Sunhawk looked down at the sleeping boy, feeling slightly angry and guilty at the same time. He knew that Shadow’s healing power was going to be a problem; he couldn’t help but feel uneasy when he saw the boy heal Maras. Not only that, every time Shadow used his power Sunhawk ended up sitting at his bedside wondering whether or not the boy would awaken. Sunhawk hated the uneasy feeling, the worry that he might loose Shadow. Already the boy had wiggled his way into the Captain’s life and Sunhawk was having a hard time imaging life without him. Sunhawk wished that Shadow didn’t have his power, or that he wouldn’t use it. He felt guilty that Shadow had overextended himself to show Maras his healing power, but also felt angry as well that Shadow didn’t think about the consequences of what he was doing. Shadow had lain three days in one of the guild bedrooms and Sunhawk had spent much his time next to Shadow, doing most of his work from that room. He had left Shadow’s side only rarely, luckily Ariel had helped and there was not a huge amount of things that absolutely need Sunhawk’s attention. He had only one more day before the Hawks moved out, and hoped that Shadow would awaken by then.
Sunhawk heard a quiet tapping at the door before Kelas entered. Sunhawk looked over at the healer as he came over to Shadow’s beside.
“Still not awake? We will have to wrap him up good and transport him in a wagon if he doesn’t wake by tomorrow, if you still are planning on leaving,” Kelas said as he laid a hand on Shadow’s forehead.
“We can’t delay any longer, we have to get going,” Sunhawk said with a sigh. “What am I supposed to do with him if he doesn’t wake up?”
“Corrin might be able to help. I am just guessing, but I am pretty sure this is only temporary,” Kelas said pulling up a chair. “Shadow told me that he has never been outside the temple since he was five, yet for the past two weeks we have traveled pretty hard. The boy was, for all intents and purposes, a pampered little priest. Now he has been camping out in the cold, traveling nonstop all day long on top of doing a major healing for you and being brutally raped. Then he healed that dog and Maras. I think his body just couldn’t take anymore and has shut down to get some much needed rest and replenish his powers.”
“Shadow never said anything about being tired.”
“Shadow doesn’t want to give you anything more to worry about or any reasons for you to push him away. There wasn’t a lot you could have done to change things either, and Shadow is bright enough to know that. He questioned me very thoroughly about life with the Hawks, and he realized that this was something he would have to get use to. In time I think things will not be so bad for both of you.”
Sunhawk threw his cup across the room at those words, and Kelas’s eyes widened in surprise.
“I am tired of this ‘in time’ bullshit!” Sunhawk said, getting up and striding to the window, his body tense.
Kelas remained quiet for a moment, shocked a little at Sunhawk’s outburst and the raw emotions in his voice. He had very rarely seen the easygoing Captain upset at anything, and was surprised that even Shadow was able to bring such a response to the usual unshakable Captain.
“Sunhawk, ” came a tired voice from the bed. Both Kelas and Sunhawk turned in surprise to see Shadow trying to get up. With three quick strides Sunhawk was at the bed, pushing Shadow down as Kelas discreetly exited the room.
“What is wrong?” Shadow asked as he allowed Sunhawk to push him down.
“What is wrong? What the fuck do you think is wrong? You have been unconscious for three fucking days. Mith’s tits boy, what do you think is wrong?” Sunhawk growled as his anger exploded at Shadow’s foolish question.
Shadow looked up at Sunhawk, confused and somewhat hurt as he tried to remember what happened. Gradually the memories began to return and as he studied Sunhawk’s face, Shadow began to realize some of what Sunhawk’s anger was about. As much as Shadow wanted to sink back down into the comfortable bed and sleep again he forced his tired body up and swung out of bed. Before Sunhawk could stop him, Shadow had crawled into his lap, wrapping his arms around the man’s neck.
“I am sorry. I knew I was at my limit, but it was also important that Maras see my power. Your men wouldn’t have been happy if Jarvek got away because of me. I looked at it as my job as a member of the Hawks, not just as your lover Sunhawk.”
“What about the dog, why did you use your powers for a mutt? I don’t like it when you use them, especially if it means something could happen to you.”
Shadow remained quiet for a moment, trying to think of what to say. He knew his answer wouldn’t please Sunhawk, and he was trying to sooth the man. He closed his eyes, trying to stop the room from spinning as he gathered his thoughts.
