Tir lay on the bed silently holding his now sleeping brother. He finally now knew the full horror that had left his little brother in tears. It was far worse than he had imagined and left Tir feeling more that a little sick inside. He had guessed his brother had been raped but he would never have guessed that he had been tortured and humiliated as well. What Elgin had suffered the single night their father had sold him to a stranger was far more terrible than everything Tir had experienced as a slave. What’s more, Elgin had been bearing the burden alone, hiding the full truth even from his twin, who only knew that this bother had been brutally beaten. Elgin, despite the trauma of the event, had pulled himself together and cleaned up, treating his own injured body the best he could before finding Ash.
Elgin had tried his best to protect Ash not only from their father’s new friends but from the truth of their altered life. Despite what had happened Elgin had kept their father’s terrible secret so as not to destroy what was left of their family for his gentle brother. Only Tir’s firm insistence on the truth and the very fact that Elgin had reached his own breaking point, combined with Ash’s gentle but firm resolve to hear the truth, had made the boy pour out the nightmarish events of that night. The night their father had sold Elgin to another man.
As Elgin spoke of his own private nightmare in a halting, almost emotionless voice, Tir found any sympathy he had once had for his father disappear. Elgin had been beaten and then raped with a knife held to his throat, cutting lightly into his delicate skin, and then sodomized with the hilt of that very same knife that had come close to killing him while their father lost himself in a haze of drugs and alcohol. He didn’t even check after the man had left Elgin bloody in a pool of the man’s piss to see if his son was still alive, let alone sane, nor had he sent a servant to tend to the horribly broken child. While Tir could forgive his father for selling him into slavery, he could never forgive or justify what he had done to his own true born son. He hoped more than anything Tristan had already dealt with the man, for Tir didn’t think he could bear to even look at him.
Ash for his part surprised Tir, for during the whole thing his youngest brother held himself together, not breaking down once during the terrifying story, comforting Elgin when the balance of the story had been told. The boy he had always thought of as delicate and gentle listened, his face a complex mask of shifting emotions ranging from shocked horror to an almost frightening anger that Tir and never seen on the gentle boy’s face.
When Elgin finally reached the end of his story all the tension drained out of his body and he slumped in the straight backed chair, silent tears running down his face. Tir had quickly picked his brother up and taken him into the bedroom, laying Elgin gently on the bed and climbing in along with his brother to wrap an arm around the boy, pulling him next to his chest. Elgin clung to him, crying noisily as Ash pressed close to his twin’s back, encircling the boy between the two of them.
Tir was at a loss of what to do. How could he ever help his brother who had been so deeply scarred? Tir felt almost nauseated at the thoughts of what his little twelve year old brother had endured. He felt so out of his depth. Biting his lip he did something he rarely ever did, he reached out his mind to Ebony.
“Will you talk with me?” Tir asked tentatively, a note of pleading in his mind voice.
“Of course, Tir,” Ebony’s gentle, light voice so different from Feras’s flooded into his mind.
“What am I suppose to do? How can I possibly… I mean what was done to him is beyond anything I could have imagined. He is only twelve, damn it. He should never have had to experience something like,” Tir said in a torrent of thoughts mixed with heavy emotions of despair and outrage.
“Tir, you must be calm first for both your brothers. I do not know what you can do for Elgin except listen to him and spend time with him. There is a rider in Terma that has a gift for helping people like your brother who have suffered great mental trauma, it would be best if Elgin comes back with you at least for a little while. I really think you should talk to Tristan as well to settle the matters of your family, both your brothers and your father,” Ebony said slowly as she thought about her words carefully.
“You’re right. I’ve been so busy but this is important as well. I’ll send a note to Tristan requesting a meeting. I wish there was more that I could do. I feel so helpless,” Tir said as he lightly stroked Elgin’s check. He looked so vulnerable and sad with tear streaks down his freckled face. It was so unfair something like this had happened to such a child so full of life and energy.
“Tir I doubt either one of them will sleep long. When they awaken bring then to our room,” Ebony suggested.
“Why, they are still a little afraid of you?”
“I think it would be a good idea to get them to think about something other than that night. They can help you sand scrub me,” Ebony suggested calmly.
“Are you sure?” Tir asked, surprised by the offer; for both Ebony and Feras had allowed his brothers more contact with them than any dragon ever would.
