Shadow remained in his corner watching Sunhawk quietly as he talked with Ariel. Most of the men had left to carry out their orders and prepare for departure in the morning. Shadow’s job of secretary had ended long ago, yet he remained watching the Captain instead of leaving to get supper, or even stretch from the long day of war discussions that he really didn’t understand.
All Shadow could think about was by this time tomorrow Sunhawk would be gone. It was only for a few days, but Shadow couldn’t help be feel upset by this turn of events. Logically he knew there would be times when they wouldn’t see each other, but he was still unprepared for that reality. While he was away from Shadow something could happen, he could get injured and Shadow wouldn’t be there to heal him.
“Hey Shadow! Are you ok?” asked Marissa as she stood beside Shadow.
“Oh, hello Marissa. I was just spacing out. All that talk of war, you know,” Shadow replied, looking up at the woman and giving her a small smile.
“Looked like more than that,” Marissa probed, sitting down next to him on a unoccupied chair.
“No, not really. Just I am so unused to all of this. It gives me a lot to think about.”
“Well I could believe that, but I think you are more worried about the Captain. Right?”
“Why do you say that?” Shadow asked, wondering if he was that transparent.
“Because like you said, you are new. You have never had to wait through a battle wondering who will come back and who will not. I would be surprised if you weren’t worrying. I couldn’t imagine waiting like you will. When you’re out on the field there isn’t time to think about whether the people you love are ok, you are too busy worrying about yourself.”
“I guess you’re right. It just it seems like we don’t have any time together, and he’s leaving now. It seems like thing are so unsettled between us and we just don’t have time to talk about anything.”
“Sunhawk seems to be very focused this year, maybe more so than other years. I think he is working especially hard to make sure nothing goes wrong,” Marisa said after a moment’s thought.
“I am glad he is trying so hard, but sometimes. . . ”
“Don’t worry, he will come back to you, he always comes back, Shadow. Sunhawk’s luck is legendary. Eventually you two will have time after this campaign. There is always is a little down time between campaigns, and then you two will be able to talk about everything.”
“Ok, but what about you? Are you nervous? This is your first year as a sub commander,” Shadow asked, looking at one of the first friends he had made among the Hawks.
“Nope, I have been ready for this for a while now. I knew it would be coming. The men under me are a great team and I know we will get the job done,” Marissa said with confidence. “But I think I need to talk with Ariel, so if you will excuse me?”
Marissa got up and strolled over to Ariel, within a few moments she had pried the man away from Sunhawk. Before long Marissa had managed not only to get Ariel away from the Captain but to get all of the stragglers from the meeting out of the tent. As the tall woman was leading the last of a small group of men out, she turned to Shadow, winking, before exiting the tent.
Sunhawk, who had been studying some map, looked up and found the tent deserted. Surprised, he looked around, only to find Shadow remaining looking at him intently from the corner. Looking at the young priest he felt a stab at the thought of leaving him for the next few days. All day he had purposefully put Shadow from his mind, concentrating on the task at hand, but now with those intense silver eyes gazing at him he couldn’t do that.
Sunhawk walked over to the delicate young man that had thrown his life away to follow the Captain. When Sunhawk was almost to Shadow the boy jumped up and threw himself into the large body of the Captain. Sunhawk wrapped his arms around the trembling boy, looking down at the head buried into his large chest.
Sunhawk closed his eyes with a sigh, knowing for certain now that Shadow wasn’t ok. Sunhawk also knew that all of his focus should be on the mission ahead, and that any distractions could ultimately get him killed. For the first time Sunhawk felt torn by the needs of his job and the needs of his lover.
The large Captain knew that if he walked out of the tent and left that he might be able to put Shadow from his mind, but he also knew with utter certainty that he did not want to do that. He didn’t want to leave the boy that he had come to love alone with his doubt and worries, despite the fact that Sunhawk could feel the disturbance it was causing within him.
Sunhawk had no words to reassure the vulnerable boy trembling in his arms. He couldn’t promise to come back, he himself didn’t know what the next few days held, and it seemed unfair to promise something he wasn’t sure he could delivery. Sunhawk knew more than anybody that it took more than just skill at times, but luck as well to come through a mission.
Unable to find the words to say to the boy, Sunhawk instead lifted Shadow’s face to his own and kissed the boy, tasting the salt of his tears. Shadow’s thin arms wrapped around the Captain’s neck and Sunhawk pulled the boy closer, enjoying the warmth of the thin body against him. Sunhawk pulled Shadow over to the bed as one hand busily began to remove Shadow’s clothes. Shadow’s own hands were quickly untying the laces on Sunhawk’s pants.