“I have to heal, Sunhawk, it is a part of being a priest, which I still am. It is also a part of who I am, as much as it frightens you. I can’t forsake who I am and still be the person you care for. I will try not to overextend myself, but when I feel a pull within I heal without question, because most of the time it is Mith’s wish, and because there is a need for my power. I know it is hard for you to watch me sleep like this, not knowing what is happening, but I always sleep after a major healing, it is nothing to worry about, think of it as battle fatigue.” Shadow said, opening his eyes and smiling weakly at Sunhawk.
Sunhawk looked at the boy, realizing that he was colorless and his silver eyes looked dull. Silently cursing himself he stood up with Shadow in his arms and put the boy back into bed. He didn’t like Shadow’s answer, but he knew now was not the time to argue with the boy. Now that the boy was awake, if not yet better, his anger had subsided some.
“Sleep, we head out tomorrow.”
Shadow was asleep by the time Sunhawk stood up and the Captain sighed with relief as he sat back down in his chair to stare at the sleeping boy again.
The next two weeks Shadow spent traveling in the wagon during the morning and only riding in the afternoon, despite Shadow’s protests that he was fine. Sunhawk watched Shadow carefully, making sure the boy rested and took things more slowly, not wanting to sit by the boy’s side again worrying. During that time neither one of them brought up the subject of Shadow’s healing powers. Neither one of them knew how to deal with the subject nor what to say to the other. Shadow knew that every time he used his powers the discussion would come up, but he hoped that as long as he didn’t overexert himself and collapse again some of Sunhawk’s worries would disappear.
It was getting late in the afternoon when they finally arrived at the home base of the Hawks on the outskirts of the city of Wintermoon. Shadow was astounded at the size of the complex as they rode into the walled compound of the Hawks. There were approximately twenty buildings of varying size arranged nearly in straight lines, a huge field containing twenty or so horses, and another area devoted to archery targets. As they entered the compound people began to come out of various buildings to greet the newly arrived soldiers. Two of the people surrounded Sunhawk as he dismounted, motioning Shadow to follow. The two looked questionably at the boy as they greeted Sunhawk. As their horses were led away by a small stable boy Shadow moved next to Sunhawk, a little shy and nervous about fitting in with these people who greeted Sunhawk. Sunhawk put his arm around Shadow without thinking about it.
“Well finally,” grinned an older woman with a motherly face. “Are you going to introduce him or am I going to have to starve you?”
“Gretch, this is Shadow. Shadow, this woman threatening me with starvation is the head cook here at Wintermoon. Gretch is also the wife of Justin here who runs the base when we are out on a campaign. You will get to know Shadow very well Gretch, since he can eat three times as much as any of our men. He has signed onto the Hawks as healer, although he also it a priest of Mith.”
Gretch’s eyes lit up at that and before Shadow knew what was happening he found himself in the large plump woman’s embrace, as Sunhawk laughed.
“Let the poor lad go Gretch,” said Justin with a smile at his wife’s happiness.
“Oh sorry did. I surprise you? It is just so good that the Hawks have another healer and Sunhawk finally isn’t alone anymore. That you are Mith’s priest is totally unexpected. As a girl I served in her temple, and it brings back good memories for me, but surely you aren’t a full priest, you are so young,” Gretch babbled happily as she let go of Shadow.
Shadow smiled at the friendly woman and held out both hands face up. Reflexively Gretch put her hands on Shadow’s as she had done countless times in her youth. Shadow gracefully sank to one knee as his locked eyes with Gretch’s.
“May Mith’s eyes watch over you as you walk your own path. May you find love and kindness in your life as Mith’s hands shelter and protect you,” Shadow said quietly as Gretch felt the familiar warmth fill her that she had felt so many times in her youth, but had not felt in many years since leaving the temple. Tears filled the emotional woman’s eyes as Shadow rose to his feet and returned to Sunhawk’s side.
“Thank you Shadow. I haven’t heard that simple blessing in many years. Would you show me your tattoo sometime?”
“Of course, but not now, it is too cold,” Shadow replied, quietly pleased that he had, for the first time been able to offer a blessing to someone.
“Well, knowing you Sunhawk you will be off to the springs, there is nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow,” Justin said clearing his throat, slightly embarrassed by his emotional wife’s tears.
“Thanks Justin, I will see you in the morning and go over everything.”
With a nod Sunhawk steered Shadow through the compound, explaining what many of the buildings were. Most of the large buildings were used for training. There were three salle, an armory, four stables, a large kitchen complex, a healer’s infirmary, ten barracks capable of holding a hundred men each, and a main hall. There were also a few small houses that had been built for members of the Hawks that had been part of the Hawks for more than ten years, and people who stayed the year around at the compound. Shadow marveled at the size of the place and the well built stone building, amazed at the time and money that had to have gone into the construction of the place. Soon, Sunhawk led him to a small white stone building.
“This is my house here in Wintermoon,” Sunhawk said simply as he led Shadow into the small two room home.
The main room consisted of a small, exquisitely wrought wood table with four matching chairs, a finely carved cabinet, a stand which held much of Sunhawk’s armor, and a fireplace with another stunningly beautiful mantle that held an old broken sword. Shadow went over to the sword looking questioningly at Sunhawk.
“It was my first sword as a merc. I used it for more than ten years even though I could buy a better one. It was lucky for me, even though I can’t use it now, I can’t just throw it away. Come on let’s get some clothes and get to the springs before they get crowded. You can use one of my shirts until your clothes get unpacked. I guess we will just have to belt on a pair of my pants, although I don’t think clothing will be much of a problem after we eat and get back,” Sunhawk said, leering at the boy playfully. Shadow laughed as Sunhawk went into the second room and returned quickly with some clothes.
It wasn’t long before both were stripped and leaning back in one of the large, natural hot springs that Wintermoon boasted of. As Sunhawk explained that there were about twenty of these springs sprinkled throughout the area, more of the men began to filter into the spring area. Shadow and Sunhawk soaked for a while, enjoying the waters and talking to Joel, who had entered not long after them. As the pool began to fill with more men Sunhawk got out and Shadow followed, quickly grabbing a towel, somewhat embarrassed by being naked in front of so many people. Suddenly there came a whistle from the pool as they were drying off.
“I’m assuming that wasn’t for me, Tarus,” Sunhawk said, stopping his drying to look at the young man, as Shadow began to blush slightly.
“No, sir. How did you know it was me?”
“Wrong answer, idiot,” Joel said, splashing the young red head.
“Because you’re the only one stupid enough to make a pass at Shadow while I am watching,” Sunhawk said mildly as he dressed.
“Sorry sir,” Tarus stammered.
Sunhawk and Shadow left as they heard Tarus’s worried voice questioning whether he was in trouble, although they didn’t hear Joel’s reply as they exited the building shelter the hot springs.
“You’re not mad, are you Sunhawk?” Shadow questioned as they walked together toward the mess hall.
“Yes, a little, but not at you. I am just a little jealous, something I am going to have to get use to. ”
“I hope you don’t. I like it that you want me all to yourself. Just don’t hurt anybody, since that would defeat your purpose. I would be the one treating them.”
Sunhawk laughed, putting his arm around Shadow as they continued to walk. When they arrived at the mess hall, attached to the kitchen complex, they grabbed some food from the serving table and went to sit down next to Kelas, Trent, Marissa, and an old man Shadow assumed was Corrin.
“There he is Corrin. This is Shadow.”
“Hello,” Shadow said shyly as he sat down between Sunhawk and Marissa, opposite Corrin.
“Glad to meet you Shadow. It looks like life has gotten more interesting,” Corrin said, eyeing Sunhawk.
“Your secret is out old man, and you owe me some of that good hangover potion for withholding information.” Sunhawk said, pointing his fork at Corrin.
“You caught me, but I am glad you know. I will even teach Shadow to make the damn stuff, then you can sweet talk him into making it for you.” Corrin grinning.
The conversation was lively as group talked, filling Corrin in on what happened on the last two campaigns the Hawks had been on since leaving Wintermoon. Shadow and Corrin remain silent as both of them ate huge amounts of food, both going back for seconds and then thirds. On their third trip to the serving counters Corrin grinned at Shadow, looking at the boy.
“You definitely eat like you have the gift. It will be a pleasure working with you Shadow. In my fifty-five years as a healer I have only met three other people with our gift. It is remarkable that at the end of my life I will get the joy of working with someone like you.”
“I am glad to have joined the Hawks. I never thought I would meet another with my gift as well. Until I met Sunhawk I never even thought I would ever see the outside of the temple.”
“Oh, I don’t think Mith would have let things go on for too much longer. I know a little about your Goddess, she doesn’t take well to corruption,” Corrin said as they headed back to the table.
Shadow nodded thoughtfully, wondering if Corrin was right and the implications if he was. Shadow continued to think about it as the conversation swirled around him. Before long both he and Sunhawk were done and Sunhawk was making their goodbyes. With a promise to come to the healer’s complex tomorrow, Shadow followed Sunhawk back to his home.
They had barely got the door closed when Sunhawk wrapped his arms around Shadow, lifting him off his feet and kissing him. They had not done much together in the last two weeks because of lack of privacy and Shadow still being tired, yet Sunhawk now seemed determined to make up for lost time, much to Shadow’s delight. Sunhawk’s passion was contagious, and soon both were naked and had found their way into Sunhawk’s room.
Shadow barely noticed his surroundings expect for the impossibly large bed filled with lots of pillows and soft velvety blankets. Sunhawk’s hands seemed to be everywhere at once to Shadow as he felt hot and anxious for the large man’s attentions. Shadow pulled the golden head from teasing his erect pink nipple and pushed Sunhawk back to explore the large man’s body with a teasing tongue, trailing hot paths down the taunt muscular body that shivered from his partner’s touch. The captain marveled a little at the pleasure coursing through his body as Shadow explored his navel with his tongue, inching lower toward Sunhawk’s twitching member.
“Yes Shadow right there,” the golden man growled as Shadow applied his tongue to the leaking member, licking up the liquid dripping from him before begining to suck on the hard organ, much to Sunhawk’s delight. Long before Shadow was ready Sunhawk pulled him away, his breath ragged as he traded places with Shadow, moving down on his most sensitive region. Pushing the boy’s legs back, Sunhawk surprised Shadow by moving down to the tight opening and began to wiggle his tongue into Shadow.
“Sunhawk, what are you doing? Oh that feels…..feels so good. Oh..”
Sunhawk grinned, leaning over the bed to retrieve the small vial of oil that he had been carrying around with him since Kelas had given it to him. He had always wanted to be prepared if he ever had the opportunity to use it. Applying some to his hand he coated Shadow’s stiff organ, much to the boy’s delight, as Sunhawk continued his assault with his tongue on Shadow’s back passage.
With his name being called in such an inviting, high voice Sunhawk could not resist any longer. Slowly he entered Shadow, once again marveling at the tight embrace of his partner, and the boy wrapped his legs around Sunhawk. The Captain was surprised when Shadow began bucking upward on Sunhawk, forcing the golden man deeper inside him. Unable to reign in his mounting passion, Sunhawk began to thrust almost brutally into the boy. Shadow winced slightly at the onslaught, but so lost within the passion of joining with the captain he only wrapped himself tighter around the Captain as his soft sex cries increased in volume. Sunhawk was amazed by Shadow’s responsiveness to him, as he thoroughly ravished the boy. He found that he the obvious pleasure his partner was feeling was driving his lust almost as much as the physical sensations coursing through his own hot body. Shadow’s soft and sometimes loud sexy cries drove the Captain to his ascent far quicker than anything else could.
Shadow marveled at the difference his own emotions could make in the pleasure he was receiving. Although Sunhawk’s almost violent thrusting hurt somewhat, it did nothing to dim the pleasure of being so intimately connected to the man he had come to love. He couldn’t help but cry out, not in pain but pleasure at the very apparent desire written in his lover’s face. As he felt Sunhawk shudder his release into his own body it sent Shadow over the edge of pleasure, and he felt his own release spread throughout his body.
Both men lay quietly for a time, reflecting on their shared passion. Shadow had curled up next to Sunhawk, his head resting on the broad chest of his partner. He idly traced out Sunhawk’s scar with a light, delicate touch, as Sunhawk played with a strand of his soft hair.
“So what will we be doing tomorrow?” asked Shadow.
“In the morning you can go over to the healer’s complex and talk some with Corrin, as I, along with Ariel, will fill Justin in on what has been happening in the last few months. In the afternoon I will need you and your handwriting so we can start catching up on paperwork. For the next week you will probably spend the mornings with Corrin and afternoons with me. After that, new recruits will start arriving and training will begin. Hopefully by then I will have found a secretary, because you will need to start training as well. Every Hawk member must know the basics, even noncombatants.”
“What about nights?”
“Oh, I think I have some plans for them as well,” Sunhawk said archly, pulling the boy up for a long kiss, which inevitability led to more.
Shadow sat on a stool leaning on a large wooden counter watching Gretch knead a round, pale lump of bread dough. The smells wafting through the kitchen made Shadow’s belly growl loudly as Gretch laughed.
“There are some pastries over on the table behind you.”
Shadow looked over, hunger overcoming him as he went over to grab a couple trying to avoid the rush of kitchen help busily preparing for lunch. It wasn’t long before he reclaimed his spot, watching intensely as Gretch continued to knead the bread. He had never seen anyone cook before and found it intensely interesting. In the last week he had gotten into the habit of leaving a little early from the healer enclave to come to the kitchen and watch Gretch work. The woman had opened her heart and kitchen to the boy, listening to his excited talk about his three favorite subjects healing, Mith, and Sunhawk. It was obvious to Gretch that his world stood upon these three things, and to loose one would completely destroy the balance of the boy. She couldn’t help but love the boy, who was, after a few days of shyness, so open and full of life, but at the same time full of intelligence as well.
“Has Sunhawk said what he is going to do tomorrow?” asked Gretch, curious.
“I imagine the usual. Is there something different about tomorrow?”
“Oh dear, I thought since you two were so close….” Gretch said in a worried voice, sadness apparent in her eyes.
“What is wrong Gretch? Please tell me.”
“Well, tomorrow is Sunhawk’s birthday, but it is also the day that he became leader of the Hawks.”
“So what is wrong? Those sound like good things, but I am guessing they aren’t.”
“He never told you,” Gretch said depressed. “The Hawks were originally a band called the Fist. It was the first mercenary band Sunhawk joined when he was eleven. He started out as a stable boy, but rose very quickly through the ranks to second in command before his eighteenth birthday. The Captain was a man Sunhawk respected above all others; you could say that he loved him. It had nothing to do with sex, it was about respect and fellowship, but in the end love is what it was. The Captain died in battle on Sunhawk’s birthday, since he was second in command it was his right to take the band. Many of the older members left, unable serve under such a young and inexperienced man. The ones that remained agreed to rename themselves the Hawks, since they believed and supported Sunhawk. The Captain’s death hurt Sunhawk deeply, and I don’t think he had ever really gotten over it, especially since it coincided with the birth of Sunhawk’s greatest dream, the Hawks.
“He always spends the day totally alone. I had hoped that you might change that about him, but it doesn’t look like it now. This year marks the twelfth anniversary of the Captain’s death.”
“Gretch, don’t tell Sunhawk you told me about this. I want him to tell me in his own way and time. I don’t think he will go off and leave me tomorrow, but we will have to wait and see,” Shadow said, taking the woman’s flour covered hand in his own.
Gretch nodded sadly, hopping Shadow was right. Shadow turned the conversation to meaningless things as his mind turned over Gretch’s story. It wasn’t long before Shadow felt Sunhawk’s large arms wrap around him from behind.
“Have you shown Gretch your tattoo?” Sunhawk asked curiously.
“No, I had forgotten about it. It’s a part of my body now, so honestly I don’t think about it much. It is warm in here, so I will show you,” Shadow said as he peeled off his shirt and turned around.
Gretch’s eyes widened in surprise at the exquisitely drawn hawk spread out on Shadow’s back, her fingers gently tracing the lines. Many of the kitchen helpers stopped to gather around, admiring Shadow’s artwork, although they were careful not to touch with the Captain standing so close to Shadow.
“It is beautiful, but why a hawk? I don’t think I have ever heard of such a design being produced. Mith’s tattoos are usually very specific to one’s path in life.”
“My full name is Shadowhawk, so maybe that is part of the reason. Mith’s oracle was very specific at the time the design was done. It was unusual since I took my vows at seven and was fully dedicated at twelve, too young for the design to be done. It wasn’t until my sixteenth birthday that they started to ink my back.”