Instead of answering with words Tir felt himself filled with surprisingly deep emotions of love, trust, and most of all compassion. He felt the passionate, clear emotions flood into him, surrounding him, and his own tears flooded his eyes. He lay quiet next to his sleeping brothers, crying for them as Ebony surrounded him with her mind, silently comforting him in her own unique way.
It was a few candle marks later when he felt Elgin shake him awake. Tir’s eyes opened to see a pair of darkened blue eyes looking at him. He smiled and leaned forward to kiss Elgin’s forehead as his brother grimaced at the act.
“I’m not a child anymore,” Elgin snapped, his brittle walls back in place, hiding his feelings.
“You will always be my kid brother. If you have any issues about it argue with mother,” Tir said with a small smile.
“I did countless times,” Elgin frowned. “It isn’t fair.”
“I kind of like it. Take heart, I’m sure Ash feels it is unfair everyone thinks he is the younger brother when you were born only a few minutes before him. Now that really is unfair,” Tir laughed at the look of indignation on Elgin’s face as Ash levered himself up to look over his brother’s shoulder.
“I don’t mind,” Ash said, leaning down to kiss his brother’s head.
“Not you too!” Elgin growled, looking up at Ash.
“You’re out numbered. Besides what is wrong with being a child? It’s actually a lot more fun than being an adult. Especially one with responsibilities. Enjoy it while it lasts Elgin,” Tir scolded softly, smiling.
“I’m not…” Elgin started.
“I intend to,” Ash said, his words almost drowned out by Elgin’s voice.
Ash shrugged, pushing his red locks away from his face.
“I would rather you have been a child and asked for my help than keeping a secret from me like you did. You lied to me, not just that night but each night you woke up screaming from a nightmare. You wouldn’t let me help you because you thought you had to be a big brother. If you hadn’t been trying so hard to be responsible I could have helped you more,” Ash said gently, but in an unwavering voice. “I’m your brother but I’m also something more. I’m your other half Elgin, and you hurt me by keeping me in the dark.”
“Ash,” Elgin choked, tears coming to his eyes as he shifted to reach up and hug his brother.
Tir remained quiet, knowing better than to interfere between the two. There was something between them that Tir had never been able to understand and had learned long ago not to interfere, or he would earn the wrath of both of his brothers. As he watched Ash sooth his brother it occurred to him that even though Elgin seemed to be more outgoing and commanding Ash might be the one that was truly was the strongest, and that gently and unobtrusively led the two of them.
Once both of his brothers had quieted he decided to take Ebony’s advice and herded both the bedraggled twins out of the bed and into the main chapel where the dragons were. When he opened the door he was surprised to find not only Marek still there but Drake as well. Both of his brothers looked more than a little hesitant about being around both of the men, but Tir thought if anything this would keep both his brothers’ mind off what they had so recently talked about.
“Hey Tir, Ebony says she wants you and your brothers to sand scrub her. The ungrateful beast hasn’t let me touch her,” Drake said, his eyes sparkling as he leaned against Ebony’s giant inky black body.
Marek snorted and threw a cloth at Drake.
“You should be grateful, with as much as there is of her you would never finish before you had to go back. Without Tir Ebony would be a dull grey by now,” Marek said in a dry voice.
“Well let’s get to it since she is honoring us,” Tir grinned, looking at his brothers to see open horror on Ash’s face and Elgin looking very tense.
“Come on, there is nothing to be afraid of,” Tir encouraged.
“Who said I was afraid,” Elgin snapped, looking up at Tir only to blush slightly.
“I am. I know she is your friend Tir but she looks so ferocious,” Ash whispered.
Tir looked at Ebony quizzically, trying to see what his brothers were seeing. He had never been afraid of either dragon; he had always been too in awe of them to be afraid. They were so very beautiful with their jewel like scales and vivid bright eyes. Not only that, they could fly through the skies with such grace and skill, they had a freedom that Tir had only dreamed about. He wasn’t sure if he would ever truly understand why people were so afraid of them.
“Come on,” Tir smiled, holding out his hand to Ash. “I promise you will like her.”
