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The Golden Bird: Chapter 38

And you all thought the person at the door wasn't Luca. Oh ye of little faith!


There was a lord sitting on the bed. He held a glass of wine and wore a dressing-gown open to his navel. His eyes glittered in the lamplight like the edge of a sword. His mouth was quirked in amusement. Luca knelt instinctively, pressing his lips to the floor before sitting back on his heels. He spread his thighs wide, offering himself for the lord's pleasure.

Luca?” said the lord in Robert's voice.

Luca shivered. He knew the lord and Robert were one and the same. So why couldn't he bring himself to raise his eyes?

Come here, sweetheart.”

Luca crawled. He crawled until he reached the lord, then kissed the floor again. He wanted to kiss Robert's foot, to rest his cheek there, but Aquila had warned him against touching the lord without permission. None of your forward brothel ways in the Guest Bedroom, little barbarian. Luca knelt before the lord and yearned for Robert.

Luca?” Robert said gently. “What are you doing?”

Luca felt a calloused hand against his cheek. He forgot the lord and melted into Robert's touch. When Robert gathered him up in strong arms and pulled him onto his lap, Luca clung to him like a child.

Oh, sweetheart,” Robert murmured, stroking Luca's hair. “You don't ever have to kneel for me.”

I only want to kneel for you, Luca thought. Only for you. As soon as the thought had come Luca dismissed it. What he wanted didn't matter. Stupid whore, to have ever hoped it would.

My lord has won this slave for the night,” said Luca softly, mouthing the words Aquila taught him. “I am your prize.”

Robert chuckled. He cupped Luca's chin and brought his face up so that their eyes met. Luca fought the urge to drop his gaze.

My prize,” said Robert, voice rich with humor. “And what shall I do with you, then?”

Luca did drop his gaze, then. He shifted his weight so that he straddled Robert, ass pressed invitingly against his crotch. “Whatever my lord desires.”

A shadow passed over Robert's face. A moment later it was gone, his expression blithe and cheerful again. “In that case, I shall beg your advice on how to keep Asher from ripping up his homework. He has the attention span of a gnat.”

Luca thought of Asher bounding through the Harlequin, trailing trouble in his wake. Asher couldn't run now, not with his crippled leg. He must limp instead, shoulders hitched like Lord Fulke's with a pain that never faded. All your fault, Luca reminded himself. As if he could ever forget.

Is he – is he all right?” Luca asked. His voice sounded strange to his ears, rusty from disuse. “Asher, I mean. Is he happy?”

He'd be happier if I stopped chasing him around with grammar worksheets.” Robert hesitated. Then, “I suppose it would be cruel to ask if you're happy here.”

Luca took a shuddering breath. “I'm always happy to serve my master,” he said, yanking at his hair. “I live to please him. I—”

Robert caught Luca's hands in his own. “Hush, now. You don't have to say those things. Not to me.” He brought Luca's hands to his mouth and kissed them. “Have you forgotten? I love you.”

In the months they'd been apart Luca had played the memory of what Robert told him in the Harlequin so many times he could remember the exact inflection in Robert's voice when he said I love you, the way his eyes had flashed when he promised There's no one but you. Luca thought of Lord Adrian, so handsome and clean; he thought of Estelle Fontaine. Robert d'Argent will be married by May. And Adrian had watched Luca fuck himself and laughed…

You do know I love you.” Robert's brow was furrowed. “You believe that, don't you, Luca?”

Still?” Luca blurted. “Even after – after watching him – touch me and – the things he does—”

It doesn't matter to me,” Robert said firmly. Then he grimaced. “Well, all right, every time he puts his damn hands on you I want to cut them off.”

Luca giggled weakly. “I don't think your grandfather would approve.” He went on without thinking, “But I suppose Lord Adrian would be impressed.”

Robert's eyebrows shot up. “Lord Adrian? How do you know about Lord Adrian?”

It's all right,” Luca said quickly. “I don't mind. He's so beautiful, and he's a noble, and I can't—” A sob rose in his throat. “I can't be what he is. I can't give you what he can.” He forced himself to smile. “I'm glad. Truly.”

