t react to him anyways. He was getting used to it even if his heart was breaking each time he got no or the wrong responses from his husband.
But now… now he finally could let go of his emotions and pain and soon he was silently crying into his pillow, his body slightly shaking and trembling from the intensity of his grief.
He had no idea for how long he’s been crying like that, but suddenly he felt the bed move behind him and a slender hand was carefully put on his upper-arm. He sucked in a breath and tried to think clearly for a moment while tensing up. It was so unexpected he had no idea what to do so he just sniffed and stayed like that until he could feel the small body slowly slide closer and nuzzle to him from behind. Seconds passed and when Tommy didn’t move away, Adam’s tears continued but now not just because of his grief but from some relief and hope too…
Adam was sitting in one of the two thrones looking over the throne room. There wasn’t a mass of people in there. No, this trial wasn’t for the masses. Only the nobles of Oudjat and the war council – Ron, Eber, Leila, Isaac, Longineu, the high priests of both the Sand and the Sea, Ron’s and the Caves’ advisor and King Adam – were present.
Guards were standing along both lines of columns that led to the heavy main doors of the palace opposite the thrones. Two guards were standing behind a kneeling figure, his hands tied up behind his back. His clothes were dirty and ragged here and there.
“Carlo Dioli, you know well why you are here in front of us,” the high priest of the Sand started from the top of the few stairs that led up to the thrones. “But for those who does not know, as a citizen of the Land of the Sea, you are accused of high treason for the kidnapping and torturing of King Tomas, who is still recovering from his injuries; of conspiring with the late Captain Vito of the Land of the Volcanoes and Queen Thalia of the Islands of Gorgo. Furthermore, you are accused of…”
Adam zoned out on the other crimes the priest read up from a parchment in his hands. He had to control himself not to get up and open the throat of this traitor. He was one of the men who tortured and raped his husband, who wasn’t there on the rightful place next to Adam. Tommy’s throne was empty because of this man too. It took all his energy to keep the neutral mask on his face which still looked disdainful.
The brunette man slowly looked up and instead of fear for his life a sick half-smile played on his lips. It was clearly mocking Adam, Tommy and the accusations against him. That look made Adam’s blood boil with anger. How did this low-life dare to act like this after what he’d done to Tommy?! Adam would have none of that. He stood up and silenced the priest with a wave of his hand.
“You know you’ll pay for what you’ve done. So I don’t think any of this is funny.”
Carlo chuckled shortly and shook his head. “That’s where you’re wrong. I’ve reached my goal and you can do nothing to undo it.”
“Your goal?” Adam raised a brow questioningly.
“Yes. To make your precious little husband’s life miserable. I avenged my cousin’s life and took my time playing with that nicely tamed pet of yours… And even if he comes back to his senses, he’ll always be reminded of us by his scars,” he grinned.
“You’re just as much of a monster like that sick bastard Vito was. I don’t know what Thomas did to your cousin, but what you did to my husband, your king, was outrageous and completely unacceptable…”
“He is NOT my king! He never was! You don’t know a lot of things, your Majesty!” he said mockingly. “For example, I’m sure you thought that my fake letter was just like that: fake. Well, you’re wrong. We used to be lovers with your husband and he did cheat on you the night before I drugged and kidnapped him,” he spat. “He loved my mouth on him. He never wanted to resist.”
“Shut your mouth!” Adam cried out, anger flaring up in his eyes. “You have no right to talk about him like this! I’ll tell you what’ll happen to you and then we’ll see if that grin of yours will stay on your face!” he took a step closer, itching to smash in said face, but instead he just clenched and unclenched his fists a few times. He let the silence stretch for a few moments. He could hear that the whole hall fell into a deadly silence, waiting for the verdict to the crimes of this man – the cause of the attack on Oudjat and the person, who tortured their other king. Moreover, the reason of the battle which killed their beloved Prince Neil. They didn’t know exactly what happened to King Thomas, but all the hurt their enemy caused was enough for them to want some kind of retaliation.
They wanted Carlo to pay as they saw him as the symbol of all the pain and suffering the United Kingdoms suffered.
“I’m not sure if you know, but after each war we win, we have a ceremony to offer blood sacrifice to the gods as our gratitude. We choose the sacrifice from the defeated enemy. This time, you’ll be that sacrifice. I hope you’ve prayed for forgiveness, because it won’t be a pleasant way to enter the afterlife tonight,” he said and this time it was Adam, who had a dark smile on his face seeing the blood rush out of Carlo’s cheeks.
“No…” he started, but Adam waved for the guards to take him away and prepare him for the ceremony. The hall got filled with Carlo’s protests and curses as he was being dragged out and the approving yells and murmurs of the nobles.
Adam turned around and looked at the members of the war council. Not all of them were keen to accept Adam’s decision about the fate of Carlo when he told it to them earlier, but the king found it important to make an example of the traitor. That way their enemies would know what to expect in case they decided to attack the United Kingdoms of the Sand, the Sea, the Caves and now the Volcanoes too.
Adam was emotionally exhausted by the time he went back to the royal chambers. He needed some time to calm down and collect his thoughts. Did Carlo tell the truth about the cheating or was that just another trick to hurt him one last time? Adam knew he couldn’t ask Tommy about it yet. Although Tommy started slowly improving since the night of Neil’s funeral, he still wasn’t completely himself.
