“Kelas stop it, now!” Shadow exclaimed, grabbing the Kelas by the arm and pulling him over to the table where Corrin sat.
“But, I know that I have forgotten something,” Kelas said, looking over at the trunk that he had been rummaging around in.
“No, you haven’t,” both Corrin and Shadow said at once.
“He always does this the night before they leave. It drives me nuts,” Corrin said, glaring at Kelas.
Kelas looked sheepishly at Corrin, shrugging. Shadow shook his head at his friend, determined that he would not unpack anything else that night looking for things he had forgotten.
All three men sat around a small circular table in the healer’s enclave, the last three left from the healer’s farewell party that Corrin held every year since he stopped going on campaigns with the rest of the Hawks.
“Well, what do you think of Sunhawk’s choice this year Kelas?” Corrin asked, putting his foot up on a stool near him.
“Everyone thought he would choose the Midrose job. It was further away but the pay was a hell of a lot more, and it seemed like an easy enough job.”
“Yeah, but I have heard some strange rumors coming out of that area. I think there is a wizard operating up there,” Corrin replied.
“Sunhawk didn’t mention that. He just said his gut feeling told him not to take the job,” Shadow said, his hands wrapped around his cup of tea.
“Sunhawk and his gut. I don’t know how it is so accurate,” Kelas said exasperated.
“That is a big reason the Hawks are so successful, because of Sunhawk’s instincts,” Corrin said, grinning at Kelas.
“The Soothbay job isn’t bad, is it?” Shadow asked.
“No, actually Sunhawk is quite smart,” Corrin nodded.
“Yeah, I think so to.”
“Soothbay is closer and a relatively early job, which means that the Hawk will more than likely be able to take a second job before the campaign season winds down. You guys will also have help when it comes to the siege of the city,; I believe that Casper’s group has been hired,” Corrin said, looking over at Kelas.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Yes, Sunhawk was talking to Ariel about it a couple of days ago. Ariel seemed relieved,” Shadow confirmed.
“I bet he was. Ariel hates prolonged sieges. When it comes right down to it, the Hawk’s aren’t suited to it. We aren’t heavy infantry,” Kelas yawned.
“I guess you two should be heading to bed. I am surprised you stuck around so long, Shadow. ”
“Sunhawk was going to be busy ‘till late, since we leave tomorrow,” Shadow said with a shrug.
“Why aren’t you in the meeting with him, since you are the Hawk’s secretary now? And may I point out you are insane for taking the job along with your healing duties,” Kelas asked.
“It isn’t that much more work. The past month I have been going over the job and finding ways to make it more efficient. It wasn’t that hard, and I have cut the work load down by at least half. It’s not like I will be needed to do paperwork in the middle of the battle, when I will be needed as a healer. Sunhawk wasn’t a very good secretary,” Shadow said, laughing.
“Well he was only doing it because the last secretary left a week before they were heading out,” Corrin pointed out.
“I heard about it from Sunhawk. Anyway, being his secretary lets me follow Sunhawk around more than if I was just one of his healers.”
“Shadow . . . ” Kelas spoken, hesitantly trailing off.
“Things are going to be different as soon as we start the campaign. Sunhawk will…,” Kelas started.
“Enough Kelas. Shadow already knows, remember Var,” Corrin said sternly.
Shadow looked down at his hands. He remembered Sunhawk’s cold demeanor then. The past two months Shadow had not seen it appear again, but he knew that once they were on a campaign he would. He was still unsure about the frightening glimpse of the darker part of the man he loved.
“Kelas, I know, but the only thing I can do is trust Sunhawk and pray to Mith for guidance,” Shadow said as he continued to study his hands.
“You’re exactly right Shadow. I have never had much use for Mith, but I think for you she will help. Sunhawk loves you, just remember that no matter what happens. And you Kelas,” Corrin said, shaking his finger at the man.
“Stay out of it. I mean it.,”
“But . . . ”
“No buts, they don’t need anyone interfering. Listen, but that is all. I know you too well, my friend, but in this you will not be able to help. Now off, the both of you, this old man needs his rest, even if you two don’t,” Corrin said, getting up and shooing the two of them out of the room.
Shadow and Kelas walked down the hallway out of the enclave. A fresh spring breeze blew, catching a strand of Kelas’s copper hair, playing with it.
“I will be there if you need to talk, but I think Corrin is right. I have never seen Sunhawk so taken with anyone, and it truly is love. It is just he will be different, he has to be,” Kelas said as they were ready to part.
Shadow nodded remembering Gretch’s words to him.
“Night Kelas, see you in the morning.”
Shadow walked back to the small white home he had shared with Sunhawk the past few months, wondering if his lover awaited him. He quietly entered to see the fire banked and Sunhawk’s boots by the door. He slipped into the bedroom and undressed, crawling into bed. He felt Sunhawk’s arms wrap around him instinctively in his sleep.
Shadow snuggled down, pressing his naked body against the man. He felt Sunhawk stir and he began to suck on the sleeping man’s nipple. Sunhawk’s eyes opened as Shadow wiggled out of his embrace to slide down the man’s hard body to the still limp organ; which Shadow was determined to rectify.
Shadow felt Sunhawk’s hands come down to gently guide him as he spread his legs to accommodate his lover. Shadow looked up at the now fully wake golden brown eyes, and smiled at the large captain’s willingness.
Shadow felt Sunhawk gently pulled at him to bring him up his body. Shadow slowly came up, leaving trails of kisses as he explored his lover’s body once again. Sunhawk captured his mouth and began to kiss him deeply, something Shadow had found excited him more than anything. It wasn’t long before Shadow was grinding his body against Sunhawk’s, wanting more intimate contact with the man.
Sunhawk flipped the boy over as he slowly began to penetrate Shadow. Sighing with pleasure, Shadow felt Sunhawk move slowly at first then with more speed. Sunhawk’s large hands ran over his back and hips as he continued to thrust deeply into the young priest. Shadow gathered his hair up and moved it off of his back to feel the Captain’s hands move over the design that covered his back. Shadow had noticed that the artwork seemed to fire the large man’s lust, and this night was no exception as he heard Sunhawk’s breathing increase.
Shadow moaned in pleasure as the speed and power of Sunhawk’s acquisition of him increased, pushing him forward on the bed.He heard Sunhawk’s deep voice almost growl, signaling his release as Shadow’s hand began to fly down his own erection. It didn’t take much for Shadow to follow the Captain’s example as he too felt his own release.
Both of them collapsed in the bed, their bodies entwining.
“Go to sleep little one. We have a long day tomorrow,” whispered Sunhawk as he kissed Shadow on the head.
Shadow was awakened by a large hand gently shaking him. Blinking, he saw Sunhawk hovering over him already dressed. Yawning, he sat up looking out at the still dark night.
Sunhawk laughed, leaving Shadow in bed and going out to the main room. Shadow groggily washed up, waking up slightly before dressing. Walking out into the main room he saw his tea setting on the table and all of their bags by the door.
“Come here, sleepy one. You’re going to have to get used to getting up earlier now.”
“Don’t remind me,” Shadow groaned, sitting down at the table to drinking his tea.
Sunhawk untied Shadow’s still braided hair and began to brush through it. Shadow leaned into Sunhawk’s gentle hands, enjoying his touch. By the time he had finished the tea he felt more awake and Sunhawk had finished tying off his hair.
“Shadow I want you to ride with Kelas again, ok?” Sunhawk said seriously
“What, why?” Shadow asked confused, looking back over his shoulder at Sunhawk.
“When we are traveling I usually go among the men and talk to them. I need to do that alone, I think you can see why, can’t you?”
Shadow thought for a moment then nodded. “But what about when you aren’t doing that? I know you don’t do it all day.”
“Shadow, I don’t want you up front. If we are attacked you still can’t attack, only defend. Corrin found a solution to your sword work but that isn’t going to help right now. Maybe next year, but not right now.” Sunhawk said, looking into Shadow’s eyes.
“I am sorry,” Shadow said, looking down.
“It isn’t your fault. We just didn’t realize as a healer and a priest you wouldn’t be able to use an edged weapon on another human. You were trying so hard and just ended up fighting yourself instead of your opponent. Corrin knew, but because you were doing so well at first he didn’t think to question. We are just lucky one of Corrin’s former students is willing to come here next winter and teach you the staff,” Sunhawk said gently.
Shadow nodded again. He had finally told Corrin one day of what had been bothering him. To Shadow’s amazement the old man had bundled up and walked to the training area towing the startled Shadow with him. He walked right up to Sunhawk and whacked the poor Captain with his staff on the ribs. Shadow had stared open mouthed in amazement, along with Sunhawk’s student.
Corrin had scolded the bewildered Captain for more than five minutes on his stupidity. Corrin himself couldn’t use a sword because of his gifts as a healer, yet with a staff he could hold his own and even beat Sunhawk’s sword. Corrin had made it clear that Sunhawk should have been using his head and realized that Shadow would have the same problem.
After it was all said and done, Corrin had contacted an old student that he himself had taught staff work to. The man agreed to come to Wintermoon next winter to teach Shadow the staff, a weapon that he could excel in.
“Shadow I am sorry, but.”
Shadow pressed a finger to Sunhawk’s lips, silencing the man.
“I know at least some. Things will be different and difficult, but I will manage.”
Sunhawk kissed him, wrapping his arms around the thin boy. Wishing for more time, Sunhawk sighed, resting his forehead against Shadow’s.
“Will you still come at night?” Shadow asked.
“Of course, and at lunch when I can. You also have the secretarial duties, so you will see me as soon as we stop every day.”
Shadow smiled kissing Sunhawk again.
Soon both men were up, busily closing down the house for the months to come. Before long the sun began to rise and they carried their two bags out to the horses; and Shadow’s to the healer’s wagon where Kelas was already waiting. Kelas looked unsurprised by Shadow’s appearance. Within the hour Shadow was looking over his shoulder as Wintermoon disappeared from sight.
The next month flew by as the Hawks marched to the outskirts of the city-state of Soothbay. They made good time and arrive two days ahead of schedule, as they set up a temporary camp to wait for the second mercenary troop to arrive. Shadow was glad of the small reprieve of constant traveling, which was something he still was unused to.
Over the last month Shadow and Sunhawk had very little time together. Lunches were very brief as they hurried to eat and water the horses. Nights were spent with the sub commanders discussing strategies and other troop matters. By the time they lay down both of them barely had time for a kiss before they were asleep.
Shadow watched the command tent go up and hoped, rather selfishly, for a few hours with his lover before Casper’s troops arrived, along with Rathgar their employer. The meeting with the sub commanders lasted well into the night before everyone exited, leaving the two men finally alone.
Shadow looked over at the golden haired Captain, who was still intently studying a map spread out on the table before him. Shadow walked over and wrapped his arms around the man, resting against his back, feeling his warmth. Shadow was tired, but he wanted to be close to Sunhawk.
“Shadow, why don’t you go head and go to bed. I will be there in a little bit,” Sunhawk said distractedly.
Shadow stiffened slightly and let go. Walking slowly to the bed, he lay down, facing away from the Captain. He knew that he should have expected this, but he couldn’t help but feel hurt by Sunhawk’s dismissal of him. He felt hot tears stream down his face, yet remained quiet. Maybe, he thought as he drifted off to sleep, Sunhawk didn’t need him anymore.
Sunhawk rolled up the map. Looking at the candle he knew it was beyond late. Yawning, he walked over to the bed to find Shadow curled up against the tent wall. Surprised, since the boy often sprawled out all over the bed, he sat down next to the boy. Looking at the curled body and the obvious tear streaks on the face slightly dirty from the road, Sunhawk sighed.
It was only the beginning. What he feared when Shadow first entered his life was happening. He was hurting the boy and not even realizing it. Gently stroking the boy’s head he wondered yet again if his love for this beautiful young boy was right. Shadow’s eyes fluttered as he looked up at Sunhawk. The boy smiled sleepily, looking at the golden man framed in the candle light.
“Lay down Sunhawk you have to be tired,” Shadow said softly.
“There is nothing to be sorry for. Come on, even strong invincible Captain’s need sleep.”
Sunhawk lay down and wrapped Shadow up in his arms as he felt the young man press against him and sigh in contentment. He looked down, surprised to find Shadow already asleep. Fighting the urge to laugh Sunhawk closed his eyes and joined him.
The next day dawned early and even Sunhawk had trouble getting out of bed with Shadow’s soft body pressed up against him. As he lay in bed he wondered idley if he could get away with making love to Shadow before they were interrupted. It seemed like it had been forever since he had felt the tight depths of his lover, and he was feeling the need for a little fuck. He knew once Casper arrived he would be too busy to do anything with Shadow.
“Hey Captain, an advanced scout reports that Casper is two hours away from us,” came a loud voice from behind to tent flaps.
“Very well, have them report in ten minutes,” Sunhawk replied, closing his eyes.
Sunhawk sighed, realizing there would be no time to even properly talk to Shadow let alone have sex. Nudging the boy awake he got up and walked over to the bucket of water and started to clean up.
Shadow got up as well, blinking at the Captain. Last night’s events returned to him as the sleep began to clear from his mind and he frowned slightly.
“Casper will be here soon and the scouts will be here to report in ten minutes,” Sunhawk said, walking over to Shadow.
Shadow nodded and got up to go clean up, but was stopped by Sunhawk’s hand. He grabbed the boy and kissing him hard, pulling him close. He felt Shadow’s body respond to him completely. Letting go he looked down at the young priest.
“I am sorry. I had hoped we would have time today . . . ”
Shadow shook his head and went over to get cleaned up
“It is ok Sunhawk. I do understand logically, sometimes though, the mind and the heart don’t agree. Don’t worry, I just need time to adjust, this is all new to me. I was used to having you all to myself and more time together,” Shadow replied with his back to Sunhawk.
Sunhawk looked at the boy’s back for a minute. He knew Shadow was hiding his pain so he wouldn’t hurt Sunhawk. The golden man also knew there wasn’t a lot he could do to change things. With a sigh he got dressed and started to brew some tea.
Shadow dressed and when he was finished went to sit down on one of the camp chairs. Sunhawk came over and began to brush out the boy’s hair. The last time he had been able to do such a simple thing had been the morning they had left Wintermoon. Each morning since then there just had never seemed to be enough time. Shadow sighed in contentment, feeling the gentle familiar strokes and enjoyed the moment.
Sunhawk too felt the enjoyment of taking care of the boy, of feeling the silken hair slide through his calloused hands. He again wished he could have a little time with the boy before Casper arrived, but it was not to be. As he finished tying off the end of the newly braided hair, the scouts arrived.
After the scouts’ report Sunhawk sent runners to Casper; by the time Sunhawk and Shadow had finished breakfast it had been decided that Casper and Rathgar would come to Sunhawk’s camp, while their own camps were being setup, to discuss strategies.
Shadow busily began to prepare for their visitors with Sunhawk’s help. By midmorning Rathgar appeared through the entrance of the command tent. A medium sized man with short, cropped black hair and no nonsense armor, he struck Shadow not so much a leader of a city but a solider himself. Casper entered behind him and walked over to Sunhawk to grab his hand. The large balding man smiled at Sunhawk, revealing more than a few missing teeth.
“Glad to be work with you this time around,” grinned Casper.
“Then you forgive me for knocking out your teeth?” Sunhawk asked archly.
Casper laughed, hitting Sunhawk on the back as they both walked over to the table which was filling up with various soldiers from each mercenary band and Rathgar’s entourage. Shadow stayed in a corner, listening and taking notes as the meeting began.
A heated argument between Rathgar and the two captains broke out around afternoon, when Sunhawk suggested a brief break for lunch. All the men readily agreed as they headed toward the mess area. Shadow followed behind Sunhawk as he left with Casper, still talking about the siege of the city of Soothbay.
After gathering their food, Shadow followed Sunhawk as he sat down with Casper.
“Enough Sunhawk, we will be talking about it again soon enough,” Casper said when they sat down with their food.
“Yeah, I suppose.,”
“Hey, I have been hearing some interesting rumors about you,” Casper said, grinning as he eyed Shadow, who sat next to Sunhawk.
“Is that all anyone thinks about?.” Sunhawk said in exasperation
“Well, yeah it is big news isn’t it? Your lone wolf persona is almost legendary amongst us mercenaries, and for you to be done in by a boy . . . ”
“Casper,” Sunhawk’s voice held a hint of warning.
“I didn’t mean any harm in it. He is lovely, and I think anyone would fall for such a beauty. But what about the other rumors about his healing?”
“I am a healer Sir, and a priest,” Shadow said quietly.
“A priest, didn’t know that. What God?” Casper looked over at the youth, surprised to hear from him.
“Mith,” Shadow replied, looking at the balding Captain.
Casper began to laugh. “I think I have heard it all now,” Casper said after he had calmed down.
Sunhawk turned the subject to old campaigns as Shadow sat quietly by his side. He had felt Sunhawk’s annoyance at Casper’s humor at their relationship, but he didn’t know what to do about it. He couldn’t help that he was a man or a priest. Once again he felt the distance between them increase. He had known it would be hard on campaigns, but he was still unsure about what he should do.
He didn’t know how to deal with this new lover that was emerging from Sunhawk. He knew from the morning kiss and apology that the Sunhawk that he loved was still there. He knew that he was in need of the most was time to pray to Mith for guidance, for he felt in need of some.
Lunch ended and the meeting continued; by late afternoon everyone packed up to leave. The final details had been worked out and the campaign would start in the morning. Sunhawk gathered his sub commanders and began to outline the plan to the men.
Shadow listened with a sinking heart as Sunhawk talked. The Hawks would be split into four fighting groups, each being sent to attack the outlaying villages surrounding Soothbay, utterly destroying them. Villagers would be allowed to escape to the city, where they would strain the city’s resources during the siege. The Hawks noncombatants would travel with Casper’s main force to the city of Soothbay, where they would all meet in five days.
Shadow realized quickly that he would, for the first time since meeting Sunhawk, be parted from him.