Disclaimer: Don’t own it.  (In fact, in this life, I own very little.)


Warning: In this tale, as stated in the summary, you will find yaoi, lemon and non-consensual sex.  If any of this offends you, turn back now.


“… as usual.”


Van slumped against the tree trunk, staring at the letter in his hand.  I’ve just gotten back, he thought in disbelief.  Fanelia hasn’t even begun to rebuild yet!  How can I…  He broke off the thought and closed his eyes, forcing himself to relax.  He could feel the bark of the tree scraping his back through the thin material of his shirt as he sank to the ground.  Opening his eyes again, he stared sightlessly at the deep green leaves, the bright blue canopy of the sky, and took a deep breath.  He held it until he could feel the blood pounding in his ears, then let it out explosively.


Running a hand through his unruly hair, he glanced down at the letter again.  Surprised, he noticed there was a post-script he hadn’t seen before, beneath the scrawled signature.


I know right now you’re wondering how you’re going to pay this.  I know because I know you.  I’m not demanding payment in full, all at once, your Majesty.  I am not of that stripe.  I will be in Asturia for the entire moon.  Come see me in Palas.  I’m sure we can work out an equitable agreement.  Again, the signature was scrawled, the sweeping lines black against the parchment.


Van sighed.  It was a debt he fully intended to repay, but he’d hoped it could wait at least until Fanelia was on its feet again.  Even then, it wouldn’t be easy.  Even for a king, money didn’t grow on trees, and with his country in ruins… The cost of the city was staggering.


Slowly, he climbed back to his feet.  At least the mercenary was offering him the chance of making repayment in installments.  No, that wasn’t fair.  He wasn’t a mercenary, just a merchant.  Van wandered back to the ruins of his city.  He had to at least tell Merle he was going to see Dryden.



Van squared his shoulders as the rat-man ushered him to Dryden’s office.  The house was dark, the shutters were all closed.  Every nook and cranny of the house seemed to be filled with showpieces – exquisite paintings, delicate crystalline pieces of art, statuary of flawless marble, every one perfectly executed. 


He was so caught up in admiration and envy that he nearly bumped into the rat.  They had stopped in front of a solid oak door with carved panels.  Van scanned the door’s scene quickly as the rat-man knocked but looked away, blushing.  In the woodland scene on the door, he could just make out satyrs chasing nymphs, catching them, and… He returned to himself as the door opened, and stepped out of the direct line of vision from the door, almost automatically.


“What is it?” a deep voice asked with some irritation.  There was the sound of a yawn.  Van could just see Dryden peering near-sightedly at the rat.


“Young master, the king of Fanelia to see you.”  When Dryden glanced away from him in surprise, the rat-man took the opportunity to scurry away.


Dryden smiled, and ran a hand through his thick brown locks.  “Your Majesty.  Please come in.” He stepped back, giving Van enough space to enter.


Dryden had obviously been napping.  His hair was loose from its usual tie.  He was not wearing his glasses, and his dark eyes were half closed and crusted with sleep.  He wore a shirt, undone at the collar, and the sash and long wrap-around skirt he affected, but they were crumpled, not fresh.  As usual, his chin was unshaven.  Van looked around the spacious office, and saw a large opaque screen in one corner.  Probably sneaking a nap behind that, he thought.


Dryden heard his joints pop as he stretched and yawned again.  He gestured Van to a chair, but the younger man did not sit. Dryden shrugged.  The boy still had no conception of royal courtesies.  Well, I am not going to stay standing just because he does, he thought, and plunked down behind his large desk.  “Well, your Majesty, I imagine you’re here on account of my letter,” he began, folding his hands behind his head.


He watched in amusement as the boy started to pace.  “Why are you calling this due now?” Van asked angrily.  “You know damn well that I haven’t got 50 million to give you!  By the gods, I have only been back there a couple of weeks!  Nothing has been rebuilt yet…”


“I know that very well, your Majesty,” Dryden interrupted smoothly.


Van whirled to face him, fists clenched.  “Then why?”