It wasn’t long before Shadow was suitably naked and laying displayed on the bed for Sunhawk. The muscular man crawled into the bed, his golden eyes glowing as he neared the boy with legs provocatively spread for him. Sunhawk stroked the smooth skin of Shadow’s thighs as he moved his way up the boy slowly. Shadow thrust his hips a little at the man, anxious to feel Sunhawk more intimately.
Sunhawk’s hands glided up the pale thighs to the quivering member and Sunhawk stroked it gently as he leaned over, kissing Shadow. He felt the young man’s tongue enter his mouth and begin its exploration as Shadow’s hard cock throbbed in his hands. Sunhawk felt Shadow push his head down to the leaking member. Sunhawk slowly circled the pulsing organ with his tongue before taking it fullying into his mouth, to hear Shadow moan in pleasure.
Sunhawk used all of the new techniques he had learned in the winter to pleasure the boy as Shadow began to thrust up into his mouth. Sunhawk began to hear the small panting moans that signaled the boy’s release, and he tasted the warm seeds as they spilled into his mouth.
Sunhawk moved up Shadow again, leaving a trail of warm kisses until he reached Shadow’s face. Reaching up, he stroked to boy’s soft cheek, admiring the beautiful face of the boy he loved. Shadow grabbed his hand, kissing the large calloused hand before moving down the golden body to the substantial erection. Shadow had barely begun his oral assault on the Captain’s organ when Sunhawk pushed Shadow down, moving between the already spread legs.
“I need you now Shadow, I’m sorry, but it has been so long,” Sunhawk said as he thrust into Shadow.
“Yes,” Shadow hissed as he thrust up against the invading organ, enjoying once again the intimate connection between them.
“Shadow. . .” Sunhawk breathed “I love you.”
Shadow looked up into the golden eyes as he felt Sunhawk spill himself inside of him. Sunhawk lay down next to the boy, pulling him close, unable to say anything else. Shadow snuggled close, sensing that it wasn’t the time to talk. Sunhawk’s words, although simple, conveyed all they needed to the troubled young man.
Shadow awoke the next morning to find Sunhawk had already gotten out of bed and had left the tent. Shadow quickly dressed and went out of the tent to find that it was midmorning, looking around he knew with a sinking heart that Sunhawk had already left without saying goodbye.
“Hey Shadow, come one, lets get something to eat,” yelled Kelas from across the tent.
Shadow waved at the man and finished bandaging up the solider’s head.
“Ok, I want you to stay here for about an hour, then you can head out again,” Shadow instructed the young solider sitting on the chair. The man nodded and Shadow went over to Kelas.
“It seems like a lot of them that have come in are Rathgar’s men,” Shadow said, walking with Kelas to the mess area.
“Yeah, most are conscription soldiers. They don’t have a lot of training, so they tend to be the first into the healer’s tent.”
“How long have we been working, anyway?” Shadow asked, looking up at the sun.
“About fifteen hours or so. Unfortunately, Rathgar only brought one healer and Casper didn’t bring any, so we have been overloaded.”
“The Hawks have four healers plus apprentices, why don’t the others?” Shadow asked tiredly as they sat down with their food.
“Casper’s group disbands in the winter. When they regrouped this spring their healer was a no show. Casper knew he was teaming up with us, so he didn’t worry about it. The Hawks always have at least three full fledged healers. Rathgar, I don’t know. He only brought his personal physician, I guess he doesn’t care much for his men,” Kelas said with a shrug.
“Where is Sunhawk. His group should have been here today,” Shadow said as he looked at the setting sun.
“He is here. His group came in around the time we were treating all those burn patients that tried to scale the wall. He watched you for a few moments then left.”
“What?, I should go see him,” Shadow said as he rose from his seat.
Kelas grabbed his arm, shaking his head.
“You will not find him. Words out Rathgar is offering a gold a piece to any Hawks solider that is willing to fight in the siege. Technically we are only support for Casper’s men during the siege, but Rathgar is pushing. He wants the wall breeched and soon, so he slightly altered the contract with Sunhawk. Besides, Sunhawk isn’t the type to sitting around when there is fighting.”
“But it is getting dark, surely the fighting will die down until morning,” Shadow said almost pleadingly.
