~ Breanna Vincent contributed to this story
Tir stood on the bridge, chin propped in his elbow as he watched the water moving below. He had managed to ditch his escorts, but he was sure they would be catching up with him soon. He was amazed they still hadn’t caught onto his tricks. “Prince Tir.” He blinked, raising straight up at his name being called. “It is you, good, I’m glad.” He hadn’t even heard the man walk up to him. Dark eyes full of amusement stared back at him, a smile on the taller man’s face. “You had your men worried.”
“Who are you?” He moved back a few feet and let his hand fall to his sword.
“Now, now, none of that. I’m not here to hurt you.” He bowed. “I am Lao Thrace, your father hired me to watch over you.”
“You weren’t with the others.”
“That was the point. If you had seen me, you would have tried to avoid me.” He stood up straight. “We really should be getting you back. Your father brought you along for a good reason.”
“I can learn more out here than I can visiting foreign dignitaries. Listening to my father and the others is boring, the streets livelier.” He released his sword and turned to leave. “I’ll return to the castle when I am done here.”
“Your father was right, you are quite stubborn.”
Tir was surprised to find Lao standing in front of him. “How did you…”
“If you wish to wander around then I have no choice but to accompany you since I am not allowed to lay my hands on you and take you back by force. After you my prince.”
Tir wasn’t sure about this man but he believed what he was saying. Hiring someone to simply follow undetected sounded like his father. He wished the man would loosen the reigns a little more but he didn’t resent his father for it. In fact this time, he had made the day a little more interesting. ‘alright then” Tir walked forward, Lao moving out the way then walking by his side. “How did my father come to hire you?” Tir asked, curious about this man that had somehow stayed close without detection. “I have a good reputation and have long since been retired from my previous occupation so he sought me out and asked if I would do this. He told me a lot about you and your tendencies to sneak off. To be honest it sounded like fun rather than work and I haven’t been disappointed”
“Should I ask about your previous work?”
“Yes, I was very good at it, but after awhile I decided it was time for a change. After my last job I retired.”
“So my father found you by name?”
Lao nodded. “People like your father know about men like me, especially those who have made a name for themselves.”
“That’s fascinating, I’ve never met an assassin, that I know of at least.” He crossed his arms. “The way you move is amazing. You’re so quiet, like a cat.”
“I was trained well. So, where are we going?”
“I don’t really know, I just wanted to get to know the people. My father likes me to stay close because of who I am.” He deepened his voice. “If a prince should be spotted alone someone may take advantage of the situation. You are my only son, please stay with your escorts.” He found Lao watching him in amusement and blushed, clearing his throat. “Anyway, it’s hard to walk among the people when you have two armed guards with you.”
“And you think I’m not armed?”
Tir looked him over. “Are you? I don’t see any weapons.”
“That’s the point my prince.” He leaned in closer and Tir felt the sharp point of a blade touching his throat. “You see? No one knows until they feel the cool metal.” He slipped the blade back in the sheath at his wrist, showing it to Tir.
“so I can stay close and intimidate a people a lot less unless they know who I am but few would recognize my face. When I work and meet people I normally wear a mask. It’s good practice, it keeps people you care about safe and makes a man like me more able to live a peacful life when I’m not working”
“smart too, my dad was careful in who he picked”
“He loves you very much”
“I know, it can be annoying as hell sometimes but I know he’s the way he is because he loves me” Tir wanted to change the subject so he asked “so your mask, how did you pick it?”
“it was a gift from my mentor”
“May I see it?”
“It’s back in my room, I’ll show you when we go back. For now just enjoy yourself.”
Tir took a winding path through the city, stopping at market stalls and going into shops to look around. He wound up buying a few books and stopped at a bakery to get him and Lao something to eat. “This place is truly amazing, thank you for not making me go back.” He said as they made their way to the castle.
“I told you, I’m not allowed to use force.”
Tir chuckled. “But what if I’m in danger and I refuse to run or what if I were to run into a fight to defend someone? You wouldn’t use force to pull me away?”
“I would simply remove the danger to you.”
“You’re incredibly confident in your abilities.”
“An assassin without confidence is a dead man, prince. I don’t fear death or pain. Assassins are taught from a young age that darkness is our friend, it becomes a part of us that we must tap
Tir decided he could just ask and it seem like simple conversation. “So did my dad hire you long term?”
“Yes, it’s a permanent job unless you ask him to get rid of me” Lao almost grinned as he said it, already picking up on the fact Tir found him attractive. It wasn’t surprising to him he had trouble with the ladies because Tir was definitely gay. He wouldn’t say anything though, that was something Tir himself would have to come to realize. “well you’re good company so I’m actually glad to hear that” Tir responded honestly. He felt proud of himself that he managed to say that without his skin turning red. Once they reached the kitchen the cooks made them somthing quick and small since dinner would be before long.
