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    Laura S. Fox
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

This Strange World Needs A Kicking! - 25. Your Deepest Wish

Chapter Twenty-Five – Your Deepest Wish

He would disappear under the cover of night. About getting to Uxilan, it couldn’t be that difficult, right? Following the smell of ash that was now everywhere was a piece of cake. What wasn’t a piece of cake and could turn badly was going against those dark magic jerks all by himself. Pepin was right, of course, to consider that he needed help, but then, the chances of someone else getting hurt grew exponentially and that he couldn’t live with. Not when he was an OP prince with ice magic – which he couldn’t use – and the protection of a goddess – which, again, was no longer there.

But, but, but, he continued to reason to himself while scratching his head and trying to figure out how to saddle his horse, he was still a master swordsman, and, according to Pepin, Sebastian had managed just fine when he had fought those bastards. All he, Kai, needed to do was let nature do its thing, and Sebastian’s body react appropriately each time dark magic got anywhere close to him.

It sounded like a sound plan, only that Kai really didn’t like the way it sounded when he was telling it to himself for the umpteenth time. Not that he remembered ever being incredibly courageous, but the moment he had heard about other people getting in trouble over a possible invasion from the House of Uxilan, who, again, were notorious jerks, he had thought himself suddenly brave.

Not that it was hard to do that while in the body of an OP character like Sebastian. But his reaction had come from somewhere deeper, surprising and not surprising him at the same time. Back then, when his dad had asked him to be brave, he hadn’t done it, not because Kai hadn’t wanted to make him proud, but because he hadn’t been able to. Tani and his mom had no idea, but during those days, when they were all at the hospital, he had lied about being ill only so that he didn’t spend, like them, all his waking hours there.

He hadn’t been brave. His dad had only asked him that, and he hadn’t done it, feeling like such a huge coward but incapable of pushing back the tears and the anger at the world for not being fair.

Now he was given a second chance to prove that he wasn’t just a kid who hurried to hide only to stay away from pain. And second chances, not that he was some philosopher or anything, couldn’t often come in people’s lives.

Plus, he encouraged himself, he had nothing to worry about since he had the gift of getting to use the body and abilities of a super-duper character like Sebastian.

“How is this even supposed to work?” he mumbled as he stared dubiously at the leather straps that had to go over the horse’s belly but somehow didn’t behave the way they should have.

“Why aren’t you in bed?”

Kai squealed in a very non-Sebastian fashion at the sound of that voice. Conrad was standing in the door and watching him with judgmental eyes. Seriously, he needed to defeat the House of Uxilan and return home because people here were all starting to get a little on his nerves. “Why? Is that an invitation?” he shot back and then bit his tongue when Conrad’s golden eyes flashed with something he didn’t care to dissect at all right now.

“We’re marching against the enemy tomorrow,” Conrad said in a voice that brooked no contradiction. “You should be resting.”

“Not really, no,” Kai said quickly. “I never sleep before a test, I mean a quest.”

“This is not a quest,” Conrad replied tersely. “It is a matter of life and death, and I get the feeling that you’re thinking of going alone despite your cousin’s and my advice.”

Damn, why did he have to be so transparent about his plans? And why the hell didn’t Sebastian know how to saddle a horse? It wasn’t rocket science. Well, probably he had people to do that for him –

“You’re not going alone,” Conrad interrupted his train of thought.

“Are you sure you can stop me? I can always use my magic on you.”

Conrad crossed his arms and covered the stable entrance with his entire body. “You are free to try it. Will you?”

“You’re incredibly calm for someone who should know how much that thing hurts,” Kai warned, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to cause Conrad any pain, not consciously. Sending Pepin to his room was one thing, but hurting Conrad was too much. “All right, all right, I’ll go to bed. Happy now?”

“No. I’ll sleep with you to make sure that you don’t try to sneak out again.”

“Um, I’m sure Pepin wouldn’t like that at all. I mean, come on, we’re like practically engaged,” Kai blabbered on. “It would be like cheating if I slept with you now.”

“Your Majesty,” Conrad said sternly, “I wasn’t suggesting anything untoward. But seeing your determination for going alone against the House of Uxilan, there is no other choice. Why did you send your servant away? The guards at his door are having a terrible time.”