The merchant held up his hands, eyes wide in false innocence.  “This is just to discuss a payment plan, Fanelia.”  Clasping his hands on the desk top, he looked down to hide his grin.  This was going to be good… “I’m willing to accept… say… 5 percent interest…”


“That’s going to add another 2.5 million to it!” Van gasped, sinking into the chair, staring at Dryden in disbelief.


He frowned.  He had been so rabid about fighting Zaibach that I never considered he might be intelligent.  “That’s a very reasonable interest rate,” he said, looking up with a stern expression.  “Considering your tendency to get into trouble, though, that might not be good business.  Maybe I should increase the rate and shorten the payoff time…”


“This is outrageous!” the king growled, jumping to his feet.  He’d caught the smile flitting across Dryden’s face.  “Yes, I would have died, but I never asked for your help.  I’ll pay you back – but only when my country is rebuilt.  I won’t let you treat this as business-as-usual!” He turned to the door.


Well.  This isn’t going at all how I’d planned, Dryden thought.  “That just means 10 percent interest and a shorter time to repay it,” he called softly, standing. “But if that’s what you prefer…” He shrugged as Van faced him again, glaring.


“Be reasonable!” Van snapped.


“I am.  You’re the one being unreasonable and short-tempered!” he shot back. He walked around the desk to perch on one corner.  “Now come back here.” He pointed to the chair.  Reluctantly, the youth sat down again, looking uncomfortable.  For a long moment, he studied the young king, watching him start to fidget.


It was the eyes, he finally decided, then immediately reversed himself.  No, damn it, it was the whole youthful package.  He liked the way the boy’s midnight hair fell into his eyes; he liked those huge eyes, the color of cinnamon, outlined by his sooty lashes. When he grew up, he would be able to rival Allen as a playboy – if he weren’t still hung up on that green-eyed girl.  Already it was obvious he would be that handsome.  Right now, he was thin as a whip, slim shoulders and arms just starting to develop a man’s musculature, narrow waist, long legs, not an ounce of fat on him anywhere.


To hell with a few years – he could rival Allen now.


Van could even be part of the reason I gave Millerna back the wedding ring, he realized.  Could be… Not that I love him more than her, but there’s just something… As he drank in the sight of the youth, he felt his manhood harden.  He leaned forward a bit, to try to hide it.


Van was uneasy under Dryden’s scrutiny, and shifted in his chair.  Why wasn’t he talking? he wondered.  He wanted me to come here, to talk about payment… “I do want to pay you back, Dryden,” he said sincerely.  But he was unable to look at the older man.  “I… I just hope you realize that Fanelia… that it will take a while for us to recover… we’re not exactly a rich country, like Asturia…” He felt his face heat in embarrassment to have to admit that to an outsider.  He glanced up at the other.


Dryden waved his faltering explanation away, intrigued by his blush.  “That’s all right, Majesty.  I understand that.  But we can still do business.”  He leaned closer to Van, almost conspiratorially.  “There is another method that I would consider for repayment…”


“Really?” Van asked eagerly, relieved.  “What is it?”


Quicker than lightning, the merchant took hold of his shoulder in one hand, his chin in the other and kissed him full on the lips.  He was too shocked to even move.  He could only stare, eyes wide.  He didn’t start to struggle until he felt Dryden’s tongue against his lips.  The other man released him at his first sign of resistance.  Immediately, he stood up, knocking over the chair in his haste to get away.


Dryden smiled lazily, watching him.  Van was a complete innocent, he thought in wonder.  You’d think that, appealing as he is, someone would have approached him like this long ago.  Oh, this will be fun…


“If…” In his horror, Van couldn’t make his throat form words properly.  “If that’s your other method, I won’t!  I can’t!”  He stumbled to the door, thinking only of escape.  He laid his hand on the latch.


“That’s up to you, your Majesty.”  His voice was deep and rich with desire.  “I could call the loan due right now, you know.”  Nonchalantly, he pretended to study his fingernails, observing Van from the corner of his eye.  “That would be disastrous for your country, wouldn’t it?” The slender shoulders and back were rigid, but the boy didn’t move.  “Which is more important – your people or your pride?”


Van closed his eyes, fighting a war within himself.  There was no possible way, short of signing Fanelia itself over to the merchant, that he could pay the 50 million now, and he would not do that.  He had a duty, a responsibility to those people.  His hand shook on the latch.  The answer was obvious.  What was one man’s pride compared to all those lives?  They depended on him.  His own pride was nothing against that.  His hand fell away from the door.