“Tell me some stories about your time as an assassin, that is if you don’t mind.” Tir said.
“Well there was the time I took out a camp of werewolves.”
Tir’s eyes widened. “No way.”
“It’s true.” He sat his sandwich down and lifted his shirt, causing Tir’s heart to skip a beat as his eyes were drawn to four scars marring his chest. “If I wasn’t as fast as I am, they could have been worse.” He put his shirt down. “I was seventeen when it happened.”
“That’s amazing. Why were you hunting them?”
“They had been attacking merchants, killing them and at one point raping a young woman who was alone on the road. I was asked by the lord of that land to hunt and kill all of them. They were easy to find, but they put up a hell of a fight.”
“I’m glad you made it out alive.”
“Me too, I would have missed getting to watch over you.”
“ii…it can’t be that interesting” he said then thought to himself” Oh god I’m stuttering now Lao smiled again, that same confident, incredibly sexy smile “it has, you’re a very unique person and far from boring. Plus now it seems we are going to be friends”
“so um…tell me another one” he spoke again then thought to himself get yourself back together. You probably look like a dork right now He didn’t often care what others thought of him but he cared what Lao thought. As they sat there and Tir listened to his life he was starting to realize an attraction to him. Tirs stories were sexy, hell just his being was sexy. Tir had never truly been attracted to another person before but he recognized his desire for Lao.
“I can’t believe you actually disguised yourself as a woman and I’m even more amazed no one noticed.” Tir said once they were finished eating and on their way out.
“Just another one of my many gifts. It’s really all in the way I’m built and how gracefully I can move.”
“Still, sneaking into a harem.”
“It was the only way to get into his bedroom. I was his new bride after all.”
“So he got more than one surprise.”
“Oh yes.” Lao chuckled as he followed Tir.
“Do you think you could teach me?”
“How to dress like a woman?”
Tir blushed. “N…no, no way, I meant to move like you do.”
Lao chuckled. “I don’t think that would be a good idea. You already sneak off enough.”
“How about instead I give you other lessons. Foreign languages? Climbing? Perhaps to read body language?”
“You could teach me to read body language?”
“Yep, it was taught to me and you’re intelligent enough to learn”
“then we can start with that but I’m not completely dropping you teaching me to move like you do” Lao chuckled again “I didn’t think you would” Lao took him out to start teaching Tir as soon as they finished eating, continuing the lessons until it was actually dinner time. Neither were really that hungry but Tir liked going for the simple fact of being with his father awhile. “I’m glad to see you two getting along so well son. I will no longer have to stress over your safety since I’ve found someone you will let accompany you”
“I should thank you father, I’ve never met someone as interesting as Lao. He’s so amazing and he’s told me so many fascinating stories.”
“Your son is a rather interesting young man himself, an incredibly fast learner.”
Tir blushed. “I’m not that great.”
Tir’s father looked at his son and then at Lao. “So that’s what it is.”
“What?” Tir asked, confused.
The king chuckled. “Nothing son, everything’s perfect.” Lao glanced at the king. He could so easily read the older man, how his mind was turning, what thoughts he was having. He had realized something about his son he had not before and was now processing it, remembering things. “So what all did you do today?” The king asked.
“We went shopping, just a bit, I showed Lao your office.” His cheeks tinted again. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all.”
“And he’s teaching me about body language, it’s crazy the things you don’t notice about people until you’re really looking.”
“that will come in handy as king one day.” Lao could see it dawn on Tir “I wasn’t even thinking of that to be honest” his father just smiled “you take interest in a lot of things that will help you later and you don’t even realize it” Tir was glad to hear it, especially since he heard the approval in his dads voice. He wanted to be a king his father would be proud of. He wanted his father to hand over the reigns without fear when it came time. If his father believed in him he knew he would lead the people wisely since his father had been such a good king so far. The people loved his dad, probably every bit as much as he did.
They chatted more about how their day had been and once dinner was over Tir told his father goodnight and excused himself with Lao following. “Where are you going?” Tir asked.
“I’m making sure you get to bed and then I’m going to sleep.”
“You don’t have to do that, stay up if you want. I’ll be safe in my room.”
Lao chuckled. “I am in charge of your life, Tir, it would be remiss of me to stay up when you’re up here alone.”
Tir looked shyly at his feet. “Then would you maybe want to come to my room and teach me more about body language. Just for a bit.”
“Sure.” Tir was nervous as he invited Lao into his room and told himself to calm down. They were just two friends spending time together. “You’re nervous. What’s wrong?”
“It’s just I haven’t had many people in here. My father’s been here, the maids, but that’s it really.”
“Oh stop, it’s just a room.”
“But it’s your room, it’s special to you.” Lao crossed the room to a bookshelf and lifted a small teddy bear off of it. “What’s this?”
“D…don’t look at that.” Tir practically panicked as he rushed over and took it from him, his entire body hot with his blush. “How embarrassing.”
“It’s not. My father gave it to me when I was a boy, I couldn’t get rid of it.”
Lao gently tipped Tir’s head back so they were looking into each others eyes. “It’s sweet.” He smiled as he took the bear back and put it on the bookshelf. “Let’s practice facial expressions.”
Tir nodded, glad they would be talking about something other than the fact he still owned a teddy bear at his age. It really wasn’t that he wanted one. It was just that everything his father gave him meant a lot so he tended to keep them forever. That bear was more special than most items but the subject had already been dropped and talking about all the little memories that made the bear something he would cherish forever would probably take the night and he really wanted to learn a few things while Lao was willing. They practiced by Lao making faces based on emotions and Tir guessing. Lao would tell him if he was right or wrong and then why he was right or wrong. Though this was for learning purposes Tir was really enjoying himself. It was a good excuse to admire his incredibly handsome face and it fun, almost like a game more than a lesson.
“I should be letting you get to sleep, we’ve been at this for a couple of hours.”
“Is hasn’t been that long.” Lao gestured to the clock hanging above the fireplace. “How did that happen?”
“You were having fun, I couldn’t bring myself to stop.” Tir gave a pout and Lao chuckled. “Now, now none of that. It’s very unbecoming of a prince to make such a face. We can continue another time. How are you going to show me how good you are with a bow if you’re too tired to even draw it back.”
“Alright, I guess.”
“So childish, how cute.” Tir blushed. “There we go, I’d rather see you embarrassed than disappointed.”
“You’re really very…forward.”
“I am honest. I see no point in lying to anyone. I have enjoyed our time together and I look forward to spending another day with you as you try to get yourself into trouble. To tell you the truth, I have never been this interested in anyone, you fascinate me.”
Tir swallowed. “I…I do?”
“Quite, now get some rest.”
Tir swallowed again, watching Lao walk out. When the door shut he mentally kicked himself for not saying goodnight and just staring like an idiot. It couldn’t be taken back now and he decided not to worry about it. Tir settled himself into his comfortable bed and faded to sleep. He was far too eager for tomorrow to spend any more time in today. When morning came Tir readied himself then was pleasantly surprised to find Lao waiting outside his room, resting against the wall with a huge smile “good morning”
“If you don’t mind Tir, I’ll just wait for you to come out every morning”
“I..if you want to”
They went down to breakfast together where his father was already eating and going over some papers. He told them both good morning and Tir took a seat next to his father while Lao sat right next to him. Their breakfast was brought out and when Tir tried to sneak a glance at the ex assassin he found that Lao was watching him and his heart nearly burst. “So what is on you agenda for today?” Tir’s father asked.
“Uh well I thought I would show Lao how good I am with a bow.” Tir answered.
“I proposed a competition.” Lao added.
“That should be quite interesting. My son was trained by the best, but I never thought he would be going up against someone like you. If you don’t mind I think I would like to watch.”
“Of course father, I would love nothing more.”
“I will have the range prepared then and Lao, you may borrow my bow.”
“I am honored my lord.” He gave a slight bow of the head. Tir watched the exchange curiously. Even when Lao bowed or showed respect it was on equal standing. Tir was sure this was another reason his father had hired him. He didn’t pretend that his king and prince were anything more than people. People with power and authority, but still people.
They finished breakfast and both Tir and Lao excused themselves. “Would you like to visit the garden with me while we wait for everything to be set up?” Tir asked.
“I would love to, please, after you.”
“You’re so polite, all the women must love you.”
Lao chuckled. “Perhaps, but it is a lost cause. They can flirt and fawn all they like, it would have no effect on me.”
“Because you’re an assassin?”
“Because I like men.”
“Oh” Tir responded with a blush, his heart beat speeding up at the thought. He had already realized he was attracted to Lao and now he realized there might actually, however small, be a chance he was attracted to him too. There was probably a huge age difference since Lao was old enough to become a successful assassin and retire and he was only nineteen but he wondered if that would mater to Lao. Tir knew it certainly didn’t matter to him. Lao was incredible, it would be folly to let something so stupid as how long he had been alive change if he wanted to be with him or not. Lao could see the wheels in Tirs head spinning and wondered what was going on in that handsome, intriguing head. He could take a guess and he was sure he’d be right but he still wondered.
“What a wonderful garden. A lot of love has been put into these plants.” Lao said as he stopped at one of the rosebushes to inhale the sweet scent. “Do you have a favorite?”
“Yeah, but it’s kind of odd.”
“Come this way.” Lao followed Tir through the large garden to the back where a purple petaled tree had been planted. “It’s this one.”