Robert was shaking his head. “I told you that I don't have any other lovers,” he said, almost chiding. “That hasn't changed. Lord Adrian and I were involved before I found you. I might even have made the monumental blunder of giving him another chance. As it is, you saved me from making an ass of myself.” He kissed Luca's cheek. “Another reason to be grateful for you. I ought to make a list and read it off every time you go all self-deprecating on me.”

Luca felt his cheeks flush. “I don't deserve you,” he whispered.

You deserve so much more than you realize, Luca,” Robert sighed. “I only wish I could give it to you.”

The dressing gown was still open at Robert's neck. Damp red hair swirled around his nipples, trailing down his abdomen. Robert's pulse fluttered at his throat. It quickened when Luca brushed his fingertips across the burnished plane of Robert's chest. Robert made a noise. Forward brothel ways, Luca reminded himself. He couldn't bear to take his hand away.

Can I kiss you now?” he asked instead.

Robert answered by bringing their lips together. He tasted sweet, like wine. Luca pressed his body to Robert's, skin to skin. He could feel the gallop of his heartbeat echoed in Robert's breast. Robert tangled his fingers in Luca's hair and pulled him close. Luca felt that dreaded heat rise between his legs and whimpered. Robert pulled back.

Too much?” Robert's eyes were glazed, unfocused. “I can stop if—”

Oh, please don't!” Luca grabbed at Robert's shoulders, shivering when the muscles flexed under his hands. “I can control myself, swear it.”

I don't want you to control yourself,” Robert said raggedly. “I want to see how much you want this.”

Robert rolled his hips as he spoke. Luca felt the thick outline of Robert's erection slide along the crack of his ass. A shock of need jolted through him. He exhaled in a hiss.

I want you,” Luca whispered. “I want it. I do.” Though he'd said those words a thousand times, he'd never meant them until now.

Robert lay back on the bed, pulling Luca over to straddle him. Luca's hands hadn't left Robert's shoulders; at this angle, it was almost like he was holding Robert down. Robert was so tall, so strong, a noble—he could have Luca beaten for this impertinence, or killed; he could pin him to the mattress and show him what an uppity slave deserved. But Robert was grinning, cock hard, and Luca knew he wouldn't do any of those things. Luca was safe. The thought made him lightheaded. His nipples tightened into nubs. Robert made a noise of approval. He reached up and circled Luca's nipples with his fingertips. They were still tender from the King's rough treatment earlier. When Robert touched the rings Luca flinched.

You really hate them,” Robert said quietly.

Luca looked away. “They're ugly.”

No part of you could ever be ugly,” Robert said, and he sounded so sincere that Luca almost believed him.

Luca took a deep breath. He said in a rush, “When you were – um. With the sword? I liked it.”

Robert grinned. “You liked seeing me fence?”

Luca's blush deepened. He nodded. “Your face, you looked…”

Go on,” Robert said, rough with arousal.


Robert ran his hands up Luca's thighs. “What else did you like?”

Your body,” Luca said before he stop himself. “I – your body was – you were sweating, Robert, your shirt was sticking to you – your chest, your back – the way you moved—”

Luca realized that he was circling his hips unconsciously, grinding down on Robert. Robert panted, hot and moist against Luca's neck. His hands moved through Luca's hair, across his ribs, down his thighs. He hooked his fingers into the spangled sash Luca wore; Luca lifted up to help him pull it away. When the air touched his prick, Luca gasped. He wasn't hard, not that, never that, but his prick flushed the same dark pink as his cheeks and chest. Robert took two palmfuls of Luca's ass and squeezed. Luca moaned, wet and wanton. He thought of Robert's cock in his mouth – the rich musk and salt taste of him, the burst of bitter fluid on his tongue. He moaned again, feeling utterly debauched.