Dryden saw the king’s shoulders slump, and grinned inwardly.  For a moment, there, I didn’t think it was going to work.  The black head was bent as the other slowly turned around and walked back.


Staring at the floor, in a very low, slightly bitter tone, Van asked, “What do you want me to do?”


Dryden reached out to stroke Van’s cheek, felt him flinch at his touch.  He sighed and eyed the young man thoughtfully.  “Well, to begin with, I’d like you to relax.”  Leaning closer again, he whispered, “Second, let me kiss you…” He seized the boy’s lips with his own again, one hand still caressing his cheek.


His soul writhed in shame when he felt the other’s kiss, his hands on him.  But honor demanded that debts be repaid.  He stood stiffly, despite the order to relax, as he felt Dryden’s hands roam over his body, closed his eyes as the kiss trailed down to his neck.  The merchant’s mouth was hot against his throat, his hands warm as they slipped under his shirt.  Oh, he thought, this can’t be happening…


Dryden could feel the tension increase in the slim body even as he fondled him.  He placed little suckling kisses along the boy’s neck, down across his sharp collarbone, where the strings of his shirt were tied.  He flicked his tongue across the hollow of his throat, and repeated the process on the other side going up.  Beneath the loose red shirt, his hands ran over the hard outline of ribs, the slight definition of muscle.  He felt Van jump back as his knowing fingers found and gently tweaked his nipples. 


Instantly, he stopped laving the boy’s neck with kisses, and wrapped his large hands around the other’s narrow waist.  “Did that hurt?” he asked, his tone slightly droll, pulling the younger man closer to him.  He saw the shaggy dark head slowly shake side to side.  “Well, then.  There’s no need to act as if it did.”  Withdrawing one hand from beneath Van’s shirt, he touched his would-be lover’s face, then brushed a lock of midnight hair out of the way, so he could nibble on one ear.  He could feel his erection, straining to be released.


Van felt the hand that had stroked his hair slide over his shoulder and down his back, then further down to knead his backside.  He kept his eyes closed, reasoning it was better if he couldn’t see anything at all.  Something warm and wet trickled over his brow into his eye.  He was sweating, despite the coolness of the shaded room.  Dryden’s mouth came back to his, and his probing tongue would not be denied.  He whimpered once, very softly in his throat, as his mouth was forced open, and he could taste spiciness as the other’s tongue invaded him. 


The hand that had been caressing his rear slowly moved up his shirt to press against his back.  The merchant’s other hand caught one of his own and drew it forward.  The long fingers made him clasp his hand around something hot and hard, yet velvety and soft… His eyes flew open, and in desperation, he tried to jerk away, as he realized he was holding another man’s… private parts… But Dryden was ready for him.  The hand against his back pressed him against the older man, and the other would not release his fingers, forcing them to close about… that… again.  Squeezing his eyes shut, he moaned once more in mortification, Dryden’s tongue still curling about his own.  Please, please, let this be some horrible nightmare… Please, let me wake up…


Dryden could feel Van’s slender body shaking under his hand as he ended the kiss.  He himself was trembling, his desire a flame he could barely control.  His breath sounded harsh in his ears, and he could feel his heartbeat throbbing throughout his body.  His erect penis was pulsing as well, poking out from the wrap-around kilt.  The young king’s reluctant touch had nearly sent him over the edge into ecstasy.  Time to back off, a little, maybe. 


As soon as he had broken the kiss, Van had turned his head away, staring at the floor in seeming fascination.  All the merchant could see was his thick forelock and elegant profile.  His cheeks were flushed again, he noted, and smiled.


“Van.”  His voice was soft, husky with his need.  Slowly, the youth turned to face him again, head bowed, hiding behind his bangs.  “Let’s go behind the screen… over there.”


So quietly he almost couldn’t hear it himself, Van whispered, “Why?”


Dryden chuckled and stood, pulling the boy against him.  He was a jewel, pure and precious… “Because I think the next part traditionally requires the use of a bed,” he answered, bending down to murmur in his ear.