As Adam turned at the corner of the short corridor that led to the bed chamber of their suite, he saw Tommy sitting on the edge of their bed. That wasn’t unusual, but this time Tommy looked right into Adam’s eyes and the tiniest of smiles tugged at the edge of his mouth. He looked a bit healthier than previously.
“Adam…” he whispered a bit hoarsely and he had to clear his throat. It’s been a while since he talked.
“Tommy… you’re back?” Adam asked with disbelief but he could already feel a weight being lifted off his chest. He took a few steps towards his husband, but he quickly stopped, not wanting to startle him.
“Yeah…” he whispered and reached out a hand for Adam.
The tall man walked to him and took the slender hand in his much bigger one as he sat down next to Tommy and lightly squeezed his fingers. “I’m so happy, baby. I’ve terribly missed you…” he sighed relieved.
“I’m sorry,” Tommy dropped his gaze.
“No. You don’t have to apologize. None of this is your fault,” Adam shook his head.
“But it is…” Tommy sighed bitterly, but continued before Adam could protest. “When did I get back here?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Just bits and pieces.”
“I see. You had a fever on our way back. We’ve returned a bit more than two weeks ago,” Adam answered while playing with Tommy’s fingers. Truth be told, he wanted to hug him tight and never let go, but he wasn’t sure if he could.
“Oh…” Tommy looked up at Adam, examining his face. “What happened to M… to the Captain?” he corrected himself before he could call him ‘Master’. That was the only title he could address him when he had to.
Adam lightly frowned, but let it go. He knew what Tommy wanted to say. He called that monster ‘Master’ in his tear-filled nightmares from which Adam had to wake Tommy at least 2 or 3 times a night. “Neil killed him with an arrow through the head. You were in shock, I think, so you don’t remember.”
“Probably. I was… away,” he looked down and with his free hand he pressed the edge of one of his bandages.
He still had a lot of those. Once Adam watched Taylor tend to the countless healing whip-marks on Tommy’s back, ass and arms. Adam couldn’t stay in the room for long. Not because he found the injuries disgusting, but because they were another reminder that he couldn’t protect his husband. It was outrageous how those sick bastards broke that creamy skin’s perfection. It was likely that some deeper wounds would scar like on Taylor’s skin. To prevent that – as much as possible – Adam brought a special balm he made in the temple to speed up the healing process.
“But what counts is that you are finally back. Here, with me…” Adam whispered and watched as Tommy slowly nodded.
“Sorry about your brother… you lost him because of me,” he sighed trying to turn away, but Adam didn’t let him.
“No. Tommy, look at me, please,” he asked gently taking Tommy’s pale face in his hands. He still felt a little cold to the touch and skinnier than usual. “It’s not your fault. I feel myself responsible. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you in time… I’m sorry I got there so late. I thought I’ve lost you for good…” he whispered as tears collected in his eyes. “I thought I could never tell you that I love you,” he said barely audible but didn’t get the response he was hoping for.
Tommy pulled a little back and suddenly seemed shy and at a loss, like someone who doesn’t know what to do in such a situation. And maybe he really didn’t know now how to take it. Then Adam thought he saw some guilt appear on his face too as he stayed silent for a long minute. “But… I don’t deserve you… any of this,” he waved around the room and hung his head low again “and I definitely didn’t deserve your brother giving his life to save me,” he said as silent tears ran down his face. “I don’t deserve anything. I’m just a little cheating liar.”
“No, Tommy, no! Don’t say such things!” Adam grabbed the blonde’s shoulders, ignoring the cheating part of his answer for now.
Tommy’s reaction was immediate. His whole body tensed under Adam’s touch as he slightly jerked back in a weak attempt to get free, his eyes rounding as he was staring at his own thighs and his breathing hitched. When Adam realized his mistake, he let Tommy go right away. His husband was visibly shaking and clearly at the brink of a panic attack.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I won’t hurt you, Tommy,” he said feeling himself choking up. “I could never willingly hurt you…” he said watching worried that his husband put his arms around his middle and curled on himself. “Just breathe, Tommy. Please…”
“T-taylor… I need Taylor,” he forced out and Adam felt his heart drop, but still he slowly stood up and headed towards the door.
“I’ll get him. Please, keep breathing. We’ll talk later,” he added and hurried out of their chambers to knock on Taylor’s nearby door. When he opened the door, Adam only had to say “Tommy needs you,” and the young boy was already on his way.
The king followed from a distance and watched them from the shadows. His chest was aching while watching Tommy hug the other boy after he calmed down. Adam couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but the way they interacted, that special bond they had left a bitter taste in Adam’s mouth. It should be Adam having that bond. It should be him taking care of his husband’s wounds. It should be him receiving such hugs. Instead he could only offer his love for that small blond and he could do that only from the distance in fear of overwhelming him even more. Although his heart was aching from not hearing back what he was hoping for, he understood that Tommy just came back and was still emotionally unstable. He swallowed hard and blinked a few times to stop the burning in his eyes.
He turned away when Taylor started changing Tommy’s bandages. It was the perfect night – after the execution of Carlo – to drink until he passed out.