“Yeah, I know it’s toxic, but I think it’s really pretty. You probably know all about these types of plants though.”
“I do, it was part of my training.”
“I see, so have you ever had to use that method?”
“It was more for my benefit than anything. I’ve ingested many toxins so I could identify them. I do not enjoy the unpredictability of poisoning a target. One of their staff may test taste it first or someone else may pick up the cup during a party or the target may not drink it at all.”
“It’s both scary and amazing hearing you talk about your past.”
“You’re completely safe, Tir, I would never dream of harming you.” He seemed to think for a moment then grinned. “Well, unless you asked.” Tir blushed and Lao couldn’t help but laugh at how shocked and embarrassed he looked. “Perhaps we should get back, I’m sure your father is looking forward to your defeat.”
Tir snapped out of his shock. “The only one losing today is you.”
“Oh? And what if I win?”
“Uh, well, I don’t know, but I’ll figure out something.”
Lao just smiled, ready for whatever reward he’d receive if he won. He liked Tir but he wasn’t going to go easy on him. He saw letting someone win as a form of deceit and he made it a point never to lie unless it was for a job. Tir deserved an honest competition but he’d happily accept as many rematches as he wanted. Lao knew the prince just might surprise him but he was fairly confident he was going to win. When they went to the area they needed to go everything was already set up for the two of them so all that was left to do was gather their bow and arrows then take their positions.
Even though he was up against an assassin Tir didn’t let nerves get to him. He stayed calm, remembering his training and trusting in it. He wanted to impress Lao but at the same time this wasn’t a serious situation that merited worrying about the outcome. The only thing that crossed his mind was the fact Lao expected a reward of some sort if he won and Tir wondered what he could possibly do that Lao would want.
They took turns firing arrows at targets and Tir couldn’t help but admire Lao. He was so perfect, the line of his body, the muscles flexing beneath the skin as he drew back on the bow. He was completely focused on the task at hand, his gaze unwavering as he let the arrow fly and it his the center of the target next to the others. Lao smiled at him and his heart stuttered. He turned back to his target, breathing in steadily and breathing out. Everything quieted around him and let it go. It his just outside the bullseye. He lowered his bow then watched as Lao let his last arrow loose. He hit dead center and gave a little chuckle.
“You won.” Was all Tir could say, then turned to his father. “What do you think?”
“I think you did amazing under the circumstances. I’m proud of you.”
Tir smiled and jumped when he realized Lao had moved closer. His hand dropped onto Tir’s shoulder and he gave him another heart stopping smile. “That was amazing, you’ve been trained well.”
“I had a good teacher.”
“You have some natural talent, Tir, I can see it.” He then leaned leaned closer and lowered his voice. “Now what of my prize?”
Tir glanced at his father, feeling embarrassed that Lao was being so forward in front of him. It didn’t seem like he cared and only got up from where he had been sitting and waved at them as he went back inside. “Um…” he looked back at Lao. “Well, I don’t really know. What would you like?”
“I wonder?” He winked and Tir’s face turned a deeper shade of red. “It’s amazing how you can so boldly escape from your guards yet you’re so shy with me. I feel special.” He tilted his head this way and that as he thought. “I know, tonight I will meet you on your balcony. I would hate for you to die of embarrassment when I claim my prize.”
Tir was left a stammering idiot as Lao just smiled coyly and pulled away. He walked off, leaving Tir to collect himself before tonight. Tir could do nothing but overthink what would happen tonight even as it was upon him. He stood there on his balcony, in the cool air under the gorgeous moon of their world. It actually startled him a little when Lao jumped up, smooth as ever onto his balcony. His smile was big, his eyes twinkling with amusement. He could obviously see how nervous Tir was. “are you ready?” he asked. He was happy about collecting his reward so he felt like teasing him.
“I..I guess so” Lao moved in closer and to Tirs surprise he kissed him. The kiss was slow but somehow passionate at the same time. If Tir had any doubts about being gay before they would be completely gone now. He wanted Lao, he wanted to be with him. He stopped thinking and just allowed himself to melt into the kiss. Lao held Tir in the kiss as long as he thought the young prince could stand since he had never kissed a man before. “so?” Lao asked and Tir blushed again “so…”
“could I call you mine?”
“was I the prize you wanted for winning?”
“that kiss was but you seemed to like it just as much as me” There was a short pause before Tir stammered out “I…I do want to be with you too”
“Good” Lao hugged him then playfully bit his ear “I look forward to our future together” he whispered into Tirs ear, holding back a chuckle at how deeply he blushed. Tir told his father the next day who was over joyed for his son. It gave his heart peace that while his son was an untameable man at least he’d have a boyfriend smart, fast and skilled enough to keep him safe during his mischief.
~ The End