Stunned, stumbling blindly, Van allowed Dryden to lead him across the room.  He could feel the pressure of the tears, but would not allow them to flow.  He thought the humiliation would overwhelm him.  He was so hot from embarrassment he was sweating.  Or was it only embarrassment?  His cursed body was betraying him, responding to the other’s caresses and kisses.  Oh, gods, let me die now…


The bed behind the screen was fairly long, to accommodate Dryden’s tall frame, and soft looking.  The linens were clean, but wrinkled in the shape of a body.  Someone had been lying upon this bed not too long ago.  Numerous pillows had been thrown on the floor, but a pair still graced the head of the bed, fluffy and inviting.  He stared at the bed in disbelief for a long moment, his heart sinking, before a rustle of cloth behind him made him spin around.


Carefully, Dryden untied his sash, making sure to lift out the small vial of lubricant he kept there, before letting the cloth and the wrap-around skirt fall to the floor.  He left on his slightly rumpled shirt, a bit shy of letting show the livid scar he still carried from his wedding day.  He stepped forward as Van turned, fitting the vial between his fingers.  He had been admiring the younger man’s slim hips, the curve of his ass.  So much for trying to cool off, he thought without regret, yanking Van to him a bit roughly.  He ran his fingers lightly over the boy’s startled face, into his silky hair, and bent down to twine tongues with him again.


Debts must be paid.  Debts must be paid.  Debts must be paid.  The mantra, pounding in his brain, was all that kept him from shoving the taller man away and running as fast as he could.  The stubble on the other’s chin scraped his face, as he ended the kiss and swirled his tongue on his neck.  His tormentor’s breath was loud and fast in his ears; he could feel those large hands roving his body again.  It was all he could do not to cry in revulsion, in despair.  He shuddered.


The innocent boy, Dryden thought affectionately as he straightened and studied him again.  The mahogany eyes were bright, as he quickly looked away, anywhere but at Dryden or the bed.  I can’t take much more… He tugged at the boy’s shirt.  “Take it off,” he whispered hoarsely.  “Take everything off…”


Van took a breath as if to protest, but could say nothing.  Unwillingly, he drew his red shirt over his head.  He kept his gaze averted.  When he peered up through his thick forelock, he could see Dryden’s dark eyes glittering, watching him intently.  The shirt was still in his hands, forgotten, as he scuffed off his boots.  Then he stopped.  He could go no further.  Please, he thought desperately, please don’t make me go beyond this…


He gasped when Dryden ran his hand over his bared chest.  Faintly, he heard that deep voice say, “Everything…” and closed his eyes, trying to deny it all.  His breath was half a sob when he felt the merchant bend him back slightly, one hand supporting him, the other fumbling with his belt.  Then he felt something warm and wet on his chest, whirling in circles around his nipple, even as his pants pooled around his ankles.


Dryden trailed his kiss slowly up to Van’s mouth, hands stroking his chest, his back, as he guided the boy backwards toward the bed, taking care they didn’t trip.  He could see the shock on the other’s face as the backs of his legs touched the edge of the bed, and he sat down.  He deepened the kiss, thrusting his tongue hard into the younger man’s mouth, and pressed him back against the mattress.  Oh, gods, I can’t hold back, I need… I need… He could feel his prick quivering with anticipation against the boy’s naked thigh as he knelt on the bed beside him.  He let his long fingers stroke Van’s thigh, slowly, up, up, to the tangle of his pubic hair.


Van tried to sit up, tried to scream in protest, but Dryden was larger and heavier than his strength could move, his tongue deep inside his mouth.  The other man’s hand gently fondled his manhood, causing it to stiffen in pleasure despite his revulsion.  He attempted to hit the older man, but his arms were pinned between them, one hand still clutching his shirt helplessly.  He couldn’t move.


He could hear Balgus and Folken in his mind.  Honor demanded he repay this debt.  Honor demanded… Oh, how they would laugh at him… He stopped struggling.  Honor… Debts must be paid… A tear trickled down into his hair, unnoticed.


“Please,” Dryden whispered.  “Please – roll over, onto your knees…” He could feel he was close to the edge again, and he wanted


Shame burning his face, Van inched away, as Dryden leaned back.  He maneuvered himself around on the soft mattress, until he was facing the headboard, on his hands and knees.  As he did, he realized he was still foolishly holding his shirt, but he couldn’t let it go.  His fist was clenched too tightly.