Ash allowed himself to be led over to Ebony with Elgin following close to him. Drake came over and with his usual upbeat manner took Elgin’s shoulders and steered him over to the other side of the giant dragon before he could protest. Tir tried hard not to grin as he watched Drake work his own special type of magic on the boy that had nothing to do with power and everything to do with charm and charisma. It wasn’t long before Elgin forgot about Ebony’s sharp teeth and fangs and even about the painful memories he had relived as Drake cheerfully joked and played with the boy, easing the tension in his slight frame.
For his part he slowly led his more gentle brother over to Ebony’s neck so dragon and boy could get a better look at each other. Ebony’s large purple eyes stared at the boy but she remained perfectly still, making sure to keep her mouth closed as not to bare the teeth that Tir knew scared his younger brother.
“Her eyes are like yours,” Ash whispered.
“I know, isn’t she beautiful? If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be alive now. She helped to save me,” Tir said.
“She did?” Ash asked tentatively, his eyes wide.
“I was caught sneaking out to see her and was punished severely to the point I almost died. Both Feras and Ebony helped their riders to heal me with magic,” Tir said, gently rubbing Ebony’s face. “Believe me Ash she won’t do anything to hurt you. She is one of the gentlest people I know.”
“Tir are you alright now? I mean you never said anything about that before,” Ash asked.
“I’m fine now. I was a slave Ash, but I was treated well for the most part, especially at the palace. I knew the consequences but I wanted to see Ebony, she is so magnificent,” Tir explained, looking at Ebony fondly.
Ash remained quiet, watching him for a few moments before he tentatively touched Ebony’s scales. Tir grabbed a polishing cloth, kneeling down to rub it into the sand that quickly clung to the cloth and then handed it to his brother. Ash watch Tir for a few moments then began to copy him. It wasn’t long before Ash gained more confidence as Tir quietly told his brother about some of his time with Ebony and Feras.
It wasn’t long before Tir felt something hard hit his leg and a familiar high pitched squeal interrupt him. Looking down he saw the hatchling staring up him eagerly as she chirped at him almost pleadingly.
“What’s wrong with her?” Ash asked, a little afraid of the imperious little dragon.
“She’s feeling left out,” Tir laughed.
“She is the most spoiled female dragon ever hatched in Terma,” Marek said, disgust shaking his head.
“Why don’t you go get something to polish her for the sake of our ears,” Drake suggested, looking around Ebony at Tir.
“I’ll be back, I left her cloth in my bags I think?” Tir said, trying to remember where he had shoved the piece of cloth, he almost hadn’t brought it except the little hatchling had drug it over to him while he had been packing.
Tir hurried off to his room, trying to think where he had stuffed the cloth since he been having trouble fitting everything into the amount of luggage that they had been allowed. It took him a while to find the rough cloth buried under all of Marek’s clothes, which he had packed since Marek had been far too busy to take care of it. Tir hurried back to the pen to find that in the short time he had been away trouble had erupted between Elgin and Marek.
Drake stood between the both of them looking rather exasperated. Tir looked at Elgin, who was glaring at Marek with Ash at his side trying to calm him down. Something bothered Tir about the look in the boy’s face and tension in Elgin’s body, something he hadn’t noticed the first time Elgin had attacked Marek. Without thinking about it he went up to Elgin and swept him up into a hug, which the boy tried to fight off fiercely.
“Let go,” Elgin yelled.
“Elgin stop it. I don’t know what has happened but stop it. Marek isn’t what you think, he isn’t going to hurt any of us,” Tir said over Elgin’s protest.
“No, you don’t know what he was talking about,” Elgin argued.
Tir sighed, looking over his shoulder at Marek in very much the same exasperation that was in Drake’s face.
“Let me guess? Something about what he was doing this morning and how I was now better,” Tir asked diplomatically.
“He said you’ve been punished and fucked into relaxation,” Elgin spit his face twisting.
“Hey, I didn’t think he could hear me from over there. Besides, if you eavesdrop on a private conversation you are bound to hear things you don’t want to,” Marek replied coldly.
“Marek I will deal with you later,” Tir growled, truly angry at the man for the first time since he had met him. “Elgin, look at me. Elgin.”
Tir watched the boy stubbornly glare past Tir to Marek and wanted to sigh. He looked at his brother intently, noticing for the first time how angry and tense Elgin truly was. The pinched face, the quivering voice filled with anger and fear, but most of all the way he looked at Marek as if he truly were an enemy. He now realized too late that the unusual games that he played with Marek were not something that Elgin could accept, at least not now. It wasn’t just Elgin trying to protect him from abuse as he had assumed before. After hearing Elgin’s own story he had no doubt anything combining sex and violence, no matter how consensual, would be something Elgin wasn’t prepare to understand, not now, maybe not ever.