“A little, but like I said Rathgar is pushing, they will continue through the night. This isn’t going to be a prolonged siege. You saw the bay when we got here. Rathgar has the city’s port blockaded with his own ships, but they are taking a beating. Unless we breech the walls within the next day the blockade will break and all those pirate ships will flee. In another words, we lose.”
“So I guess I will see Sunhawk in a couple of days at least,” Shadow said depressed.
“It is better this way Shadow, he isn’t going to be really friendly right now anyway. I hate to say this, but Sunhawk is rather cruel when he has been fighting. It goes away a few hours after a battle, but when he is fighting, and right after, he is a totally different person, one that I don’t think you ever want to see.” Kelas said as he stopped eating.
“I just need to see him Kelas. I feel like he doesn’t need me anymore, that I have become a problem. He left without saying anything to me,” Shadow said, quietly playing with his uneaten food.
Kelas sighed and looked away for a moment as he tried to find words to comfort the obviously depressed boy.
“He needs you more than you know Shadow, it just right now is a period of adjustment for both of you. He has been alone all of his life and he doesn’t know how to balance work and you. On top of that, his work isn’t ordinary and the compassion and love that you bring into his life is something that just doesn’t blend well with his job.”
“That makes me a problem.”
“No, you are not a problem. You are one damn fine healer even without your powers; you have helped the Hawks enormously,” Kelas said firmly.
“But for Sunhawk. . . .”
“Right now you are doing the best thing you can for him, doing your job as he does his. Once the battle is over and both of you have finished your jobs then you will see him again. We have a few days before Sunhawk contracts another job, then you two will be able spend time together.” Kelas replied, putting a hand on the young man’s shoulders.
“Now eat your food. I think this is the first time I have ever seen you not devour your food.”
Shadow nodded and started to eat slowly. It was only a few moments later when a Jin, one of the Hawks’ young apprentices, came skidding to a halt in front of the two asking them to come back to the healer’s tent, a new wave of casualties had arrived.
“Hey Sunhawk over here,” yelled Casper waving at the man.
Sunhawk made his way over to Caper, gutting a solider that got in his way, with a brief swipe of his sword. The battle had died down around the breech in the wall as the frightened townspeople and soldiers retreated deeper into the city.
“Are you thinking what I am?” Sunhawk asked as he came near Casper.
“Yep, you take the eastside with Rathgar. I’ll take the west,” Casper said.
“No survivors Casper,” said Rathgar, his eyes steely.
“Right, I’ll meet up with you later,” Casper said walking off, bellowing for his men to follow him.
“Come on Rathgar, let’s get this over with,” growled Sunhawk.
“What’s the matter Sunhawk?” Rathgar asked, stopping the blood soaked Captain with a hand.
“Remove your hand or I will remove it for you. Do not touch me again. I don’t appreciate wholesale slaughter Rathgar, you seemed to forget mentioning it when we planned to herd all the village into the city. I do what you pay me to do, but I will not contract with you again,” Sunhawk replied coldly without looking at the man beside him.
“Hawks move out, eastside. Clear it out boys, totally,” yelled his voice, echoing. Sunhawk moved out, his eyes glazing as he hit the first line of the city’s defense, his sword swinging.
It was hours later when Sunhawk finally met back up with Casper. His clothes covered in blood and his eyes held no emotion. He looked at his fellow Captain, who had already began celebration of the conquering of the city..
“Looks like we won Sunhawk,” growled Casper, a frown on his face. “Come on and let’s forget about it, after a few glasses of ale it will take the edge off.”
Sunhawk looked at Casper, his dead eyes glancing over the empty streets. Casper thrust a large jug of ale out at the man, a little frightened by his golden eyes. Sunhawk was a man nobody crossed, and Casper now realized why looking at him. In the darkened streets with his eerie golden eyes and soaked in blood he looked more monster than human.
“Suit yourself, maybe you’re anxious to get back to that boy of yours. They say you turn weak when you find a regular lover like that,” Casper said with a shrug, turning away from the motionless man, wanting to get away from him.
Casper stopped when he felt a huge hand grip his shoulder stopping him and taking the jug from his hand. Sunhawk moved into the bar with Casper, his eyes remaining glazed and cold as he began to drink.
Hours had passed yet Shadow continued to work. The wall had finally been breeched as Kelas and Shadow had eaten. The fighting within the city was fierce, but Shadow found little time to worry about Sunhawk as the waves of injured continued to flow into the tent. Shadow was relieved to see very few of the Hawk’s soldiers and none that he knew personally. He wondered vaguely if his hands would ever wash clean of the bright red blood that seemed to stain them.
“Shadow, get over here now,” roared Kelas, snapping him out of his thoughts.
Shadow ran over to see Ariel laying on the cot, his guts spilling out of his stomach from a sword cut. Without even thinking he sank his senses into his magic. Red fire spread out of his hands and swirled around the almost dead man.
Shadow gasped in the shock at the damage. but quickly gathered himself to begin work. Sweat beaded on his forehead as he felt his magic drain his energy. The wound closed and Shadow then began to work on the internal injures, falling to his knees as the red glow of his magic continued to flow around and sink into Ariel’s skin. Finally Shadow completed his work and looked up to see the others working on yet more soldiers.
Shadow rose shakily from his knees and went over to help the others. Kelas looked over at him, concerned, but his attention was drawn away by his own patient. After a while the wounded soldiers began to wane as word had spread that the city had fallen. Soon, there were only a few left to treat and Shadow sank down on an empty chair.
“Hey, you did great work for a greenhorn,” Kelas said tiredly as he came over to the boy.
“Is it over?” Shadow asked, exhausted.
“Yes, for the most part. There will be a steady stream of people in here through the night with nonfatal wounds, but the major work is over. How is Ariel?”
“He should be fine in a couple of days. Corrin taught me how to use the patient’s own energy to supplement my own, so he will need a couple of days of rest,” Shadow said vaguely.
“That is a small price to pay for his life, without you he would have died,” Kelas said, looking down at the Shadow. His eyes narrowed as he looked the boy over closely.
“You need to go and rest Shadow, you look like hell.”
“But you said their will be more. . . ”
“We can handle it, besides you don’t want to be asleep when Sunhawk gets back.”
“That’s right, the city fell so he should be back now,” Shadow said getting up.
“Don’t worry, he will not be back until morning probably,” Kelas said shaking his head.
“But the fighting is over,” Shadow said confused.
“Yeah, well, you know. . . there are things for him to do,” Kelas said vaguely.
“No, I don’t know.”
“Don’t worry about it. You are about to fall over, go get some rest, ok.,” Kelas said, leading Shadow over to the exit.
“You’re right, thanks Kelas,” Shadow said, too tired to continue talking as he left.
Walking slowly, he made his way to Sunhawk’s tent and entered it. Looking down at himself he realized he was covered in blood. He now knew why Kelas had told him to bring a lot of water to Sunhawk’s tent as soon as they arrived. The clothes were totally covered in red and Shadow knew that they could not be saved. He himself was covered in the scarlet red as well. Tiredly he looked over at the buckets of water and then sat down, too tired to begin. Vaguely, he looked at the wall of the tent thinking, of nothing as he spaced out.
The tent flap behind him rustled, startling him, and he turned around to see Sunhawk standing in the entrance. Shadow stood up and looked at Sunhawk, wondering briefly which one of them carried more of the scarlet stains of blood. Looking into the golden eyes Shadow suddenly became frightened at the dead look in them. Unable to move at the cold dead expression in his lover’s eyes, Shadow remained motionless, wondering what he should do.
“Sunhawk . . . ” Shadow called tentatively.
Sunhawk suddenly crossed the distance between them in an instant, his hands ripping Shadow’s shirt as he pushed the boy over to the bed. Shadow struggled against the Captain, afraid for the first time of the man he had come to love. Sunhawk’s rough hands continued to rip the bloody clothes off of Shadow as he struggled.
“Please, stop Sunhawk. Not like this, please . . .”cried Shadow.
Sunhawk’s eyes remained dead as he flipped the boy over, positioning him for entry. Shadow stopped struggling as he went limp on the bed, unable to believe what was happening. He had wanted Sunhawk, wanted to spend time with him, to touch him, to kiss him, to make love to him. It was all he had thought about since Sunhawk had left six days before. Now Sunhawk was back, but his lover was gone.
Sunhawk’s carelessly thrust into Shadow, making him cry out in pain at the brutal entry into his tight passage. Sunhawk remained quiet as he continued to take his pleasure from Shadow. It wasn’t long before Shadow felt Sunhawk reach his ascent and collapsed on Shadow. Struggling weakly Shadow moved out from under the large man, but as he tried to stand he felt dizziness sweep over him, and everything turned black.