Dryden took a moment to appreciate the slender body, the round cheeks of his ass, the long legs.  Those pink buttocks demanded to be caressed, and he did so.  It was nearly his undoing.  Quickly, he opened the vial, forgotten in his hand all this time, and slathered a bit of the lubricant on his throbbing prick.  He shimmied up until he was kneeling between Van’s slightly spread legs.  Dimly, he realized the boy had wrapped his arms around one of the fluffy pillows, had buried his face in it, but didn‘t recognize the import.  Oh, gods… His passion was all consuming, and needed to be released.  He positioned himself at the puckered pink opening and slowly, slowly, thrust in, groaning in his pleasure.


The pain was incredible, unbearable.  Van bit the side of his upper arm to keep from screaming.  I will not… I will not… Tears streamed from his eyes, dampening the pillow.  He clutched it tighter, muffling his whimpers as the pain tore him apart.


Dryden ground himself against the boy’s ass, moaning, his eyes closed.  He was seated to the hilt.  He drew out a bit, and plunged back in.  Delight washed over him in waves, and he was totally lost in it.  Instinct, demanding more, took over, and he became wild, thrusting in roughly, his hands pulling on the other’s hips to bring him closer, to penetrate deeper.  He couldn’t even hear himself grunting in rhythm.  All he could feel was the constricted tightness surrounding him.


Van could taste blood in his mouth, realized he’d broken the skin on his biceps.  If it were possible, his agony intensified with every thrust.  He released his arm and sobbed into the pillow, as quietly as he could.  Oh, gods, let it stop… Seeking some way to relieve the pain, he shifted his hips a little, but it did nothing.


Deep in Dryden’s mind, the movement registered, and he responded automatically.  Sliding one hand down, down, he found the youth’s prick, still slightly erect from his earlier attentions.  He stroked it in time with his own thrusts, harder, harder.  Gods, oh, gods, so sweet…


He hadn’t thought the shame could become any worse, but it could, it did, when he felt Dryden’s fingers encircle his manhood.  In spite of his feelings, the touch sent a wave of pleasure through him.  But he couldn’t move, he was impaled, held in place.  He clutched the pillow more tightly against himself, praying for an end to it.


Dryden felt the boy’s virgin prick throb, felt him spend over his hand and onto the sheets.  Just then, his own climax caught him, and he shuddered as he fell over the edge of ecstasy, his eyes rolling back.  His strength gone with his seed, he collapsed on top of his lover, still deep inside him, pressing him heavily into the soft mattress.     


It was a few minutes before he realized that the slim figure beneath him was trembling.  “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice softly rumbling.  “I must be suffocating you.”  Dropping a kiss on the shaking shoulders, he levered himself up, still a bit unsteady.  He growled as he pulled out, still a bit hard.  One orgasm isn’t quite enough, but it might be for him, poor thing.  He moved to sit beside Van’s still form, resting one hand on the raven hair.  His face was still buried in the pillow.  “Are you all right?” No response.  He sighed, and trailed his fingers through the soft locks.  “I know – it can hurt an awful lot the first time.  I’ve got something that might help with the pain.  I’ll be back in just a little while.”  He bent and kissed the crown of the boy’s head, then stood and dressed.


Van heard the office door close.  Slowly, trance-like, he forced himself to move, to lift his face from the wet hollow he’d made in the pillow.  He knelt on the bed.  His whole body was a raw nerve, aching, throbbing, pain filled.  Numbly, he stared at his shirt, still crumpled in his hand.  Sluggishly, he pulled it over his head, wincing as the cloth brushed the gash he’d caused on his arm.  Blindly, he looked at his hands, resting fitfully on his thighs.  At least… At least it’s over… 


Then the enormity of the experience struck him, and he bent double, still kneeling.  Tears of utter shame coursed down his cheeks, and he wept as if his heart were breaking, despising himself and his worthless life.  He stayed that way for a long time, unable to move.



October 1, 2001

Revised October 11, 2009

© randi (K. Shepard), 2009