You have such a beautiful cock, Luca,” Robert panted. “Gods, you're so fucking perfect, all of you, I can't believe you're mine—”

I am yours,” Luca said fiercely, gripping Robert's shoulders. “Only yours, Robert, master, please—”

Robert bucked up and gave a hoarse shout. Luca felt stickiness spread under him and realized that Robert had come. He bore down, riding Robert through the aftershocks, then shifted his weight so he wouldn't put unwelcome pressure on the cock going soft under him. At the Harlequin he would've been punished for making a patron finish so quickly; the men always preferred to come inside him, or else spill across his ass or on his face or in his hair. Luca liked it better this way. But any way Robert wanted to take him, Luca knew he would like.

Robert was still gripping Luca's ass, stroking and kneading. Luca wished that Robert would dig in harder, leave bruises in the shape of his fingerprints and welts to show where his nails had raked skin. He wanted to be marked.

Well, this is embarrassing,” said Robert. “I swear I usually last longer than thirty seconds.”

Luca laughed. He felt fizzy all over, wild with joy. Robert wanted him. Truly wanted him, even though Luca was a slave and a whore and a slut who couldn't control his prick. Robert thought Luca was beautiful, perfect. Robert had come just from the friction of their bodies moving together. Luca called Robert master and Robert wasn't the least bit angry at his presumption. He hadn't even shoved Luca away when he was done with him. It was like the dream Luca used to have when he was little, a child's fantasy of being bought by a kind, gentle owner. He'd always been brought back to reality by a kick or a slap or a patron punishing him for not being eager enough. But Robert was real, and he was better than any dream.

I love you,” Luca said. “I love you, Robert.”

A smile bloomed on Robert's face. “And I love you.” His smile became wicked. “Now. Your turn.” He leaned up, muscles shifting under Luca's palms, and traced a slow trail around his chest with the tip of his tongue.

Luca gasped. “R-Robert—”

You like that?” Robert murmured. He lapped at Luca's nipples, then took the sensitive buds between his lips and sucked until Luca was breathless. He teased each one to a white-hot point of sensation. When he took the rings between his teeth and tugged lightly, Luca's head fell back. His nerves were afire. He shuddered, helpless, as desire burned him alive. Use me, he wanted to beg. Fuck me, own me. But he could only make mewling noises and writhe on Robert's lap.

Robert lifted his mouth from Luca's chest long enough to say, “Gods, you're fucking gorgeous like this.”

Then his hand was on Luca's prick and Luca was back in the training house with Master Trainer's fingers rubbing mercilessly against that bad place inside until Luca's body betrayed him and that thing happened, he was swelling in the cage – Such a slut for it, hole – and punished an instant later by the bite of a thousand metal teeth until there was nothing but the smell of blood and the sound of screams and someone begging, “I can't, please don't make me, I'll be good, swear it, can't – don't – please—”

And Luca was in Robert's arms again, shaking and sobbing and pleading for mercy that he knew would never come. Robert was saying “I'm sorry, I'm sorry” over and over, and Luca knew that was wrong, he was the one who'd been bad, he should be asking for Robert's forgiveness, not the other way around. He tried to explain but his words came out as incoherent whimpers.

Don't try to talk,” Robert said, and Luca, grateful for the order, didn't.

Robert rocked Luca back and forth, stroking his hair and murmuring apologies, as Luca huddled against his chest and tried to make his body as small as possible. Luca was distantly aware that he ought to be ashamed, but he couldn't bring himself to care about anything outside the safety of Robert's arms.

I am an ass,” Robert said, voice low and bitter with reproach. “I shouldn't have touched you like that without asking. It was an unforgivable violation, and you have every right to be furious with me.”

Not – n-not angry,” Luca managed to choke out. “Sorry, Robert, I'm so s-sorry, I t-tried to be g-good for you—”

You were good, sweetheart,” Robert said, brushing Luca's hair back from his forehead. “I'm the one who fucked up again. And don't say I didn't,” he added as Luca opened his mouth to protest. “If you start hyperventilating, I've obviously done something wrong. I didn't know – ” He cut himself off with a curt gesture. “But I did know, didn't I? You told me that you weren't allowed to get hard. I didn't think – well, I just didn't think. Damned arrogant bastard I am, I thought if it was me touching you…” He trailed off. Then, softly: “Luca, who taught you that it's wrong to respond sexually when a man touches you?”