“That is incredible Shadow, thank you for showing it to me,” Gretch said as Shadow put his shirt back on and the helpers went back to their work.
“That smells divine,” Sunhawk said, changing the subject.
“What, the food or me?” asked Shadow teasingly, having becoming more relaxed about the relationship around their friends.
“Well, then you better feed him Shadow,” replied Gretch laughingly glad to see Sunhawk in such good spirits.
Much to Shadow’s surprise Sunhawk had taken the afternoon off, and it wasn’t long before he found himself naked in Sunhawk’s bed. The lusty captain was fiercely passionate with Shadow, exploring his body and taking him multiple times over the afternoon. Shadow responded to Sunhawk’s need with a deep passion of his own, asking no questions, only giving himself freely to the man, sensing his need for close contact with the boy. They both fell asleep early and Shadow awoke the next day to find Sunhawk missing from the bed. Anxiously he threw off the covers and went out into the main room looking for Sunhawk, to find him kneeling by the fire, already dressed. Turning, he smiled softly at the naked boy as Shadow threw his arms around Sunhawk.
The Captain held the boy for a while before letting go. “Go get dressed, there is somewhere I want us to go today.”
Shadow cleaned up and dressed warmly as Sunhawk waited. They went to the stables and saddled Sunhawk’s stallion. Sunhawk pulled Shadow up onto the horse with him and headed out at a walk. It took about an hour for Sunhawk to stop at a large grow of oak trees. He slid off the horse and lifted Shadow down. After tying the horse up he led Shadow through the grove to the center and sat down, leaning against one the enormous trees. Shadow sat between his legs, leaning up against the comfortable Captain.
“I come here every year on my birthday, but not because it is my birthday,” Sunhawk said quietly. Shadow remained quiet, letting Sunhawk take his time telling him his story.
“Captain Daras was like a father to me. He took me into the Fist even though I was only eleven. He taught me the skills that have saved my life countless times, but I couldn’t save him that day. I couldn’t get to him in time, even though I saw the third man sneaking up on him. If I had been faster….” Sunhawk almost whispered, his arms wrapping around Shadow and squeezing him tight. Shadow knew that no words could ever take away the pain of losing Daras, but he also knew that he could share that pain with Sunhawk. Closing his eyes he turned around and hugged the Captain as he began to shudder, quietly crying. For the first time since Daras’s death he had spoken of it to another. Now twelve years later it was as if the wall the Captain had built came crashing down around him to let Shadow inside. Shadow held the man, saying very little, only comforting Sunhawk with soothing tones. After a while Shadow felt Sunhawk relax in his arms and become quiet. Shadow pulled away slightly to kiss Sunhawk’s forehead.
Slowly at first, Sunhawk began to talk about Daras and about his first years as part of the Fist. Shadow asked questions, drawing more stories out of Sunhawk until he was remembering not Daras’s death, but the life that had made such an impact on Sunhawk’s own. Shadow was amazed that Sunhawk had kept his grief to himself for so many years, and was glad that he was now sharing the burden with Shadow.
It was afternoon when Shadow’s stomach let out a loud gurgling sound that made Sunhawk laugh. Shadow grinned, shrugging. Sunhawk got up and went to pull the boy up. Shadow hugged Sunhawk tightly to him before letting him go, but stopped him from walking away.
“Wait, I have something for you,”
“What, why?” Sunhawk said confused.
“Gretch told me it was your birthday today. I have wanted to give it to you for a while, but it never seemed like the right time,” Shadow said, holding out a soft green velvet poach.
Sunhawk took it, mystified. He wondered when Shadow had gotten the mysterious item. Opening it, he found a beautiful golden hawk with amber eyes staring back at him.
“Where did you get this? It is a gorgeous piece of jewelry,” Sunhawk said, admiring the workmanship.
“When I healed the dog. I was thinking of you when I was admiring it, before I healed him. The shopkeeper gave it to me since he had seen me looking at it. I don’t know why, but I just thought of you when I saw it.”
“You should keep it Shadow, after all you are a hawk too.”
“Not a golden one,” Shadow said, reaching up to touch Sunhawk’s golden hair. “It is so beautiful.”
Sunhawk leaned down and kissed the boy, pleased more by the boy’s words than by a thousand pieces of jewelry.