“Like how?” Kai asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

“Their ears are red like tomatoes. They change shifts every two hours. Apparently, your fiancé,” Conrad said, emphasizing the word, “has the tongue of a harbor harlot.”

“Ugh, who, Pepin? C’mon, the guy’s like the sweetest… I mean, he can be a hardass when he wants, but still. I don’t remember him ever talking smack.”

“Maybe he learned it from you.” And that was Galien, who appeared behind Conrad like there had been a war council called down at the stables.

“I don’t think so,” Kai replied, miffed that he had been discovered so easily.

“I shall also sleep in your room,” Galien announced. “It appears to me that you don’t understand how important you are for Ifigia.”

“No way I’m going to be the meat in your hunk sandwich,” Kai declared.

Galien pushed Conrad away to step inside the stables. Kai had made the mistake of lighting a lamp that was there for the purpose, so he felt as good as naked under Galien’s scrutinizing stare. “Sebastian,” he said in an authoritative voice, “this is not a matter up for debate. Stop playing only the role that your mother gave you. Aren’t you your own person?”

Kai had no idea what Galien was saying but didn’t care to find out. As things looked, he was supposed to find another way to ditch everyone and go to war alone.

“Stop it with the faces,” Galien warned again. “I know you’re thinking of how to sneak out and go fight on your own. Get it through your head. That is not going to happen.”

“Ah, damn it,” Kai expressed his frustration. “We’re all going to fail just because I’m incapable of saddling a horse.”

“No, we’re not going to fail,” Galien contradicted him. “Sir Conrad, would you be so kind to help our esteemed ruler to his bed?”

“My pleasure,” Conrad replied.

Kai groaned as Conrad grabbed him by one arm and Galien by the other, both pulling him away despite his protests. That was how Pepin must have felt when the guards had dragged him away. He struggled a bit against the tight hold, but, quite surprisingly, he didn’t manage to budge much.

Maybe he really needed some sleep, after all.

***

Sebastian counted through his teeth as he pushed his body up for the one-hundredth time, using nothing but the force of one arm. Strength, agility, endurance were all things he needed to master in the shortest of times. Chet and his posse were a danger still, regardless of how all over the place their methods were, and he would have to exact punishment rather sooner than later if not for another reason than that he had to ensure that Milo was in no way exposed to their foul ways.

Half an hour later, he was in bed. As much as he wanted to continue training all night long, it had soon occurred to him that muscle strains were something happening to regular people, so injuring or overexerting himself was out of the question.

His eyelids grew heavy, but sleep came to him accompanied by the strangest apparitions.

In his dream, he appeared to be himself, and for a moment, his heart jolted at the thought that the curse had been lifted, and he was now back into his own skin. But no, he realized, even as his body was immersed into a deep slumber, it had to be nothing but a dream. Even more, it felt like a memory, although in his state, he couldn’t tell if he just imagined it to be so.

He was at the Shimmering Cavern, the ice goddess Reya explaining to him yet again why it was important to choose Pepin as the one in his bed and by his side.

“I am the Protector of Ifigia. But this is not a thing I’m willing to do,” his dream version replied to her insistence.

“And why not, Sebastian?”

“Because I grew up with him, and I would never consider him a lover.”

Reya threw her arms up. “You do not have to consider him a lover if it’s that much of an inconvenience to you. Where is all this stubbornness coming from? You’ve always suffered from it.”

He threw her an oblique look. “Indeed, I wonder,” he said wryly. “Did Luna Celeste put some new crazy thought in your mind? That woman is nothing short of a lunatic.”

Her gasp of indignation didn’t impress him. “She is capable of reading prophecies and telling the future. She saw yours and told me clearly that only love would save you, in the end.”

“Love,” he pronounced the word, feeling its taste as alien as always. “I fail to see where Pepin fits in all this. I don’t love him. I care about him, indeed, but toward him, I can nurture no feelings as the ones Luna Celeste keeps blabbing about.”

“You bring lovers to your bed and send them away after less than a month,” the ice goddess continued to scold him. “What are you looking for in them? Pepin is your destiny.”

What was he looking for in his long string of lovers, indeed? They were a means to an end, a way to pass the time between military campaigns, but he wouldn’t be crass to explain to Reya about any of that. “Pepin,” he said through his teeth, “is but a brother to me.”

“He loves you, and he’s a Lelian. Do you have any idea how rare they are, and through what pains I went to secure one for you?” Reya appeared to be losing her composure over his stubbornness, but he had no intention to indulge her. This was about his person, not the fate of Ifigia, and that meant that as little as that mattered, he had a say in it and intended to use his influence to push back all her insistence.

“I do not care. I have no intention to use his ability or whatever that is called.”

“Stop being so flippant.”

Sebastian winced as a few shards of ice passed by his cheek. He raised one hand and was surprised at the sensation under his fingertips. One of them had cut through the most superficial layer of skin, bringing out blood. “Why am I here?” he asked.

Reya turned on his heels and sat on her throne of ice. “Ifigia is in danger. Do you really believe you have time to fool around?”

The sudden change in her voice and the different topic brought forth took him by surprise. “Fool around?” he asked.

She was slowly turning into ice, just like the rest of the cavern. “Yes. Finish here. You’re needed. And that boy is not the one for you, or else Luna Celeste’s words would make no sense.”

“What boy?” Sebastian insisted, annoying at how she chose to return to her hibernation whenever it fitted her whim.

He couldn’t hear her voice anymore, but the way her lips curled around the words left no room for interpretation. Slight pain in his palms made him realize that he was digging his nails into the skin.

***

“Could you guys move away a bit? You’re too hot,” Kai complained.

“Any more distance between you and us, and we’d be in danger of falling on the floor,” Galien chided him.

This was nothing like when Pepin and Conrad had crowded him in his royal bed, but he was more uncomfortable than that time. Mainly because both Galien and Conrad preferred to sleep naked by the looks of it. As much as it pained him, he had opted for a nightgown and felt like a giant doll succumbing under a sea of frills and lace. Pepin would have loved it, most probably, but Kai could swear that he had seen nothing as sophisticated and complicated as that in his entire life.

“You must sleep, Your Majesty,” Conrad warned him. “Or perhaps, you would like me to help you exert yourself a little so that you can finally do so?”

“No, no, absolutely not. I know what you’re thinking, but come on, Galien is here, and I don’t want him to watch or anything.”

“You could send him away,” Conrad said airily.

“Like I would allow such a thing,” Galien shot back.

“Hey, don’t fight. And I thought you two were into each other. I mean, liking each other.”

“That is impossible,” Conrad replied in a haughty tone.

“Why?” Kai asked. “Galien is handsome and has a round ass, doesn’t he? And aren’t you into asses, anyway?”

He was blabbering, but he didn’t feel like sleeping, and getting rid of these two seemed impossible.

“It takes more than a perfect behind,” Conrad said through his teeth, “to convince me to like someone the way you suggest, Your Majesty. And Sir Galien’s rotten manners, with all due respect, cannot be overlooked.”

Galien snorted. “Are you sure you’re one to talk, Sir Conrad? I think we’re much alike, after all. Which means, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is no risk in our getting together and enjoying ourselves and each other. We are both very much aware of our respective rotten manners, so, in the end, no one would get hurt. Am I right?”

“Totally,” Kai replied. “Oops, you were actually asking Conrad. My bad. Ah, by the way, Conrad,” he decided to change the topic since he wasn’t sure if those two didn’t want to start either fighting or something else over his very much alive body, all dressed in frills and lace.

“Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Isn’t this like the perfect opportunity for you to turn against me? I mean, there’s a war incoming, and you could just side with the enemy or whatever.”

Conrad stared at him for so long that he felt compelled to turn his head and stare back. “Uxilan is a scourge upon this world,” Conrad said through his teeth. “I would never side with them.”

“So, it’s like the smaller of two evils or something like that?” Kai asked, curious about Conrad’s motivations like he’d never been before. Not that he could complain about having such an ally by his side.

“No,” Conrad contradicted him. “My own pride and nothing else forced me in the path of your wrath. I wanted to go against Uxilan by myself. You stopped me when you marched against Estfalia. It must have saved most of my people, and this is the first and last time I admit to such a thing. Please, I beg you, have mercy of my pride.”

“Ugh, shoot, that’s heavy stuff,” Kai commented. “But why did you want to go against those assholes, I mean jerks, I mean dark magic wielders? Do you have anti-magic or something?”

Conrad set his jaw hard. “They are a threat to the entire world. Sooner or later, their pestilence would have spread and conquered my country, as well. Your protection has kept them at bay for a while, I believe.”

“Hmm, that kind of makes sense. So, we’re allies, right?”

“Yes. And I will always be in your service. And your bed, when you want me.”

“I’m getting married to Pepin, though,” Kai said quickly. “I mean, he’s kind of jealous.”

“I distinctly remember him suggesting another type of arrangement,” Conrad said.

“Ah, well, that doesn’t really work for me. It would be too much trouble just moving from one side of the bed to another and all that. And Pepin is just saying. He actually told me that he’d cut me off breakfast for all eternity if I did naughty things with you.”

He was getting a bit sweaty, and not only because of the frills. The characters in this BL world were just so shameless, talking about things like that, and he was forced to be just as shameless, just to keep up.

“Plus, Galien totally wants you. Don’t you, Galien?”

His cousin snorted. “What do I have to do to make things more obvious?”

“Frankly, I believe you jest, Sir Galien,” Conrad intervened. “You are still not entirely convinced that I want nothing but the good of Ifigia, too. I even drank that truth potion, and you questioned me quite leisurely. What more do I have to do for you to be convinced of my goodwill?”

“Hmm, you appear to be quite keen on getting Sebastian to bed you, although that’s not necessary, now that he has Pepin. You know Pepin is a Lelian, and that’s something you couldn’t offer even if you wanted.”

A Lelian? What was that? Kai was dying to know. Pepin had said something about having been picked by the ice goddess herself, but it wasn’t like he could ask about it. The last thing they all needed was for anyone to figure out that he wasn’t the prince when they were just about to wage war against such a powerful enemy.

“I am most loyal to the protector of Ifigia who also saved my people from a dire fate by defeating me,” Conrad said promptly. “There’s nothing else to it, and you should stop with your insinuations, Sir Galien. They don’t become you.”

“And what would you know about that, hmm?” Galien purred. “I’d say you wouldn’t mind a ruling place by Sebastian’s side.”

“I am not looking to advance and secure such a position,” Conrad said, pouring acid in every word.

“Guys, guys, really?” Kai tried to intervene.

“I am the duke of Kelonia, after all,” Galien said, completely ignoring him. “If only your ambitions weren’t so high,” he added, and Kai wondered if he had ever heard cousin dearest talking in such a bitter voice.

Conrad said nothing, but that didn’t mean that he was denying Galien’s accusations. Damn, so all this time, Conrad had just wanted to get ahead? But Sebastian was famous for discarding his lovers like smartphones whenever someone new and shiny appeared. Which meant… what exactly did it mean? Kai had no idea.

“At first, yes,” Conrad suddenly said. “But my loyalty is no longer for sale. I give it freely.”

“Then why do you insist on pushing yourself on Sebastian when he’s finally choosing Pepin?” Galien asked.

Kai didn’t dare to breathe. This was better than any reality show.

“Because I don’t have much else to give,” Conrad replied quietly. “Even if it’s little, even if His Majesty --”

“Wow, wow, wow,” Kai finally intervened. “I appreciate the hell out of you, Conrad. And it’s good to have you as my ally. Seriously, you don’t have to… you know. But Galien, maybe you should stop being so, I don’t know, pushy?”

“Pushy?” Galien exclaimed. “Anyone else would be happy to have caught my eye.”

Oh, damn. He was in the company of two very proud men. And he sucked at playing matchmaker, so that was it.

“And you,” Galien added pointedly, “had no trouble touching my body everywhere after you drank the wine of golden truths.”

“It was nothing but a moment of weakness,” Conrad shot back. “One of which you took immediately advantage of.”

“Ha! You know nothing of how I take advantage of someone at my mercy. I assure you, Sir Conrad, I was nothing but on my best behavior.”

Kai sighed. “Too bad I don’t have popcorn. But I’m sure this will work out if you two drop the ‘Sir’ thing when talking to each other and just admit it.”

“Admit what?”

Argh, did he really need to get into the thick of it? “You, Galien, should admit that you’re not actually a rake and want Conrad for real and not just for a quickie or something. And you, Conrad, should just go ahead and say that you like Galien and his round ass.”

Both characters huffed like he had just proposed them something unthinkable. Well, at least at that ruckus had managed to tire him, and now his eyes were closing. Also, he hadn’t had the time to worry about what came tomorrow.

***

Sebastian had still no idea what he was doing there, witnessing one of Milo’s games when he had so little time on his hands. But, apparently, it was a group activity, one to do with the class and the school, and when he had tried to sneak away, Beatrice and her gang of misfits had dragged him along.

To say that he was uncomfortable was too little to describe what he was going through. It was nothing but pure torture to watch the boy he liked so much, so close, and yet so far away. Like was an inadequate word, but Sebastian preferred to use this strange world’s language as whatever he truly felt was infinitely more dangerous for the state of his mind and soul. The dream couldn’t have been happenstance, he thought and touched his cheek where a shadow of pain still lingered. Reya had been clear on his having to let go of Milo and end the impossible situation he was in. She didn’t have to use her ice goddess’s abilities to reach for him in his sleep. He wanted nothing more but to return to his rightful place. What she had said, about Ifigia being in danger, troubled him.

What made things appear a little less bleak was that Kai’s body was adjusting to the new training routine as if it were made for it.

“Have you been working out?” Beatrice felt his arm and threw him a strange look.

“Yes,” he replied, unable to stop the gloom making his eyebrows knit into a frown.

“Your boyfriend is so handsome,” she said with a chuckle and pointed at Milo. “And he’s one of our best players, you know?”

There was no need for anyone to remind him of how exceptional Milo was. Yet, when one of his mates sent a ball in his direction, Milo missed it and had to run after it. The crowd went from cheering to booing, and Sebastian began experiencing an unsettling feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Milo hung his head low, chin in his chest, eyes down. The opposing team had the upper hand, it seemed.

“Milo looks a bit off today, isn’t it?” Beatrice asked. “What’s it all about?”

“How should I know?” Sebastian replied brusquely.

“Well, you two are together, right? Who else should I ask?”

Sebastian pursed his lips. “We’re not together anymore. We broke up.”

“What?” Even over the noise around them, Beatrice’s voice was annoyingly loud. “Why?”

“We aren’t meant to be,” Sebastian said thickly.

On the court, Milo was failing to send the ball through the hoop for the third time.

“I suppose that explains it,” Beatrice said.

“What?” He was getting increasingly aggravated with her.

“That he’s a mess today,” she replied promptly. “And what’s with the tattoo?” She pointed at his arm.

“It is a measure I had to take against my enemies.”

“Fuck, your life sounds so damned complicated. Are you sure about you and Milo, though? I’m sure he didn’t agree to your breaking up by how messed up he is.”

It was true, but why was Beatrice so preoccupied with it? Sebastian wasn’t used to people getting into each other’s business like that and found it incredibly irritating.

“Our team will lose today,” Beatrice added. “I really hope you had a good reason to break up with Milo.”

“Don’t blame me,” Sebastian said.

But it was the truth. He was to blame for Milo’s poor performance on the court. So, in a way, he had done nothing to protect the boy’s love for basketball.

“He’ll get over it,” he murmured.

Beatrice surprised him by hooking an arm over his shoulders. “I think you’re full of it, Kai. Unless Milo cheated on you or something --”

“He did nothing of the sort. He’s perfect in every way,” he blurted out.

It was painful to watch their team getting beaten into a pulp. The coach called Milo and yelled something at him, but upon his return to the game, nothing changed.

And Sebastian couldn’t help feeling anything but guilt as he watched and watched.

TBC

So, Kai has some interesting conversations late at night while sandwiched between Galien and Conrad, and Sebastian discovers that his teenage breakup strategy wrecked havoc in Milo's life. How they handle everything, well, it's a matter for debate.

I hope you had fun with the chapter!

Until next time,

Hugs,

Laura.

Copyright © 2021 Laura S. Fox; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Kai should stop trying to play the matchmaker. He's so cruel to Conrad when a few days back, he was attracted to him. 

Poor Milo 😔 Sebastian should just tell him the reason behind the breakup so that they can spare themselves the heartbreak. 

 

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On 11/19/2021 at 1:51 PM, Aevylio said:

Kai should stop trying to play the matchmaker. He's so cruel to Conrad when a few days back, he was attracted to him. 

Poor Milo 😔 Sebastian should just tell him the reason behind the breakup so that they can spare themselves the heartbreak. 

 

If only they would be mature about it all... so hard with these knuckleheads, I'm afraid...

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