Luca caught a stray curl between his fingers. “I learned at the training house.” He pulled hard enough to rip hair loose. “I am very fortunate that Master Trainer was so patient with me. I was lazy and stupid and unworthy of his attention.”

Robert was clearly struggling to keep his expression even, but his eyes were wide with dismay. “How did he train—”

Please,” said Luca, desperate. “Please don't ask.”

Robert held up his hands. “You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to, sweetheart.” He waited a moment for Luca to absorb the enormity of this promise before saying, “Can I ask a different question?”

Luca nodded. He felt young and stupid. “Yes, Robert.”

Do you come when you masturbate?”

Luca shook his head vehemently. “No! Swear I don't, I haven't – by the Lady, I swear I never, never have!”

Wait,” Robert said. “You've never – not even by yourself? You haven't touched yourself or had an orgasm at all?

Luca shook his head again, close to tears. “It's dirty,” he said. Seeing Robert's expression, he hastened to add, “Not for you! Not for real people. But for me to do that, it would be terrible. It would be bad.” Robert was looking at him with alarm. Luca wanted to kiss Robert, suck him, offer his ass to be fucked. Anything to make Robert stay. “I liked it when you came,” Luca said desperately. “I loved it. I live to please you, master.”

Not master,” Robert said through his teeth. “Robert.

Luca felt his stomach twist. “You don't want to be my master?”

Yes – I mean no – I mean—” Robert made an exasperated gesture. “I want us to be – together. Equals.”

But I'm not your equal,” Luca whispered.

You are in every way that matters,” Robert said firmly.

Luca had to stifle a gasp. No. Robert couldn't possibly mean that. Robert was handsome and brilliant, the kind of man that someone like Lord Adrian would want for a lover. Luca was so thoroughly ruined that even the Goddess had turned her back on him. Men only wanted Luca so they could use his filthy body for the one thing it was good for. Robert ought to despise him. Instead he was saying absurd, impossible things, talking about together and equals as though he really believed it could be true. Luca wanted to tell Robert that there had been a mistake, that Robert had been tricked somehow into believing Luca was worth anything but contempt. But if he did, Robert's eyes would cloud over, his expression become cold and distant as he realized what an enormous error he'd made in treating a slave like a person. Then he would punish Luca for deceiving him, and it would be far worse than Master Trainer, worse even than the Pig, because Robert would go away after, and this time it would be forever. Luca couldn't bear losing Robert again. He wouldn't survive it.

Luca?” Robert's brow was furrowed with concern. “Are you all right?”

I just want to be yours,” Luca said, hating the broken note in his voice.

You are,” Robert said, as though it were simple. “You will be. And I'll be yours.” He looked at Luca, gaze searching. “Do you understand?”

No, Luca wanted to say. You don't understand at all. Instead he smiled and nodded. “Yes, Robert.”

Robert's brow uncreased, but his face remained overcast by an emotion Luca could not name. “I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted,” Robert said with forced cheer. “Shall we put this bed to its intended purpose? Its other intended purpose, I mean,” he amended hastily, seeing Luca's expression.

Luca giggled, then sobered when he realized what Robert meant. “Sleep in a bed?

That is what they're for,” Robert pointed out. “Aside from, you know. The other thing.”

I never have,” Luca admitted, reddening. “Slept in a real bed, I mean. I've done – well, the other thing. But the man always put me on the floor afterward.”

Robert looked shocked. “Even Lord Frederick?”

He liked to keep me with him, but I never slept. I was too afraid.” Luca attempted a smile. “Anyway, Master Frederick snored.”

Robert laughed. “Well, I promise you, no man has ever brought allegations of snoring against me.”

Then Robert rolled Luca onto his back, and for a moment Luca was back in the fuckhouse hallucinating that the man over him was Robert. But no, it was Robert, bright-eyed with mischief. He leaned down and pressed his lips to Luca's. No one had ever kissed Luca like Robert did, sweet and slow and gentle. It was as though Robert didn't care about all the filthy places Luca's mouth had been. He still thought Luca was worthy of kissing. Luca knew he wasn't, but he couldn't help tangling his fingers in Robert's hair and pulling him deeper. Oh, Lady, let him die like this, with nothing else in the world but the taste of Robert's tongue and the warmth of Robert's breath.

