“We’ll be there soon,” Kelas said, looking up at Shadow’s tense face as he rode his horse next to the wagon.
“I know, the battle should be over soon,” Shadow said softly as he looked out into the distance, wondering what Sunhawk was doing.
The closer they got to the battlefield and Sunhawk, the more the tension built inside of him. It had been almost three days since Sunhawk and the main force had broken off from the support units and headed to where the enemy troops had held up to make their last stand. Shadow with his fellow healers and a small detachment of soldiers followed behind with their slow plodding wagons to meet up with the main force after the battle. During those long three days all Shadow could think about was the promise between him and Sunhawk.
“It probably is already. The messenger that came in this morning said that Sunhawk planned on engaging them right before daybreak. We would have been there already if we hadn’t been attacked twice,” Kelas said.
“Now I know why everyone has to be trained in the Hawks. I would have never imagined seeing you kill someone Kelas,” Shadow said, looking down at the thin lanky healer.
“Well I don’t have the same problems you do, since I’m just a regular guy with no magic or gods interfering with me. I don’t like it, but when it comes down to it I would rather the enemy be dead than me. You held off your own attackers really well with that staff of yours. Did Sunhawk show you how to use it?” Kelas asked curiously, hoping to distract the boy from what was bothering him.
“No, I just did what felt natural. I think I used a lot of what I learned from sword work and applied it the staff. Honestly it almost felt like the staff was guiding me,” Shadow answered.
“Sunhawk said it had a weird history, but I guess it likes you,” Kelas replied.
“Yeah I think it is going to work out well. Isn’t that a messenger?” Shadow asked as a horse appeared on the horizon.
Kelas and Shadow watched as the horse pulled to a stop in front of Marissa and talked for a few moments before she broke off and headed her horse back to where Kelas was.
“Battle just ended. We won, but there are numerous casualties so we need to pick up the pace. Only two of the men you trained to be field medics after the battle are still functioning right now. One died and the others are out with injuries. Sunhawk and a group are rounding up the stragglers right now but we need to keep an eye out since a rather large group retreated and might choose to attack,” Marissa reported.
“How far?” Kelas asked, looking up at the sun.
“Two miles or so. Kent will lead us there,” Marissa said.
Kelas nodded and pushed the wagon to a faster pace to keep up with the others. It wasn’t long before they arrived at the battle field. Shadow jumped off of his horse, tying it the wagon before going out to the line of wounded brought out of the field by the men. Kelas was ahead of him, already looking over the wounded as the rest of the healers followed. By the time they had finished triage, three of the healers’ tents had been erected as Kelas and Shadow began their work.
Shadow was relieved when the stream of patients ended without him having to use his magic in any serious way. Looking over he saw Kelas finish up stitching a man together and walked over to him.
“That didn’t take as long as Soothbay did,” Shadow said softly.
“That’s because we are only taking care of our own and not three different companies. Also, sieges are different; we are active all through the siege where people are brought in as soon as they are injured. Since there aren’t any enemy soldiers until the walls fall, field medics can bring the wounded to us. During an open battle there isn’t the luxury of pulling men out of the battlefield until it is over, so a lot of the men simply don’t make it,” Kelas said seriously.
“I never thought about it. How many didn’t make it?” Shadow asked.
“I don’t know yet. The sub commanders are responsible for accounting for their men and will report it to Sunhawk or you since you are the secretary. That will not happen until late tonight or tomorrow since Sunhawk is still out hunting and you have been occupied with your healing duties. Which I now discharge you from so you can start your secretary job. We can handle it from here,” Kelas said, looking over at the boy.
Shadow nodded and left the tent, feeling a tension build in him as he cleaned up from his healing work. He had thought that Sunhawk would be back by the time he had finished his healing duties but he wasn’t. While he had been working he had been able to forget about seeing Sunhawk and the promise he had made the large captain make to him. Now that his mind was not filled with his patients the anxious feeling of dealing with the other Sunhawk had returned. He also couldn’t help but worry as the darkening sky signaled the fall of night and Sunhawk still was out chasing soldiers in the dark, which in Shadow’s opinion was far more dangerous. He wanted Sunhawk back and safe but he was also anxious about what would happen between them when he returned.
Big bon fires filled the darkening sky as the soldiers continued to clean up the battlefield. As Shadow looked out in the ghastly field stained red with blood and bodies he felt someone approach, turning he saw Ariel’s lanky form walk up next to him.
“The command tent is set up. I assume Kelas has dismissed you?” Ariel asked.
Shadow nodded, tearing his gaze off the battlefield to look up at the man.
“Well let’s get to work then,” Ariel said as he guided Shadow to the command tent that was already filled with sub commanders.
For the next hour Shadow began to fill out causality reports, as Ariel set up patrol and sentry duties. Shadow listened to the list of the dead, writing down their names as each sub commander reported which of their men had died or been injured. Looking at the list of names of people, some of which he knew, he couldn’t help but feel saddened by the reality of what the Hawks really where and how dangerous their job really was.
“Well that’s it for tonight,” Ariel said after everyone had left. “We’ll have to finish cleaning up tomorrow since it’s getting too dark and the men are exhausted.”
“I’ve finished up the casualty reports as well.”
“That’s good, the only thing that I can think of left to do is. . . ” Ariel started, but stopped when the tent flap rustled as Sunhawk entered.
Shadow looked up to see the mercenary captain standing in the doorway covered in dirt and blood. Shadow trembled a little but then shook his head and looked over at the surprised Ariel.
“Ariel, let’s take care of it tomorrow ok?”
“But. . .” Ariel said looking worriedly between Sunhawk and Shadow.
“Get out,” Sunhawk said softly, his golden eyes moving to his seconded in command.
Ariel looked at his captain hesitantly, wondering if he should leave, but the cold glint in those eyes persuaded him that he should. Ariel looked over at Shadow briefly before walking stiffly passed the Captain and out of the tent.
Shadow looked at Sunhawk, trying to find some part of the man he loved inside the cold menacing man in front of him. They looked the same, yet the cold aura around this Sunhawk seemed to almost freeze Shadow. Sunhawk watched him unblinkingly with those dead eyes until Shadow moved from behind the table to walk slowly over to the man.
Sunhawk grabbed him roughly when he approached and Shadow couldn’t help but wince at the pain of the large hand clamping down on his thin wrist. Without thinking about it he pushed himself against Sunhawk, totally ignoring the dried blood and grim covering the man. He wrapped his free arm around the man’s lean waist, pulling as close as he could to Sunhawk. Although Shadow couldn’t help but be afraid of the man he was holding he also knew that fear wouldn’t help him. This man, despite his cold demeanor, was Sunhawk and Shadow knew that Sunhawk would never really hurt him, of that he was sure of.
“Wait, lets clean you up first. It has to be uncomfortable for you to be so dirty,” Shadow said with a small tremble in his voice when he felt Sunhawk pull away from him and try to pull him to the bed.
He felt the hand loosen slightly on his wrist, although Sunhawk remained quiet. Shadow moved over to a stool followed by the silent man still holding his wrist. Pushing the man down he looked down at his wrist still trapped within the large, blood covered hand.
“I have to get some water,” Shadow said softly, and his wrist was released.
As he grabbed the needed supplies he had to wonder what would make Sunhawk be this way. He had to thought a lot in the last three days about what the man truly felt when he picked up a sword and how it made him become such a strange, violent man. Shadow noticed that the eerily cold eyes followed him as he moved around the tent, as if he were some prey that might flee. Silently Shadow continued to tell himself that this was Sunhawk, the man he loved and there was nothing to fear from him.
Moving over to Sunhawk he tugged at the bloody shirt, pulling it up over Sunhawk’s head before beginning to wash off the blood and dirt. Despite the cool aura surrounding the man he remained still as Shadow worked on his body, gently cleaning away the traces of the battle. As he worked in silence on Sunhawk’s chest his mind went back to the horrible sight of the battlefield and the dead. He couldn’t understand or even truly imagine what went on during the fighting, or what went through Sunhawk’s mind. The small skirmish he had been through that day when enemies had attacked could not even compare to what Sunhawk went through each time he went into battle.
“I’m glad you came back, I was worried when it started to get late. I was afraid you might stay out all night,” Shadow said softly as he moved around to the large back.
Sunhawk remained silent but strangely as the minutes slipped by Shadow began to feel himself relax more. The familiar skin under his hands and scent of Sunhawk’s body near him soothed him. The very fact that Sunhawk didn’t attack him but let Shadow clean off the traces of the battle made the young priest believe that despite the cold, fierce aura something still remained of the Sunhawk he loved.
His fear had almost disappeared when he moved around to the front of the man, amazed that under all the blood and dirt there was not one wound on the Captain’s body. When he looked into Sunhawk’s face he noticed that it had softened some and didn’t seem as terrifyingly cold.
Sunhawk’s hand reached out and grabbed Shadow as he stood and pulled the young healer over to their bed. Shadow was surprised by the swift shift in Sunhawk’s actions but felt no fear as Sunhawk pushed him down onto the bed. Looking up at Sunhawk wide eyed Shadow watched as the Captain removed his pants and joined him in the bed, his arousal clearly visible by the glowing candle light.
Shadow instinctively let his arms wrap around Sunhawk, pulling close to the man as he felt hands removing his clothes. Closing his eyes Shadow felt a sense of relief wash over him as the same gentle hands removed his clothing from his body without violence. He felt Sunhawk’s calloused hands that were so very warm and familiar brush up against his skin, making him tremble not in fear but desire. Opening his eyes he saw Sunhawk’s golden muscular body hovering above his own, his golden hair surrounding his expressionless face. The healer raised his hand, cupping the stern familiar face in his cool hand for a moment, smiling up the man above him. Shadow pulled the man down to him, kissing him as he felt Sunhawk guide his hard organ into him.
The healer gasped a little in surprise at Sunhawk’s sudden entry, arching slightly against the man, pressing down on him, as his nails dug into Sunhawk’s back. He felt Sunhawk stop his acquisition of his body to look down at him with a hint of concern touching is face.
“Sorry,” Sunhawk’s said, his voice dry and raspy.
With a smile Shadow pushed the man off of him to his back before climbing on the surprised man, impaling himself on the hard shaft. Sunhawk growled in pleasure, his hands grasping the lean hips of the young man as he slowly moved on the thick member impaling him. Shadow guided one of the hot hands off of his waist to his aching member as he watched Sunhawk’s face fill with more and more emotions.
“Shadow,” moaned Sunhawk as the young priest increased his rhythm.
When Shadow heard his name called by the man who only minutes ago seemed so expressionless combined with the tingling sensations coursing through his body sent Shadow over the edge. Crying out he felt his passion reach its peak in the warm hand working so gently on him, as he felt Sunhawk growling his own release.
Shadow felt Sunhawk pull him down on top of him to kiss his forehead as a hand stroked his hair. By the time Shadow had finally calmed down a little he looked up to find Sunhawk sleeping peacefully. Yawning, Shadow slid off of Sunhawk, curling next to the man, surprisingly content.
“What time is it?” Shadow said with a yawn.
“It’s about a candle mark before dawn but I thought we might want to talk before work invaded,” Sunhawk said as he brought over some clothes.
“I think I would rather sleep,” Shadow said, laying back down on his belly, clutching his pillow with a yawn.
“Shadow?” Sunhawk asked.
“What?” Shadow mumbled in his pillow.
“Is everything ok?”
“You mean you don’t remember?” Shadow asked, looking up at the worried Captain standing over him.
“No, not really.’
“You weren’t yourself, but you didn’t hurt me either. Sunhawk I was thinking about it last night. I don’t have any real concept of what you go through out there on the battlefield,” Shadow said sitting up.
“Don’t even think about it. I don’t want you to,” Sunhawk said, sitting down next to Shadow.
“That’s not what I was getting at Sunhawk. There is no way I could fight on a battlefield or even really come close to that reality. Looking out into the field yesterday it made me realize that. Sunhawk your mind set has to be different for that kind of work, it’s just that you have difficulties shifting from one mind set to another,” Shadow explained.
“That’s what worries me. That I might do something bad to you by coming here before I have my head on straight. It is one thing to take my aggression out on a camp follower or someone from a conquered city, but not you,” Sunhawk said.
“You wouldn’t Sunhawk. You never have.” Shadow said, holding up his hand to stop the protest that was forming on Sunhawk’s lips.
“You didn’t at Soothbay either, if you think about it. You didn’t hit me or hurt me at all physically, even though you could have. You scared me and didn’t listen to what I wanted, but I think for both of us neither one knew what was going on. Sunhawk you need to come home, not rape helpless people that fall into your path or kill them.” Shadow said firmly, looking directly at Sunhawk.
“Shadow how can you believe in me so easily? Especially when I can’t even believe in myself?” Sunhawk asked helplessly at the resolution in Shadow’s eyes.
Shadow shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe because I love you. You’re not a bad person, I just have to wonder if you are really cut out for mercenary work.”
“The Hawks are the best mercenary group out there. How could you say I’m not cut out for this type of work?” Sunhawk asked, confused and a little angry.
Shadow noticed the large man’s shift in attitude and wrapped his arms around the golden man leaning against his shoulder trying to sooth him.
“I didn’t mean it like that Sunhawk, you know that right?”
“Then what did you mean?” Sunhawk demanded, turning his head to look at Shadow.
“You’re a great tactician and have an amazing charisma that attracts people to you, but I also think that deep inside you hate to kill. You lack the brutality of other mercenary captains when you aren’t in battle, and I’m not the only one that says that. If you didn’t mind killing you wouldn’t lose your memory like you do or try so hard to limit the amount of people that die,” Shadow replied, kissing the shoulder he was leaning on.
“Daras ran the Hawks just like I did, but he never lost his memories during a battle. I remember one night drinking with him. We had just finished a bloody battle and were taking a couple rest days before heading out. It was one of the rare times I ever saw him totally drunk. He said that my loss of memories was both a blessing and a curse. He passed out soon after saying that to me and I could never figure out what he meant until now,” Sunhawk replied, looking at Shadow as he grabbed his hand.
“You may be right in a way, I don’t think if I could remember the people I killed I could do what needs to be done. Yet once the bloodlust rises in me I forget about compassion and the fact I’m killing a person with a family and loved ones, they just become the enemy. That bloodlust and focus on the battle removes my compassion so I can fight and it blocks out the memories allowing me to live without being racked with guilt. ”
” Still, it is curse as well because it also makes me a monster that people don’t want to be around, and a risk to the person I care most about because that bloodlust clouds my eyes. It is a blessing in that it allows me to do the job and take care of the men under my command, a curse in that it made it impossible to have a long term lover while I work.”
“Until now, Sunhawk,” Shadow said, rising from the bed and grabbing the clothes on Sunhawk’s lap. “I’m not afraid of you anymore Sunhawk. After last night I’m sure that no matter what you remain you. Even if you rarely say it I know you love me and that is a part of you whether you lust for blood or not. Come home Sunhawk, and I will always be here to uncloud your eyes.” Shadow said with conviction as he leaned down to seal his words with a simple kiss.