“I don’t need you to protect me from Marek. Remember our conversation before. What goes on between the two of us is consensual, I enjoy everything that we do together,” Tir said, pulling Elgin’s face so he was looking directly into the boy’s eyes.
“That can’t be true,” Elgin said in a high pitched voice.
“Elgin, I swear it is true.”
“NO,” Elgin said, twisting away from Tir and running out the door.
Tir stood up, ready to take off after the boy only to be stopped by Drake. Tir turned to look at him in surprise.
“Why don’t you let me? After all, I know a little bit better what the boy is feeling,” Drake suggested.
“I’m not sure,” Tir shook his head. “He was brutally beaten, raped, and humiliated Drake. I think that is were this is coming from. It is the normal aversion to the darker side of pleasure.”
“Still I don’t think you can handle this very well,” Drake answered.
Tir hesitated until he felt Ash touch his arm. He looked down at the concerned face of his brother who nodded briefly.
“Ok, Ash why don’t you go with him? Perhaps listening to what Drake has to say will help you as well,” Tir said, feeling grateful to Drake even as he felt guilty for letting the man try to deal with the problem that he was once again clueless to solve. It seemed to be a pattern in his life that he was continuing being handed problems that left him feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
Tir watched Drake and Ash leave, worrying about whether he had made the right decision until he realized he wasn’t alone. He turned to face Marek, feeling his anger rise up inside at the man who once again caused problems for him by flaunting their lifestyle. This time he knew that a simple sorry wasn’t going to be able to fix things.
“Marek, what in the hell were you thinking?” Tir said, trying to remain calm
“I didn’t mean for them to hear,” Marek said carefully.
“What did you mean, damn it. There were two twelve year old boys who are also my brothers. Didn’t it occur to you NOT to say anything until you were alone? I know that you don’t mind people knowing, but there are times when it is better to be fucking quiet,” Tir said, knowing he was losing his temper and not caring at the moment.
“What we are doing isn’t wrong, there is no reason to keep it a secret,” Marek said calmly.
“In this case there is, Marek. Elgin was raped. My twelve year old little brother was beaten and raped with a knife to his throat multiple times. Then his was sodomized with that same knife Marek,” Tir almost shouted, his voice quivering with all the conflicting emotions he was feeling.
“His first time was nothing but violence and pain, something that you are now flaunting in front of him with your little comments. He isn’t grown up enough to differentiate between what was done to him and what we do. Not only that, Marek, not everyone in the world has to know what we do in private.
“Maybe you want everyone to dislike you, but I would like for my family to like you. They are a part of my life and will be coming to Terma with us. I don’t want to have to divide myself between you and my brothers,” Tir said, a torrent of angry emotion spilling out of him.
“If that is the way you feel then perhaps we shouldn’t be involved with each other,” Marek said tightly, turning to walk to the door.
Tir snapped at Marek’s response; instead of feeling scared of the man’s implied threat of dissolving their relationship he only felt his anger and frustration increase. He stepped forward and grabbed Marek’s upper arm tightly, spinning the man around to face him. Marek looked down at him in shocked surprised when he saw the anger in Tir’s eyes. It was obvious this wasn’t what the man had been expecting.
“You’re not fucking running away again. Why is it every time we argue you either try to spank me or you run away? Do you really care for me so little? Do you really want to be alone again?” Tir asked sharply.
“I have Feras, and besides I’ve been alone all my life,” Marek hissed, anger reaching his eyes as well and he ripped his arm away from Tir.
“No,” Tir said, running to put himself in front of Marek, holding out his hands. “You’re not leaving, not this way.”
“What the hell do you want from me?” Marek snapped, looking down at Tir as he clenched his fist.
“I want…” Tir stopped, not knowing exactly what to say as he frowned, looking away from Marek. He simply didn’t know how to put into words his feeling of frustration at a man who tries to make everyone dislike him, and how important it was to Tir that his family liked Marek.
Marek looked down at him for a moment before stepping around Tir and walking out of the room, leaving Tir with the unanswered question.