Luca didn't die, and the kiss ended. Robert nuzzled down Luca's neck. He stroked Luca's cheek, sighing in contentment. Luca felt Robert's lashes flutter against his throat. Within minutes Robert's breath slowed and he sank like a stone into sleep. He lay flush against Luca, one of his hands spread on Luca's stomach and the other still cupping his face. Luca was used to having men on top of him, but Robert didn't crush him or press into him or grind him down onto the mattress. Robert only slept, spooned around Luca. They fit together so perfectly. Luca wished they could touch like this always.

When he was sure that Robert wouldn't wake, Luca slid his own hand between their bodies until he could feel Robert's heartbeat. He knew he wouldn't sleep – couldn't, not in a bed, not with a man so close, not even if the man was Robert. But Luca was glad of it. He had the steady rhythm of Robert's heart under his palm, the weight of Robert's body against his own, and he didn't want to miss a moment.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
My heart breaks for Luca... so damaged and so in need of love. Robert is prepared to give it and Luca needs to believe he has Robert's love, but that won't be easy for him to accept.

Beautifully written, emotionally wrenching, achingly sweet...
Sep. 6th, 2013 12:32 am (UTC)
One of the major problems with Robert and Luca's relationship is that they both have very different conceptions of what their relationship actually *is*. A large part of that is Luca being willing to accept that Robert really does love him.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the chapter! Thanks for reading.
Aug. 22nd, 2013 04:51 am (UTC)
Every time you write a Robert and Luca reunion scene I think it can't get better. And then, of course, it does. :-)
Sep. 6th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
Thank you, my dear! Robert/Luca reunion scenes are my absolute favorite thing to write, and sometimes I worry that they get a bit, well, sappy and same-y. Glad to hear that's not the case. :D
Aug. 22nd, 2013 05:15 am (UTC)
Robert really has his work cut out for him. He understands better than he did that Luca is badly damaged and that a lot of things he thinks are okay to say or to want, Luca doesn't think are okay at all. But he still doesn't realize how deep this pool goes or how far away the bottom is. Robert thinks he can say something like 'I'll be yours and you'll be mine', and Luca might be able to understand it. He thinks he can say 'I want us to be equals' and Luca can see it as a gift rather than a danger. But I think that's actually okay, because these missteps plant tiny seeds that, if Luca can't exactly cope with them now, will settle themselves in the back of his thoughts and quietly grow.

So much of what Luca thinks about himself just breaks my heart. All the loathing and contempt because he's a slave, because he's so good at being a slave, because he's so bad at being a slave, because, because, because. He's been conditioned, for so long, to find things that make him worthless. He calls Robert a real person because Luca isn't. Slaves aren't. And yet, I bet if you asked Luca if Asher was a real person, he wouldn't hesitate to insist he was.

I think the thing I actually found most interesting (besides, of course, the balm of simply seeing Robert and Luca together and Luca getting some much-needed and long-denied kindness) was that when Luca recalled being trained, he referred to his penis as a 'prick'. Whereas the men who fuck him all have 'cocks'. But Luca doesn't. Of course he doesn't. Cocks grow and fuck and come, and Luca can't do any of that. So how could what's between his legs have the same name, be the same organ as the thing between a real man's legs? It can't. Of course it can't. I think it just really illustrates how much Luca sees his body as a possession of everyone but himself. When he thinks of his own body, especially when he thinks of it being aroused, it's all these childish euphemisms. A 'bad place' inside him, a 'thing' that happens, the vagueness of his body swelling, not any specific part of that body. Because to name these things, to think on them as he can so easily label them if he were observing a free man's body, would be too close to self-ownership.

I said once that I could see how it would take three books for Robert to grow into himself. I can see, now, why it's going to take three books for Luca to grow into personhood.
Sep. 6th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
When I read this comment I couldn't help nodding my head vigorously and shouting "Yes! This! Exactly!" at the computer screen. WOW. Yes, this, exactly.

Asher represents a significant dilemma for Luca. Luca has no problem seeing himself as less than human, but he loves Asher far too much to think the same of him. I think this is where we start to see a few faint cracks in Luca's training: one of his strengths as a person (and weaknesses as a slave) is his immense capacity for love - matched, of course, by his desperate desire to be loved in return.

And I am SO HAPPY that somebody picked up on the language Luca uses to talk about his body! As a lit student I'm all for Foucault's death of the author, but as an author I always really really hope that readers will notice those small, very deliberate details.

"Cocks grow and fuck and come, and Luca can't do any of that. So how could what's between his legs have the same name, be the same organ as the thing between a real man's legs? It can't."

Seriously, I couldn't summarize this any better. That is exactly the distinction Luca makes in his mind. He sees his body entire as a vessel for penetration; it would be unthinkable for him to consider having any kind of sexual agency, let alone possessing a body part that could potentially penetrate someone else (never mind a REAL person!).

Luca's journey to personhood is definitely going to be a long and rocky one. I'm so looking forward to it. *rubs hands evilly*

Thank you, as always, for your absolutely wonderful comment. I so appreciate it. :)
Aug. 22nd, 2013 07:14 am (UTC)
finally.. they get their moment together <3. hey, i did have faith! XD
wow, this will be the hell of a rehab to convince Luca he's a human being. never mind "equal" or "worth" anything ~
Sep. 6th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC)
Haha, you were a true believer from the start! XD

Yeah, Luca has a long road ahead of him. Honestly, psychological rehabilitation is one of my favorite hurt/comfort tropes, so this will be fun for me - and hopefully for my readers too, of course!
Sep. 7th, 2013 05:32 am (UTC)
you were a true believer from the start!
yesh! i'm a believer! *music from x files in the background* XD

psychological rehabilitation...
this expression, in the context of this early kinda "victorian/georgian(?)" years (sorry, my english history knowledge is srsly lacking XD), sounds very.. anachronic? lol ~ guess "beat back into shape" was more the usual vocab back then - even if in Luca's case, not a very lucky choice of words ^^
Aug. 22nd, 2013 07:29 am (UTC)
I hope some day Luca will realize his value as a human being not as a 'a filthy whore people uses'. But things can become really confusing when all the things are bitten inside your mind contradicts the truth. Robert really needs to be patient and only care, love and time can heal his tortured soul.
Sep. 6th, 2013 03:38 am (UTC)
I hope so too! I believe Luca will heal, as long as he has Robert's help. Thank you so much for reading, and for your comment! :)
Aug. 22nd, 2013 08:01 am (UTC)
Poor Luca. Forgotten that he is loved by Robbert. And that his lady would not leave him. I hope they got some time in the morning so Robert can explain the marriage and just hug and kiss for hours.

Your writing is always worth the wait and perfect and a highlight in my week.
But for Luca I hope the end is near.

Thank you for the sugar chapter after al the sour.
Aug. 22nd, 2013 10:03 am (UTC)
God. I knew Luca was damaged, but not that much. Poor baby. And Robert has no idea... Well, they had their reunion which is great, thank you. Now, you can just kill that king bastard and everyone can be happy:).

Thanks for posting.
Aug. 23rd, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
I was such a horrid doubter!

The chapter was beautiful and so very satisfying - even if Luca still refuses to sleep.

Thank you so much for making a fool of me. ;-)
Aug. 25th, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC)
Great chapter. Finally a nice reunion. Robert is going to have to work very hard on getting Luca well. He is so broken and lost. It will take much patience and love to get him ok again. I hope Luca has some faith restored that things will improve after spending the night with Robert. If only they could have more stolen moments,I think that would soothe and give Luca hope. Thanks for a wonderful chapter.
Aug. 28th, 2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
My heart breaks for Luca - I don't see how Robert is ever going to overcome Luca's training and poor self-esteem.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )